Pokhara’s bewitching beauty has been the subject of many travel writers. Its pristine air, spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks, serene lakes and surrounding greenery make it ‘the jewel in the Himalaya’, a place of remarkable natural beauty. With the magnificent Annapurna range forming the backdrop and the serenity of three major lakes – Phewa, Rupa and Begnas – Pokhara is the ultimate destination for relaxation. It is the second largest city in Nepal and sits high on the list of ‘must visit’ places in Nepal.
Pokhara Valley is not only the end of the famous Annapurna Circuit and the gateway to some of the most famous long-distance treks in Nepal, but it also has plenty of rewarding short walks and day trips that are suitable even for children and weary trekkers.
Along with several trails used by local residents leading to different villages, fields and viewpoints, below are a few popular hiking trails around Pokhara. These day hikes are ideal for those wanting to take some time away from the happening city life and immerse in the serene natural beauty that surrounds the Pokhara valley.
1. Hike to Begnas Lake
Hike Duration: 4 to 5 hours approx.
Drive Time from Phewa Lake: 45 minutes approx.
Transfer to Begnas Lake, the second largest lake of the valley after the Phewa Lake. A popular tourist destination, the area is filled with numerous resorts and eateries. There are different points from where you can begin walking.
Hike along the ridges as the trail slowly leads higher through forests of Horse-Chestnut and Saal trees. The view of the surrounding hill sides and of the twin lakes of Rupa and Begnas is simply breathtaking. Walk steadily north gaining a slight altitude through Begnas village, a spread out spectacle of clean mud houses and terraced fields. Higher up is Begnas Maidan, an open meadow perched on a hilltop from where one can have the most spectacular mountain views sweeping from east to west in a vast snowy expanse; Manaslu (8156m) the entire Annapurna massif with such prominent peaks as Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III & IV as well as Mt. Macchapuchhre (6993m) and weather permitting, the distant Dhaulagiri (8167m) in the far west.
After lunch at one of the many local restaurants around Begnas, you have an option of hiring a boat for a short ride in the tranquil surroundings, before meeting your vehicle for the 40 minutes’ drive back to your hotel.
2. Hike to Shanti Stupa or World Peace Pagoda
Hike Duration: 3 hours approx.
Drive to the dam at the end of Phewa Tal, the second largest lake in Nepal. The lake is stream fed but the dam regulates the water reserve, therefore being classified as semi-natural freshwater lake from where the water goes to a small hydro-power plant at the southern edge of the valley. Walk up the forested hill called Raniban to the Shanti Stupa, or World Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa built by the Buddhist monks of the Japanese Nipponzan Fujii organization at a narrow ridge above the Phewa Taal. Walk around the stupa that offers good views of the Phewa Tal and the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himal.
The path then descends to the lake shore where you can take a boat across to the other side while paying your respects at the Barahi Temple located at the heart of the lake.
3. Hike Naudanda to Sarangkot
Drive Time: 45 minutes approx.
Hike Duration: 5 hours approx.
Drive from Pokhara to Naudanda, a small hill offering pleasant views of the greenery and mountain ranges of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu. Start hiking from Naudanda (1600 meters) from a trail that leads you through the traditional Brahmin and Chhetri villages. After a four hours’ hike you will reach the vantage point of Sarangkot.
Sarangkot is a beautiful village located on a mountainside ridge at an altitude of 1600m with panoramic Himalayan views, from Dhaulagiri in the far west and Pokhara city in the south with the Phewa Lake on the north-western outskirts of the city. It is also famous for sunrise views and paragliding. Take a rest here while admiring the far-reaching views of the Himalayas and watch the acrobatics of the many adventurous paragliders that launch from here.
Our descent back down to Pokhara is steep in places. After approx. an hour and a half, it brings us back to Pokhara.
In addition to visiting various sites in Pokhara, the above day hikes can be included and customized as per your inclination to make for an exhilarating experience. These hikes can also be initiated as a warm-up to prepare for lengthier treks in the Annapurna region.