Nepal is a country so full of surprises. From the mighty Himalayas to the wildlife rich national parks, adventure is abundant in this largely undiscovered destination. Asia expert, Cherylle, visits Nepal for the first time, discovering fascinating culture and breathtaking landscapes at every turn.
Although Nepal had never been on my bucket list, when the opportunity came about to explore the country, I took it with both hands.
My itinerary included Kathmandu, Pokhara and a three-day trek in the Annapurna Mountain range. It was an exciting prospect to visit three completely new places within Nepal and really get to grips with what the country had to offer.
Starting in Kathmandu I started by visiting the three heritage sites of Durbar Square, Patan and Bhaktapur. Steeped in so much history, it was so interesting to visits the city’s temples and learn about the local history. Whilst the devastation left by the earthquake in 2015 is still apparent, they are working tirelessly to restore the city to its former glory. Pashupati is well worth a visit. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is an important site for Hindu devotees. Here people are cremated on the riverbank and thought to take their last journey from the Bagmati River to the scared Ganges. It reminded me a lot of Varanasi in India. The Thamel area of Kathmandu is very geared up to trekkers and backpackers, it has an energetic vibe and its famous for its bars, restaurants and shopping – well worth a visit whilst in Kathmandu.
My next stop was Pokhara. This gorgeous little city is surrounded by a beautiful lake, frequented by paragliders and a myriad of birds and butterflies. I liked the vibe there instantly. I took a walk around the shops and along the lake and would argue that a short stay here is the perfect way to relax before you head off of your trek in the Annapurna region.
I started my trek at 850m, heading towards Ghandruk which sits at 1940m. Whilst it goes without saying that you have to have a certain level of fitness for the hike, the scenery makes it well worth the effort. The lodges are basic but charming and the food is prepared for exactly what you need – full bellies and lots of energy. Not forgetting happy hour between 6-7pm in every property of course!
On the second day, I headed to Landruk at 1640m and then onto Dhampus at 1700m on the third. Over the course of the hike, I couldn’t begin to count how many beautiful butterflies and birds of prey I spotted, locals I chatted with, and free-flowing rivers I paddled in. The stunning landscapes of the Annapurna region were well worth the pain of reaching higher ground.
Nepal was colourful, cultural, pretty and most of all friendly and happy. I really enjoyed my first visit there and have no doubt I will return.