Nestled high up in the thick of the Himalayas, at the foot of the Annapurna mountain range lies Pokhara.
The largest city in Nepal and the trekking and climbing epicentre of the world with millions of tourists visiting every year to head to one base camp or another. It certainly has it’s fair share of traffic and travellers, but sitting along the shores of a tranquil Lake Phewa with its rowboats floating back and forth, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a pretty coastal town one might discover in Europe.
We arrived worn out and weary after the single most horrendous bus journey of all time.
When the earthquake hit in 2015 it destroyed huge parts of the only road that connects Kathmandu to Chitwan and finally to Pokhara. Winding along the mountainside for miles, narrow and unfinished with a three hundred foot drop into a raging river below and no barrier between its passengers and the abyss for the most part.
The route is closed between 10am and 4pm as they work to make it safe again, but there are often landslides that send multi tonnes of rock plummeting into the white water leaving more gaping holes in the injured road. It gets incredibly congested and lots of vehicles don’t make the crossing in time leaving them stuck on the road with no way off until it reopens hours later. Our coach driver wasn’t going to risk that. Oh no, we were making it across and if not we would definitely die trying. Our huge sixty seater coach racing past enormous wagons and lorries at neck breaking speed leaving us quite literally hanging off a cliff at points. In some of the more hairy moments when you would expect full concentration and both hands firmly on the wheel… our guy? No. Making the sign of the cross. With his eyes closed!
So, that was an interesting seven hours of near death experiences. But I do have to say how wonderful the scenery was in those fractional moments when I was brave enough to open my eyes.
We checked into our hotel on the main street where we had amazing views of the snowcapped mountains beyond from our room.
Over the next few days there was constant monsoon rain and storms. Thunder that at times sounded as though it would split the walls of the very building we were sat in, so our three day trek plan seemed far less desirable.
Nevertheless we made the most of the rainy days watching the fluorescent lightning displays over the lake, holed up somewhere cozy.
Eventually the storms dissipated and we had four days of glorious sunshine.
Because of its prime location in the centre of arguably the most adventurous place on Earth, there are lots of bucket list activities aside from trekking that will get adrenaline going.
We spent a day white water rafting which was so much fun and afterwards spent the night around a campfire drinking beer and eating barbecue chicken before snuggling down in a tent next to the river.
This cost us roughly eighty dollars each and that included transport, lunch, rafting, dinner and breakfast the following day.
Pokhara holds the crown as the number one spot anywhere on the planet for paragliding so despite my fear of heights there was no way I wasn’t doing it.
After sleeping for no more than an hour the night before due to severe ‘am I going to die tomorrow?’ anxiety, we were collected at 10am from our hotel and driven fifteen hundred metres up a mountain to the take off point.
This is essentially a cliff.
That you run off voluntarily.
Well, with a gentle shove from my instructor who made the whole thing feel like a walk in the park.
The sensation of stepping off the edge wasn’t half as dreadful as I’d expected it to be. It was a lovely sunny day and the view was magnificent.
Gliders of every colour of the rainbow circling over the lake glistening in the sun and perfect blue sky as backdrop to ice white mountain tops. It made me feel tiny, floating around amongst so many giants.
We flew for about thirty minutes, every now and again my guy would send us in to a corkscrew and that did make me want to throw up a little bit but it was loads of fun all the same. Huge eagles soared around with us for a while effortlessly, unfazed by the huge parachutes.
And I am still here to tell the tale. Yay!
The couple of days that we weren’t throwing ourselves out of rubber dinghies and running off mountain sides, we bought beers and snacks and spent the afternoons bobbing around on the lake in a bright blue rowboat.
N’amaste for a bit longer next time!