Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti and located at 3750 meters from sea level. It is laid back town and will compel you to adapt to its speed. In no time you would start planning your next trip (may during the harsh winters as well) or even settle down there.
The only way to reach Kaza is by roads and that too for a limited period of the year. You can either take the shorter route from Manali or longer route from Shimla. But if time is not the concern, my advice would be to take the Shimla route. Why? Mainly because of these two reasons:
- It has major advantage of gradually acclimatizing to higher altitudes of Spiti valley
- The route is more scenic with dramatic roads and landscapes
Taxis are easily available from both sides however my advice would be to pre-book your ride with an experienced rider. We traveled with Deepu. Read more about him here
HRTC buses also ply on these routes but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Staying in Kaza
Kaza has many options for stays but it takes just one long weekend to exhaust all good options. So it is highly recommended to book in advance if you have a particular preference. We thought to stay in Zostel but it was overbooked. Below are some the good options for stay in Kaza
It has got the best location in Spiti, beside Spiti river overlooking green fields and deserted hills. Favorite among youth, it is always over-booked. The dorms are very clean and the common room is beautifully designed. I have heard they also let people pitch tents in their compound as well.
I have heard a lot about this hotel but alas it was booked when we reached.
It is located at one end of Kaza, behind BSNL office. I accidentally found it while strolling in the evening. The restaurant on the ground floor is tastefully decorated in local flavor. The food is amazing as well. Must visit place, it is. For booking pls contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel Khangsar – Where we stayed
It is located in the northern end of Kaza near petrol pump. After getting disappointed from a lot of places we knocked their doors and surprisingly they had rooms available but it was above our budgeted range. However, with slight negotiation, we cracked a good deal. They also have ample parking space. Their kitchen, however, is not good. Avoid eating there.
Circuit House (HPPWD Guest House)
Situated in outskirts of Kaza, it is undoubtedly the best place to stay in Kaza. You need to have good political or administrative reach to stay here
In and around Kaza
Kaza is the base location for a host of activities be it trekking, camping, downhill cycling, fossil exploration.
Fossil village, Langza
Millions of years ago, Spiti formed part of Tethys Sea. The fossils of the sea shells are scattered across the valley and the most prominent place to find one is a bowl-shaped area at a height of 14500 feet above sea level: Langza village
You can even buy these fossils from locals. The local name of fossil is ‘chaudua’. I regret not buying it.
High altitude village of Komic & Hikkim
The village is officially highest inhabited village of India. Located at a height of 15027 feet above sea level. It is by far the maximum altitude I have so far been to. The population of the village is less than 80. People say sunset is very mesmerizing from up here, I wish I could have seen it.
Hikkim, a village at slightly lower altitude has the distinction of having world’s highest post office and India’s highest polling booth
NOTE: Stay in the monastery are allowed @ less than 200 INR per day.
Pic: Aakash (We would not advise you to camp in that wilderness though)
Yes it the same structure which you see on postcards of Spiti, numerous movie shots and documentaries. Key Gompa or The Key Monastery is just 15 KM from Kaza. It stands tall at a height of 13500 ft from sea level overseeing the Spiti River plains from last 2000 years. It is the largest monastery of Spiti Valley and houses more than 300 lamas
All most all blog posts about this place say one thing – it is astonishingly peaceful. It has a corner for one and all to sit and gaze the endless mountains ranges and contemplate life. I remember each and every moment I spent there. One thing is for sure about this place is that it will make you humbler.
Stays are available in existing Lama quarters, at only Rs. 200 per night, including meals. Tea which I had I must say was the best I ever had.
On the way towards the valley, you will find many cyclists and secretly you would also want to ride in those barren roads but then your stamina would quietly smile and would end up killing that thought. Well, I have some good news – you can now hire cycle on hourly basis at Kaza itself. There are various agencies across Kaza which rent cycles. I found one beside Himalayan Cafe.
Kaza is base camp for numerous treks – Pin Parvati trek, Kanamo Peak trek, Parang La Trek, Snow Leopard Trek, and multiple day treks to nearby villages.
We had neither time and nor will to do it. Will definitely do it some other time.
Eating in Kaza
I won’t say Kaza is foodie’s heaven but the place houses quite a few good cafes. Listed below are places which scored on our expectations:
The Himalayan Cafe
Our favorite and supposedly the best cafe of Kaza. Cheerful working staffs, amazing food, a colorfully decorated sitting area with mural painting of Spiti road trip and best in the area wifi are some of the things which impressed us.
The colorful cafe offers a host of eating options: pancakes, muesli with fresh fruit, momos, salads, and of course everything in traditional Indian meals. Ginger honey teas are must haves. Visit their facebook page
Sol Cafe is a small and cozy cafe in the market area of Kaza managed by the ecosphere group. Try their tea, barley pancake
They frequently hold movie nights and offers you opportunities to meet people through their sticky note board. I shared two latest episodes of Game of Thrones with them 🙂
Hotel Deyzor Restaurant
The places scream spirit of traveling. The owner himself is a nomad and has decorated the cafe with memorabilia from his trip across nations.
The restaurant offers Indian, Spitian, and continental food. We loved their hummus and pasta
Not one of those tastefully decorated cafes but one ordinary looking roadside hotel. recommended only for razma chawal fan. It was the Deepu’s favorite eating place.