The night before we left, my parents and I sat chatting about what the week would hold, looking over the itinerary given to us by Nepal Trip Planners. Kathmandu, to Bandipur, Pokhara, Chitwan and back to Kathmandu. A glimpse of Nepal’s cultures, mountains, jungles, animals, and natural beauty. We went to bed excited, and woke up early to begin our drive to Bandipur.
Our driver, Gokul, was an expert and was able to weave through the traffic and navigate the chaotic Nepali roads. After many hours weaving through mountains, we began to climb upwards past rice paddies to Bandipur. The air was clean and the sky open, and our bags were taken to our hotel for us as we wandered through the old Newari town of Bandipur. 1000metres up in the air, atop a hill, lies the cobbled streets and lanes of Bandipur. It is a beautifully preserved old Newari town, and we stayed in the Old Inn- a 200 year old Newari house now converted to a boutique hotel. Mum, Dad and I are all about a foot and a half taller than the average Nepali, so we had to duck through the old carved doors and mind our head when we made our way down the staircase. But all this added to the immense charm of the Old Inn. Beautiful dark wood, intricate Newari carvings, and tradition Nepali fixtures. We sat on our balconies overlooking the vehicle free cobbled main strip of Bandipur and, then watched the sunset over the rolling hills.
The next morning, we woke up in a cloud. At sunrise, the temple bells rung waking us and as we stepped out onto the balcony we were surrounded by a cloud. After breakfast the cloud and rain cleared and we were able to see the snow capped Himalayas that had been hidden from us as clear as day. They were spectacular. We set off for Pokhara and arrived in a few hours.
In Pokhara, we stayed at the Hotel Da Yatra Courtyard which was very modern and luxurious. Pokhara was very serene: a lovely green lake surrounded by jungle covered hills with paragliders up in the sky circling. Great organic cafes, different cuisines and book shops keep you busy after all the sight seeing is done! We had dinner at a delicious restaurant while the sunset over Fewa lake, and then wandered back to our hotel to sleep as the next morning we were waking up early to see the sunrise over the Himalayas!
Bleary eyed and tired Gokul picked us up at 4:30am from our hotel, and we made the drive up to Sarangkot. Luckily, it had rained the night before so the sky was clear. We sat on a balcony overlooking the Himalayas, and sat transfixed by the sunrise. We watched the sun hit Annapurna, and then slowly the clouds rolled in across Pokhara and at 6am we went back to our hotel for breakfast. This day was our biggest day in Pokhara- after breakfast Gokul picked us up and we visited Davis Falls, Mahendra Cave and the Gurkha Museum. The next day was a day of rest in Pokhara which we enjoyed by taking a row boat around Fewa lake and relaxing with a cold beer for the sunset.
Then we were off to Chitwan. The windy road passed through tall jungle covered hills, and along roaring monsoon rivers. We arrived at Green Park, were our Nepali Safari Adventure would begin. We stayed two nights in Chitwan, and enjoyed a cultural dance, a visit to the local village, delicious food at the Green Park restaurant and many dips in the pool to cool off from the hot days! By far the highlight of our trip to Chitwan was the elephant safari. The three of us sat atop a 40 year old Asian Elephant and made our way through Chitwan National Park and saw peacocks, deer and boar. It was pouring with rain but immensely enjoyable- I never thought before that I would be riding an elephant through the Nepali jungle! That evening we paddled in a traditional dug-out canoe down a croc infested river and spotted many (surprisingly sleepy) crocodiles peeking out the water. We then visited the elephant sanctuary to see how the Asian Elephant population is being protected, and got to see some very cute baby elephants.
The next morning Gokul picked us up again, and we made our way back to Kathmandu. We were happy, well fed and well travelled. We had a wonderful week exploring Nepal and had made family memories to last a lifetime. Our highlights varied but we all agreed that the the old Newari town of Bandipur, the sunrise over the Himalayas, and riding atop an elephant in the jungle were all very special moments for us to share.