Pokhara, Nepal. 1 week chilling in Lake City Paradise.
Juan and I chilled at Pokhara lakeside for a few days after our memorable hike in the Himalayan foothills. The six day trek to Poon Hill with Nepal Adventure Point had left us feeling energized and healthy; the original plan was to stay in Nepal‘s lake city for a couple of days then bus down to Chitwan National Park to observe the wildlife with our guide Padam Bhandari before returning to Kathmandu…
Our budget hotel was located just near Phewa Lake –the largest of nine lakes in the valley– Pokhara’s popular downtown where there is a great selection of restaurants, convenience and souvenir shops, spas and nightclubs. It is a favourite holiday destination some 200km west of Kathmandu, popular with foreign visitors and the Nepalese alike, much more laid back and less crowded than the capital city.
It’s also the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a stopover for hikers before they set off for the Himalayas and a place to buy last minute gear and provisions. The Annapurna mountain range frames the town to the north making an idyllic setting between snow capped peaks and rolling green hillsides.
Phewa Lake is truly scenic, dotted with brightly painted wooden rowing boats, a fascinating lakeside walk, the Hindu Barahi temple on a small island just off shore, and a huge Buddhist Stupa on top of the hill on the opposite bank.
The main jetty is generally crowded with Hindu families waiting to get one of the little ferries over to the temple shrine, everyone dressed up for the occasion especially the women in their colourful saris. Canoes can be hired quite cheaply at hourly rates or for the whole day, with or without oarsman, it really depends on how energetic you’re feeling!
Juan and I just strolled along the lakeside path that afternoon enjoying the ambiance, the warm sun shimmering on the water as we watched craftsmen painstakingly make the wooden dungha canoes, chatted to Tibetan ladies selling trinkets, sidestepping the holy cows and stray dogs ambling along beside a potpourri of westerners, Nepalese and Indians out to enjoy the day… There are several restaurants and pubs along the way, most offering discounts on the local brew during an extended ‘happy hour’ which was an added attraction.
We sat for ages sipping a cool Tuborg beer, relaxing on comfy sofas in the gardens of a lakeside eatery, watching the sunset over the calm waters and watching life go by. Pokhara offers a wide selection of multi cuisine including pure vegetarian or meat cooked in Nepali, Indian, Chinese or Western style which is an amazing contrast to the Spartan teahouses on the mountain trails! We’d chosen this restaurant on spec and the food was really nice served at candlelit tables with pleasant live music in the background.
Next morning we met Padam and took a boat over to see the famous World Peace Pagoda that watches over the town. The steep trail up through the Raniban forest isn’t difficult and you can’t get lost, although anyone with physical disabilities can get to the top of Ananda hill by road in a taxi. The Peace Stupa was quite recently built in 1999 by Japanese Buddhists and ornamental gardens surround the huge white dome set up a flight of steps. There are four golden Buddha images facing north, east, south and west and stunning 360 degree panoramic views to the lake, Pokhara city and the Himalayas.
We went to Padam’s usual haunt for lunch, the Rainbow restaurant which is a favourite with trekkers. The shady first floor terrace overlooks the busy main street and they serve good food including the local speciality of fresh fish from the lake and delicious lassi yoghurt milkshakes. Seemed like a peaceful place to catch up on some writing about our recent trek and returning to hectic Kathmandu didn’t seem so appealing right now… Padam spoke to the owner who was happy with my idea, he postponed the upcoming Chitwan trip, and the matter was settled; the beauty of travelling without a rigid time restraint meant I could work at leisure for a week from this place and not from a dreary office!
That evening we had fun, for a change we took Padam out as he was returning to Kathmandu the next day! He’s a brilliant mountain guide and good company, and was practically family by now. We intended to relax outside at the same lakeside restaurant but it started to rain hard; inside the place was crowded as a popular band were playing tonight. Imagine the scene, the three of us with huge pizzas and large bottles of beer, surrounded by friendly teenagers dancing to the latest Nepalese beat.
The next few days flew by, up early to see the sunrise over the lake, the mornings at my laptop in the Rainbow, then down to the lakeside for an afternoon stroll and dinner at different venues. Pokhara is a great base, not only for hiking the Annapurna Ways, but also for gentler walks in the foothills, practicing yoga and meditation, cycling or motorbiking, paragliding from Sarankot hilltop, zip lining, and for flights in an ultralight to see the mountains from a different perspective.
We didn’t venture too far, see the other lakes or do any sporting activities this time, which makes a good excuse to return in the future. But now it was time to move on to Chitwan National Park, territory of the elusive Bengal Tigers…
Continue reading about our amazing adventure in Nepal
Chitwan National Park – spotting an elusive tiger in Nepal. After visiting the ancient historical temples in Kathmandu, trekking for a week in the legendary Himalayan foothills, and chilling down by picturesque Pokhara lakeside for a few days, it was time to visit yet another of Nepal’s great attraction…
For information on treks and activities in Nepal contact BB Bhandari at Nepal Adventure Point