Pokhara, Nepal, February 2018: About 3/4 the way up, just before the village,, a guy in an orange vest jumps out from behind a ramshackle structure, with a demand for 50 rupees. He points to a notice board, looks official alright. Says something about being a fee to help the villagers achieve development! Oh well, 50 rupees won’t spoil the budget too much and at least I can get on the viewing platform with it. I’d estimate another 45 minutes of hiking from here, but those damn clouds are beginning to develop, better got a move on!
Sarangkot , not only famous for mountain viewing, but also for jumping off with a parachute – Yes, its the worlds premiere spot for paragliding is to be found here. The good news is that their trail is a handy shortcut to the viewpoint platform, which is clearly visible, almost within touching distance. I’ll loiter here for a few minutes rest though.
!0.15 and a last ditched effort to reach the summit of Sarangkot Hill. A nicely constructed stone staircase lined either side with everything touristy, only there’s an apparent lack of tourists. So, at last, on top of the hill where in theory the views of the entire Annapurna mountain range should be breathtaking. Instead the clouds have rolled in creating partial views here and there. Strangely enough though the black and white vista adds a completely different dimension to the scene. An air of mystery surrounds the Annapurna mountains hidden in a cloak of mist and fog!
Half an hour here is long enough for a good rest and suddenly realising I haven’t eaten for some hours, time to find sustenance. Among the plethora of touristy joins, most of which seem closed, one can find a local lunch counter with the simplest of menus – noodles, potato, fry, Dal Bhat and samosas. 1 samosa, a plate of potato fry and a cup of milk tea will cost 200 rupees, more than double in the city. Funny how inflation increases with altitude!
With a few hours to spare until the bus down at 4 pm, lets go and watch those fools jump off the hillside – attached to a parachute of course!
Well, it may be a quick way down for the adventurous, I’d sooner take the bus. At first the place looks like a scene of chaos but after a while there is a definite queuing system. Quite calming to watch for the most part – that is until someone trips up on the cliff edge or the parachute canape collapses just on the point of launch. One chap even managed to wrap his entire rig around the windsock post!
And here comes the bus… Yes it’s pretty amazing how they get these buses up the steepest of hills on the narrowest of tracks!
For those of us not inclined to take long hard treks, a trip to the Sarangkot (Google Map) viewpoint is a great alternative to see the mountains and is only a day trip from Pokhara. Hop on a bus at Hallanchowk (Google Map), get off at Zero (Google Map), take a bus up the Baglung Road and get off at either the Baglung bus park (Google Map) for the Sarangkot bus or the Sarangkot road for the walking up (Google Map). Id recommend the earliest start possible aiming to be on the viewing tower by 9.30 am as the mountains are nearly always obscured by clods from mid-morning. Be sure to catch the scenery on the way up! Plenty of accommodation options exists should one desire to stay overnight and enjoy a sunset and sunrise – take cash since i didn’t spot an ATM up there.
There are 2 public buses heading down between 3 and 5 pm or catch a lift with one of the paragliding vans directly back to Lakeside – negotiate the price well as these boys eyes twinkle with the prospect of some extra cash!
Have I inspired you to go to Sarangkot one day? let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading.