Pokhara is a more chilled-out alternative to Kathmandu. Many travelers who like the outdoors prefer to base themselves in this lakeside city. There are a lot of unforgettable experiences to be had around here.
While Pokhara is a good start and end point for multi-day treks in the Annapurna Himalayas, there are also some good day hikes from the city.
The Shanti Stupa (aka the Peace Pagoda) lies to the east of the lake, and is perfect for a half-day trip. This white structure was built in 1973 by a Japanese Buddhist organization.
There are various ways to hike there: one of the best is to take a boat to the starting point and walking through forest for about 30min.
At the top are great views across the city, lake, and mountains.
For something longer and more challenging, hike up to Sarangkot, on the western side of the lake. This is a much higher lookout point.
The hike here will take you through small villages and farmland, and the views of the Annapurna on the other side of the hill are spectacular on a clear day.
Sarangkot is also the starting point for paragliding in Pokhara.
With stable and predictable thermals and incredible mountain and lake views, this is one of the best places in the world to try paragliding.
Mountain bikes can be rented in Pokhara. Hiring a guide is a good idea, but not essential for all routes.
Circling Fewa Lake is a great way to exercise the legs (and lungs), and the path is fairly straightforward.
This route takes about five hours, or can be extended by taking smaller paths beneath Sarangkot.
For a taste of whitewater rafting and kayaking, head to the Upper Seti, about 45 minutes’ drive from Pokhara. Its name comes from the whitish waters.
The river has some technical rapids that will be a good challenge for experienced kayakers.
The views of the Annapurna Himalayas at the starting point are impressive, and the river follows a shallow gorge. Water levels are most suitable in October-November.
About an hour’s drive from Pokhara is the stunning Rupakot Resort. A day trip here is worthwhile for the million-dollar views.
Perched high above Rupa and Begnas Lakes, and with an expansive view of the snow-capped Annapurna Himalayas and terraced farmland below, the views from Rupakot are of the kind that you can usually only get when trekking in the area.
You can also hike the 90min round trip to the nearby Miya Gaon, unusual in these parts for being a Muslim village.
Begnas Lake, located below Miya Gaon, is also a quieter alternative to nearby Fewa Lake, in Pokhara.
If you have a bit more time to spare and can stay overnight, visit Lumbini, on the plains. This is Buddha’s birthplace.
While the site was ‘lost’ for many centuries, nowadays it has been developed into a fascinating park, with Buddhist monasteries and temples built by many Buddhist countries and organisations.
If you’re especially interested in archaeology, you might want to make the trip to Tilaurakot, to the west of Lumbini, the centre of the ancient Shakya kingdom.
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