HIMALAYAN TALES #2: POKHARA
001. Ahh Pokhara, the little lakeside gem was a breathe of (reasonably) fresh air after battling the capital city of Kathmandu. Dwarfed by mountains at the base of the Himalayas and home to some of the most beautiful sunsets I've been lucky enough to witness- Pokhara had some serious magic going on!
002. We stayed in the Lakeside area of town before AND after our trek to Annapurna Base Camp. For the first few nights we jumped off the bus and found a room at Pushpa Guesthouse. The manager Raj, was so kind and the best person we could have possibly stumbled across to help us plan our trek. He worked as a porter and a guide for many years so he knew all the treks like the back of his hand. Seriously, without him we would have been clueless! On our return after trekking we decided to move more towards the Northside of the lake, which has a more hippie/laid back vibe and is a little quieter compared to staying in the centre. Again, we just went door knocking until we found a nice affordable place. I couldn't even tell you what it was called, but the Northside of the lake is filled with unsigned guesthouses so just try your luck!
003. Our days pre-trekking involved hunting down and bargaining some gear to take with us. We bought some questionable quality 'North Fake' jackets and managed to rent sleeping bags too from one of the many gear shops, for about $2 a day. I can't stress to you enough how cold the nights are at higher altitudes (this is in November) and how scarce the blankets can be in teahouses- the sleeping bags were 100% an investment I do not regret! As we opted to hike without a guide or a porter, we also had to run to the government office to get our permit all by ourselves. This process is actually fairly simple (and speedy if you arrive first thing in the morning) and just a half hour walk from the Lakeside area (save your cash and don't get a taxi).
004. As for things to do in Pokhara, there are seriously endless options that will appeal to everyone from adrenaline junkies to people travelling on a more flashpacker budget. We were definitely trying to keep our budget low and simply enjoyed chilling out pre and post trek. I highly recommend watching the sunset going down on the lake as many times as you can, the colours, the gradient and the shapes from the huge mountains reflecting on the water is pure MAGIC. We also went on a little day adventure to the Peace Pagoda across the lake, which involved taking a boat and going on a small hike. You get some pretty killer views over the city of Pokhara and on a clear day the Himalayas are in all their glory. For an even more adventurous and budget friendly option, choose to walk your way back to the Lakeside area and open your eyes to different areas the city has to offer (check out what the locals get up to, not just in the tourist bubble).
005. As far as food went, most days we ended up buying fruit and avos from roadside stalls, paired with fresh bread rolls from one of the many so-called German bakeries. Most of the food options were relatively similar and hunting down a cheap dhal bhat (AKA the greatest meal in the world) was easy to do. The Asian Tea House is the only place from memory that sticks out for its REALLY affordable mixed menu of Western and Nepali food.
006. Pokhara is a lakeside city with charm and some of the most insane natural beauty the Earth has to offer right on your doorstep. The perfect place to relax, recuperate and reflect on adventures across one of the most peaceful, friendly and breathtaking countries on Earth.