What to Expect in The Spiti Valley Winter?
Himachal Pradesh areas in winter are usually quite cold. Depending on the elevation of the location, the temperature varies. Some places even have a negative temperature and immense snowfall. So in the Spiti Valley, you may notice snowfall near areas like Kaza.
The weather will be chilly, so you must wear at least two layers for ample protection. If you're going up in elevation, you will face lower temperatures. Sometimes the temperatures may fall below zero degrees.
Moving up and down the district may be difficult if you do not have your vehicle. Since public transport is less frequent in winter and has different timing, you might struggle with it. And finally, the days would turn into nights in only a few hours. So you would have a shorter window for exploring the place.
The Temperature Range in Winters
Knowing the temperature of the location before reaching it is a must. And since the Spiti Valley lies in the upper Himachal area, you can expect lower temperatures. Surprisingly, however, the last year’s lowest temperature (recorded in Lahul) was relatively high.
The lowest temperature recorded in the winter of 2022 (January) was 3° Celsius. It might seem low, but it's better than many other locations in the state in terms of temperature. Similarly, the highest temperature recorded in February 2022 was 27° which is not too warm either.
All in all, you would need to pack warm clothes with full sleeves and a padded jacket. With 2-3 layers, you will feel warm even in Spiti. If you're going to the Spiti Valley for trekking or climbing, you must pack the gear for them separately. You won't need clothes for the water as the rafting activity is not ideal in the winter (but you can do it towards the end of winter.)
How to Reach the Valley in Winters?
Spiti Valley lies in the arms of the Himalayan mountains, placed in the Northern area of Himachal Pradesh. So the ways to reach the area are limited due to the elevation and mountains. Arguably the most popular way to get to the Spiti Valley is by road.
However, since winters bring lots of changes in landscape and accessibility, we will go over these ways. We will look at the usual ways to reach Spiti Valley and see if they are still accessible in winter:
By Road- The road is arguably the most sought-after option for traveling to hilly areas, including the Spiti Valley. The main route to Spiti, which is also open throughout the year, is the Shimla-Kaza route. To travel on the route, you must go from the following checkpoints-
Delhi – Chandigarh – Kalka – Shimla – Rohtang Pass – Narkanda – Kaza – Spiti valley.However, beware that these routes might be slippery, blocked, and dangerous in some areas. So it is advisable to hire a driver or taxi service. Since they are more experienced, they can handle driving on such roads better.
Also, keep checking the route updates to get early notice of any blockages up ahead. If the road is blocked or inaccessible for some reason, you might avoid getting stuck in the jam.
By Train- You cannot complete the journey by train as the nearest train station is either Kullu or Shimla. However, the roads in the Kullu Manali area may not be the best choice- so you can reach Shimla by train. But you would have to continue the rest of the journey through the road.
By Air- Similar to trains, the Kullu and Shimla areas have airports. While the Kullu airport is closer, the route by road may be blocked. So your safest bet is to reach the Shimla Airport and then continue by road to the destination.
Using Public Transportation- While we would recommend using public transportation in most other cases, here it is not ideal. Buses from the checkpoints mentioned above are only one or two, if any. So you cannot rely solely on public transportation to reach Spiti Valley in Winters. It is best to rent a taxi to reach and travel around instead.
What to Keep in Mind Before Travelling to Spiti Valley?
Spiti Valley is a beautiful place, whether you visit in the winter or summer. However, travelling to hilly areas is trickier than travelling to a city. Since the area's resources are limited, you must know your way around it.
Here are a few tips to help you have the perfect experience of the Spiti on the colder days:
- Pack more than enough clothing if you're going by car or public transportation. The weather is always unpredictable in hilly areas, so it is best to pack more than you may need.
- Do not expect a mobile network or data connection in the valley. Even in Summer, the valley has connectivity issues with many networks. But during winters the network coverage is next to none. Your best bet is a BSNL sim, but even with that, you won't be able to get internet. Similarly, Wi-Fi connections are unavailable as maintenance during winter is pretty much impossible.
- Pack instant food and search for local spots to stay nourished. Finding a restaurant may be difficult if you're on the outskirts of the valley. So you must pack ample food and immediately look for good eating spots after you arrive.
- Keep medical supplies like paracetamol tablets, bandages, ointments, and more with you. The roads and pathways may get blocked anytime, so you cannot avail of medical care immediately. So you must be prepared for minor issues beforehand.
- A tip is to read news about the whole route to receive updates on any disturbances. Some areas may get blocked in winter due to landslides or other issues. So make sure to study it thoroughly before you leave.
- Electricity and hot water are luxuries you must give up in the Spiti Valley in winter. The cables may face damage, but repair work is impossible due to heavy snow and extreme weather conditions. Hence, you must prepare yourself to live with the bare minimum during your stay.
Where to Stay in Spiti Valley in Winters?
If you look online, you would notice that the number of stays in the valley would be considerably lesser in winter. And even though some hotels and lodges may provide accommodation, they might not be the best idea.
The ideal choice would be to find and stay in a homestay instead. In a homestay, you would be living with native people who know their way around the area. Moreover, they are well-versed in methods and techniques to make living comfortably even in the cold.
Since food is hard to find anyway, being in a homestay can provide you with hot meals to keep you full. You can search for popular stays and if they accept bookings in the winter. While it might be a first-time experience, we can ensure you it would be enjoyable.
Are There Activities in Spiti Valley for Winters?Activities like rafting in the Spiti Valley area become tough during the winters as the cold and water don't mix well. However, some activities in the valley are still enjoyable in the winter. These do not have much to do with the temperature, so you can do them whenever you prefer:
You can explore the Spiti Valley trail or many neighboring trails regardless of the weather. Some trails might get cordoned off due to issues, but many remain open for visitors. The Chicham caves treks and other organized trails are still doable. But it is advised to book a trekking expedition with an agency. Since you will be in a group- cared for by professionals, you can enjoy trekking even in the harsh climate.
Going to The Kibber Village
The Kibber village and wildlife sanctuary is another hotspot. In the winter, it may get much colder. But then you would also have a higher probability of seeing one of the snow leopards that reside there.
Visiting The Key Monastery
The Key Monastery, established in the 11th century, is a holy spot for Buddhists. And even if you are not religious, the architecture and aura of the location are commendable. It is only a short distance away and offers some of the most stunning views of and from it.
Exploring The Chandratal Lake
The Chandratal lake is accessible by car or bike and is a scenic lake nestled in hills. It is the scenery you would upload to your social media pages to boast about your trip. The route might be closed due to heavy snowfall, but if you're lucky, you can access it. The frozen lake in winter is a unique spectacle to witness.
Discovering The Chicham Bridge
The Chicham Bridge is the highest currently in Asia. It is between the Chicham and Kibber areas of the district. Its height is nearly 4145 feet from the sea level. The bridge is placed over the Spiti river, which provides some of the most stunning views.
When you think of winter vacations, the mountains may not be the first place that comes to mind. But unlike most people that visit the beaches in the summer, you could try out a place like the Spiti Valley. It would be colder than usual, but you can still discover the natural beauty the landscape offers. Moreover, with our tips and advice, you can be well-prepared and have a fun trip ahead.