90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 10 & 11: Nako to Tabo

The 10th and 11th day of the ride. The 10th being a day of rest in the picturesque Nako village and the 11th saw us ride to Tabo, home of a centuries old monastery! This is part of the 90 day ride we did around the Himalayas covering Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Pangong, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon!

Day 10 Nako

And on the 10th day we rested…

After an incredibly difficult day from Spillow to Nako, we rested in Nako as our legs were crying out in pain.

Habit and routine controls humans. We awoke by 6 am, too late for the sunrise and too early for anything else! Si took his own sweet time, while I was as jumpy as a rattlesnake. The body required rest, while the mind wanted to wander. Staying put for the day made me restless.

First thing in the morning I was up and about along with the villagers. Phone network is hard to come by in the village, and I was standing under the tower and called home. No one but my parents would be up at such an unearthly hour! But the size of Nako is such that within two minutes I met up with Si’s friend from the previous evening. We got chatting, standing in the middle of the road, doing absolutely nothing.

Breakfast was enjoyed with Si’s friends on the roof top of their hotel, which was nice, as the Nako Lake was directly in front of us. But the lake isn’t impressive, it is more the size of a pond. The locals consider it holy and as a visitor, one must respect that.

Breakfast was followed by a walk to the helipad from where the view of the mountains is amazing. The bus stop is next to the helipad where we saw off Si’s friends.

There we met this British lady who must have been in her late sixties. She was backpacking through Spiti. All the bus conductors knew her, the shopkeepers, hoteliers and everyone knew her. It was quite amazing to see her traveling in the manner she was, since most people her age, prefer to travel in the comfort of chauffeur driven cars!

Nako Monastery Spiti
The top of the Nako Monastery
Nako Village Spiti
Barley and peas in these fields
Nako Chortens Stupa Spiti
The chortens by the side of the monastery in Nako
Houses in Nako Village Spiti
A typical door in a Nako house


The Village!

We went wild with lunch as we tried out a number of local delicacies. Being cyclists we could actually order one of everything and still finish it off!

The day was spent going through the by-lanes and appreciating the order within the chaos. Other than tourism, Nako produces barley and sweet peas, two staple crops in that part of the mountains.

We met a local guy who travelled every year from the mountains in the north to the beaches in the south along with the tourist season, from summer to winter. The tough lives people live here is hard to fathom for us city folk.

We also bumped into a couple of Kiwis who were motorcycling through Spiti and Ladakh. It was quite amusing to hear that they were going to do the entire section in about 10 days. Something that would take a cyclist three months!

We spent a lot of the day on the hill overlooking the village. The view from there is breathtaking and well worth the effort of walking up!

We walked around a lot in Nako during the day, yet we got our much needed rest and were ready to take on the world, or such like!

Nako Lake and Village Spiti
Nako Lake and village surrounded by barren mountains
Prayer Wheels Spiti
Prayer wheels, a common sight in Buddhist Spiti
Nako Village Spiti
A modern guesthouse in the foreground of the Nako Village
Nako Village Spiti
A small prayer flag and a big prayer wheel on the hill overlooking Nako Village
Nako Village Spiti
Fire in the mountain, run, run run… Sunset in Nako
Nako Village at night Spiti
The stars of Nako

Day 11 Nako to Tabo

The day after resting in Nako we had an easy day with a lot of downhill.

Before the downhill we had a very steep climb up to Malling Nala, previously a raging stream which was a challenge to cross. Now it is a trickle which most motorists wouldn’t even notice.

Once past Malling Nala, the road steeply descended. Si hadn’t been comfortable the entire trip on the descents, so I followed him and gave him nonstop advice on how best to tackle it. The coaching helped and he zipped down. So fast, that his water bottle went flying as he rounded a turn!

We met the first cyclist on our trip that day. Nicolas, a sitar carrying Canadian with a colorfully painted hippy bike! We were desperate to reduce our luggage and here was this guy carrying a big musical instrument on the back of his bike.

Cycling from Nako to Tabo
The zigs which take you from Malling Nallah down by the river side!
Cycling from Nako to Tabo
The quality of asphalt in such tough terrain is incredible!
Cycling from Nako to Tabo
The mountains and the tiny cyclist
Cycling from Nako to Tabo
Not the easiest place to pedalling a 21 kg single speed!


Sumdo Checkers

At the check post of Sumdo the cops on duty shooed us away, wondering what details were they to take down of ours. While we waited at the check post, a bunch of Israeli motorcyclists passed us with Louis Armstrong playing full volume on their motorcycle speakers. Quite the sight and sound they were!

Just before the town of Tabo a gentleman from Haryana slowed his car next to my bike to have a chat. As this was on a steep uphill, I didn’t have enough oxygen in me to strike up a conversation. His wife sat beside him, hiding her face from me. The more she hid the more I was intrigued to look! I am unsure if she was embarrassed about being married to a jackass of a husband or sitting in front of a stranger! Finally the game of cat and mouse came to an end with the engine of his car stalling on the climb while I powered on. But the persistent man caught up and took my name to add me on Facebook! His wife unfortunately persistently hid her face.

Cycling from Nako to Tabo
We flow with the river!
Cycling from Nako to Tabo
Mountain deer, with the Pin Valley National Park close by!

Tabo Hipster

At Tabo we stayed at the monastery guest house. The room didn’t have a working plug point. It could have been Buddhist austerity, but we wanted to make sure. We called the guy at the reception and asked him to check out the spoilt electrical. He walked into the room, pressed the switch a couple of times and told us it wasn’t working. His help was of course greatly appreciated!

The bathroom had a window with a clear glass and a lovely view of the main street. Pedestrians on that street had a lovely view of our bathroom!

After dumping our stuff in the room we went to check out the 1000 year old monastery and the meditation caves across the road. I didn’t get a positive feel from the place. The vibe of peace and tranquility was missing from action there.

Dinner was at a hipster restaurant of Kunzom Café, where all the ‘cool tourists’ congregate to eat overpriced food! The dessert was lovely. Roasted barley flour balls, wrapped in chocolate and sprinkled with grated coconut.

Si loved the dessert. So much so, that he spent the rest of his trip searching for the raw ingredients. Sattu/ Sangmo was far more difficult to find than we imagined.

Tabo ended up being a nice enough village to stop over in, but something missing from the heart. A place I would probably skip in future.

Tabo Village Spiti
A song, a prayer and Tabo…
History of Tabo Monastery
History of Tabo Monastery
Tabo Monastery Stupa
Tabo Monastery Stupa
Tabo Monastery Stupa
The modern stupa is rather more bling!
Tabo Monastery Stupa
Close up of Gold!
Tabo Monastery Stupa
Tabo Monastery Stupa
Tabo Monastery Spiti
It is a protected monument!
Tabo Village Spiti
The mountain which safeguards Tabo Village

Route Profile

From Nako Village the road climbs steeply for 4 odd kilometres to Malling Nala, before descending to river level. From there the road is almost flat till Tabo.

After the descent back to river level, there are a few villages with dhabas along the way. Accommodation can be got at Tabo. The village has an abundance of hotels, though it is nicer to stay in the monastery guest house. Pricing for all is similar.

Elevation Profile from Nako to Tabo


Food for two for two days 1705
Stay for two for two days 1200


3 Replies to “90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 10 & 11: Nako to Tabo”

  1. The sunset photo looks more like a volcanic eruption. The one of the night sky is also beautiful. The bounty of nature that we humans are determined to destroy!

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