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Pokhara, Nepal

View of the Annapurnas from Pokhara, Nepal
Lake Phewa, Pokhara, Nepal
Above: View of the Annapurnas from Pokhara, Nepal
  • View of the Annapurnas from Pokhara, Nepal
  • Lake Phewa, Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara is often described as Nepal’s second city, and it certainly is in terms of tourism. Although actually located 500m lower than Kathmandu it is the starting or finishing place for most treks in the Annapurna region. Surrounded by two mountains over 8000m in height (Annapurna and Manaslu) and set beside the idyllic Phewa Tal lake, the town is a whole world away from Kathmandu as the pace of life is much slower and the town is small enough to explore on foot. As with Thamel in Kathmandu, there is no shortage of hotels, restaurants, and email cafes catering for the tourist crowd. All along the main drag in the Lakeside area of town there are plenty of shops and appetizing places to eat, either to stock up and prepare for your trek, or as a reward for completing a trek in the highest mountain range on earth.

There are also plenty of shops in the town selling all the trekking gear needed for short or long treks although you can probably expect to pay a little more here than in Kathmandu.

By far the most common way to arrive in Pokhara is by tourist bus with trips from Kathmandu taking 6-7 hours and 5 hours from Chitwan National Park. It is possible to fly into Pokhara from Kathmandu (approx one hour) and most people do this if they are short for time or want to start trekking straight away. It is also possible to get to Pokhara without visiting Kathmandu at all if you come across the border from India at Raxual/Birganj or further west at Nepalganj.

Pokhara is also the main headquarters for kayaking and rafting, with many trips originating here. In recent years the surrounding lower hills have started to be used as jumping off points for paragliding and even ‘parahawking’ where you take a paraglider and fly with trained eagles or vultures.

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