Our day began with a three hour hike high into the hills above Pokhara, through small farms and terraced agricultural land set against the breaktaking backdrop of the Annapurna Range. Fish Tail Mountain or Machapuchare jutted into the sky on our left at our first view point, while Annapurna 1 and 2 filled the sky on the right. Machapuchare is considered a sacred mountain to the God Lord Shiva by the local tribes and is off limits to climbing. Looking at the sheer vertical rise of the mountain that is probably a good thing!
The route wound up to the top of a ridge offering an unparalleled view of the valleys and of Pokhara. It was also the site of the old watch tower for the area in days gone by. Once at the top our group took a short break for a group photo and some water before beginning back down into the valley.
Our descent wound its way through farms and fields, offering glimpses into the way of life of Nepalese farmers. Most get their water supply from the numerous artesian springs along the hillside. Both human and animal wastes are composted and spread back on the land. Permaculture practices are in full view here. A closer view of a field of what looked like weeds contained sweet potatoes, radishes, greens, bananas and other crops growing in close proximity. Goats and water buffalo are the main ruminant livestock: goats used primarily for meat and water buffalo for milk as well as meat. A neighbourhood dog attached itself to the group about half way along the journey and accompanied us to its end. Large terraced fields of rice and millet followed the contours of the hillsides.
Plant life made us realize how marginal our climate is to tropical natives. Poinsettias the size of trees grow by the trails , while bamboo reaches gigantic proportions here. One of our group members posed beside a thicket of bamboo for us for scale. This is the material that is used in most of the scaffolding seen around buildings being repaired after the earthquake of 2015.
We reached our transport into town around noon – an absolutely amazing morning in paradise.
Tibetan Refuge Camp and Mo Mo cooking class
After a short break we headed out to the permanent Tibetan Refuge Camp located in Pokhara for a Mo Mo cooking class with Dolma a wonderful Tibetan woman who was born in the camp over 60 years ago. Conditions in Tibet resulted in the mass emigration of Tibetans from their homeland in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The tented camp at their arrival site in Pokhara has morphed over the decades into permanent housing, gardens, shops, cottage industries and a Tibetan Carpet store that absolutely must be visited if you are ever in Pokhara. These carpets are made in the camp and all funds from their sales stay in the community. Mary and I each came away with a treasure to be added to the growing pile that must be transported home somehow.
The world Peace Pagoda located high above Pokhara and Lake Phewa enshrines the sacred relics of Buddha. 480 steps of “Nepalese flat” gets you to the top with many stops along the way to enjoy spectacular vistas across the lake and valley. This has the distinction of being the first peace pagoda built in Nepal and is the 71st Peace Pagoda built around the world. The people who come to visit this special place can expect to experience an abundance of peace. We had a lovely late afternoon visit enjoying the site and a spectacular view including vistas of Pokhara, Lake Phewa and a glimpse of the distant Himalayas.
Boat Trip on Lake Phewa
A fitting end to the day was a magical canoe ride on Lake Phewa into the setting sun. Our colourful canoes moved out smoothly into the Lake paddled by Nepalese oarsmen. The sunset was a stunning one and the trip a lovely one, gorgeous light, another glimpse of the Himalayas, and cool breezes.
Was a wonderful day and a lot of fun. Thanks everyone for participating in creating Mary’s cartoons of the day!
Tomorrow we leave early for Chitwan National Park. It is a 6 – 7 hour drive over some pretty rough roads. No guarantees on the timeline of tomorrows post.