Complete Guide to Spiti Valley Bike Trip:
Table of Content:
Spiti Valley is a must-see adventure destination for those who love Mountains and Motorcycles. The diversity of this place is so amazing that it offers one of the most adventurous destinations in the lap of the Himalayas. Spiti valley bike trip offers breath-taking mountains, passes, valleys, lakes, history, rich culture, and one of the best foods from the local region. We at Motorcycle Escapades bring you one of the unique adventures of Himachal Pradesh covering one of the remote and isolated valleys of Spiti and Kinnaur Valley. We will take you on the complete guide on the Spiti valley bike trip in this blog.
Where is Spiti valley
Spiti valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The name "Spiti" means "The middle land", i.e., the land between Tibet and India. Spiti valley bike trip is one of the most adventurous journeys that one should take. Spiti valley is one of the least populated regions of India; a Motorbike trip in Spiti Valley offers to explore some of the beautiful Terrains of the Himalayas. During the “Spiti bike trip” one can explore some of the oldest monasteries like Key Gompa and Dhankar monastery, the last Indian village “Chitkul”, the famous Hindustan –Tibet highway, Worlds highest post office at Hikkim Village, the highest village in the world connected by road at Komic village and world-famous Chandratal lake.
Best time to visit Spiti valley
Spiti valley can be visited round the year, but it depends on how adventurous are you to take such an extreme adventure trip to Spiti valley. One can visit Spiti valley during Summer and as well as winter also. During the winter months from November to Early March, Spiti valley will be covered with thick snow and the accessibility is very poor. Manali – Kaza route will be closed during winter and you can access Spiti valley only from Shimla side during winters, that too you need a proper guide, good 4x4 vehicle, and pre-booked hotels.
The best time to visit Spiti valley is from June till October, once winter is over and the sky is very clear, the roads from both Manali & Shimla sides will be open. During this period, accessibility is very easy and you will get all the facilities like good road conditions, hotels, vehicles, and public transport. So, it's better to visit from June to October if you are planning a Road trip to Spiti valley.
Top places to visit in Spiti valley
If you are planning a Road Trip to Spiti valley, below are some of the Top Places to Visit in Spiti valley during your Road Trip.
Manali, Atul Tunnel, Chandratal, Kunzum Pass, Losar, Kaza, Key Monastery, Kibber, Langza, Komic, Hikkim, Tabo, Dhankar Monastery, Mud village, Gue Mummy gompa, Nako Lake, Roghi Suicide point, Reckong Peo, Sangla, Chitkul, Hindustan Tibet highway, Sarahan, Narkanda, Hatu peak & Shimla.
Hotels in Spiti valley
1. Manali – If you are traveling from Manali to Spiti valley bike trip, then you will get plenty of options to stay in Manali, price ranging Rs500 to Rs50,000/-. Try to book the hotels/homestays well in advance during peak season from June to September.
2. Chandratal- This is probably one of the most remote and offbeat places to stay in Spiti valley. If you are traveling on Manali to Spiti valley road trip then Chandratal is the first place you will get to see some tented accommodations. One needs to take a diversion before ascending towards Kunzum pass and take the gravel road to reach the Chandratal camping site. Again, it’s better to book in advance and carry the voucher with you, since there is no phone connectivity.
3. Losar- After Starting your road trip to Spiti valley from Manali, Losar is the first major place where you will get proper facilities like hotels and homestays. It is 130Kms from Manali and may take 5-6Hrs, so if you want to break your journey on a Spiti valley road trip then Losar will be the first option.
4. Kaza- Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti valley, and you can find plenty of options to stay there. Starting from Hotels, Homestays, backpackers shed and even Zostel has opened its branch in Kaza. So, there are a lot of options available there for accommodation.
5. Key Monastery – If you are a backpacker or you want to experience something different, then you can also stay at Key Monastery. Situated very close to Kaza town, one can reach the monastery and request the administrative office there, they will provide food as well and it will be a different experience.
6. Kibber – Kibber is a small village situated in Spiti valley which is also close to Kaza town. You will find homestays there and it is very basic facilities, most of the homestays have dry toilets. Kibber is used as a basecamp for Snow leopard sighting tours which run during winters.
7. Langza – Langza has very few homestays with very basic facilities, so if you want to experience the Spiti valet village stay then choose this destination.
8. Komic- The highest village in the world connected by motorable road – Komic, has very few homestays with basic facilities. One should be very cautious to stay here due to its altitude, if you are not acclimatizing properly then you may feel AMS. So better get acclimated first and then stay at such high-altitude Himalayan villages.
9. Tabo- Tabo is another town where you can find a reasonable number of options to stay. It has an ancient monastery as well and a few hotels and homestays are there.
10. Dhankar – Dhankar has the oldest monastery and there are few homestays with very basic facilities available in Dhankar.
11. Mud village – Mud village is located in Pin valley and one needs to cut off from the main highway to reach this place. It is one of the most beautiful villages in the entire Spiti valley and there is one hotel and few homestays available. One can spend a night when you are on a Spiti bike trip.
12. No – Another important town in Spiti valley, Nako village has a lot of options to stay in, there are good hotels, tents, and homestays in Nako and one can easily find plenty of options, it's better to book in advance to avoid rush during peak season.
13. Kinnaur valley: After exploring Spiti valley you will enter Kinnaur valley, Kinnaur is a major tourist stop-over destination with a lot of options for stay. One can find hotels, homestays in places like Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Sangla, and Chitkul. You can decide which place you would like to stop over; I would suggest choosing between Sangla and Chitkul.
14. Sarahan – After exploring Spiti valley and Kinnaur valley, one can find few options in Sarahan. You need to cut off from the main highway and ride further uphill to reach Sarahan. There are few hotels and Himachal Pradesh govt guest house and tourist circuit houses.
15. Shimla- Shimla is the summer capital of Himachal Pradesh state and one of the major tourist destinations after Manali. You will find a lot of options to stay in Shimla. So, after Manali, Shimla is the place where you get such wonderful hotel and stay options.
Road conditions in Spiti valley
1. Manali to Kaza – If you are taking Spiti valley road trip from the Manali side, then there are two routes you can do. One is from Manali-Gulaba-Rohtang Pass- Gramphu and then join Kaza Manali highway or you can take Manali-Atul Tunnel-Koksar-Gramphu and Kaza Manali highway. Manali to Gramphu road conditions are good on both routes, but the actual fun starts when you hit the Kaza Manali highway and you will be welcomed with a lot of slush and gravel roads with multiple water crossings. The roads from Gramphu till Kaza most of the stretch is off-road with a lot of water crossings, but 30kms before Kaza you will get Tarmac Road and it will be such a great relief after a bumpy ride. 70% of the road is off-road and 30% is the decent road.
2. Chandratal Road condition- Chandratal road condition is in bad shape since there is no proper infrastructure has been implemented till now and it remains isolated & offbeat. 100% off-road
3. Kaza-Key Monastery-Kibber-Chicham bridge-Langza-Komic-Hikkim road condition- Most of these roads are uphill with single-lane mountain roads, so be careful while riding on these terrains, as it is a high altitude mountain road and very narrow with deep valleys on the side. 80% good roads and 20% Off roads.
4. Kaza-Tabo-Dhankar Monastery- Most of the road is in decent condition but there are few patches off-road, Dhankar monastery road is completely uphill with a single lane. 80% decent road, 20% off-road.
5. Dhankar – Mud village – Most of the road to Mud village is tarmac with few bad stretches, 90% decent road
6. Mud Village – Gue Mummy – Nako lake – Most of the roads are uphill and high altitude. Few stretches in Gue mummy road are single and very narrow, but manageable. 80% good road
7. Nako lake – Kalpa- Sangla- Chitkul – After Nako lake, most of the roads will be descending towards Kinnaur valley. While riding down the roads are very narrow with a lot of turns & twists. While entering Kinnaur valley there is a stretch with a Shooting stone area and one needs to be very careful while crossing this patch. After crossing the Karcham dam one needs to take left towards Sangla valley and Chitkul, the road is very narrow and steep till Sangla. But after reaching Sangla, the road till Chitkul is in decent condition with some rough patch in-between.
8. Sangla to Sarahan – After exploring Chitkul during Manali to Spiti valley's bike trip, one can enjoy riding to Sarahan. Most of the roads are in decent condition, in between there is construction work is going on on the Hindustan Tibet highway. To reach Sarahan one needs to cut off from the main highway take a diversion to reach Sarahan, it will be a single-lane mountain road with breath-taking views of the lower Himalayas.
9. Sarahan-Narkanda- Hatu peak- Most of the roads are tarmac till Narkanda, one needs to take a diversion towards Hatu peak from Narkanda, the road to Hatu peak is very steep and narrow, which is covered with dense pine trees and forest on both sides. It’s very difficult to ride if it is raining, as the road becomes more slippery and wet.
How to reach Spiti valley – Routes
There are 2 routes to reach Spiti valley from Delhi/Chandigarh.
1. Route no 1: Delhi/Chandigarh – Manali – Chandratal-Kunzum La pass- Losar-Kaza-Tabo-Nako-Kalpa-Narkanda-Shimla-Delhi/Chandigarh
2. Route no 2: Delhi/Chandigarh – Shimla-Narkanda-Kalpa-Nako-Tabo-Kaza-Chandratal-Manali.
One can start from the Manali side and end from the Shimla side or vice versa.
How much time required for Spiti valley bike trip
In an ideal scenario, one needs at least 8-10 days to complete the circuit from Manali and finish from the Shimla side. The most itinerary for Spiti Valley Bike trip will be.
Day 1: Arrive at Manali and get Acclimatise
Day 2: Manali to Chandratal
Day 3: Chandratal to Kaza
Day 4: Key gompa-Kibber-Langza – Komic-Hikkim and Stay at Tabo
Day 5: Tabo to Nako via Gue Mummy or you can stay at Mud village after exploring Dhankar monastery
Day 6: Nako Lake to Sangla or Chitkul
Day 7: Chitkul to Sarahan
Day 8: Sarahan to Shimla
Day 9: Shimla to Chandigarh/Delhi
Spiti valley road trip budget
There are a lot of parameters that decide the cost of your Spiti Valley Trip budget, firstly starting point and ending point, type of vehicle you choose, number of days you are planning for Spiti valley bike trip, type of accommodation you choose, and whether you opt to travel in a small group, big group or solo. So, all this will add up to your cost, in an ideal scenario if you want to do a pocket-friendly Spiti bike trip then it will cost you around anywhere between INR 35000/- to INR 60000/- per person for a 10 days tour to Spiti valley which will start from Chandigarh and end in Chandigarh. (Please note this will include traveling in big groups with standard accommodation or hotels). If you need a leisure and luxury Spiti motorcycle tour then you may need to spend around INR 1,00,000 to INR 1,50,000/- for 10 days Spiti Bike trip with a small group and luxury & boutique properties.
Best motorcycle/car for Spiti valley road trip
So, after deciding the number of days and budget for your Spiti Valley road trip, the next parameter will be on choosing the right vehicle for your Spiti trip. If you decide to travel by Motorcycle then Royal Enfield is the best to travel in the Himalayas, they are reliable and sturdy as well. Bullet 500cc and Himalayan 411 cc motorcycles are the best ones in Royal Enfield. If you want to choose any car then any 4x4 would be good or any cars with higher ground clearance will be sufficient for Spiti Valley Road trip.
Essential things to carry for the Spiti valley road trip
After doing a lot of research and years of hands-on experience in traveling to Spiti valley on a motorcycle, we have listed down the important things to carry on your Spiti Valley Road trip are as follows:
Clothing – carry riding jacket, riding pants (If not good quality Knee Guard, winter riding gloves, balaclava or face mask, thermals, socks, high ankle boots or gumboots which are economical and reliable, winter wear hoodies, jeans and T-shirts and lastly waterproof or rain gear jackets.
Accessories: Sunscreen lotion SPF 50 and above, Sunglasses, Skull cap, warm gloves & woollen socks during the night
Daily use packs: Face cream, lip balm (always keep in your pocket), petroleum jelly, cold cream (Himalaya or Nivia), Tooth Brush, Toothpaste, liquid soap, toilet paper, shampoo, towel, deo, and waste bin covers to dispose of any unwanted things.
Short bites: It's essential to carry a few short eats or eatables like dry fruits, chocolates, energy bars, and water bottles
Medicines: Personalised first aid kits, Diamox, disprins, and basic medicines for fever, stomach upset, vomiting &, etc
Electronics: Phone Charger, power bank, spare camera battery, memory cards, multipurpose plug points,
Important documents: Driving license, RC book of the vehicles, valid insurance, Passport, Voter id, VISA copy.
Spiti valley travel tips
· Each rider must be above 21 years old with a valid Driving license
· One should have minimum riding experience on any motorcycle
· Must be fit and healthy to take such an adventurous trip
· Always try to ride in a group instead of riding solo, it does not only give you a sort of confidence also it will help you during uncertainties (However, if you are an experienced solo traveller then it’s not a problem. For the first-timers group ride is the best and safest)
· Know the terrain and weather info before you start the journey.
· Choose the right motorcycle for the trip which suits your riding style and should be good enough to ride on such harsh terrains.
· Keep yourself well hydrated
· Read about Acute Mountain Sickness
· Understand the culture of Ladakh and its people
· And one last thing, respect nature and nature will respect you back
Is Spiti valley road trip safe to do
Yes, riding in the Himalayas is always once in a lifetime experiences and one cannot deny that, but you should be very cautious while riding on these terrains, if you are not well prepared or you are not any part of a group rides then it’s going to be very tough in some stretch. Don’t jump into conclusion easily, do you homework well and study enough blogs and get practical exposure about riding the motorcycles and maintaining them. Apart from that Spiti valley is one of the safest places in India to travel; people are very humble and helpful. They are the one who comes first when you struck due to landslides or any health issue, remember one thing Never hurt their cultural feelings and don’t insult their terrain, they are very sensitive about their culture.
Banks, ATM’s, Permits & Currency conversion
After crossing Manali the next place where you get Bank and ATM is at Kaza, so it's better to carry enough cash for the entire trip. There are ATMs in Nako, Sangla, and the rest of the places throughout the trip.
Permits are required only if you are a Non-Indian, Permits can be obtained at Kaza, Reckong Peo, and Kullu tourist information center.
No currency conversion available in any place apart from Manali, but few hotels in Kaza may do, but that is not completely reliable.
Petrol station available at Manali, Kaza, Reckong Peo, Jeori, Rampur, Narkanda, Shimla
Mobile Connectivity & Internet
Manali – All mobile network and Internet available, both prepaid & post-paid
Chandratal – Only BSNL/MTNL mobile network sometimes, no Internet
Kaza – Only BSNL/MTNL mobile network, WIFI available at few hotels
Nako – Only BSNL/MTNL mobile network, WIFI available at few hotels
Sangla- BSNL/MTNL/Airtel mobile network and internet available in few places
Sarahan – All mobile network works in Sarahan
Hatu peak – No mobile network available
Altitude mountain sickness
Altitude sickness is one of the most common problems that occur during Travelling to Spiti valley, because of its altitude. A common cause of AMS is due to lack of oxygen and our body won’t get acclimatize to that altitude so easily. Minor symptoms of AMS are headaches, vomit sensation, fatigue, shortness of breath, and giddiness. Severe symptoms will be like shortness of breath even you are sitting or not doing any activity, severe vomiting, and inability to walk. Avoiding AMS is pretty simple if you follow the instructions of your Travel guide on the Spiti valley bike trip, the primary thing is to avoid climbing the mountains quickly, take time and increase your altitude gradually, Drink at least 3-5 liters of water every day, this will keep your hydrated, Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol at least for first few days till your body gets acclimatize, avoid having heavy dinner and non-veg during the night because having heavy food will trouble you in your metabolism and most of the oxygen in your body gets used to digesting the food inside the body. In case of primary symptoms occurs, start taking Diamox tablets once per day after breakfast and take another after dinner.
How to prepare your motorcycle for the Spiti valley bike trip
The condition of your bike/car is the most important factor during the Spiti valley road trip if you have decided to get your bike for such trips. Basic things will be your bike must be in running condition and not kept in the parking lot for a long time.
Best bikes for Spiti valley bike trip
This is the first question where every biker who decided to do Spiti bike trip, which bike is suitable. Well, nobody can answer this question since it is completely depending on individual perception. Some people do on BMW 1200GS or Triumph Tiger 800 or any other adventure motorcycles, but on the other hand, few people have done on Honda Activa or 110cc motorcycle. But the only difference between each motorcycle is the way you maintain it and the way you ride it. But any bike you ride just to make sure it is well serviced and not a very old model, where you will get stuck if proper spares not available in such terrains and because of that your trip may hamper
Know your bike
Every passionate rider will always know their machine very well than their life partners, so before you start your journey to Spiti Valley, the first thing you should do is to understand your bike and its condition very well, try to recall how it used to respond when you go on a long ride, during monsoon season and what is the pain point of the bikes and what troubles the machine more. Once you understand this pointer you will know what exactly you need to do for your bike and accordingly, will you explain the same thing to your mechanic. Suppose your bike give more problem during monsoon season then understand that it might be a problem with carb and electrical due to water get blocked in few parts of the machine, likewise in long rides, it may get overheat, then it may be a problem with overheating of engine and needs at most attention.
After analysing the bike, choose your mechanic wisely who has extensive knowledge about particular models. Some mechanics are good with 150cc to 250cc bikes; few are good with Royal Enfield’s only and few on Super Bikes. Tell your mechanic a complete history of your bike like its model, periodic service schedule, problems occur during a different season and different riding experience, etc. And importantly tell your mechanic that you are taking your bike on an extreme moto adventure road trip.
Knowledge about Minor repairs
After giving your bike for service, try to sit with your mechanic and learn some basic repairs like a change of clutch cables, throttle cable replacement, spark plug check and maintenance, basic electrical work, puncture repair, and chain cleaning and maintaining techniques, this will help in increase your confidence level and you will be trained enough to handle basic breakdowns during your journey.
Spares to carry during Spiti bike trip
After your bike is fully serviced, ride your bike for at least 4-5 days before you ship your bike or start the ride, this is will help you understand that how your machine is behaving after the service. Also, buy the following spares and carry them with you for the Spiti valley bike trip;
Puncture repair kit with an extra tube for both front and rear tires
Clutch and throttle cables
Put new tires with good traction for on & off-road
Fuses and fuse box
Spare engine and brake oil
Clutch plates (If your clutch plates are too old, it’s better to replace new ones)
Brake pads /disc pads
Battery charges or a cable for a jump start your bike from other battery, in case of the battery get drain out
Nuts and bolts of major parts
Tool kit for wheel removal and other basic things with a set of screwdrivers & spanners
Petrol pipes and spare fuel cans
Ropes to tie your luggage and Ladakh carrier
If you are planning for a Spiti valley bike trip or road trip then it's better to starts from the Shimla side to get acclimatize and the road conditions are better than Manali side, also visit during June to September month as the weather will be preferable pleasant and make a more comfortable journey. Make sure to choose the right Adventure travel company to host you and the one who gives you a memorable experience.