Pokhara is in Mid-Western part of Nepal which is about 200km west of Kathmandu and can be reached in 5 hours by bus. It is a good tourist destination where you can enjoy the beautiful Annapurna Range and close look of Fish Tail Mountain. Pokhara itself lies on the banks of Lake Phewa, a huge, beautiful lake. Your placement can be in School, Social Work, Environment. Pokhara starting point for major trekking routes such as the Annapurna Circuit, Sanctuary and Jomsom treks, a number of short day treks in the surrounding hills may be taken.
Pokhara is situated on the edge of the Pokhara Valley which is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Nepal. Here the Seti River has dug incredible canyons in the floor of the Seti Gandaki Valley. Most of these canyons are only visible from higher viewpoints but they are stunning to behold. If you wish to see what they look like, getting a little higher off the ground shouldn’t be too difficult. The mountains here rise from 1000 m to over 8000 m over the short distance of only 30 kilometers. This astonishing fact makes them one of a kind! The Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu ranges can all be seen from Pokhara and make for a stunning backdrop. There is a fantastic waterfall known as David’s Falls where the water from nearby Phewa Lake thunders into a large hole and disappears mysteriously.
Summers in Pokhara are relatively hot and winters are mild. The region is sub-tropical because of the elevation and this means you can expect lots of beautiful green shrubbery all year around.
Pokhara has changed much since the 1960’s. Back then it was a quiet little town which could only be reached by foot. Many considered it to be even more mystical than Kathmandu. The completion of the first road in 1968 soon brought a change to this. Tourism quickly became a major industry and the city grew rapidly. Though Pokhara is considerably bigger than it was only a few years ago, there are still a lot of green spaces which make the place feel peaceful and spacious. Most of the town’s traffic is made up of tourists traveling to the Annapurna Base Camp.
Since most of the city’s growth has occurred in recent years, Pokhara is relatively modern. However, the old center, known as Purano Bazaar, is quite interesting and reminiscent of days gone by as are the mule caravans which arrive regularly from Mustang. There are lots of temples to visit in the region and lots of hiking trails to do. The lakes are generally not very good for swimming though boating is popular. There are a great number of natural attractions in the area which are well worth visiting.
Many tourists enjoy Pokhara as it is not as cramped as Kathmandu, but it does not house as many cultural attractions as Nepal’s capital. While it does have some great cultural sights, the focus tends more towards the many natural wonders around the city. Pokhara should definitely not be missed.
General Pokhara Information
Our volunteers stay with local Nepali families in the mountains around Pokhara. Nepali families are extremely welcoming and all our host families have experience looking after volunteers. The houses are however basic by Western standards, most with Nepali style outdoor toilets and showers and the electricity supply is not always reliable. All of the houses are located close to the volunteers placements and all have fantastic mountain views.
During your time in the house you will be encouraged to participate in activities around the home such as cooking, washing and generally caring for the house and family as if you where a member of the familly. We believe this is best way to experience real Nepali life.
The climate around Pokhara depends very much on elevation. Pokhara itself is at only 884 meters and the climate is generally warm and more moderate that Kathmandu, although it gets hit harder than Katmandu by the monsoon season which runs from June until September and can get very humid at times. The best time to visit the region is between October and November when its cool and views of the mountains are clear from December through to February snows make much of the region and the longer treks inaccessible and it can get extremely cold at night. March and April are also good time to visit although May and June can get very hot during the day making trekking unpleasant even at high altitudes. Even at this time it can get very cold at night in the mountains so volunteers should be prepared for this.
During the week volunteers usually eat with their host families. The staple food for people in Nepal is “Dal Bhat” which most families will eat at least once a day and consists of rice (Bhat), lentil soup (dal) and vegetables in curry (Tarkari) and/or meat (Masu) and a small amount of pickle /sauce (Achar). Other traditional Nepali food are quite similar to Indian food with lots of curries and potatoes although in the mountainous regions Tibetan foods such as thugba (noodle soup), momos, Tibetan breads and tsampa are particularly popular. At weekends volunteers often travel in Pokhara where there is a huge variety of Western food available. Some of the placements are also close to trekking trails and the trekking lodges also sell a variety of Western food.
As well as the huge amounts of trekking, there are numerous other things to do around Pokhara. Highlights include boating on Lake Phewa Tal (the second largest lake in Nepal), paragliding, numerous temples (both Hindu and Buddhist), Rani Ban (the Queen’s Forest), local museums, Patale Chango (Devi’s Falls), Yoga Ashram Centers and Tashipalkhel (a Tibetan area including a Monastery and village).