Spiti in May 2019 - A slice of heaven enjoyed family style

Hi All
The Himalayas are truly bewitching ...:) After our last trip in 2018 May to Spiti , both sets of parents were enthralled with the pictures. They immediately expressed a wish to visit this heaven on earth. Given their ages and myriad health issues, we were not comfortable with them travelling alone. Thus the plan for a repeat trip for us was made. Given the leave limitations for 4 of us along with school schedule - we decided the dates at least six months in advance ... By Jan 2019 we knew that we were planning Spiti from 27 May till 5 June 2019....

There were 7 travelers were to be - Me , my husband Amit , our daughter Surabhi (12 years) and both sets of parents(aged 69/64 and 77/70) . Considering the ages and the fact that my dad has Diabetes and heart aliment for years we decided to drop Chandratal. That turned out to be a good thing because of the snow - but more about that later

Tickets were booked ... and we started anticipating and dreaming ... The news coming in was of bumper snow and Chandratral as well as entering Manali from Kunzum would any way be impossible... We were planning to reach Chandigarh in 2 groups , one group reaching the earlier night and rest of us coming from early morning Mumbai- Chandigarh flight. But vacation gods were not smiling and the group reaching earlier had tickets with Jet airways :))

Again we scrambled and got every on early morning tickets ...The itinerary now was

  • Day 01 - 27 May 2019 - Mon- Reach Chandigarh - Try to reach Jhakdi (accommodation was left open)
  • Day 02 - 28 May 2019 - Tues - Kalpa (staying in Apple pie Kalpa) , A stay was planned to ensure that we do not climb from Jhakri directly to Kaza and our bodies got time to acclimatize gradually.
  • Day 03 - 29 May 2019 - Wed - Kaza (staying in Kunphen ) via Giu and Dhankar if possible
  • Day 04 - 30 May 2019 - Thu - Kaza Hikkim /Langza (staying in Kunphen )
  • Day 05 - 31 May 2019 - Fri- Losar (staying in Tashi Castle) via Chicham Bridge
  • Day 06 - 01 June 2019 - Sat- Losar (staying in Tashi Castle)
  • Day 07 - 02 June 2019 - Sun- Reach Gulling in Pin (staying in Valley View Homestay Gulling)
  • Day 08 - 03 June 2019 - Mon- Try to reach Jhakdi (again the accommodation was left open)
  • Day 09 - 04 June 2019 - Tue- Fagu /Chandigarh(again the accommodation was left open)
  • Day 10-05 June 2019 - Wed - Flight back from Chandigarh
Drivers and Guides
We booked the tour via Mr Mukesh @ Apple Pie- 09820796047 /8894579727 . This was our 4th trip with him and he has always connected us with drivers who are dependable and resourceful. He usually provides drivers who know the terrain well - this a big advantage in an unforgiving land like Spiti. Another advantage of all drivers contacted via Mukesh is that they usually will not do "khichkhich" at small things or keep on cribbing at route changes etc .If Mukeshbhai is travelling or not reachable - his brother Aman can be contacted at 999934003

Since we were 7 travelers we decided to hire 2 Innovas to ensure comfortable travel - We traveled with
  • Driver Gogi (Susheel)- 9816183958 . This was our second trip with this enthusiastic and ever smiling fellow - He knows the roads well and is aware of all major points for a great view. He was always well dressed , neat with no visible vices - Very flexible to adapt and change the plan as requested by us - He has a Innova which can seat 7 if using back seat
  • Diver Ajay - 09810600828 - This was our first trip with Ajay bhai and he did not disappoint. The Innova with bucket seat was great and so was Ajay bhai - He is a very well connected person with 2/3 cars. He was always networking with other drivers and connecting travelers with cars and drivers. He is a great driver who is again always well dressed , neat with no visible vices. Was always flexible to change plans as needed. He knows the area well enough
Hotels we stayed finally
  • Hotel Mahesh Jhakdi - A good transit hotel to spend a night. Nothing fancy - OK-OK in cleanliness .... They have 2 branches 4-5 Kms apart on the same road - one near Rampur and one near Jhakri. The one near Rampur is older and better - 09218544255 is the number
  • Hotel Apple Pie Kalpa - Good old hotel at Kalpa run by Aman and Mukesh ... The whole trip was arranged by Mukesh and the arrangements as always were great , the hotel apple pie Kalpa has brilliant views of Kailash Kinner. Both Aman and Mukesh spend time with the guests and try very hard to accommodate them . I will recommend the hotel with 100% confidence
  • Hotel Kunphen Kaza - A very comfortable hotel owned by the well known Mr. Tsering. It is next to the monastery - the hotel provides all basic creature comforts , the staff is very helpful and always smiling. The rooms are big by Spiti standards and can easily accommodate an extra mattress if needed. We managed the booking with Mr Mukesh but the hotel can be reached at 094182 08987
  • Hotel Sakya Abode Kaza - On our return path , we spent one night here. This hotel is also owned by Mr. Tsering and is run as efficiently as the Kunphen. As a resort Sakya Abode is better equipped - there is a lawn to sit and relax , the rooms have heaters for the winters. The service is as smiling and helpful as in Kunphen - Only -ve is that the rooms are on smaller size and there is no room after we put an extra mattress - but for 2 people, the room will be just enough.We managed the booking with Mr Mukesh but the hotel can be reached at 094182 08987
  • Hotel Nomads Cottage Losar This is a perfect example of an average guest house in brilliant location , awesome views and below average service - We booked via Mr. Sahil (9650824268). We found his number via their website. The location is very pretty. But the guest house is pretty basic - Even given the extent of cold - there was no provision on room heaters etc. Bathrooms had no light and were not really clean. What stuck out most was the below average service. In all other properties that we have stayed in Himachal - in this and previous trips , the Resort manager usually engages with the guests and there is an attempt to make the travelers comfortable - amenities like hot soup - packaged is ok / hot water bottles are offered proactively. There was no such thing here - infact even after we requested, the hot water bottles took quite a bit of follow up on our side. Next day breakfast also was late.... The hotel holds a great promise and if some one takes effort to train the local boys who run the show , it will be a brilliant place.
  • Hotel Valley View Gullieng -This is place we loved - its a well equipped guest house at a brilliant location with awesome views and the host Mr. Tandup goes the extra miles to keep guests happy - will heartily recommend that any one travelling in Spiti should spend a night or two here. We booked via Mr Mukesh but Mr.Tandup can be reached at 9418954457. In fact the locals know this place as Tandup guest house
Map and height plan
To plan our days - especially how we ascend in height , I used the bellow map and height chart I found in Yellow Peaks site -

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Be a Good person but Don't try to Prove.
Nice Start. Waiting for day by day account. Driver's & Guesthouse/Hotel contact nos. will help many readers of this forum. Thanks for sharing.

But where are the pictures??
Day 1 - Reaching Jhakdi

Total drive time ~9 hours including breakfast/lunch breaks

Distance covered - 230 km

Road condition - usually good

Where did we stay - Mahesh hotel Jhakdi

Today was the first official day of vacation … We started from Chandigarh Airport around 9 - The plan was to reach Jhakri. But in our 2014 Kinnaur trip, my father in law had taken ill and we had to cut the day short even before Narkanda. Given this background, we were a bit worried. But thankfully, no one took ill and we reached Shimla quite soon….

Looking at the congestion, I was very happy that we were not going to stay or spend much time here…

we took the Shimla bypass and the crowd soon started thinning. We stopped

at a non descript small dhaba for lunch.. The air was now crisp and foliage was getting a little thicker

A nap was mandatory after a heavy lunch of Paneer Makhan walla and Paratha. So dozed of dreaming about 10 days of family .. heaven and no laptop….

By the time I woke up - we were coming down from Narkanda and I was anticipating the first glimpse of the everstrong Satluj

Satluj and sight of far off mountain ranges - I was now firmly in vacation mood.

Soon we reached Mahesh hotel and arranged for 3 rooms - one point to note is that after Jhakri - there are no clean enough places where we can stay till Peo or Kalpa.
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Day 2 - Kalpa

Total drive time ~5 hours including breakfast/lunch breaks and generous photo breaks

Distance covered - ~100 KM

Road condition - OK OK with some rough patches

Where did we stay - Apple Pie Kalpa

In our last trips we had already stayed in Kalpa a few times so initially we planned to skip Kalpa this time. But Mukesh Bhai suggested that the elevation gain from Jhakri to Tabo/Kaza would be too much for the seniors so we decided to break the journey in Kalpa. Since the day promised to be short, we had a leisurely start around 9:30 or so.

Now the view was changing fast .. Air was becoming cooler and mountains were becoming greener..


Soon Snow capped peaks started to peek from the back. This was the aha moment for everybody and we got down a quick tea break

Soon after we resumed the journey we entered Kinnaur officially

Here comes the iconic Kinnaur sight and we had to get down to absorb the scenery and of course get a few clicks :)

Now the mountains were fast losing the “bollywood cute shimla manali looks” and taking on the imposing , unyielding feel that makes Spiti so mesmerizing. We had climbed up a great deal and the mighty Satluj that appeared roaring yesterday was looking like it was peacefully ambling along

Now we were in Peo and grabbed a local lunch of Thupkas and Soup ...The hot lunch did wonders to our chilled tummys … Now we were looking forward to our hotel in Kalpa.. The views were getting better and better

After a breathtaking turn suddenly the hotel came in view. Our friend Mr Aman was waiting for us and he soon got us settled in our rooms.


A suggestion is that if possible, ask for upper floor the view is simply divine.This was the view waiting for us from the balcony


Enchanted by the view we decided to spend the evening admiring the Kinner-Kailash range and a lively game of cards
During a hot dinner Aman Bhai broke the news that Losar would be nearly impossible because our Guest house Tashi castle was not operational and he also felt that Seniors in our group may not be happy with the extent of cold
This was a sorry news since we had fallen in love with Losar. We decided to sleep on it and take a decision later

Next morning was special. This view waited for us as soon as we woke up

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Day 3 - Kaza.

Total drive time ~7 hours including breakfast/lunch breaks and generous photo breaks - this was because of stops we had to take because of blasting going on

Distance covered - ~210KM

Road condition - pretty good with some rough patches

Where did we stay - Kunphen Kaza

After a hot breakfast that warded off the cold , we did a bit of googling and found out about Mr Sahil from Nomads Cottage. He told us that his cottage did have 3 rooms and was indeed operational. He also urged us to keep our plans flexible and decide on the day.....

With that mantra in mind, we told Aman Bhai that we would prefer to keep the other bookings as -is and take a chance at Losar - We indeed did have seniors. In fact my FIL is 77.My dad nearing 70 is a diabetic and a cardiac patient - so we needed to be cautious. But all 4 of these people are wanderers at heart and are quite adventurous. So I had a feeling that they would pull off Losar and would really regret missing the paradise that's called Losar.

So with our uncertain plans - we started .Today the plan was to reach Kaza via Giu and Dhankar if at all possible.Now we were entering the heartland of Spiti -Greys and Browns were dominating the scene now

Had a lunch at Spillow - Veg Fried Rice and Momos were the order of the day … With our hearts warmed by the local food, we started and then got stuck because of blasting going on. We used the time - of course to click more photos

With the time lost - we decided to skip Giu and Dhankar. Of course we thought that Dhankar we would do on our return journey

Soon we came across this waterfall , as I remembered this was much bigger this year. It was the first visible proof that really it had snowed more this year :)

The Key attraction of the day was the meeting of two queens - Sutlaj and Spiti … In our last trip itself I had found the spot magical. Now I was eager to share the magic with my family

Now the scenery was changing one more time. The greys and dark brown were turning a little lighter and best of all we were starting to see the highlights of Spiti - the sand formations because of wind and snow erosion

By now it was getting dark and we decided to head towards the hotel. Like last time, we were staying in Kunphen @ Kaza. The hotel is right next to Kaza Monastery.


quickly we settled down, had a sumptuous dinner and retired … Hikkim and Langza was on cards the next day
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Day 4 - Kaza - Hikkim Langza Day Trip from Kaza

Total drive time
~3-4 hours including snacks and generous photo breaks -

Distance covered - ~40KM

Road condition - pretty good

Where did we stay - Kunphen Kaza

After full 8 hours horizontal we were fresh and raring to go …. It was to be a rest and rejuvinate day with a short excursion to hikkim and Langza

Hikkim is the tallest post office in world - langza is a beautiful meadow - today we were going up to 4450 km and had started AMS medication accordingly for the senior members… it was beautiful day filled with mesmerizing vistas

We did see a flock of blue sheeps but somehow I could not capture them with my cellphone camera

One of the highlights for my kid was that we found snow - clean snow that she could play in .. This again reinforced the fact that the snow was much more - we could not find snow on Hikkim langza last year

Once back at the hotel, we again took rest ... had marathon chat and cards sessions ... I had promised every one that the next day would prove to be the highlight of the trip - we were going to Losar via Chicham bridge