Pokhara is a lakeside town with fantastic mountain views. It is the perfect place to relax for a few days after trekking, or even mid trek if your plans all go wrong like ours! After finishing the ABC trek we headed back to Pokhara and spent just under a week relaxing. That was until the last day when I had a change of mind and decided that we should go paragliding, I don’t think Pinion found the paragliding all that relaxing!
Pokhara is home to a World Peace Pagoda, it is a bit of a walk from lakeside but definitely worth the effort! The views on a clear day would be amazing, we visited on a pretty hazy day and although you couldn’t see the mountains it was really nice to look over the lake into the city.
After Pokhara we caught the tourist bus to Sauraha, this is the base for accessing Chitwan National Park, a massive forest/ jungle in the south flat lands of Nepal. The tourist bus cost us 700 NPR each and took around 6 hours, which included a couple of loo breaks. Arriving at the bus stop was a pretty overwhelming experience, with over 20 men shouting at us that they had the best deal or best taxi to take us into town. I was glad for being organised and having already booked into a lodge. We hopped into their jeep and soon arrived. It was a world away from where we were used to staying, there were porters to take our luggage to our room and welcome drinks on the seats outside our room.
We spent a couple of days in Sauraha, it is a really nice little town to wander around and relax in. We saw wild elephants, captive elephants and crocodiles before we even properly set foot in the national park. We opted for a half day canoe, which was terrifying, and a half day walk back through the jungle. There are loads of package options available and for £25 each with lunch included we were pretty happy.
Elephant mahout with mum and baby elephants:
A couple of photos from our walk round Sauraha:
The park is famous for rhinos and tigers, we were lucky to see an old rhino close up and also fortunate (?!?) to have a very close encounter with a less timid younger rhino, who had to be scared away by our guide. Tigers live deeper in the park and so we didn’t stand much of a chance of seeing one with our fleeting visit.
A deer crossing the path:
Our time in Nepal was coming to an end, we said goodbye to Chitwan and its rhinos and headed closer to India. Lumbini is very close to the border, so close that it seemed rude not to visit considering we would be passing by anyway. It is known as the birth place of Buddha and is a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists. After catching our early morning bus from Sauraha we arrived in Bhairahawa, which is just a couple of miles from the border town of Sunauli. This town had been described as pleasant on wikitravel but appeared to be not a lot more than a dust bowl, a busy dust bowl. We quickly found a hotel and dumped our bags before finding a local bus that would take us to Lumbini, situated only a few kilometers away. We clearly forgot we were on Nepal time and the empty bus stopped every 30 seconds to collect more passengers before it was really full and we were stuck at the back. The journey that could probably take about 20 minutes in a normal car took over an hour. We were pretty relaxed, blissfully thinking that everyone would be getting off at the same point as us. However, once the driver pulled in and the ticket man shouted for us to get off chaos ensued. With us climbing over a number of small school children and no doubt stepping on the feet of everyone else who was standing in the bus.
Our initial reaction to Lumbini was that we had made a mistake in coming here, it was after 2 in the afternoon, we hadn’t eaten since 7am and we were tangry (tired, hungry and angry – a far worse combination than simply being hangry tired and hungry). We weren’t really sure what there was to do or see in the town itself and previous searches on the internet had been a bit fruitless. Fortunately it is pretty obvious once you get there, we entered the giant park like complex that is complete with a World Peace Pagoda, many temples and statues in honour of Buddha.
It was a really peaceful place, and our only regret was that we didn’t have more time and didn’t hire some bikes to fully explore the grounds. We were sad to be leaving Nepal but I think it definitely somewhere I will come back to in the future, I can’t believe that I actually miss trekking but the mountains have a strong call. Nepal has been a fascinating country, with amazing scenery and even better people. India has a lot to compete with!