Spiti Valley Circuit Trip From Shimla: Round Trip Itinerary

Azure waters of Chandratal Lake
The blue oasis - Chandratal Lake

The Spiti Valley is a cold mountain desert located in the rain shadow region of the Greater Himalayan ranges. It is snuggled in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh.

The clockwise trail of Spiti valley circuit tour leads from from Chandigarh and passes through Shimla, Narkanda, Sarahan, Chitkul, Nako, Tabo and Kaza. Closing line of Spiti circuit traverses along the Spiti river and meets Manali town after it passes through the Atal tunnel or Rohtang pass.

The valley is bounded by the districts of Kinnaur in the south-east, Kullu in the south, and the valleys of Zanskar & Ladakh in the north. In the east, Spiti shares its boundary with Tibet. The name Spiti or Piti — as it is known among the locals — means ‘The middle land’ that is the land between India and Tibet.

Spiti Valley Tour Plan Rundown

Duration11 days
Vehicle 4WD/ Toyota Innova
StayCamping /Hotels / Homestays
Highest PointKunzum La (pass) 4551mts.
Highest VillageKomik (4513 mts).
Best time to visitMay to October
RouteShimla-Kinnaur-Spiti-Manali.
Spiti Valley Circuit Tour Highlights

Spiti Valley Circuit Tour(from Shimla-Kinnaur- Kaza-Manali)

Spiti valley circuit tour map & places
The Spiti valley circuit of over 1000 kilometers.

What Does Spiti Valley Tour Cost?

Spiti valley tour price starts from 20,500 INR. The final price will be determined by variables like kind of vehicle (4WD SUV or standard), the level of comfort (stay) you expect, group size, pick-up location (Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla or Manali), departure date (pre-monsoon in June or post-monsoon in September or October), add-ons such as driver and guide, and drop location (Shimla, Manali or Chandigarh).

To get the Spiti valley circuit tour cost details, please let us know the following details:

  • The group size 
  • Departure city (Chandigarh/Shimla) 
  • Arrival city (Shimla/Manali), and tour type (standard/premium) etc. 
  • Time of visit
  • Mode of transportation etc. 

Spiti valley and upper Kinnaur region is a remote high altitude rugged terrain. Expect stunning vales and dreamy vistas instead of fancy hotels or road tracks similar to F1 grand prix circuits.

Drop an email to avail group offers & early bird discounts.

Spiti Valley Circuit Tour Itinerary From Shimla

Day 1: Chandigarh to Shimla-Narkanda drive

Distance 175 km. 6-7 hours drivetime on NH5

On arrival at Chandigarh, drive to Shimla. Halt at Shimla for lunch and sightseeing. Resume the drive and drive to Narkanda(8,858 feet). Overnight stay at HPTDC hotel.

Day 2: Narkanda to Sarahan

Distance 100 km. 4 hours drivetime on NH 5 and Jeori-Sarahan connecting road

Drive from Narkanda to Sarahan( alt. 2800 meters). Visit Hatu temple en route and relish Dhauladhar and Kinnaur-Garhwal mountain ranges from there. Drive to Sarahan. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: Sarahan to Chitkul village of Kinnaur

Distance 106 km. 5 hours drivetime on Jeori-Sarahan connecting road, NH5 and Karcham-Sangla-Chitkul Road

Sarahan is a beautiful village famous for the architecturally and historically significant Bhimakali temple, which has a history of more than 1500 years. One can take in the stunning views of the Srikhand Mahadev peak (5150 meters) from there.

While not actually close enough as it seems, the spectacular Srikhand Mahadev mountain range appears as if it is just an arm’s length away. Visit the bird sanctuary of a near-extinct bird species. Drive to Chitkul village and stay there in a hotel. Drive distance is about 106 Kms. Night stay at hotel in Chitkul.

Day 4: Chitkul to Kalpa

Distance 62 km. 3 hours drivetime on Chitkul-Sangla-Karcham road, NH5 and Powari-Kalpa connecting road.

Chitkul (at 3400 meters above sea level), is the last village on the Indo-Tibet border. It is the most visited place in the Baspa Valley of Kinnaur. We will visit Chitkul Mata temple and then drive back to Sangla. When we reach Sangla, we can visit the Bering Nag temple on our return trip. Visit the ancient fort at Kamru village.

As we continue on our journey, we will reach Kalpa, a well-known place – both among travellers and locals – for breathtaking sunrises over the Kinnaur Kailash mountain range.
After breakfast, drive (65 km distance) to Kalpa that is located at 8800 feet. Visit Chini village monastery and temple, Roghi cliff point and Roghi village. Overnight stay at the HPTDC Kalpa hotel.

Day 5 : Kalpa to Charang

Distance 60 km. 3 hours drivetime on Kalpa-Powari connecting road, NH5 and Moorang-Thangi-Charang road.

Charang village
Charang village, Tidong valley

Kunnu village
The twin villages – Kunnu and Charang are located along the Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama route.

Chorten in Charang
Chorten in Charang

Kalpa ( alt. 3000 meter). Kalpa offers a splendid view of Kinner Kailash mountain range. One can take in the visceral views Kinner Kailash peak & Shivlingam, Raldang peak & Jorakanden peak. Explore places around Kalpa like Chini market and village, monastery and Kalpa Narayanes & Vishnu temple. Drive to Charang village & camp there.

Day 5: Charang to Tabo monastery

Distance 160 km. 5 hours drivetime on Charang-Thangi-Moorang road, NH5 and NH505 (Khab to Tabo)

Village walk in Charang ( alt 3400 mtr ) and visit Rangrik monastery which is more than thousands years old. Charang has Zanskar kind of landscape and houses and similar to houses built by the people Zanskar region. Drive to Thangi and visit to Lochwa monastery located in the middle of Thangi village. Visit Moorang fort and Moorang village.

After lunch, head toward Nako. Nako is located at an altitude of 10496 feet in the barren Hangrang valley of Kinnaur. Visit Nako lake and monastery and drive to the oldest monastery of Himachal , Tabo. Overnight at a hotel/homestay.

Day 6: Tabo – Pin Valley

Distance 65 km. 3 hours drivetime on NH505 (Tabo-Attargo bridge) and Attargo-Mud village road.

We leave Tabo after breakfast and drive to Mudh village, the last village in Pin valley. Pin Valley is the least explored valley in Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti region.
Explore Mikkim and the village of Sangnam. Visit the Kungri Monastery and then the charming hamlet of Mudh — the Pin Valley’s last motorable village.
Stay at Mud for the night (12000 feet above sea level).

Day 7: Mud – Dhankar monastery – Kaza

Distance 50 km. 3 hours drivetime on Mud-Attargo bridge and NH505 (Attargo-Kaza road)

Drive to the eye-catching and imposing monastery of Dhankar. Perched on a riverfront cliff, Dhankar was the former capital of the Spiti Valley (when the valley was ruled by Nono kings). Overlooking the Spiti river, it offers panoramic views of river valley. Visit one of the oldest Gompa in the Spiti Valley. Overnight at a hotel in Kaza.

Day 8: Kaza-Hikkim-Lalung-Langza-Key-Kibber (5 – 6 hours drivetime)

The highest village in Asia, Komik, which literally translates to ‘eye of a snowcock’, is situated at a height of 4513 meters. Later, we drive to Hikkim where we visit the world’s highest post office in the world. After sending out a postcard, we drive to Langza. Once you are here, you can walk around the village and visit the ancient Lang (Temple) which is estimated to be around 1000 years old. Visit to Key monastery. Overnight stay at Cherring’s homestay , Kibber.

Day 9: Drive from Kaza to Kunzum top (4551 meter ) & camping at Chandertal Lake (4270 meters).

Distance 102 km. 4 hours drivetime on Kaza-Kuzum-Batal road (NH505) and Batal-Chandratal lake connecting road.

Drive to one of the most photogenic places in Spiti Valley – the Chandratal Lake. Before that, we pass through the high altitude pass of Kunzum La. Stop by at the stupa and pay tribute to the local goddess, “Kuzum Mata” as she’s known. At 15,000 feet above sea-level, the Kunzum Pass connects Kullu and Lahaul to the Spiti Valley. Live your dream of camping comfortably in the Himalayas as you spend your evening gazing at the Milky Way and the millions of stars on a clear night. Overnight at a camp 2 km away from Chandratal Lake.

Day 10: Chandratal lake to Manali via Atal tunnel

Distance 110 km. 3 hours drivetime on Batal-Atal Tunnel (NH505) and Atal tunnel-Manali road.

On the 10th day of this Spiti Valley tour, drive from Chandratal Lake towards Manali. Drive through the engineering marvel i.e. Atal tunnel and drive to Manali to end our breath-taking Spiti Valley sojourn. Overnight at a hotel in Manali.

Day 11. Manali to Chandigarh.

After breakfast, enjoy some brilliant views of the Himalayas from your hotel in Manali. Proceed to Chandigarh after breakfast. Drop at Chandigarh airport in the afternoon. The Spiti circuit tour ends here.

Spiti Valley Round Trip Cost Inclusions

  • All arrangements for overnight stays during the trip.
  • All food expenses.
  • Driver, fuel and toll charges.
  • Food will usually consist of morning breakfast, lunch, evening high tea and dinner.
  • Special trained certified guides trained for emergency situations.
  • Local guides and workers with in-depth knowledge about the local area.
  • It will be a cultural and traditional experience as all stays will be mostly in villages.
  • Inner line permits and arrangements en route will be arranged by the operator.
  • All stays and lodging on a twin sharing basis shall be provided.

Exclusions

  • Any kind of personal expenses.
  • Camera fees or any other costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances and situation beyond our control.
  • Anything not mentioned in the inclusion section.

Places to visit en route Spiti valley

Narkanda

View of Garhwal Himalayas from Narkanda
View of Garhwal Himalayas from Narkanda

Pine forest of the lesser Himalayas - Narkanda
Pine forest of the lesser Himalayas – Narkanda

Narkanda is a small town in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. It is located at an altitude of 2750 meters on the Hindustan-Tibet Road (NH 05). Surrounded by the forest Kinnaur – Garhwal Himalayan Range. The experience of a panormic view from the Hatu top is not to be missed.

Padam Palace, Rampur Bushahr

Padam Palace, Rampur Bushahr
Padam Palace, Rampur Bushahr

The palace of erstwhile Bushahr princely state is built in neo-gothic architecture. Built between 1919 and 1925 for the Raja of Bushehr, the main building is still private, but one section is now the Nau Nabh Hotel, and the garden is open to visitors. From here you can admire the facade’s stone arches, carved-wood upper storey, peaked gables, and turreted towers. In front is a remarkable multi-gabled bandstand carved with peacock figures.

Sarahan

Sarahan temple landscape view
Sarahan temple – Photo by Shailesh Sharma

Sarahan is a small village near Jeori town. It is the site of the Bhimakali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Bhimakali, the presiding deity of the rulers of the former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 170 kilometers from Shimla and 12 kilometers from Jeori town.

Sarahan Pheasantry

Also known as Jajurana Bird Sanctuary, this park is worth a visit. It hosts Jajurana, the state bird of Himachal Pradesh and a few other rare birds. Please note that the sanctuary remains closed from July to September for Bird mating season. If you are traveling in any month apart from these three, a visit is highly recommended.

Baspa valley of Kinnaur

Chitkul landscape! The baspa valley, Kinnaur
Chitkul landscape! The baspa valley, Kinnaur

Bordering along western Himalaya with Tibet and Garhwal, the Baspa valley of Kinnaur has been open to visitors since the early nineties. The valley got its name from the Baspa river which originates from Chung Sakhago pass and meanders for around 30 km before meeting Satluj on its left bank near Karcham. Unlike the Spiti valley and Hangrang region of Kinnaur, the Baspa valley is a green paradise in largely barren mountains.

Kamru fort, Baspa valley - Kinnaur
Kamru fort, Baspa valley – Kinnaur

Baspa valley or Sangla valley is known for fruit-laden orchards, cedar-covered slopes and flower crusted meadows. Bhojpatra tree is abundantly found in the Chitkul region. A land of blue skies, buzzing Baspa river, soaring peaks, deep valleys, apple orchards, and syncretic culture — Baspa valley a place for people who are seeking genuine peace and soul-calming solitude far, far from the madding crowd. The fort of Kamru is another landmark in Baspa valley.

Strolling by the Baspa river
Strolling by the Baspa river

Chitkul, Rackcham, Sangla, Kamru and Chansu villages should be on your bucket list if you are visiting Kinnaur for the first time.

Kalpa Village

Kalpa village Kinnaur
Chini village, Kalpa

A small village about 10 kilometers from district headquarters Reckong Peo, known for the magnificent view of Kinner Kailash peaks. The focal point is Chini village and surrounding places like Kalpa Narayanas temple and Buddhist monastery.

Kalpa from above | Kinnaur
Kalpa from above.

Kalpa will probably be the last town where your phone will work flawlessly, no matter which network you are on. As you cross Kalpa and continue towards Pooh, your phone services will be a come and go before it completely dies. Only the BSNL network works in the Spiti & Lahaul valley.

Reo Purgyil

Reo Purgyil peak – The highest peak of Himachal Pradesh.

At an altitude of 6816m, it is the highest peak in all of Himachal Pradesh. You can get a good view of the peak from Khab Bridge if the weather is clear. If not from Khab Bridge, you will have to go up to Namgia or Tashigang village to get a clear view. Nako Village is located on the slopes of this mountain.

Nako Lake And Monastery

Nako Lake, Kinnaur
Nako Lake of Kinnaur

The green oasis - Nako lake
The green oasis – Nako lake

A small man-made lake in the village of Nako. It is not much to look at during day time but try some photography around the lake at either dusk or dawn and you will be able to get some good shots.
Nako Monastery is an 11th-century ancient monastery located in the village of Nako. It was built by Buddhist Mahaguru Rinchen Zangpo who translated many Sanskrit Buddhist text into Tibetan. He founded around 100 monasteries in western Tibet including Tabo monastery.

Tabo Monastery

Tabo monastery gate
Tabo monastery gate

Choten inside Tabo monaster complex
Chorten inside Tabo monastery complex

Tabo Monastery: An ancient monastery believed to be over a thousand years old and one of the holiest. Founded in 996 AD it is also known as Ajanta of the Himalayas. Many priceless collections of scroll paintings, manuscripts, well-preserved statues, fresco, and extensive murals can be found here.

Dhankar Monastery

Dhankar Monastery
Dhankar Monastery

Also known as Dhangkar Gompa, it is an ancient monastery built on a 1000 foot high cliff overlooking the confluence of Spiti and Pin Rivers. Apart from its heritage, this monastery is also famous for this spectacular setting. “Dhang” means cliff and “Kar” means fort, hence the literal name of the place is “Fort on a cliff”.

Key Monastery

Spiti river meandering through the Spiti valley. The Key monastery.
Spiti river meandering through the Spiti valley.
The Key monastery.

Also known as Kye or Ki Gompa, it is one of the largest monasteries in Spiti valley that also serves as a training center for Lamas. It is believed to be over a thousand years old and has a vast collection of ancient murals and books.

Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary

It was established in 1992, Kibber is India’s only wildlife sanctuary in cold desert and is home to several rare animals like Ibex, Blue Sheep, Red Fox, Tibetan woolly hare, Himalayan wolf, lynx, pika, Tibetan wild ass.

Kunzum Pass

Your first high altitude pass of the journey, unless you have somehow managed to climb up to Shipki La in which case Kunzum will be your second. Connecting the valleys of Lahaul and Spiti, this pass is at an elevation of 4,590 meters, higher than Rohtang La. It remains closed from late October until early June.

Chandratal Lake: The Lake of Moon

The lake of Moon - Chandratal
The lake of Moon – Chandratal

A beautiful lake is also the origin point of the river Chandrabhaga. If you can manage to be around here after sunset, it is a perfect place for capturing some magnificent late night shots.

The blue oasis - Chandratal Lake
The blue oasis – Chandratal Lake

This small lake is one of the key highlights of the journey to Spiti valley and a perfect camping spot. There is also a legend associated with this lake. Click at the link below to read in detail.

Rohtang La

The mighty Rohtang pass, the spot where you will cross over to Manali and finish your Spiti journey. The name of this pass literally means “a pile of corpses” which I believe attributes to the fact that a lot of people died while crossing it in ancient times. Expect to find snow at the top no matter which month you are traveling in. The vistas around from the top of the pass and even on the ascent/descent are quite breathtaking.

FAQs About Spiti Valley Circuit Tour

Though the Manali to Spiti valley route gets closed — most often after November/early December till March — during winters, the Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Nako-Kaza road stays open even during wintertime. During long spells of snowfall, Shimla-Kaza road may get closed for a day or two. BRO team from Project Deepak and local administration employs dozers, snow cutters, and excavators to clear the snow and reopen the route after a spell of snow the route. Ping us to get the latest road and connectivity updates.

No. The Manali-Spiti route gets closed when thick layers of snow blankets the Kunzum pass in November/December. The traffic movement resumes only after March month. 

Yes. The circuit is doable in October, though, the weather gets highly erratic — after September — in high altitude regions of Kinnaur, Spiti valley and Lahaul valley.   

You need to follow Ambala-Zirakpur Expressway on National Highway(NH) 44 and Zirakpur to Shimla (111 km) on NH5 in Himachal Pradesh.  Shimla to Narkanda-Rampur Bushahr-Powari-Pooh-Dubling village drive is on NH5. Dubling village to Nako-Tabo-Kaza drive is on NH505. Kaza is the headquarter of Spiti valley.

The road from Manali follows the Solang Valley-Atal tunnel-Gramphu-Batal-Kunzum Pass-Losar-Kaza route. The distance from Manali to Kaza is 183 km, and it takes about 6-7 hours (at one go) to reach Kaza. Manali-Kaza is a shorter route than the Shimla-Kaza route. 

Though the Atal Tunnel has hardly reduced the road distance between Manali and Spiti valley by nearly 20 km, the drive time between the two places has now been reduced by over 2 hours.

Manali town is one of the two — the second is Shimla — places to start the Spiti valley circuit tour.

 


 

Is it possible to drive to Spiti valley from Manali in winter (via Atal tunnel)?

No. Not until BRO (Border Road Organisation) punches another hole under Kunzum-La — a pass that keeps Spiti valley closed to vehicular traffic from November to May from Manali’s side.


What precautions do you need to take while driving through the Atal (Rohtang) tunnel?

If you are coming from any city located on the plains (like from Delhi/Chandigarh), do take a break in Manali — or a place located at a similar altitude.

Driving straight from a place located at 200m altitude to a place at 3000m can take a toll on your body. Moreover, the temperature difference between the two places is enormous — from temperatures above 40 degrees celsius to subzero temperatures at the north portal of the Atal tunnel (during winters).

The second thing you need to consider is the speed limit. As the Atal tunnel is built under the Seri Nallah stream. Water ingressing into the tunnel walls from Seri Nallah could cause the formation of black ice on tunnel tarmac during the winters as the tunnel will act as a venturi for icy winds blowing in through the North portal.

If you drive above the speed limits on a slippery surface, your car can easily go into a slide causing a major accident!


Manali to Chandratal lake via Atal tunnel drive

Chandratal lake from Manali is 110 km away (via Atal tunnel). You need to follow the Manali-Kaza road route till Batal. From Batal, a 15 km long unpaved road (which was widened lately) connects Batal to Chandratal.

It takes about 5 hours to reach Chandratal from Manali (by your own car or taxi). Though, the HRTC bus (the only public transport service for Chandratal) takes about 6 hours to cover the 110 long route. If you are low on budget, this bus can take you to Chandratal in just Rs 250 from Manali. The bus returns to Manali town on the same day.


Shimla to Narkanda-Rampur Bushahr-Powari-Pooh-Dubling village drive is on National Highway 5 (NH5). The Dubling village to Nako-Tabo-Kaza drive is on NH505. Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti valley. During winters, Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur road gets closed for a day or two whenever there is a long spell of snowfall. During such events, take the Shimla-Suni-Rampur Bushahr route along the Satluj river. This route stays open for all 365 days of the year.

It takes longer — when compared from Manali to Spiti valley (Via Atal tunnel) route — to reach Kaza from Shimla.

Shimla is one of the two places (second is Manali town) to start the Spiti valley circuit tour.

Spiti valley is acclaimed for its distinctive Moon-esque landscapes and interesting landforms. 5 entities that define the Spiti valley are: 

  • Chandratal .the lake of moon.  
  • Buddhist monasteries of Ki, Kaza, Kungri, and Tabo. 
  • Snow leopards of Kibber   the grey ghost of the Himalayas.
  • Fascinating Tibetan culture and customs. 
  • Fossils dating back to the Triassic period (252-201 million years ago) of  Langza village.    

In summers, the maximum temperature crosses the 20 degrees Celcius mark in Spiti valley. During sunny daytime, you’ll feel comfortable just by wearing a t-shirt and trousers. It is always good to get wrapped in layers of clothes as the weather can change anytime in the Himalayas. Even if the sun starts shining again, you can always get rid of the outer layers of clothing. 

Here is the packing list (summers) for Spiti valley: 

  • T-shirts. 
  • A windcheater/ rain jacket.
  • Jeans/trousers. 
  • Light woolen. 
  • A cap/hat. 
  • Sunglasses. 
  • A pair of hiking shoes. 
  • 3/4 pairs of regular socks. 
  • A water purifier and filtration bottle (avoid plastic bottle). 
  • Personal hygiene essentials. 
  • Sunscreen sunblock cream.

Spiti valley packing list (for winters): 

  • A pair of good quality waterproof trekking boots.
  • Three pairs of cotton socks.
  • Two pairs of waterproof hiking pants.
  • One pair of shorts
  • Two pairs of fleece jumpers. 
  • Two pairs of thermal tops and bottoms
  • One down jacket.
  • Headgear (1 beanie/skull cap, 1 buff, and 1 trekking cap). 
  • A pair of thick gloves
  • Personal hygiene essentials(alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer, soap, towels, toilet papers, baby wipes, etc.). 
  • UV-block sunglasses.
  • First aid kit.
  • A water purifier and filtration bottle.

BSNL works in all regions of Spiti valley and Kinnaur. Reliance Jio has started expanding its network in Spiti valley. It is expected to get functional by the summer of 2021.