For anyone visiting Spiti Valley, a minimum of one day’s stay at Kaza is always recommended. This day can either be used to just relax at the hotel before proceeding with the journey or for some local sightseeing. Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti valley and the commercial center but surprisingly there isn’t much to see within this small town. However there are several places at a short distance that you can use Kaza as a base to visit. Some of these tourist attractions include the famous Key monastery, trek routes and small villages of Kibber, Kaumik, Langza, Tashigang etc. These villages are within a day’s visit from Kaza. Trek routes of course will take longer but that is a different topic that I will cover separately. In this article, I will provide information on how you can plan a trip from Kaza to Kibber, Key Monastery, Gette and Tashigang.
How to Plan a Trip from Kaza to Kibber, Gette & Tashigong
The first question that comes to mind is; are these places worth visiting and what is it that you are supposed to be seeing here? The answer to first question is yes, these are definitely worth a visit and the answer to second question is nothing in particular. These are possibly one of the remotest villages in our country, nestled up in mighty Himalayas and there isn’t even really much of a road leading here. However this is exactly what makes these tiny hamlets worth a visit. Wrapped in silence in a land far away, with beautiful vistas all around, hospitality of the villagers, the silence and solitude, a night sky filled with countless stars; put these all together and you will have an experience of a life time. The nights specially are bliss for anyone interested in Sky gazing.
There are several of small nearby villages that you can visit from Kaza however; in this article, I will cover Kibber, Gette, Chicham and Tashigang. Reason being is that these are all on the same road that you will have to divert on from Kaza-Manali highway. For other villages like Langza and Hikkim, you will have to come back to the highway and take another diversion. I have covered the remaining villages in next part of this article.
The most prominent of all these villages is Kibber Also spelled as Kyibar, this village is located at a distance of about 16 kilometers from Kaza and is at an elevation of 4,270 meters (14,010 ft). It comprises of about 80 odd houses and has facilities like electricity, a civil dispensary, school and post office.
Apart from the natural beauty of the place, this village is best known for a wildlife reserve known as Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. It was established in 1992, is India’s only wildlife sanctuary in cold desert and is home to several rare animals like Ibex, Blue Sheep, Red Fox, Tibetan woolly hare, Himalayan wolf, lynx, pika, Tibetan wild ass. The most famous of all however is Snow Leopard. Kibber is located on the outer limits of the sanctuary and becomes a base in winters for people interested in spotting this rare, shy and beautiful large cat. It is also the base for the trek to Mount Kanamo.
Kibber also has an ancient monastery that you can visit while you are there. Another thing that this area is famous for are the huge amount of ancient fossils found here, earning it its popular nick name of “Fossils park”. These fossils are nothing that will stand out and catch your eye, just a small rock with some weird prints on it. The villagers here keep these fossils and would show and even sell if you requested so.
Another major tourist attraction you will visit on the way is the famous Key Monastery. Also known as Kye Gompa, this monastery is the biggest in all of Spiti valley and also acts as a training center for Lamas. It is believed to have been founded sometime around 1008 AD and has a vast collection of ancient murals, books and centuries old thangkas. It is located at a distance of about 14 kilometers from Kaza, on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 meters (13,668 ft).
Below is a map of the circuit you will be completing while visiting Kibber. Click on the map below or save it to your hard drive to view it in full size.
Kaza to Key Monastery – 14 Kilometers
Key Monastery to Kibber – 6 kilometers
Kibber to Gette – 12 kilometers
Gette to Tashigang – 5 kilometers
Tashigang to Kaza – 32 kilometers
Road for most part of the journey will remain to be a dirt trail; as in the picture I posted above.
Even though you will be leaving your luggage back at the hotel at Kaza since you will be returning here by evening, ensure that you are carrying good sun block lotion, sunglasses or possibly a hat too. Sun up here is really harsh and if you go unprotected, it will not just tan you but burn you.
Kaza to Key Monastery
I will recommend that you start early from Kaza. This way, you can visit Kibber, come back to the highway and still have time to visit Langza and Hikkim which I have explained in next part of the article. From Kaza, head on the road towards Manali. About 3 kilometers later, you will come across a bridge; using which you will cross over on the other side of the Spiti River. Do not cross the bridge though and head straight towards Key Monastery, further 12 kilometers from here. To reach the monastery, you will have to leave this road after 10 kilometers and take a kilometer long diversion which will see you at the gates of the monastery.
Key Monastery to Kibber
After visiting the Monastery, travel back a kilometer to the main road and from here, continue towards Kibber. If you haven’t had breakfast at Kaza before you started in the morning; there is a small restaurant at Kibber where you can eat. If you drove a little further from Kibber village until where the road ends, you will easily be able to spot another small village of Chicham.
Kibber to Gette
From Kibber, you will once again return about three kilometers on the same road where you will notice another dirt road with a signboard pointing towards Tashigang. Take this road and after about 9 kilometers, you will reach the small village of Gette. If you want to enter the village; you will have to leave your vehicle at the road and trek for about a kilometer.
Gette to Tashigang
From Gette, continue on the road towards Tashigang. After about another 5 kilometers, you will notice another dirt road that will lead you to the small but scenic village of Tashigang.
Tashigang to Kaza
After visiting Tashigang, return to Kaza using the same dirt roads.
Guest Houses & Hotels in Kibber, Gette or Tashigong
There are no hotels, guest houses or resorts here in either of these villages except for Kibber. There is a guest house here by the name of Serkong Guest House. If you are planning to stay here, it would be wise to let the owner know and book in advance as not many tourists go this way and calling in advance will allow the owner some time to prepare for your arrival. Contact person in Renchan Dolma and number is 9418538140; tariff would be between Rs. 200 – Rs.400.
The only other option to stay is of paying guest. The locals here are quite hospital and welcoming to tourists. If you wish to stay here at night; you can speak with them and they will let you stay in their home for a very nominal charge. Keep your expectations however very low. Your stay and food would be very basic but comfortable and delicious. Do not expect any fancy rooms or cuisines.
If you are bringing your own camping gear; you can set up your tent but ensure that you are doing so within the village; closer to a home and after seeking permission. I will again stress on the fact that this is a wildlife sanctuary and do not do digging camp in the middle of nowhere. All these villages have their own small monasteries and you can also inquire with the monks if they are willing to lent you a room in the monastery.
There is one small restaurant in Kibber and that is pretty much about it. You must carry sufficient food before you start from Kaza. If however you forgot to do so (like I did), then you can ask at the monasteries which have their own kitchen and they may help you with some very basic food. Click here to read my experience about how a monk went out of his way at Kaumik Monastery to cook something for me and a friend of mine.
Bus service / Public Transport
There is a daily bus from Kaza to Kibber at evening 4 PM. This bus will drop you at Kibber in less than an hour. If you want to travel in earlier part of the day; you will have to inquire and wait for a shared taxi at the highway. Frequency of these taxis too however is not that much. If you want to hire a private taxi; you can do so from Kaza and it will charge you about Rs. 2000 – Rs. 3000 per day. If only a drop to Kibber is on your mind, charges will be around Rs. 600 – 800.
Click here or at the link below to take you to next part of this article detailing on how to plan a visit from Kaza to Langza, Kaumik and Hikkim.
I hope this information on traveling from Kaza to Kibber was helpful. If you have any further questions; please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will be glad to answer.