Visiting Nepal has been on our list for quite some time. We were lucky enough to go there in February during the Chinese New Year holidays. This is the biggest break that we get in school (outside of summer), around 3 weeks. So, taking advantage of this, we decided to head to Nepal. Wahoo! We flew from Shanghai to Chengdu (stayed overnight in Jinjiang Inn -129RMB) and then on to Kathmandu. We were lucky enough to see a clear image of Everest as we were flying (sit of the right side of the plane!). Here she is:
Everest from the plane!
Once we had arrived to Tribhuvan International airport our process for getting our visa started. It was a little confusing there in terms of which queue to join for what but we figured it out in the end and got our visa’s for around 35 euros for 30 days ;-).
We spent 2 nights in Kathmandu. The streets are a bit chaotic in that there was a lot of road construction going on in the centre, and it was super super dusty. We stayed in the Thamel area in a place called: Kathmandu Eco Hotel (2 nights @341RMB). Good location, clean and friendly staff. Once we had settled in, we walked around the Thamel area. It’s full of stalls selling everything from souvenirs to trekking gear. Our first trip was to the Swayambhunath Temple (otherwise known as Monkey temple). To reach the top you have to walk 365 steps. At the top there is a monastery-around 2000 years old. There are plenty of little shops, monkeys and good views of the city.
We then got a taxi to Pashupatinath Temple. This temple is a designated UNESCO world cultural site and a super important pilgrimage site for Hindus. We could visit the areas surrounding the temple and observe the open cremations, however, non-hindus cannot enter the main temple. It was definitely an interesting place just to sit and watch people. Definitely recommend it.
The lads @ Pashpati Nath
Next up was the Boudhanath Stupa. This is a huge stupa, one of the largest in the world. Its really nice to walk around it and venture off to the side streets, where there are monasteries and galleries. There are also a lot of shops and markets selling Buddhist prayers and souvenirs. We spent some time on one of the rooftop restaurants there taking in the views. Stunning. Check out that amazing blue sky.
View of the stupa from one of the rooftop restaurants
One of the locals collecting offerings
That evening we randomly bumped into some ex work collegues from Barcelona in the Thamel area. They were with students on a trip to help with a local school in Chitwan. Nice to see them again and hear the stories from school. The next day we walked around the centre and visited Durbar square. Several buildings seemed under construction at the time due to the earthquake that hit in April 2015. Many of the construction companies seemed to be supported from China. There are so many temples and palaces in this square, it’s interesting to walk around and see the architecture and just sit and watch the locals.
Hanging out on the steps of the square
Rafting in the Trishuli river
The next stop was to head to Pokhara. To break this long bus journey we decided to stop by the Trishuli river and go rafting. We arranged this from a random agency in Kathmandu. The river wasn’t so wild but we enjoyed the rafting and it was a break from the bus! Once finished the rafting we hopped on the bus that was passing by and made our way to Pokhara. Be aware the bus journeys take forever. There was a lot of construction going on when we were there which made the journey longer.
Once in Pokhara we had arranged to stay in the Mountain Villa Hotel
– a basic simple hotel run by a lovely family. There’s a Japanese restaurant inside and a cheese shop. This hotel had been recommended by a friend of mine who has travelled to Pokhara many times and has done many hiking trips aswell. So, we stayed there and organised ourselves for our hike. Next to the place we were staying was an agency that my friend had recommended so we decided to go with that company called Annapurna Activities
). We decided that the trek that we were going to do would be the Annapurna base camp trek– 9/10 days. Other treks such as the Annapurna circuit need more days and because we wanted to see other parts of Nepal we chose to do that trek. The cost of the Annapurna trek with a guide/porter was 36,532 Nepalese rupees for both of us (around 290eur). This also included the permits that are needed to enter the area and TIMS card. 2 passport photos are needed for that process. We would pay for sleeping and buy our meals in the teahouses as we moved along. The agency recommended that we take 10 days to do this trek but in the end we did it in 9 days so it depends on your plan.
On the lake
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek
We brought just the basics in our bags for the trek. The agency gave us sleeping bags-which were the biggest sleeping bags ever-so they took up a lot of space in our bags.
Some essentials to bring are: down jacket (I rented this), hat, gloves, water bottle, torch, sunglasses,travel towel, sunscreen. We also brought those heat packs that can fit in your pocket. They came in handy when it was freezing cold at night.
Our daily treks looked like this:
1. Ulleri -Ghore pani (stayed in a place called superview- it did have a super view). This cost 780 Nep and we had our own room and shower. There was a massive fireplace in the common area.
2. Poon Hill – Ghore Pani- Chuile (around 800 to stay here, shower included)
Walkin up to Poon hill
3. Chuile- Sinewa (Sherpa guesthouse)
Higher and higher. With our main man Raj.
4. Sinewa – Deulari (no shower/water)
The view from one of our guesthouses
Just outside our guesthouse in MBC- ready to walk to ABC!
We made it Annapurna base camp-4330mts
7. Sinewa-Jinhu- Hot springs
8. Jinhu-Tolka (stayed in Tolka because of hailstones)
Once back in Pokhara we stayed for another 2 nights, visiting the World peace pagoda and the Shamrock school. To get to the Peace Pagoda, you can either take a boat across the lake and walk up the stairs directly or you take the long way around the lake and walk up through the forest. Eitherway it is a very nice walk. The stipa on top is very peaceful and views are really nice.
The Shamrock school is a school that a friend of mine goes to every year and helps out anyway she can. It’s a boarding school that is close to Pokhara. Here we are with the Principal of the school.
Outside the Shamrock School
Once we said our goodbyes to Pokhara we moved on to our next destination-Chitwan. Chitwan is in south central Nepal, very close to India and famous for its national park. We took a bus to Chitwan from Pohara. It took between 5 and 7 hours and we spent 3 nights there. We stayed in a real nice place called: Chitwan village resort (3 nights 398rmb). We had elephants as our neighbours 😉
While in Chitwan, we took a jeep safari. This was pretty amazing. We got to see Rhinos in the wild and very close. Even without the jeep safari it was possible to see rhinos on the bank of the river. Bears, snales, dear, peacocks, crocodiles, alligators were plenty.
In the morning time along the river, there were elephants washing so we stopped by there and watched that. It was possible to wash the elephant so I had a go.
I washed a bit of the elephant with a stone. The skin is so hard. He decided to spray me with water.
One of the evenings we decided to take a canoe and jungle walk and later visited the elephant base camp. The canoe trip was really nice. We saw plenty of crocodiles and many birds. We were not so lucky in the jungle walk but it was nice walk. We organised our trips with the place we were staying.
Time to head back to Kathmandu. Wow, this bus journey was the longest I have ever experienced. The roads are not so great in Nepal in general, especially the route from Chitwan to Kathmandu. There was so much traffic-big lorries especially and buses it was insane. We spent many hours just stuck in traffic. In total we were on the bus 13 hrs for a journey that maybe shoud have been 5hrs. Crazy, but this is the way it is there. We arrived at night to Kathmandu and stayed our last 2 nights there. Without us realising, the next day was Holi festival. Our morning started with getting unexpectedly hit with water guns with colour powder inside, buckets of colored water being spilled from terraces, water ballons and in general coloured powder from everywhere. It was chaos but very fun. So many locals just screaming ”Happy HolI” and then getting coloured powder all over your face. Many street corners had music, there was definiately a buzz that day.
Overall, a great 3 weeks in Nepal. From the mountains to the lake to the jungle and city. We really enjoyed it!