Nepal is, of course, most famous for the treks in the Himalayas (especially the famous base camp trek). Therefore, Kathmandu is the main gateway to all the natural wonders Nepal has in its offer. But the capital city itself is also worth a visit - fascinating, full of contrast, similar to Indian cities but with an original touch of incredible, unique architecture and complicated history. It is especially good to travel to this city now, to help the economy, when it's rising from the devastating earthquake in 2015. We went to Nepal right before, at the end of March 2015. In the photos below, you can see all the monuments in their original state, virtually days before the disaster.
On the second day of the extraordinarily beautiful trek to Poon Hill, we left the cozy village of Ulleri at sunrise and headed uphill towards another village - Ghorepani. Ghorepani is located at the elevation of 2750 meters and it differs from other towns with the distinctive blue roofs and houses. It is also a gateway to the most important point of the trek - Poon Hill (around 3200 meters above sea level) which offers a spectacular, 360 degree view of the Annapurna range in the Himalayas. Especially stunning in March/April when all the wild rhododendrons blossom and cover the mountainous valleys in bright red colors.
Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal, located at the foot of the Himalayan Annapurna Range. It may be quite difficult to get to the starting point of the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek as there are no roads there from Kathmandu but that's not the case with Pokhara where you'll see spectacular mountainous peaks as if they were in front of you. It's also very easy to get closer to the Himalayas and start hiking the beautiful, fairy tale-like, full of blooming rhododendrons Poon Hill loop trail, or more advanced Annapurna Base Camp trek. If you're lucky with the weather, you can spot the most beautiful, snowy, "Fish Tail" mountain which rises almost 7000 meters above sea level (original name: Machhapuchchhre - yes, the spelling is kind of crazy) right away from Pokhara's center.
The town of Bhaktapur is located only 15 km (10 miles) east of Nepal's capital - Kathmandu. Great for a day or weekend trip, it boasts the most spectacular of Katmandu's royal plazas (called durbar) - Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The square is a living museum - with numerous ancient monuments, temples and buildings at every corner. What's more, if the weather is clear, you can admire the Himalayas from the nearby village of Nagarkot situated on one of the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. You can also have a chance to experience real Nepalese hospitality by staying over with a local family in a traditional house - that's far more exciting and authentic than sleeping in yet another, boring tourist hotel.
If you love trekking and want to experience the most famous mountain range in the world - The Himalayas firsthand, the best way to begin your adventure is to hike the trails of Annapurna Range - located near the city of Pokhara (200 km/125 miles from Kathmandu). The loop trail to Poon Hill - the popular view point via lush green forests and little, cozy mountainous villages of Ulleri, Ghorepani, Tadapani and Ghandruk offers absolutely breathtaking views of the Himalayan snowy peaks (if the weather permits of course). It's very easy to get to the start point from Pokhara and once you've started, you can give yourself as much time as you need - there are literally hundreds of guest houses along the way where you may stay overnight.