I will tell you all about my days here, how I had no expectation on this small but beautiful part of Nepal, with its friendly people, calm atmosphere and stunning views.
The experience started on the flight from Kathmandu, I decided a 25minute flight was much better than a 8 – 10 hour bus ride, (100 dollars for the flight, 10 dollars for the bus though!)… The propeller plane curved through the city, letting me see the Lake for the first time, and even though it was cloudy you could make out all the colours coming from the roofs of the buildings below.
The domestic flight airport is situated 5 minutes from the Lake side stretch of the city, popular with tourists, hikers, backpackers and Day 1 travelling girls 😊. Make sure you have some Nepalise Rupees at the ready because there isn’t a money exchange at the airport. I treated myself to a taxi to my hostel, Kiwi Backpackers Hostel, and it only cost me 300 Rupees (£2.40)
The hostel I stayed in was from £6.50 per night and was in a perfect location at the south end of the lakeside stretch, but if you wanted to jump right into the deep end, I would recommend going to the middle of Lake side, then you have the best of both the bars, restaurants and activities.
I did this the moment I got to Pokhara, worked out the prices for boats, walked the entire way where possible near to the much busier part, where you can find a fair ground, cafes, bars overlooking the lake so close to the edge. At night this place coms alive with a fast sunset which you can watch while sitting along the Lake side where there are cafes, people can eat breakfast stay for lunch and maybe even just chill till tea. Pokhara is an extremely relaxing city, mainly because it is a start or end point for many trekkers who just want to rest. Along the Phewa lake you will see men trying to catch the famous Pokhara Cod fish, rainbow colours of boats, all painted to bring colour to the Lake. You will also meet some cheeky guys trying to entise you on one of them.
2. Rowing across Phewa Lake
I look around at prices, there are certain offers you can find to cross the Phewa Lake and then walk upto the Peace Pegoda, however if like me you would want to get a taxi to the top or do it when the weather is less cloudy, mention this to the guide they can bespokely sort a trip for you. You can go alone and row yourself which is better in a group. Or like me hire a rower to do it all for you. We crossed the Lake, which is so peaceful and on the days where there has been no rain you will find the water so clear and reflective to the mountains above. On the other side is where you can get off and start the climb upto the Peace Pegoda or can venture to a waterfall 5 minutes from this stop, some people shower in it due to the waist high pool underneath. The cloud started to clear which meant I was able to sneak a peak at the Annapurna mountains, on a clear day the Lake is a perfect place to be to be surrounded by all the natural geography of this place. Overall for 2 hours I managed to pay 1100 rupees (£10)
3. Temple island
Barahi Temple is the most important religious monument in Pokhara. Built almost in the middle of Phewa Lake, this two-storied pagoda is dedicated to the boar manifestation of Ajima, the protester deity representing the female force Shakti. Devotees can be seen, especially on Saturdays, carrying male animals and fowl across the lake to be sacrificed to the deity. Covered in trees and cobbled floors, and just 3 buildings this island is a destination for all hindus to Pokhara. I only stayed on here for maybe 15 minutes, it becomes quite crowded, but if you go later in the day, theres less people which means you can visit the small temple in peace.
4. Davis Falls & Gupteshwor Cave
A monster of a waterfall, Hells falls can be heard before you see it, but an amazing place to go to see this, within the ground which you pay 30 rupees (10p) to get into there are Buddha shrines, a wishing well, different angles to see the falls from, as well as a summer palace. Outside there are markets stalls selling loads of souvenirs, and also a main road, which gives you a great sense of Nepalise life, with cows roaming the streets, chaotic cars and buses.
5. World Peace Pegola
A symbol for the whole of Pokhara seen from every angle of the city on top the hill over looking Pokhara city. You have the option to hike to the top of the hill from a path near the lake, or the road way it would take about an hour to get to the top. Then the extra steps to the actually Pegola walled gardens. I opted for the some would say ‘lazy’ way. I rented a taxi to take me and bring me back as well as give me an hour at the top, this cost me 1400 rupees (9 pounds) not bad! The steps up from where the cars can drop you off are steep, and I would recommend going in the morning or later afternoon to avoid the heat and sun. It opens at 7am and closes at 6pm (I didn’t know this, and my first attempt ended in me having to go the next day) The more successful time was great. So peaceful and tranquil. Views of Pokhara and the Lake but also the Peace Pegoda being so quiet (signs say silent all the way around)
One of the top activities to do in Pokhara due ot the wind, the views and the outgoing carefree attitude here. They run trips from 9am to around 3pm in the afternoon, weather dependant. In off peak season you can get a great half price deal with one glide being 6000 rupees (around £45), when in peak season this could be double. However the feeling when you run off the Sarangkot Hills is just amazing. The views of the Lake, the mountains, the small coloured houses dotted around the hill sides, its the perfect balance of everything you could want from your first ever Paraglide.
7. Day Hike for the test
There are several different day Hike you can complete around the Pokhara valley, I chose the Australian Camp, the first point on the Annapurna hike. The views are amazing, the first hour of climbing is hard, but the beautiful villages, scenery and downward walk from there is completely worth it. See my other blog on more information on this.
8. Roam the streets of Pokhara Lakeside
Cost effective in some ways, in others not because you will just want to go and buy the fresh fruits, the organic coffees, the souvenirs, books and gift shops… I cant even start to mention the restaurants all the same kindof food and prices but just a whole load of personality in the signage, and interior. There are cute signs for directions to certain hotels on each street, cows roaming the main road. Motorbikes zooming past with locals and tourists enjoying the quiet city centre. I loved the 30 minute walk from one end to the other sussing out the costs and offers everywhere.
9. Sarangkot sunrise
One of the highlights and must dos when in Pokhara is Sarangkot foothill for the sunrise. (weather permitted) You could opt to hire a taxi to take you up and bring you down for around 1800 rupees, but some travel groups also do it in larger groups to save cost and vehicles when you are up there. The silhouettes of the mountains and misty clouds suddenly coming to life is apparently
I unfortanetly didn’t make it due to the weather, but did visit the Sarangkot mountain and the views up there even in the evening or in the day or beautiful to see Pokhara below, sunset or no sunset!
10. Visit the Freedom Café
I went for a drink, with 2 women I met along the Lake walk we ended up at a place with graffiti all along the walls, bunting and mantras draped over the entrances. 3 guys playing guitar and practicing on Nepalise instrument, as well as partly playing on the pool table. It has a relaxed vibe with a few people midday having lunch and drinks. I ordered the Watermelon Juice, which was so fresh and delicious, the others had a Lassi, a yoghurt based smoothie drink very popular in Nepal and India. We ended up staying for 2 hours, and ordered food after that, in the evening alcohol is served and also it gets really busy with a chilled vibe, with amazing views of the Lake while you enjoy the many bands playing music.
11. Gupteshwor Cave and Mahendra Cave
The Gupteshwor Cave is located near to the Davi Falls, and is a great attraction to really delve into the mystery of Pokhara and its geography. Other caves around the Pokhara hills, are popular with pilgrims and Hindu/ Buddhist workshippers due to the ….. like the Balkailasheshwor Mahadeva Cave located at Sarangkot. Other caves are famous for the wildlife, like the Bat Cave. Some taxi drivers will do a deal with several of these caves in a day for around (1500 – 1800 rupees)
12. Rafting and Canyoning
Within the mountains there are rivers, canyons and valleys galore with so many options to have that full adrenaline thrill while you in Pokhara. Book one or both with the local travel agents down the lakeside for prices and a more private or public social time.
13. Just eat lots!!!!!
The food here is fresh, deliciously full of taste, and I don’t think you will be able to find a bad restaurant. Most of them are organic, and have options for vegans and vegetarians. What we found was the most dodgey and make shift restaurants were the absolute best… Take Kabab King, a small family run business 5 metres up one of the streets. It is simple, mixed matched furniture, plain table clothes, but the food is fresh and sooo tasty!
14. Rupa and Begnas Lake
The less famous, but therefore less touristy lakes around the Mountain Kingdom area, Phewa being the largest and most well known. A great morning out to see the beautiful surroundings, and is only about 1500 Rupees (£11) to get there, some taxis will do a deal to bring you back after an hour or 2 hours for a price. Rupa and Begnas lakes are located about 15 km from Pokhara at the end of a road that turns north from the highway to Kathmandu. Divided by a forested hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, the lakes offer the perfect nature retreat because of their relative seclusion. Splendid boating and fishing opportunities can be had here.
15. Yoga Retreat
For the keen Yogi’s out there, there are different lessons, classes and courses for any level around the area. For stretching out after a long week or two of hiking, or even just as a way to make friends in the city. There a special Monastery called Shree Urgin Choling Meditation Retreat, up on the hills just off the main lakeside road, a steep climb to it, but the view of the city and the building place itself is perfect to relax. There is even a class at 3pm everyday with the traditional Nepalise gongs and whispering bowl which will have you asleep and chilled within an hour.
Just a few others which you should definitely take a look at if you have time, I unfortunately didn’t;
16. Kahun Danda Sunrise and Day Hike.
17. Hot Air Balloon Ride over Pokhara and the mountains
18. Daily helicopter ride around the AnnaPurna mountains
I cant say enough how much Pokhara took my heart, it maybe because it was the first place I visited on my 8 month trip, or it maybe to do with just how calm and picturesque it is especially on a sunny day. It just has this vibe about it where you have no choice but to smile and enjoy life. Go and Enjoy! Namaste
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