Lahaul & Spiti valley have by far been the most treacherous sections of the roads to drive on. It calls for the nomad inside you to take a step towards this wild cold desert and venture out to witness and experience the adventure.
Until a decade back or so, this region was untouched by common tourists. The increase in tourism in this area is a result why the unexplored land has come in reach of a common man. A trip to the Spiti valley is usually a circuit one should look at as. I recommend starting the journey from Narkanda and ending it at Manali. Two main reasons why I suggest this are
- An individual experiences a gradual increase in the altitude as they travel from Narkanda to Kalpa to Kaza and then to Manali via Kunzum La and Rohtang La. AMS can be managed very well as gives one an opportunity to acclimatize
- The other being, when you climb Rohtang La from the other side of Manali and drive down towards the civilization, one does not need to acquire permits to cross Rohtang La. While the process to acquire the permits are relatively easier now a days and also online, they are time bound.
Once upon a time, not too long back, this entire route was famous among bikers as “The Lahaul & Spiti circuit” and planning a family trip here was not deemed appropriate because of the challenging roads, harsh weather, and remoteness of the region.
This ain’t true anymore. The Spiti valley has now gradually converted to a family destination; during the summer. But the winters do bring in a different thrill for the adventure and off road enthusiasts … a snow drive thru the valley is becoming more and more common with a small section of such people
Travelling to Lahaul & Spiti with a family is much possible nowadays than it used to be earlier. Few factors I would consider before planning a trip are
AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
Acute mountain sickness (AMS), is the negative health effect of high altitude, caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation. Symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.
Read: Understanding AMS
High altitude passes
Unlike the Manali-Leh highway or the Srinagar-Leh highway, there are not too many high altitude passes on the Spiti circuit. If the trip has been started from Narkanda, one crosses Kunzum La and Rohtang La almost at the end of the trip and acclimatization should not be an issue. It is still not recommended to spend a lot of time at the passes and one should quickly decent down to lower altitudes
Understanding the region better
A vacation to Lahaul & Spiti valley should not merely be road trip around the state of Himachal. There are exciting and very beautiful places enroute which are definitely a “no-miss”
Best months to visit
Best months to visit Lahaul & Spiti undoubtedly are from April thru July. The summer has set in and the tourism is at the peak. Facilities are available and the weather is just perfect. Said that, between the adventurous clans, winter is also becoming a popular time to hit the roads in the valley.
Don’t be a self made doctor
Usual Medicines that one may use at home for regular remedies may not be the right medication at high altitude. It is strongly advisable for one to consult the doctors to prescribe medication. Nevertheless, one should be aware on ways to prevent AMS
Special attention towards the 4 legged children
Our furry friends do not talk our language. The best way to communicate with them is to understand their emotions. Keeping them on the back of the seat all the time is just ignoring them to their miseries. Just like a human they will have impact of the cold weather and the high altitude climb. Visit a vet and understand all preventive measures and remedies in case of an emergency
Avoid travelling with toddlers
Kids need to be kept in control. They have an exorbitant level of energy inside them that is waiting to be release in some way. Over exertion can lead to unmanageable conditions. The endurance factor with the kids is lower and so is the immunity, hence the possibility of they becoming a pray to AMS is higher
It is very important to eat healthy food and stay hydrated. Junk food can lead to upset stomach. The last thing on the trip you want is to be dehydrated. Diarrhea and vomiting are the main causes of losing fluids from the body. Drink a lot of water and if required a supplement of an electrolyte can help too. Refer to the instruction on the consumption of electrolyte
With almost non existent roads in this region, it becomes important to be careful and very cautious while driving. it will be an added advantage to know the route and the facilities available enroute.
- Drive Itinerary
- Important Tips for Winter Spiti Drive
- How to prepare a your car for a Spiti drive
- Places to visit in Lahaul & Spiti
- Things to carry on a Lahaul & Spiti Circuit
- How to plan a trip to Pin Valley
- The best time to reach Chandratal
- Permits for Lahaul & Spiti
- Acute Mountain Sickness – Precautions and Remedy