Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh India is a vast stretch of land with vistas beautiful beyond words and local folks warm and friendly. Slow and steady, this place is gaining popularity and soon it will become a popular as Leh-Ladakh, I’m sure.
I had a lot of questions and doubts before I decided to pack my bags and leave. It was perhaps my constant curiosity and tips from fellow travellers online and offline that allowed me to leave at a short notice for Spiti.
After I finished the trip, I realized that one should have some background information and knowledge before leaving for Spiti, which I’ll try to enlist and explain here.
Hope it helps.
- Where is Spiti valley?
It is in Himachal Pradesh, between Shimla and Manali running along the Himalayas North Eastern side.
- Best time to visit?
May end or June, to September. Some tour operators also take you in winters.
- Solo or in a group?
I would advise a group.
If you are a seasoned traveller, have travelled solo often, can wake up on your own, can do running around for booking cabs/busses/hotels and don’t fuss over food, accommodation and enjoy being alone then perhaps solo travel is okay.
But if you’re a weekend warrior, then no, join a group.
In places like Spiti, travelling alone can at times cost you more than travelling in a group up because public transport is very infrequent and private transport is expensive plus you may not always find a sharing partner.
If you plan exclusively depend on public transport and hitchhike to save cost, then your days spent on vacation may extend.
- How about a solo bike trip?
Sounds perfect in theory, but this better not be your first bike trip. The slush in some places is knee deep and water crossing up to 30 feet wide. You may find some help from random passing people, but mostly they are in hurry of their own.
- Is altitude sickness a concern?
Yes, especially if you are coming from Manali. Not so much if you come from Shimla.
- Any medication to carry?
Diamox tab for altitude sickness.
Cinnarizine tab for motion sickness.
Crocin tab for muscle aches, fever etc.
Ofloxacin+Ornidazole tab for diarrhoea
Pan D for acidity.
Levocetirizine, for you, may catch a cold, running nose.
Moov/ Reli spray for muscle aches, ankle sprain, etc.
- Should Spiti be my first outdoor trip?
I’d rather sound prude and say ‘No” than see you regret. Reason being the following:
a) Not everyone can bear motion sickness.
b) Not everyone is fit to breathe in thin air, especially children and elderly folks.
c) Things can easily become unpredictable in the mountains like sudden bad weather, roadblocks, landslides, accidents, etc. one has to be mentally and physically prepared for such events. Compare this to a safer, predictable trip to Goa/ Shimla/Manali/Kasol/Sikkim etc will leave you encouraged rather than discouraged.
- Will I see what I expect or pay for?
Short answer, ‘No’. In my particular trip, the idea was to see the milky way and lunar eclipse. We couldn’t even see the sky for most days..! But you can’t complain to the weather gods, they are far too busy, you see ..! Again, compare it to more predictable destinations, you might avoid Spiti for now if you are easily discouraged.
- Should I go with a small kid or elderly folks?
Roads are bad, easy to get backaches, ankle sprain etc. oxygen is thin, children might feel breathless and unable to tell the same, so nope, avoid.
- Are there hospitals in Spiti?
For the most part, yes there are hospitals and quite competent to tackle basic medical needs.
- Is normal food available?
For the most part, yes. At some random highway in the middle of the road, you might just get Maggi.
- Should I drink bottled water?
It’s safer if you have a delicate stomach. But otherwise, tap water was fine with me and most of the group I was with.
- Should I expect dustbins and tissue papers available?
No. Littering is not allowed and there aren’t enough dustbins around. So be prepared to fill your pockets with wrappers and empty bottles. I had a dedicated pocket for it. Someone more serious can carry a separate trash bag. Tissue paper is not the norm and at times, water might be too cold to wash hands. So spoon and fork are your only hope..!
- Will my NON-BSNL phone work?
No, it won’t, especially between Kaza and Manali.
- And Internet?
No internet on phone. There are some cyber cafes in Kaza or hotel wifi if lucky.
- Is electricity supply unpredictable too?
Yes. Carry power banks and keep devices charged as much as possible.
Up to Shimla and Manali, it is easy to withdraw cash. Beyond that, there are hardly any ATMs. So carry enough cash. On an average, you would be spending 300 rs on food and maybe 700 – 1000 on accommodation per day. Cost of transport I can’t predict.
- Petrol pumps?
Kaza has a grand total of one petrol pump. Petrol pumps are far and few. After Kalpa we had just one petrol pump till Kaza. So you can get an idea.
- Things that I forgot/ was too lazy/ plain dumb that I didn’t carry but you should?a. Sunscreen
b.Hoodie/Sweatshirt/Winter skull cap
f.Three-pin plug/ extension board
i.Sim card ejector tool
j.Lock and keys
k.Adhaar card/driving license
- How to send postcards from Hikkim? the highest post office in the world.Have the postal address of your near and dear ones noted down before you leave from home, right up to pin code. No internet at Hikkim.
Anything else I have missed? or you would like to add? drop a comment below.
Thanks for dropping by.
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