Spiti is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. No denying. It is known as the cold dessert and lies in the upper Himalayas of India. It is known as cold dessert for a reason. One, the land is mostly barren with sand all around due to which it signifies the desert landscape. Second is due to its high altitude; the temperature sometimes goes in negative as well. In fact, during the winter season, it starts snowing here. Hence the name cold dessert.
Below, you will find a step by step guide to travel in Spiti. I am also talking about accommodation, places to visit and typical cost.
How to Reach
Spiti can be reached in two ways. One is through Reckong Peo and another is from Manali. Spiti is usually covered by travelers as a complete circuit. If you are coming from Manali side the entire circle of Spiti village is covered one by one and you leave the place from Reckong Peo, and vice versa. Again, you can choose any route it is up to you and your preference. Both the routes are equally serene. Although, from Reckong Peo you will be able to acclimatize your body a little better.
I followed Reckong Peo – Manali circuit. There are buses running on this route, however, they are not frequent hence be sure to catch the bus at the given time.
Reach Reckong Peo, which is a beautiful hill station famous for its Kinner Kailash, by catching a bus that leaves from Delhi at 8 PM. It takes around 18 hours to reach Reckong Peo by bus. Since there are no airports on the mountains the only way to reach here is by a bus or hiring a private car.
Further, from Reckong Peo there is a bus that leaves for Spiti early in the morning and subsequently there is a bus that leaves from every village at a particular time. Make sure to check the timings at every village so that you do not miss the bus for that day.
Places to Visit in Spiti – Route
Tabo is the first village in Spiti that comes on the way from Reckong Peo. This village is really small, quaint and peaceful and has the world’s oldest monastery. The monastery holds so much history and it tells the struggles as well as how simple the life of monks are. It was truly an eye opening experience for me.
Dhankar Village is about two hours away from Tabo. This village is famous for its monastery as well as the lake right in the middle of nowhere. Dhankar Lake is considered to be a holy lake and from here you can see the snow caped mountains in all its beauty. To reach the Lake you need to hide for half an hour to one how and you will attain a height of 4,200 meters.
Kaza is the capital of Spiti. This is where you will be able to find all the necessary items like ATMs, petrol pumps, shops and market, as well as numerous stay options. This village connects every small hamlet of village. You can also rent a scooty to go to all the other villages from here.
Kibber – Hikkim – Komic
The stretch of Kibber, Langza and Hikkim are covered together. These villages are just half an hour drive away and since no buses go to this place, travelers usually hire an active to visit these places.
Kibber is the village where you can spot snow leopards if you are lucky enough and from here you can go to Komic and Hikkim, the villages that have the world’s highest motorable village and post office respectively.
Langza is famous for its Budha statue and this is the favorite spot for all the photographers. Photographers go during the night time to capture milky way along with the Budha statue. Further, this village is situated at an elevation of 4,400 metres and has a population of less than 150 people. You can also find fossils here and if you go with the local kids, with the help of them you can hunt for a few fossils in this village.
Chandratal Lake is the most famous spots of Spiti. The lake is so beautiful that it will take your breath away. The clear blue waters with reflections of barren desert land far away create a magnificent view of nature. This place is worth every penny.
Accommodation and Food
In Spiti, you won’t be able to find luxury resorts as here the resources are limited and life that people lead is raw. Here, accommodations are in the form of homestays. However, if you want to go deeper into the culture, you can also stay in the monasteries as well. They have well furnished rooms for the tourists along with common washroom.
Homestays also serve food along with the stay. The food is homemade cooked Indian food and you can enjoy the hospitality of the people of these homestays by eating along with them. don’t miss out on the Indian tea here. In the mountains, drinking a hot cup of tea is the best feeling ever!
Although, as an additional information, you would be able to find hotels in Kaza. There are several ones of them especially in the main market area of Kaza, along with hostels where you can stay in a bunk bed.
The major costs of Spiti are on the travel, stay and food. Unless you want to go ahead and do some adventurous activities like rafting, you can easily manage Spiti on a budget.
The bus from Delhi to Reckong Peo would cost less than INR 1,700/-. After Reckong Peo everything gets even cheaper. The bus costs do not exceed INR 50/- from one village to another. So you see, travelling by bus is the most budget friendly mode of transport. However, you can also book private taxis from Delhi or Reckong Peo.
Homestays and Monasteries
Stay in homestays varies between INR 500-INR 1,000/-. The homestays that cost INR 1,000/- also serve food. You can also stay in monasteries which is even cheaper. The stay in monasteries is even less than INR 500/-.
If you decide to stay in monasteries food gets really cheaper. However, if you want to eat from small restaurants in these villages the total cost per meal would not exceed more than INR 150 bucks.
No matter how many times you go to this place, Spiti will always call you back. You will always miss it and feel like going again and again and experience this beautiful place in a variety of seasons.
Further, there is no season in which you can explore Spiti. Of course, it depends on you in what season you would like to see the beautiful valley. During winters, the place is full of white snow and it gets really cold here, however, during the summer time you can see slight greenery in a rather barren land. But despite all of it, the Valley is a sight to see in all the seasons.
This article was written by Radhika Sharma, a travel blogger, an avid YouTuber & an IG influencer for the past 2 years, based in New Delhi. I am a co-founder of the blog Nomllers and you can find her work on YouTube and Instagram.