A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Andrea R

Next up, Nepal

Returning to the mountains

sunny 26 °C

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Now that I've settled into my...ahem...'career break', I feel ready to get out into the world again. And it should be no surprise that I've chosen Nepal. A brief visit to Kathmandu would have been my introduction to Nepal, as part of my Himalayan adventure last year, but because of the devastating earthquakes it was not to be. I feel happy to be able to support the tourism recovery in a small way by going now.

Of course, I couldn't go to Nepal and not walk in the mountains. But I really don't know how I would cope with altitude, so I've chosen this itinerary that includes the Panchase Trek - just a taster really - which will give me 4 days of walking in the Annapurna foothills. And no camping.

We start off in Kathmandu, travel to Pokhara, do the Panchase Trek, visit Chitwan National Park, then return to Kathmandu. I'll be staying on for a bit after that, but that might be a separate blog - I'll figure that out later.

Posted by Andrea R 20:11 Archived in Nepal Tagged nepal itinerary annapurna earthquake panchase Comments (0)

Monkeying around in Kathmandu

A visit to Swayambhunath temple

sunny 24 °C


I am certain there is no such thing as too much celebration, but I was warned to expect some kind of festival every other week in Nepal. My first full day in Kathmandu – in Nepal, in fact – happened to coincide with Maha Shivaratri, a day to worship the Hindu god, Shiva. This meant some rescheduling of sightseeing activities, but on the upside it gave me unexpected free time to go to Swayambhunath temple, one of Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.

A key piece of advice to anyone planning to visit ‘the monkey temple’ is to hold on to all your possessions, because the monkeys are opportunistic little creatures, and they enjoy a bit of thievery. So with my camera strapped on tight, I climbed the steep stone stairway to the top of the hill.

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Along the way, plenty of monkeys sat beside the stairs, playing, grooming each other, and generally doing their own thing. They took no interest in me at all.

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Before exploring the temple complex, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the views of Kathmandu were quite spectacular.

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The crowning glory of the temple complex is the big white stupa with it’s golden spire. It was damaged in the April 2015 earthquake, but is still intact. Other structures in the complex were not so lucky.

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Posted by Andrea R 18:03 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Panchase Trek Part 1

Days 1 and 2

sunny 24 °C

  • For consistency and as a future memory-aid for myself, I’m using the place names as they are spelled on my trekking map.

To get to the start of the Panchase trek, we drove north out of Pokhara to a little village called Kande. At 1770m, Kande is almost 1000m higher than Pokhara, so that was a pretty good head start. But then the trek started off straight uphill – a bit of a shock! That turned out to be just a shortcut to the rocky/sandy, narrow road we would follow most of the way to Bhadaure.

We had clear mountain views all morning, and just because they were behind us didn’t mean we couldn’t stop frequently to take photos.

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After about an hour, our destination for Day 1 came into view. It’s the blue-roofed building at the top of the hill. The walk down and up the other side of the hill to Bhadaure (1660m) wasn’t as bad as it looked, and the path was easy. So overall, Day 1 proved to be a short - approx 2 hour - gentle introduction to our trek. The Bhadaure teahouse boasted a stunning outlook from its stone terrace, so we relaxed all afternoon, taking in the views and contemplating the days ahead.

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On Day 2 we were all up early for sunrise, as it was another gloriously clear day. I think the photos speak for themselves.

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The objective for Day 2 was to ascend to the high-point of the trek at Panchase Danda (2517m). The walk was mostly in shade, and it was another beautiful, sunny day.

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At first the path was easy – quite open and grassy – but as we ascended it was more common to be climbing stone steps. Seemingly thousands of them... In the shady forest we saw a few early-flowering rhododendrons, and also some white Panchassee tree orchids.

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The view from the top was breathtaking.

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Walking down from Panchase Danda to Panchase Bhanjyang (2030m), the path once again became a bit softer and flatter.

The verdict for Day 2? A lot of ups and a little bit down.

Posted by Andrea R 21:31 Archived in Nepal Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains nature trek nepal Comments (0)

Panchase Trek Part 2

Days 3 and 4

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Personally, I had thought all the ‘up’ was behind us, but Day 3 still had a fair bit of it in store on the way from Panchase Bhanjyang to Bhumdi (1530m). The first hour or so we followed the rocky road out of Panchase Bhanjyang, before joining a more familiar and gentler walking path. Every now and then we emerged into big, open grassy areas, perfect for taking a rest and enjoying the views.

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The afternoon session was a comparatively quiet walk, as we were all concentrating on making our way safely down the sharp descent. Big rocks and some quite slippery patches made me glad to have a hiking pole with me – a confidence booster if nothing else. As Bhumdi came into view I was reflecting on how the hills showed signs of much more dense habitation, and also on how sore my knees were!!

For me, I think Day 3 proved to be the most difficult – manageable, but pretty hard on the legs.

The 4th and last day was lovely, walking through rural villages in the morning, then through Rani Ban (the Queen’s Forest) in the afternoon.

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Along the way there were amazing views of Pokhara and Phewa Tal. It was sad to say goodbye to our wonderful trekking crew.

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Day 4 = easy.

Posted by Andrea R 06:32 Archived in Nepal Tagged mountains nature trek nepal annapurna Comments (0)

Lashes to die for

A day in Chitwan National Park

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After a thorough drenching the previous afternoon, I had high expectations for a fresh, green day in Chitwan. It began with a cool, early morning walk along the Rapti River, which forms the national park boundary.

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The birds were already out in force, but as the sun began to take the chill off the air, larger creatures started to become visible in the distance too. There were lots of rhino sightings, but admittedly only the part they leave behind on the ground…

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At the end of the walk I was given a very different perspective of the river, taking a ride in a shallow-bottomed boat back to the starting point.

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From the boat, I was amazed at how much more I could see. Birds, animals including a highly-photogenic mugger crocodile sunning itself on the bank, people collecting rocks from the riverbed, and even the snow-capped Manaslu peaks in the distance.

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In the afternoon I entered the park-proper. Based on probability, I had my fingers crossed for a rhino, but I knew a tiger-sighting would be highly unlikely.

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The crocodile conservation centre got me up-close and personal enough with loads of gharial crocs, which were quite a novelty for me with their long, slender snouts. It’s hard to imagine them doing any damage, but when you see what they can sometimes do to each other, you would never take the risk.

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A couple of hours into the jeep safari through the sal forest, I’d seen lots more of the park’s diversity – peacocks, kingfishers, a few species of deer, a turtle/tortoise (?) righting itself after an unfortunate flip – and then the jackpot! A female one-horned rhino just maybe 10-15m from the side of the road. She was so close, you could see her lashes fluttering with the naked eye.

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Posted by Andrea R 12:21 Archived in Nepal Tagged animals birds river nepal Comments (2)

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