The lakeside area of Pokhara is so chilled out that you can easily lose track of time and one day starts to blend into the next. There are so many things to do around Pokhara and we knew of a few different sights we wanted to see in the surrounding area. So, breaking the cycle we got away on some interesting day trips out of Lakeside. This is our guide on the top things to do around Pokhara.
Twelve kilometers back the Prithvi Highway towards Kathmandu there are two lakes, Begnas Tal and Rupa Tal. With no development they’re very peaceful and were a quick but worthwhile visit. To get to the lakes we rented a motorbike in Lakeside and drove east on the highway through the hectic traffic on the busiest road in Nepal. Driving on these roads i an experience in itself, take into account I had never driven a motorbike with a clutch before and it made it even more of an experience. Stalling a couple of times in the middle of the road to the smiling expressions of the locals wasn’t just embarrassing but was pretty dodgy given the speed and recklessness with which buses and trucks hurtle down this road.
After making it back from the lakes in one piece, our next stop was the International Mountain Museum. Recommended by guide we had met while trekking, the museum was very interesting, especially having experienced a lot of the places and cultures first hand. The museum covered the different people, the geography, the flora and fauna of the Himalayas. It also told the amazing first hand accounts of the people and teams who summited the eight Himalayan peaks above 8,000 meters.
The World Peace Pagoda which looks over Phewa Tal at Lakeside was our next place to visit. A short rowboat trip across the lake, we found ourselves at the foot of a steep path leading up towards the monument. The short hike was enjoyable and mostly in the shade. We passed a group of local women carrying back grass for feed in reed baskets and we realised you didn’t have to go too far into the mountains to see how people really live here. Reaching the top of the hill we walked across to the monument, the first Peace Pagoda built in Nepal and te seventy-third of one hundred Peace Pagodas built worldwide. The views from here of Pokhara and Phewa Tal were amazing but unfortunately for us the Annapurnas weren’t visibe because the weather was too hazy. Apparently, on a clear day, the mountains are reflected perfectly in the lake but for now we would have to use our imaginations. A short stop at Devi’s Falls on our way back to Lakeside, after hiking down the other side of the hill, completed our day. The waterfall is so named because a Swiss tourist fell in and drowned back in the sixties. A rail has been set in now so tourists can pay to see the falls with cash rather than with their lives.
With our success on the motorbike a few days previous, we organised another rental which we collected the evening before, so we could make it to the viewpoint at Sarangkot for sunrise the following morning. Alert from the cold morning air, we drove up the mountain as it was starting to get bright. A twenty-minute walk to the top and we watched as the sun began to appear behind the mountains. The giant peaks seemed like they were only a stones throw away and the way in which they were lit up from behind was absolutely incredible. We stayed and watched as the snowy peaks were immersed in a pink and orange glow as the sun made its way into the sky, high above the Annapurna range.
Machhapuchhare, a peak of 6,997 meters is known locally as ‘Fishtail’, In order to see why, we drove to Naudanda to a second view-point and when we arrived we could clearly see the two points which created an image that looked just like a whale’s tail fin, as if the whale had dived into the mountains from the sky but it’s tail was still protruding from the sea of mountains below. It was a quick stop for this viewpoint and next we drove back the road towards Pokhara stopping briefly at the Tibetan Settlement village of Tashi Palkhel. The gompa (monastery) here was open and welcoming. Monks of all ages were getting ready for morning reading as we arrived. It as a sight to see; five-year olds walking into the monastery in full maroon robes alongside their much older compatriots.
Coming back into Pokhara we made a stop at the ghorka museum, located next to the Seti Gorge at the northern end of Pokhara. The Ghorka are a brigade of the British army who are all Nepali people. The museum told the history and accomplishments of the Ghorka soldiers and was an unexpected but interesting stop, The Nepalis are very proud of the Ghorka tradition, so much so, they have a decent local beer, Ghorka.
With an hour left before we had to return our bike, we went to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) office to get our permits for our upcoming trek to the Annapurna Base Camp via Poon Hill. After seeing the mountains looking so spectacular at sunrise, it was exciting now, permit in hand, to know that we were going to be getting to see the Annapurna Massif a whole lot closer up.
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