The days in Pokhara, the second biggest city of Nepal, were like being in a totally different place from Kathmandu. Like day and night, Pokhara is just calm and peace, without pollution, without traffic, without noise... and located in a perfect setting between a lake and the Annapurna Range. If to this you add some paragliding and the best chocolate creppes I've have ever had, the days in Pokhara were some of the best ones so far.
After the Holi festival in Kathmandu, we jumped into another long distance bus. This time our destination was Pokhara, the second biggest city in Nepal and meant to be a quiet place good to relax by a lake, have views of the Himalayas and practice some paragliding.
The Holi festival was supposed to be one of the highlights of the visit to Nepal and it really was. The whole city stops for one day to celebrate this Hindu festival to say goodbye to the Winter and welcome to the Spring. Even if it was still a bit cold, the experience of being in Durbar Square surrounded by thousands of happy Nepalis and having the face totally painted with colorful powder was amazing! An entire day of celebration, of saying 'Happy Holi!' to everyone and ending up covered by dozens of different colors made our day!
We had the 5th of March as a special day in the calendar. It was the annual Holi festival day in the Hindu countries and we didn't want to miss it. So we took another painful bus from Chitwan National Park back to Kathmandu, stayed at the same hostel we were the first time and prepared to enjoy a day of total celebration.
After spending almost two weeks in Kathmandu, we decided to go to Chitwan National Park, located in the South of the country and said to be one of the best places in the world to spot wild rhinos. In addition, it is also one of the few places in the world where you can go on a walking safari, which made it a plus. We spent two days there, took the walking safari and also an elephant ride to fully use the entrance ticket, although this last activity is not something I would recommend. Oh, and yes, we saw rhinos!
Recovered from tiredness, sickness and used to Kathmandu's hectic life, we jumped in a bus at 7 in the morning that should take us to Chitwan National Park. It was our second experience in a long-distance Nepali bus and this time it was a bit better. But just the bus (not as crowded, not as old). The road confirmed that Nepalese roads, and consequently bus rides, are one of the most painful in the world.
Unfortunately I'm writing this post after the earthquake that devastated Nepal last April. We were lucky enough to leave the country 15 days before the tragedy, so we could enjoy this beautiful country and see all the impressive monuments. Now, most of the places we saw are just gone or are a pile of ruines and a lot of people we met are still suffering and trying to recover. However, Nepal is a really beautiful country full of lovely people, so the best thing you can do to help is go and visit it. Even after the earthquake, it has still lots of things to offer for the traveller. No doubt about it!
This is how we saw Nepal a few weeks before the earthquake.
The crossing from Tibet into Nepal was quite a shock. After the thrilling drive along the Friendship Highway, we just crossed the Friendship Bridge and we were in a total different culture: Women dressed in colorful sarees, English widely spoken, friendly people... and chaos, quite a chaos everywhere if only being a small border town.
Kodari, the border town with Tibet, is just an unpaved road with a few shops, guesthouses and restaurants around and a bus stop at the end of the road. The first thing we did was to have our Nepali visa stamped valid for 3 months in a small office in Kodari, and after that we went straight to the bus stop to take the first bus heading to Kathmandu.
Born in Barcelona and raised in Olot, I've been interested in travelling since I was a child, when every Summer I crossed Spain from coast to coast with my parents. Listening to my siblings' stories about their trips all over the world also helped, as well as watching Around the World with Willy Fog on TV :)
As I grew up, and while I was still studying... read more