Spiti Valley Trip 2017 : A friend of mine, Partha Bhai, returned a while ago from his Spiti valley trip in Mahindra Scorpio. He stumbled across my blog, I helped him plan his trip in any way I could and he was kind enough to share some very useful information upon his return. Copy pasting his updates here in a separate post in order to help everyone heading towards Spiti.
First the road conditions
1. Dalhousie-Khajjiar is a breeze and roads are fine. A small stretch approaching Khajjiar is a bit rough but nothing major.
2. Dharamsala and Mcleodgang all good. No blocks anywhere.
3. Dharamsala to Jibhi via Palampur all clear. Roads are narrow and steep as you approach Jibhi but smooth and clear
4. Important : From Jibhi while crossing Jalori Pass the road is in very poor state.The bad stretch starts about 5km before Sojha and continues onto the other side for a very long stretch. At some points it’s a dirt road. Repairs have started and we saw road repair crews all along the stretch.
5. Important : Stretch along Baspa river before Bethal is in bad shape. Enjoy a bumpy and dusty ride for an elongated stretch
Roads in Kinnaur
6. The main road entering Sarahan is BLOCKED. The base of the bridge is being strengthened. We used a 7 km not existant dirt road as a work around. This starts after you cross the bridge post State Bank at Jelori. You go ahead for a couple of km and then you will see a school followed by a small store on the main highway. Look for a dirt road climbing on the right. It’s a terrible path but everyone is using it including public buses. Hats off to the drivers. Proceed with extreme caution.
There is space for only one car so be prepared to reverse on a steep slope along a dirt road when needed. A Innova in front of us developed a flat tire. The path comes out at ITBP cantonment just ahead of Sarahan. It does save a lot of time but might not be everyone’s cup of tea
7. Sarahan To Chitkul is ok till about 5 km before Sangla. There are patches which are bad but tolerable. Personally I found the Sangla stretch quite hair raising in terms of ghats, valleys and sharp turns. About 5 km before Sangla the road disappears. The entire stretch to Chitkul is a broken road where all your patience , car suspension, tyres and low gear driving skills will be tested.You cannot go faster than 15 to 20 kmph. However the scenery is amazing. I completely second Vargis. This has to be the best hill station that is there. We loved it so much that we modified our itinerary to spend an additional night there.
Roads in Spiti
8. Chitkul to Nako – Once you bump your way out of Chitkul and Sangla and take the Karcham Dam turn off things look good till you get to Powari. Post that forget about getting any roads. For about 15 km post the Rekong Peo turnoff all you get is dirt roads, stones, and glimpses of a road. From Ribba – Spello it is an utter disaster. The roads resemble a warzone. My sincere thanks to the engineers at Mahindra for building the Scorpio. The car can take some hammering and still keep going and what power for the climbs !! I for the life of me could not understand how the numerous Alto’s on the road were surviving.
The roads are basically terrible till Pooh. Terrible here being an understatement. Post Pooh sense prevails and roads improve till Nako. This includes the Kazigs before Nako. Overall I took 7 hours from Chitkul to Nako including toilet breaks and lunch
9. The stretch from Spello to Pooh is undergoing work by the BRO team. Heavy machinery work is on and periodically roads can get blocked by work crews. To avoid this one can travel on a Sunday as the labour is on holiday on that day
10. Road widening work is ongoing around Khab and we saw notices of blasting schedules. Some time can also be lost over here.
11. From Nako to Tabo, the road is decent. If done at a stretch on a dedicated basis it takes about 2 – 2.5 hours. If you wish to see the mummy at Giu you need to ear mark 1.5 hr. The 11km stretch heading to Giu is in bad shape. Again repair work is underway but the road is narrow and broken.
12. On my way to Tabo i made a halt at Chango and got my tyre fixed. My second puncture during the entire route, the first being at Dalhousie. There are a couple of good garages available here and the people running the show are very helpful. If you wish you can also purchase diesel here in jerrycan, though i cannot validate the quality of the same
13. Tabo is beautiful and our stay at the Tabo Monastery guest house was a nice touch
14. Unfortunately due to Time constraints, we could go no further. We turned back and headed to Kalpa. Kaza is remaining and gives me a reason to come back. Locals told me that that road to Kaza is in fair condition and no major challenges foreseen
On the Way Back
15. For Kalpa, the approach road via Rekong Peo is in good condition. It’s a steep road but the road is quite ok.
16. From Kalpa we hit the road to Shimla via Narkanda. Again road conditions are quite good, the challenge here was the steep climb and narrow roads. As you approach Thanedar and Narkanda the traffic increases and you will spend significant amount of time, making way for the oncoming vehicle or reversing to make way
17. While climbing Narkanda I saw a milestone that said 10 Km to Sarahan. I guess there is a way to Sarahan from here and could be a workaround to the approach road issue that I had mentioned in my earlier post for Sarahan
18. Shimla roads as expected were quite good and not much to report here. From Shimla to Delhi on the return stretch I cam across road widening work around Kalka. If you travel early in the morning you wont face any delays, else there can be some traffic
Some information on Accommodation.
Pathankot – Hotel Green. – 2400/- Rs per night ( Food Extra ) – Call directly at the property. I found the amount quoted cheaper than online booking sites. Good for overnight halts. Food is great.
Dalhousie – Cedar Villa HomeStay. ( Booked via AirBnB ) – 2500/- Per night ( Food Extra ). Highly recommended by me.
Palampur – Rupayan Homestay. ( Booked via AirBnB ) – 1500/- Per night ( Food Extra). Good value for money. Rooms are spacious and clean bathrooms. Good place, but not a true home stay. More of a hotel.
Jibhi – The Green Alpine Jibhi, by WoodRose Camp ( Booked via AirBnB ) – 3000/- Food Inclusive. Very Good place, but not a true home stay. More of a hotel.
Sarahan – House surrounded by Apples ( Booked via AirBnB ) – 2100/- Per night (Food Extra ). Ok place. Look at other options before closing on this one.
Chitkul – Samaa Resorts – 3000/- Per night ( Food Extra ). Great Location. Excellent Hosts. Service can be a bit better, but still worth a visit
Nako – Reo Purguil. – 2000/- Per night ( Food Extra) – Again excellent value for money. Room was large and very comfortable. Excellent stay considering the remote location. Great Service.
Tabo – Monastery Guest House – 1000/- per night for the Family Suite. Contact is Jitu – 9418984340. Comfortable stay. Go with reasonable expectation. Jituji is very hospitable
Kalpa, we stayed at HPTDC Kinner Kailash http://hptdc.nic.in/ohrs/PublicPages/PubHome.aspx
I am sure this information will be helpful for anyone planning a trip to Spiti in near future. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask Partha Bhai in his thread at our Community Forum and I am sure he will be glad to answer. You can also ask in the comments section below.