Far from the earthquake epicenter, and almost unaffected by the disaster, Pokhara ticks all the right boxes, with spectacular scenery, adventure activities, and accommodation and food choices galore. Whether you’ve returned from a three-week trek or endured a bus trip from hell, Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.
The scene is a chilled-out version of Thamel, stretching along the shore of a tranquil lake with bobbing paddle boats. From the lake, and possibly even from your hotel bed, you can enjoy a clear view of the snow-capped mountains, just twenty or so kilometres away.
There’s much more to Pokhara than its laid-back charm. It also boasts a booming adventure sports industry; it is arguably the best paragliding venue on the globe and is surrounded by white-water rivers. There’s a fascinating museum dedicated to the world-famous Gurkha soldier. And last but not least, it’s the gateway to the world-famous treks in and around the Annapurna range and beyond.Imagine a perfect triangular mountain, capped by snow and buffeted by the icy winds of the Himalaya. Imagine a millpond calm lake, perfectly reflecting the snowy peaks. Now imagine a village on the lakeshore, thronged by travellers and reverberating to the sound of ‘om mani padme hum’ from a hundred shops selling prayer flags, carpets, masks, singing bowls and CDs of Buddhist mantras. That’s Pokhara.
Nepal’s second city, at least in tourist terms, Pokhara is the end point for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek and the starting point for a dozen more treks through the mountains of the Annapurna Range, including the perennially popular Jomsom Trek and the equally dramatic (but less busy) trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary. It’s unashamedly touristy, in the Thamel mould, but the setting is spectacular - the perfect pyramid of Mt Machhapuchhare looms high above Pokhara, reflected in the placid waters of Phewa Tal.
For many travellers, Pokhara represents a last chance to stock up on creature comforts before hitting the mountain trails. For others, it’s a place to enjoy a steak dinner and cold beer after weeks of daal bhaat in the hills. Even if you aren’t a dedicated trekker, there’s plenty here to keep you busy. Pokhara has numerous museums and there are some fascinating caves, waterfalls and Tibetan villages in the surrounding hills.
For the adventurous, travel agents in Pokhara offer a slew of adventure activities, from trekking and microlight flights to river rafting and jungle safaris. Paragliding from Sarangkot viewpoint has to be one of the most thrilling experiences in the subcontinent. Alternatively, bring a good book and spend your days reading in a café overlooking languorous Phewa Tal.
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