The Remote Spiti Valley of India
It’s not easy getting into the Spiti Valley. If it was, more than the approximately 8,000 tourists a year would probably visit.
Breakfast at 6:00am, away from the hotel by 7:00am to start the long drive. Lahaul and Spiti are the biggest districts in the Himachal Pradesh area-wise. Our first night was going to be spent at Kaza, 200km’s from Manali, but a 9-1/2 hour ride! Over 5 hours of this ride were on what they call “roads.” Can you imagine…over nine hours to drive 120 miles? That gives you some indication of the “roads.”
We left Manali, passing lots of stalls renting cold weather gear for Indian tourists who take day trips up to the Rohtang Pass at 13,000′ to see snow. …View image… They rent boots, gloves, fur coats and warm jackets. At the top of the pass, the tourists can hire horses to ride another 2kms to the snowline. It’s a big deal when you’ve never seen snow before.
Colorful trucks…View image… carrying loads to Ladakh, military vehicles and us wound up and up and up to the pass, very s…l…o…w…l…y. I started counting vehicles and we actually passed about 40 vehicles going up and down the pass. …View image… Stopped at a local truck stop on the way for our driver’s to eat some breakfast.
Then, there it was…Rohtang Pass with the sight of all those absolutely incredible snow-capped, glaciated mountains. Inspiring! And, the road itself (to this point) wasn’t too terrible by Indian standards.
Down the other side, with most drivers diverting to the Leh, Ladakh road heading North. The two-day trip to Leh from Manali by Tourist and Regular bus is done every day and fare runs about $50 US which doesn’t include your stay in a tented camp or meals in Sarchu for the night. Jagdish #2 (our driver) said that he’s driven it straight through in 17 hours!
What a shock leaving the Manali side of the pass…green and forested…to come down into the desolate landscape of the Spiti Valley. Barren, arid, lunar landscape with only the Chandra River to add some color…very much like Ladakh (read Ladakh articles that ran March 31 through April 6, 2006).
There were still five hours to go….