Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Himalaya, so many trekkers pass through the city on the way to expeditions further into the mountains. But, it’s not actually necessary to go so far into the high Himalaya to have a trekking adventure around Pokhara.
The Pokhara Valley itself, and nearby areas, offer several short treks. These are ideal for first-time trekkers, or groups with children or members who aren’t too confident in their trekking abilities. The altitudes don’t climb too high, the weather conditions are unlikely to get extreme, and the trails stay fairly close to civilization. These are some of the best and most accessible short treks in Nepal.
Sarangkot is the hill to the north of Fewa Lake; it’s the spot where paragliders take off from, so every day you’ll see dozens of colourful gliders floating in the skies between the hills and the lake. It’s also a popular spot to watch the sunrise, but people usually get a taxi up there for this purpose.
Trekking up here is a good day excursion. From Lakeside Pokhara or the Baglung Bus Park, the hike up will take between three and five hours. The views from Sarangkot are amazing, because in one direction you can see down to Pokhara and Phewa Lake, and in the other to the Annapurna Himalaya. After reaching Sarangkot you could either turn around and go back down to Pokhara, or continue on to Naudada, a further three-hour hike. If opting for the latter, plan to spend the night, or pre-arrange for a vehicle to return you to Pokhara, as there won’t be time to hike back down in a single day.
A similar trek to the day hike to Sarangkot, though longer, is the three-day Dhampus trek. This begins by being driven to Dhampus, north of Pokhara, via the Australian Camp at 2000 metres. Over the next couple of days, trek to Naudanda then Sarangkot, and back down to Pokhara. The trail passes through rural ethnic Gurung villages where you can learn about ordinary Nepali life, and the mountain views are the best you’ll get from a short trek in Nepal.
3) Begnas and Rupa Lakes
Pokhara’s Phewa Lake is not the only beautiful lake in the area. Around 45 minutes’ drive from Pokhara are Begnas and Rupa Lakes, in the south-east of the Pokhara Valley. They are much quieter than Pokhara, surrounded by small villages rather than rampant development. Begnas is the larger of the two.
There are numerous options for hiking around these lakes, between the villages on their shores. Trails can be hilly at times, but generally not steep, and remain at low altitude. There are good accommodation options around the lakes, so one-day or multiple-day hikes can be enjoyed.
4) Panchase Trek
This four-day trek begins with a boat ride across Phewa Lake to the trailhead. It passes through biodiverse protected forest with a lot of beautiful flora, such as orchids. Several very impressive mountains can be seen from the trek, including Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, Lamjung and Gangapurna. Each day of this trek involves just three or four hours’ hiking, so it is not too challenging, and a good option for people who want to get out into the mountains without pushing themselves to the limit.
5) Royal Trek
The Royal Trek got its name because it’s the route that Prince Charles trekked when he visited Nepal in the 1980s. The three-to-four day trek starts to the north of the Pokhara Valley, and passes through Gurung villages and lovely terraced farmland. There are beautiful views of the Annapurnas, but the trail doesn’t climb very high in altitude, making it a good option for families or the elderly. The trek ends at Begnas Lake.