Some tips for your trip to Kinnaur and Spiti

#1 Sep 24th, 2017, 16:36
Join Date:
Jul 2013
  • Anand seeker is offline
There are many blogs and magazine articles that describe the places to visit in Kinnaur and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. After our just concluded road trip, I venture to offer some practical tips to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.

1. Can the elderly visit Kinnaur and Spiti?
If you are elderly and are not fit, do think twice before visiting these cold, high altitude places. The roads are bad,making long rides tiring. In several places including monasteries and hotels, you have to climb several steps or walk on slippery slopes, unpaved and covered with loose mud and gravel.

2. Your Car and Driver
A car in bad condition or an uncooperative driver can mar a beautiful holiday. We booked cab from Manmahesh Travels in Shimla [+ 91 - 177 - 2814440, + 91 - 94185 - 60204 ].
Our driver was Ravi Gautam, who claimed to have 17 years of experience. He came 40 minutes late to pick us up from Shimla and did not receive our frantic calls in the meantime. We had to call the agency to check. He insisted on putting on music continuously, and was rude when we asked him to switch it off. We had to complain to his boss, after which his behaviour became insolent. While we wanted to visit places in certain order, he would drive in a different order without consulting us.

Due to three tire punctures [worn out tire treads] during the 10 days, we missed Key monastery one day and had to cover it in shorter time next day. He would insist on stopping at dhabas of his choice.

If you get into such a situation, remember you have the option of sending back the vehicle. You will always get a cab even in remote places.

3. Jahoo Temple, Shimla
Lonely Planet and blogs mention the monkey menace. What they do not say is that the simians are fond of snatching your spectacles and running away. Imagine continuing your journey half blind! We quickly walked through the place without daring to put on specs. I saw three incidents of specs being snatched.

4. Pin Valley

Drive from Gulling village to Mudh via Sagnam is lovely.
We could not find any restaurant or dhaba between Attargo to Sagnam. Mudh is another 14 km drive on bad road. Since it takes around 45 min. for food to be prepared in any place, we turned back to Kaza for a delayed lunch.

Keep some quick bites like fruits / nuts etc. always while on long drives through lonely places in Spiti.

5. Kaza to Manali
This drive on very bad road can take around 12 hours. Vehicles can take a hit from jutting rocks.Views up to Chattru are beautiful.
Kunzum La pass (15000 ft.) has great views. You will will want to stay there for longer ... sadly there are no homestays around.

Food is available only in Losar, Battal and Chattru.

6. Carry Torch
Power failures can last hours. A torch is useful at nights.
Old monasteries in Tabo and Key are not lit and you are not allowed to use mobile flash. Use torch to light up ancient wall paintings, sculptures and Thangkas.

7. Drive from Manali to Delhi
We drove straight from Manali to Delhi. It took us over 15 hours with breaks. In hindsight we should have stayed over at Chandigarh.

8. Dhankar Lake Trek

Dhankar lake is situated above the Village of Dhankar at the height of 4136 meters (13570 feet).
You do not need a guide to do this short hike of around 2 km to reach the lake. People around will tell you it takes half an hour to trek, but it applies only to mountain goats and villagers.

Be warned that due to the high altitude, unless if you are very fit, you will find it quite challenging.
I was forced to walk very slowly, almost one step at a time, and had mild panic attacks looking at the path ahead. I would gasp for breath if I walked any quicker and suffered mild head and ear ache due to the altitude. There was no one around, except a shepherd couple who showed me the way up when I was confused at a fork. Later, there was a sign and arrows showing the way. I took around 1 hr 45 min. to reach lake. The way back was easy, and I was wondering why I the way up was so tough.

The lake itself was a disappointment, just a small pond surrounded by low hills. Totally overrated place, I feel.
#2 Oct 7th, 2017, 20:47
Join Date:
Sep 2005
  • mridula is offline
Your report brought back so many memories. I am so sorry to hear about the bad driver. I agree it can completely affect the holiday mood. Did you send the cab back? Will you lose all that money?
#3 Jul 12th, 2018, 12:29
Join Date:
Jul 2013
  • Anand seeker is offline
Sorry, saw your response only now. We could have been stranded and wasted a day if we'd sent cab back. We had our hotels booked for all days, so could not afford to miss a day.
We gritted our teeth and carried on.
#4 Sep 6th, 2018, 17:04
Join Date:
Jan 2008
  • safari vala is offline
Landslides can impede progress by road from Rekong Peo to Spiti. Getting the inner line permit took half a day in Rekong peo and it turned out to be for nought because the road was blocked.
Why stay at home when you can see the world?

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