Pokhara : My top tips for sightseeing & Activities

Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal and is geographically located like the "navel of Nepal" pretty much in the middle of the country. While the Annapurna massif with a total of three 8000m peaks – the Annapurna, the Manaslu and the Dhaulagiri – can be seen imposingly from viewpoints in the distance, Pokhara itself is only at an altitude of 930m. Most impressively the holy and "only" 6997m high Machapuchare, also called Fishtail, towers over the city, which I remember as the most modern tourist hotspot by Nepalese standards.

Pokhara is because of its central location the starting point for numerous trekking tours and a recreational paradise for the time afterwards. Hardly anyone who visits Nepal does not come here.


Sun Maya, Palee, Uti and I standing in front of the Annapurna Base Camp sign that reads:

If you love mountains, you will love Nepal. The Himalaya, which has a total length of about 3000km, is the largest mountain range in Asia and stretches across the countries of Pakistan, India, China, Bhutan and Nepal. The Annapurna massif, visible from Pokhara from viewpoints in good weather, attracts to long distance hiking and trekking tours. Pokhara serves as a starting point for all tours to the Annapurna massif.

The most popular tours are the 10-14 day Annapurna Basecamp Trek starting from Phedi or alternatively from Deorali or Naya Pul (in combination with the Ghorepani/Ghandruck Trek) and the notorious 2-3 week Annapurna Circuit Trek starting from Besi Sahar.

For hiking and trekking routes a permit is needed, which will be checked at the tour starting points (more information in the article: Hiking in Nepal: How to get a TIMS Card&) get a trekking permit). The most popular time for tours is October and November and March and April. While it can get very cold in winter and passes cannot be passed because of snow, in summer there is a lot of rain because of the monsoon.

The tours are not a walk and lead through remote areas. Sufficient preparation, adequate equipment, attention to weather conditions and enough time for altitude acclimatization (tips for prevention of altitude sickness) are indispensable. The rescue system in Nepal is in no way comparable to mountain rescue in Europe!

The last major disaster (before the Nepal earthquake) on the Annapurna Circuit was caused by a sudden cyclone in October 2014, which brought huge amounts of snow to the region during what is normally considered a "weather favorable" period. Numerous deaths by avalanches or freezing to death occurred especially around the Thorong La Pass (5416m).


The soccer field in Pokhara Lakeside, which is right by the boardwalk: People wearing green jerseys play soccer on a green field with a goal, with trees and forested hills in the background

Pokhara, especially Pokhara Lakeside, is a tourist and tourist hotspot and offers luxury accordingly. On the "Baidam Road" resp. "Lakeside Road" is lined up with hotels, hostels, guesthouses, bars, coffee shops, tour operators, souvenir stores and equipment rentals like no other place in Nepal. The streets are teeming with people equipped with hiking boots and functional clothing. Meeting German speakers is not a rarity. Although I am normally not very enthusiastic about touristy areas, I was very happy about it in Pokhara. Finally drinking real coffee, varying the food or just drifting comfortably through the day – lovely. Pokhara is the perfect place to relax after a hiking and/or trekking tour.

Especially good coffee was served in the middle of Lake Side Road at the "Perky Beans", where you can escape the street hustle and bustle on the roof terrace. My favorite was the Freedom Cafe, very popular with backpackers, at the northern end of Pokhara at the end of the street promenade on Baidam Road, where you can also have a great meal. Wifi is available in almost all restaurants, bars and cafes. Unfortunately, power outages are not uncommon.


The famous boats at Phewa Lake in Pokhara: several colorful, light blue boats (inside and outside) are hitched side by side at the lake. In the background you can see a forested hill

Those who have seen them once will recognize them for a lifetime: the unique colorful boats of Pokhara. The boats are, next to the peak of Machapuchare, a clear sign of Pokhara. For this reason alone it is a must to walk at least a few steps along the lake promenade, which by the way is only about 2 km long in its full length.

At the beginning of the promenade, where there is also a soccer field, there is a boat rental for tours and crossings of Lake Phewa or to visit the Hindu temple Tal Barahi, which is located on a small island.


The Annapurna massif with the triangular Fishtail is illuminated by the rising sun. Where the sun hits the mountain, it glows white. The unlit areas are grayish

Besides the must-see of the boardwalk because of the boats, a must-do is the excursion to the viewpoint Sarangkot at 1592m altitude at sunrise, where the peaks of the spectacular Annapurna massif are gradually illuminated by the rising sun (in my case it was unfortunately cloudy on my excursion day, but later I was granted a view).

The three eight-thousanders Dhaulagiri (8167m), Annapurna I (8091m) and Manaslu (8163m) are visible. However, the most impressive mountain is Machhapuchhare (6997m), sacred to Nepalis, which rises like a pointed triangle against the sky. It is also called Fishtail, or the "Matterhorn of the Himalayas". Climbing the peak has been prohibited since 1964.

For a visit to Sarangkot in the morning you have to leave early (best around 5 a.m. or earlier): either by cab, by bike or by walking.

On foot there are different routes: I chose the ascent near the village Happy Village (Khapeudi). To get there, simply follow Phewa Lake in a northerly direction until a sign in the village marks the turnoff to the right. From then on it goes steeply uphill. Three, better four hours walking time should be calculated, depending on the walking speed. No TIMS card or other permit is needed for this hike. To the observation deck you have to pay entrance fee.


View of the city of Pokhara from the World Peace Pagoda: the weather is hazy. On the left is the lake, from the middle of the picture you can see the outlines of tiny houses

Those who are in the paragliding scene have known this for a long time: Pokhara is one of the most popular paragliding sites in the world. Good and reliable thermals allow, depending on weather conditions, paragliding flights throughout the year. Departure point is at Sarangkot. Tandem flights are offered for people who want a unique thrill of flying their legs out of 1.want to dangle 600 meters of altitude, offered. To my knowledge, there are a total of 5 agencies. The landing sites are located in the northern part of Phewa Lake (between Pokhara and Happy Village/Khapeudi). For solo flights you need a flight license.

Honestly, I was too cowardly. At that time I didn't know how great paragliding can feel. In the meantime, I had my first flight in Annecy, France, during my private multi-adventure sports week .


The white World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara in Nepal. The staircase leads to two plateaus that can be entered. People walk towards the pagoda

The World Peace Stupa, also called Shanti Stupa (Shanti also means peace), is located on the nearby Ananda Mountain and was built in 1973. It is one of 80 World Peace Pagodas worldwide, initiated by the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii, who started building peace pagodas as sacred sites for world peace after World War II. The first two peace pagodas were built in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

From the platform of the World Peace Pagoda the whole Phewa valley can be seen, also a view of the Annapurna massif is possible when the weather is fine.

There are different ways to reach them: either crossing Phewa Lake by boat or leaving the Lakeside neighborhood towards Pokhara Damside. Near Devi's waterfall the way up starts.

Small warning for those traveling in the monsoon season (circa June to September): In the area around Phewa Lake, but especially on little used paths to the World Peace Pagoda, numerous "leech attacks" have been reported. A leech infestation is not dangerous, but unpleasant. Therefore I recommend to wear long clothes and closed shoes in the rainy season.


If you go on foot to the World Peace Pagoda, you will inevitably pass Devi`s water, which is touted as a great tourist attraction. My opinion of Devi's Waterfall (Patale Chhango in Nepali) is ambivalent. The time when the Pedi Khola disappears into its cave foaming wildly is limited to the rainy season or shortly thereafter. Afterwards it is (that's how I felt during my visit) rather unspectacular. The area to which you have to pay the entrance fee is also poorly maintained.

Where the name Devi's Falls comes from is entwined with numerous myths: once it is a Swiss woman who is said to have drowned there while skinny-dipping, then again it is a man named David. I had the impression that nobody knows that exactly.

The Pedi Khola just before it falls down at Devi's Falls: between two brown banks the green river can be seen with white foaming spray in front View of the visitor platforms at Devi's Falls, which flows down in the background


Opposite Devi's Falls is the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, which I found immensely more spectacular. A round staircase decorated with statues is descended to a shrine in a cave chamber. In the dry season it is also possible to reach the cave where Devi's Fall falls down through a tunnel.

The beautiful grayish staircase at Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; there is a construction site above, and trees growing in the middle of the staircase


The numerous rental bikes that are offered make you want to go on a bike tour. If you think you can walk around Lake Phewa along the shore, you are wrong. This is only possible on foot. According to stories one is on the way for about one day.

Cheap rental bikes are very rickety, but sufficient for the very close and flat area. For longer tours, value should be placed on high quality and maintained bikes. The most popular mountain bike route with about 54km leads from Pokhara to Sarangkot and further to Naudanda.

I cycle through an archway with the inscription


Pokhara is not only the starting point for hiking and trekking in the Annapurna massif, but also for one-day or multi-day kayaking and rafting tours, for example on Kali Gandaki or the (Upper) Seti.

There are too many tour providers. I was traveling at the time with the agency Swissa Nepal, which is very popular with Israeli travelers. Their agency office in Pokhara is located in Phewa Marga (opposite a steak house). Action is in order!

But especially I would like to tell you about the rafting agency a friend of mine, Anu Shresta, is involved in: the Himalayan (Adventure) Girls . She and her colleagues were the first female rafting guides in Nepal. Unfortunately they have only one office in Kathmandu so far.

The sun shines on the river Kali Gandaki with a bank full of big stones Rafting on Kali Gandaki: blue boats are lying on the river bank


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