Is Spiti valley even possible with HRTC busses? this is a question asked by thousands if not millions who are planning to visit Himachal just to explore and feel raw nature. Spiti is a cold desert located in Himachal Pradesh. In local language the term spiti stands for the “middle land” and it is quickly developing into a busy tourist attraction for backpackers and adventure seekers.
- 1 Spiti valley with HRTC busses
Spiti valley with HRTC busses
HRTC stands for Himachal Road and transportation Corporation. It is a state owned road transportation board of Himachal Pradesh. It was started 1958 as Mandi- Kullu road transportation corporation. Its head office is based out in Shimla. In Himachal Pradesh HRTC plays a very important role in connecting one of the most remote regions of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla-Kaza, Manali-Kaza, Manali-Reckong Peo are one of the most extreme routes where HRTC operates.Though, HRTC is considered doing a wonderful job of connecting one of the most remote regions except during winters as the roads get covered with heavy snow and it gets quite dangerous to drive then.
Best time to visit spiti with HRTC
During winters even HRTC closes it’s services for an interval of 2-3 months. So it’s clearly not possible to visit the region with HRTC busses then. So you can consider December to March to be the period when most of the services to spiti are blocked. But the weather in these regions is pretty unpredictable.
May to July and September – October is the best time to visit spiti valley if you are planning something using public transportation only. As the region is very prone to landslides which happen on these roads almost at regular intervals during monsoon. Which might affect your trip.
Routes to follow:
There are two possible routes to reach spiti valley with HRTC busses. One takes you through Shimla and other through Manali.
I highly recommend going through the Shimla route as it gives ample amount of time to acclimatize in the rough and harsh conditions of the region. You are a lot less likely to face AMS or Acute mountain sickness which can easily ruin your “once in a lifetime experience” really really bad. If not handled properly then it can even prove fatal. But there are medical services throughout the regions where you can find medical experts who are well trained to tackle these situations.
Manali route is a little shorter than the Shimla route but it takes you to the higher latitudes a lot quicker than the Shimla-Kaza route. Secondly, in order reach spiti you will have to cross the Rohtang pass which remains closed for a major part of the year.
Shimla – Kaza – Manali Route:
Assuming that you are starting your journey from Delhi only because it’s the second closest international airport after Chandigarh airport to spiti.
Delhi to Shimla
HRTC busses are available at regular intervals from Maharaja Pratap international bus station ( Kashmiri Gate) both AC and non-AC busses are available. The first AC bus from Delhi leaves the bus station at 6:45 AM and takes around 9 hours to reach Shimla so it will drop you at ISBT Shimla before 5:00 PM.
If you are looking to cover the major stretch of this journey in a single day only then you can board the bus to Reckong Peo the very same evening.
Note: travelling in an ordinary bus is no way similar to a Scania or Volvo. So make your decision wisely as it’s really gonna be very hectic in a single stretch.
Shimla to Reckong Peo:
Ordinary HRTC busses are available from the 1st floor of ISBT Shimla which will take you to Reckong Peo the district headquarters . If you check on rebus it only shows one bus from ISBT Shimla to Reckong Peo i.e at 6:30 PM, but the reality is there are at least 2 more busses available one at 5 PM and other one at 8 PM.
They all take at least 9 hours to reach Reckong Peo. The one which starts at 6:30 PM will leave you at Reckong at around 4:00 AM in the morning.
It will be better if you pre-book your seats in this bus as it’s really hard to get a seat in it. You will easily find locals standing in the very same bus for 7-8 hours straight in order to reach their destination.
After reaching Reckong Peo it’s better to rest there for a day in order to acclimate your body from the effects of high altitude only if you have the luxury of time with you else. There’s a lot to explore nearby. Kalpa is at a distance of just 11 km from Reckong Peo is a very beautiful and picturesque location nearby. There are direct busses from Reckong Peo to Sangla as well this can probably be a one day reroute for you but it’s really worth visiting at least once.
Reckong Peo to Chitkul, Sangla Valley (optional)
There are a few private busses as well as an HRTC bus running to and fro between Reckong Peo and Chitkul. It’s just takes around 2-3 hours with the bus to reach there. It takes you through one the most extreme or dangerous roads on this planet.
You can board your bus at 9:00 AM and it will drop you at Chitkul at around 12:00 PM. The very same bus comes back to Reckong Peo at 3:00 PM. You can either decide to stay there for a night or can just reach Reckong back the very same day.
These is another bus from Reckong Peo to Chitkul which leaves at around 12:00 PM from Reckong. But it’s advised to start early as you will have at least 3 hours more to explore.
Reckong Peo to Tabo:
The very same bus which took you from Shimla to Reckong Peo will take you to tabo at around 5:30 AM in the morning. This bus can take you to Kaza as well but I’ll still suggest at least a night stay in tabo. It’s the only direct bus to Kaza and if somehow you missed this bus then the only option you will be left with will be Rampur – Tabo bus which reaches Reckong Peo between 9-9:30 am.
Note: If you don’t have time then you can travel straight to Kaza as well, the very same bus will take you to Kaza as well.
Tabo to Kaza:
Kaza is around 48 km from Tabo and it takes around 2-3 hours to reach Kaza from Tabo with HRTC busses. Kaza is the district headquarter of spiti valley. There are a number of places to visit and explore near Kaza, which you can cover either through a taxi or a rented bike or bike / scooter from Kaza only.
Also check: Kaza, Spiti valley (Detailed)
If you really want then you can even cover most of the places with HRTC only as everyday there’s at least one bus connecting most of the spiti valley to Kaza. You can check the details in the below picture.
Kaza to Manali:
There is an early morning bus from Kaza to Manali which starts at 5:00 AM in the morning and will take you directly till Manali.
Note: You can even decide to visit Chandratal lake while you are returning back to Manali. For this you will have to leave the bus at Batal from where chandratal lake is at a distance of around 15km from there on a different route.
Yes, it is absolutely possible to cover most of the parts of spiti valley with HRTC busses. It’s just that you need to be aware about the timing of the busses connecting these remote areas.
The road conditions are good for most of the journey but there are a few rough patches in-between. Roadblocks are quite common in Kinnaur region either because of landslides or because of blasting and road construction going in this region.
It’s a wonderful destination for you if you love to experience raw nature and a completely different culture altogether. You won’t even realise even after spending a week there just because there’s so much to explore and experience there.
Don’t forget to share this with your friends who are planning a trip to spiti.you can also Drop your queries regarding this place in the comments below. I’ll be more than happy to help you out.