Nepal is a landlocked country and after coming from the Philippines with its 7000+ islands, it slowly dawned on us that we hadn’t see a stretch of water for quite a while. Pokhara has the country’s second largest lake, and the idea of being back on water again was very appealing.
There’s a small tourist industry here, built around the Annapurna trail which starts in Pokhara. On the perfect day with no wind and clear skies, apparently you can see the Annapurnas reflected in the lake, but we weren’t that lucky. We arrived to a downpour of rain. Subsequent days were dry and sunny, but the Annapurnas remained obscured in mist for our whole stay. Fortunately the lake was there and beckoned us forth.
We stayed at a lakeside resort and it was an easy (and lazy) option to hire a boatman to take us across the lake to the trailhead up to the Peace Pagoda on the first morning of our stay. The lake sits in the middle of the town and its an easy paddle out to its center to enjoy the calm of the waters. There are no motorized vehicles and not much traffic. You can sit still and just hear birds and lapping of the paddle. Its very peaceful.
The town lies on one bank and the jungle lies on the opposite side. We skirted the green edges of the lake, past fishing nets and allsorts of aqueous plants (or weeds, maybe?). Daily life of laundry, fishing, and tourist activities went on around, but it never felt crowded or spoiled.
It was also a national holiday, and boat loads of visitors from the town were visiting the small temple island in the middle of the lake. For this reason we kept rowing past and didn’t stop to take a look.
Our destination was the trailhead for the Pagoda Peace Temple trail, which was at a small lakeside restaurant called “Typical Restaurant”. I decided this was meant to mean “typical” in the traditional sense, although the geese didn’t seem to care one way or another.
We made friends with a local who told us stories of the lake that he remembered as a child – a larger, less polluted lake that they would swim in as kids. But its still pretty clean compared to Kathmandu, and the water still looks reasonably clean. He tells me that there are environmental groups working to keep the lake alive, which I am sure is an uphill battle, but I’m glad to hear someone is working to protect it before it is too late.