Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh: Travel Tips

If you are planning to go to Lahaul Spiti including Kaza and Tabo, here are some travel tips for you:

* Getting there: Hitch a ride with a Government or Army helicopter – not a real option. Only other way to go is by road via Manali or from the other side via Shimla and Kinnaur. Roads are closed in winters. You can takes buses too if you don’t have your own car or taxi.

* Climate: Biting cold from November to March with temperatures falling many degrees below normal. Everything is frozen over. The months of June to August are pleasantly warm, while it is comfortably cold during the other months. It is always cold at higher altitudes. Make sure you carry warm clothes at all times. Very little precipitation in this rain shadow area.

* Best time to go: June to early-October when roads are open, but dates vary every year. Catch the autumn colours in October and munch apples fresh from the trees. No vehicular movement is possible the rest of the year via Manali and Kunzum Pass. Roads are open longer when coming via Shimla but you can only go up to Kaza.

* Local transport: Limited options of buses and taxis.

* Connectivity: Only state-run BSNL mobiles work in Tabo and Kaza, and service is erratic. Internet access is limited and slow.

* Vehicles to use: It is best to use SUVs – these need not be 4-wheel powered. But people do use sedans too, but not recommended considering road conditions.

* Permits: Foreigners require Inner Line Permits.

* Places to stay: Not many options. Your best bet are Banjara Camps (http://www.banjaracamps.com) with quality properties in Tabo and Kaza. Kaza has some other hotels too. Budget guest houses and homestays are available too, including at some of the villages. You can also book yourself into the Key or Tabo monasteries with room rates as low as Rs. 200 a night. Pitch tent. Try the caves if you nothing else works.

* Altitude Sickness can affect even the fittest of all. Basic precautions: (a) Keep sipping water regularly, preferably warm. Keep in flasks, or stops at roadside eateries to request them to warm it for you. (b) Cover your head and ears with something warm when it is cold and windy (c) Don’t push yourself physically too much (d) Don’t stay at high altitude passes for too long – 30 minutes maximum (e) Go easy on yourself for the initial 1-2 days, you should be ok after that.

 

Useful Links

* Kunzum Route K13 – A Driving Guide: http://kunzum.com/2010/11/03/driving-guide-delhi-to-lahaul-spiti-kaza-and-tabo-nako-sangla-thanedar-and-back
* What to carry with you when you drive in this terrain: http://kunzum.com/2009/06/19/what-to-carry-with-you-when-you-drive-to-the-mountains
* Planning for fuel in the mountains: http://kunzum.com/2008/06/11/planning-for-fuel-in-the-mountains

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14 COMMENTS

  1. This is a fantastic article and right on time, I have some questions, i am going next month i.e. Mid – August,
    1. do i have to book to stay in the monastries in Tabo,
    2. how much will it cost to book a car from Manali to kaza and back apprx. really need that info.
    3. Are there any medicines that you think we should take for altitude sickness or any other safety precautions?

  2. hi aparna,
    well i am new to kunzum club site. just came across your comment. i just got back from lahaul valley on the 1 july 2011.
    *well..regarding stays in tabo i will not be able to comment as i myself could not make it to spiti due to my low clearance car that i had taken (swift dzire)as it could not go pass the nallahs because of melting ice as it was monsoon season that time (25 june-1 july) , that one will encounter after crossing gramphoo(its a village from where one can go either to lahaul or spiti) after climbing down rohtang on the other side.
    *secondly regarding the COST to book a car from manali to spiti is absurdly high , as just about 15 days back (somewhere around 23 june 2011), himachal government has stopped movement of private vehicles upto rohtang pass but vehicles wanting to go beyond rohtang are getting permits (approved by SDM manali). So if u plan to take your own vehicle (SUV highly recommended) u will get the permit coz you will be crossing rohtang to go to spiti. Incase u plan to go by renting a taxi from MANALI to SPITI (KAZA or TABO) , be ready to shell out approx 8k-9k , and that too just one side. the taxi guy will be dropping you in tabo and while coming back you will have to rent another taxi from tabo side. for me its absurdly costly. i travelled 1740 kms in himalayas in my dzire with just 5000 rs of diesel and went all the way upto keylong, barlacha pass and back to delhi.
    *all safety precautions mentioned by mr ajay jain are the ones you need to take care of, keep sipping warm water, cover yourself specially the ears (passing of bitterly cold air through ears is not a pleasant feeling), you might experience breathlessness and sort of headache, then you need to move down..dont stick around for too long at that altitude.
    Have a safe trip, and just a word of caution about 1 week back around 1500 people were stuck on rohtang due to landslides. just before u set out, confirm the status of rohtang pass and then proceed, you can ask about anything on the 24 hr helpline nos on himachal tourism site. BON VOYAGE

  3. Thank you so much aditya, That’s really helpful. but as of now, i dont think we will be able to take a car, as there is only one person who can drive, and we hardly have experience of driving on mountain highways. We will have to find an alternative, or maybe pay as much. let’s see. But neverthless it will be a lot of fun.

  4. well u shud not take a chance by driving yourself if u dont have mountain driving experience for the simple reason that from KOTHI (its a small village 15 kms from manali enroute to rohtang pass), its not just any mountain..rohtang pass is probably amongst the most dreaded areas to climb specially in this season. local taxis are advisable for you. if u are willing to shell out those extra bucks, go for the the taxi, its safer and LAHAUL is amazing but DO NOT MISS SPITI. have a good one..! :)

  5. I live in Lahoul, and most of the information apart from the weather are factually incorrect. Like for example there are a few decent hotels one can stay in, in Keylong, the district head-quarters; among other things.

  6. Hi we are planning a road trip from Chandigarh to manali to lahaul then from lahaul to spiti and then from spiti to shimla and then from shimla back to Chandigarh. I have a few questions . Is this trip possible in end of may will the passes be clear . And what are the distances and which places are suited best for night halts . If anyone can help pl do so ASAP

  7. Planning to take my honda city from delhi to lahaul and spiti with my wife and son. How practicable is it? Or is it better to get a taxi and driver and if so the best place to hire one from.
    Regards
    Hemesh

  8. Me and a friend want to visit lahaul , Spiti and kaza during first week of August. If any women companions want to join we can hire a innova and do a raid trip ex manali. If anyone interested pl write to me on ksangita25@yahoo.com
    While I will be traveling from Mumbai my friend joins from Gurgaon.

  9. Hi

    I have planned to cross Rohtang LA, Kunzum LA, Spiti, Kinnaur on 7th November this year with a group of bikers.
    We have no other option to change the date.
    Please advice whether we can complete the tour.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Trichur, it is very unlikely that the passes will be open. You will be taking a big risk. Of course, with global warming, you might be lucky and get clear passes. But no one can guarantee you will be able to get through. Even if you make it across the Rohtang La, Kunzum could be very tricky.

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