Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that at the start of our travels we never even considered visiting Nepal. It was only by chance that we found ourselves on a plane to Kathmandu after our India visas expired and we had to leave the country giving us 2 weeks spare to go ‘somewhere’ before meeting a friend in Thailand. Fortunately for us, the closest and cheapest ‘somewhere’ to get to from India turned out to be Nepal.
Our Nepal highlights
Our 2 weeks started with a couple of days in Kathmandu where we hired a car & driver for a day to tour the city’s sights including the Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath and Durbar Square. After a hard day touring the city we can highly recommend a visit to Seeing Hands Nepal. Seeing Hands is a charitable organisation providing disadvantaged blind people with professional massage training and an opportunity to work and earn money to support themselves. We’ve had quite a few massages on our travels and these guys are without a doubt, one of the best providing a wonderful massage at a bargain price so don’t miss out!
A couple of days in Kathmandu was plenty. From there we traveled on to the much quieter and more picturesque town of Bhaktapur where we spent one night before travelling by car up a winding mountain road to Nagarkot hill station. It was here that we gained our first glimps of the southern Himalayan mountain range having risen from bed at 5:30am to watch an amazing sunrise over the mountains. This was definitely a highlight of our time in Nepal but it’s difficult to put what we saw into words so here’s a photo we took!
Needless to say, after seeing this we were keen to get a closer look at the Himalayas so returned to Kathmandu to get a short 45 min flight to Pokhara. The flight certainly wasn’t the cheapest way to reach Pokhara but with the only alternative being a 5-10 hour bus journey through winding mountain roads we opted for the easy option! If you fly, make sure you sit on the right going to Pokhara and the left coming back to get fantastic views of the Himalayan range from the air. Seeing the mountains reaching high above the clouds is something we’ll never forget and certainly puts into perspective how huge they really are!
We absolutely loved Pokhara!… The town has tourism down to a fine art with breath-taking scenery, cheap food, drink and accommodation, friendly people and best of all, lots and lots of trekking. After a couple of days to relax and exploring the area we decided to take on the 5 day/4 night Poon Hill – Ghorepani circuit. This turned out to be, without a doubt, THE highlight of Nepal. We loved it so much that we couldn’t stop walking and completed the trek a day earlier! The trek involved a testing 2 day climb up-hill to around 3500 metres above sea level followed by a long 8.5hr day walking a ridge running parallel to the mountain range. The final day was a descent back down to the start that proved really tough on our knees leaving us knackered, aching and sore but with huge smiles on our faces thanks to the breathtaking scenery!
We both agreed that we’d love to do some more trekking but with only 2 weeks in Nepal and our obvious lack of fitness we’ll have to spend a bit more time at the gym and come back sometime in the future to tackle one of the longer base camp treks!
Our Nepal lowlights
We don’t really have anything that bad to say about Nepal but Kathmandu isn’t somewhere we’d want to go back to in a hurry! A day tour by car was definitely the best way to see the few sights but aside from that we found the city to be quite dirty and unwelcoming. The tourists/backpackers all seem to gravitate to a few streets in the Thamel area of the city. Packed with shops all selling the same fake outdoor gear and tacky souvenirs and numerous bars and restaurants serving below-par food and drink at inflated prices, this isn’t somewhere you want to spend much time.
The food in Nepal wasn’t all that great which seemed a little strange as some of the best food we ate in India was from restaurants run by Nepalese! Who knows? Perhaps all the good Nepalese chefs have left the country?… The food was ok but there are only so many mo mo’s one person can eat and when a steak restaurant can’t tell you what cut of steak they serve you know it’s time to leave!
Aside from that, the biggest lowlight of Nepal was only having 2 weeks there! We’d have loved to have stayed longer and trekked further but alas, Thailand was calling so after 2 fantastic weeks we had to leave for Bangkok.