Spiti valley in 5 days; the first question that comes to mind is about how viable the plan is. Can it be done and if yes, then how? Which is the best route for the journey and what all places you should plan on covering with such limited time in hand? Will mountain sickness be a problem? What will be the best time to plan this journey? In this article, I will try to answer these questions and provide a sample plan that you can follow to visit Spiti in 5 days. I will also detail on other important aspects of the journey like acute mountain sickness; best time to visit and places that you should plan on visiting. If you have any other questions after reading the article; you are welcome to ask in the comments section at the end of this page.
The first factor to consider here is that it takes a minimum of 2 days to reach Kaza (Spiti valley) from Shimla; whereas from Manali you can complete this journey in only 1 day. So in terms of the route, you must plan your journey from Manali only and return via the same route. The road from Shimla to Kaza will have to be left out of the itinerary for another time; when you can dedicate a few more days for the journey.
The road from Manali to Kaza remains open sometime from early June till Mid-October only. For rest of the months, this road remains completely blocked after both the Rohtang Pass and Kunzum La get snowed out in winter. So in terms of the best time to plan, your window is limited only in these few months. If you can; then try to plan the journey in early July or September; before and after Monsoon.
Also read: When is the best time to visit Spiti Valley
Will mountain sickness be a problem? Chances are that yes it will be; however I have known people who went on a short trip to Spiti and did not face any problem at all. The best prevention against AMS is plenty of rest and slow gain in altitude which doesn’t really happen while visiting Spiti Valley in 5 days. One day you are in Manali at 2000 meters and the very next day you are in Kaza at almost 4000 meters. I wish there was a way around it but there really isn’t. Best you can do here is to avoid spending the night at Chandratal and first reach Kaza. This way, in case the symptoms gets worse, you will at least have the choice of seeking medical assistance in Kaza which is not an option at Chandratal.
Also read: How to Handle Mountain Sickness in Spiti
Another thing you can do is to rest all evening after reaching Kaza. Do not walk around a lot or stress yourself as it will only turn things even difficult. Chances are that you will be OK by next morning but in case you weren’t, then do not go elsewhere and just spend the day in Kaza only; or return to Manali.
Last but not the least is the problem of Rohtang Permits. Why is it a problem? Because you only have 5 days of which, at least 2 days will be spent in reaching Manali and then getting back home. This just leaves you with 3 days to explore the valley. Getting the permit for Rohtang is a time consuming task. You will have to submit your documents at SDM office Manali before noon and collect permits after noon. Hence the entire day will be spent in Manali itself which you cannot really afford.
Thankfully, this can be dealt with by arranging the permits in advance. First option is to apply for it online; explained at the link above. 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; thus 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.
With the above being said, below is a sample travel plan that you can follow to cover Spiti in 5 days. I will suggest 2 different itineraries and then provide details.
For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting from Delhi. Why Delhi? Because for a 5 day trip, this possibly can be the farthest possible starting point. Any farther than Delhi than the itinerary below cannot be followed; as a matter of fact the trip is not possible at all without adding at least a couple of days to it. If you are living at a place nearer than Delhi; like Chandigarh for example, than it is even better.
Spiti Valley in 5 Days
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Kaza – Day 2
- Kaza to Chandratal – Day 3
- Chandratal to Manali – Day 4
- Manali to Delhi – Day 5
Day 1: Delhi to Manali
This probably is the easiest way to do this journey without stressing yourself more than necessary. First day of the journey can easily be about 12-14 hours depending upon your speed so ensure that you take an early start from Delhi; possibly by 3-4 AM. Not much to say about this day except for that this will be a long monotonous day of overtaking truck after truck. Roads are mostly good with a few bad patches in between.
There are several regular buses as well between Delhi and Manali and you will easily be able to find yourself a seat.
Day 2: Manali to Kaza
I am assuming that you would already have arranged for permits; so on this day you can head straight to Kaza. Start early from Manali as well which will be beneficial in two ways. First is that you will be able to avoid a possible traffic jam near Rohtang top. Second is that even though the distance is not that great; the journey from Manali to Kaza can still take a while; thanks to extremely bad roads. From Manali, reach Rohtang top and while descending towards Kokhsar, take the diversion towards Spiti near Gramphoo. It will be a small road on your right but a board marking it as road to Spiti Valley makes it easy to spot.
Also read: Clothes for Spiti Valley
The journey from Gramphoo to Batal is a nightmarish drive. It possibly will be the worst road you have ever been on. After Batal, climb up Kunzum Pass and descend to Losar. From there it is a straight run to Kaza.
There are multiple hotels in Kaza and no matter what your budget is, you will easily be able to find a place to stay. For more information on where you can stay and places you can visit in Kaza, please read Kaza – Sightseeing, Accommodation and Other Facilities
If you were traveling by public transport; then there is an early morning bus from Manali to Kaza which you will have to board. It starts from Manali at around 5 or 6 AM and will see you at Kaza by evening.
Day 3: Kaza to Chandratal
Since we are short on time, the return journey will start the very next day. Destination for today is Chandratal where you will be camping for the night. On the way; you can also pay a visit to Kye Monastery. It is slightly after Kaza towards Losar; right before the bridge where you cross over the river. Reach Kunzum top once again and while descending towards Batal, you will notice a narrow road to your right. This is the 14 kilometer stretch to Chandratal. Road is barely wide enough for one car so drive carefully.
There are several camps at Chandratal of which, Jamaica’s camps is the one that I recommend.
If you reached Kaza by bus than this is where it gets tricky. There is an early morning bus from Kaza to Manali which you will have to catch. By this bus, you will get down at Kunzum pass top near Chandratal diversion from where you have two choices. Either you can start walking for the last 14 kilometers till the lake or stand there and wait for a shared taxi or another tourist to arrive who can give you a ride.
My suggestion will be that you start walking immediately and hitch a ride if someone passed you by. In peak tourist season, lot of people travel this way and you will have no problem hitch hiking.
Day 4: Chandratal to Manali
If you were by your own vehicle than return to Manali via Rohtang pass. If you were however by public transport, than you will have to ensure that you reach back Kunzum Pass slightly before the time you got down here the day before. The Kaza to Manali bus is a daily service and you will have to be in time to catch it once again from Kunzum top.
Day 5: Manali to Delhi
Last day of the trip and nothing but a long journey home.
A lot of people try to squeeze in Chandratal on Day 2. Plan changes to Manali to Chandratal and then Chandratal to Kaza which I would advise highly against. Go straight to Kaza first to avoid any unnecessary hassle due to acute mountain sickness and then return to Chandratal the next day.
Spiti in 5 Days
An alternate way to do the journey will be as below. Traveling this way, the journey will become a bit more rushed but you will be able to cover more places. Catch however is that it will get a little difficult to manage this journey by public transport; specially the 4th day.
- Delhi to Manali – Day 1
- Manali to Kaza – Day 2
- Kaza to Mud Village ( Pin Valley) to Kaza – Day 3
- Day trip from Kaza to Kibber – Komik – Langza – Hikkim to Kaza – Day 3
- Kaza to Manali via Chandratal – Day 4
- Manali to Delhi – Day 5
Day 1 and 2 of this plan will remain the same as I explained above. On Day 3 however, you will stay in Spiti to explore a little bit more. You can either chose to take the road from Kaza to Mud village to visit Pin Valley. Or you can head towards Kibber and Komik villages and return to Kaza by evening. Both are equally beautiful places and you can either choose. Take a look at the articles below for details on how to visit all these areas I mentioned above.
On Day 4, take an early start from Kaza; by first light of the day. Pay a quick visit to Chandratal, spend some time at the lake and be on your way back to Manali. Please note that this journey will easily be about 11-12 hours so plan and start accordingly. On Day 5, you will return to Delhi.
That is pretty much it. This is how you can plan a short trip to Spiti Valley in 5 days. 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.