Monsoons will soon arrive in North India and so will the questions on making a trip to Spiti Valley in monsoons 🙂 🙂 … In today’s article, I will try to outline some basic tips which will help you make your trip to Spiti Valley in monsoons, somewhat comforting. Well, you must know that Spiti Valley is a rain shadow region, meaning, that the rains do not reach up there in plenty because of the range of mountains protecting it from winds bearing the rains. However, the definition of the rain shadow region of Spiti Valley is changing now with the change in global climate. We have started getting rains in Spiti Valley too or at least overcast conditions with drizzles every now and then in monsoons. Hence, be ready for some surprises even in the rain shadow region of Spiti Valley though they may not be much unless you have a very bad luck.
Planning a Trip to Spiti Valley in Monsoons?
I have already written about Best Season to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley and in this article, I will try to outline few important tips for you to make the best use of the August holidays. This will help you make a trip to Spiti Valley in monsoons. These tips will help you mitigate some risks to an extent and minimize the impact of few which may occur when you are up there in Spiti Valley. So, let’s begin without wasting more time 😉
1. Be prepared for monsoon hassles in lower hills
In monsoon time, you will face common monsoon hassles in lower / foothills of the Himalayas. But once you get closer to Spiti Valley, then being a rain shadow region you will be least affected by monsoon rains. Please note that landslides, road blocks and slush on roads will be common in the lower hills due to rains and especially troublesome between Manali to Rohtang pass and most parts of Kinnaur Valley. To be very frank, Kinnaur is not a good place to be in monsoons due to its fragile mountains always susceptible to landslides.
2. Be prepared for driving in slush on roads to Spiti Valley in Monsoons
There will be slush on the roads especially from Rohtang Pass to Gramphu and most parts of Kinnaur Valley. Be prepared, to drive with care in slush and do know the whereabouts of the engine chamber of your car if self-driving. There could be stones beneath in slush which may not be visible but can badly damage your engine sump/chamber leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere. DO NOT push through too much in case you get stuck, try the back-n-forth tactic to come out or use push or wooden plank/rubber mat. Otherwise, you may end up with burned clutch plates.
3. Be prepared for tackling furious water crossings on Manali – Kaza road
Since, most rivers will be flowing in spate and so does the water crossings will be swollen too. Some water crossings have been passed through water pipes on Manali – Kaza road but you never know which one emerges the given year. However, some of those who aren’t yet may become the reason for spending a night in the middle of nowhere OR puncturing your engine sump while crossing it or loosing your mud guards or bumpers. Try to cross Malling Nalla ahead of Nako as early as possible. If riding a motorcycle, gumboots will help you dodge overflowing water crossings and keep your other boots dry to ride further. Do carry a pair of them, they don’t cost much.
4. Be alert for shooting stones
The shooting stones along with small landslides are very common during rains in mountains. When driving or riding or even sitting in the car, you must always be alert to see over a shooting stone from the side of the mountains. Be very careful on stretches which have loose gravel or mud, especially in Kinnaur Valley, near Rohtang Pass / Beas Kund to Rani Nalla, Shialkhar village to Sumdo and stretch between Tabo to Attargoo bridge. Such, stretches are more common for shooting stones. Even a small stone can pierce through the windshield and your trip can be screwed, so be alert and keep a watch on the movement in such mountains which are vulnerable to shooting stones.
5. Carry water resistant clothes and boots
Always carry a rain cut jacket, waterproof shoes or sandals/crocs at least along with a water repellant lower or lower with the quick dry material. This will help you in many ways when there is rain. It may end up saving your electronic equipment too. So, do not forget to carry these at the very least. As said above, gum boots are always handy for people riding bikes and tackling water crossings in spate. You should read: Tips for Carrying Clothes for Spiti Valley Trip
6. Carry tarpaulins & few waterproof bags
Apart from the rainproof clothing, carrying small tarpaulins or water proof bags which will protect your clothes, luggage or electronic gear if the need arise especially when riding the bikes. Also, if you are planning to place the luggage on the top of car, it is a must have to be carried on a Ladakh trip.
7. Carry an extra pair of car windshield wipers
Well, it sounds to be too much planning but seriously speaking I have seen plenty of people getting stuck just because they did not have that pair of wipers for their cars that fit in. Hence, I cannot avoid putting this tip in this article. It can be an unlucky day for those but if you have an old car which you are taking up there in the Himalayas, do prefer to carry an extra pair of wipers. If existing wipers break and you cannot find a pair for your car, you can’t drive in blind conditions even in lower hills.
8. Always follow Sleep Early and Leave Early principle in monsoons
As always in the Himalayas, “Sleep Early and Leave Early” shall be the mantra of your entire trip. It becomes more important in rainy season as you are already expecting delays due to a landslide, road blocks, slow speed of cars in rain. So, always try to follow this principle.
9. Always have couple of buffer days
It is not at all wise to run from point A to point B in all sought of tensions of missing the flight or train if you can’t make it. You should expect rains in monsoons, which may delay your daily plans or make you stuck behind a landslide for a day or two sometimes. If you are running on a neck to neck schedule, well, delay of one day somewhere will trigger tensions in mind which will not help you enjoy the sightseeing or journey but keep you worrying about missing a flight or train. So, it is always better to plan your trip with couple of buffer days when traveling to Spiti Valley in monsoons.
10. Protect your camera from moisture
Needless to say, in monsoon time, both rain and moisture will be all around you when traveling in the Himalayas. Please ensure that you protect your camera so that it does not expose to moisture or water. Also, if you use CPLs on lenses, make sure you are making the right use of it in right light conditions. On an overcast or rainy day, CPLs may not make much sense depending on what you are shooting. I am just mentioning because I have ruined many times many pictures just because I forgot to take it off in those light conditions 🙂 🙂 … Though I am just a newbie, pros do take care of it, I am sure. You can read: Do It Yourself: Camera dry box
I hope above tips may help you make a successful trip to Spiti Valley in monsoons. If you have any other tips to share or experience of monsoon trip to Spiti, I will be glad to hear them in the comments section or in DoW Community. Feel free to share this article with your friends or family who will be going on a trip to Spiti Valley in monsoons. In case you have any further doubts or questions, feel free to share it under the comments section of this article or as a travel question in our Travel Q & A section. We can always discuss more on your upcoming trip to Spiti Valley and other regions of the Himalayas 🙂