HOMESTAY HIKES IN THE POKHARA AREA

HOMESTAY HIKES IN THE POKHARA AREA

 

These hikes have been designed with the support of KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency). Lasting between one and four days, they provide the opportunity to explore the villages close to Pokhara. In most, accommodation is basic and in family homestays. Buses run to and from the start and finish points, making these hikes an ideal solution for anyone who has not much time.

 

Why go on a Homestay hike?

ENJOY THE HIMALAYAS WITH SHORT HIKES: If you don’t have time for a long trek, there are many short trails to follow to enjoy the Himalayas away from busy tourist attractions.

 

EXPERIENCE REAL VILLAGE LIFE: Explore the real village life, eat local organic food, and cook your own dal bhat. Talk to locals and immerse yourself in rural life.

 

POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON THE VILLAGE: Homestay families receive tourists on their own terms. Most of the villages contribute at least $1 per tourist to their community fund for road maintenance, environmental improvement, and preservation of their culture. Your stay makes a positive impact on the village.

RURAL WOMEN EMPOWERMENT: Most of the men have left the villages to find jobs so women have to take care of the village. Women’s participation is a vital part of the homestay and they take active roles in greeting tourists, cooking meals, organizing cultural events and homestay committee activities. Profits from the homestay support their economic condition and strengthen their abilities. Often the money is used to help send their children to school.

 

 

Pame-Panchase- Badure (2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 nights)

This hike can be done in two days, or you can extend it to three days if you go to Australian Camp.

 

Take the bus from Hallam Chowk at Lakeside to Pame, getting off at the last stop (1 hour). From here you hike to Ghati Chinna. The rough roads along the way make going a little hard but you are rewarded by views of Fewa Lake and the surround hills.

 

You continue uphill past Dam Dame village homestay (70 minutes) up to Sidhane village homestay (2.5hrs) where you can take lunch at one of the four homestays, or stay the night if you don’t want to go any farther.

 

Another two hours takes you to Panchase where you have panoramic views of the Annapurnas. Here you can relax with some yoga and meditation. There are lodges where you can spend the night.

 

The next morning, after admiring the spectacular sunrise over the mountains, you have a choice of continuing directly to Badure (2 hrs) or via Panchase Byanjang, taking a bit longer. You can have lunch at Badure and it then takes another two hours to reach Kande.

 

From Kande you can catch a bus to Pokhara or prolong your hike by another day by continuing to Australian Camp (1.5 hrs) where you stay the night and return either via Kande or by going to Phedi via Dampus (there is also a bus to Kande to Phedi).

 

Long Bridge, Armala, Mauja (1 day or 2 days/1 night)

This hike can be done in one or two days. Making an early start, you can complete this hike in 6-7 hours or you can overnight in Aatighar or Mauja.

 

Take the bus from Pokhara to Bagar getting off at the last stop at Long Bridge (also known as Valam). Your trail starts here close to the Gurkha Museum. After an hour, you reach Haribar Cave, a temple of yoga and meditation. Continuing to Armala village for lunch (2 hrs), you can find noodles at a simple store in the village.

 

The going gets easier and after an hour of flat and downward trails, you arrive at the charming village of Aatigar. There is a homestay under construction but if you want to stay here, there is a family who can put you up if you contact them in advance. There is a homestay an hour away at Mauja.

 

To finish, you walk down for an hour to Kahu Khola where you can take a bus to Pokhara (1 hr).

 

Sikles, Tanting Eco-trekking (2 days/1 night or 5 days/4 nights)

Hiking from Siklis to Tanting takes two days or you can extend this to five days going from Armala-Atighar-Mauja-Thak. You need a trekking permit to visit Sikles and Tanting.

 

Travelling by jeep from Kahu Khola, it takes 3 hours to reach Tanting or 5 hours to Siklis. There are homestays in both villages.

 

The Sikles eco-trek is quite different from the Annapurna treks. Sikles village is located at 2000 meters and here you can see the Himalayas up close. This village is very big with well-maintained lodges and there are also 13 homestays.

 

Going in either direction Tanting - Sikles, you walk up and down for 3 hours. The two villages are on either sides of a deep winding valley.

 

Tanting is a big village with over 200 households, and there are 12 families running homestays here. It is an interesting village to explore with its Buddhist temple and traditional style houses with wooden windows. You could also include visiting Bhurjung Khola and Tara Hill Top on this hike.

 

For the longer trek, you start from Armala-Aatighar, a 2-hour jeep ride from Pokhara. This longer route is suitable for anyone who prefers going into a remote area and you don’t mind basic village accommodation. From Armala – Aatighar you spend the night in Mauja and the next day, walking up a steep slope for 3 hours, you stay the night in Thaplanga, Sildujure. The following day you go to Sikles, finally staying the fourth night at Tanting.

 

Astam and Hyangjakot (2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 nights)

This two-day hike can be extended to three days, going via Australian Camp.

 

Take a bus from Hari Chowk to Millan Chowk (20 minutes). Both of these villages are on the Pokhara-Baglung highway and you can take buses to other villages such as Hemja, Baglung, Gandruk, Nayapul, Lwang, Ghalel and Dhital.

 

You walk up to Astam via Jhijhirka (2 hrs) where you can find good places to have lunch. After another hour, you reach Hyangjakot homestay village. Here there are 12 village homestays where you can stay the night. You are very welcome to try the local Gurung liquor, rakshi with your dinner.

 

From Hyangjakot you can admire beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the Himalayas, with panoramic views as far as the eye can see. You can come down to Phedi via Dampus or if you want to extend the hike for an extra day, go to Australian Camp and stay one more night and come back to Kande.

 

Lwang, Ghalel, Ghachowk (2 days/1 night)

This two-day hike via Ghachowk gives you a marvelous view of Pokhara from the tea farm at Lwang. You need a trekking permit to visit Lwang.

 

You take a bus from Hari Chowk to Ghachowk, the starting point for many of the local buses (1.5 hr by bus or jeep).

 

Ghachowk (Thuche) is the starting point of the Machapuchare Model Trek. Twenty families have started homestays in 2018 with the support of Karitas. The homestays are scattered around the village and you can enjoy exploring the village. Worth seeing is the cultural program that you can request ($30 for Nepalese/$50 for foreigners).

 

From here you can go on the two day Lwang-Ghalel hike. After spending a night at Ghachowk, take a bus (40 minutes) and then walk for 3 hours to Lwang. There are few places along the way where you get refreshments.

 

It is possible to get to Lwang directly by bus from Hari or Milan Chowk, but they are usually crowded with village people as there are only two buses a day. Otherwise there are also buses to Koramuk from Hari and Milan Chowk from where it takes 90 minutes to walk to Lwang.

 

Lwang is the destination of the Mardi Himal Trek and about 30-40 minutes beyond the village you can visit the tea garden that is located at 1600 meters above sea level. The view of villages and downtown Pokhara from the tea garden is wonderful. There are 12 households are running well-established homestays here and the homes have good toilet and shower facilities. There is a cultural program that is presented by the youth and costs $30.

 

 After staying a night in Lwang, you can continue your journey to Ghalel (2.5 hrs). Along the way you will see the magnificent Himals and rice terraces, making this a very scenic hike. Ghalel also operates homestays and has a few small stores. If you want to descend back down to Lumle, it takes an hour and you can then take a jeep to Milan Chowk.

 

Chapakot (Ghaderi) – Bhumdikot (1 day or 2 days/1 night)

This hike takes you to the World Peace Pagoda where you can look down at Fewa Lake. If you go from Hallan Chowk via Pame to Chapakot (Ghaderi eco-village) you can do this as a day hike or going to Bhumdikot via the Peace Pagoda you can extend this to two days.

 

Take a bus at Hallan Chowk at Lakeside to Pame (40 minutes). Immediately after getting off the bus, you cross the bridge on your left side. After the bridge, you go over the ridge, and then another ridge. You should ask people the way as there is no road sign. You walk uphill for about 2 hours to Japakot where you can take a break and admire the view down to Fewa Lake. In Japakot, there is only a small store and no accommodation, so continue for about 15 minutes to Ghaderi eco-village.

 

There are about 25 households of Brahmin people and some Dalits (most of the mountain villages near Pokhara are inhabited by Gurungs). This village is called an ‘eco-village’ because people here have been working on a project of collecting waste plastic bottles from in Fewa Lake and building structures out of them.

 

Continue up for another hour to arrive at Bhumdikot where you can rest, stay the night or return to Pokhara by bus if you don’t want to hike back. The bus service starts at 5:30am and runs every 2 hours (1.5 hrs) to Prithivi Chowk in Pokhara.

 

Otherwise, you can walk down via the Peace Pagoda (2 hrs) and from here you can either walk down through the forest or take a car and a boat to cross the lake.

 

Thulakot, Chisapani, Begnas Lake hikes (3 days/2 nights or 4 days/3 nights)

These hikes can be completed in three or four days. You can hike Kasyari-Thulakot-Lipeyani-Chisapani-Talbesi taking three days, or extend you hike to include Lupa and Begnas Lakes taking four days.

 

In the 1970s when there was no accommodation available it was necessary to camp to here. Nowadays, communication is better and there are roads are under construction, and a few places to stay. But still, there are not many. When Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Mick Jaggar, from the The Rolling Stones visited this trekking area, it became famous and people called it the ‘Royal Trek’.

 

You take the bus to Kahu Kola and get off at the last stop at Kayari. You walk up for about 3 hours from there and you find a family homestay where you can have lunch. Continuing up for another hour, you reach your destination of the day, Thulakot. Along the way, you can admire the views of Begnas Lake and Lupa Lake.

 

After spending the night at Thulakot, you head to Lipeyani. You will see the Himalayas on the opposite side of the valley with two lakes on both sides. It takes about 5 hours to reach Lipeyani and the way can be challenging. Stay another night in Lipeyani and you can take the daily bus back to Pokhara in the morning, or stay one more night in Begnas Lake or Lupa Lake going there via Chisapani.

 

Thulakot and Lipeyani have two homestays in each village. There are many guesthouses and hotels at Begnas and Lupa Lake.

 

Naudanda-Deurali-Kaskikot-Sarangkot (1 day)

This hike is particularly accessible for people with disabilities and the elderly. The first accessible trekking trail was inaugurated as a part of a conference on making tourism more accessibility to these groups of people.

 

It is easy to access Naudanda and takes only an hour to reach from Hari Chowk. Starting along the trail from Naudanda, you can enjoy the beautiful views from the Deurali viewpoint and return to Fewa Lake via Sarangkot. Not the entire trail is wheelchair accessible yet as this is still under construction. However you can find road signs marked with the slope angles and currently (2019) there is a wheelchair accessible trail that is 45 minutes long.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

Accommodation: Most of the accommodation along these hiking routes is in simple family homestays. They are clean but are basic with no frills. 

 

Bathroom and toilet: In most homes it is typically not in the house but out in the yard. Toilets are usually squat toilets and you need to bring your own toilet paper. Nepalese use water and do not normally use paper, so try not to dispose of this in the toilet as it can block it. You can take a shower with a hose attached inside or more often, using a bucket. (You need to bring your own toiletries and towel.)

 

Water: You’ll be provided with local water that village people drink. You may ask people to boil local water for you or you can filter or treat water with iodine. Although it may be possible to buy bottled water, try to avoid this as the plastic bottles are all but impossible to dispose of here.

 

Food: The staple food of Nepal is dal bhat made from lentil soup called ‘dal’ and steamed rice ‘bhat’ served with local organic vegetables. If the village raises chickens, you can order non-veg chicken dal bhat as well. Nepalese have dal bhat as lunch and dinner, typically at 10am and 8pm. They have a ‘khaja (snack)’ in the late afternoon between lunch and dinner which can be a dish of corn, roti (Nepalese flatbread), noodles or sweet potatoes, with chiya (tea). Dinner time is usually 8-9pm but should check with your host. When you have chiya (tea), tell your hosts about how much sugar you take as Nepalese usually take it very sweet. Breakfast is usually tea, eggs, and roti. If you have any preferences, talk with your host about the next day’s breakfast the evening before. You are usually welcome to look in the kitchen while your host makes dal bhat and participate.

 

People: Many different ethnic groups coexist in Nepal (over 65) and there are over 100 languages. You are encouraged to look up some information about people in Nepal before you go. In most of the villages in the Annapurna area there are Gurung and Magar people.

 

Cultural programs: If you visit the village as a group, you can ask for a display of their cultural program. This is an important way to help the local people preserve their culture. They are always very proud to display their traditional dance, music and costumes. It usually starts after dinner and you can have fun dancing and listening to music with village people. It is sometimes charged at a fixed rate but if not, you pay individually depending on your satisfaction.

 

Homestay price : Most village homestays offer 3 meals and accommodation for about $15 but this is a base price and varies depending on what is provided (alcohol, cultural program, water and so on).

 

Transportation: Public buses and jeeps run to many villages, though the condition of the roads can be very variable. If you are using public transport, check the times and frequency of buses.

 

Festivals and time to visit: Although Nepal is a Hindu country, Shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism and other religions celebrated by different groups of people make the festivals more colorful. The best time to visit Nepal for the weather is from February to May and from September to December. The weather is wonderful during those months.

 

In March, ‘Shiva Ratri’ is a festival to praise Shiva, one of the three main gods in Hinduism and ‘Holi’, which is the festival of colors. The Nepali New Year is celebrated in April. From mid-June to mid-July is ‘Ashad,’ the busiest season for planting rice and this is when ‘Ropain’, the rice planting festival occurs.

 

In mid-July, Nepalese women apply ‘Mehndi (Henna)’ on their arms and wear green bracelets to celebrate ‘Saune Sankranti’, the solstice festival. ‘Teej’ is a monsoon festival celebrated by women and falls in August-September.  The two biggest festivals ‘Dashain’ and ‘Tihar’ are usually in October and November. All of these festivals are determined by the lunar calendar so it is worth checking the dates as this changes from year to year.