Spiti Valley – The Middle Land
Spiti valley is a desert mountain area. It is located high in the Himalayan mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
This is the only place and that too an important one that I missed last time when I went to Manali. You can read about my Manali & Kasol trip here. Also not to mention the fun me and my friends had in Club Nirvana.
I recently has a word with one of the tour operator certified by the government of Himachal. Below is the important information which he shared with me.
How long does it take to reach Kaza in Spiti?
The town of Kaza is the sub divisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley. It is located in the Lahaul and Spiti district of the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Delhi – Shimla – Kaza (791 km). With overnight stay in Shimla and Reckong Peo you will reach Kaza in 3 days driving about 8-12 hrs a day
Delhi – Manali – Kaza (772km). With overnight stay in Manali you will reach Kaza in about 2 days driving about 16-18 hrs a day
When is the best time to come to Spiti? When are the passes open?
The best time to come to Spiti is the Summer months between May and October. When temperatures are perfect, roads are (mostly) clear and the sun is shining.
What are some things I should bring?
In terms of personal gears bring whatever you need to comfortably walk in the sun. Evenings are going to be cold so make sure you have warm clothes as well. While it does get cold in Spiti in the spring and autumn. The month of March, April, September & October is usually warm and sunny. In the evenings it can get quite cold though so you should bring at least a warm long sleeve jacket or sweater and a shawl.
I suffered this: For medical conditions such as asthma the high altitude can cause mild difficulty breathing– so bring an inhaler. Although I do not have “Asthama”, but people who are not accustomed to live in mountain areas, often safe this problem. I did not carry an inhaler, had to resort to Yoga and breathing exercises.
Training Needed Before The Trip
- Beginner – these tours involve a small degree of walking – no more than 4-5 hours in a day and never far from a warm bed so can be shortened if need be!
- Intermediate – these tours are for people with prior experience or high degree of fitness who are ready for a multi-day trek in the Trans Himalayas!
- Advanced – These tours are for experienced mountaineers capable of lengthy treks and climbs to altitudes of 6000m or higher.
Make sure before picking a tour, you are in the required fitness state. Furthermore I would advise running for an hour daily, with a mix of Yoga and breathing exercises.
Do we require a permit to enter Spiti?
For foreign (non-Indian) passport holders:
Coming from Manali over the Rohtang Pass requires no Inner Line Permit or paperwork, the border police will register your passport number at the entrance to the valley and it will rarely take longer than 5 minutes. Coming from Shimla does require an Inner Line Permit which can be arranged in advance at the District Collectors office in Shimla or at the Reckong Peo border post.
Also experienced India travelers always have photocopies of their passports and spare passport photos ready at all times!
For Indian Citizens, no permit is required. Just an Indian issued identity proof will do.
Potential Health Hazards
Individuals not used to higher elevation may be at risk of of altitude sickness. Symptoms of AMS include:-
1. Light Symptoms :
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbance
- Difficult to pass urine
2. Moderate Symptoms :
- Headache which is bad
- Irregular breathing
- Nausea Mild weakness
3. Serious Symptoms :
- Swelling of hands and face
- Difficulty standing
- Chest gurgles
- Zero energy
Now my friend who works as a tour operator, suggested that in case a member in the group feels not “OK”. In that case they always take a day rest and then move forward. This is the reason why tour operators advise to have a trip schedule for more than 7 days. This gives ample of time to adjust to the surroundings. Also if required they can always come down to a relaxing altitude if required.
For this even I have already drafted an event on Facebook. Furthermore please visit my page Shutterholic to view the travel plan for Spiti Valley.