A road trip to Spiti is the stuff of dreams. It boasts of some of the most remote panoramas in the world and some of the highest villages of the world. But it is the visions of monasteries perched on hills and barren nothingness that will leave your eyes reeling with wonder. After our self-drive road trip to Ladakh from Delhi NCR a few years ago we had always wanted to drive to Spiti valley, and glad we could do so this year!
Here is EVERYTHING you need to plan a road trip to Spiti including a day-by-day itinerary. Hope it helps you plan this trip for yourself 🙂
Best time to go on a Road Trip to Spiti
The best months are summer months as all hotels and restaurants are open and most places are accessible. If you are driving yourself avoid monsoon months & extreme winter months (although the landscapes are insanely gorgeous at this time). Try to go during summer months (April-July) or autumn (October-November). There are 2 routes to get to Spiti Valley – one is via Shimla and Kinnaur, and the other via Manali and Kunzum Pass. The route via Manali closes in winter months (usually by end October or Early November). Even in summer months when this route is open, it’s advisable to go via Shimla/Kinnaur side to acclimatise to the altitude and come back via the Manali route.
Cost of a road trip to Spiti
If you are driving yourself from Delhi NCR, then expect to spend around INR 15000 on fuel and tolls for the entire circuit. In addition, expect to spend approximately INR 4000 for mid-range accommodation + meals per night of stay. This cost will vary slightly depending on the hotels you choose. In terms of meals, there aren’t many options around, so the cost of meals & groceries stays constant. So an 8 day road-trip to Spiti from Delhi NCR cost us around INR 47000.
You can also take group tours from Shimla or Manali if you enjoy travelling in a group with other solo travellers. Make sure you check the places you will be staying at and the itinerary before paying for group trips.
Connectivity in Spiti
Wifi is, at best, patchy on this roadtrip to Spiti. Make sure you have lots of data and an Airtel or Jio connection as both those networks work very well in most large villages and towns . Good 3G & 4G connections in hubs like Kalpa, Kaza etc ensure you are well connected, even in remote places.
What to pack for a road trip to Spiti
In addition to your regular clothes and shoes, we would suggest packing the following items for your road trip to Spiti as this is a remote destination & infrastructure isn’t the best
- A good quality gimbal for your phone helps in getting better photos & videos. This is the one we use right now – would definitely recommend it
- Good sunscreen that offers SPF 50 protection. Here is the link to the one both of us used on this trip
- A hydrating serum for your skin. I packed this one and loved it
- Your favourite heavy-duty lotion or cream – I’ve been using this one for years
- A high-quality lip balm as lips tend to get very dry and a comfortable lip tint that goes with every outfit – Revlon’s Sultry is an old favourite of mine. It’s perfect for most Indian skin-tones
- Waterproof hiking/ snow boots
- First-aid kit wand a medicine like Diamox for altitude sickness. In all probability, you will not need this medicine as you are driving and ascending altitude gradually but it is better to go prepared
- Fully body thermals – Uniqlo Heattech thermals are a good choice – they are affordable and will keep you warm
- Toilet paper, snacks, some instant meals and instant beverages, tea bags, and some plates and cutlery. There are long stretches of road without a single shop, especially in winter, so go prepared
- Emergency kit for your car that includes a tyre inflator and puncture repair kit, battery jump start cable, towing rope, and empty 5 litre can for back-up fuel.
Road conditions & driving to Spiti
Road conditions in general are pretty good given how remote the area is. However there are some extremely narrow and unpaved stretches and all throughout lots of stretches with shooting stones, so drive carefully. We wouldn’t recommend anyone who is not extremely comfortable with hill driving in India to attempt this drive. You could opt for a group tour instead
If you do decide to plan this drive, then expect the following road conditions (experienced in November 2021)
Delhi- Solan : Excellent
Solan – Rampur : Good
Rampur- Wangtoo : Poor & bumpy
Wangtoo – Nako : Excellent
Nako- Tabo : Bad, mostly unpaved. Roads are being made right now
Tabo – Kaza : Average
Kaza- Langza : Bad
Kaza- Key : Good
Langza to Komic: Excellent but narrow
Day by day breakdown of a road trip to Spiti
If you plan this road trip during summer you can drive to Spiti via Shimla and drive back through the Atal Tunnel and Manali. However during winter months, the latter is often snowed under. In that case you will have to drive through Shimla on your way to Spiti and on the way back too.
Day 1 : Delhi – Narkanda
Leave Delhi NCR and drive to Shimla/Narkanda. This is a comfortable, though long drive. You could spend a couple of days in this area or leave for your next stop after spending the night there
Days 2 & 3 : Narkanda – Kalpa
On this day you will drive from Narkanda to Kalpa. We would highly recommend spending at least 2 nights in Kalpa as there is a lot to see & do in the area.
There are many home-stays, cottages, and hotels in the area but we ended up staying at Hotel White Castle because it is conveniently located and offers great views from the terrace. It is supposedly the best in the area, but don’t expect too much! Rooms are basic but clean, service is good, and the view from the terrace spectacular. We paid INR 4000 for a double room, including heater & wifi
Spend your time in Kalpa exploring the Kinnaur area- drive to the iconic Suicide point, the tiny village of Roghi, and go on a short hike to drink in mountain views and panoramas
Day 4 : Kalpa to Kaza
On this day, you will drive to Kaza. Make sure you leave at the crack of dawn as this drive is not long but it is peppered with lots of sightseeing. A few places which you must explore on the way to Kaza include
- Nako Lake
- Tabo Monastery & Tabo Caves
- Dhankar Monastery (must do)
If you have a couple of extra days, you could also stay in this area and hike to the gorgeous Dhankar Lake or visit Mudh & Pin Valley National Park
Days 5 & 6 : Exploring around Kaza
At the end of Day 4, you will reach Kaza, which makes for an ideal base to explore the gems of Spiti Valley.
If you visit during winter, then chances are that there will be no tap water in Kaza as water pipes tend to get frozen between November to February. Electricity is also sporadic as power cuts are common and voltage is low. We really did not like the hotel we stayed at, so we are unable to recommend it. However a couple of nice hotels in the area include Dewachen Retreat & Serakhan. Alternatively, there are a lot of homestay options in winter months.
That said, the sights in the area more than make up for these inconveniences. Spend at least 2 full days in Kaza exploring some of the best sights and drives that Spiti has to offer. Some places you must see include
- Hikkim, home to the highest post office in the world
- Langza, home to a stunning statue of Buddha and some gorgeous hikes in the area
- Key Monastery, home to a surreal monastery perched on a hilltop. You could explore the monastery, meet the monks, and even eat at the in-house cafe
- Komic, famous for being the highest village in the world
Days 7 & 8 : Driving back to Delhi
After this memorable adventure, it’s time to drive back home. You can break the journey at Rampur or Narkanda if you are driving via Shimla.
If you are driving back via Manali, then take a couple of days to enjoy the area before heading home. You must visit Chandratal Lake (saved for our next trip in summer :))
That’s it! We hope you enjoyed reading this Guide To A Road Trip in Spiti. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and we’ll get back to you asap