|Q 1. What is the average altitude of Spiti?
Spiti is a high-altitude cold desert region with average altitudes of 4,550m. Average habitation altitude is approximately 3,850m, with the lowest village being about 3,300 mts and the highest 4,535m.
Q 2. What are some of the common medical problems that one can encounter in Spiti?
The most common “medical/first aid” problems likely to be encountered in Spiti will be “G.I.” (Gastro-Intestinal, or concerning stomach and digestion) problems and altitude related problems (AMS, HAPE, HACE). Other problems that one can face pertain to headaches, cold, and other common ailments.
Q 3. What medical facilities are available and what are some of the precautionary measures to be taken?
There is hospital located in the block headquarters of Spiti in Kaza, which houses two professional doctors (M.B.B.S) and has bare basic facilities. Medicines are available here and there are no pharmacies to purchase any medicines. People with any medical ailments should carry their own supply of medicines.
Most villages have primary health centers where very basic facilities are available. Nurses manage these centers mostly and have only a very basic supply of medicines.
There are local doctors also available known as Amchis in most of the villages. Their practice is based on the Tibetan system of medicine known as Swa Rigpa, which is based on the principles of Ayurveda.
As a general precautionary measure, please consult your doctor before visiting Spiti. For those with lung and heart related problems, Spiti is not the ideal destination and it is advisable to get a clean chit from the doctor before coming to Spiti.
Q 4. What are some likely problems pertaining to high altitude such as AMS, HAPE, HACE?
Altitude Sicknesses (Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS, HACE, and HAPE). A person suffering with AMS is likely to have headaches, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and shortness of breath during easy activity or rest. HAPE/HACE** (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and Cerebral Edema) is the severe state of AMS that is identified by growing clumsy, slurring speech, and generally looking drunk.
Preventing AMS in people means allowing them time to acclimatize to the region. On arrival in Spiti, one should be encouraged to rest and only have light exercise. Those who are eager to go out and explore the region can be allowed to do so to their ability, but to minimize symptoms of AMS they should sleep at lower elevations. Most visitors coming to Spiti are likely to experience some symptoms of AMS, so the most important thing is to prevent AMS from advancing to the life threatening illnesses HACE and HAPE.
Treatment: DON’T GO UP UNTIL THE SYMPTOMS GO DOWN. If one arrives in Spiti and plans on trekking over a high pass, but is experiencing bad headaches and shortness of breath in Kaza, do not take her/him to camp at higher elevations until these symptoms decrease. Drink plenty of water and Seabuckthorn beverages (available in the local market), rest, and take short walks. Going to higher elevations during the day is fine; sleeping at a lower altitude is most important for acclimatization. Drinking extra fluids will help and taking mild pain killers for headaches is fine. Diamox or Dexamethasone can be very helpful for many clients with mild altitude sickness and can help them acclimatize faster; this medicine can be taken on days you’ll be gaining 600 meters or more. Concult your doctors for any allergies with the salts. And remember, DON’T GO UP UNTIL THE SYMPTOMS GO DOWN.
**A person might experience the symptoms of AMS and not say anything, proceed to staying at a higher elevation, and by doing so advance from AMS to HACE. If a person above 4,500 meters appears drunk, disoriented, or grows increasingly irritable and has not had any chang (local alcohol), they should DESCEND IMMEDIATELY. The persons appearance of drunkenness is caused by swelling of the brain and is LIFE-THREATENING. You should promptly descend 600 to 1200 meters.
**HAPE is an altitude sickness characterized by swelling of and fluid in the lungs. If a person above 4500 meters develops a persistent cough, extreme fatigue, or shortness of breath even during long rests, then descend 600 to 1200 meters. HAPE is LIFE-THREATENING.**
Q 5. What are some of the basic facilities one can expect in the homestays?
Click here for more information on homestays.
Q 6. What is a typical Spiti dry-composting toilet?
The most interesting aspect of the homestay is the local dry composting toilet which is a completely eco-friendly manner of utilising the human waste. The toilet is divided into two sections, the first floor and the ground floor. The first floor has a hole in the middle and a mix of mud and ash in one corner along with a local shovel. After every use one is supposed to throw a shovel full of mud and ash into the hole. In the ground floor the human feces is collected and allowed to decompose. The decomposed faeces is then used as manure in the fields.
Q 7. What are some of the important items, like clothes, cosmetics, etc that one must pack and bring on their travels to Spiti?
Spiti has a very dry climate and the months from June to October are the ideal months to travel here as the temperature is warm and conducive to trekking and travel in general. The days are warm and the nights are cool. One must carry long sleeve shirts, scarves, caps/hats and good sun glasses, sunscream (40-50 SPF) as the sun has high UV. It can really burn you without the above mentioned items. A light jacket and a warm jumper is also advisable for the summer months. Early June and October can be cold and temperatures can at times go below freezing. One must carry enough warm clothes, along with woolens and thermals.
The most important item to bring to Spiti is a pair of good hiking boots and technical sandals.
Q 8. What are the weather conditions like in Spiti?
Click here for a detailed temperature chart of Spiti.
Q 9. Is Spiti in India or Tibet?
This might sound a bit preposterous but a lot of people traveling to this part get confused whether they are in still in India or have they entered Tibet. Well to clear any doubts, Spiti falls in India and shares its eastern borders with Tibet.
Q 10. Are there any permits required to enter Spiti?
Click here for information on permits.
Q 11. What are the available options to travel to Spiti?
Spiti is only connected via road and there is no rail or air link. However there are two Heli-pads in the valley (located at Tabo and Kaza) which are used only during emergencies (mostly medical) and on certain occasions in the winters. Learn more about road travel options.
Q 12. What is the area of Spiti and its population?
Spiti is spread across 7600 sq Kms and houses a population of 10,500 inhabitants. It is one of the least densely populated areas in the country. The local population comprises of a 100% purely homogenous Buddhist community. There is a substantial transit population comprising of labourers, government employees, businessmen, etc. They usually comprise about 10% of
the total population.
Q 13. What is Ecosphere?
Ecosphere is a social enterprise that is working on the triple bottomline of conservation, development and economics. Learn more about us.
Q 14. What are some of the projects that Ecosphere is involved in?
Learn more about our projects.
Q 15. How does Ecosphere promote responsible travel in the region?
Our core mandate is to promote responsible tourism in the valley that not only ensures the conservation of the regions natural and cultural resources but also directly contributes to the overall sustainable development of the region. Learn more >