April is usually the month when the real enthusiasm for a trip to places like Spiti and Ladakh starts to build up. Reason behind this is very simple really. With winter season gone, roads to these remotest of all places in India start to open and the excitement slowly starts to build. Guest Houses and Hotels become functional again; locals get ready for the tourist season ahead and BRO works rigorously to clear all road as soon as possible. Majority of the tourism in Spiti valley actually happens between the months of June and September but a lot of people visit here earlier as well. While it cannot be termed as the best time, a trip to Spiti valley in April still has its own benefits. What those are and how can you plan your trip to Spiti in April is what I will provide details on in this article.
A common notion is that Spiti during winter season remains completely blocked which is not at all true. Once winter settles in and it starts to snow, it is only the road from Manali to Kaza that is declared closed. The route from Shimla to Kaza however remains open for all 12 months. Why is it this way? Reason is actually pretty simple. From Shimla, in order to reach Kaza, you do not have to cross even a single high altitude pass. Whereas, from Manali side, there are two high altitude passes, Rohtang and Kunzum, that get buried under several feet of snow due to which the road becomes inaccessible.
So how do you travel to Spiti valley in April then? Well first of all you must plan your trip via Shimla only. Will YOU get to see snow? It really depends on the weather but chances are that yes you may find some. How will the road conditions be? To be honest, road conditions in Spiti are always bad so you not get your hopes high in that aspect. Until Narkanda and Rampur, road will be smooth enough however will start to deteriorate after that. After Jeori, the road will start to turn in to a nightmare and the worst patch will be between Reckong Peo and Pooh.
Also read: What to See in Spiti Valley
From Peo to Nako, the road is actually quite good and will be just about average between Nako and Kaza. The stretch between Karchham and Chitkul is quite bad and broken. Road towards Mud Village is a dirt trail but not that bad and OK to drive on. Kibber, Komik, Langza and Hikkim are all remote villages and roads to these villages are completely dirt trails.
Will acute mountain sickness be a problem? In all probability no since you will be starting from Shimla. Mountain sickness becomes a concern when the gain in altitude is sudden but in this case, you will be gradually ascending in terms of height so may not face any signs of AMS in Spiti at all. Second factor is that the places where most people suffer from AMS, like Chandratal, will not be accessible in April anyways. For more details on what AMS is and what its symptoms are, please read How to Handle Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti.
Is Spiti Valley Open in April?
The answer is that yes it is definitely open. In terms of roads, almost all roads except for Manali – Kaza stretch will be accessible. Most of the guest houses and hotels become functional in April so in terms of accommodation as well, Spiti will be open in the month of April. For a brief overview on which road in Spiti remains open in which month, please read through the article below.
How to Plan a Visit to Spiti Valley in April?
I will begin by first laying out a sample itinerary followed by a brief explanation of the same. For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are staring from Delhi. If the point of origin for your trip is different than Delhi than only the 1st and last day of the journey will differ; rest will all remain the same.
- Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
- Narkanda to Chitkul – Day 2
- Chitkul to Nako – Day 3
- Nako to Mud Village (Pin Valley) – Day 4
- Mud Village to Kaza – Day 5
- Kaza to Kibber / Komik / Langza / Hikkim to Kaza – Day 6
- Kaza to Kalpa – Day 7
- Kalpa to Sarahan – Day 8
- Sarahan to Shimla / Chail – Day 9
- Shimla to Delhi – Day 10
This is a sample 10 day travel but of course, not everyone can follow it to the last detail. Your final itinerary will depend on several other factors like how many days you have in hand and your mode of travel; however the layout of the trip between Narkanda to Kaza and back to Shimla will pretty much have to be the same.
Also read: Mobile and Data Connectivity in Spiti Valley
Itinerary for Spiti in April
Following the above mentioned plan, destination for Day 1 will be Narkanda which I find much better than staying at crowded Shimla. This journey can easily be completed in about 7-8 hours depending upon your speed. On Day 2, you will start really early from Narkanda and reach Chitkul. I say early because from here on, roads will mostly be bad ; and travel time between Narkanda to Chitkul can easily be up to 8-9 hours.
From Chitkul, you will reach Nako on Day 3 which again is about 8 hours of travel. Destination for Day 4 will be Mud village for which you will have to take the diversion from Attargo bridge after Dhankar. You will reach Kaza on Day 5 and explore the nearby areas on Day 6. On Day 7, you will take the long drive back to the small town of Kalpa. This will easily be about 9-10 hours of journey so ensure that you get an early start again. Sarahan will be the destination for next day after Kalpa and then you will continue back to Delhi via Shimla on Day 10.
If you cannot afford all 10 days, then you can remove a few days from the itinerary to make it a short trip. Trip to Pin Valley can be removed and you can get to Kaza straight. Exploring villages of Kibber and Komik can be removed as well. From Kalpa, you can easily make it to Shimla in a day so Sarahan can also be removed while returning back.
While making your own itinerary, there are a few things you must keep in mind that I will mention below.
Plan only via Shimla
One of the biggest confusions people have while going to Spiti valley in April is about Manali to Kaza road. A lot of people think that it will be open in April but that never happens. Manali Kaza route always opens sometime towards late May. There is no way that you can travel on this road in April. You must keep it out of your travel plan unless you are planning to go after June.
Spiti valley weather in April
It will not be on the extreme side but it will still be cold enough. Day will be pleasantly warm but night will get harsh and cold. There is a great chance that you will find some snow in the valley even in the month of April. Though it will not be as much as in January of February, but it will still be enough to make you feel the chill.
Chances of a snowfall too remain in Spiti valley until the month of April.
Also read: What Clothes should you pack for Spiti Trip
Spiti temperature in April
Day temperature in Spiti in April will hover between 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. It will however definitely drop several degrees below zero at night; may even go as far below as -10 degrees.
You will be able to find accommodation at all the places I suggested in itinerary easily. If you want to book in advance for your peace of mind, you may chose to do so; however I will not recommend it. Since it is just the beginning of the season, there will not be many tourists around and you will have no problem in negotiating an on the spot deal. If you booked in advance, you may actually end up paying more.
Start a bit late in the Day
And by late I do not mean like 10 or 11 AM but at least wait for the sun to come up. Though it is not so much but the threat of black ice still remains in the month of April as well. The freezing temperature at nights may cause black ice to form on the roads which will be a danger if you started really early. Wait for the sun to come up and start at around 8 AM so that it is a bit warm for the ice to have melted off the roads. Some locals too would have traveled by then so chances of you encountering a sheet of ice on the road and skidding will be very less.
Keep Buffer Days
This will actually apply irrespective of your time of travel. When going to a place like Spiti valley, it is always wise to keep at least 1 day or 2 as buffer. If you got stuck at any of the places for any reason, like a landslide for example, then you will at least be able to afford it. Do not tie yourself down to a very strict travel plan.
Lahaul Spiti in April
A common misconception is that Lahaul and Spiti are the same place. It is actually incorrect as both are different valleys. Spiti is the area around Kaza and Chandratal whereas Lahaul is the valley around Keylong, Jispa and Udaipur. While traveling in April, there is no way that you will be able to cover Lahaul and Spiti both as Kunzum Pass will remain closed. You will only be traveling to Spiti valley and not Lahaul.
If you were not traveling by your own vehicle, you can still plan a trip to Spiti in April. There is a daily bus from Shimla to Kaza that you can board and complete the journey. For places like Chitkul and Sarahan that are off the main highway, you will easily be able to find a shared taxi.
Chandratal in April
This will be the biggest drawback of visiting Spiti this time. The road to Chandratal lake in April remains blocked and there is no way that you can reach here. The only way would be to hire a local guide and porter from Kaza and trek all the way to the lake. By road, you will not be able to visit and must keep Chandratal out of your itinerary.
I hope the information above on visiting Spiti valley in April was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.