Spiti Valley in 12 Days – How to Plan your Journey?

by Vargis.Khan

When visiting a place like Spiti Valley in 12 days, you are making sure of two things. The first and foremost is that you do not spend all the time on the road. With 12 days in hand, your daily travel time will be strictly limited to 4-5 hours a day; thus allowing you plenty of time for sightseeing and visiting every place that is worth visiting en route.

Second is that you will not tire and exhaust yourself on any of the days. There is no denying the fact that Spiti valley is still a highly remote region and notorious for its bad roads. Traveling on bad broken routes for long hours every day will just stress you out in the end; and rather than focusing on enjoying your trip; you will be more focused on reaching the destination and checking into a hotel.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Spiti Valley – A Complete Travel Guide

Another reason could be of traveling by public transport. By your own vehicle, you can rush through the journey in a lesser amount of time. But when you have to rely on a government bus or shared taxis, you cannot really follow a strict timeline. You will have to keep a buffer of a few days to ensure that in case you ended up missing your bus, you are able to afford the delay of a day or two.

I am not saying that you cannot complete the journey with a lesser number, but 10 to 12 days is what I usually recommend as an ideal time for a Spiti valley trip. In this particular article, I will provide a sample itinerary that you can follow in order to visit Spiti in 12 days.

spiti valley in 12 days

Spiti via Manali or Shimla

The first thing you need to pay close attention to when visiting Spiti is the route you want to take to get there. This will depend on the time of your travel and your own riding or driving skills. Of the two roads leading to the valley, the one via Shimla is comparatively easier because there is no high altitude pass in between. Starting from Shimla, your gain in altitude is gradual, thus allowing your body plenty of time to acclimatize.

Also, because there is no pass en route, this road remains open for all 12 months a year. There could be occasional roadblocks caused by incessant rains or too much snow, but authorities usually clear the road as soon as they are able to and restore connectivity.

With that being said, this is also the longer one of the two roads. A journey from Shimla to Kaza can easily be over 500 kilometers, and will be at least 2 days long; depending on the places you visited on the way. On the other hand, coming from the Manali side, you can reach Spiti valley in a matter of a few hours.

Manali – Kaza route is about 200 kilometers long; doable in a single day, but will also take you across two high altitude passes, Rohtang and Kunzum La. Both of these passes are notorious for receiving high amounts of snow each year due to which, this road is open only from late May to early October. For more details on this information, please read Spiti via Shimla or Manali – Which one is Better.

Spiti Valley in 12 Days

So while deciding on the route, you will need to factor in whether or not the Manali Kaza route is open; and if it is, then will you be able to drive or ride through it. Keeping this in mind, I will suggest three different types of itineraries below.

The first one will have you travel on the entire circuit; starting from Shimla and ending at Manali. This can only be done when both Kunzum and Rohtang are open for vehicular traffic.

The second itinerary will start and end at Shimla only. This can be followed throughout the year irrespective of the month of your trip.

The third and last itinerary will exclude the Shimla road entirely and will only focus on completing the journey from Manali side.

For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting from Delhi. However, even if you were coming from a different city, only the travel on the first and the last day will be different. The journey on the rest of the days will remain the same.

Also Read: Tourist Attractions in Spiti Valley and En Route

lake of the moon

Spiti Valley 12 Days Itinerary # 1

I will first explain an itinerary that I recommend.

  • 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 (Pin Valley) – Day 6
  • Mud to Kaza – Day 7
  • Kaza – Day 8
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 9
  • Chandratal to Keylong / Jispa – Day 10
  • Keylong / Jispa to Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12

A detailed explanation of the itinerary is as mentioned below.

Delhi to Shimla / Narkanda – Day 1

Not much to write about this day except that it will be a long journey. The total distance covered will be about 400 kilometers in 9 to 10 hours. I will recommend staying at Narkanda rather than crowded Shimla because it will also reduce your travel time on Day 2.

Road conditions will be mostly OK all the way will Narkanda. If you were staying in Shimla, you can visit the local market in the evening.

Narkanda to Sarahan- Day 2

Take an early morning drive to Hatu Peak before starting for Sarahan. After visiting Hatu, have breakfast, check out of the hotel, and start on your way to Sarahan. You will first reach Rampur and then Jeori. From Jeori, turn right on the 16 kilometers long road to Sarahan. Depending on what time you arrived here, you can also visit the Bhimakali temple and the bird sanctuary in Sarahan on the same day.

Distance traveled will be about 100 kilometers in 4 to 5 hours. Road conditions will be mostly OK except for the final stretch to Sarahan that can be in bad condition. If you were able to start latest by 10 – 11 AM from Sarahan, it will give you ample time for sightseeing in Sarahan in the evening.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Sarahan

Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3

Your next destination will be the beautiful village of Chitkul. This is the last village on this side of the border. To get here, you will first drive 16 kilometers from Sarahan back to Jeori and then continue towards Karcham.

At Karcham, turn on the road that goes towards Sangla Valley and drive about 40 kilometers to arrive at Chitkul while crossing Sangla town on the way. Travel time will be about 5 hours for a total of 110 kilometers.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Chitkul

Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 4

From Chitkul, drive back to Karcham again and then continue towards Reckong Peo. The journey on this day will be very short, just about 65 kilometers, and can easily be done in 3 hours at most. Road conditions will be mostly OK.

Traveling from Karcham, you will first arrive at Powari. After Powari, you will notice a road to your left going uphill towards Reckong Peo and then Kalpa. This is the road that you will turn on and drive about 16 kilometers on a steep narrow ascent. There are several hotels at Kalpa that you can stay at. The view of Kinner Kailash from Kalpa is definitely worth a visit here.

I will also recommend buying fuel at the gas station in Powari. You can get it from Reckong Peo as well but Powari is more convenient. After Peo, the next gas station is in Kaza only so do not forget this.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Kalpa

Kalpa to Nako – Day 5

The journey from Kalpa to Nako will be about 100 kilometers but will take you through some really bad roads. Travel time can be anywhere between 3 to 6 hours, depending on your breaks and speed. There are some really bad sections of road on this stretch.

From Kalpa, drive down again to the main highway and then continue traveling towards Pooh. After Pooh, you will arrive at Khab Bridge and then climb up Kazigs to reach Nako.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Nako

Nako to Mud Village – Day 6

The destination for today will be the beautiful Pin Valley but you will also be visiting several other places en route; hence I will recommend that you get a really early start. Road conditions too from here will continue to deteriorate for the rest of the journey. Nako to Mud is about 135 kilometers but will easily take you 6 to 8 hours considering that you will take a few detours as well.

From Nako, you will first drive to Giu village to see the Mummy of Spiti valley. The road to this village has been marked by a few boards, pictures of the mummy, and a large gate so you will easily spot it. After a short detour to Giu, you will then drive to Tabo and see the Tabo Monastery. The next destination will be Dhankar and after visiting the monastery here, you can also trek to Dhankar lake; but that can take you about 2 hours so plan accordingly.

After Dhankar, you will then take the turn towards Pin Valley from Attargo Bridge and then drive 35 kilometers to reach Mud village; where you will be staying at for the night.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Pin Valley

Mudh Village to Kaza – Day 7

Kaza will be your next destination, the headquarters of Spiti Valley. Distance traveled will be just about 50 kilometers so you are in no rush to start early. From Mudh, drive back to Attargo Bridge, turn left, and then continue 16 kilometers to Kaza. Goes without saying, there is no shortage of hotels in Kaza and no matter what your budget is, you will easily find a place to stay.

I will recommend staying at Hotel Spiti Valley, right opposite Kaza Monastery. It is on the main road itself so you won’t even have to enter the narrow streets of Kaza. The contact person is Tanzin and his number is 9418927312. Give my reference and he will take good care of you at discounted rates.

spiti valley in 12 days

Kaza – Day 8

You will spend this day at Kaza itself and explore the nearby villages of Komik, Kibber, Langza, Hikkim, Tashigong, and Chicham. On the way, you will also visit the famous Kye Monastery which is the largest and oldest monastery in Spiti; and is one of its prime attractions. For more details on how to visit 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.

While you are in Kaza town, do not forget to visit the beautiful Kaza Monastery. If you were staying at Hotel Spiti Valley, then the monastery will be right in front of the hotel, on the other side of the road. You should also take a walk at the local Kaza market in the evening.

Kaza to Chandratal – Day 9

The next destination in the itinerary is the famous Chandratal Lake which is also the star attraction of this entire journey. Spending a night here at the camps is a must for everyone. In my opinion, a journey to Spiti valley is incomplete if Chandratal is not a part of it.

With that being said, after Kaza, you will truly understand the definition of the term “bad roads”. The entire stretch until Manali is a joy ride, but the 14 kilometers long road to Chandratal will have your heart jumping to your mouth if you were in a car. This entire stretch is an extremely bad road barely wide enough for one car.

After Kaza, you will take the road towards Losar and then climb up to Kunzum Pass. After crossing the top, as you climb down and about 2 kilometers before Batal, you will notice a narrow road towards your right. This is the road you need to take to reach Chandratal. There is also a board there marking this road.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Chandratal?

Chandratal to Keylong / Jispa – Day 10

Towns of Keylong and Jispa are not really a part of Spiti valley. This part of Himachal actually falls under Lahaul district. But since you are not short on time and have another day to spare, spend this time exploring a little bit of Lahaul valley as well.

From Chandratal, drive back 14 kilometers towards Kunzum Pass, back to the point where you took the turn yesterday. Continue then towards Batal. After Batal, it is one nightmare of the road for the next 60 kilometers, all the way till Gramphu. You will be traveling through a completely broken road; full of boulders and numerous water crossings. The fun will end when you will exit on Manali Leh highway near Gramphu, just after Rohtang top.

From Gramphu, continue on Manali Leh highway towards Keylong. Now in terms of accommodation, Keylong has a far better number of hotels. But when it comes to scenic beauty, Jispa is much more beautiful. There are a couple of hotels and campsites at Jispa where I will recommend that you stay. If you would rather prefer a cemented hotel, you can stay at Keylong.

Also read: What Clothes to Pack for Spiti Trip?

Keylong / Jispa to Manali – Day 11

Today you will reach Manali after crossing Rohtang Pass. But before you do that, I will recommend that you do a bit more exploring and add another pass to your trip. This will be the notorious Baralacha La. While going to the pass, you will also be seeing two more lakes on the way, Deepak and Suraj Taal.

In order to reach Baralacha La, from Jispa you will have to drive towards Sarchu. Drive all the way to the top of Baralacha La. You will see Deepak Tal on the way and Suraj Taal is located at the top of the pass. Spend some time there and then start your return journey.

You will again reach Jispa, then Keylong, and then back to Gramphu. After Gramphu, climb up to Rohtang Pass and then reach Manali by evening.

Manali to Delhi – Day 12

Once again, there is not much to say about this day of the trip. It will be a long and tiring journey of 14 – 15 hours of driving back to Delhi; unless you are really lucky and live in a closer city like Chandigarh.

Also Read: How much a Motorcycle Trip to Spiti Valley will Cost?

spiti valley in 12 days

Now the itinerary above is of course just one example of how this journey can be done. Depending on your own preference, you can change this in several other ways; removing some places and extending your stay at others.  A couple of other variations of this itinerary can be as mentioned below.

Spiti Valley 12 Days Travel Plan – Alternate Versions

Itinerary # 2
  • Delhi to Chail – Day 1
  • Chail to Narkanda – Day 2
  • Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 3
  • Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 4
  • Chitkul to Kalpa = Day 5
  • Kalpa to Nako – Day 6
  • Nako to Mud – Day 7
  • Mud to Kaza – Day 8
  • Kaza – Day 9
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 10
  • Chandratal to Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12
Itinerary # 3
  • Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
  • Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
  • Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
  • Chitkul to Kalpa = Day 4
  • Kalpa to Nako – Day 5
  • Nako to Mud – Day 6
  • Mud to Kaza – Day 7
  • Kaza – Day 8
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 9
  • Chandratal to Manali – Day 10
  • Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12

rohtang pass

12 Days Itinerary for Spiti Valley from Shimla Only

Now all three of the itineraries above will have you traveling on the entire circuit; which also means that you can only follow it when the Manali Kaza route is open. If you were however traveling in the months before May or after October, then you would have no choice but to begin your journey from Shimla, reach Kaza, and then return back to Shimla again. You can also do this if you were not very confident in your driving or riding skills and wanted to avoid the Kaza to Manali road.

Also Read: Why you should go to Spiti from Shimla?

In this case, your itinerary can be as below.

Itinerary # 4
  • Delhi to Narkanda = Day 1
  • Narkanda to Chitkul – Day 2
  • Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 3
  • Kalpa to Tabo – Day 4
  • Tabo to Mud Village – Day 5
  • Mud to Kaza – Day 6
  • Kaza – Day 7
  • Kaza to Nako – Day 8
  • Nako to Sarahan – Day 9
  • Sarahan to Chail – Day 10
  • Chail to Delhi – Day 11
  • Buffer Day – Day 12

The reason why I kept Day 12 as a buffer is that if you were traveling in the winter season, you must keep one or two days over and above your itinerary. In case if snowed too much and you were stranded at any of the places en route, you will be prepared for it.

Spiti 12 Days Itinerary from Manali Only

To be very honest, 12 days in Spiti from Manali will be a bit of an overkill. What I mean is that you will cover all of it in less than 12 days; and will have more time in hand that you will just spend relaxing at hotels. You could do that as well but I would recommend that you then make it a trip for Lahaul and Spiti; rather than just Spiti. You can pick and follow either of the itineraries below for covering Spiti in 12 Days from Manali only.

Also Read: Why you Should Visit Spiti From Manali?

Itinerary # 5
  • 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 Kaza – Day 6
  • Kaza to Kibber – Day 7
  • Kibber to Langza / Hikkim – Day 8
  • Kaza – Day 9
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 10
  • Chandratal to Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12

Also Read: Things NOT to do in Spiti Valley

Itinerary # 6
  • Delhi to Manali – Day 1
  • Manali – Day 2
  • Manali to Jispa – Day 3
  • Jispa to Baralacha La to Keylong – Day 4
  • Keylong to Kaza – Day 5
  • Kaza to Nako – Day 6
  • Nako to Mud – Day 7
  • Mud to Kaza – Day 8
  • Kaza to Kibber / Komik / Langza / Hikkim to Kaza – Day 9
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 10
  • Chandratal to Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12
Itinerary # 7
  • 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 Kaza – Day 6
  • Kaza to Kibber / Komik / Langza / Hikkim to Kaza – Day 7
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 8
  • Chandratal to Jispa – Day 9
  • Jispa to Baralacha La to Keylong – Day 10
  • Keylong to Manali – Day 11
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 12

The examples I shared above are just a few of many other ways that this journey can be done. 12 days is a sufficient enough time and you can add or remove many other places to your travel plan. If you were thinking of a different itinerary and need my inputs on it; please feel free to ask in the comments area at the bottom of this page.

Now since we are talking about visiting Spiti from the Manali side, there are a few of important things that I must mention here.

batal road

Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti Valley

The reason why starting from Shimla is considered better for Spiti Circuit is because the increase in altitude then is gradual, spread over 3 to 4 days of a 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 this, your body may go into shock, triggering the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. This happens with the majority of people.

A slow gain in altitude and plenty of rest are the best remedies for AMS. So while going to Kaza from the Manali side, ensure that you spend at least one day in Manali. This 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.

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 the permit required for Spiti valley. If you are an Indian citizen, then you do not really need any kind of permission specific to 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. It can be obtained either online, or in person from the DM office in Manali. For more details on this permit and related charges; 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 (ILP) as well. It does not matter if you went from Shimla or Manali, a foreign tourist must obtain  ILP from either Shimla or Manali. For more detail on this permit, please read How to Obtain an Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley

Mobile Network in Spiti Valley

BSNL has the widest coverage in all of Spiti. Airtel and Jio provide service as well but only in Kaza town. For most of the Spiti Valley, it is only BSNL / MTNL that will remain connected. All other phones will be only good enough for taking pictures and playing games. For more details, please read Mobile and Data Connectivity in Spiti Valley.

Conclusion

I hope the information above on visiting Spiti valley in 12 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.

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