Jul 122012

Arrival at Kaza:  We arrived in Kaza town at 11.45 PM by a public bus from Schichling.  Kaza is the biggest town of the Spiti Valley and center of all the major activities in the valley. We booked a room in the Hotel Mandala (Mob: 9418009649, 9418558435) near Kaza bus stand. I wanted to visit Kye  (also spelled as Ki, Kee or Key) and Kibber Monastery on that day itself. I went to the bus stand and enquired about any bus or jeep to Kibber Village. But there was only one bus to Kibber that too in the evening at 17:00 PM. I searched for a shared jeep/taxi, but they were also not there. We had the only option to book a reserved cab to Kibber. Near the bus stand, there were 2-3 Sumos, and they asked INR 1100 for the visit of Kibber and Kye Villages. It seemed too much, as Kibber is only 18 kms away and Kye Monastery is lying in the route. I asked them for the cheaper alternate to reach Kibber. The Sumo driver reduced the bargain to INR 900 and also suggested that a Maruti Alto Cab might be the more cheaper option. I searched for a Alto cab around. I found an Alto car and called its driver on the mobile number painted on the car. Driver came in 10 minutes and when I asked him the fare to Kibber, he told INR 1100.  I informed him that the Sumo driver was also asking INR 1100 and as per him Alto should be cheaper. Alto driver responded that his car was running on petrol, while Sumo was on Diesel, so Sumo should be cheaper, not Alto. He did not reduce the fare, so I opted for a Sumo in INR 900.

Towards Kibber:   We passed through the street of Kaza towards the road going to Kibber. The jeep moved along the Spiti river untill it reached to Kye Village. The journey along the Spiti river was a pretty site with narrow and wide channels of river through the pebbled valley, green picturesque fields and animal herds grazing in the fields. From Kye, the road was bended away from the river towards Kibber Village. A link road is there for Kye Monastery, but I wanted to visit Kibber first, so I advised the driver to continue towards Kibber and left Kye Monastery for return journey.After one hour drive from Kaza, we reached to Kibber village.The Sumo jeep stopped just outside the village, and from there, we walked to the monastery.

Road going to Kibber

Landscape near Kibber Village

Landscape near Kibber Village with distant view of Chicham Village

Picturesque houses of Kibber Village

Kibber Village:  Situated at the height of 14200 ft (4205 meters) above sea level, Kibber is claimed to be the highest motorable village in the world. It is also claimed to be the village with the highest polling station, highest post office and highest school. There are more villages near Kibber, even at more height, but they are not inhabited throughout the year. In winter, people leave those villages and come down to the lower heights. This is why Kibber Village is known as highest continuously inhabited village.(However I heard that Gete and Tashigang are at more height and continuously inhabited). It is a small village with about 100 houses and all painted in white with red rooftops. The architecture of the houses and fortified look of the village are worth seeing. Houses are made of stones and adobe bricks and give a unique picturesque view to the village.  There is a good supply of electricity in the village and it also has a dispensary. Earlier there were only one TV set in the community center of Kibber, but with the progress of time people are having their own TVs in the houses.

A view of Kibber Village

Satellite TV antenna on a rooftop

I have seen animal skins lying outside the houses of Kibber (it was a common site in the many villages of Spiti). It might be a Yak fur, the locals might be either selling it or using it to protect themselves from the extreme cold climate at night. An animal horn was also there on a house gate. I enquired, but did not find any answer about what they symbolises.

A skin outside a home

An animal horn on the gate

Area around this village is the most fertile area in the Spiti Valley and people can often sight working in their field. Agriculture forms the backbone of the local economy and lush green fields are abundant. Some of them work in the town like Kaza. Their livelihood mainly rely on the agriculture and they even trade with Ladakh through the traditional trek route over Parang La to Ladakh , which requires at least 3 night halt in the one side journey.The trade is mainly based on barter system in which they exchange their horses for yaks or to sell for cash.

Kibber Monastery:   Kibber monastery is situated at the highest point in the village above all the houses. Monastery was founded by Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo. When we reached the monastery, it seemed like any other house of the village. There is nothing interesting about the monastery. The interesting facts are not inside the monastery, but outside the monastery, all around the Kibber Village. The height of monastery gives the visitors a perfect chance to experience the surrounding landscape with snow-capped mountains in the arid cold desert. We spent about one hour at the village and then moved back to our next destination Kye Monastery.

Kibber Monastery

Kibber Monastery

A local kid near monastery

How to Reach Kibber:  Kibber is 18 kms away from Kaza and the best way to reach there is by hiring a cab. Only one public bus operating between Kaza and Kibber. That bus leaves from Kaza at 17:00 PM and reaches Kibber in one hour. The bus has night halt at Kibber. The next day morning bus returns from Kibber at 7:00 AM. But if you travel by this bus, then it is slightly difficult to detour at Kye Monastery, 6 kms before Kibber. If you want to travel by bus, then the best thing is to reach Kibber in the evening by bus, book a homestay for the night in Kibber and spend a night there by watching the stars and milky-ways in the clear sky. Next day morning, you can either take the bus to Kye or you can walk down on the hill for 6 kms later in the day. After visiting Kye Monastery, you can arrange a hitch-hike from the main road going to Kaza.

Please Note: At the time of our trip (second week of June), there were only one bus operated to Kibber from Kaza. During peak tourist season in summer, there may be a morning bus to Kibber. Even you can find a shared taxi/jeep going to Kibber during the peak season.

Where to Stay: Accommodation in Kibber village is limited with 2-3 guesthouses, (Norling Guest House is the most popular) and some homestays. Homestays offer the cheaper prices and give you an opportunity to stay with a local family on that breathtaking height. Foods are very simple and mainly contains dal and rice. The details of homestays is available at: http://himachaltourism.gov.in/post/Homestays-in-Lahaul-Spiti.aspx

Kibber village from monastery

Surrounding view from Kibber Monastery

Other things to do in Kibber:

1. Star Gazing Best things to do in Kibber is Star-gazing. In the night, you can see the once in a life time view of the galaxies in the clear and pollution free sky.

2. Trek to nearby villages: Trek to nearby villages of Gete (4320 meters) , Tashigang (4400 meters) and Chicham (4220 meters). You can go to Gete and Tashingang by a cab also.This route is very populated by local wildlife such as Blue Sheep, Ibex and Snow Leopard. Sightings of this rare creature are frequent along this route.

Road direction to Chicham Village

A distant view of Chicham Village

3. Trek to Kanamo Peak: Also known as White Lady (Ka means Snow and Namo means Lady), this peak is situated at the height of 5974 meters above sea level. It requires a non-technical ascent of 5 hours to reach here through the village of Kibber and Tashigang. It gives one a taste of mountaineering without the need for any special training. It is not a very difficult summit. The north face of the peak is the Kanamo glacier and south face is mostly scree with occasional rock patches. There is also the south ridge called the Dombachen ridge connecting the Kanamo with the Dombachen peak.

A view of the Kanamo Peak

4.Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary: It is the only sanctuary in the country which is situated in a cold desert area. This sanctuary is the home of the animals like Ibex, Red Fox, Himalayan Wolf, Blue Sheep (Bharal) and the majestic snow leopard. A sighting of the snow leopard is very rare, but sighting of Ibex and Bharal is very common.

5. Trek to Ladakh : If you have plenty of time, you can even try to trek upto Ladakh through the traditional trek route over Parang La,which requires 3 night halts.This trek starts from Kibber Village and generally ends at Tsomoriri Lake in Ladakh.

  42 Responses to “Visit to Kibber Village in the Spiti Valley”

  1. Hi,
    please tell me about homestay in himachal pradesh.
    How can I find rural rural homestay in himachal. Is there any particular website for reserving homestay?

  2. Hi Solobackpacker,
    I along with a friend of mine are planning for a trip to Chandigarh – Manali – Lahaul/Miyar – Spiti – if time permits Kinnaur then – Shimla or else returning from Kaza to Manali. Our mode of transport will primarily be public transport. After Miyar, i am thinking to come down to Khoksar from Udaipur and then to Gramphoo. And then catch a bus towards Kaza from Gramphoo next day. Get down at Batal or Kunzum. And then towards Chandratal. I have few questions:

    1. In our case, which hiking route is feasible to take? From Batal or from Kunzum? Which is more scenic?We also have tents and sleeping bags and some warm wear. So we are planning to spend a night there. I actually have been to Chandrataal once by vehicle and spent night at Batal in late September. Loved the place. I can spend ages in and around lake itself.

    2. According to you any other places in Spiti as well as Kinnaur scenic wise which I must not miss at all costs? I have visited Ki and Kibber before. Thinking maybe to cover Pin Valley and Dhankar this time and then if time permits Sangla/Chitkul. Any personal suggestions (like where to stay on budget, or what sightseeing to be done etc) about these places would be wonderful too.

    Sorry if question was rather long.

    Eagerly awaiting for reply.


    • Hi, please read the below discussion (No.3) on the Chandartal Lake to get a good idea about the preferred route via Batal or Chandartal. Sangla and Chitkul are very beautiful, scenic and really awesome. If time permits, you must visit them.

  3. Thanks for the information, you have what I am looking for!
    Would like to check with you if you have any ideas whether foreigners need to apply for permit to go to Kibber or Kye Monastery? I read that certain part of Spiti village needs permit which can be apply at Kaza, so am wondering if I need to apply for permit before I can proceed to Kibber….

    • Hi, Inner Line Permit (ILP) rule is not clear on this part specifically. ILP is mandatory to visit the areas between Kaza and Khab. It means, if you plan to reach Kaza from Shimla side, you must get an ILP from the DC office in Shimla or ADM office in Reckong Peo (more friendly than Shimla). But, if you plan to reach Kaza from Manali side, then ILP is not mandatory upto Kaza, but beyond that (to the monasteries in Dhankar and Tabo), you can not proceed without ILP. So theoretically, if you go to Kaza from Manali side, you can go to Kye and Kibber also without ILP, however, to avoid any type of confusion, I suggest you to go there with an Inner Line Permit only. Have a nice trip. :-)

      • Thanks for the info. I am going from Manali side and will turn back at Kaza after visting Kibber Kye. I will try coming from Shimla next year and make one full loop :)

  4. Hi, I had been to spiti last month end only and I had too enquired about chandratal lake. But as correctly said by the solo backpacker, its better to visit chandratal either on the way to kaza from Manali or on the way to Manali from kaza. If u hire car from kaza for chandratal, then it will be too costly. One way drop cost till kunzum top is ₹3100 from where u can trek down to chandratal lake. One way drop cost for batal is ₹4500 from kaza from where u have trek up for chandratal lake and is not logical from kaza side.

    • Thanks Sushil,
      my plan is i will coming from Simla and end in Manali…so the route will be Kaza-Chandratal-Manali and i plan to overnight in the lake, is it possible in July end ? is there any camp accomodation there or i should bring my own tent ?

      1. Regarding trekking from Kunzum pass ? how long is the trekking ?
      2. Do you have ant idea how much if hire Kaza-Chandratal (overnight)-Manali ? do you have any idea to reduce the transport cost ?

      • Hi, I am not aware of accommodation options at chandratal lake as i couldn’t go there. U can get that info on “Devil on wheels” community.
        Regarding trekking option, kunzum is at 4550mtr and chandratal is at 4250mtr, so its mostly a descend trek of around 6 to 7km. Then batal is at 3900mtr, again a mostly descend trek.
        To save on cost, u can do one thing,go in share jeep to Manali. Normally they took 10ppl in one jeep and charges 1000rs per head, irrespective of your dropping place. So that way u pay 1000rs and get down at kunzum top and trek down to lake. For next day, again ask to taxi union to reserve a seat for yourself and board the taxi from Batal and pay again 1000rs. Or else u can go by bus and get down at kunzum top, and next day go by share taxi from batal.

      • The distance from Kunzum pass to Chandratal Lake is about 12km and will takes about 3-4 hours. You will arrive at Chandratal Lake first, before making a loop back to the camp side (about 45 minutes walk). The camp site is besides a road where the cars from Batal comes in to Chandratal Lake. When you trek from Kunzum pass to Chandratal lake, you will get to see the camp side with all the tents on your left hand side far down the valley. The camp accommodation should be up in July as they usually run from end of June (once Rohtang Pass is opened) until early October.
        Do note that if you decide to trek from Kunzum pass, once you start walking, there is no turning back and no transport so you have to walk all the way.
        On the other hand if you start Batal, the beginning part is a very very steep slope after which is quite gentle. The good thing is that you are walking on the road so there is a high chances for you to hitch hike a vehicle especially during peak season.
        For transport wise, there is a public bus that leaves Kaza around 5:30am, arrive at Kunzum Pass around 9am and arrive at Batal about 10am. There is a cafe at Batal so you can even have a nice and warm meal before you start trekking :)

        • Thanks Yekwang

          so do you think it is feasible to do like this
          – early morning take bus from Kaza to Manali stop at Kunzum La, trek Descend to ChandraTal , sleep at tent campsite at lake
          – next morning trek (around 14-16 km) from Chandratal to Batal to reach Batal by 10.00 AM ( i dont think if i start after sunrise will make it though); is there any other bus to Manali afternoon ? or worst case is there any place in Batal to sleep in case we cant catch bus to Manali ?

          • Hi Rindrawan,

            It is absolutely feasible, this is what I did last year :)

            – The bus to Kaza direction will leave Manali bus station at around 5:30am, try to reach the bus station by 5am. This bus will reach Kunzum La at around 2pm, so you have about 4 hours to reach Chandratal Lake. In case if there is any delay in the journey and it arrive at Kunzum La after 3pm, my advice is that do not attempt to trek as you may end up sleeping in the middle of nowhere. You should just continue the journey and alight at Losar – the nearest town from Kunzum La, for an overnight stay. You can take the bus from Losar back the Kunzum La the next morning.

            – The bus from Kaza to Manali arrive at Batal around 10am. You can leave the camp by 7am, it is a relatively easy walk from Chandratal to Batal which will take at most 3 hours. During this period, there should be more people staying in the camp. Try to see if you can get a lift from those who are driving out, you can ask the owner of the tent to help you to ask around and pre-arrange the night before.

            – There is no afternoon bus from Batal to Manali as far as I know. In case if you miss the bus, you can approach the cafe at Batal (same place that you wait for the bus) and ask them if they can allow you to stay for a night by paying a small amount of money. There is a PWD guest house opposite the cafe but I think you need book in advance. If you try both and it doesn’t work, don’t panic, there is another option …

            – Take the bus (which goes from Manali to Kaza, the one which you took the previous day) to Losar. This bus will arrive at Batal around 12:30pm so you definitely wouldn’t miss it. It will reach Losar at about 4pm, and you can stay there for a night before catching the bus back to Manali the following morning.

            Hope the above information helps, have fun and enjoy the trip!

            • HI Yekwang sorry to bother you further more,

              1. Since i will depart from Kaza not Manali so i can expect arrive in Kunzum La before 10 AM, correct ? (since in the next point you said
              The bus from Kaza to Manali arrive at Batal around 10am and Kunzum la is before Batal ) , so i believe i have enought time, right ?

              2. Do you think i need guide or the track from Kunzum La to the lake is clear enough ?

              Thanks again

              • Hi Rindrawan,

                Yes, Kunzum La is before Batal if you are coming from Kaza side, so you should reach Kunzum La before 10am. In fact, it is better because you will have ample time to trek to Chandratal Lake, enjoy a dip or even a nap before heading to the camp. I was at Chandratal lake during the day and I remember people who started trekking from Kunzum La (via the bus from Kaza to Manali) arrive at around 2pm onward.

                You don’t need a guide, the track is quite clear and you will always see the river (or canal whatever you call it) on your left hand side far down the slope. However, although Kunzum La is at a higher attitude than Chandratal Lake and logically you should be descending, do prepare yourself to be walking up for certain section as the mountain is never even. So rest assured you are not heading in the wrong way when you suddenly find yourself going up :)

  5. Hi, do you know wheter it is possible to hire car in Kaza for transport to Chandratal Lake ? how much is the estimation price for round trip Kaza-ChandraTal-Kaza ?

    • Hi, Its possible to hire a car/jeep in Kaza for Chandartal Lake. But, I think, its a better idea to go to Chandartal Lake, while proceeding on Kaza-Manali route, either during onward or return journey. This way, there will be no need to return back to Kaza again. No idea of price.

  6. Hi..Is it possible to reach Chicham from Kibber by road?

  7. Just curious. Do you travel alone? M trying to get an idea of solo travel. You always mention ‘we’, ‘our’.. Bit confused. I thought you travel solo.

    • Hi, I often travel alone. But sometimes , I do travel with my family and friends. On this particular trip to Spiti, I went with my wife, thats why I mentioned ‘we’, ‘our’…. I hope, you will enjoy your solo travel in the future.

  8. Hi it’s really helpful… And pic are amazing :)
    Just wanted to know how phone connectivity is there.. And what about ATM near by in case of urgent money required.

  9. can we go kibber village in winter last december or start january….

    • It will be fully covered by the snow. However, the road from Shimla via Reckong Peo to Kaza is open throughout the year. So, you can try from that side. Better to go by your own vehicle. I don’t have the idea of Public Transport in the winter.

  10. Thanks for the information. Let me try this April.

  11. Beautiful Blog. Very gud work. Keep it up.

  12. Is there any bike or bicycle hiring facility from kaza to kibber? Abhijit Roy

  13. Hi, Thanks for these lovely pics. I am kibber villege. it is beautiful place to visit in the summer.

  14. you have mentioned that there isn’t interesting thing in kibber monastery. I think during your visit to monastery may be the priest won’t be there so you felt nothing too see. if u’ll come please go inside the monastery and ask about monastery coz there is lots of things inside the monastery.

  15. NCS PICS;wildlife SANCTUARY

  16. Hello,
    wow wonderful place to visit
    great images thanks for sharing this

  17. Excellent place to visit. I have not been there but seems as if a place that one must visit. Amazing images and story to go with it, thank you for sharing.

  18. Excellent chronicle of a beautiful place. It looks like a heaven on earth, so calm and quiet! Many thanks for sharing it here.

  19. very nice place…
    great clicks…


  20. Kibber looks beautiful. Nice post.

Your Valuable Comments, My Inspirations...