Nepal: Off the bucket list | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The following story was published on Inquirer RED’s April 2022 issue and has been edited for length and clarity.

While historians such as Cartier-Bresson and McCurry proclaimed India to be one of the go-to sanctuaries for photographers in the world, nestled past the Himalayas, is a humble yet rich country, called Nepal.

A morning walk around the energetic streets of Kathmandu will find a similar visual delight likened to either one’s imagination of India, or a prior experience—market stalls filled with reflective copper plates, fruit flower vendors picture-perfect with their outfits, and shops heavily draped with richly colored fabrics. But beyond the similarities, you find yourself in a different landscape: cobblestone roads platforming red-bricked buildings, seemingly unfinished but rather more handcrafted than symmetric. Wild street monkeys take dominion over the rooftops and street lights, while thickly furred dogs walk the road. Regardless of the chaos being the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu showcases an environment so ideally human and so in-tune with the animals they accompany; they even have the Tihar—a five-day yearly festival in celebration of animals.

Two hundred kilometers away lies the city of Pokhara, a metropolitan stopover where tourists, travelers, hikers, and trekkers journey before seeing the famous Annapurna mountain range. The city wraps itself around the Phewa lake, where locals fish while tourists paraglide. Adventurers visit the infinite row of trekking shops and stalls, where they find last-minute gear before their trips.

Among the many routes and trails possible, my company took Insight Himalaya’s Sikles Trek—a weeklong hike witnessing the astonishing views (at around 2450m above sea level) of the Annapurna, Fishtail, and a couple of other well-known mountain ranges, a visit to a hillside local village in which the trek is named after, and a walk through beautiful Cherry Blossom trees. Not to mention the pleasant company of very hospitable dogs.

My Nepali experience was finished off with a night at the Bahari Jungle Lodge, a wildlife sanctuary in Chitwan National Park, 84 kilometers from Pokhara. The resort situates itself by the edge of a vast outlook and offers quite the experience—distant views of rhinos from the back of a well-padded elephant, wild birds down the river, and even baby elephant greetings right by the balcony of your room. Further cementing Nepal as a destination to be seriously considered for something other than its neighborly association with India.

Photography by Artu Nepomuceno.

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