After the premature ending of our trek around the Annapurna Himalayan Range, we went to Nepal’s second largest city, Pokhara. It had a much more laid-back feel than Kathmandu. Three out of the ten of the world’s highest mountains are within 30 kilometers of Pokhara, all visible from several points in town. Pokhara was the perfect place for us to rest while staying close to the mountains to let our decision of coming down sink in.
The weather, just like in the last few days in the mountains, wasn’t great during our stay in Pokhara. Seeing the reflection of the Annapurna Himalayan Range on the surface of Phewa Lake was said to be one of the things that you should experience before you die and we were anxiously waiting for the clouds to clear. As we grew impatient, we tried a few other activities in an attempt to have some glimpses of the mountain views.
Boat Ride on Phewa Lake
We rented a wooden boat to row around the serene Phewa Lake, a semi natural (dam controlled) lake in Pokhara. Even though there was an option to get a rower, we opted to do the rowing ourselves.
It proved to be very tiring – the wooden boat and oars were pretty heavy and we moved very slowly. The weather on this day was clear in the city, but clouds were still covering the mountains. This meant that while the sun blinded us, we could not see the full mountain range, only pieces here and there.
We passed by the island temple, Tal Barahi, in the middle of the lake. We also passed by other foreigners on boats close to the dam in the southernmost part of the lake. Still nothing. There were no signs of the mountains, only boring white and grayish clouds. After two hours, we got tired and headed back onshore.
Situated on the top of a 1600m hill overlooking Pokhara and the Dhawalagiri and Annapurna ranges, Sarangkot Village attracts many visitors for its great views. From our guesthouse every morning, we could see the many paragliders that flew around everyday – it was a popular activity in Pokhara.
One morning, we saw that the weather was clear around the mountains. So we rushed to Sarangkot in order to finally see the supposedly breathtaking view of the Himalayas that we had been waiting for. We got there as fast as we could, with our cab driver driving recklessly through the narrow and windy mountain roads. Unfortunately, by the time we made it up there (only 30 minutes later after we left our guesthouse), the strong sun had already melted enough snow to form thick clouds around the peaks, covering most of them. Boo.
We were really disappointed but enjoyed the view of Pokhara, Phewa Lake, the paragliders flying above us and parts of the mountains that were revealed from time to time. Our perfect view of the Annapurna range was yet to come, but we were determined to see it.
Reflections of the Annapurna Himalayan Range
We were scheduled to leave Pokhara, but we had yet to experience the great view of the Himalayas. When we heard from locals that the weather would get better the next day, we decided to prolong our stay for a day in a last ditch attempt to see the Annapurna Range.
I woke up early in the morning, right after sunrise and checked the clear blue skies with no clouds to be seen. That was it! I was finally going to be able to see the beautiful panoramic view we had been dying to see. I quickly made my way to the lakeside and started to head down to the damside part of Phewa Lake, where you can get the best views of the mountains.
On the way, I could already see the peaks high above the green hills surrounding Pokhara, including Sarangkot. The view was already beautiful, but I knew it was only going to get better. After wandering around and getting lost for a bit, I finally found the confusing entrance to the Damside park – the gates were closed and I had to ask somebody to open it for me. Among the many trees, the highly-anticipated view of the Annapurna Himalayan Range was finally before me. The sight was unparalleled, simply beautiful.
In front of me were some of the highest mountains in the world, all reflected on the dark blue waters of Phewa Lake. It was crazy to think that only a few days ago, I was walking among them. Now I was seeing the entire snow-capped range in one picture, left to right. I don’t think I will ever forget it.
In the far west was the Dhawalagiri Range with Mt. Dhawalagiri peaking at 8,167m. In the middle and extending all the way to the east, the views of the Annapurnas: I (8,091m), II (7,937m) , III (7,555m), IV (7,525m) and Mt. Machhapuchhre or Fishtail (6,991m), were simply gorgeous. It was truly a sight to behold. I left only when the clouds began forming around the mountains again.
Pokhara was a nice city to relax in after our Annapurna Circuit trek. Staying an additional day for the perfect view of the Himalayas was totally worth it and highly recommended. I’m sure in the future we will return to Pokhara when we attempt to trek the Annapurna Circuit again, but until then, I will keep the panoramic view of the Himalayas deeply engraved in my memory.
For more pictures from Pokhara, please visit the gallery!