How to Plan a Trip to Spiti in October

by Vargis.Khan

The month of September is about to end and along with it, ends the tourist season in the valleys of Ladakh and Spiti. A lot of places in Himalayas have already seen their first spell of snow for the season. As winter starts to settle, number of tourists continues to get sparse and locals prepare for the tough months ahead. While October is mostly considered an off-season for tourism in Spiti; a lot of people wonder if they can still complete the journey before the valley gets buried under a thick sheet of snow. If you too were planning the same, in this article I will provide some details on how you can plan your trip to Spiti in October.

spiti in october

Is October an ideal time to visit Spiti valley? To be honest, there is really no straight yes or no to this question. It will depend on several factors like your mode of travel, itinerary, budget constraints if any and which part of October are you traveling in. In the end however, it is definitely not the best time to plan a trip to Spiti. In the month of October, the accessibility of certain regions comes under question and the weather will definitely start to get colder. For sightseeing purpose as well, it may not be a great time. However if this is the only time when you can afford to plan this trip, you can definitely do so keeping a few things in mind; details on which I will further provide in the article.




For more details on an ideal time to plan a journey through Spiti circuit, please take a look at the article below.

Also read: When is the best time to visit Spiti valley?

For a complete list of places to visit in Spiti valley please read through the following article.

Also read: Tourist Attractions in Spiti Valley and its vicinity

There are two way that you can access Spiti Valley. The more common, traditional way as I call it; is to start from Shimla and reach Kaza via Rampur, Reckong Peo, Pooh, Nako, Tabo and Dhankar. Then you can exit via Manali while covering Chandratal on the way. Second way to do the journey is to travel this circuit in the opposite manner; that is to start from Manali and exit via Shimla. The road from Shimla to Kaza remains open throughout the year. There may be a temporary road closure in case of heavy snowfall but it usually gets cleared within a day or two; unless it is a case of extreme weather conditions which can close the valley for even weeks altogether.

The road between Manali and Kaza however involves crossings over two high altitude passes; Rohtang La and Kunzum La. This stretch of the circuit closes by Mid-October after it starts to snow at Kunzum top and remains so until June next year. It means that if you are planning a trip between Mid-October to early June, you will have to reach Kaza via Shimla and return the same way. The Manali to Kaza road cannot be covered at this time.

How to Plan a Trip to Spiti in October

I will break this article in three different parts. First I will cover some important tips on traveling to Spiti in October; followed by some advantages and disadvantages of traveling at this time of the year.

Plan in early October

If at all possible, plan your trip in first 10 days of October. This will beneficial in two ways. It starts to snow at Kunzum top sometime by mid-October which means that if you were traveling within first 10 days, you will be able to complete the Spiti circuit. Chandratal too remains open till around 10th so that too can be included in the itinerary in early October. Traveling in later part of the month will deprive you of both these important parts of Spiti trip. After the road across Kunzum La gets blocked, you will have to return via Shimla only and a night stay at Chandratal will have to be pushed for another time.

Spiti valley temperature in October

Once it starts to snow at high altitude passes, temperature in the entire regions drops drastically. While the days will still be moderately warm in October, there will be a definite chill in the air and nights will get extremely cold. You must prepare yourself for the cold, both mentally and physically. Please note that when I say cold, it is not the regular cold that people like you and I experience in plains. Temperature in Spiti in October at nights can even drop to several degrees below freezing point.

Pack Accordingly

This is related to the point above. In order to ensure that you are able to handle the cold, you must pack your clothes accordingly. This does not mean that you stuff all your heaviest woolens in the bag. Pack clothes in layers. Thermals are a must followed by some light woolens and heavy windproof jacket.

For example, you can first put on the thermals, then your regular cottons covered by light woolens sweaters and then a thick windproof jacket. What this will ensure is that if you start to feel cold, you will have sufficient protection with your jacket blocking the wind and thermals keeping you warm. At the same time, if you start to feel warm, you can just take off any of the layers until you are comfortable. A good sunblock lotion, cold creams, some basic cold medicines, lip guard, woolens gloves and socks, a cap that can cover both your head and ears and if possible, a muffler to protect your neck are must. For a complete list of clothes to pack for Spiti trip, please read through the following article.

Also read: Clothes for Spiti trip: what to Pack?

Do not plan the entire circuit in later October

If traveling in later part of the month, it is best to avoid Manali to Kaza route altogether. Just plan to reach Kaza via Shimla and return the same way. If however, the road across Kunzum and Rohtang is open and you do want to attempt it, ensure that you speak to the locals at Kaza; get accurate information on the road before you head this way.

Avoid a bike trip if possible

For a trip to Spiti in October, plan your trip by a car and avoid a bike trip; if at all possible. Riding in such weather with cold wind blowing on your face; freezing your hands may not be the best idea. If you do however choose to go by bike, then ensure that your gloves are really good and warm. Protect your face under the helmet so that you do not end up catching a cold. Wear warm thermals underneath your trousers to also keep your lower body warm. Ensure that you are carrying woolen socks and good pair of shoes that can protect your feet.

Start a bit late in the day

It may not snow across Spiti in October but the low temperatures at night may result in black ice on the road at several places. When the sun is up, snow melts and wets the roads but at night, this water freezes and turns in to black ice which can be extremely dangerous. Do not start by first light of the day. Let the sun come up and wait until it is a bit warm. This will melt the black ice and remove the risk.

Keep Buffer Days

It is always wise to not keep your itinerary strictly bound to a set timeline. Keep at least one day as buffer so that if you do get stuck somewhere; your entire plan does not go for a toss. If the trip was event-less and you traveled as decided, this day can be used to relax at the last destination of your trip; or maybe to rest at home after coming back from the trip before you went back to work.

Advantages of Traveling to Spiti in October

With the above being said, there are a few advantages of planning a trip to Spiti in October. There aren’t really many but I will list down a few.

Less Number of Tourists

For a lot of people, trip to a place like Spiti valley means getting away from regular crowded tourist destinations; to go to a place where time stands still. If peace and tranquility is what you seek with only a handful of people around; then Spiti in October is the place to be. Tourist season is over but not completely which means that you will still be able to enjoy a comfortable stay; be away from people yet get the basic facilities before the valley shuts down and the weather turns to extreme.

Chances of finding snow

Though not great, but if traveling in October you have small chance of finding snow or even catching a live snowfall at either Rohtang or Kunzum top.

Good Deals on Accommodation

This is not guaranteed but can be a great advantage if you are able to talk yourself in to it. Most of the hotels at this time are winding up and there aren’t many customers around so a bit of negotiation may get you an accommodation cheaper than expected.

Water Crossings

Crossing water streams is one of the biggest challenges while planning a trip to Spiti valley. In the months of May and June, the melting snow rises the level of water in these rivulets; thus making to extremely difficult to cross these sometimes. Same is the story in August as well after Monsoon arrives. In October however; after Monsoon is gone and snow stops to melt; most of the small water streams vanish and the level of water in the big ones too will not be that high.

Cons of Traveling to Spiti in October

After advantages, let me also list down a few disadvantages of planning a trip to Spiti in October.

May be a bit expensive

Cost of living goes up in Spiti in winter and you may even end up paying more than the actual charge for basic facilities and sundries.

Black Ice

A great risk during road trip. While no water in rivulets will be a great advantage, it will create even a bigger risk of black ice or completely frozen water stream or black ice on the roads.

Cannot cover Manali Kaza stretch

This will be one of the biggest disadvantages of traveling to Spiti in October; especially in later part of October. In it snowed at Kunzum Pass, you will have no other choice but to give up the Manali to Kaza route altogether and return via Shimla only.

No Chandratal

Chandratal is in my opinion the prime attraction of a Spiti trip. Camps here wrap by and close for the season by 8th to 10th October at most. If you are able to make it in first few days, you may keep Chandratal in your itinerary. After this, you will have to exclude the night stay at this beautiful lake from your travel plan altogether. Even if it did not snow at Kunzum Pass, there will still be no place for you to stay. Camping on your own too is not advised after the camps are gone because then you will be all alone in the middle of nowhere; on the banks of a lake where there is wildlife around. If it snowed, then you will get stuck alone.

Cold

Handling extreme cold is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you too fall in the same category, then it would be best to give up the idea of visiting Spiti in October and plan for next year summer.

Conclusion:

In the end, though visiting Spiti in October is not the ideal; you can still plan your trip keeping the above mentioned in mind. 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.

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62 comments

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Pankaj Pimple September 19, 2020 - 4:58 am

Hi,i am Pankaj Pimple wants to visit Spiti valley circuit from 1 to 10 october.can i come from my own car.

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Pranav Selot September 17, 2020 - 5:21 am

I am planning to leave for spiti valley via Manali and chandratal lake on 4th of October. We are an adventurous family and can stay in extremely cold environment. We have a fortuner car. I wanted to ask, will we able to get clear blue sky in spiti and a bit of greenery as well since we are going after monsoons. And will mud, langza komik etc be open during that time? We want to complete the full circuit
Thank you

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Vargis.Khan September 17, 2020 - 10:54 am

Spiti is closed for tourism this year Pranav. You will have to plan for next year

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Ankita September 21, 2019 - 11:32 pm

I am planning from 29th September to 6th October. Is it an ideal time to visit the place? Also, please mention if it’s going to be too cold or moderate delhi level cold?

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Vargis.Khan September 23, 2019 - 3:05 am

Timing is OK but it is going to be very cold so please prepare accordingly.

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Om September 29, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Please provide information about road conditions for Spiti circuit if you have any information.

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Om September 29, 2019 - 4:16 pm

As I am planning my trip from 1 to 8 oct..

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Vargis.Khan September 30, 2019 - 11:32 pm

Shimla to Nako is good, Nako to Kaza is average and Kaza to Manali is really bad

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Vishal Satam August 21, 2019 - 8:47 pm

Hi Vargis, thanks so much for putting all information in one place. I have been following your website and it helped me to come up with below itinerary during sep to Oct. We will be hiring scorpio from Narkanda to Manali.

27-09-2019 mumbai to delhi train
28-09-2019 delhi narkanda hrtc bus
29-09-2019 reach Narkanda in morning and night stay
30-09-2019 narkanda to kalpa
01-10-2019 Kalpa to Tabo
02-10-2019 Tabo to Kaza
03-10-2019 Kaza sightseeing, kibber, komic, hikkim, tashigang
04-10-2019 kaza to chandratal
05-10-2019 chadratal to manali, evng bus to Amritsar
06-10-2019 Amritsar exploration
07-10-2019 Amritsar to delhi and delhi to mumbai rajdhani

Question.

1. If we leave from Chandratal at 4.00 am in morning, by what time we will be reaching Manali considering nallas at chota darra and rohtang traffic? if we reach Manali by 1 or 2pm then we are planning to catch Manali Amritar bus at 8.30 pm in evening same day. If not then we will drop amritsar plan and move to delhi next day

2. Can we add Mud or pin valley in this without adding extra day?

Thanks for your help again

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Avishek Maitra August 2, 2019 - 8:12 am

Hi Vargis,

First of all, thanks for all the Great Reviews and suggestions your article made our plan possible to think of going to Spiti in october… we are travelling from kolkata on 2nd and planning to reach kaza by 4th october taking Shimla route… Should we keep Chandratal in our itinerary or should we decide it upon reaching Kaza. Always can we View other nearby sites at this time of the month.

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Sunrit July 11, 2019 - 8:36 am

Planning for a Spiti Roadtrip in my Tata Nexon from Kolkata with friends. Tentatively the plan is to start on 9th October morning and return by 22nd. Reading your blogs, I could gather that visiting Chandratal or the kaza-Manali route post 15th can be dicey. I am thinking of getting to Kaza and take a call thereafter. Also it doesn’t matter if we cannot do Kaza-Manali but as you have rightly mentioned, Chandratal is this region’s greatest draw, really don’t want to miss out on that. This will be our maiden drive in the mountains of this nature so to say. The car is some months old, would it cut it? How much difference would it make if there are 5 adults on board than if there were 4?

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Vargis.Khan July 11, 2019 - 2:55 pm

You are right. It is hard to say right now because everything depends on the weather. You should make the final call after you have arrived in Kaza. Worst is that may be forced to make a day trip to Chandratal and return to Kaza by evening.

Or you can start your journey from Manali and exit at Shimla. That way you can be sure that Manali – Kaza and Chandratal will be open.

Tata Nexon is fine for the trip, won’t be a problem.

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Kankana Das May 29, 2019 - 7:51 pm

We are 4 in number travelling from Kolkata on 8th October via kalka mail and will be reaching kalka on 10th. We have decided to enter spiti via manali. After covering all the spots in spiti, we want a camping at chandrataal on 15th October. We want to return via manali and board the train from kalka. Will it be possible? Plz guide us with the proper route and other necessary details.

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Vargis.Khan May 30, 2019 - 2:16 am

15th October is a bit late in the season. Hard to tell right now whether or not it will be open by then

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krishna August 14, 2020 - 8:57 pm

Hi varghis, your articles are vry informative. Can you pls suggest me a itenary starting from Sep 20 till Sep 27 for spiti valley and also include bir billing for paragliding. Also pls let us Know houw is the sitation for tourism in hinachal in this pandemic time.

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Kaushik Naskar April 10, 2019 - 5:23 pm

Hi brother, thanks for ur valuable information. So, as per ur words we can go spiti in 1st and 2nd week of October… But tell me one thing, is it possible to visit chandratal at that time? Actually we are planning to be there by this year during puja vacation in October. Thanks in advance.

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Vargis.Khan April 10, 2019 - 6:03 pm

If you are planning before October 10th then yes, you can include Chandratal as well.

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kartik rathour October 5, 2018 - 7:44 am

hey vargish , we are planning spiti valley trip through reckong peo to kaza route .. on 13 october , the hrtc online site shows that they are not currently serving bus from peo to kaza .. so how we will reach kaza from reckong peo ?

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Vargis.Khan October 5, 2018 - 1:36 pm

It won’t show online Kartik but there is a daily bus. It remains available throughout the year unless there is a roadblock due to heavy snowfall.

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Souvanik Goon September 29, 2018 - 8:22 am

Hello brother.. i m budget traveler want to explore leh on this oct but unfortunetely cancel this plan due to weather condition. and now make plan to spiti. i hv not too much idea what to visit and where to stay. i know some of villages name like chitkul..Langza – Komik – Hikkim tabo nako… can u make a plan pls what will be help me a lot.
i will reach Kaza through –
Night bus from delhi to rampur. (HRTC)
Rampur to kaza. by bus.

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Vargis.Khan September 29, 2018 - 4:27 pm Reply
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Manoj Aswal September 25, 2018 - 8:22 am

Hi Vargis. Great Job done. Thanks a lot for your valuable information. Spiti and Ladakh are my all time favourite destinations. But I never visit there in winters. This time I am planning in 18 October with my friends by Ford Eco Sport or Innova. Kindly suggest me that –
1 – Can we cover sangla – Chitkul – kaza – chandratal – rohtang-manali circuit
2 – can we stay at Lossar in winters
3 – where will be the most dangerous road covering black snow
4- we will start from dehradun, so where should be our night stay.
Thanks in Advance.

Manoj Aswal

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Vargis.Khan September 25, 2018 - 1:33 pm

Hi Manoj,

1. Won’t be able to cover Chandratal and Kaza to Manali circuit. It has already started to snow there.
2. Yes
3. Kaza to Manali route
4. Depends on how many days you have. What is your itinerary?

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Aswath Madhu September 19, 2018 - 7:19 am

Hi,

I am planning for a trip to Spiti by October 13-21. The only place that I have in mind in Spiti as of now is the Key Monastery. Apart from Spiti, I am also planning to visit Kasol, Parvati Valley, Malana. Spiti is the first place in my list to visit among the lot. It would be great if you could suggest an itinerary or any updates on what to expect there. I am planning to use public transport from Delhi.

Thanks

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Sayanti September 15, 2018 - 6:46 am

Hi , want to visit the area from 3rd oct to 12th october. Will chandrataal camping open then?
If so can we reach till the camp by car?
How far is the lake from the camping site?
Is trekking the only option to reach the lake from the camp?

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Vargis.Khan September 16, 2018 - 2:49 am

1. Yes
2. Yes
3. 3 Kilometers approx
4. Yes for last 1.5 kilometers

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Rahul Anand September 2, 2018 - 3:40 pm

Hello Sir….I am planning to leave for Spiti on 5th of September but weather report is saying that it will rain heavily in Himachal…should I extend my plan to last week of september..please help Sir..my mode of travel is bike..

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Vargis.Khan September 3, 2018 - 12:37 pm

Hi Rahul – Yes it is raining like crazy over there right now. If possible, extend your trip towards end of September.

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Jocelyn Sousa August 4, 2018 - 6:45 am

Hello Sir, Thanks for detailed information!!!

I’m planning to travel spiti from 13th – 20th Oct from Delhi. Due to the weather conditions, I wont be able complete the circuit. Can you please suggest me possible itinerary?

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Vargis.Khan August 4, 2018 - 6:24 pm

How will you be traveling?

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Jocelyn Sousa August 5, 2018 - 9:11 am

Will be travelling by public transport!

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RAKENTH June 23, 2018 - 6:29 am

Hi Vargis,

First of all, a big thank you for all the valuable information you have provided to all of us here!
I am planning to do Spiti Valley in second week of October(8-14). I will be riding a 500CC classic.
Through your articles and forum replies, I have gathered some info and it seems little tricky to cover Baralacha pass and Kunzum pass during this time.
I intend to come from Leh side and possibly covering these passes by October 7-8.
Is it doable? What are the risks? Also what about camping at Chandratal around October 8-10?
I hope all roads in and around LEH will be open during October 1 -6 ?
Thanks in advance.

Rakenth.

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Vargis.Khan June 23, 2018 - 3:12 pm

Hi Rakenth – If you are crossing on 7th – 8th October then you are fine really. There is a chance of snowfall at this time at top of the passes but it won’t be too much. Even camping at Chandratal will remain open until October mid.

On a separate note, I will also be traveling on Spiti circuit between October 1st and 10th.

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RAKENTH June 25, 2018 - 8:50 am

Hi Vargis,

Thanks a lot for the fast response. Hope all goes well because I have kept only one buffer day.
It will be a pleasure to meet to you in person ,if possible, at Spiti.
Continue the good work and all the best!

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Vargis.Khan June 25, 2018 - 2:19 pm

It will be good to meet you too brother. Let us catch up towards September end to see how the trips are planned.

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hamza June 25, 2018 - 7:23 pm

hi vargis
thankyou for this information am planning my trip in first week of october ill be ridinh avenger 220 and will be obliged if wr meet up there it will be really an honour to meet you.

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Vargis.Khan June 25, 2018 - 8:26 pm

Sure Hamza Bhai. Let us catch up again towards September end and I can let you know of my itinerary.

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hamza June 26, 2018 - 10:11 am

bhai do we find snow in first week of october.. what are the chances

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Vargis.Khan June 26, 2018 - 12:36 pm

Bhai you may find some snow at top of Rohtang and Kunzum Pass but not elsewhere.

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Arkojyoti sen June 13, 2018 - 3:11 pm

Sir I was planning to cover spiti circuit from October 15 to October 22. I am skipping chandratal. I had few questions in my mind like
1. Will accommodation be in Losar at that time?
2. Is manali kaza road safe during that period?

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Vargis.Khan June 13, 2018 - 3:49 pm

1. Yes
2. No. It may even be closed.

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Soumit Das June 1, 2018 - 3:33 pm

Very sorry! For the inconvenience caused sir! My last unedited comment had many mistakes.
Sir, we are planning for a Spiti valley trip on the first two weeks of October. I have a few questions. It would be very kind on your part if you reply them.

1. Can we visit “Tabo- Kaza- Chandra Taal- Kyelang-Manali” from 8/10/2018 to 12/10/2018 ?
2. Can we visit Chandra Taal from Kaza and come back to Kaza on the same day?
3. Can we visit Chandra Taal from Kaza by road ?
4. If we can visit Chandra Taal by road then, how much distance should we have to walk from the vehicle parking place at Chandra Taal to the actual site of the lake ?
5. Can an asthmatic 52 years old person visit such high altitude places?

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Vargis.Khan June 5, 2018 - 9:19 pm

Hello Soumit,

1. Yes
2. Yes but must start early from Kaza, possibly before even first light of the day.
3. Yes
4. About 2 kilometers between parking spot and the lake
5. That is really a questions for a doctor. I do not feel qualified to advise in medical terms.

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Soumit Das June 14, 2018 - 4:57 am

Thank you so much for your reply sir! It is really very helpful.

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Vargis.Khan June 14, 2018 - 1:48 pm

You are welcome brother !!!

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Soumit Das June 1, 2018 - 3:22 pm

Sir, we are planning for a Spiti valley on the first two weeks of September. I have a few question. I would be very kind on your part if you reply.

1. Can we visit “Tabo- Kaza- Chandra Taal- Kyelang-Manali” from 8/10/2018 to 12/10/2018 ?
2. Can we visit Chandra Taal from Kaza and come back to Kaza on the same day?
3. Can we visit Chandra Taal from Kaza by road ?
4. If we can visit Chandra Taal by road then, how much distance should we have to walk if we go vehicle parking place at Chandra Taal to the lake ?

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khairunisa April 1, 2018 - 5:46 am

Hello sir ! I’m from Malaysia. I’d like to ask you few questions reagrding my trip.
I’ll be travelling to Kashmir on 24th September, and my initial plan is to continue the journey from Kargil to Leh to discover Ladakh, and then would like to continue to discover the Himachal Pradesh region. Do you think we will be able to make it to Spiti valley ? is it even possible? I’ll be in india for 3 weeks ++

Hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you.

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Vargis.Khan April 2, 2018 - 2:44 pm

Hello Khairunisa – Yes you can definitely travel to Spiti valley while on your way back to Manali. From Keylong, take the road towards Kaza rather than reaching Manali.

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Sayantani samanta March 6, 2018 - 11:02 am

With due respect sir, though I have read your advice about kunjum pass and chandratal tour in October, we planned tour kinnaur, kalpa, sangla,sarhan, kajotabo, kunjum pass,Chandra tal starting Kolkata 18th October to end of October with total three family with 4years daughter,as per your opinion this time we should cancel this tour?we can’t go kunjum and chandratal?

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Vargis.Khan March 6, 2018 - 4:11 pm

Hello Sayantani – 2 things.

1. Whether or not you will be able to go to Kunzum Pass depends on the weather. It starts to snow at Kunzum Pass sometime in October. So there is a high chance that by October end, the road may get completely blocked. If it doesn’t snow much, like it happened last year, the route may remain open until November as well.

2. Camp Sites at Chandratal wrap up by October 10th, so if the pass and the road to Chandratal was still open by October end, you will not however be able to stay there for the night and will have to make this a day trip.

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Gopika October 8, 2017 - 3:45 am

And also sir, which is a better option – manali-spiti-manali or the complete circuit? For this date.

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Vargis.Khan October 8, 2017 - 3:54 am

It depends on the number of days that you have. If you have about 7 days in hand, then you should complete the circuit

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Gopika October 10, 2017 - 6:50 am

Thank you sir!! Thinking of completing the circuit.

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Vargis.Khan October 10, 2017 - 8:22 pm

You should. Let me know how the trip went.

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Gopika October 11, 2017 - 7:03 am

Definitely!! Will let you know.. However, change of dates to 17th.. Is pitching our own tent near chandratal camping a good option as by the time we reach all the camps will be closed I guess.

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Vargis.Khan October 16, 2017 - 5:45 pm

Do it only if there is an existing camp site there or else, return to Batal

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Gopika October 26, 2017 - 11:49 am

Back from spiti.. And I must say the best trip so far!! Spiti in its autumn colours was beautiful!

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Vargis.Khan October 29, 2017 - 9:22 pm

Hi Gopika – I am glad your trip turned out to be fun. Do share some pictures if possible.

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Jui May 31, 2019 - 6:01 am

We shall go to kaza on 13th October. Is it possible for us to visit in spiti valley? Is kunzum and rotang pass still open at that time?

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Vargis.Khan May 31, 2019 - 7:47 pm

Hard to predict right now, all depends on the weather. But usually it remains open till 15th at least.

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Gopika October 7, 2017 - 7:24 pm

Sir, we are planning to travel to spiti on 13th of October. Can chandratal be included in the itinerary without the camping?

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Vargis.Khan October 7, 2017 - 10:37 pm

Hello Gopika – Camps at Chandratal will be closed by 10th so it is really more of a chance. You can go there and if you find a camp site functional, you can stay there or else you can come back to Batal and stay there at the Dhaba.

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