…. and losing the path and getting (quite) a bit lost in the process.
The key landmarks of Pokhara are Lake Phewa and the beautiful mountain view of the Annapurna mountains and the smaller hills that border the lake. It’s a good place to do some day treks: the biggest hill is called Sarangkot (1590m) which is a climb up of about 800m from the lake. Once on top you have some great views of the Annapurna mountains. Although this is one of the “big ticket” items to do while staying in Pokhara, for some reason the trails up the mountain side are not well marked: fortunately as we were climbing up Sarangkot, helpful locals seemed to appear (as if by magic) to direct us when it looked like we were veering off course. Just as we took a wrong turn, we would hear an anxious “no no no” and on turning round, we would catch sight of someone waving madly at us to point us in an alternative direction (this is without asking where we were going: they’ve obviously seen a lot of lost foreign tourists before). Perhaps our most humiliating mistake was when we were directed the right way by a child who looked no more than about 3 years old who became very animated when we took the wrong path!
On another day, we decided to do a hike round Phewa Lake. This sounded pretty easy in theory – just climb up and keep walking along the ridge keeping the lake always on your right and then drop down and cross the silted up section of the lake to get to the road on its northern side to walk back to central Pokhara. What could go wrong?
We started well and (broadly speaking**) managed to find our way to all the high points and keep going along the ridge on the southern side of the lake more or less without a problem. However, as we tried to descend to the lake, the mystery of the disappearing paths began: suddenly a perfectly good trail of steps would disappear into a rice paddy field and then suddenly each terrace looked like a path but wasn’t. Just when we were running out of ideas, we would then catch sight of what looked like a path 10m or so below at which point we had to scramble down (sometimes through the thorny undergrowth) to get to that path only for it to disappear again shortly thereafter. At times it was a little frustrating. And on this side of the lake, we were unable to find anyone to point us in the right direction (only a dog that was getting increasingly angry with us so we were quite keen to get away from him). I’m not up on trespassing laws in Nepal but can’t help but feel that we were wandering through an awful lot of private property as we tried to find the paths! But at the end of the day, we got down and finished the 20km circuit so all ended well. And there were, of course, some beautiful views along the way.