It is actually not the first destination that comes to your mind when planning your coming holidays but that’s a mistake ! Because traveling in Nepal never leaves you indifferent.
Small land country locked between two giants of Asia; China and India, Nepal has always fascinated travelers. Well known for its trekking opportunities in the foothills of the Himalayas mountain, it was one of my best trips. I plan to go back again and again.
Traditional clothes style
I actually spent 8 days there. It was enough to give me a good overview of what I can basically expect from this wonderful country.
Kathmandu and its valley contain many treasures such as the temples of Bhaktapur. Further north west, Pokhara is surrounded by all the highest peak of the world.
Now let’s hit the road together!
My itinerary :
Arrival in Kathmandu by land from the Tibetan border. I stayed one day there.
Following day, going to Pokhara for one day (by flight)
Then heading to the mountain for a four day trekking.
From Pokhara, going back to Kathmandu (by flight) during two more days. Flying back to Shanghai.
Kathmandu valley – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
The cultural heritage of Kathmandu is internationally renowned for its historic and artistic accomplishments. Among the most famous monuments of this city you have: the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan.
The first impression this city gave me, made me think that the capital of Nepal was noisy, crowded, and dirty. Indeed, when I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel, which was located in the touristy area of Thamel, I could feel the same atmosphere than in all the Indian cities. Here we are, no traffic rules, wild animals crossing the street, and the annoyance of horn noise.
Finally I reached my hotel, The Holy Himalaya where I enjoyed on arrival a cup of Masala tea. A nice and comfortable place, well located, with a reasonable price (35 dollars per night) – suitable for families.
Then, I immediately explored Thamel by foot where you will be able to see a huge concentration of touristic shops of any kind of souvenirs. The streets are colorful with a lot of Indian influences. But you don’t need to stay too long, you’d rather save your time for the rest.
Undeniably, the other part of Kathmandu with its large range of old temples really well persevered will create better memories in your mind. For example Bhaktapur, which is about 25 minutes by taxi from Thamel, is one of the three royal cities. Such a rich area in architectural beauty, where you will enjoy a lot of ancient Hindu and Buddhist religious sites, and palaces and courtyards. You can easily spend half day.
I also visited the Monkey Temple, a Buddhist temple in a park on a hill. It is actually inhabited by hundreds of monkeys. After climbing hundreds of steps you earn the right to admire the peaceful atmosphere of this quiet place, with prayer flags floating, fountains, old trees and the panoramic view of Kathmandu.
Then I went to the Bodhnath, the biggest stupa in the Valley.
Traditionally, this place was a significant staging post on the trade route between Lhasa and Kathmandu where Tibetan traders would pray for a safe trip before heading with their yaks on to the high road of the Himalaya.
The best time to visit Bodhnath is during the late afternoon, when all the group tours leaves, all the light butter lamps are lit up, you will watch the performance of people doing a ritual clockwise circuit of the monument. If you are lucky try also to go there on the evening of the full moon, when the plaza surrounding the stupa is lit up by thousands of butter lamps.
Finally my last attraction before heading to Pokhara was the Kathmandu Durbar Square. This massive complex is one of the most famous touristy spot of the city; palaces, temples and courtyards has been built in this original center of Kathmandu often named as Basantapur. It has various historical royal and governmental institutions mixed with religious monuments of different styles and ages.
Pokhara – Remarkable place of natural beauty
Such a magic place! Even though I didn’t see the magnificence of the Himalayas mountains rising behind the lakes; the serenity of the lake created enough peaceful ambiance to make me happy.
The city is actually now the starting point for most of the popular treks and rafting destinations. It is also a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the scenery.
You will get a lot of different options for your accommodation. I can recommend you mine which was the Hotel Dream Pokhara: nice view, good breakfast and comfortable bed for 35 dollars per night – suitable for families.
4 day Trekking to Poon hill
As a traveler in Nepal you can not miss going on a trek! Besides the physical effort that you have to make to climb and your accommodation which certainly won’t be the best ever, your experience will be still unforgettable. Indeed, the scenery is just unbelievable.
Actually the Poon hill Ghorepani trek is an extremely popular short trek to the Annapurnas (a trek permit is needed). The breathtaking mountain scenery of the full Annapurna range and the lovely ethnic Gurung villages explain the popularity of Ghorepani Poon hill trekking.
Pretty easy trek that has short walks along streams and forests which does not involve high altitude. So you don’t have to be afraid of the altitude sickness on the road. I recommend this trek – with a guide – for everyone who loves nature. Indeed for security reasons and also because only local people really know the roads, a guide would be a wise decision.
Ghorepani trekking can be done at anytime during the year although in monsoon ( July – August) even it is not the good season. I did it in July and only got half day rain.
I started my journey with a 2 hour drive by bus to reach Nayapul where I crossed the suspension bridge over Modhi Khola river. I climbed through different villages, local farms, and terraces rice fields to reach Tikhedhunga at 1525m where I use a random mountain lodges called the tea houses for my food and accommodation.
On the second day (the hardest one) we climbed a lot of stairs for the first 4 hours trek. That was actually pretty intense. Then my guide and I mostly walked trough woods before reaching Ghorepani Village base camp at 2850m.
Next morning we woke up really early (4.30 AM) to be at Poon hill for the sunrise. And the spectacular view of the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Nilgiri, Fishtail and other famous mountains of the west region was waiting for us. The panorama was breathtaking ! Speechless just look at the picture:
And then for the 2 days remaining we went down through Tadapani and Ghandruk. On our way we cross the beautiful Gurung village, known for its traditional houses, rich culture and the great landscape. Finally after these numerous steps we made a loop at Birethanti and did catch our bus for Pokhara.
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