GUEST ARTICLE: Pokhara was a last minute change in our itinerary to Nepal. Initially we were supposed to spend 5 days in Kathmandu but decided to cut it short and spend our last 2 days there instead. We had heard many good things about the place and knew we had to check it out. We are so glad we did!
After landing in Pokhara’s little airport we made our way to our hotel Temple Tree Resort & Spa which was located in the Baidam lakeside district. It only took us a few minutes to get there. We a noticed a huge difference from the crazy polluted atmosphere of Kathmandu. It was like a gentle calm had settled on the place and most importantly the air was breathable … ahhh!
Our hotel was lovely and on a clear day we could see the Himalayas far off in the distance. After dropping off our bags we had some lunch and headed off on our first looksee of the place.
The streets were full of little shops selling all kinds of local crafts and clothing allong with a plethora of fabric shops sporting the best baby Yak knits. There were also a heap of nice little cafes and restaurants serving all kinds of different cuisines.
The heat was intense (and it was only April) so the walkabout was slow going. There were so many interesting trinkets to buy but when you thought you’d seen it all you turned a corner and there lay another street full of the same items. It seemed never ending!
Pokhara was definitely a place to unwind which was easy with the laid back nature of the locals and the peaceful atmosphere. This was exactly what we needed after our previous whirlwind visit to hot, dirty and dusty Kathmandu.
For dinner that night we found a fantastic outdoor restaurant beside Phewa Lake. They put on a nice little cultural show and served up a feast of mouthwatering curries. With warm candlelight illuminating our surroundings we watched the sun set over the mountains. Unfortunately the air was pretty hazy when we were there so we never did get a really clear look at the legendary giants surrounding us.
The next day we awoke to a spectacular morning. After breakfast we hired a man and his little boat to take us across Phewa Lake to a designated spot where we could trek up to a popular tourist spot – The Peace Pagoda. The ride across was beautiful as we carved our way through water so still it looked like glass. Unfortunately the water didn’t look very sanitary and quickly answered our thoughts as to why we didn’t see any swimmers.
Along the way we passed an interesting little island in the middle of the lake where they had built a holy structure called – Barahi Island Temple. It was quite a picturesque site amidst the tranquil waters and the backdrop of the mountains.
After getting our feet back on dry land we began our long trek up the mountainside to the Peace Pagoda. It wasn’t the easiest walk but thankfully there was a man about halfway up who had set up shop selling drinks and offering seats. It was a perfect spot for a much needed breather. About an hour later we reached our destination.
The Peace Pagoda stood brilliant and proud atop the mountain gleaming in brilliant white with gold trim. The Pagoda was built by the Buddhist Monks and is one of many that have been erected over the years to help promote peace among all peoples.
From there we got an incredible panoramic view of the Annapurna range and Pokhara city. It was breathtaking and we could only imagine how incredible it must be on a very clear day when you could see the Himalayas in the distance. They were just barely visible on that day but we were happy to have seen at least that much.
We had heard of another tourist site called Devi’s Fall which was located down the other side of the hill near a Tibetan settlement called Tashi Ling. We didn’t really know where we were going but managed to find our way down the hillside, passing quaint little farms and tiered pastures along the way. By the time we finally made it down we were pretty worn out and dusty as hell.
Luckily once we were in the city we didn’t have to walk too far before we found the Devi’s Fall. After paying a small entrance fee we went in to see the big attraction… unfortunately there was no really big attraction but rather a small trickle of water down a narrow gully. It was gated off so you couldn’t even get a good look at it. We just came at the wrong time of year I guess. Ah well, the hike was nice at least.
Later that afternoon we had one more sightsee on our agenda and that was to go see the Paragliders in the hills of Sarangkot. We had heard that this was a really popular destination for those crazy thrill seekers and we were eager to see it up close and who knows maybe take the leap? So we rented a few motorbikes and off we went on a little adventure.
Hiring a motorbike was a great way to get a better look at Pokhara as well. We got lost on the way but it was okay because we got to see some pretty spectacular scenery. Once we found our way we began a steep ascent up a mountain to the little village of Sarangkot.
It was slow going as we wound our way up and it didn’t help having bikes lacking in the horsepower department (especially those with two on board!). Other than that, the first part of the way was pretty easy because the roads were paved but then we hit some really bumpy dirt roads that kicked up thick dust as fine as baby powder.
By the time we reached our destination we were covered in dust but each of us sporting permagrins – how fun! Oh and a word of advice – about three quarters of the way up we started to see a number of entrepeneurial guys along the side of the road trying to get us to park and pay. Luckily we paid no attention and kept going or we would have found a monstrous walk ahead of us. There was a little fee we had to pay on the way up (I’m still not 100% sure that was legit). Once at the Paragliders launch pad we were able to just park on the side of the road (for free).
Since it was so late in the day we were lucky to get to see a few people take the leap (no way Jose!) The sky was alight in a medley of brilliant colors as an army of Paragliders sailed through the sky over the beautiful Pokhara Valley. It was brilliant and so worth the ride going up to witness this thrilling event.
We ended our stay with one more lovely dinner alongside the lake. Afterwards we got what I thought was the best massage I’ve ever had. Much needed after such a big day of hiking and biking.
We absolutely loved our stay in Pokhara. Although it was short and sweet we were glad we cut our time short in Kathmandu in order to see it. Pokhara is also well known for hikers wanting to go to the Annapurna Base Camp. We saw pictures of the trek there and the views look absolutely stunning. Maybe next time.
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!