Spiti Valley Travel Guide

Thanks for stopping by! Let me tell you that this is going to be a lengthy travleogue, so, in case you are in a hurry, you can simply watch a short film on our YouTube channel HERE. 


Day-1 (10-02-18)

We started our journey from Panchkula and the first thing we did was to get fuel for our bikes.
(two cans of 5 ltr each to back up after the full fuel tanks.)

Panchkula petrol pump.


Our first Halt was at Shimla old bus stop for tea and snacks at around 04:30 (temperature was
around -4). Not used to the biting cold wind, our bodies were yet to be acclimatized with the
cold weather. The tea was spilling out of the cups. We played music on bluetooth speakers and
started dancing to warm up a bit.

We put on more layers before leaving from here to be able to confront the extreme weather to come.

Sunrise at Kufri
 The sun came up while riding through the beautiful hills at around 06:30 near Kufri. (Picture above)
Our group stopped at Narkanda for some repairing work and snacks..
Patches of black Ice at Kufri

Patches of black ice started from Kufri. We Had to ride slower than the usual speed. The bikes
were skidding. Fortunately, as the day passed and after crossing narkanda, there was no black
ice till Rampur.
Black ice at the side of the road of Kufri
We had breakfast at a dhaba near Matiyana. We had a good amount of rest, we then, simply
lazed under the clear sky for almost an hour. We reached Rampur at around 13:30 P.M. and stayed the night there at “The Grand Shangri-La hotel” which we had pre-booked.



The Grand Shangri-La Hotel, Rampur
.

Day 2 (11-02-18)

We started from Rampur to Pooh at 09:00 after having breakfast near the hotel. As soon as you leave Rampur behind you, you can notice that you are going against the direction of the flow of River Satluj. You will always find the river beside you while you are riding at the lap of the beautiful valley. It can be easily perceived how glacial, freshening and pure the river water is by the sea green color  and the chilling wind blowing on the periphery. There were many more mesmerizing views on the way.


Deserted mountains at Kinnaur District
On entering the Kinnaur District we started seeing deserted mountains as we were moving forward.
But that's only during this period of time, i.e,, from around October to May, otherwise,  the mountains
are green.We took small breaks near small waterfalls that came on the way

.





We stopped for lunch near Tapri village. We also, got the fuel tanks filled up near the village,
remember, this os the ONLY fuel pump on the way before Kaza. (around 230 kms). Fill up all the
fuel that you need, here. We started from panchkula with two 5 ltr. cans each for a bike.

Tapri Village

Only after a few kilometers, came across this signboard on the way.

World's most treacherous road


After almost 50 kms we reached Akpa Check Post which is just after the way that goes to
Reckong Peo.
You have to register your vehicle’s registration number plate for security purposes and also fill in
the number of people going in the vehicle.

The local police has the right to ask you to head back for your safety. So, keep a check on the


weather before planning the trip. Fortunately, we had no trouble moving ahead.
Akpa Check-Post

Kinnaur District Map




The weather started getting nasty as it was getting dark. It was drizzling when we decided to stop
for a while and have some tea and snacks.


Please note that there are considerable chances of not being able to pre-book any hotel
or a homestay in villages during this time of the year. We had our friends who figured a way out
and got us booked the PWD guest house of Pooh. We had a very comfortable night stay there.

Please take care about the bookings and your pull over points when you are travelling to Spiti during
this part of the year as most of the hotels are shut down at this time.
In case you are interested in travelling to Spiti, you can send us your queries through a 
“contact us” form on the home page of The Guides.



Day 3 (12-02-18)

View from the PWD guest house at Pooh


View from the PWD guest house at Pooh at 08:00 (Picture above). Our next halt was Tabo village. we started from Pooh at around 09:00 for Tabo.

Resuming journey from PWD guest house, Pooh to Tabo
The Roads, the view, the challenge, the chill and everything else starts to get a notch up from here.
We found very less to no residents for long patches on the way. There were no hospitals or medical
help in the next 50 kilometers. It is therefore, advised to carry necessary medicines and first aid with
you. The valley we were riding through was one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever come
across. But, with the charm of the valley, came its deadly steep depth. We batten ourselves down and
moved on.

The feeling of traveling in one of the COLDEST deserts of the country had already taken us over by
that time. 
Satluj River

The Sea green color can be seen of the Satluj river in the picture above.
On the way to Spiti Valley
On the way to Spiti Valley

Stopping at roadsides and dancing had become a recurrent and fun practice. We played music on
bluetooth speakers and danced to warm ourselves up, to cheer up.

Spiti travellers
We rode unhurried and reached Nako village by afternoon.. We found out that like all other villages,
most of the things were shut down here. The residences were also locked up. We stopped at the
Nako Helipad and found a small cafe and a shop near that place. The shop had regular items. It also
has black eyed peas on sale (different and much better in taste than the regular) which is cultivated
in the village only and is hard to be found anywhere else.

By now, tea had become a favorite among all of us. Along with that, we ordered momos, thukpa and
maggie from the cafe.

Nako Helipad
There is a small temple near the Nako helipad. We were told that such temples are easy to be found
here and are staying here from a long time and were built by buddhists.

Buddhist temple near Nako Helipad
The weather was already not very welcoming when we had reached Nako, and as soon as we
wrapped up eating, we could see very small snowflakes falling upon us. I had never experienced
a snowfall. It was enthralling but, also, a little disappointing.
We had planned to visit the popular Nako lake which is only around 2 kilometers from the helipad.
But we were guided not to as the weather was starting to get bad. It was a wise decision to move,
otherwise, we would have been stuck on the way. 
So, we started off for Tabo village right away which is around 70 kilometers from Nako Village.


Completely frozen waterfall. Stunning!! You can imagine the temperature.

The second and the last check post that comes in the way of Spiti Valley is right before
Sumdo village.

Sumdo village check post is around 35 kilometres from Nako village; and mind you my friends,
calculating the time taken to cover this much distance is of no use. The hills, the black ice,
the weather, the landslides are all that decide for you. It is no surprise if it takes as long as 2-3 hours
for this much distance.

We were asked at the check post to hurry and not stop on the way and were also warned about the
bad weather. It had already started snowing by that time. And we all were freezing.

The Sumdo village check post comes right after Chango village. Since morning, we had not had a
single glimpse of the sun. It was densely clouded than the previous night.

We had a distance of around another 35 kilometers between us and our homestay in Tabo.
The Satluj river beside us is now known as the Spiti river.

As we moved on, it started snowing heavily and the visibility decreased, it started getting dark
and the wind was biting cold.

We had planned to visit ‘Gue Village’ to see the mummy 550 years old of a monk preserved with
nothing. But the weather didn’t allow us to go any further.
We couldn’t ride at our regular pace because the roads were all layered with black ice. Almost every
bike skidded because of black ice but, fortunately nobody got hurt as all were
riding slow with proper 
riding gear on.
Satluj River/Spiti River
Satluj River/Spiti River



As soon as we reached Tabo, the snow fall completely stopped, but, it was still cloudy.We parked
our bikes near the Tabo Monastery and before caving-in on the beds of our homestay, we went to
visit the beautiful monastery. The Tabo Monastery is said to be Asia’s oldest monasteries!

Tabo Monastry
Tabo Monastry

Tabo Monastry
Tabo Monastry
Tabo Monastry

Like all the other Monasteries, Tabo monastery is also very beautiful. We could feel the positive
aura that we were surrounded by. All the tiredness and the chill seemed to go away.

The place is indeed, spell-bounding. We didn’t feel like we were in any place of Himachal Pradesh.
It felt like we were in some heavenly Buddhist place. So peaceful yet so powerful and exciting.

The people in the valley are very nice. I was flattered to feel and see the positivity, peace and
warmth gleaming from them. We were welcomed warmly and greeted anywhere we went in the valley.

Anyone who would cross you, will greet you saying ‘jhule’ (Lahualian Language), which means 'namaste' in Hindi. After exploring and taking blessings from  the Tabo Monastery, we went to one of our riders’ friend’s place. We were warmly greeted there and were offered milk tea and biscuits.


Fellow rider's friend's place
This is how the dining rooms look like. With a burner inside the room, on which you can boil water
or cook food, it keeps the room warm, and the carpets along with that gives a very cozy feel even
after the temperature on the outside is way below zero.
We loved the place and nobody among us wanted to move from such a cozy place, but, we were
invited by the Cherring homestay for supper, so, we had to leave.

The prayer wheels were very easy to be found in the valley and it is said that turning the wheels
brings peace and positivity in the mind and the environment. It is said to be used for purging the soul.
The prayer wheels can be turned anytime and as many times a day, but the wheels are to be turned
only in the clockwise direction.

Now, there is one important thing you need to keep in mind if you are going for the white Spiti expedition, which is, water is very scarce in the valley during this part of the year. The pipelines are shut down because the water freezes inside them and when the water melts, there are chances of the pipes exploding. So, water is to be very wisely used here ( and otherwise also 😛😛).
You will have to carry toilet paper rolls. Also, most of the homestays will not even have proper toilets; and even if they do, you cannot use them during winters. You will have to use dry pits instead.
It was a  whole new and amazing world for us ( for me, at least 😄).

It won’t be a surprise if you don’t take bath for days there. Nobody does.  Water is to be respected
and very wisely used. The rooms of the Cherring Homestay were very comfortable and cozy. We all were provided a heater and 4 blankets each for one room. The rooms were very clean and well maintained. There was a separate dining room. The bathrooms attached with the rooms were not functional yet. So, we used one common bathroom. The place seemed very hygienic and very well- maintained.

We used to play cards games during the night, poker with black eyed peas and used to enjoy a lot.


Day 4 (13-02-18)


The weather was yet again, cloudy and cold. But we didn’t stop at Tabo. We wanted to explore the
beautiful Spiti valley as much as we could.

So, we started off for the village ‘Kaza’ which is around 50 kilometres from Tabo village. Because there was always some or the other problem with the bikes, our mechanic was the one to save our lives. If you are planning on a road trip on bikes, please make sure you have all the spares and you have had your bike’s servicing done. You won’t find any mechanic for many kilometres at a stretch. Also, during this chilling winter time, you would see no one on the streets or the highway. Eerie views and pin drop silence is what you will confront. We started late in the morning. Visited Tabo Monastery before leaving and it had already started snowing. This was the most rough patch of the road we had travelled on till now, as it was almost completely covered with snow and dry ice. It took us almost 4 hours to reach kaza, a mere distance of around 50 kms. The mud guards of the tyres kept on getting stuffed with ice obstructing its movement and skidding ultimately.  We used sticks to clear the guards.

We saw some sun only after two days when we were about to reach Kaza.

The view was breathtaking. It is a paradise; one of the best views I have ever seen in my life.


Kaza



Kaza
Kaza


Kaza
Kaza


The last few kilometres to Kaza were very difficult. The road was very slippery and it became very
difficult to ride. Somehow or another, we reached Dolma homestay at Kaza by the evening before
the sun went down.

DAY 5 (14-02-18)


The minimum temperature that night was  -26 degree Celsius. The washrooms were not attached
to any room. So it was a task to go and use it. The window sill was completely  covered in snow
when we woke up. Fortunately we could see the sun on fifth day. The sky was very clear.

We woke up leisurely and got ready. Headed to the Kaza market. The small lanes were filled with
snow and very less shops were open. But, you could find wool, and all other woollen clothes like
caps, socks, all knit by the locals. They were very warm and quite inexpensive. You could also find
crockery in the shops.

From Kaza, we couldn’t take our bikes further as the there was a lot of snow on the roads, so we booked a tempo traveller to visit other villages of Spiti valley.

The tempo traveller dropped us in the middle of the road somewhere and from there we trekked
about a kilometre till Kibber village. The view was beautiful. There was snow all around and it looked very beautiful. We came across groups of photographers on the way trying to capture the shy animal, THE SNOW LEOPARD. They told us that they have been waiting here for a week to have a glimpse of the animal. However, we proved to be fortunate for them as they spotted one, inside a gorge right after we had reached that place. We felt very fortunate  to be able to have a glimpse of the leopard. We also spotted Ibex and Red Fox!



Kibber Village

On the way to Kibber Village
On the way to Kibber Village

Chicham Bridge


Kibber Village
Kibber Village

On the way back to kaza, we went to Kee monastery.

On our way to Kee Monastry



Kee Monastry

The monastery was about to close when we had arrived. So we rushed and tried to use the time left
with us to take the blessings. We were greeted by a monk. The only monk present there at that time.
He showed us around and was very patient with us.

After showing us around, he took us inside the kitchen and offered us butter tea and Prasad

(sattu flour). Both were delicious! 😋

Sunset at Kee Monastry

Fifth day was one of the best days as we had explored so much on that day. We got back to our homestay by the night, had a great meal and went to bed. Please note, the higher on the mountains

we travelled, the more lack of oxygen we felt.

Day 6 (15-02-18)


This was the day of our return from the Spiti valley. We wanted to stay for long. And were very
upset and gloomy to leave the place. The homestay owner offered us apples from their farms and

they tasted like REAL apples- fresh and free of chemicals .😅😅

World's higest petrol pump
While leaving for home, we filled up fuel from the world’s highest petrol pump. 😀
Fortunately the sky was clear. On our way back we went to Gue Village to see and purge the curiosity of the Gue Mummy. The Gue village is the last Indian village, nearest village to China border.
What we found was really very surprising -  the mummy was naturally preserved with its teeth and
hair on head still intact.

Gue Village
The Mummy
Gue Village
We returned to our homestays in Tabo by the night. They were mud houses, very beautiful and warm.


Mud House
 

Dinner
This was our dinner for the night. 

The owner of the homestay was very generous and kind. He sat and ate with us. After that he

entertained us with the local folk songs he played using his instrument. It was very calming and
amazing experience altogether.

Day 7 (16-02-18)


We were to start from Tabo to Pooh. But before leaving for Pooh, all of us wanted to revisit the
 beautiful Tabo monastery.

To our luck, we saw that the monastery was all decorated and a lot of people were sitting inside and
enjoying. We later on get to know, that they were celebrating the new year in Buddhism.

We considered ourselves very blessed to have experienced one more rare occasion.


Buddhist New Year Celebration at Tabo Monastry

The locals had prepared delicious foods at home and brought them to the monastery to celebrate
and share with everyone. They greeted us very warmly, asked us to join them and offered all of us all that they had prepared. It was very overwhelming for us.


 
Buddhist New Year celebration at Tabo Monastry

Tabo Monastry


We left from there and reached Pooh village by the evening.



On the 8th day, we started descending and stopped at the same places and same hotels/homestays while ascending and on the 9th day we were back to Panchkula (home)


This was all about our journey to Spiti Valley. This journey is definitely not for the faint heart nor it is for bike novice. But the exquisite beauty of the place, in fact, the whole journey, is worth taking the risk. Going in large groups and with proper planning and preparation are must for such trips. Hope you all enjoyed it! 😊😊😊

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Difference between love and attachment

3 reasons why you should NOT know your future