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Old 14th February 2024, 23:35   #1
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Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

I had been to Spiti three times and always wanted to do the Snow drive in Spiti which got materialized in 2024 finally.

The Plan:



I have been doing lots of web search regarding Winter Spiti and somehow didn't get the courage to execute it by own. Luckily saw the post from DCV Expeditions regarding Winter Spiti in Feb 2024. I immediately discussed with my wife Preeti and we signed up for the event.

High level Itinerary.



Day 1 : Fly from Bangalore to Chandigarh. Collect the Jimny from RBTS and head towards Solan. Stay.1 @Solan.

Day 2 : Solan - Rampur - Kalpa. Stay.2 @Kalpa.

Day 3 : Kalpa - Nako - Tabo. Stay.3 @Tabo.

Day 4 : Tabo - Pin Valley - Kaza. Stay.4 @Kaza.

Day 5 : Kaza - Losar - Kaza. Stay.5 @Kaza.

Day 6 : Kaza - Key monastry - Chicham - Kiato - Kaza. Stay.6 @Kaza.

Day 7 : Kaza - Langza - Komic - Kaza - Kalpa. Stay.7 @Kalpa.

Day 8 : Kalpa to Solan. Stay.8 @Solan.

Day 9 : Solan to Chandigarh, return the Jimny and fly back to Bangalore.

Now the search started as to which vehicle to rent. I had already rented 4*4 at Chandigarh from RBTS several times and my experience with them was exceptional. So this time I decided to try out Jimny AT. I talked to Manpreet from RBTS and booked the car and asked for airport drop and pick up. Meanwhile booked the flight tickets from BLR - IXC and finally everything was set and the wait begins.

Day 1 : BLR - IXC , Drive from Chandigarh to Solan

With so much excitement, reached Chandigarh and waited in the airport parking for the car to arrive. After 10 minutes, the driver came and the car was brand new and was looking neat.
Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240203_113401.jpg

Reached Solan and some of the crew and participants were already there. It was a visual treat checking out all the cars. Almost all 4*4 types were there ranging from Jimny, Thar, Scorpio N, Fortuner, Endeavour, Vcross, Hilux, CRV, Wrangler, Defender etc. Surprisingly there was no Gurka from anyone.
Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-img_6872.jpeg

Later we got the opportunity to talk to Dinesh, his DCV team and many of the other participants. The doctor checked BP, vitals etc and noted if there was any history of health.
Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240203_202529.jpg

Dinesh's beautifully modified Renegade Radar RT tires with Lenso wheels and Ironman Foamcell Pro suspension of the Hilux.

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BRUTFORCE walkie talkie radio provided by DCV.
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Day 2 : Solan to Kalpa

We had an early breakfast and left Solan by 7AM. After Kufri the situations were bad and there were lots of black ice and we were instructed to use 4H in 2nd gear and absolutely no clutch or sudden brakes. We crossed Kufri/Narkanda with caution but the view was just breathtaking. Luckily we got to experience the fresh snowfall near Narkanda.

Near Kufri

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Tastefully modified, both colors were looking good.

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Near Narkanda

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4H in 2nd gear

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Another Jimny from the group. He (Deepanshu) drove all the way from Pune for the expedition.

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Endeavour 3.2

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Weather started getting foggy

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Happy us enjoying the snowfall.

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Started getting very slippery.

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The downhill after Narkanda.

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Had lunch at Rampur and there was a landslide around 30 km ahead of Rampur. We decided to continue hoping that we'd be able to cross after some wait. However, the slide was so heavy that we had to return back and stay at the nearest hotel. Luckily we got the stay at very nearby.

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Day 3 : Jeori to Tabo

We had to wait till 10AM for the road clearance and head towards Tabo.

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Waiting for road clearance.

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Since we had around 22 vehicles in the convoy, utilized the Nako Helipad space optimally. Had lunch at Nako and the temp was already subzero.

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The Nako village.

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The Malling nala were full of ice and had to cross carefully.

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The last 20KMs to reach Tabo were icy roads and took a lot of time. Reached Tabo a little late by 7:30 PM.
We had dinner and hit the bed early. All the Diesel vehicle owners have to cover the hood and start the vehicle at 11 PM & 6 AM for about 10 minutes to make sure they don't give any trouble.

Tabo homestay

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Day 4 : Tabo - Pin valley road - Kaza

After breakfast, we head towards Pin valley. This is where we experienced almost 1 foot of snow on the pin valley roads. My first time experience in driving in such a heavy snow and it was so much thrilling.

Tabo - Kaza road

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On the way to pin valley

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Getting good traction due to fresh snow.

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The final sync before dispersing into respective homestays at Kaza Helipad location.

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Reached Kaza by 2 PM and went out for lunch.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 17th February 2024 at 17:49. Reason: Minor edits and space added in between pictures
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Old 15th February 2024, 00:28   #2
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re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Day 4 : Kaza : Continued

We tagged along other group and head towards Sakya Abode for lunch.
We had Himalayan soup, momos and tukpa. The food was delicious.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-img_7373.jpeg

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The group , Thanks to Hariraj for the hotel suggestion.

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Later we walked around Kaza to experience the freezing -20 deg weather. Kaza in summer is usually crowded but in winter, it was peaceful.

The ice skating training for kids.

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Day 5 : Kaza - Losar road - Kaza

The temperature went as low as -29 deg at night and even after all the care, some of the diesel Thars had morning starting issues. The other diesel from Toyotas (Hilux, Fortuner) and Ford (Endeavour 3.2) didn't have any trouble which shows their engineering excellence. We were discussing Mahindra needs more testing of their vehicles at extreme weather/altitude. Another point we observed is some of the diesel Thars were starting and some weren't which shows inconsistency with their product.

As expected from the petrol engine, zero issue for Jimny

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240207_104908.jpg

Local juggad, putting steam via pressure cooker into engine bay.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-e2f342f5447844a8ac6291bbbd364926.jpeg

Crew helping the Thar

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Us waiting for other cars

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240207_1143450.jpg

On the way to Losar

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This day was dedicated for playing in the snow. The day which all of enthusiasts were waiting for! We got a plain land for us to explore 2H, 4H, 4L, Drift, doughnuts etc. and each one of us had the best moment of our life. Special thanks to DCV team for arranging this.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240207_131948.jpg

Purpose-built for the respective use

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240207_135122.jpg

The first one to climb the slop and park there

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Mountain goat

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Coffee, Poha & Maggi time.

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Jimny in action

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After an adventure day, came back tired to homestay and had a good discussion about how the day went over dinner

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Amazing Tibetan roti

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The heater in the homestay room

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Day 6 : Kaza - Key - Chicham - towards Kiato- Kaza

Same issues as the previous day and some of the Thars were not starting. The mechanic spent some time on each car and all were ready by 11 AM.

Towards Key monastery

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Parking at Key monastery

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Key monastery

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Chicham bridge

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_134116.jpg

Later we head towards Kiato for an adventure

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 17th February 2024 at 17:54. Reason: Minor edits and space added in between pictures
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Old 15th February 2024, 01:19   #3
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re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Day 6 : Kaza - Kiato - Kaza: Continued

Today is another adventure day and Dinesh got to know that roads after Chicam were closed towards Kioto village and he decided to take us as far as possible by making the roads. The snow on the road started getting deeper after some time and the Pajero got stuck. Then the DCV team asked everyone to put snow chain so that we could try going further ahead.

The Chicham bridge & Defender

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_140405.jpg

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-chichamdef.jpg

On the way towards Kiato

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_143243.jpg

The convoy

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_144443.jpg

Snow started getting deeper

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Exactly what we came for, a proper snow drive

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The stuck Pajero.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-stuckpajero.jpg[/ATTACH]

Installing snow chain at -25 deg in 2ft snow was a lifetime lesson all of us learnt. Kudos to DCV team for making us do this.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_153236.jpg

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_153300.jpg

The test run of snow chain

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No way we could reach here on our own.

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Meanwhile, the defender went out of the road and had to be rescued by Dinesh.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-20240208_164157.jpg

We reached a point where we couldn't go further and had to take a U-turn from there and head towards Kaza.

Towards Kaza

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The Shapta and tingmo from homestay. Thanks to Ashish & Sumit for suggesting this delicacy and it was so yummy.
We were so grateful to Gonpo and his family for taking care of all our needs in such a harsh condition.

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Day 7 : Kaza - Langza - Komic - Kaza - Kalpa

Some of us wanted to visit Langza/Komic. So the plan was to visit these places early morning and come back to homestay for breakfast. We had a long drive back to Kalpa on the same day. We left early by 6 AM towards Langza and prepared a coffee there watching the stunning Buddha Statue. One of the coldest days and our feet and hands were literally freezing. Once the sun rose at around 7:30 AM, we were feeling better and started taking some pics.

Langza
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Found herd of Ibex on the way back to Kaza

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-ibex.jpg

Lowest temp from Jimny

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Reached homestay by 9:30AM and as requested Tibetan roti for breakfast was ready.

Left Kaza by 11AM and had lunch at Nako and reached Kalpa by around 5PM.

Kinner Kailash range of Himalayas from Kalpa.

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We took a walk towards the town and had this amazing view.

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The enthusiasts

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Day 8 : Kalpa - Solan

There was again another landslide and luckily there was a small detour which connects back the same highway. We heard an Innova lost control and fell in the river. One person was killed while another was missing when an Innova vehicle carrying two Tamil Nadu tourists from Shimla to Kinnaur. There was a huge team doing the search for the body.

We(Jimny) and one more team(Thar) took a detour to Shimla city and visited Jaku temple. Had dinner there and reached Solan late by 11PM.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-img20240211wa0043.jpg

Again thanks to Sumit , Ashish and Rishab for being an awesome company.

Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-whatsapp-image-20240211-7.15.14-pm.jpeg

Day 9 : Solan - Chandigarh, Fly back to Bangalore

It was a lazy day for us as we had the flight at 7 PM. Left Solan by 12 and did some shopping at Sector 17. Reached the Airport by 3:30 PM and dropped the Jimny. The car handover was seamless and thanks to RBTS for such a wonderful service.

Some pointers from my experience.

Dinesh and his DCV team
  1. Zero compromise on safety. All of us felt safe and comfortable throughout the journey. Big kudos to teams members Sachin, Raghu, Dr Rajesh, Hemant for taking care of all of us.
  2. The team is well prepared with Mechanic, Doctor, Photographer etc with all rescue gears like Winch, Tow strap, snow chains.
  3. The stays were good and had good parking space. They have done good planning to accommodate a big convoy properly.
  4. The food was good at the hotel & excellent at homestays, especially in Tabo and Kaza.
  5. This expedition is more towards understanding cars' capability, learning about how to take care of vehicles at -30 deg and some rescue operations like winch use and snow chain installation. If you are looking for a destination trip, look elsewhere.
  6. Overall great experience and came back with loads of good memories. Surely recommend it to someone who is looking for a similar adventure expedition.

Jimny AT
  1. Jimny was 100% stock with tyres more biased towards highways. However, the car performed flawlessly on highways, bad roads, icy roads and snow. I had already done Leh, Hanle, Umling la in Jimny last time and really impressed with its capabilities. Grateful to Maruti for providing such an iconic car. Sad that the sale numbers are declining MoM.
  2. Keeping up pace with the convoy is a little difficult especially when you have Scorpio N, Fortuner, Endeavour, Vcross, CRV, Hilux, Wrangler, and Defender in the group. However, once you understand the nature of 1.5 NA engine, we were fine coping with others.
  3. The gearbox is nothing to write home about. The lesser said the better.
  4. As expected from petrol cars, it was a single crank to start the Jimny even at -30 degree.
  5. I had bought snow chains from M.A.R.K. Sports and they were easy to install and remove. Performed well and no issues faced.
  6. Wish Suzuki finds a way to integrate their global 1.4L BoosterJet with 6AT in Jimny. This will be a perfect combo and can make the Jimny a very capable overlanding vehicle.
  7. Overall very happy with Jimny and surely rent again for Himalayas, and north east trips but may not buy one for myself.

RBTS Rentals
  1. I have been using their services from the last 4-5 years from Chandigarh. Their cars are well maintained and neat.
  2. The Owner Manpreet is always available if you need any help/support. Thanks to him for maintaining the quality of service over many years.
  3. Any queries related to out of state permit, fast tag will be sorted quickly and never faced any issue with cops.
  4. Drop and pickup service is available which is so convenient for us.
  5. Personally very good experience with RBTS and they are the go to guys for all my North trips.

Thanks,
Sharat

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 17th February 2024 at 18:07. Reason: Minor edits and space added in between pictures
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Old 15th February 2024, 09:48   #4
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Great read. Could you give a price range on how much you paid to be a part of this expedition. Ty
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Old 15th February 2024, 11:11   #5
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by solamarpreet View Post
Great read. Could you give a price range on how much you paid to be a part of this expedition. Ty
Attaching the extract from the expedition pdf. Hope this helps.
Attached Thumbnails
Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive-screenshot_20240215_110525_samsung-notes.jpg  


Last edited by Kashi053 : 15th February 2024 at 11:11. Reason: Spell
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Old 15th February 2024, 12:04   #6
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Awesome travelogue. Never knew such adventures can be had in a well controlled way. The tour organizers had you covered and this certainly would put your mind to ease.

Noticed that you have not mentioned any financial details, if that's on purpose then i won't ask you to mention them.
But, if its okay, can you mention what was the package charge by DCV and for hiring the Jimny.

Myself and wifey do plan to visit adjoining belt (Manali-Ladakh-Srinagar), i see that the Manali-Leh/Ladakh-Srinagar belt has been explored quite a bit and appears to be overcrowded in the videos/images i have seen. There is no point in trying to escape from a crowded city to find a place chockablock with tourists.

Your travelogue is the first one i have read that explores Spiti Valley like this.

Makes me think would it better to ditch the Manali-Ladakh-Srinagar route and do this route instead? I'm hoping there would be a relatively mild adventurous route but, equally beautiful landscapes. What do you suggest?
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Old 15th February 2024, 12:27   #7
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Lovely thread. Was nice seeing all the places covered in snow. I had ridden thru these roads last year and while cold it was nothing like the -29 you faced.

Thanks for thread. Beautiful places.
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Old 15th February 2024, 12:36   #8
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

What a trip!! Few questions if you don't mind answering!

1. How much did DCV expeditions charge? Was the lodging included?
2. If not, how much did it cost for the rental (Jimny) and the lodging etc. (estimates would also do).
3. You think the same can be done in a x1 xdrive (diesel)? (Have done BLR- Narkanda-BLR in my OHC)

Thanks,
Shrey
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Old 15th February 2024, 12:58   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happyrev View Post

Makes me think would it better to ditch the Manali-Ladakh-Srinagar route and do this route instead? I'm hoping there would be a relatively mild adventurous route but, equally beautiful landscapes. What do you suggest?
Thank you Happyrev.

Some pointers to your questions.
1. You can not take rental cars to Nubra, Pangong side. Leh Taxi Union will not allow it.
2. Spiti is wonderful place will less crowd compared to Leh area. It would be best to do the Spiti circuit in summer by entering from Shimla side and exiting from Manali. Usually takes around 10 days. Note that Manali Kaza opens only after May.
3. Rental cars are allowed to Spiti as of now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
Lovely thread. Was nice seeing all the places covered in snow. I had ridden thru these roads last year and while cold it was nothing like the -29 you faced.

Thanks for thread. Beautiful places.
Thank you bblost. Yes I have read your post and it was very inspiring. -29 was new for us as well but multi layers will do wonders to protect us from freezing. Holding the metal chains while installing the snowchain was a task though at -25 deg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssjr0498 View Post
What a trip!! Few questions if you don't mind answering!

1. How much did DCV expeditions charge? Was the lodging included?
2. If not, how much did it cost for the rental (Jimny) and the lodging etc. (estimates would also do).
3. You think the same can be done in a x1 xdrive (diesel)? (Have done BLR- Narkanda-BLR in my OHC)

Thanks,
Shrey
Please check above post #5 above. I have added the extract for the benefit of everyone.

3. Yes pretty much doable in X1 xdrive. There was one CRV AWD in our group. If you are trying in extreme weather[below -15 deg], note that diesel can give some issues in the morning. During summer, should be fine. The roads via Shimla till Kaza is pretty much in good condition.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 16th February 2024 at 18:32. Reason: back to back posts merged
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Old 15th February 2024, 16:07   #10
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Brilliant travalouge & thanks for the pics. Brought back memories of a childhood trip in a rickety Gypsy, but that was in summers. Can't even imagine attempting to drive to Spiti in winters. Wish you many more happy travels!
On a side note, that's a blue sheep herd (bharal), not Ibex. Sorry for nitpicking
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Old 15th February 2024, 16:46   #11
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Superbly written Travelogue, Kashi! The Jimny in the Kinetic Yellow shade looks smashing, especially with mountains in the backdrop, traversing snow-filled roads.

Would love to do such a trip myself. The bond that's built with one's car, when undertaking such expeditions is difficult to explain!

Is there any particular reason you've chosen the Jimny as your vehicle of choice, over more powerful options like the Thar? I love the Jimny's cute looks but the engine was woefully underpowered on the hills when I drove it.
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Old 15th February 2024, 18:30   #12
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marengo View Post

Is there any particular reason you've chosen the Jimny as your vehicle of choice, over more powerful options like the Thar? I love the Jimny's cute looks but the engine was woefully underpowered on the hills when I drove it.
Thank you Marengo.

I have done Spiti, Zanskar already in Thar. So this time wanted to try with Jimny. Also for winters, petrol is preferred so picked Jimny over Thar Pertol. I am really impressed with what little Jimny can do in extreme conditions.
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Old 15th February 2024, 19:21   #13
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kashi053 View Post
...Thanks,
Sharat
Fantastic log Sharat, and an even greater life experience!
I'm generally not one for driving/riding on snow, but you have given me some goals to achieve.
Cheers, keep sharing more of your expeditions
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Old 15th February 2024, 23:31   #14
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Thanks for sharing the wonderful travelogue Kashi. Driving through snow at such low temperature and terrain is always challenging.

The pics of snow covered mountains and basically all the surroundings in snow are just breathtaking.

Reminds me of my visit to Patnitop many years back. Everything covered in snow and we had to wait till special vehicles clear the snow from the roads. Else cannot move around also.

If you got more pictures of other vehicles including the legendary Jeep Wrangler, please share.
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Old 16th February 2024, 16:14   #15
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Re: Spiti Valley Winter Drive in a Jimny AT - Snow Drive

Great travelogue, we did spiti valley in a Brezza diesel ex-Chandigarh too but during September & the roads were bad enough then without snow. We started from Shimla & returned via Manali thus completing a full loop.
Would love to do this during winter someday!
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