NEPAL: Pokhara Lakeside – 5 days, November 2016
Pokhara lies 210km north west of Kathmandu and is a trekking-orientated tourist town. The lakeside area is totally geared up for people wanting to explore the Annapurnas range, with shops offering every kind of tour and selling every kind of trekking clothing and accessory. Although I recently walked 1080 miles across the UK, I certainly would not class myself as a “trekker”. I’m probably only a fair-weathered “hiker” at best so I didn’t visit Pokhara with any great desire to get any closer to the stunning snow caps, which were a constant backdrop during my five wonderful days in Pokhara. Having just spent a week on a construction site in Nuwakot whilst volunteering for All Hands, sleeping in a room with 35 other people and eating basic food, all I wanted to do in Pokhara was kick back and relax. And thankfully there was still loads to keep me occupied in this stunning region, helped by the fact that November seems to be the most perfect time to visit.
Also so far during this visit to Nepal I had spent virtually nothing on accommodation, so the first treat to myself was my choice of bus for the 6 hour plus (in reality always plus) journey up from Kathmandu. Jagadamba Travels were the name of the company I used, and their 21 seater bus with fully reclining seat, breakfast and lunch included cost an extortionate US$25. But it was the most comfortable bus journey I have ever taken and on the day of travel I was nursing a little hangover, so it was certainly money well spent. When I arrived in Pokhara the hotel that I had booked, which was a sister hotel with the one I had stayed in Kathmandu, could not accommodate me for the entire duration of my stay. Not wanting to keep moving about, they apologetically offered me instead a particularly nice room (room 505) in the nearby Orchid Hotel. With double aspect windows and balcony offering breathtaking snow capped views, at US$75 for 5 nights again it was a treat but it was simply the nicest and most relaxing place to be so was worth every cent. I must have picked up some kind of bug along the way as I was suddenly ill for my first 24 hours in Pokhara. But I could not have picked a more comfortable room to aid with my recovery, and catch up on some much needed sleep.
Once I was back on my feet I enjoyed the remainder of my time wandering around the lakeside and park areas; I ate some wonderful food both healthy and not-so, I took a boat across Phewa Lake and walked up to the World Peace Pagoda which offered stunning views back across to Pokhara and the entire Annapurna range. Then on my final morning I got up extra early to take a taxi to the nearby mountain top village of Sarangkot. The upcoming sun hitting the top of the mountains was a sight to behold and even the crowds and selfie sticks jostling for position could not detract from enjoying the most beautiful of sunrises. So whether you are into trekking, or you are simply looking for somewhere peaceful to relax, I most definitely recommend Pokhara as a wonderful place to visit… in November.