How to plan Spiti valley bike trip itinerary
Spiti is a desert mountain valley located in the northeastern parts of Himachal in the upper Himalayan range. With a terrain of vast rocky mountains and harsh cold weather, living in this area is next to impossible for many of us, but even so, travelers have lost their minds over hearts for this place, why? Because, unlike other destinations, this one doesn’t offer a promise of comfort or safety, it is a package full of raw challenges and adventure, an experience of a life unbounded by societal norms of “how life should be”. Maybe that is the reason why bikers have such profound love towards Spiti Valley, it clearly puts a tick on every box for a perfect bike trip destination. Spiti Bike Trip is no less than an adventure awaited for a thrillseeker, and if you are planning to embark on this journey, take a glance through the article and find out about the facts, tips, and do’s don’ts for planning a successful Spiti Valley bike trip.
Table of Contents
Why Spiti bike trip?
Spiti bike trip is one of the best bike trips in India. Bikers adore the challenging and scenic roads of Spiti Valley, unlike other biker’s destinations, this one offers something that is rare to find – contentment. Bike trips are not just about photos or reels, it is a pure and raw life experience that helps a person to forget the waggings of daily life and live like a human for once. Spiti bike trip is about connecting to the place, to the people, and most importantly to the inner self.
Best bikes for a road trip to Spiti
Every bike has its unique features and all of them perform their best under different conditions, so it’s actually up to your judgment to choose a bike that suits your requirement. There are usually five factors to determine a suitable bike –
1. Age of the bike – age of the bike is a primal factor. Bikes ranging from 10 years and below are recommended for the roads of Spiti, but again the age of the bike is just a basic parameter, if the bike is over 10 years and is not overused, kept in good condition you can plan a trip on it too, otherwise it’s best to rent a bike. Please do not take your bike if not in good condition just to save money, because otherwise, you will end up paying double the amount in its repair and maintenance after the trip is over.
2. Odometer range – The odometer is used to measure the distance traveled by a vehicle, if the bike has an odometer ranging more than 1 lakh kilometers, it won’t be able to run smoothly with a heavy load, so rent a bike in such case.
3. Luggage – Spiti circuit is covered in over a week, so your luggage will weigh accordingly. If you have a bike with less cc for say 150cc, then carry less luggage. Try to strike a balance between the capacity of your bike and the weight of the luggage. Bikes like Royal Enfield have a cubic capacity of up to 500cc and more that’s why these bikes are best suited for harsh and steep roads.
3. Pillion – A trip with a pillion affects the choice of the bike to a great extent. With two people on a bike plus the luggage, the load on a bike increases thrice a time. So if you are traveling with a pillion take a bike with a good engine capacity.
Preparedness – After choosing your bike, prepare it well for the journey. Know your bike inside-out, it’s plus and weak points, clutches, wheels, and so on. Pack spare nuts, bolts, and other parts with you, and get the bike serviced before 7-8 days of the trip. Check the bike thoroughly and replace all the dicy parts with new ones.
Here is the list of some motorcycles which are best suited for the Spiti valley bike trip
Manali to Spiti valley route
Manali to Spiti valley road opens in June or July, but this year (2022) the route opened up in May, as snowfall was around average in the former year. The Manali – Spiti route operates only for four to five months a year. In mid-October or early November, when the snowfall starts this road shuts down. The distance from Manali to Spiti valley is 177 km, so one can reach Spiti valley from Manali on average 8 to 9 hours if a night’s stay is not involved. Even though it is recommended to plan a stay in Jispa for acclimatization. Manali to Spiti valley route is as follows –
1. Manali – Manali will be your starting point.
2. Rohtang Pass – If you want to cross visa Rohtang Pass instead of the Atal tunnel then you will have to miss Solang Valley, and it will take an additional 2 to 3 hours to reach Koksar, but undoubtedly, the place is worth it.
3. Solang Valley – It is merely 13 km away from Manali, but has a bit more touch of greenery and coldness than Manali. To get acclimatized to Spiti you can plan a night’s stay here as it is at the height of 2,560 m.
4. Atal tunnel – The famous Atal tunnel will work as a gateway to the other side of Rohtang Pass, see if you can take a break and click some pictures there. Also, you will notice how dramatic the difference is between the Manali side of the tunnel and the Kosksar side of the tunnel, the view turns lush green to rocky barren in just 9 kilometers.
5. Koksar – Koksar is the first village you will encounter in Lahaul Spiti district, you can enjoy a lunch or tea break in this village.
6. Chhatru – You will find some dhabas and campsites in Chhatru, this place is the endpoint of the Hampta Pass trek.
7. Chhota Dara – The most adventurous and challenging water crossing in the route, you will see all the bikers and drivers making way from this pass to prove their skills. Try to cross this crossing before noon, as after that the water flow increases and it becomes difficult to cross it.
8. Gramphu – A small village in Gramphu – Batal road, from here on you will be officially on the roadway to the snow-covered Chandra valley.
9. Batal – The basecamp of Chandratal Lake, the trekkers began their journey towards Chandratal lake from this place. You can stop for a lunch in this place and enjoy the beauty of the magnificent mountains.
10. Chandratal Lake – The ‘moon lake’ sitting at the altitude of 4,250 m, this lake will mesmerize your eyes and soul with its crystal water and splendid views. It is a glacial lake, which is located at the Chandra river source. Swimming is banned in Chandratal lake, so do not pull off any stunts.
11. Kunzum Pass – A high mountain pass located in the east Kunzum range. It is at the height of 4,551 meters and connects Lahaul to Spiti valley. If you visit here in early June, you will find snow at Kunzum Pass. It is only 79 Km away from Kaza.
12.Losar – Losar is a small village in Spiti Valley. Only at the distance of 58km from Kaza, you will find the hustle-bustle of local villagers here, it is a good place to explore the local life of Spiti.
13. Kaza – Kaza in Spiti Valley will be the endpoint of your journey and the start point for your exploration. Plan a stay here and began local sightseeing of Spiti the next day.
Shimla to Spiti valley route –
Shimla to Spiti valley route is the most common route to Spiti as it remains open throughout the year. Shimla to Spiti valley distance is almost 413 km long, thrice the Manali – Spiti route, but comprises places like Sangla valley, Kinnaur valley, Hindustan – Tibet Highway which is one of their kind. As this route remains open throughout the year, travelers can visit the winter-wonderland Spiti to see snow-covered Spiti in the months of November to march. The Shimla – Spiti route unfolds as follows –
1. Shimla – The “Queen of hills” will be your starting point of a 413 km long journey.
2. Narkanda – 61 Km away from Shimla, this place is filled with Deodar trees and apple orchids. You will get some scenic views while riding on a road covered with thick forest on one side and panoramic views on the other.
3. Sangla – A town in Baspa Valley of Kinnaur district, if you have ever dreamt of waking up in a room overlooking snowcapped mountains this is the place for you. Sangla is known for its detailed wood-carved architecture and handmade shawls.
4. Chitkul – It is the last inhabited village at Indo – the Tibet border. It is covered in snow for most of the year and is the most beautiful place in the area.
5. Kalpa – This is a town in Baspa valley overlooking the majestic mountains of Kinner Kailash. You can plan a night’s stay here in a cozy wooden cottage. Do try the famous Kinnauri apples here.
6. Nako – At an altitude of 3,625 m, this village is famous for its beautiful lake – Nako Lake, a small water body sitting in the lap of mountains.
7. Gyu – A village in the Spiti valley, consisting of the famous 500-year-old well-preserved mummy of Sangha Tenzing, a Buddhist monk.
8. Tabo – Home to the famous Tabo monastery, this town is on the road between Rekong Peo and Kaza.
9. Pin valley – Pin valley is a national park in Lahaul Spiti valley. This place is a hotspot of local flora and fauna.
10. Kaza – This will be the endpoint of the journey and here on you can begin the exploration of Spiti valley.
Spiti Valley road conditions
The roads in Spiti valley are in average condition, at some places roads are smooth as butter, and at some places, you will come across roads with flowing water streams. From Manali side road starts to get rough from Chattru to Losar, especially in Chhota Dara, Batal, Chandartaal, so you should carry spare nuts, bolts, and other pieces of equipment for bike repair with yourself, also you should know the basics of repairing bike as finding a mechanic in the deserted roads of Spiti is difficult.
On Shimla to Manali route, roads are in good condition from Narkanda to Sangla, after that, you may come across some bad patches. Sangla – Chitkul – Reckong Peo road is uncemented and rough, Nako to Dhankar road is in a very bad condition, you will have to drive carefully here. Other than that you will find a rough road in Pin valley.
Within Spiti Valley, roads are in good condition, even in remote areas roads are cemented
Spiti valley best time to visit
For a Bike trip to Spiti choose a time when there are fewer chances of rainfall or snowfall, as chances of road blockages increases during this time around and roads become very slippery. Following are the weather conditions in Spiti in different months –
1. From January to March – The Winter season with chances of snowfall, the temperature is below 0 degrees and Manali to Spiti Valley road is closed during these months, but you can travel via Shimla – Spiti route.
2. From April to June – This is the summertime in Spiti, the temperature still hovers around -10 to a maximum of 11 degrees. During early June you can see the snow in the mountains. You will find some water streams flowing on roads due to melting snow so it is better to cross these areas before noontime. Manali – Spiti Valley route opens in May end of June.
3. July to September – It is monsoon time in Valley, and if you are planning to go during this time pack raincoats and gumboots. Also be cautious while riding on uncemented roads.
4. October – December – It is the beginning of winter, the chances of snowfall increase, and Manali to Spiti Valley road close down in Mid October or November. it is Best time to explore Winter Spiti.
To sum up the month of April, June and September are the best time to visit Spiti Valley.
Please note: Shimla to Spiti Valley road remains open throughout the year, so you can visit Spiti through this route in any month you like.
Bike trip accessories
Here is a list of bike trip accessories you can carry in your Spiti valley bike trip. You can buy or rent them from Shimla, Manali, or Chandigarh.
Mobile Holder and charger
Puncture repair kit
Waterproof luggage covers
Tips for a bike trip to Spiti Valley
While planning a bike trip to Spiti valley you must keep in mind some things for a safe and enjoyable journey, which are as follows –
1. Prepare your bike before the trip – The challenging roads of Spiti demand much from a bike, so you must prepare your bike one week before the trip. From replacing the dicy parts to oiling the engines, provide your bike a full service.
2. Carry Spare parts for your bike – Always carry spare parts like – a punctures repair Kit, spark plugs, nuts bolts, and so on. Also carry a spare key to your bike, in case of emergency.
3. Do not Overspeed – The roads of Spiti is full of twists and turns that end with a steep fall, so do not ride at Overspeed and always have a hold on your bike’s controls.
4. Do not exert yourself – Riding for too long takes a toll on the body plus the Acute mountain sickness in low oxygen levels makes it worse, so do not exert yourself, take enough breaks in the journey, eat food properly and drink plenty of water.
5. Carry ID proof and Licence – Some areas of Spiti might require ID – proof to prove your nationality, so carry the appropriate documents like an aadhar card and so on. Also, carry your license along with you.
6. Pack warm clothes – The weather in Spiti Valley is cold throughout the year, the temperature hangs around zero to a minus degree, so wear good jackets and shoes while riding, and wear hand gloves to prevent chill.
7. Do not litter – Please do not litter, carry non-disposable water bottles, provide trash, and dispose of your trash in dustbins or either burn them. Please leave the place as you found it, one or two wrappers won’t harm your bags for a while.
8. Save water – Spiti has a major problem or water scarcity, so use Indian toilets and prevent wasting water as much as you can.
Common itinerary of Spiti bike trip
The most common itinerary of Spiti bike trip consists of the Shimla – Spiti – Manali circuit, it Goes as –
Shimla to Sangla
Sangla – Chitkul – Kalpa
Kalpa – Nako – Gyo – Tabo
Tabo – Pin valley – Kaza
Kaza – Komik – Langza – Hikkim – Key – Kibber – Kaza
Kaza – Losar – Kunzum pass – ChandraTaal Lake
Chandra Taal to Manali
Also checks out: How to plan a trip to Spiti valley – complete guide
Fast Answer and questions (FAQ)
1. How much does a Spiti trip cost?
On average the Spiti tour starts from 19,000 if you plan for 8 to 9 days (which is the minimum number of days for a Spiti tour), other than that your accommodation price and spending habits play a major role.
2. Is it safe to visit Spiti?
Yes, it is safe to visit Spiti, if you travel with awareness and respect for nature and local people, with surety you won’t face any threat. Just ride safe and be aware of your surroundings.
3. Are there accommodations available in Manali/Shimla to Spiti Valley?
From Manali to Spiti Valley you will find accommodations in Sangla, Koksar, Chattru, and Chota Dara for a night’s stay. From Shimla to Spiti Valley you can have a night’s stay in Sarahan, Rampur, Sangla, Kalpa, and Tabo.
4. Are there any Petrole Pumps in Manali/Shimla routeway to Spiti?
Beginning from Shimla, you will find Petrole pumps in – Shimla, Narkanda, Rampur, Kaza, and from Manali, you will Find a Petrole pump in – Manali then straightaway in Kaza.
5. Are there any ATMs in Manali/Shimla routeway to Spiti?
On Shimla route, you will find ATMs in – Shimla, Narkanda, Rampur, Sangla and Kaza, from Manali you will find ATMs in – Manali and then straight in Kaza.