As Ryan had been to Pokhara before he knew that it was a popular place for people post trek. When you get there you can see why – It is a beautiful and laid back city, where you can enjoy lots of indulgent food and while away the hours enjoying the views and cocktails at Lake Phewa. The last few days of our trek we were starting to dream about this… and Pokhara didn’t disappoint.
Sadly, after our first day, the clouds started to descend and the mountains were quickly masked. Thank goodness we had enjoyed many spectacular mountain views over the previous weeks!
We spent our time, ambling around the lakeside area, very gingerly on tired and increasingly stiff legs (it seems it isn’t a particularly good idea to go from trekking for most of the day to sitting around and doing very little!) Having lived mainly off Dal Bhat in the mountains, I am afraid to say we indulged with a wide variety of non-local foods in Pokhara: Indian, Italian and Israeli included. Yum!
We both indulged in a spa session each, which was fantastic! I spent most of the day there enjoying a manicure, pedicure, full body scrub, massage and facial. I almost felt like a real person again by the end!
Paragliding seems to be a major tourist attraction in the city. Ryan had done it before and hated it in the past, but it was very tempting seeing all the gliders in the sky each day.
We both decided to give it a go. I must admit as we were ascending up the steep hill in the jeep, with the city fading away below us, I did have some private second thoughts. By the time we got to the take off strip I was pretty terrified – especially as they ask you to help them by running of the edge of the cliff – eek! You also are very aware at this point that you just seem to be attached to a big kite…. by some string…. scary.
Ryan’s flight was a little shorter than expected, failing to catch a thermal, I watched them take off after us and then land back down near the lake after several minutes circling around.
For better or for worse, mine seemed to keep going up and up, until we were in the clouds and far above where we had taken off from. It was a fantastic view, which fortunately distracted my from how scary the whole thing was. Sadly we only got one of two glimpses of mountain peaks during the flight, I could imagine how spectacular it must be on a clear day (although without the clouds apparently it is harder to get the thermals and height that we did).
The added stress that the pilot was taking pictures of me as well was equally as terrifying (as those of you who have tried to take pictures of me will know!) However I think I was so distracted by having my picture taken and thinking that I was going to die that the two pretty much cancelled each other out. I actually really started to enjoy myself!
As Ryan had landed a little earlier, he was able to take a video of my pilot doing some acrobatics over Phewa Lake. He also heard my screams (as probably did most of the residents of Pokhara).
The company we went with were really nice and friendly. They told Ryan that if they were taking other people up for flights and if the weather was right then they would take him up again for free as his flight was so short. Sadly, the weather and time wasn’t on our side and it wasn’t meant to be (maybe for the best!)
Also, as one last farewell to the mountains we decided to go to the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara. This was actually really interesting and one of the best museums I have been to in some time. There were sections on different indigenous mountain groups, about the geology of the region and about the highest summits and the history of the attempts to climb to their summits. This was especially interesting as I was just coming to the end of reading ‘Annapurna’ by Maurice Herzog, where he describes his expedition to the himalayas to be the first man to climb a mountain over 8000m. Pretty impressive (and traumatic!) I don’t think I will be doing any mountain climbing any time soon.
We spent our last evening back by the lake, recovering from both the trek and the paragliding.
We enjoyed a few cocktails and started thinking about the next and final leg of our Nepal trip – back to Kathmandu, via Chitwan National park.