When I first started traversing the Himalayas, the first thing that fascinated me were the bus stands, in fact the time tables in those bus stands to be precise. These lists included scores of small towns, villages and settlements. Some of them were known to me. Some others were not. Almost every destination promised a potential utopia. On occasions I have taken buses to places in did not know, and have been rewarded for the same like the time I took one to Bairagarh. After all these years, that has not really changed and more importantly, still bulk of those destinations remain unconquered.
Anyways, last month I felt the same thing while waiting for the bus at Reckong Peo station. Sentiments and emotions apart, I think this information from the ground will be helpful for a lot of people.
Where Exactly is Nako?
Nako is officially a part of the Kinnaur district but is located on the border of Spiti. The landscape is more like barren cold desert of Spiti and unlike the green and fertile apple growing regions of power lower Kinnaur.
How to reach Nako?
Kinnaur is one of the important stops on the circuitous route covering kinnaur, Spiti and lahaul districts of Himachal. It is located by the side of the Hindustan Tibet highway. You can drive, ride or just take one of the buses.
What to see in Nako?
The sheer view of barren landscape of Hangrang Valley and the Spiti River cutting through the rocks deserve a visit. Apart from that there is a high altitude lake around which the village has grown. Watch out for Tibetan Buddhist culture and symbols all over the village. The old monastery is of historical importance but is not a good shape and no longer functional.
How much time does it take to reach Nako?
Assuming that you start from Delhi, it is highly unlikely that you will reach there in one day. Also, if you are travelling by public transport, you will be bound by bus timings as buses are sparse for the last stretch. I reached Reckong people on the first day, which itself was too long a d too tiresome a journey. The next day I took the 11 am bus and reached Nako in the afternoon.
Which are the routes to take to Nako?
Ideally Nako is not visited in isolation. It is one of the stops that you visit during a long trip in the Kinnaur Spiti region. The conventional way is to take a full round, I.e. enter for shimla side through the Hindustan Tibet highway and come out on the other side in Manali crossing the Kunzum and Rohtang Pass. You can also do it in the reverse direction. However, do note that while the Hindustan Tibet Road is a all weather road, the one leading to Manali remains closed for more than half the year owing to snowfall.
Best season to visit Nako
Pre and post monsoon seasons are the easiest. Winters have their own charm but it is near impossible to reach the place with snow all around. Monsoon should be fine too as it does not rain much here. But the route leading to this region will be feeling under heavy showers.
How is the road condition?
Roads after Reckong Peo are never in a very good shape apart from a few stretches. Be mentally prepared for the jolts.
What about food and accommodation?
There are plenty of hotels and home stays run by local people. 500 should get you very good options with cozy beds and hot water. Generally Tibetan food items such as momos, thukpa and noodles are easily available but I also noticed more cosmopolitan restaurants coming up that offer mainstream options.
What are the Nako bus timings from Reckong Peo?
As it can be seen from the picture posted above, there can be only two buses to Nako from Reckong Peo in a day. One that goes all the way to Kaza at 7 am in the morning and a other that goes to Sumdo at 11.30 am. It takes close to five hours to cover those 80 kms.
Phone Networks at Nako
Phone and data networks of all major providers work well only till Spello. After that it suddenly stops and remains so in the rest of the Valley. Apparently BSNL connections work here but I did not have it to taste.