Spiti Valley has long been a backpacker paradise but ever since 4G network has reached Spiti Valley through Airtel and Jio things have changed in the valley with respect to tourism. There has been an overflow of crowd that’s been travelling to Spiti Valley ever since Covid-19 has become a part of regular life.
When you’re planning a trip to Spiti Valley here are a few tips and pointers that you need to keep in mind.
- Month of Travel:
Remember that Spiti Valley is a cold desert like Ladakh. But unlike Ladakh, Spiti Valley does not have an airport to fly into. So taking the road is the only way to get in and out of Spiti Valley. Remember the best time to travel to Spiti Valley is during the summer months from May to October mid. Winter months aren’t really advisable to travel since the temperature drops well below sub-zero.
- Duration of Travel
The general notion while travelling is the longer you travel the better but in today’s modern life getting more than a week is hard but Spiti Valley is the place where you need to get the duration of travel spot on or you will end up spending eight-14 hours a day just in the vehicle skimming through the whole valley just sitting in a vehicle. The ideal time frame is anywhere between eight-11 days minimum from New Delhi or Chandigarh as your start point. Anything shorter will result in nothing but excessive travel time in the vehicle.
There are two entry points to Spiti Valley, one via Manali and Atal Tunnel which is open during the summer months from mid-May to end of October. This is a faster way to enter Spiti Valley but also at the same time a very hard terrain for first time Himalayan travellers. The other route is via Shimla and Kinnaur Valley which is a route that is open and accessible all year. So for your routing to Spiti Valley has three options or possibly four.
- Manali -> Spiti Valley -> Manali
- Shimla -> Spiti Valley -> Shimla
- Shimla -> Spiti Valley -> Manali
- Manali -> Spiti Valley -> Shimla
No matter how much you want to splurge on your Spiti Valley road trip the end product that you will get in terms of service and experience is pretty much the same. It’s only the vehicle which will make a difference in type class. So opt for a trip which is high on experience and has the freedom and flexibility you are looking for.
- Vehicle type
For the kind of unpaved roads that Spiti valley has, the only viable option is to get a SUV or tempo traveller. Anything below this will be a big risk since water levels and falling stones are a common mishap on the road trip around Spiti Valley. Self driving is possible but make sure you have at least three people who can take the wheel. This isn’t the journey for the faint of heart.
Keep in mind Spiti Valley is still very much raw and rugged in the tourism point of view. So accommodation is limited to home stays and guest houses. You won’t find any luxury hotel brands or resorts in this valley. Remember the home stays are the best option while in the valley. You’ll get a first hand experience of what life in Spiti is when you live with a family.
Always be prepared with warm clothing while traveling to Spiti Valley. Putting on layers will come very handy since its a cold desert which makes the day time temperature hot and warm while the night time is extremely cold even in the summer months. So remember woollens, head cap, gloves are an absolute must.
- Basic words
Knowing a bit of the local language will come very handy to move around the remote villages and make friends in the limited time you have in this high altitude cold desert. So before you head out the main word to keep in mind is ‘Julley’ which means, “Hi, hello, whats up?” It’s the word which will help you break the ice to take the conversation ahead.
Pretty much all of Spiti Valley is covered with Jio and Airtel 4G with the former being the more supreme of the two network providers. So it’s unlikely you will even go a day without having a network in Spiti Valley.
If shopping is why you travel Spiti valley has a bit for you. In the towns of Tabo and Kaza is where you’ll find the markets which are selling souvenir magnets, t-shirts and crockery which is all worth a look. It’s similar to what you get in Ladakh, the same Tibetan craft.
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