The tourist buses leave Kathmandu from near our hotel at .We find the right bus in good time and it leaves promptly but stops after about 30 minutes on the edge of the city for the driver to siphon diesel from another truck into the bus which takes about an hour.This is our first experience of the petrol crisis that is gripping the country at the moment.When we finally get going again and the sun breaks through the haze we enjoy the ride and after 2 stops get dropped in Pokhara Damside at about .We taxi into Lakeside and check in to the 2nd hotel we look at.We have time to explore so walk into Lakeside and find Blue Sky paragliding right at the top end of town and a long walk from where we are staying.
Sarangot hillside overlooking Pokhara
While Julie sorts out the flying arrangements I look for a new hotel closer to Blue Sky and as it still feels cold one with heating.Blue Heaven is my choice and also seems to be the place where many of the other pilots are staying.
In the morning we glimpse a view of “Fishtail” (Machhapuchhre the sacred mountain that dominates the south of the Annapurna range) behind Sarangot and it reminds me why I wanted to come here. Lakeside is full of guesthouses, cafes and shops but is quiet this early in the season.In the evening we look for a restaurant with an open fire and enjoy the ambience and the smoky atmosphere.
We will base ourselves in Pokhara for a while and I use the time to organize a trek into the Annapurna region.
Paraglider at Pokhara
I quickly find a guide and test him out on a morning walk from the top of Sarangot back to Lakeside.Ideally I want to find some others to trek with but this is much harder than I expected as, apart from paragliding, Pokhara is much quieter than I had expected.In the end I decide to hire the guide, Khim, for a 10 day trek to Poon Hill and Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) and to leave on the 5th Feb.As a warm up I hike up to the Peace Stupa over looking the lake and walk with an English guy who lives close to my parents in the Lake District and we meet a Dutch girl who has been working in a local school for the past 3 months.
The day before I leave is spent finalising arrangements for the trek, getting the permit and any equipment I will need.Most of my things I will leave with Julie in Pokhara; she has booked on to an SIV course starting on the 6th and a 2 day X-country paragliding expedition whilst I am away