Spiti Valley to reopen for tourists after 10 months

After shutting tourist operations due to COVID-19, Himachal Pradesh’s famed Spiti Valley will reopen for visitors from February 17, 2021. The Spiti Tourism Society announced the news this week.

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“The valley has been incomplete without tourism the past year,” the Society noted in their statement, adding that the decision was supported by all stakeholders and the local community. 

Spiti, known for its cold desert landscape and ancient monasteries, had been following a self-imposed lockdown since April last year. 

As the area reopens, popular activities like trekking, camping, biking, whitewater rafting and village trails will have a chance to resume. Wildlife enthusiasts will be able to visit Pin Valley National Park in Spiti for a chance to spot the elusive snow leopard. 

Rare, endangered, elusive Snow Leopard in cold winter snow scene

All incoming tourists will have to abide by a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) during their visit, which is as follows:

> Entry to Kibber village and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary is prohibited.

> Tour operators will have to ensure that the tourists they bring in groups have had a RAT/RT-PCR test done between 72 to 96 hours before entering the Valley. The test report must be from an authorised lab or hospital.

> Travellers arriving independently into Spiti without tests (including drivers) must report to the government hospital and get a rapid antigen test done. The homestay/hostel hosting them must ensure this before travellers can go out for sightseeing.

> All tourists have to maintain social distancing norms and wear masks outside their hostel/homestay rooms. 

Local vigilance committees in Spiti will be monitoring the situation to ensure the SOP is being followed. The SOP only applies for winter visits, and will be revised from April. 

Spiti is cold throughout the year, but April to October is the best time to visit. To get there, you can travel by road from either Manali or Shimla using a private taxi or state-run bus. The drop point will be Kaza, the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti. Daily temperatures in Spiti are currently at the sub-zero mark, with light snowfall.

Local helpline numbers for Kaza are 8988778987 and 9418327760. For assistance in Tabo, you can contact 9418503966 or 8988196835.

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