Q: I would like to go to Himachal Pradesh for a week-long driving holiday with my parents beginning May 20. We are considering two choices. The first is to drive from Delhi to Shimla and then to Kalpa and Sangla Valley. The second is to drive from Delhi to Manali and from there to Lahaul and Spiti and back to Delhi. Which would you recommend in terms of natural beauty and driving experience, as well as accommodation and infrastructure?

Marco Says: Both these routes are scenic and worth the drive. Seeing your departure is planned so early in the season, your second option—Delhi to Spiti via Manali—is a bit uncertain. Much depends on the roads and passes being opened by then; Rohtang La has opened, but there is no news yet about when Kunzum La will, although it should by then. If you finalise this option, check for latest updates closer to your departure. Contact the blogger Vargis Khan (vargiskhan.com); he’s well informed and tends to respond quickly. You’ll need to book your permit to cross Rohtang La in advance (see admis.hp.nic.in/ngtkullu/Home/InformatoryScreen).

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A woman in her farm at Kaza village
A woman in her farm at Kaza village

Your first option, Delhi to Kalpa/Sangla, would be a somewhat easier drive, as the roads are all-weather. Having said that, mountain roads are always unpredictable and closures are frequent. You should be able to complete Delhi–Shimla–Narkanda–Sarahan–Kalpa–Sangla–Narkanda/Chail–Delhi in the seven days available. There are some narrow stretches, but those can be manoeuvred with careful driving. Fuel is available at Rampur and Reckong Peo, as well as with local mechanics.