Continuing from the previous article explaining why and when you should chose to travel to Spiti valley from Shimla, in this article I will provide an example of a Shimla to Spiti itinerary that you can follow. The way I have worked through this itinerary is keeping in mind that you do not travel too much or too less on any given day and cover all the major tourist attractions. This itinerary can be followed irrespective of whether you are traveling alone, with friends or family.
Shimla to Spiti Itinerary
In my opinion, a minimum of 9-10 days must be given to truly enjoy the Spiti circuit. Any less than this and you will have to rush through the journey at several places. You can either follow the travel plan as I have drafted it if you have this number of days in hand or you can modify it as per your requirements but it should be good enough to get you started it. If you are however changing the plan, then there are a few things which you must consider which I will note down further in the article after the itinerary.
Shimla to Kaza distance: Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti valley, is at a distance of about 450 kilometers from Shimla and 202 kilometers from Manali.
Shimla to Spiti bus: There is a regular bus from Shimla to Kaza. This is a 2 days journey that starts early morning from Shimla, halts for night at Pooh and continues to Kaza the next day.
Manali to Spiti Bus: There is regular bus service from Manali to Kaza. The bus start from Manali twice a day to reach Kaza the same day.
For the sake of this article, I would assume that you are starting your journey from Delhi. If you are traveling from elsewhere, then the journey for the first and last day will be different. The itinerary can be as mentioned below.
Day 1. Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda
Day 2: Shimla/Narkanda to Sarahan
Day 3: Sarahan to Chitkul
Day 4: Chitkul to Kalpa
Day 5: Kalpa to Nako / Tabo
Day 2. Nako/Tabo to Kaza
Day 4. Kaza to Kibber, Kaumik, Tashigang, to Kaza
Day 5. Kaza to Chandratal
Day 6. Chandratal to Manali
Day 7. Manali to Delhi
Below is a more detailed version of the itinerary about how you should follow this journey and what all places you should visit on the way.
Day 1 – Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda:
Major part of this journey is more or less a monotonous drive until Chandigarh from where you will take the diversion towards Shimla. Please note that you do not have to go all the way to Chandigarh and need to take the turn on Himalayan Expressway, thus avoiding the congested towns of Pinjore and Kalka. Once at Shimla, you can either chose to stay here or if you still have some time left, go all the way to Narkanda which is another 3 hours journey from Shimla. Personally , I prefer to stay at Narkanda. It is a quiet and peaceful small village and a better option than crowded Shimla. Total distance covered on this day would be 350 kms if you are staying at Shimla and 430 kms if you plan to go to Narkanda. Travel time would be 8-10 hours. Road is mostly good all the way till Narkanda.
Day2 – Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan:
Start a bit early if you stayed at Shimla on Day 1; If at Narkanda, you can start by 9-10 AM easily to reach Sarahan well in time. Take the road towards Rampur and a little after Narkanda, you will get your first view of Sutlej river. You will be traveling right alongside the river for rest of the day. Have your lunch at Rampur and from there, continue towards Jeori. At Jeori, leave the highway and take the 16 kms long bifurcation towards Sarahan. It is quite a steep climb and the bifurcation is right near the bus stand at Jeori. Sarahan is a small but beautiful town famous for Bhimakali temple, dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali. There is also a bird sanctuary at Sarahan that is worth a visit, but remains closed from April until late July due to bird mating season.
Total distance traveled will be 165 kms if you stayed at Shimla and 100 kms if you stayed at Narkanda. Travel time will be 6-7 hours depending upon the breaks you take. Road conditions will be good until Rampur but will start to deteriorate as you get closer to Jeori.
Day 3- Sarahan to Chitkul:
From Sarahan, return back to Jeori and continue on the highway again towards Karchham. At Karchham, leave the highway again and take the diversion towards Sangla. From here, you will enter the beautiful Sangla valley. Stay on the road until it ends at the small village of Chitkul. You will also cross Sangla on your way which is also quite a famous town. Lot of people chose to stay here but I will recommend Chitkul. There is an ATM at Sangla in case you want to withdraw cash.
Karchham is the site for a huge dam on river Sutlej which you will see as you go towards Chitkul. Sangla is famous for Nages god temple and Kamru Fort. Chitkul is a beautiful small village located right next to Baspa river.
Road will mostly remain bad all the way till Chitkul. At several stretches, there will not be a road at all and you will end up driving on dirt trails. Total distance covered would be 125 kms approximately and will take 6-7 hours easily.
Day 4 – Chitkul to Kalpa:
From Chitkul, return all the way till Karchham and continue towards Powari. From Powari, leave the highway once again and take the diversion towards Reckong Peo and continue towards Kalpa. Foreign nationals visiting Spiti need to obtain a permit here at Reckong Peo. Kalpa is famous for the majestic view of Kinner Kailash. If you are short on time, you can skip this day and continue towards Nako from Chitkul.
Total distance covered from Chitkul to Kapla would be about 70 kms and will not take more than 3-4 hours at most. Roads are bad throughout except for a few last kilometers around Reckong Peo and Kalpa. Reckong Peo has a petrol pump that you can tank up at.
Day 5 – Kalpa to Nako / Tabo:
From Kalpa, return once again to Powari and take the highway towards Pooh. The next petrol pump is not until Kaza so you should definitely tank up your vehicle at Reckong Peo. Register yourself at the check post at Pooh and continue straight towards Nako. I would personally recommend staying at Nako but if you want to, you may continue all the way to Tabo and stay there for the night. There are a couple of hotels at Nako and also a PWD guest house right next to Nako Lake. In case you want to stay at Tabo for the night, there are a few hotels here, of which the Banjara Camps retreat is the most luxurious. There are other hotels and hostels like Tashi Gangsar, Menthok Dumra at Tabo, including the monastery’s own guest houses.
See the confluence of Spiti and Satluj rivers at Khab. The bridge at Khab also offers a great view of Leo Purygal Peak.
A few kilometers before Tabo, you will come across a cemented gate on your right and road heading towards Gue village. This site is famous for a 650 year old Mummy located here and is worth a visit. From the gate, it is an 8 kms drive to the village. The temple where the Mummy is placed is on a hilltop and is hard to miss once you have reached the village. You can also ask any of the locals and they can point you in the right direction. After visiting the temple, drive back 8 kms to the highway and continue towards Tabo. Primary attraction at Tabo is the Tabo Monastery which is said to be over a thousand years old. Just before Nako is the much dreaded and famous Malling Nallah
Total distance until Nako is 100 kms and 150 till Tabo. Road is bad up until Pooh but after that it is mostly good all the way till Nako. As you start to get closer to Tabo, it is a mix of good and average. Reaching Nako will take about 4-5 hours and about 6-7 to reach Tabo.
Day 6 – Nako / Tabo to Kaza:
Destination for today will be Kaza but you will be visiting the village of Dhankar as well on the way. Primary attraction at Dhankar are the two, Old and new, Dhankar monasteries. There is also a lake near Dhankar but to visit there, you will have to do a bit of trekking, a couple of hours. Kaza is approximately 115 kilometers from Nako and 60 from Tabo. Road is a mix of good and average so you can do this journey at ease, no need to rush. At most a 4-5 hours journey from Nako.
Day 7 – Kaza – Kibber – Tashigong – Langza – Koumik – Kaza:
You will spend this day in Kaza, travelling the places around. Visit the famous Ki monastery and take a drive to the nearby villages of Kibber, Tashigong, Langza, Kaumik and return to Kaza by evening. This area is famous for some very old fossils that were found here. Tanggyud monastery in Koumik is worth a visit. Langza offers a great view of Chau Chau Kang Nelda peak. There is also a large Buddha statue here which is quite magnificent. Please do note that if you are short on time, you can skip this day.
Day 8 – Kaza to Chandratal:
After Kaza, the roads will start to get bad to the point that it will become a nightmare to cross. Chandratal is at about a distance of 60 kms from Kaza. Head towards Losar, then to Kunzum Pass which will be your first high altitude pass in the journey so far. After you cross the Kunzum Pass top, you will notice a signboard and small road going towards Chandratal, a stretch of 14 kms. Turn on this road to reach Chandratal and check in to one of the several camp sites here. All the camps however are at about 3 kilometers distance minimum from Chandratal and to reach the lake, you will have to cover this last bit of distance on foot as vehicles are not allowed after a certain point.
Roads will remain mostly bad throughout the day.
Day 9 – Chandratal to Manali:
Manali is only at a distance of 122 kms from Chandratal but make no mistake; this journey will easily take 7-8 hours, even more. You will be driving through the worst patch of road that you have ever encountered in your life. From Chandratal, reach back to Kunzum Pass, then head towards Batal. From Batal, you will take the road towards Gramphoo and then start on your ascent to second high altitude pass of the journey, Rohtang La. From there, it is a straight run to Manali.
Day 10: Manali to Delhi:
Nothing too add here really except for a long monotonous drive back home. this drive can take anywhere between 12-15 hours depending on your mode of travel, speed and breaks you take.
This is a rough layout of the journey including the known tourist attractions that you should keep on your “to visit” list. If you have more time in hand, you can chose to either spend a day more at Kaza, or stay at Mud village and enjoy the beauty of PIN valley, or stay at Mane village and trek to beautiful Sopona Lake.
Total distance: From Delhi to Shimla to Kaza to Manali and back to Delhi will be about 1500 odd kilometers.
Average Kilometers per day: Per the above mentioned itinerary, you will be covering about 400 kms on first day and 550 on last day. Apart from these two days, average distance covered per day will be between 100 to 150.
Average time of travel per day: Your first and last day journey will be long, 8 hours for first and 12 hours for last. Apart from this, you will be traveling about 6 hours a day at an average.
As I mentioned above, this is just a rough itinerary which of course not everyone will be able to follow because of time limitation. If you want to change the above mentioned travel plan, you should keep in mind that When it comes to Spiti, it is not the distance but the road condition that matters. The entire circuit is notorious for bad roads so do not keep your distance greater than 150-200 kilometers on any given day.
I hope this article on Shimla to Spiti itinerary was helpful. If you have any further questions, or need any assistance drafting your itinerary different than the one mentioned above, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer.