A trip to Spiti valley in 4 days; is it doable? The answer to that question can actually be a yes but with a lot of conditions. However, if you ask whether or not you should do it; the answer would definitely be a no. Visiting Spiti in 4 days would mean that you barely touched the place and started on your way back. The trip would be more a hassle than fun and almost all of your time will be spent on the road. With that being said, not everyone really has the liberty of being away from our jobs and regular lives for days altogether. Lot of people still try to witness the beauty that Spiti valley is with just 4 days in hand. If you too fall in that category, then in this article I will provide a few details on how you can plan your trip.
Spiti, as I am sure everyone knows; can be accessed from either Shimla or Manali. Starting from Shimla, it will take you a minimum of 2 days to reach Kaza; whereas from Manali, you can do this journey in a single day. What it means that with just 4 days in hand, you need to keep the route via Shimla off your itinerary. Your journey can only be completed via Manali and that is how you should plan it.
Second is the hassle of Rohtang permits. It is a mandate to obtain this permit in order to cross Rohtang Pass. Problem however is that it is a time consuming process. You will need to submit your documents at SDM office Manali before noon and collect the permit after noon; hence the entire day spent in Manali itself. With limited time in hand, you will have to arrange the permit in advanced which can be done two ways. First option is to apply for it online; explained at the LINK here. You can get the permit two days before your date of travel, print a copy out and keep it ready thus avoiding the need of staying in Manali an entire day.
If the online option did not work, then the second choice is to ask someone else to arrange it for you. Several hotels in Manali provide this service in exchange of a small fee. Call a few hotels there, ask around and whichever one agrees, book your night stay with them. That way, once you arrive in Manali, you will have the permits ready and can leave for Spiti the very next day. However, please make sure that you call the hotels about a week in advance and allowing them time to make the arrangements. It cannot be a last minute thing. If you could not find a hotel to agree on arranging this for you; then try calling a few travel agents.
For more information on Rohtang Permits, please read Permits for Rohtang La: Details, Charges and How to Apply
Biggest concern however while trying to cover Spiti valley in 4 days would be of acute mountain sickness. Manali is at an altitude of 2,050 meters whereas Kaza in Spiti is at 3,800 meters. Since time in hand for the trip is severely limited, you will have to make it to Kaza from Manali in one day. The gain in altitude in a matter of few hours will be almost double leaving you highly prone to altitude sickness. I wish there was a way around it but there really is not. You will reach Kaza and will have to deal with AMS if symptoms occur. In most of the cases, it should last a day at most and by morning of next day you should be OK. In case you are not, please seek medical assistance in Kaza immediately.
For more details on what AMS is, what its symptoms are and how you can handle it better, please read How to Deal with Acute Mountain Sickness in Spiti Valley.
For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting your journey from Delhi; which actually can be farthest from Manali for a 4 day trip to Spiti. If you are starting a place closer to Manali, like Chandigarh, it will be even better. If your starting point is even farther than Delhi; than the journey is not possible in 4 days and you will have to add more days.
Spiti Valley in 4 Days
I will explain this in two ways. First explanation will be assuming that you are starting from Delhi and have 4 days in hand for a return journey. Second itinerary is assuming that you are in Manali already and have 4 days to visit Spiti and return to Manali. The Manali aspect is because I get a lot of queries from people who are either returning from Ladakh; or some other place; are in Manali and would like to extend their trip by 4 days by including Spiti in it.
Starting from Delhi, the itinerary will be as below.
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Kaza – Day 2
- Kaza to Chandratal to Manali – Day 3
- Manali to Delhi – Day 4
A detailed explanation of the itinerary is as mentioned below.
Day 1 – Delhi to Manali
This is probably the only itinerary that you can follow with just 4 days in hand. Permits for Rohtang Pass of course would have to be arranged in advance; there is no other way around it. After doing that, you will arrive at Manali on Day 1. Try to start from Delhi as early as you can, possibly by 3 to 4 AM. The drive to Manali can easily take up to 12-14 hours depending upon your speed and breaks. Road conditions will be a mix of good and average.
If you were planning to travel by public transport, then there are several regular buses form Delhi to Manali; starting from ISBT Delhi.
Also read: Clothes for Spiti Trip – What to Pack?
Day 2 – Manali to Kaza
On Day 2, start early once again with first light of the day. Even though the distance between Manali and Kaza is not that great; the journey will still be time consuming ; thanks to extremely bad roads you are about to encounter. Second benefit of starting early is that you will be able to avoid the traffic jams at Rohtang top. From Manali, reach Rohtang top and descend in to Lahaul valley till Gramphoo. At Gramphoo, you will notice a small road on your right with a board marking it as the road to Spiti valley. Take this turn and continue till Batal. After Batal, climb up the Kunzum Pass top; descend towards Losar and from there it is a straight run till Kaza.
Roads will be a mix of good, bad an ugly until Gramphoo; the bad and ugly part however will only be around Rohtang top. From Gramphoo however, until Losar, it is all extremely bad; possibly the worst road you have ever been on. After Losar till Kaza is about average.
There are plenty of hotels in Kaza and no matter what your budget is, you will be easily able to find a hotel to stay. Read Accommodation at Kaza for more details.
If you were traveling by public transport, then there is an early morning bus from Manali to Kaza that you will have to board. It start at around 6 AM so ensure that you are at the bus stand well before time.
Day 3 – Kaza to Chandratal to Manali
You will start your return journey on Day 3. From Kaza start by first light of the day as you will also be taking a deviation to cover Chandratal. Reach all the way back to Kunzum top and from there, take the narrow road on your right that goes to Chandratal. There is a board there marking the road so you will easily be able to spot. It is a 14 kilometers long road that goes all the way till the lake. After spending some time at Chandratal, you will return back to Kunzum top and continue to Manali from there. It is very important that you start as early as possible from Kaza and keep a close check on the time so that you can reach Manali before it got dark.
Also read: How to Plan a Budget Trip to Chandratal
If you were however traveling in a bus, then you will have to skip Chandratal altogether. You will board the early morning bus from Kaza to Manali and cannot afford to get down for Chandratal for two reason. First is that you do not have time and second is that you do not have a way to reach Chandratal from Kunzum and get back.
Day 4 – Manali to Delhi
There are several daily buses running between Manali and Delhi which you will board for the return journey home; if traveling by public transport. If by your own vehicle, it is not much except for a long monotonous journey back home.
Manali to Spiti in 4 Days
The above travel plan was from Delhi. If however you were in Manali and wanted to extend the trip for another 4 days; including Spiti then below is how you can do it.
- Manali to Kaza – Day 1
- Kaza to Tabo / Dhankar / Mud Village to Kaza – Day 2
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 3
- Chandratal to Manali – Day 4
Following this plan, you will reach Kaza on Day 1. On Day 2 you will take a drive on the road towards Tabo. Reach all the way there, visit the Monastery and return to Dhankar. After visiting the Dhankar monasteries, drive back to Attargo and cross the bridge to other side of Spiti river. The dirt road from there is a straight run to Mud village in Pin Valley. Take a drive all the way to Mud and return to Kaza by evening. On Day 3 you will reach Chandratal and camp there. From Chandratal, you will return to Manali on Day 4.
Another way to do this journey is as below.
- Manali to Kaza – Day 1
- Kaza to Tabo / Dhankar / Mud Village to Kaza – Day 2
- Visit Kibber / Komik / Langza / Hikkim and return to Kaza – Day 3
- Kaza to Chandratal to Manali
Following this plan, you will stay in Kaza for another day and take a drive towards the remote villages of Kibber and Kaumik. You will return to Kaza by evening and reach Manali on Day 4 after a short visit to Chandratal.
I hope the information above about visiting Spiti Valley in 4 days was of help. The plan of course can be amended in several other ways but I mentioned the most common and comparatively easier itineraries. If you have any other questions; or need any more details on itineraries above; or would like to mould the plan in some other way; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.