In Pokhara we stay in the Lakeside area in the beautiful Butterfly Resort. We hike from Sarangkot to Pokhara, see caves and waterfalls and we go paragliding! The surroundings of Pokhara are fabulous; Phewa Lake on one side, the Himalayas on the other and stunning views on the Annapurna Mountain Range and the World Peace Pagoda.
After Japan, coming back to Nepal feels like coming home. We’re so happy to see our host family of the Nagarjun Homestay again in Kathmandu, but of course we also want to relax a little and see some more of Nepal before we start our 10-day silent meditation course (Vipassana) next week. We decide to take the 6 hour bus ride to Pokhara to discover this town that’s supposed to be very nice.
When you visit Nepal, Pokhara should indeed be high on your bucket list. This pleasant, touristy town is located in the most beautiful environment op Nepal. The touristic part of Pokhara is called Lakeside, and lays just beside huge Phewa Lake, giving you stunning views on the Annapurna Mountain Range. This part of Pokhara houses the most accommodation, restaurants, souvenir shops and tour offices. Phewa lake makes Pokhara a good destination for lots of adventure sports like boat trips or boat hire, rafting and tubing. By ‘taxi boat’ you can reach the other side of the lake to start your climb to the World Peace Pagoda; one of the most touristic spots in Pokhara, especially at sunset. You can also take the boat to Taal Barahi Mandir, the Lake Temple in the middle of Phewa Lake.
From Kathmandu it’s easy to get to Pokhara. You have two options; either a national flight or the bus. Flights can be very expensive, so if you travel on a budget the bus is your best option. It costs about 750 Rupees and luckily the roads are a little bit better then to Chitwan National Park. Still, this bus is quite the challenge for most of us. Traveling by bus in Nepal is always slow. Buses are old, warm, uncomfortable and roads are bumpy and full of holes and rocks. On top of this we forgot to take our money from Nagarjun Homestay in Kathmandu, so we can’t even buy any food on the way. Luckily we meet a nice Dutch couple who buys us a bowl of beans, but we don’t want to harrass them at every stop. I’m sure we’ll survive.
Finally arrived in Pokhara we’re overwhelmed by the amount of Nepali men who want us to get in their taxi or sleep in their hotel. Lots of tourists don’t know that the city centre is only a 30 minute walk, so they take an overpriced taxi. If you want this, you’re better of sharing a taxi with someone else that was on your bus, and walk outside of the bus terminal to find a taxi. This will be your cheapest option besides walking. It’s a scenic walk beside the lake and there are so many things to see along the way that we arrive at Lakeside in no-time.
We stay in the Butterfly Lodge, a beautiful resort with well-maintained garden and nice rooms. It’s a very comfortable place to stay and we would highly recommend it to anyone going to Pokhara. We had a very pleasant stay here and for Nepali standards this resort is first class. It’s clean, the bed is comfortable, showers are nice and warm, rooms get cleaned daily, staff is friendly and the price is quite low, even for backpackers. The only thing missing is a swimming pool, but to find accommodation with a swimming pool you’ll have to search outside of Lakeside. Not an ideal location.
Sights and activities in Pokhara
There are so many activities you can do in Pokhara. For nature lovers, beach lovers, active sport lovers, hikers, actually, there’s something to do for everyone. Go paragliding or ziplining,go on a mountainbike tour, trek through the Himalayas, visit the World Peace Pagoda, rent a boat to explore Phewa lake, visit one of the many temples, go on a sightseeing tour, go see a movie in the cinema, go abseiling or canyonning, relax in a spa, take a yoga or pilates class or go for extreme sports and go mountaineering.
All sights in Pokhara are close enough to visit by bike. You can rent a mountainbike at Pokhara Mountainbike Center. Nice sightseeing spots are Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; a cave with a lake and a small waterfall inside, and across the street you’ll find Devi’s Falls; nice waterfalls in a popular and crowded parc. Wat I liked were the large groups of Nepali and Indian school children who all wanted to take a selfie with us. Hilarious!
All the way on the other side of Pokhara you’ll find Bindhabasani Tempel; a not so special temple with a beautiful view on the city and the Annapurna Mountain Range. Closeby this temple you can find Seti Gorge, a huge, deep gorge. Don’t rush here if you run out of time, but if you have some time to kill it’s worth a visit. Especially the way here was lots of fun with all the kids waving to us on the side of the road and all the staring people. I guess not many tourists come here.
By far the most popular activity in Pokhara is paragliding. From a closeby village you can run off a mountain with a parachute on your back. After that you’ll be enjoying the magnificent view on the Himalayas, Phewa Lake and Pokhara for almost half an hour. This is the perfect activity in Pokhara on a sunny day. There are plenty of tour offices where you can book a flight. In fact there are two locations to jump from; Sarangkot and a hill somewhere below Sarangkot. Sarangkot is by far the best place to jump from because of the altitude, wind and slope. Because of these perfect conditions, paragliding organisations need a special permit to jump from here, otherwise it would be too crowded. That’s why only the best organisations jump from Sarangkot. Our advice is to always check where your organisation jumps from, because with this risky activity you want to make sure you go with a quality organisation.
We choose to jump with Phoenix Paragliding Adventures, because it’s a very skilled team. Even the national paragliding champion works here! Staff is nice, patient, helpful and they take their time to explain everything perfectly. During your ‘flight’ you’re accompanied by a skilled paraglider who takes photos and videos of your experience. All photos and videos you will receive after your jump for free.
We had the best experience. Even though we’ve already tried skydiving in New Zealand, we’re still quite nervous for the paragliding. From where we are standing it’s like there’s a steep slope ahead of us. There’s no way there is a cliff there, but to us it sure looks that way. Our instructors help us gear up and explain what we have to do. First we start walking when he say “walk”, and when he says “run”, we run until we don’t feel anything underneath our feet. Easy as that. Now we wait for the wind to take us, which takes forever for me. Riny has left at his first attempt 15 minutes ago, and I’m still waiting. Finally, at our 3rd attempt, we’re flying! It’s an amazing feeling and the view is absolutely stunning. It amazes me every time.
Sunrise in Sarangkot
Besides being the starting point for many paragliders, Sarangkot is also a popular sunrise viewpoint. We leave at 4.30 AM by taxi from our hotel. All taxi drivers know this location, so it’s not hard to get there. It’s a short walk up some stairs to reach the viewpoint from where the taxi drops us. After half an hour the first sunset colours start to appear and after an hour, and many pictures, we see the tip of the sun next to Annapurna’s spectacular skyline. Snowy mountain peaks turn orange, which looks amazing together with the blue sky and the clouds in the village below. Magical even.
When the sun is up we decide to walk back to Pokhara. We find a route in our Maps.me app and start walking. Sometimes it’s hard to see the track, but most of the time it’s a beautiful route full of pretty views on the mountains, the lake and Pokhara. We cross the hill from where we’ve started our paragliding adventure yesterday and even talk our Dutch friend Myrthe into doing it herself too this afternoon! She’s very excited. Finally, after at least 2 hours we’re back to civilisation. It’s still a 30 minute walk, but we decide to take a cheap taxi. Breakfast can’t wait any longer, haha.
Eating in Pokhara
Hot Sandwich Corner
Time for breakfast! Our favourite breakfast and lunch spot is without doubt the Hot Sandwich Corner. Here they have fresh, warm sandwiches with fresh vegetables and for example falafel, cheese or meat. It tastes more like home than anything we’ve had in Asia. It’s also super cheap and they have the best Lassi (Nepali yoghurt drink) in town.
For dinner we have another favourite. At MO2’s delight they have the best momo’s in Pokhara; a Nepalese delicacies that you have to try when visiting Nepal. Momo’s are like dumplings, balls of dough filled with vegetables, curry, cheese or meat. Especially the momo soup is very nice and something special. It’s even enough to have for lunch and for dinner you only need to add one other dish. It’s a cheap place to eat even though it’s quality food. Because there are so many delicious dishes it can be nice to go here with a group. That way you can try lots of different dishes. Even for vegetarians this restaurant is a very good option because there are many vegetarian options on the menu.
Trekking in the Annapurna mountain range
Of course Pokhara is also the perfect location for several beautiful trekkings through the Annapurna mountain range. A huge advantage if you compare Annapurna trekkings to other trekkings in Nepal, or example the Everest Basecamp Trekking that we did, is that it’s quite cheap to get to Pokhara. You can take a bus for $7, while for Everest you have to fly to Lukla. Flying to the world’s most dangerous airport is quite the experience, but this has to fit your budget.
From Pokhara the two most popular trekkings are Annapurna Circuit and the shorter Poon Hill Trek. Both you can do with or without a guide. Make sure you are well informed before you go about equipment, weather conditions and season. You don’t want to walk up there in a t-shirt and get caught in a blizzard. Also make sure you bring enough food and water. When you go in high season a local guide might be a good option. This way you don’t have to worry about fully booked accommodation on your path, because your guide will call ahead every day to book your room.
Poon Hill Trek takes you 3 to 6 days. But make no mistake, this is also a very tough trek and it’s not for everyone. Even though it doesn’t take as long as the Annapurna Circuit, you will be walking to high altitude and this is not easy. From what I hear the views are absolutely amazing though and if you think the Annapurna Circuit is a little bit too much for you, this is a very good choice.
The Annapurna Circuit is a lot longer and it will take you 14 to 21 days. You need to be committed 100% before starting this trek. This trek is a loop, so you will see more different views then on the Everest Basecamp Trek, where you go up and back the same way.
If you would like more information on one of these trekkings, book a guide or book a completely cared for tour, have a look on the website of The Everest Holiday. This is where we’ve booked all our tours and we wouldn’t go anywhere else. It’s one of the best touroperators in Nepal if you ask me. They are honest, friendly and helpful and they can adjust any tour to your wishes and budget.
Pokhara is a very versatile destination. There’s something for everyone and the small city is a really nice place to be with it’s great, relaxed atmosphere. You can easily spend at least a week here, enjoying some piece and quiet or doing extreme sports every day. It’s totally different from any other destination in Nepal. The contrast to Kathmandu for example couldn’t be bigger. It’s so much more silent, clean and it’s just a very pleasant place to be. Make sure you don’t miss it on your trip in Nepal. Pokhara is also the best location in Nepal to enjoy magnificent views on the Himalaya’s without putting one foot on a mountain. By far the best location for everyone who’s not into trekking and hiking but still want to enjoy the view on the mountains.