Are you the one who don’t like to book the tour packages? Are you the one who is always looking for a budget trip? Are you the one who loves to explore places as a traveller and not as a tourist? If yes, you are on the right tab. How about exploring the Spiti Valley in winters on a budget trip?
Spiti valley roads in winters are snow covered
A budget trip to Spiti valley in winters is a dream come true for every backpacker. But Abhi is it even possible to visit Spiti valley in winters using public transport and find cheap accommodations. Yes, it is!! Though, the road route from Manali is closed during the winters, the route from Shimla is mostly open.
As I said in my previous post on Spiti valley that the valley is quite far from Delhi (by Shimla route) and one would need at least 2-3 days to reach either of the towns. Abhi, does that mean it will be 2-3 days of non- stop travelling? No, but since the public transport at night in that region is not available, one would need to take night halts at places en-route.
On way to Kaza Spiti valley
But don’t worry, there are so many places en-route which has a lot to explore and are definitely worth a visit. In fact, they are worthy of visiting alone. So let me put forward an itinerary for my lovely readers on How to plan a Spiti Valley trip in winters on a 10 day’s trip from Delhi.
Note: Before I go ahead with the detailed itinerary, let me make it very clear that this post is all about visiting the Spiti Valley in winters from Shimla Side; the details of Spiti trip in any other season may completely vary from this post.
Also, during my visit, it was a record-breaking snowfall, so many routes in the Spiti region were closed and I couldn’t explore much of Spiti. You can make changes to the itinerary depending on the weather conditions and the no of days you have in hand.
En-route to Key Monastery Spiti Valley
Day 0: Delhi – Shimla (406 kms – 12 hours)
You can start your journey from Delhi by taking an overnight bus for Shimla. It would take around 9-10 hours and you will be at Shimla by early morning. You can explore Shimla for an hour or so.
Mall Road Shimla
Day 1: Shimla – Narkanda (60 kms – 2 hours)
After exploring the town of Shimla early morning, catch a bus for Narkanda. Narkanda is a beautiful town located around 60 kms from capital city Shimla. Narkanda provides a breathtaking view of the Himalayan range and also has a few spots of tourist interest. You can spend the night at Narkanda.
For more details on Narkanda, check out my post Narkanda in winters – An unexplored hidden gem in the lap of Himalayas.
Hatu Peak Narkanda
Day 2: Narkanda – Reckong Peo – Kalpa (170 kms – 6-7 hours)
Early morning you can catch a bus from Narkanda for Reckong Peo. Also, you can take a bus from Narkanda for Rampur Bushahr and another bus from Rampur Bushahr for Reckong Peo. Just take the one which you get early.
From Reckong Peo, Kalpa is just 6-7 kms but it would be an uphill walk. Buses don’t ply in winters between Kalpa and Reckong Peo, you can take a shared taxi. Explore Kalpa for the rest of the day and spend the night at this gorgeous town.
For more details on Kalpa, check out my post: Kalpa in winters – Experience snowfall amidst the Kinnaur Kailash Mountains.
Day 3: Kalpa – Reckong Peo – Kaza (207 kms – 8-10 hours)
Get up early, explore more of Kalpa and head for Reckong Peo. You can walk all the way to Reckong Peo (1 hour) as it would be a delightful walk. But remember the bus for Kaza from Reckong Peo leaves at 8:00 AM, so make sure you aren’t late.
Bus service from Reckong Peo to Kaza in winters is totally dependent on weather. Even if you get bus till Kaza from Reckong Peo, you cannot be sure of making up to Kaza. The driver may park the bus at any of the nearby villages in case it is not safe to travel ahead. Assuming that the weather conditions are good, you will probably make it to Kaza by 5-6 PM. Night stay at Kaza. For more details check out: Spiti Valley in winters – “A travel guide to the journey of a lifetime”
Frozen Waterfall at Kaza Spiti valley
Day 4: Explore the Kaza town
After 3 days of travelling, you can spend the day exploring the Kaza town and have some rest. You can walk around the nearby villages to Kaza and explore the same. Also, it would be extremely cold so let your body acclimatize to the weather and altitude. Night stay at Kaza.
Mountains near Kaza Spiti valley
Day 5: Kaza – Key Monastery –Kibber – Chicham – Kaza – Tabo (100 kms – 4 hours)
Early morning you can head to Key Monastery. After taking the blessings, you can leave for Kibber and Chicham if the roads are open. You can also walk all the way to these towns if roads aren’t open (5-6 hours walk). Come back all the way today to Tabo. Night stay at Tabo.
Key Monastery Spiti valley
En-route to Tabo Spiti valley
Day 6: Exploring the Tabo town
Today, you can explore the breathtaking Tabo town. Also, you can go for a leisurely walk to the Lari town. The route is quite scenic and you will get some mind-blowing pictures. I will soon write a detailed post on Tabo.
Tabo Spiti valley
Day 7: Tabo – Reckong Peo – Sangla (177 kms – 8-9 hours)
Take an early morning bus/shared taxi from Tabo to reach Reckong Peo by evening. From Reckong Peo, you can catch a bus/shared taxi for Sangla. Overnight stay at Sangla.
Day 8 Sangla – Chitkul (24 kms – 1 hour)
Catch a shared Taxi for Chitkul, there may be high chances that roads would be blocked due to heavy snow. I walked all the way from Sangla to Chitkul and back, which took around 12 hours. Overnight stay at Chitkul/Sangla.
For more details on Chitkul, you can read my post: A trip to India’s last inhabited village “Chitkul” in winters.
Chitkul – India’s Last Village
Day 9 Chitkul – Sangla – Shimla (245 kms – 8-10 hours)
You can start with the return journey and try to make it back to Shimla by late evening. Overnight Stay at Shimla.
En-Route to Nako
Day 10 Shimla – Delhi (350 kms – 10-12 hours)
You can explore Shimla for the entire day and take an overnight bus for Delhi.
Note: Always keep buffer days in hands if you are planning a trip to Spiti valley in winters. Visiting Spiti on a fixed time bound plan in winters is almost impossible. The snowfall can sometimes close the roads for a couple of days to weeks to months. Month closure is rare, as BRO clear up roads till Kaza but back in 2013, the road route got closed for a month and people were airlifted. I am not trying to make you afraid, but it is better that you are aware of the truth.
Cloudy at Spiti Valley
Bus/Shared taxi – Delhi to Shimla(INR 450), Shimla to Narkanda(INR 115), Narkanda to Reckong Peo( INR 350), Reckong Peo to Kalpa(INR 50), Reckong Peo to Kaza ( INR 570), Exploring Spiti shared taxis( INR 300)—-Total = Approx. 1800. (Same for the return journey)
Homestays: 8(nights) * 1000 = INR 8000 (includes food as well)
Total – INR 3600 + INR 8000 + INR 3000(Miscellaneous) = INR 14600
Curvy roads at Spiti Valley
Note: I haven’t provided much details on the bus timings/shared taxis as during the winters, the schedule is never fixed. Timings are totally dependent on weather conditions. Just keep the next places to visit in mind and take whatever transport you get for that place. You can try hands at hitchhiking too. One should never plan a Spiti Valley trip in winters on a fixed itinerary.
I agree there would be a lot of travelling involved during your journey to the Spiti Valley. But visiting Spiti valley is all about the journey as one is blessed with breathtaking views all along the way. It would be hard for you to keep your Camera down. Spiti in winters is Heaven and one needs to be there to feel it.
Key Monastery Spiti valley
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Thanks, Mr Abhishek for writing such an informative blog to travel Spiti in winter. I am a retired person and done several Himalayan treks after that in last two year. it was my dream to explore Spiti in Winter solo in the budget. I’m from Mumbai.
Glad to know that Shekhar 🙂
I can feel the pictures… Very informative and helpful information shared.