Nestled in the laps of Hamta valley is a beautiful winter wonderland. Snow clad mountains and a blanket of snow lead us to the beautiful snow structure which the owners call an “Igloo”.
With a long weekend ahead, my 8-year-old son and I wanted to experience fresh snowfall and were scouting for places near Delhi when we heard about the coolest thing to do in winter – Stay at an Igloo.
Where is the Igloo house? Keylinga’s Igloo is located in the mountains (approx 10,000 feet MSL) in Hamta/Sethan Valley which is approx 18 km from the main town of Manali. Igloo Camp is about 200 m away from the road head. This trek in the snow takes around 20 mins. During snow time, the Igloo camp is accessible only by 4 x 4 vehicles or by trekking which normally takes 3-4 hours from Mall Road, Manali.
The weather forecast predicted snowfall in Hampta Valley during the days we wanted to travel. Few phone calls, few assurances, few bookings, and further assurances later we were done.
Just like many of our impromptu trips, we did the bookings for the Igloo just one day in advance.
My son was super excited. He told everyone on the bus we traveled in, that we are going to stay in an igloo. Many people were curious to know about the igloo stay and so here is my little guide for all the curious wanderlust travelers to know more about Keylinga’s Igloo.
Keylinga’s Manali igloo stay review
Keylinga Himalayan adventure is a winter sports company based in Manali, and the Igloo is their initiative.
So is Keylinga’s Manali Igloo stay worth visiting? Keylinga’s Igloo is one of the coolest things to do in winter and I would highly recommend it. If you are adventurous, travel addict, nature lover, a person in search of unique experiences then this is definitely the place for you. You don’t need to head to Iceland, Greenland, Sweden, and Finland to have an experience of staying inside an igloo, instead, you can go to Manali.
The entire process of booking to the overall experience of staying at the Keylinga Igloo was amazing. I have seen snow in Rohtang pass, Sach pass and even in Mt Titlis but nothing can be compared to this stay in Hampta valley.
IS the Igloo House in Manali safe to visit?
So if you are wondering if the Igloo house is safe to visit? I would say, been there and done that, I can vouch from my personal experience that Igloo House is safe to visit and travel to.
The Igloo House is at a remote location. When I came to know that my son and I would be the only occupants other than the organizer’s team, I was a little skeptical. Anxiousness, fear of safety, uncertainty all thoughts kept creeping in my mind. I spoke to a few friends who had been to the igloo before and they all vouched for the hospitality of the hosts.
It was an adventurous trip that included a Delhi to Manali bus journey of 14 hours, then an hours journey to the read head near the Igloo Camp and then a 20 minutes trek in snow to the Igloo camp.
Cold breeze welcomed us into Manali.
It was sub 5 degrees when we reached Manali. We freshened up and were eagerly waiting to get into snowsuits and head to our destination. Snowsuits, gumboots are part of the package of igloo trip.
Along with one of a team member from organizers group who was also our guide we headed to Hamta valley in a 4 x 4 vehicle.
We started from the Prini village in Manali to Hampta valley.
Our journey started with driving through the snow to reach the Hamta valley. It was a drive of approx 30-40 mins.
On our way, we spotted small eating joints selling magi, tea, coffee and stalls with snowsuits on hire
Once our road journey ended we had to walk through one-foot high snow.
The fresh snow was very soft and though my son found it little difficult to walk through we thoroughly enjoyed our “little snow trek”. Our guide had a basket in which he kept our bags and hung it on his back.
After 20 mins of walking in the snow, we finally reached the place which was nothing less than a dream. Everything was so perfect. The first site of igloo will be a memory I will cherish all my life.
Hot tea and sizzling rajma chawal were ready in no time.
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Things / Activities to do near Manali Igloo
We were eagerly waiting to wear ski shoes and experience skiing for the first time.
Let me forewarn you, Skiing looks fun but it is not so easy.
Skiing, sledging and tube ride are the best activities to do around here. There is no restriction to play the rides. One can play it for as long as one wishes to.
The tube rides and the sledging kept my son busy for a long time.
As the sun started to set, it started snowing.
It was white powdery snow.
It was the moment we were waiting for.
Powdered snow soon covered the entire place and the place looked like a winter wonderland.
My son and I enjoyed playing in the snow and throwing snow on each other.
The temperature started falling and it went as low as -7 to -10 degrees by night. We had an amazing dinner listening to old Hindi songs.
As it was snowing continuously we sat inside dining area with fireplace. Food was hot and yummy. They also set barbeque outside in open if it is not snowing. Small lights lit up the dining area and the trees around, making it look very pristine.
They also play movies in open area with projectors as entertainment for guests.
The inside of the Manali Igloo
The igloos are 8 x 9 foot wide and 6.5 feet in height and are made from blocks of compressed snow. Since the Igloos are smaller in size, one needs to sit and go inside.
We had to lift the door in order to open or close it.
Igloo was small and compact.
There was a box inside which we kept our jackets and bags so it doesn’t get wet in snow. They provided us with a bed light. Space was big enough for 3 people to sleep nicely and also to move around inside the igloo.
How warm is it inside the Igloo?
Keylinga’s Igloo is not warm enough but definitely warmer and comfortable to the cold climate outside and will protect you from freezing temperatures.
Inside the Igloo it was 10 degrees more than the outside temperature It was very comfortable and we slept very peacefully.
We were given thick beddings along with warm feather sleeping bags.
We wore our thermals and warm jackets to bed. Once we were inside our sleeping bags, the hosts put over us thick fleece blankets. They gave us hot water bags to keep our feet and thereby our entire body, warm.
What a Wonderful World!
“I see skies of blue and clouds of whiteBob Thiele
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world”
“What a Wonderful World” is a pop ballad written by Bob Thiele (as “George Douglas”) and George David Weiss. It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong. I could feel the words when I saw the beauty of white all around me the next day.
The next morning when we stepped out of the igloo it looked like a snow blanket had covered the entire place.
Snowflakes had filled the trees.
I could just sit and gaze at the beauty nature had beheld. I walked around in the snow and sat down wondering how the place got completely transformed in one night.
Nature can surprise us with its beauty.
Our Trip back to Manali was no less an Adventure
Now came the most challenging part of the entire trip. As it snowed all night the whole place was covered with almost 2-3 feet of snow.
We had to take a walk down a slope full of snow to reach our car. It was extremely cold, snow was biting our shoes, and we were sliding and falling as we tried to walk down the slope.
It was fun and equally scary.
My son couldn’t walk in the snow as his legs had got very cold. One of the helpful organizers carried him on his back for the last stretch.
Our drive back to Manali city was nothing less than an adventure ride where our car was cutting through heaps of snow with very less visibility.
Till our eyes could see there was only snow all around.
Dining Area in the Keylinga Igloo
Beautiful dining area, kitchen area with fireplace, clean washrooms with ample water facility in such a remote location shows the passion and effort of the organizers to make our stay worthwhile.
There is a separate dining area with fireplace. There is a separate area for the kitchen and beside it, there is sleeping place for the hosts.
Washrooms in the Manali Igloo
The washrooms are set outside the igloo. The toilets are common for everyone and are clean. The washrooms are set inside a tent-like structure. Inside the bathroom, there is a washbasin and a drum filled with water.
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How to reach Manali
To go to Keylinga’s igloo you need to reach Manali. You can reach Manali:-
By Air: The nearest airport to Manali is located in Bhuntar, Which is near about 48 km from Manali.
By Train: The nearest railhead to Manali is Jogindernagar Railway Station which is nearly 162 km, Chandigarh Railway station (350 km) and Ambala (360 Km). These stations are well connected to major cities of the country with frequent trains.
By Bus: The Manali bus stop is well connected to major nearby cities with frequent bus services.
How to reach Keylinga’s igloo from Manali
During snow time Keylinga’s Igloo is accessible only by 4 x 4 vehicles or by trekking which normally takes 3-4 hours from Mall Road, Manali. If you decide to drive in your own vehicle you need to get a special permit. Trip organizers can help to get the permits.
Alternatively, (as was done by us) You can also avail services of their tour operating cab at nominal prices. There are no other means of public transport to go there. Private cars or cabs run by the travel company are the two options to reach the igloo from Manali.
We hired the cabs run by hosts it cost us Rs 3500 to and fro.
When is the best time to visit the Igloo in Manali?
Igloo is only seasonal depending on the availability of snow. It is operative between January to March. Best time I would suggest is in the month of mid of Feb- mid of March. The Snowfall needs to be good enough to cover the structure with snow thereby converting it into an Igloo.
How many days are required to get the feel of the Igloo? I took the 2 days and one-night package and I would say it was long enough to get the feel of the igloo and short enough not to freeze in the cold. The 2 days include travel from Manali.
Travel Tip: Keep an extra day to spare. The route from igloo to Manali city is covered with snow and sometimes it is more than 4 feet high. Only when the road transport department clears the path, can the vehicles travel back to Manali city.
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igloo house in Manali price
Keylinga’s Igloo House is not a place for Budget travelers. Keylinga’s Igloo has 3 different packages starting from Rs 5000 to Rs 18000 per person inclusive of all 3 meals. It includes snow clothes, boots, skiing, sledging, tube ride activities. Accommodation is on a twin sharing basis. Transport charges from Manali Mall road to Igloo Site & back costs an additional Rs.3500/- per 4 x 4 cab which can be shared between the co-passengers on that trip.
I had already discussed with the hosts and had costing details with me. Budget trip or once in a lifetime experience was a difficult choice to make but I decided to go with the flow and indulge in an “out of the ordinary experience”.
I had to pay the entire amount in advance.
what to pack for Manali Igloo Stay
- Warm woolen clothes
- Sun hat/ cap
- Thermals to wear inside ski clothes
- A pair of waterproof gloves
- 3 pairs of thick woolen socks
- Sweater/ fleece upper
- Toiletries & Medicines of personal nature.
- and above all “ SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE”
NOTE: Snow Suits and Gum Boots / Hiking Boots are part of the package: Igloo Camp is about 200 m away from the road head and so you will need quality boots with a good grip to keep your feet warm in the snow.
Special Travel Tips for the Manali Igloo Stay
- Tip 1. Sunglasses are a must as sunlight in the snow is very harsh. Sunglasses help prevent direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays reflecting from snow into eyes which may cause temporary irritation and discomfort.
- Tip 2. Carry thick woolen socks as non-woolen socks get wet even inside gumboots and make it difficult to walk.
- Tip 3. Carry only small backpacks when you go to igloo as you will need to walk in fresh snow for 20 to 30 minutes. It becomes very difficult to walk in the snow with heavy luggage on back. Tour guide or the hosts do carry guests luggage on their back but they also won’t be able to carry huge bags and walk.
- Tip 4. During the dates of our visit, the snowfall had just started so only one igloo was operational. During heavy snowfall, all 5 Igloos are made operational. So ideally if you plan to go with bigger groups please book igloo in mid of Feb onwards. They also provide stay in tents if the booking is for bigger groups and the igloos are not sufficient.
Contact details of Keylinga’s Igloo for Booking
Address: Keylinga Himalayan Adventures, c/o Hotel Keylinga Inn, Prini Village, Naggar Road, Manali, Himachal Pradesh 175143, India
Phone (Vikas): +91-9459996999, 9816472227
I will always cherish this snow trip that I took with my son in our very own country. Both of us came back with a heart full of memories which we will always cherish and with a promise to return soon to this amazing igloo stay.
Keylinga’s Igloo is one of the coolest things to do in winter and I would highly recommend it.