Spiti Circuit (8N/9D): An Out of the World Experience

What is Spiti Circuit?

Spiti Circuit is a road trip through beautiful roads of Shimla and Kinnaur into the desert mountain valley of Spiti in a full circuit. The circuit that starts and ends at Chandigarh is accessible through two routes:
1) Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Kinnaur-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Kunzum Pass-Manali
2) Chandigarh-Manali-Atal Tunnel-Kunzum Pass-Kaza-Tabo-Nako-Kinnaur-Shimla

Spiti is the land of monasteries and open landscapes preserved deep in the mighty Himalayas. The Spiti and Pin Rivers making their way through the desert mountain valley positioned northeast in the hilly state of Himachal. Spiti has entirely a different terrain as compared to its better half, Lahaul.

Spiti Valley Circuit Tour Package

Road to Spiti Valley

Starting from Delhi/Chandigarh – the amazing Spiti Circuit Tour passes through Shivalik hills, lesser Himalayan ranges of Shimla, and rugged steep valleys of Greater and Trans-Himalayan ranges.

Before reaching Kaza (or Kaja) – the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district, the Spiti Valley Circuit route offers a colorful panorama of landscapes and horizons.

In about 1,100 km long Spiti circuit, the extraterrestrial-looking landscapes of Spiti Valley stand in stark contrast to the rest of the Greater and Lesser Himalayan region.

The circuit that goes through the highs and lows of Kinnaur, Spiti and Kullu valleys offers travelers a chance to explore the recently inaugurated all-weather and all-season Atal Tunnel that reduces travel time between Manali and Kaza by around 3-4 hours and distance by over 35 km. Travel time between Kaza and Manali has now been reduced to about 6-7 hours, which earlier used to be 10-12 hours,

Spiti – a scarcely populated region abutting the Indo-Tibet border – is the land of monasteries, barren but beautiful mountains of dizzying heights, hospitable and super-friendly people.

The Spiti river cuts the region into two parts. Originating from Kunzum Ranges, the river drains the region before its confluence with the Sutlej River at Khab.

Spiti river basin en route Tabo in Spiti valley

Driving by the Spiti river, en route Tabo village

To make it one of the most memorable travel experiences, our Spiti Valley itinerary is designed to explore the Spiti region inside out. From savoring Spitian food to experiencing the culture of the valley, you will get an opportunity to live the life of local people.

Be it standing at ‘the world’s highest village – Komic’ or driving through ‘the world’s most treacherous road,’ you will experience it all firsthand and take home lovely memories and myriad adventure stories you have lived in real-time.

Spiti Circuit Map

Spiti Circuit Map + Spiti Valley Circuit Route Map

Spiti Circuit Map

 

Spiti Circuit Routes

There are two entry routes to reach Spiti Valley from Delhi/Chandigarh:

  • Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur Bushahr – Powari – Nako – Tabo – Kaza (on NH 05)
  • Manali – Atal Tunnel – Grampu – Chhatru – Batal – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (on NH 21)

Spiti Circuit Route via Shimla

From Shimla, there are two entry routes to reach Spiti Valley:

  • Shimla – Mashobra – Naldehra – Suni – Luhri – Rampur Bushahr – Powari – Nako – Tabo – Kaza route on State Highway 13 and NH5.
  • Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur Bushahr – Powari – Nako – Tabo – Kaza route on NH5.

Spiti Circuit Tour Highlights

  • Drive on one of the most treacherous roads in the world in the midst of vast landscapes and by the deep gorges of Kinnaur and Spiti.
  • Camping, photography, and stargazing at Chandra Taal.
  • Visit centuries-old Buddhist monasteries. Tabo’s 1000-year-old monastery is often hailed as the Ajanta of the Himalayas.
  • Mummy of the monk (Sangha Tenzin) at Gue Monastery.
  • Visit the world’s highest village, Komik (4,587m).
  • Send a postcard to your loved ones from Hikkim – the world’s highest post office located at an altitude of 4400 m.
  • Watch the confluence of the Sutlej and Spiti River at Khab.
  • Drive through the 9 km-long Atal Rohtang tunnel – the longest tunnel in the world at 10,000 feet.

Duration: 8 Nights/9 Days

Package Cost: Available on request

Brief Spiti Circuit Tour Itinerary

  1. Delhi to Kotgarh via Shimla/Narkanda (410 km, 9 hrs drive)
  2. Kotgarh to Sangla (140 km, 5 hrs drive)
  3. Sangla – Chitkul – Sangla – Kalpa (100 km, 5 hrs drive)
  4. Kalpa To Tabo (150 Km, 6 hrs drive)
  5. Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar Monastery (60 km, 3 hrs drive)
  6. Kaza – Langza – Hikkim – Komic – Key – Kibber – Gete – Kaza (30 km, 3-4 hrs drive)
  7. Kaza to Chandra Taal Lake via Kunzum Pass (90 km, 3.5 hrs drive)
  8. Chandra Taal to Manali via Atal Tunnel (60 km, 4 hrs drive)
  9. Manali to Chandigarh (290 km, 7 hrs drive)

Detailed Spiti Circuit Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi to Kotgarh via Shimla/Narkanda (410 km, 9 hrs)

Apple Valley, Kotgarh

Apple Valley, Kotgarh

Starting from Delhi/Chandigarh in the morning, we will take you on a joyride on the Himalayan Express Highway of NH 05 into one of the most ecologically diverse and lavishly green valleys of Shivalik. From Parwanoo, the road route runs along the Kalka-Shimla Railway route – a UNESCO World Heritage site — that was built in the late 19th and early 20th century by the Britishers. Chandigarh-Shimla highway meanders through Shivalik forests of pine, deodar, and oak trees.  By noon, we reach the capital city, Shimla.  Here we’ll have lunch and unwind for a moment. We’ll resume the drive and reach Kotgarh by evening — our pit stop for the overnight stay. Dinner and overnight stay at a homestay amidst an orchard of apples and cherries.

 

Day 2: Kotgarh to Sangla (157 km, 6 hrs drive)

On the way to Sangla Valley

En route Sangla valley

Soon after breakfast, we’ll take a connecting road that will take us back on the NH5.  It descends through orchards of apples and cherries and meets NH5 at Bithal.  From Bithal, we’ll be driving along the right bank of the Satluj river.

Chitkul village landscape

Chitkul village vista

The spotlight of the day is driving through the tunnel-shaped road stretch of Tranda Dhank on old Hindustan-Tibet (HT) road.  Driving under a roof formed by blasting and cutting the mountains on one side and a deep gorge on the other side will cause the adrenaline to spike to the max for sure.

Sangla Valley Kinnaur

Sangla Valley, Kinnaur

From Karcham, we would drive over the bridge and enter the Sangla (Baspa valley). By the evening we would be reaching Sangla town. Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Sangla.

 

Day 3: Sangla to Chitkul to Sangla to Kalpa (100 km, 5 hrs drive)

Kalpa, Kinnaur

Kalpa, Kinnaur

On day 3, we shall explore the Baspa valley. After breakfast, we would be heading toward Chitkul. The road to Chitkul runs along the right bank of the Baspa river.
Constructed at the base of the valley, the 23km long road passes by the Mastrang ITBP check post, Bastseri, and Rakcham village.

At Chitkul, we will explore the village, visit Chitkul fort and Chitkul Mata temple. We will be heading back to Sangla soon. From Sangla, we would take the return trip to Karcham and head toward Chini village of Kalpa. By evening, we would reach Kalpa. Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Kalpa.

 

Day 4: Day 4: Kalpa to Tabo (150 Km, 6 hrs)

Today, we drive along the Sutlej River until we reach a place called Khab. Khab is the place where Sutlej – flowing down from Shipki-La Pass – and River Spiti meet. From here the road ascends to Nako, a village perched on a slope of an elevation of about 12,000 feet.

Nako is a picturesque village offering some amazing views of perpetually snow-covered Manerang ranges. There is also a lake and a Buddhist monastery in the village.

Nako-Monastery-Kinnaur

Nako Monastery of Hangrang valley

Nako also serves as a basecamp for climbing the highest peak in Himachal — the Reo Purgyil.

Prayer Wheels at Nako Monastery

Prayer Wheels at Nako Monastery

After unwinding for a while, we’ll soon proceed towards Tabo village. By the evening we would be reaching Tabo. Overnight stay at a hotel/homestay.

Tabo Monastery Spiti Valley

Gompa at Tabo Monastery

Day 5: Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar Monastery (60 km, 3 hrs drive)

Key monastery, Spiti Valley

Key Gompa of Spiti

The history of the Tabo monastery dates back to 996 AD. It is the oldest continuously operating monastery in India. In the morning we’ll visit the monastery and surrounding Chortens and thereafter head to Sichling.

Dhankar Monastery Spiti Valley

Dhankar Monastery Spiti Valley

A connecting road from Sichling will take us to Dhankar. Dhankar monastery is perched on the edge of a mountain, and the landscape looks just out of a fairy tale setting.

Pin river basin of Pin valley

River terraces of the wind-swept Pin valley

Pin Valley Spiti

After exploring the village and monastery, we head toward Kaza and reach there by evening. Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel/homestay.

 

Day 6: Kaza to Langza to Hikkim to Komic to Key to Kibber to Gete to Kaza (30 km, 3-4 hrs drive)

Langza Village, Spiti Valley

Langza Village, Spiti

On day six of the Spiti Valley circuit tour, we’ll visit one of the highest regions of human settlement in the world.

Kibber village of Spiti

Road to Kibber village — home of the Snow Leopard.

Komic is the highest inhabited village in Asia. After Komic, our next pitstop is Hikkim – the highest post office in the world. A postcard will be your best chance to connect to the rest of the world as Hikkim village has no mobile or internet connectivity.

Hikkim Village in Spiti Valley

Hikkim Village in Spiti Valley

Our next stop will be Langza. Langza is famed for fossils of the Triassic-Jurassic period (200 million years old). In Langza we’ll pay a visit to the 1000-year-old Lang temple.

Langza Village Spiti Valley

Langza Village in Spiti Valley

From Langza, we’ll make a return trip to Kaza and drive to Key Monastery. After visiting the monastery we would drive to Kibber village. In the evening, we would drive back to Kaza for dinner and an overnight stay.

 

Day 7: Kaza to Chandra Taal Lake via Kunzum Pass (90 km, 3.5 hrs drive)

Chandra Taal, Spiti

Chandra Taal, Spiti Valley

We start the day early as the weather at the 4550 m (15,060 feet) high Kunzum Pass can turn from bright sunshine into snow showers in a minute. Kunzum Pass acts as a crossover between Spiti Valley with Lahaul valley. When in Lahaul, you might notice that this valley is a lot greener than Spiti.

Kunzum Pass offers amazing views of the Chandrabhaga Ranges. It has a Hindu temple and a Buddhist Chorten dedicated to the eponymous Goddess Kunzum Mata.

After a short descent from the pass, we take a detour on a narrow road to Chandra Taal Lake. Chandra Taal – also known as the moon lake – is a beautiful lake at an altitude of 14,100 feet.

Chandratal Lake of Spiti Valley

The lunar lake – Chandratal

Nestled between the mountain ranges of Chandra Bhaga and Kunzum top, Chandra Taal is acclaimed and admired by travelers as one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire Himalayan region.

After enjoying the beautiful views, we will settle for a lakeside overnight stay in camps at Chandra Taal.

| Must read: 7 tips to catch a good night’s sleep at minus 30°C

Day 8: Chandra Taal to Manali via Atal Tunnel (100 km, 4 hrs drive)

manali Kullu

Manali

After savoring the pristine views of Chandra Taal Lake and surrounding mountain ranges, we would head for Manali. After a short halt at Batal, we drive along the Chandra River until a place called Gramphu.

From Gramphu we can take one of the two routes to Manali:
1. Gramphu – Rohtang – Kothi – Palchan – Manali
2. Gramhpu – Koksar – Chandra Bridge – Atal Tunnel – Solang Valley – Manali

We’ll reach Manali by the evening. Overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 9: Departure

Departure from Manali to Delhi

Time to bid farewell. Drive to Delhi via Chandigarh.

 

Why Spiti Valley Circuit Tour?

The first and foremost reason to do Spiti Circuit is to explore the valley of lamas and lakes inside out. The circuit has so much to offer that it leaves travelers spellbound and awestruck in the glory of the remote mystic valley.

Tabo Monastery Courtyard

Courtyard of Tabo Monastery

Snow-covered mountain ranges, open meadows, landscapes, glacial rivers, old monasteries, beautiful Himalayan lakes; the virgin beauty of Spiti valley is so heavenly that describing it in a few adjectives is a sheer understatement.

Spiti Valley circuit tour gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sip on the sweet waters of moon lake, drive to the highest motorable village – Komic, send back a postcard to your kin from the world’s highest post office at Hikkim, and learn about the local culture, people and their way of living. 

Why Travel to Spiti from Shimla Side?

Talking about the most suitable route for Spiti Circuit, you can enter Spiti Valley from Shimla side and exit from Manali or vice versa. However, we recommend doing Spiti Circuit from Shimla side because the sequence of natural wonders is laid out so well that it keeps you intrigued until the journey culminates in the tourist mecca of Himachal – Manali.

Plus, gaining altitude gradually is the best way to beat breathing difficulties and hypoxia when traveling to high altitudes. In the Shimla-Kinnaur-Spiti route, you steadily gain altitude while venturing into the cold desert of Spiti Valley. 

Spiti Valley is a high-altitude plateau – the average elevation from mean sea level is 4270 m. Air in this barren cold desert is thin and people coming from the plains often feel breathing difficulties when they gain altitude quickly.

On the Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza route, there is almost a linear ascent (barring Narkanda-Rampur descent) from Shimla (2276 m), Narkanda (2700 m), Kalpa (2960m) to Kaza (3800 m).

If you choose the Manali-Kaza route, there is a sharp ascent from 2000 m at Manali to about 4550 m at Kunzum Pass – that too within a drive time of about 4-5 hours.

Spiti Valley Weather & Best Time To Do Spiti Circuit

The Spiti Valley Circuit is doable during the months of June and October.  In late October or November, Kunzum Pass gets closed due to snowfall.

The route only opens for the public in late May or early June when BRO (Border Road Organisation) engages its snow-cutters to clear the snow.

Lower and middle ranges of the Himalayas receive heavy rainfall during the monsoon. To avoid heavy rains and roads blocked by landslides, June and September-October is the best time window to do the Spiti Valley Circuit Tour.

The weather remains pleasant in Spiti during the Spiti Circuit time (June-October). During sunny days, the maximum temperature touches 25-30°C. The average temperature during the June-October period stays between 20-25°C.

FAQs About Spiti Circuit Tour

Q: What is Spiti Circuit?

A: Spiti Circuit is a road trip through beautiful roads of Shimla and Kinnaur into the desert mountain valley of Spiti in a full circuit. The circuit that starts and ends at Chandigarh is accessible through two routes:
1) Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Kinnaur-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Kunzum Pass-Manali
2) Chandigarh-Manali-Atal Tunnel-Kunzum Pass-Kaza-Tabo-Nako-Kinnaur-Shimla

Q: What is the best time for Spiti Valley Circuit Tour?

A: The best time to go for the Spiti valley circuit tour is from June to September. The circuit route of Spiti Valley opens after BRO (Border Road Organisation) clears snow at Kunzum Pass in May. At 14,931 feet, Kunzum La is a mountain pass that connects Manali and Lahaul with Spiti Valley.

Sometimes, extended winters delay the snow clearing operation at Kunzum Pass. Therefore, the pass remains closed for vehicular traffic until mid-June.

Q: When does the Spiti Valley Circuit route open?

A: In June month. Though the route to Spiti Valley from Shimla remains open throughout the year, the Manali-Spiti Valley route gets closed in November and stays so until May as the road through the Kunzum Pass – the crossover between Lahaul and Spiti – gets buried in deep snow during winter months.

Q: Is this trip for me?

A: If you are crazily in love with the Himalayas, then this trip is for you. If you have never felt how driving through the world’s most treacherous road and standing on the world’s highest inhabited village feels like, then this trip is for you. Ear-deafening noise coming from furious Sutlej and Spiti Rivers and the calmness and beauty of Chandra Taal will get you high.

Q: What is the weather in Spiti Valley during summers?

A: The weather remains pleasant in Spiti Valley in the summers. The summer arrives late (in June) – in Spiti Valley and winters arrive early.

The average day temperature during summers hovers at around 15 degrees Celsius and the nights are cold (minimum temperature drops to 2-3 degrees Celsius).

The only mantra to enjoy this trip is to be well equipped. It’s perfectly fine to fill your bag with an extra pair of woolen socks, cap, and fleece.

Q: How to prepare for the Spiti Valley Circuit Trip?

A: Spiti Valley is a high-altitude Himalayan desert plateau. If you live in a city that is located near sea level altitude and you have never experienced a high altitude valley or terrain before, do take some time (a day or two) to acclimatize yourself either at Shimla or Manali. The acclimatization day is recommended though it is not necessary if you are in good shape.

To protect your skin from the harsh sunshine of the Spiti, carry an SPF 30+ sunscreen lotion, lip balm, and good quality UV protection sunglasses. For added protection, carry a scarf or bandana. The scarf/muffler will also save you from the piercing winds of Spiti Valley.

Q: How to reach Spiti Valley from Chandigarh?

A: From Chandigarh, there are two routes to reach Spiti Valley:

1) Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Kinnaur-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Kunzum Pass-Manali
2) Chandigarh-Manali-Atal Tunnel-Kunzum Pass-Kaza-Tabo-Nako-Kinnaur-Shimla

Q: How to reach Spiti Valley from Delhi?

A: Take National Highway 44 (NH 44) and Ambala-Chandigarh Express Highway to reach Chandigarh. From Chandigarh, there are two routes to choose from:

1) Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Kinnaur-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Kunzum Pass-Manali
2) Chandigarh-Manali-Atal Tunnel-Kunzum Pass-Kaza-Tabo-Nako-Kinnaur-Shimla

Q: How to reach Spiti Valley from Shimla?

A: From Shimla, you need to follow the Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur Bushahr-Tapri-Khab route on National Highway 05 (NH 05) and Khab-Nako-Tabo-Kaza route on NH 505.

The distance from Shimla to Kaza is 420 km, and it takes about 12 hours to reach Kaza.

Q: How to reach Spiti Valley from Manali?

A: Spiti to Manali route is shorter than the Shimla to Kaza route. From Manali, you need to drive to Palchan (Solang Valley) and continue the drive towards Atal Tunnel. Drive through the 9 km-long Atal Tunnel and you will reach the north portal of the Atal Tunnel – Sissu in Lahaul Valley.

From the north portal of Atal Tunnel, continue to drive on the Manali-Leh highway. About 6 km after you cross the Koksar bridge, take a right turn and continue driving on NH 505 for 4 hours to reach Kaza – the central town of Spiti Valley.

Q: Why should I start the Spiti Valley Circuit from Shimla?

A: You gain altitude gradually when traveling from the Shimla side. This the best way to travel to beat AMS and breathing difficulties that you may face while in Spiti Valley. In the Manali-Kaza route, there is a sharp gain in altitude – from 2000 m to 4550 m – in a short interval.

Q: What are the highlights of Spiti Valley Circuit?

A: There is a long list of sightseeing places en route Spiti circuit. Here are a few of them:

  • Narkanda
  • Kotgarh (Apple Valley)
  • Sangla Valley
  • Chitkul (the last motorable village on the Indo-Tibetan border)
  • Kalpa (Kinnaur Valley)
  • Nako Lake
  • Tabo Monastery
  • Pin Valley
  • Dhankar Monastery
  • Ki Monastery
  • Remote Spiti villages (Kibber, Langza, Hikkim, Komic, Gette)
  • Kunzum Pass (4550m)
  • Chandra Taal Lake
  • Atal Tunnel
  • Manali

Q: Can I bring my spouse/friend with me?

A: Of course, you can. We will be visiting many beautiful villages, lakes, and monasteries during the course of our journey; which implies, we will be having a wonderful time during the trip.

Q: Is there any trekking involved in the trip?

A: No. All the destinations you are visiting are accessible by vehicle. At a couple of places, you might have to take short walks, but they cannot be categorized as treks. Anyone with a reasonable fitness level can do most of the activities during the trip.

Q: What is the maximum altitude we will hit?

A: 15,059 ft (4,590 m) at Kunzum Pass.

Q: What about the level of physical fitness?

A: A person with reasonable fitness can join the group because there is no trekking involved throughout the trip. Still, it is always good to be fit when going to high altitudes.

Q: Does physical fitness protect against altitude sickness?

A: As suggested it’s always good to be physically fit when you plan to go to high altitudes. But there is no evidence that people with high physical fitness levels don’t fall prey to AMS (acute mountain sickness). Rather they might challenge themselves to exert more, hence increasing the probability of becoming AMS victims.

Q: Can I drink alcohol at a high altitude?

A: Drinking alcohol at high altitudes is a practice you should avoid in all possibilities, because alcohol can obstruct your breathing, directly hampering the acclimatization process of your body. Furthermore, alcohol may cause dehydration.

Q: Should I take Diamox when going to high altitude?

A: There is no need to take Diamox until or unless your body has enough time for acclimatization. We have planned the trip in stages to offer your body sufficient time for acclimatization during the ascent. Hence taking drugs in the mountains need to be avoided. You should consider taking Diamox only if you are gaining altitude very quickly (flying to high altitude locations), that too only if you have no history of allergies to the drug.

 

Tour cost includes

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis
  • Camping at Chandra Taal
  • Transportation on all days of the tour
  • Meals
  • Qualified tour leader
  • Vehicle: Innova or equivalent

Tour cost does not include

  • Additional food or beverages ordered, room service, porter
  • Insurance
  • Anything not mentioned in the inclusion list

 

Cancellation Policy

In the event of cancellation of tour/trek/adventure activity/services due to any avoidable/unavoidable reasons, we must be notified of the same in writing. Cancellation charges will be effective from the date we receive the information in writing (email), and cancellation charges would be as follows:

  • 30 days or more prior to the departure date: 90% of the total package fee refundable
  • Between 21-30 days prior to the departure date: 60% of the total package fee refundable
  • Between 20-11 days prior to the departure date: 30% of the total package fee refundable
  • Less than 10 days prior to the departure date: No refund
  • No show: No refund
  • No refund will be made if a participant is unable to complete the tour/trek/adventure activity owing to medical conditions or any other reasons, after starting the tour/trek/adventure activity