Travelling the Himalayas is like stepping into a whole new universe where time and space laws apply differently. Travel will be slow, endless hours on the road from dusk till down give plenty of space to clear your head and to actually be present in the moment.
Here are a few things you ought to know, so that nothing bothers you, except of the road ahead of you.
1. Water, water, water!
Even though it might not feel as very warm, remember it’s very dry up there, so make sure to hydrate enough and bring as much water along as you can: the next shop can be hours away. It is in general a good idea to stock up when travelling the Himalayas.
2. Crazy Dangerous Roads
Roads are the main problem when it comes to travelling the Himalayas. What you have there is basically one road going through Spiti valley and some parts of it are often referred to as some of the most dangerous in the world. It’s an old, narrow and curvy road with steep unprotected edges and stones constantly falling from the moving mountains. Mountain rivers block the road and crossing them just where the waterfall starts does give chills, while rain season can completely destroy parts of the only road, leaving no way through. Rent a 4-wheel drive with a local driver, it costs less than you might imagine and do try to avoid the rainy season.
3. Don’t get ‘Bilaled’
Intermediaries, such as a certain Bilal in Shimla, can organize you a car with a driver to go through Spiti valley, but not always they will deliver what is promised, as an English speaking driver and flexibility to change the route. Make sure to talk these things through with the driver as well: discovering it while already on the road can simply cause unnecessary arguments (not speaking the same language makes solving any issue nearly impossible, until you meet a person willing to translate, and that can get really unpleasant).
4. Children on the road
There are many road works throughout the valley and commonly Nepalese workers bring their children along, who sit covered in dust on the side o the road and play with rocks. On road there met some German ladies, who had bags with clothes and toys that they were giving away as they were travelling the Himalayas. I imagine it felt good to make these children smile, sincerely, I wished I had a toy or a sweet.
5. Forget the millage
It took 4 days to cover some 400 km from Shimla to Kee monastery, near Kaza, so bear that in mind when calculating days you need for your trip!
6. Mind the Altitude
Even if you are not planning on doin some serious hiking, visiting sights at 4000+ meters above the sea level can be quite a challenge for your body (short breath, strong heart beat, dizziness), it will slow you down and will tire you more easily. Bear that in mind when planning your activities up in the mountains.
7. Get your Permissions
Spiti valley road goes very close to Tibet (you can actually see Tibet mountains), therefore you have to get permissions, travelling from Shimla to Manali there is no alternative road. Permissions take several days to prepare, or a trip to an authorized office, so start with it in advance.
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