When you talk about minimum time needed for a road trip to Spiti valley; the number would be either 5 or 6 days. Any lesser than this and you just cannot complete the circuit without making making the journey hectic; and traveling for 11 to 12 hours daily. If you however ask about making a leisure trip where you travel at an easy pace; do not rush through the journey anywhere; and see all that there is to see; then planning for a journey for 10 to 12 days would be the ideal thing to do. In this article, I will suggest a few examples of Spiti Valley 11 days itinerary.
No I am not saying that you should not spend more time than this; because if you can then there is plenty to explore. But a Spiti trip for 10 to 12 days becomes easier in every aspect. Your travel time will be limited to just for a few hours daily; which will allow you ample time to take as many breaks as needed; and to spend as much time as you want to wherever you like. Your gain in altitude will be gradual; and since you will not really be stressing or exhausting yourself on any day; chances of altitude sickness too will be next to none.
As a matter of fact, if you are traveling with family and have children or elders accompanying you on the trip; then it becomes of utmost importance that you prepare an itinerary for 10 to 12 days at least. In this article, I will share a few examples of an 11 days trip to Spiti valley that you may follow. If, after reading the article, you have any other questions, then you you may ask those in the comments area towards the bottom of this page.
There are two way that you can access Spiti valley, either via Shimla or Manali. The route from Shimla is considered to be the easier of two and remains open entire year. There could be occasional roadblocks cause by incessant rains or heavy snow; but authorities usually clear the road just as soon as they are able to and restore connectivity.
This route however is also the longer of the two. Starting from Shimla, and depending on the places you visited on the way; your journey from Shimla to Kaza can be well over 500 kilometers; and will take you at least 2 days to cover. Even the government run HRTC buses complete this journey in 2 days with a night halt at Reckong Peo.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Spiti Valley?
On the other hand, the road from Manali to Kaza is only about 200 kilometers; a journey that can be completed easily in 7 to 8 hours. This however is also the tougher of both the roads. This one day of travel from Manali to Spiti will take you across some of the worst roads you had ever been on in your entire life. It is a broken narrow road all the way to Kaza with lose rocks and boulders on the road; and numerous water crossings. More important part however is that this road takes you across two high altitude passes; Rohtang La and Kunzum La; both of which are notorious for receiving high amounts of snow each year.
Due to this, Manali-Kaza route remains open for only about 4 to 5 months a year; from late May to early October. So while suggesting the itineraries below, I will give three different examples. The first itinerary will provide details on how you can travel on the entire Spiti circuit; which can only be done when both the passes en route are open. Second set of itineraries will have you start the journey from Shimla and circle back to Shimla only. This can be done throughout the year irrespective of the month. The third and last set of itineraries will cover only the Manali side of the circuit; leaving Shimla and Kinnaur side completely out.
How to visit Spiti Valley in 11 Days
For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting your journey from Delhi. If you were however coming from a different city; then only the first and last day of the travel will be different. Rest of the details will still apply. I will first start with an itinerary that I recommend and explain the entire route in details.
I will also recommend that you refer to A Complete List of Tourist Attractions in Spiti Valley and En Route . This post lists down all places that you should visit while driving through the circuit.
Spiti Valley 11 Days Itinerary
First and probably a better itinerary can be as mentioned below.
- Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda – Day 1
- Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
- Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
- Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 4
- Kalpa to Nako – Day 5
- Nako to Mud Village (Pin Valley)- Day 6
- Mud to Kaza – Day 7
- Kaza – Day 8
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 9
- Chandratal to Manali – Day 10
- Manali to Delhi – Day 11
Why am I calling it a better itinerary? The first reason is that except for Day 1 and Day 11 when you travel from and to Delhi; your travel time on rest of the days is no more than 4 – 5 hours. You will cover at most a 100 kilometers which will give you time to explore as well as relax. Second reason is that following this travel plan, you take a halt at every major tourist stop on the way.
Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda
I have always preferred staying at Narkanda as opposed to Shimla for two reasons. First is that Shimla is a bit too crowded for my taste; and second is that it reduces my travel time on second day. There are numerous hotels at Narkanda where you can spend the night. Not much to write about this day except for that the journey will be long and tiring. Get an early start from Delhi to avoid the morning traffic. Travel all the way to Ambala; and then just before Chandigarh, take the Himalayan Expressway towards Shimla. After Shimla, continue for another couple of hours to Narkanda and stay there for the night.
Total distance traveled will be slightly over 400 kilometers in a total of 9 to 10 hours; depending upon your speed and breaks. Road conditions will be mostly smooth all the way till Narkanda.
Shimla / Narkanda to Sarahan
From here on, your travel time will not be too much. Destination for today is the small town of Sarahan which is only about 100 kilometers and 3 – 4 hours from Narkanda. Before you start for the day, take a short trip to Hatu Peak at Narkanda in the morning. Come back from Hatu, check out of your hotel and start on your way to Sarahan. You will drive downhill all the way to the banks of Sutlej River and then continue to Jeori while crossing Rampur on the way.
At Jeori, a road bifurcates from the highway and goes uphill for 16 kilometers to Sarahan. This is the one you will turn on for today. Bhimakali temple and bird sanctuary at Sarahan is well worth a visit.
Sarahan to Chitkul
Travel time today will be about 4-5 hours while covering a distance of 110 kilometers to Chitkul. From Sarahan, drive back 16 kilometers to Jeori again; back to the highway; then continue to Karcham. At Karcham, you will again be leaving the highway to visit Chitkul and Sangla Valley. There is a huge dam at Karcham that you will cross to the other side and take the road towards Sangla. Chitkul from here is about 40 kilometers. You will also cross Sangla on the way which is the largest town in Baspa Valley (also known as Sangla Valley).
There is Kamru fort and Nages temple at Sangla which is worth a visit. You can either see it today or tomorrow while returning from Chitkul. There is nothing at Chitkul really except for its stunning natural beauty; but that is what makes it worth visiting.
Chitkul to Kalpa
Travel time for today will be even less. You will only be traveling about 65 kilometers to Kalpa. From Chitkul, drive 40 kilometers back to Karcham via the same road that you took to get here yesterday. You will cross the towns of Rakcham and Sangla again on your way back. From Karcham, take the national highway again and continue towards Reckong Peo.
At Powari, there is a fuel station where I will recommend that you tank up. A few kilometers after the petrol pump, you will notice a road going uphill on your left. Yes, just like yesterday and the day before, you will again be leaving the highway and returning to it the next day. Continue uphill on this road for about 15 kilometers to reach Kalpa while crossing Reckong Peo on the way.
When you reach Kalpa, continue all the way uphill towards Hotel Kinner Kailash. Drive through the narrow roads of Kalpa and don’t stop anywhere. The Hotel Kinner Kailash is run by HPTDC. If this is within your budget, you can stay here; but if it sounds a bit expensive, then there area few other hotels around it that you can stay at. As a matter of fact, as you will start getting close to Kinner Kailash, you will notice several hotels on the way.
The reason why I advised to go uphill all the way is because the higher you climb, the better the view of Kinner Kailash peaks would be.
Kalpa to Nako
On this day, you will again drive back towards Powari to the main highway. In case you did not buy fuel yesterday, then please do so today from the petrol pump at Reckong Peo. The next gas station after Peo is at Kaza so don’t forget this part.
Once you are back on the highway, continue towards Pooh and then Khab. At Khab, you will see the Spiti and Sutlej river confluence from Khab bridge. There is also a small dhaba here if you want to take a short break. After Khab Bridge, the road climbs up in a steep manner to the small village of Nako. Total distance traveled will be about 100 kilometers but travel time can easily be about 100 kilometers. There are some really bad sections of the road between Pooh and Khab which will limit your speed.
Nako to Mud Village
Right after Nako village, you will cross the much dreaded Malling Nallah. Drive from here is all the way downhill and mostly on a good road. Arrive at Tabo and then Dhankar and see the monasteries here. If you wish to, then you can also trek to Dhankar Lake from the monastery here. Be advised though that going to the lake and coming back can easily take you 90 minutes to 2 hours so plan accordingly. The trek can also get a bit steep and challenging at some places.
After Dhankar, you will arrive at Attargo Bridge which is the gateway to Pin Valley. This bridge is about 16 kilometers before Kaza town and there are several boards here marking the it; so it would be hard to miss. Cross the bridge over and drive 34 kilometers through Pin Valley to Mud Village where the road ends. There are several hotels at Mud where you can chose to stay. Hotel Ibex is a good choice for a budget traveler.
Total distance traveled will be about 130 kilometers in 6 to 7 hours. Road conditions will be a mix of good, bad and average. For more details on Pin Valley and a road Map, please refer to How to Plan a Trip to Pin Valley
Mud Village to Kaza
This day will be the shortest in terms of travel. You only got 50 kilometers to cover today so take your own time to start on from Mud. Drive back 34 kilometers to Attargo Bridge and then turn left to reach Kaza. It will take you 2 – 3 hours at most. Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti valley and finding a hotel here will not be tough at all. Hotel Spiti Valley opposite Kaza Monastery can be a good choice if you wish to stay here.
On this day, you will stay at Kaza and explore the nearby villages of Kibber, Komik, Langza, Hikkim etc. Leave your luggage at the hotel itself and get an early start from Kaza. First visit the famous Kye Monastery and then drive up to Kibber and Chicham. Drive back down to Kye once again and then take the second road that goes towards Hikkim, Langza. Your entire day today will be spent in exploring these remote villages of Spiti valley.
For more details on these villages and a road map, please read How to Plan a Trip from Kaza to Kibber, Gette & Tashigong AND How to Plan a Trip from Kaza to Komik, Hikkim and Langza
Kaza to Chandratal
Destination for today will be the famous Chandratal, the highlight of your entire journey. A trip to Spiti valley in my opinion is incomplete unless you have spent a night camping at Chandratal. From Kaza, you will drive towards Losar and then climb up to the top of Kunzum Top. After Kunzum you will descend down towards Batal. About 2 kilometers before Batal is the narrow 14 kilometers road that takes you all the way to Chandratal Lake. This road is barely wide enough for one car so please exercise caution while driving on it.
There are several camp sites at Chandratal where you can stay for this day. All the camp sites however are about 3 kilometers from the lake because camping close to Chandratal is forbidden by law. You will have to check into a campsite, leave your luggage here; visit the lake and then come back for the night.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Chandratal?
Chandratal to Manali
This day will have you drive on the worst stretch of road that you had ever been on; the notorious Batal – Gramphoo stretch. This 60 kilometers of the road is a non-stop series of water crossings, one after another. There will be slush, lose rocks, narrow sections, boulders and anything bad that you can imagine to handle. From Chandratal, drive back on the 14 kilometers long road back towards Kunzum Pass and then arrive at Batal. Take a short break here if you wish to and then continue driving to Gramphoo. Once you reach Gramphoo, climb up to the top of Rohtang Pass and then drive down to Manali while getting annoyed by the infamous Rohtang Traffic.
Manali to Delhi
Once again, nothing much to write about this day except that this too will be a long and monotonous journey of 550 kilometers and 15 hours back home. An early start from Manali is highly advised on this day.
This of course is just one of the many ways that this trip can be completed. Traveling in the manner that I suggested is perfect for someone who is visiting Spiti valley for the first time. You will cover all that there is to see in Spiti valley; and the trip will not get tiring on any given day except for the first and last one.
Also read: Lahaul Spiti Route Guide and Road Map
11 Days Itinerary for Spiti Valley from Shimla
Now the plan above completes the entire circuit; starting the journey from Shimla and ending it at Manali. This means that you can only follow it in the months of June till September. If however you were traveling at a time when Manali Kaza road was not open; or did not wish to cover the Manali side of the circuit at all; then you can follow an itinerary like below.
Itinerary # 2
- Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
- Narkanda to Chitkul – Day 2
- Chitkul to Nako – Day 3
- Nako to Kaza – Day 4
- Kaza – Day 5
- Kaza to Mud Village – Day 6
- Mud to Kalpa – Day 7
- Kalpa to Sarahan – Day 8
- Sarahan to Chail – Day 9
- Chail to Delhi – Day 10
- Buffer Day – Day 11
Itinerary # 3
- Delhi to Shimla – Day 1
- Shimla to Sarahan – Day 2
- Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
- Chitkul to Nako – Day 4
- Nako to Mud Village – Day 5
- Mud to Kaza – Day 6
- Kaza – Day 7
- Kaza to Kalpa – Day 8
- Kalpa to Narkanda – Day 9
- Narkanda to Chail – Day 10
- Chail to Delhi – Day 11
These are of course just a couple of examples. 11 Days is a sufficient enough time and this itinerary can be molded in several other ways. If you had a different travel plan in your mind; and wanted to hear my thoughts on it, please mention in the comments below.
Spiti 11 Days Itinerary from Manali only
Now that was a journey from and to Shimla only. What if you wanted to exclude Shimla and Kinnaur valley completely; wanted to go from Manali side and return the same way? In that case, your journey can be in the following manner.
Itinerary # 4
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali – Day 2
- Manali to Kaza – Day 3
- Kaza to Nako – Day 4
- Nako to Mud – Day 5
- Mud to Kibber – Day 6
- Kibber to Langza / Hikkim – Day 7
- Langza / Hikkim to Kaza – Day 8
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 9
- Chandratal to Manali – Day 10
- Manali to Delhi – Day 11
The reason I added Day 2 at Manali is to give time to arrange permits for Rohtang and to acclimatize before heading to Kaza. If you were able to arrange Rohtang permits beforehand online and did not want to stay at Manali at all, then you could just go to Kaza on Day 3 and use this day elsewhere in the trip.
Another thing you could do is to add Lahaul to your itinerary as well and cover both Lahaul and Spiti valleys. In fact I would highly recommend you do that.
Itinerary # 5
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Kaza – Day 2
- Kaza to Nako – Day 3
- Nako to Mud – Day 4
- Mud to Kaza – Day 5 (Cover Kibber, Komik, Langza, Hikkim etc on this day itself. Start early from Mud)
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 6
- Chandratal to Jispa – Day 7
- Jispa to Baralacha La to Keylong – Day 8
- Keylong to Udaipur – Day 9
- Udaipur to Manali – Day 10
- Manali to Delhi – Day 11
Now since we are talking about visiting Spiti from Manali side, there are a couple of important things that I must mention here.
Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti Valley
The reason why starting from Shimla is considered better for Spiti trip is because then the increase in altitude is gradual; spread over 3 to 4 days of journey. On the other side, if you went to Spiti from Manali, your gain in altitude is sudden; without allowing enough time for your body to acclimatize. Think of it like this. One day you are in plains, at your home in the morning. By evening, you gain 2000 meters and reach Manali. The very next day, you gain another 2000 meters in height and reach Kaza at 4000 meters while crossing 2 high altitude passes on the way.
For 2 days in a row, you continue to jump elevation by double the amount; due to which, your body may go into shock, triggering the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. After slow gain in altitude, plenty of rest is the next best cure for AMS. So while going to Kaza from Manali side, ensure that you spend at least one day in Manali which can be beneficial in terms of obtaining the permits as well. After you reach Kaza, get plenty of rest, do not exhaust yourself and in a day, symptoms of AMS should subside. If your condition worsens, then you should seek medical attention in Kaza immediately.
For more details on what AMS is, what its symptoms are and how you can handle it for better; please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti Valley.
Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley
Another important thing you need to consider is in terms of permit required for Spiti valley. If you are an Indian citizen, then you do not really need any kind of permission for Spiti. But if you went from Manali to Kaza, then you must obtain a permit to cross over Rohtang Pass. This permit is a mandate and without it, you will not be able to travel to Rohtang La or beyond. This permit can be obtained either online or in person from DM office, Manali. For more details, please read How to Obtain a Permit for Rohtang Pass.
If you were however a foreign national, you will need to obtain an Inner line permit as well. It does not matter if you went from Shimla or Manali, a foreign tourist must obtain the inner line permit from either Shimla or Manali. For more detail on this permit, please read How to Obtain an Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley. So if a foreign tourist went from Manali to Kaza, they will have to obtain the ILP as well as the Rohtang Permit.
I hope the information above on visiting Spiti valley in 11 days was of help. If you have any further questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.