The backpacker circuit to Spiti Valley is one which is dotted with villages all through the journey. Spiti Valley is a road trip like none other in the entire country. It’s like you will fall in love with the place,if you are a traveller and you will hate it, if you are a tourist. Remember when you are planning a road trip to Spiti Valley make sure you give yourself time, since this is a place which can’t be covered properly in a span of six to seven days. You need a minimum of eight to 14 days from Delhi to experience the place properly.
Kaza is the district headquarters of Spiti Valley and the only place in the entire valley with a gas station. So no matter if you plan on stopping a night at Kaza or not, you will definitely have to stop for fuel. The town has a satellite telephone and a shopping center. With numerous cafes dotted all along the town. It’s a great place to grab some western meals after having dal rice through the journey.
A 1000 year old monastery and meditation caves is the highlight of this spiritual town. Tabo is a must stop on your Spiti Valley road trip and a night stay in the monastery guest house is an absolute must for anyone looking to get a first hand experience of the spiritual Buddhist life. P.S: Don’t miss out of the morning chai that’s served inside the monastery.
-> Key Monastery
The most coveted monastery in all of Spiti Valley. Located on top of a hill overlooking the entire valley, this is an absolute must visit. Key monastery houses a school for the young lamas and it’s an excellent place to meet the children. Have a fun day while on your road trip through this cold desert.
Dhankar in Spiti Valley is rightfully tagged as the gem of the valley. A village setting like none other in the entire Himalayas, perched on top of a hill, the village has a monastery which is as old as the one in Tabo if not older. A short three kms away from the town is Dhankar Lake which is a place where shepherds get their cattle to graze. Dhankar is a great place to stargaze on a clear night. You’ll get to see the Milky Way with your naked eye.
-> Langza – Hikkim – Komic
The high altitude villages of Langza, Hikkim and Komic are a short drive away from the town of Kaza. Each of the three villages has something unique to offer. Komic is the highest village in the world with a road. Hikkim is the village with the highest post office in the world. Make sure you do send a postcard from Hikkim. Langza is a village perfect for a homestay experience with the night sky to only dream of. You’ll see at least a million shooting stars in the night. Langza is also home to million years old fossils. Please keep in mind that it is Illegal to collect fossils.
A short drive from Key monastery and a village you have to cross while heading towards Chandratal Lake. Chicham-Kibber bridge is Asia’s highest bridge. Kibber is a nice village to spend a night experiencing the Spitian simple way of living.
Demul is one of the lesser-known villages on the backpacker circuit of Spiti Valley. The village believes in sustainable tourism so they have a very nice system in place where the village coordinator allots two-three to a home stay in rotation. This enables everyone in the village to grow together. A fun thing to do in the village is to play with the children or play a game of volleyball with the village youth.
-> Chandartal Lake
The most hyped place in all of Spiti Valley. The moon lake or Chandartal, it’s a place like none other and is actually worth every bit of the hype but with all honesty to get there you need all the right sense of blessing and karma. Not everyone who makes it to Spiti will end up getting to Chandartal Lake. Weather and road conditions plan an important part on the journey to the lake. The road leading to the lake is nothing but an unpaved dirt track. Camping at the lake is not worth the hype since the campsite is around three kms away from the lake with no view of the lake. So it’s pretty much pointless to stay in the cold with very basic facilities and risk falling sick.
The base village in Pin Valley national park is an ideal place to visit if you’re looking to find some greenery on an otherwise barren and rugged road trip. Mud has a few home stays which serve very basic food and that’s a part of the experience when you’re living in Mud. Overall, the place is great if you want to just watch time stay still. The drive from the main highway in Spiti towards Pin Valley is splendid with tiny villages dotted all along the journey.
The coldest village in Spiti Valley is Lossar. It’s not that high in terms of altitude but the place will definitely send shivers down your spine in the night. A must stopover if you’re not planning on spending the night at Chandratal campsite since this is the closest village to the moon lake. Make sure you visit the village monastery while on your stop at Lossar.
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