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.
* 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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