Day 3 & 4 (Himachal) – Manali & Spiti Valley

Day 3 & 4: (13th & 14th June’16) {Shimla→Manali→Spiti Valley}

Soon after our 2-day startling experience in Shimla, Kufri & Chail, we headed to Manali. As roads are narrow with blind curves, it takes good 8-9hrs. to cover a distance of 250 Km to reach Manali via Kullu. We left around 8:30am & didn’t stop much to capture those clear blue skies, mighty mountains, long dark tunnels, winding roads and those deep valleys.. Sigh! to the fact that we wanted to reach Manali before sunset. Plan was to reach early so that we book a private cab for Kaza in Spiti valley for the next day. The scenery throughout the journey was mesmerizing. A few km’s before Kullu we spotted this gushing Beas river on our right side. One can actually follow this river to reach Manali 🙂 The moment we reached manali, dumped our suitcases in hotel and started the search for cabs. Kaza (Spiti valley) plan was little fluid as very little information was available online. SO we thought we will figure out cab, hotel and everything else there only. Anyways, traffic was bad in manali so we thought of leaving the car in hotel and instead took an auto rickshaw. And to our surprise it took us more than an hour. to just cover a distance of 2-3kms. We were asking people and got to know that none of the cabs (either sumo or innova) are free and only 1 person can help you out. We actually were lucky to meet {Raapchik}. YES that’s what he liked being called himself. Raapchik is a local resident of Kaza who runs a bed n breakfast in Manali and a thriving Cab Service as well with Sumos and Innovas in his fleet. A humble, fun loving and true-to-his-word dashing lad, who made our Spiti Valley experience, all the more special. So, obviously, if and when you guys plan to do Lahaul & Spiti anytime, ‘The Raapchik Experience’, is highly recommended.

So, after booking our cab for Spiti Valley, we came back to our hotel, took a breather, had a few drinks while looking at the Beas River from our room’s balcony, got ready and left for the highly rated cafe, “Il Forno”.

Now, of course, Old Manali Road has its charm with a ton of cafes and shops and vibrant looking nightlife, pretty similar to the Britto’s lane (Baga Beach) of North Goa, but, just in case, you want some peace & quiet, then you don’t have to go as far as Old Manali at all. On the way to Hadima Temple, just after crossing the temple, you will see Il Forno on the left. A quaint cafe with pleasant lighting, lush greenery, wooden ambience and in-house Wood Fired Pizzas, it was an absolute perfect way to end a tiring day..

P.S.: Kishan (Raapchik) – +91 94593 26336

Few of the pics below to let your imagination run 🙂

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On the way to Manali 🙂

From someone who is so scared of heights!

From someone who is so scared of heights!

Wandering & Wondering!

Wandering & Wondering!

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Beas river on our right hand side till Manali!

Day 4 (14th June’16):
I had seen websites talking about reaching Rohtang pass in 2-3hrs. But with Raapchik around we actually reached in 1 hr. Exactly.

So there are 2 ways of reaching Kaza in Spiti Valley first via Manali & 2nd Via Shimla, we took the former one. Spiti Valley surely leaves you spellbound by its charismatic beauty.

Now, Day 4 starts and man what a driver, he actually drove where there were no roads in true sense. He was singing songs, interacting with people in the cab while overtaking other cars on the way at 13,000 ft on Himalayan mountain range. We took 2 pit stops while reaching Lahaul-Spiti valley in Kaza with one of them on breathtaking Kunzum Pass. We managed to click some pictures along the way, which in some way give you a glimpse of the beauty we encountered which in reality don’t justify its actual magnificence.
Lahaul-Spiti is pretty much untouched and I & Ankit were in awe of it. With roads that open up for only a few months a year, these 210 kms will test you, scare you, shock you and leave you spellbound. Mountains in the shades of browns you didn’t know and land formations you didn’t think possible are the characteristic of this pass! It was 3:00 PM when we reached Kaza while we left from Manali at 6am. So, this might seem too long a time to cover the said distance, but trust me, this was one of the fastest times anyone can do, anytime of the year!

What to pack:

As a cold mountain desert, weather in Spiti is very unpredictable. The sun’s rays are harsh enough to burn your skin, while shaded areas remain cool enough to wear a jacket.

  • Full sleeves T-shirt, tops, sweatshirts, jackets, jeans, comfy cotton pants
  • Sunglasses, scarfs, bandanas & skullcaps
  • Good walking shoes

Few pointers to keep in mind:

  • You can’t book a hotel in advance, nothing available online. Few good guest houses are: 1.Sakya Abode 2. Hotel Spiti, whereas we stayed in Snow Lion as the other 2 mentioned usually are booked.
  • Permit is required before entering Rohtang Pass (govt. rules are very strict, unless you travel with locals, like we did)
  • Only BSNL sim cards obtained in Himachal Pradesh work in Spiti, and that too only in Kaza
  • The high altitude of Spiti Valley needs considerable acclimatization. Its best to acclimatize yourself by taking a halt in Manali
  • People are very humble & polite, so you CAN trust any advice the locals give you.
  • Only SUV’s & MUV’s are preferred, it’s better to hire a taxi sometimes these drivers can actually make you reach the place earlier than yours and the cars DO take a toll on their way, so you’re better off parking your cars in your hotel in Manali.
  • Carry preventive medicines for AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
  • Only 2 ATM’s in Kaza, it’s better to carry cash along
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The clear blue sky and fresh air was in itself a high!

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This was the view for most our journey!

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One of the numerous breathtaking views!

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A glimpse of the National Highway!

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Took a moment to saok all this beauty!

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Guide of the year – Raapchik!

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Pitstop 🙂

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Prayer flags to welcome us in Kunzum Pass!

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The most majestic place on earth!

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2nd break @ Kunzum Pass

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Enroute Kaza (Spiti Valley)!

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The constant companion – those himalayas!

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At last “Welcome to Spiti Valley”

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