After an extremely long day of traveling from Losar and Chandertaal, we arrived to Manali late at night and soon got settled into our guesthouse -Joshi’s Homestay. We were greeted with smiles and a very pleasant cup of chai! I can’t even begin to describe how much I think we all needed that chai!
We had so much fun exploring Spiti Valley but we were ready to have a few days to chill out now and there is no better place than Manali! The surrounding area is just stunning, you are encircled by lush green mountains, trees, rivers and huuuuuge waterfalls! It’s a very peaceful, beautiful place. There was a fair bit of rain while we were there, more than we’d experienced anywhere else in India so far. A lot of the time you would have an hour or two with heavy downpour and then it would be back to sunshine and blue skies and then raining again.
We stayed at Joshi’s for a couple of days, which was situated right at the top of Old Manali in the locals residential area. It was a long walk from the town but it was quite worth it when you looked out from the balcony. You can read more about our stay here in my accommodation review. Manali literally has everything you could need… So many shops of all kinds, an abundance of bars and restaurants, outdoor adventure activities, temples, huge waterfalls, stunning nature and wildlife. Manali reminded me of an old style hippie town with a mix of Goa psy-trance party vibes. It definitely had its own cool thing going on… oh, and lots of marijuana growing wild!
For a day or two we were quite lazy and slept in before going out to grab some lunch and have a walk around the area or the town. Most restaurants have a relaxing river view and offer fresh-caught fish on the menus… In one particular place, Moon Dance Cafe, I had the best fish I think I’ve ever had, tandoori- style river trout. Exquisite. Our time here was really just all about chilling out and exploring, enjoying our surroundings and indulging in some delicious food.
One of the very first things we did the next morning was go and get aaalllll of our washing done as it was difficult to wash and dry our clothes along the routes we took through Spiti, and it’s fair to say that we were stinking by now! It’s easy to get washing done, you just take to the nearest shop and drop it off for a decided amount of time. You then simply go and pick it up and pay per item. It really does vary so much per place and per item but it’s far cheaper to do it on the streets rather than use hotel/guesthouse facilities. I would recommend doing your washing in small loads so that you know what you have in your washing pile. There were a couple of instances where I had other people’s washing aswell as still being able to see some items of my clothing in other piles on the shelves behind!
After some aimless wandering around and randomly meeting new people, we decided to leave Joshi’s for Rock Top Inn, which was half-way up the hill to the top of the residential area rather than being past the top… Believe me, it was a bloody big, long and steep hill! Anil and his dog Blacky look after Rock Top Inn and he really made our time there more enjoyable. He made sure we had a great room, with lovely river views and it really was so zen. You can read more about our stay at Rock Top Inn, Manali here. As well as fantastic views and the soothing sound of the river flowing from outside our balcony, the restaurant here was superb! So cheap but absolutely delicious. We actually spent most of our time on the restaurant balcony chilling and stroking some sweet pups.
As we were first actually arriving into Manali, going up the big hill in the car I noticed this animal which I’ve never seen before looking all majestic and pampered, strutting along. Zak told me it was a yak and honestly, it’s the prettiest creature I had seen for a while. It just looked so blessed, special and pampered to be a yak. I wanted to find out more about this little yak – I genuinely became fascinated by it! One morning, I opened the balcony door to our room, admired the stunning scenery and then over the river I spotted THREE of these little pretty yaks and squealed with glee. They were obviously owned by a guy at the homestay over the river as every morning I watched him shower and wash, groom and feed all three yaks simultaneously… I had no idea what this was all for but watching this became my daily routine for a few days. They were just so bloody cute and had the fluffiest tails with the straightest hair ever!
Despite all the adventure activities on offer in this area, we decided to stick to just hiring a bike to explore some more. I wanted to go paragliding but Zak did some research and apparently too many people have died/injured themselves doing it in the area so yeah, that rapidly became less appealing. Hiring a bike was fun though, we like doing this just so we can explore more places without walking or using public transport. You always come across some hidden gems and interesting places! Our aim was to get to the waterfalls we could see from our balcony at Joshi’s but we were unsuccessful as we got lost too many times! That didn’t matter too much though as we still visited quaint little villages and saw landscapes which could easily have been confused with Switzerland or somewhere similar.
If you have been reading my blog so far, you will probably realise by now that we didn’t have a plan at all… other than Spiti, which was planned for us by JD. We were probably too laid back with it all really. We knew we wanted to visit Nepal while we were around this part of the globe so we were deciding what to do and where to go next. We left Manali at the end of the week to head back to New Delhi via an overnight tourist bus… it was SO long! With blood shot eyes and stiff necks we arrived early morning back into Delhi as the city was waking up. With a night of sleep and comfort in Parharganj we got up early the next day and headed to unexplored territory for both Zak and I in Nepal.