Pokhara was our last destination and what a spectacular end to the holiday it was! We did go back to Kathmandu for the last two days of the holiday in order to leisurely wait for our flight back to the UK but that doesn’t really count, to me Pokhara was the grand finale to our trip so we treated ourselves to some extreme sports!
Pokhara is very bohemian and many hippies and yogis venture here even with their children. This place is laid back and has a slow pace of life. Quite a few Westerners opt to live here either partially in retirement or totally emigrate and become teachers of English or run their own activities company because Pokhara is the hip place to be if you are into water sports and extreme leisure pursuits.
Pokhara is known for it’s lush surroundings and great lake, it is a beautiful city enveloped by the Annapurna mountains and so makes this city a popular destination for trekkers who fancy something different to the Everest base camp. The climate here changes, much like the lake district back in the UK, it seems to have it’s own weather system. On the whole it is cooler than other part of Nepal we visited and it is prone to heavy down pours of rain and some fricken amazing thunder storms but it can also be humid and muggy so pack a light rain coat and water proofs just in case. Most people will pack these items anyway if venturing to Pokhara for the water sports, you’d be a fool not to and even though Pokhara’s temperature is cooler, it is by no means cold and you can still casually wander about in harem pants, vest tops and sandals. There is a definite freshness in the air, perhaps coming from the mountains so on occasion I did wrap a light scarf around me and Jon did wear a light hoodie from time to time.
During our stay here the weather changed from hot and sticky to full on torrential rain and the loudest, most beautiful thunderstorm I have ever seen! But within 30 minutes the storm passed and it was gorgeously airy and warm again. We ventured out, soon after the storm and made friends with some children playing in the puddles, me being me, I joined in and Jon gave the eldest little girl a quick photography lesson. It is moments like this that make me smile the most, to know we are not seen as western holiday makers who keep their distance but as interesting and approachable individual the locals are curious to meet, this is what it is to be a part of another culture, it is simply making friends.
Soon after that we hired a small paddle boat to row across the stunning lake, we had no sense of direction and bumped into a heap of stones used as a warning for shallow waters and then very nearly crashed into a huge holding of boats and jet-skis because the current was so strong, no matter how hard we paddled we kept being pushed to the left and we felt like we weren’t really going anywhere. Our attempt was to try and make to the other side to then walk up to a Stupa on top of a hill, unfortunately we didn’t get very far across the lake, our time was up and another thunderstorm was about to hit so we headed back before sundown. Needless to say it was a relaxing experience, I have never really rowed a paddle boat before so it’s something to tick off my list.
After two days of thunderstorms, puddle splashing, more Mo-Mo eating, paddle boating and leisurely wandering around Pokhara, we booked to go Paragliding! This was something big Jon wanted to do and I was happy to tag along and experience it, this was something special for Jon like what the Elephant bathing in Chitwan was for me. I had already done something similar in Cyprus called Parasailing so I had an idea as to what to expect. Jon has always wanted to know what it feels like to have wings and to fly and so this was the closest thing to that feeling.
We were up in the air soaring like birds for half an hour to 45 minutes and it was such a fantastic feeling. After the run off the cliff a small part of me worried for my safety but once up there it was so peaceful, I forgot my fear and marveled at the view, I even had a hawk fly close to me. We para-glided off Sarankot hill which is notorious around the world to be one of the best places to glide off of. If you don’t fancy paraglyding though, you can ride the cable car, go base jumping, bungee jumping, rock climbing, canoeing and sky diving.
On the last day, on a whim we booked to do white water rafting. We thought we wouldn’t have time to fit this activity in but we timed our entire holiday perfectly for it to happen. With a tour company back in Kathmandu we were up and ready to be picked up by tour bus at 7am to drive us to the Trishuli river by 8:30am. You can opt to raft down the river from Pokhara and have your backpacks or luggage sent back to your hotel room via tourist bus but we didn’t fancy taking that risk. Instead we ventured back to Kathmandu only to be driven half way back the way we came on the next day with only a day pack of spare dry clothes, our passports, important documents and essentials. We left our backpacks in our hotel room and because it was our last few days in Nepal we did splash out and stayed in a newly opened luxury hotel with excellent WIFI, hot water and a wet room to make sure we were refreshed and had a good nights sleep before our long flight home so we knew our luggage was secure and in a safe hotel with a front of house security guard outside the main gate.
The white water rafting in my opinion was a more thrilling experience than the paragliding and it is so far my favourite extreme activity that I have done but then I am yet to do sky diving so we shall see! Our group consisted of two Germans, us two Brits, an American and our crazy captain who spent most of the journey singing and somersaulting offer the boat. The entire experience lasted for a few hours with a small health and safety lesson at the beginning and this includes what to do if the boat turns upside down and you are trapped inside, what to do if you end up drifting with the current down the river too fast and how to grab hold of the rescue canoer who followed us closely down the river. The captain took us down still waters and rapids, encouraged us to swim in the river and dive-bomb in the water and half way through we stopped so the lads could climb and jump off a cliff. By noon we pulled up to a small shack with tables, showers and changing rooms and this is where we had our lunch that was already prepared for us. It was a very basic lunch consisting of salad, bread, butter, cheese, ham, crisps and peanut butter as well as refreshing cold water. There was a tuck shop at the back of the shack but you had to pay more for extra treats. All in all it was a fantastic experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Just like other places in Nepal, Pokhara houses numerous non-star hotels, restaurants, bars, bakeries, tourist information centres, tour companies, shops and banks all set up for your traveling needs and in fact it is probably the most modern looking place we stayed in, the insides of the shops and centres had marble floors and well designed interiors and it is quite an easy place to navigate around. There are more than 250 tourist category hotels and lodges in Pokhara of which two (the Fulbari Resort and Pokhara Grande) are ranked 5-star. Pokhara provides lodging and fooding from backpackers to deluxe ranges. A tip for backpackers and those who like to live free spiritedly, it is so easy to find a hotel, you might as well just show up and look around for a good deal instead of booking in advanced.
There are also plenty of trekking and tour agencies plus yoga and massage studios and retreat centres so you won’t be bored during your stay in Pokhara. Alongside this there are numerous stupas, temples and shrines to visit too if you fancy immersing yourself even more in the Nepalese culture and history.
Pokhara is a delightful place and definitely a destination you can easily take children to. There is much to do here and the locals are very friendly. Next to Chitwan and Pashupatinath it was one of my favourites to visit.
And that concludes our time in Nepal, it was enchanting, adventurous and full of beautiful people. Being in Nepal has only sparked our wanderlust further and we have big future plans for our travels.
Stay tuned for more travel write ups from me coming shortly and if you wish to see even more of Nepal but through my partner Jon’s eyes, you can view his travel photography and videography of Nepal on his website here: Jon Robert’s Photography
And here are the previous blog posts about Nepal click on the links below.
Five days in Chitwan
Two Days in Lumbini
Four Days in Pokhara
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