After last years #7yearhomecoming to Nepal, I returned this April with a super special someone (Mama) who I’ve always wanted to show my Nepal to!
Super long story short and I think I’ve mentioned this before, Nepal was probably my first solo trip at 19 when I went to volunteer for about 6 weeks and it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart x Mama’s been wanting to go for ages and ever since I can remember, she’s wanted to see the Himalayas and I’m sure climb them as well haha but I did the best I could and tried to fulfill that dream via watching the sunrise over them and Everest so it was a quarter of a win I suppose!
This is a rundown of what our 4 night, 5 day itinerary more or less looked like. I stayed for a bit longer last year with Lucy so we were able to fit in Chitwan National Park and see the elephant sanctuary and more wildlife etc. but that’s probably the only thing slightly missing from this time around; that and staying in an area called Bhaktapur. We lingered in and around the area but didn’t stay a night which we had done before, but I’d recommend it after ‘Day1’ if you’re going by the itinerary below just because location-wise it makes the most sense!
definitely think the following is realistic for someone who’s maybe headed to Nepal for the first time and wants to experience a bit of everything in a short time, which is what I had in mind for mama, but you can always stay a day or two longer in one place and take out another etc etc. as it suits you best! Going to try and not get into too much detail so this doesn’t long out, but places, things to maybe visit whilst you’re in the area etc. are down below and you’re always more than welcome to get in touch if you’ve got a jillion and one questions because promise I won’t mind answering them!
Nagarkot is a village in central Nepal kinda sorta at the edge of the Kathmandu Valley and known for its views of the Himalayas and Everest. Its about an hours drive from Kathmandu Airport and one of the maddest car rides you’ll ever experience! Mostly uphill on the absolute worst, not even roads lol, ‘path’ I would call it, where 2-way traffic is a thing despite there only being enough space for one car and you risk falling off of steep cliffs (there are no barriers), but you do it anyways because you’ve got to get to Nagarkot! Nepal is actually known for having some of the worst roads in the world, and this is no exception lol last year the drive was made at night in the rain which meant mudslides and even more unevenness and no visibility whatsoever, so all my goodbye world messages were done as I prayed to make it out alive just because you never know what might happen!
Unless you’re interested in hiking and trails are your thing, I’d say 1-2 days max are enough in Nagarkot, maybe even one and a half. Get there midday, walk around the village, get through a smaller hiking trail, sleep in the cold (it’s always super cold in Nagarkot so bring a jumper and gloves!), wake up early to see the sunrise, have breakfast, and take the local bus back down to Bhaktapur!
I’ve never taken a local taxi upwards and instead opted for airport pickup by the hotel seeing as it tends to be the first stop; the drivers they send are slightly more familiar with the roads and terrain as opposed to the city drivers so that’s always a good thing. Nagarkot is also the first stop just because its slightly out of the way than other places and this way you’ll start at the farthest and make your way West-ish to everything else!
I’d recommend staying at the ‘Peaceful Cottage’ (hotel) just because so far they’ve given the best view of the sunrise. Didn’t stay there this time around, but I remembered where it was and snuck mama and myself onto the roof bit and caught it from there. There’s also supposedly an observation tower to catch the sunrise from as well but I’ve never ventured that way so can’t help with that!
Skipped Bhaktapur and instead of taking the local bus down from Nagarkot, mama decided we should hitch a ride with strangers lol initially it was just to the end of the road so we could catch the local bus, but turns out our new friends were also headed there so we joined lol to be honest if you get the chance, I’d recommend it; people are extremely nice and helpful and not even in a schemy get-rich-quick type way in that they notice you’re a foreigner [this happens in the city], but in remote areas everyones willing and wanting to help if they can, so step out of your comfort zone and have a little faith in the goodness of people and you’ll be glad you did!
Got dropped off at a random roadside only after our friends ensured the bus driver knew exactly where he was taking us (faith in people again!); I planned for us to spend the afternoon and night in Thamel because we needed to book bus tickets for Pokhara the next morning. Thamel is a tourist hub and this beautiful dusty congestion of people and shops and bikes and cars all on the same road lol and because of this there are tour companies at every corner where you can book anything from flights to paragliding to elephant safaris etc. Managed to bargain bus tickets at a decent price without getting the standard tourist scam price (I’m always proud of this lol) and also found a halal momo place outside the hotel which was blessed alhamdulillah.
Mama wasn’t a fan of Thamel because of the dust and chaos and garbage but I love it; walking through the streets, getting lost, coming across cool shops and trying random food on the street etc. lol I hardly notice the madness, but also maybe because I’ve been before so knew what to expect!
Bus ride to Pokhara
So this is definitely something I’d recommend everyone do if you’re ever visiting, like a must must! A 6 hour bus ride doesn’t sound too appealing, but I promise it’s one experience you’ll never forget. No photos of the winding roads and incredible views below (which are actually a tad terrifying in real life) can really do it justice. Legit breathtaking and you’re left in awe of it all and how freaking beautiful and wonderful this world really is.
There are definitely other places which you can travel to via these buses which follow a similar route, but I’m not too sure whereabouts; Pokhara and Chitwan (Chitwan National Park) are ones I’d recommend just because I’ve been, and also if you opt to go water rafting, the same buses drop you off on the way so #samesame
Pokhara itself is a beautiful place in Nepal, one of them ones that makes you feel like you’re not really in Nepal lol quieter, cleaner, less busier, and I think suited for maybe an older audience (Mum preferred it to Kathmandu lol) I’ve got another post coming on what to actually do in Pokhara so I won’t get into too much detail here; think of it as a quaint getaway I suppose!
Fly out of Pokhara to KTM
Because we were short on days, I opted to fly out from Pokhara on the way back instead of doing the 6hour bus journey again. It’s a small domestic airport and we totally underestimated the size of the plane itself! Legit the smallest plane I have ever seen or sat in ever ever ever! Maybe a 12 seater with the personal space factor being synonymous to what you’d find on a public bus lol it was one of those rides you say bismillah on and hope for the best haha
Once we got back to Kathmandu, the plan was to head to a small village called Godawari. Godawari is where I stayed during my very first trip and I wanted to take mum to show her my Nepali families, where my school was, the streets I roamed and all that good stuff! Mum also opted to not take a taxi so we did like the locals and bussed it from the airport to the local Lagankhil bus stop with suitcases piled on our laps and from there took another bus aka minivan cramped with as many people as possible lol and finally made it to Godawari!
Godawari is the type of village where electricity is sporadic and the day ends when the sun sets. The type where lizards are friends and if the occasional one is found on your bed or while you squat in the bathroom, you’re apparently not meant to freak out…! It was lovely to take mum around and show her the route I used to take to school, where I’d get local munch from and just reminisce all those memories and feels with her by my side. Lots and lots of love to my Nepali family for hosting mum and I for the night and treating us like their own! Love you Mridula!xx
Headed back to the city for our last night in Nepal and figured mum had been a good sport and stayed in some pretty unconventional accommodation thus far lol so we should maybe find something cutesy to end the trip with. We hadn’t yet roamed about Durbar Square or any of the temples so opted to stay at Hira Guest House which was right outside the Golden Temple and a stroll away to the main square. Pathan Durbar Square is another place one should definitely visit if you’re in town. A lot of it is still under construction after the earthquake and I suppose to someone who has never been before it all probably looks like rubble, but it always hurts my heart walking through because I remember what it used to be like; how certain temples towered over you as you walked through alleys, and the flow of people from tourists to locals to worshippers who would gather in the square, the smell of incense almost choking you as you’d breathe lol; not to say it’s dead and there’s no vibe to it, but definitely a bit of difference from before! There’s also a fee to enter the square, different rates apply if you’re a foreigner versus local or Indian, and I know this sounds really terrible, but I always tend to enter from the back route just because of familiarity with the streets so have kinda sorta avoided the ‘toll’ if you will, but just letting you know so it doesn’t come as a surprise!
As for Hira Guest House, mama loved it as did I, and would definitely recommend it to anyone. The building itself has some historical meaning behind it and I believe it belongs to a member of the royal family who had preserved its authentic architecture both inside and out, and its actually one of the few structures in the area which was untouched by the earthquake which is super subhanallah! Regular bathrooms, hot water, lovely view onto the courtyard as well as a rooftop you can get photos on, have breakfast at, or just creep on the city really lol don’t not stay here if you’re in town!
–and that’s that! It has literally taken me ages to complete this and I feel a whole lot better now that it is lol but hopefully it might come in handy for one of you at some point and maybe even inspire you to trek over to that part of the world! Also put together this cutesy infographic of our 5 day guide to Nepal which I think might be something we do for future trips! Enjoy! xoxo