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Visiting Bandipur: Underrated Gem in Nepal

Experiencing Nepal is a wonderful experience. It might be tiring, yet enjoyable to experience the real Nepal. There can be many things we might not know about the gorgeous nation before actually visiting Nepal. Taking bumpy roads over gravel or dirt, riding on motorbikes to avoid crowds in Kathmandu’s temples, and climbing high altitudes in the Himalayas are all part of the real thrilling experience.

If you are looking for a peaceful retreat with traditional culture and a serene, pleasant day filled with rural walks, wildlife, and spectacular mountain vistas, Bandipur is a great choice. It is no wonder that we consider it one of the most beautiful destinations in Nepal.

About Bandipur

If you haven’t heard of this place, you will be surprised to learn it represents one of the most underrated cities in Nepal. It is a tiny town that is reached by climbing a particular road on the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway.

Take time to relax, enjoy a cup of tea, and learn why Bandipur is one of Nepal’s top tourist destinations. It’s a visitor’s dream; it’s the perfect place to relax after trekking in Nepal, and it’s almost like it was built just for visitors! After becoming a trading post in the 1700s, it became a commercial hub for Tibetans and British Indians traders, a position it held until the Pokhara-Kathmandu route bypassed it one hundred years later. To tourists’ benefit, it has steadily become a center of Newari culture as well as a retreat from the city.

Bandipur is a perfect place to take a break since it is easily accessible from Pokhara and is one of the best places to visit in the Kathmandu Valley. Stopping here to escape those bumpy roads is a great way to break up long journeys.

Do not be fooled by the distance. Although it may appear short on the map, the road conditions and traffic will make travel time longer. The distance between Kathmandu and Bandipur is approximately 140 kilometers (it should take 5 to 7 hours), 73 kilometers to Pokhara (3-4 hours by bus), and 2.5 to 3.5 hours from Chitwan to Bandipur.

Draw of Bandipur

Bandipur is known as Nepal’s warm heart. It’s because of the wonderful hospitality as well as the relaxing location of the hilltop. Furthermore, there are several reasons why you should visit Bandipur during your trip to Nepal.

  • It is peaceful to see Buddhist and Hindu temples coexist. With no crowds, you can easily explore many temples.
  • Those who miss out on Kathmandu’s greenery, mountains, and pure air should plan a trip to Bandipur to refresh their lungs and spirits.
  • In addition to the wooden balconies and magnificent Bougainvillea trees characteristic of traditional Newari architecture, there are also a lot of cafés, restaurants, and places to stay.
  • You won’t have to haggle or wheel and deal with shopkeepers here, so you can roam around at your convenience during your free time without any pressure from them. The prices aren’t exaggerated here. You can eat, stay, and drink here for much less than in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
  • It is prohibited to drive on the main streets, including motorcycles. Thus, you can stroll down stunning cobblestone streets while admiring the traditional wooden and brick houses that are characteristic of the Newari culture.

Enjoying Bandipur

Bandipur has plenty to offer. While in Bandipur, initially, you can relax and appreciate the relief from Nepal’s hustle and bustle. The second category includes the following enjoyable activities:

Wander around the Temples: 

Numerous Hindu temples are located throughout the town of Bandipur, such as Bindebasini temple, at the north end of the Main Street or market. You can even find these temples on your own, even if you’re a first-time visitor. The temple is said to be dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. Furthermore, you’ll appreciate the temple and the old wooden entrance that are decorated with intricate stone carvings.

Explore Siddha Guffa: 

You will need a guide to accompany you through the cave, which is 437 meters deep and 50 meters high and is one of Nepal’s largest caves. Start hiking halfway down Bandipur village hill for the Siddha Cave. The tour guide, who charges a modest fee, carries a lantern and guides you down ladders and along rope swings into the cave. The cave is decorated with stalactite formations, and whistling bats are often heard above the gloomy walls.

You can observe native prayer places and meditate at the swimming pool in the rainy season. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a headlight. However, this is not a trip for people with weak hearts.

Getting to Thani Mai Temple:

The stairway that leads to the hill above the town has a well-marked path and handrails. It is a beautiful walk when the sun rises in the morning or when it sets late in the afternoon. At the summit, there is a tiny Hindu temple of Thani Mai that is an excellent place for enjoying the views, although it isn’t a major attraction as others.

As you hike over the mountain range to Gurungche Hill, you will have a full 360-degree view of the entire area. The journey takes about 30 minutes, but it is a gradual, slightly strenuous climb yet mentally fulfilling.

Visit the Boudha Sadan Shakyamuni Monastery:

Also known as Bandipur Monastery, you can have some of the best times visiting the monks and Buddhist people in the monastery. Walking up the stairs past the main square would take you near the monastery; however, traveling up to the monastery is equally relaxing and enjoyable.

As we walked around during our visit to Bandipur, a monk living there invited us in for tea and informed us of plans for the monastery’s temple extension, and as a result, we ended up spending almost the whole day there. While meditating on the temple steps, he left us to gaze out at the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas beyond the horizon. The visit turned out to be a peaceful and spiritually fulfilling experience.

Hiking and Shopping at Bandipur Bazaar:

While hiking around the countryside in Bandipur, you’ll come across interesting houses and temples in any direction. Additionally, T-shirts, Newari presents, and refreshments are for sale. Since there is no haggling, you can roam as much as you want.

Enjoy Local Delicacy:

Bandipur has many tasty and fresh local places to eat. There are no fast food franchises here; instead, there are small eateries run by local families that are delightful.

Nepal’s most famous dish is Momos, and there is no shortage of them in this town. As you walk around, you’ll find a variety of fried and steamed dumplings. The most frequent and common dishes here are chicken, buffs, and vegetables. However, they are rarely offered by default and are typically requested ahead of time. Dhal Bhat is a tasty and filling traditional Nepali dish that includes rice, beans, lentil soup, pickles, and generally unlimited refills. 

While there, you can visit local restaurants such as Loving Spoon or Hill’s Heaven. Located a few blocks north of Bandipur village resort, Loving Spoon is a charming little eatery designed by its owner. The traditional Dhal, Bhat as well as momos here are delicious.

Cost includes:

  • Arrival & Departure transport via private Car/Van/Bus.
  • Three meals per day throughout the Trip(Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation during the trek.
  • Nights’ accommodation in Kathmandu with B/B.
  • Guide and a porter with Insurance, food, and accommodations.
  • Sightseeing in Kathmandu or Pokhara valley with a car and tour guide
  • First Aid kit.
  • Trekking permit (Conservation fee).
  • TIMS card (Trekking information management system) is like a permit.
  • All needed government tax/vat.

Cost excludes

  • International Airfare.
  • Your travel insurance.
  • Sightseeing entrance fees
  • Nepal Visa fee (US$ 50 for 30 days and US$ 30 for 15 days; you should get a visa open your arrival)
  • Any kind of drinks, items of personal expenses like hot shower, battery charge, telephone, missing meal, WIFI Porters, etc.
  • Tips for Guide and Porters

Finally, the trip to Bandipipur can be an extraordinary experience because of the stunning scenery, stellar views, thrilling Journey, and the warm hospitality of the locals. We hope you enjoy and take in every moment that you spend there.

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Trip to the Sikles Village

Nepal offers heavenly experiences without visiting heaven, making it a top destination for tourists, adventurers, and nature lovers alike. Additionally, the district of Kaski in Nepal, along with its Pokhara valley and the nearby hills and villages, offers some amazing places to explore. Furthermore, would you like to experience an exciting journey on a short and easy trek in the Himalayas? Then the Sikles village might be the one for you.

As you trek through the Sikles trek area, you’ll see rhododendron forests, beautiful mountain ranges, and diverse landscapes. Sikles trek is one of the more interesting trekking destinations in the Annapurna area and quite unpopular compared to similar destinations. On the Trek, you will probably get to see Annapurna and Lamjung Himal up close after crossing 2,000 meters. You will also learn about the culture, tradition, lifestyle, and handicraft production of Huwu village and Khapuche Lake.

About the Region

Located in the Kaski district, Sikles village is a well-conserved village that lies on a hill at the height of 3,000 meters. It is one of the region’s earliest and largest ‘Gurung’ settlements. Furthermore, the villagers of Sikles village are mainly of Gurung ethnicity and consider themselves to be Nepal’s second-largest Gurung village.

During the Dashain and Tihar festival, the local youth are not allowed to play Nepali drums, perform folk songs, or dance until the festival is over. If not, it is believed that the god will get angry, avalanches will thunder down from the mountainsides, and something terrible will happen to the village.

And the Trek to this beautiful place takes you to the largest Gurung village in the Annapurna region of Nepal, which is located above Madi Khola at an altitude of 1,981 meters. It is roughly a 5-hour bus trip from Pokhara.

Necessary Permits and Accommodations

A permit is not mandatory for the Trek to Sikles village in northern Kaski. Still, the Trekkers Information Management System or TIMS card can be very useful on similar treks in Nepal.

Compared to other trekking destinations, the Trek to Sikles is relatively short. So, even on an exciting adventure like this, you will not be away from your own bed for too long. You will stay in small homestays and tea houses while on the Trek.

Favorable Time for the Trek

Despite the lack of altitude in the Sikles Trek, trekking is possible throughout the year. However, trekkers prefer to visit the village during the Spring and Autumn seasons. Sikles Trek is best enjoyed during the spring and autumn seasons. The spring season begins in March and lasts until May, whereas the autumn season begins in September and ends in November. There isn’t a lot of heat or cold during these months. Instead, the days are sunny and hot, and the nights are chilly. The skies are also clear, so you can see the best scenery.

The Sikles trek is least popular during the off-season from December to February. Similarly, visitors prefer to avoid the monsoon season as well.

Preparing for the Sikles Village Trek

As described earlier, the Trek to Sikles Village is quite short compared to other trekking routes in Nepal. Moreover, it reaches a height of 2000m, which may not seem like much to experienced travelers, but it is quite a change for first-time trekkers.

Additionally, explorers taking part in the Trek often walk for several hours daily. Thus, people with lung diseases should either avoid such activities or take precautions before taking part in them since high altitudes can be difficult to adapt to. Furthermore, these high altitudes may cause people to experience altitude sickness.

We recommend bringing the items listed below with you on your Trek for mild to cold weather at high altitudes. We brought these items with us on our first Trek to Sikles Village.

  • Warm clothes, including jackets, sweaters, and thermal wears
  • Water bottles and thermos
  • Backpack
  • Portable fire stoves
  • Well-fitting gloves, socks, and shoes or boots
  • Trekking sticks
  • First aid kit
  • Moisturizers and lip guard
  • Energy bars

However, do not worry if you forget the items mentioned above. They provide great assistance during the Trek, but they’re not mandatory. And, if you decide to take them along with you at the last moment, trek shops with these items are available at the starting point of the Trek, though they are likely to cost more than usual there.

Itinerary and the Trek itself

The Sikles village trek can be done in two to six days, depending on how fast you and your group hike. Now, if you are not from Nepal, you must apply for a Nepali visa and travel to Kathmandu. After traveling to Kathmandu, you can then travel to Pokhara via a tourist bus or flight. From there, we can begin our trip.

The second day of the Trek requires you to hike for 6 to 7 hours altogether. You will make your way today from Kalikasthan to Lama Khet. First, you will start the journey with a slight climb on the trail. Then, we will pass through a small village home with mixed ethnic people until we reach Mardi Khola.

Next, we follow the path along the riverbanks as you cross Bhaise and Nawaldanda. After traversing these two small villages, you reach Lama Khet. Lama Khet is a gorgeous village surrounded by green hills where you'll stay for the night.

The fourth day is set for you to reach Sikles from Lama Khet. Today's hike will take you to the major attraction of this trip. You walk through flat terrain along the river bank as you leave the village.

You then reach Khilan Gaon and do a gentle climb. After passing through Parju Village, we can reach Sikles. You can rest overnight in one of the friendly lodges or homestays available here.

Today marks the fourth day of the Trek. We now head towards Neuli Kharka. This is a couple of hours away. First, we walk through forests filled with oak and rhododendron trees.

Furthermore, we reach Neuli Kharka or forest camp after passing through flatlands. This would be the place where we take rest for the night.

As you begin your walk, you find yourself in a beautiful forest of Rhododendrons. After crossing one high pass, you would descend to the town of Ghale Gaon. This is the second to the last day of the Trek, and you'll probably hike for five hours on this penultimate day.

This is the last day of the Trek. Today you drive towards Pokhara from Ghale Gaon right after making your way down the trails to Hyamgya. From Pokhara, we hope you have a pleasant trip back home, and remember to cherish your memories.

Cost includes:

  • Arrival & Departure transport via private Car/Van/Bus.
  • Three meals per day throughout the Trekk(Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation in lodges and tea houses during the trek.
  • Nights’Nights’ accommodation in Kathmandu with B/B.
  • Trekking Guide and a porter (Shared by two clients) with Insurance, food, and accommodations.
  • Sightseeing in Kathmandu or Pokhara valley with a car and tour guide
  • First Aid kit.
  • Trekking permit (Conservation fee).
  • TIMS card (Trekking information management system) is like a permit.
  • All needed government tax/vat.

Cost excludes

  • International Airfare.
  • Your travel insurance.
  • Sightseeing entrance fees
  • Nepal Visa fee (US$ 50 for 30 days and US$ 30 for 15 days; you should get a visa open your arrival)
  • Any kind of drinks, items of personal expenses like hot shower, battery charge, telephone, missing meal, WIFI Porters, etc.
  • Tips for Guide and Porters

Note

The itinerary mentioned above is the general plan arranged by Pokhara Info. The above itinerary is only a guideline; it might change due to availability of lodging and campsites, fluctuating weather conditions, unforeseen political, trail, and environmental, or any other factors beyond our control. After consulting with the group, your trek leader will decide the best way to reach a final decision if this occurs.

If the itinerary is unsuitable for you, please let us know, and we will customize it. We will be able to make changes to the itinerary if clients want to do so.

Finally, every place has its own culture, non-verbal norms and values, government policies, and other factors that make traveling to a new place potentially nerve-wracking, no matter how many times you’ve done it. But remember to enjoy the Trek to the beautiful village of Sikles despite the difficulties you might face.

 

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Trek of the Kanchenjunga Circuit

Heaven remains a dream for many, but Nepal, a nation known for its beauty, is not far from being a very close second. Wandering through luscious green forests and trekking through beautiful rivers and gorgeous mountain circuits of Nepal can be a godsend for many adventurers and hikers alike. In addition, if you’re seeking out excellent treks in Nepal that you’ll look back on with pride at any stage of your life, then I’ve got the place for you. As one of my personal favorites, I could not endorse more highly the Kanchenjunga Trek for my fellow adventurers.

About

The summit, first climbed by George Band and Joe Band in 1955, has an elevation of 8,586 meters and is the third-highest mountain in the world. And the trekking route of one of Nepal’s finest Himalayas, Kanchenjunga, follows Nepal’s mountainous border with India and Tibet.

Our group of close friends took on this mountain of a task with almost no information about the place and stopped along the circuit trek. However, we made a guide based on our experiences and mistakes that will help you along your trek. Hopefully, when you decide to do the trek yourself, you won’t face similar problems we faced.

How do I prepare for the trek of the Kanchenjunga Circuit

The Kanchenjunga Trek includes places with aesthetic landscapes, beautiful yak pastures, and glaciers. Technically, the trip throughout the trek contains locations from an altitude of 91 meters to 5,143 meters. So, adapting to this difference might be a bit difficult for some people. 

Altitude sickness and breathlessness can result from this extreme elevation. Therefore, people with lung ailments should avoid such activities or take all precautions necessary before attempting such adventures.

Since this trek is around the third highest mountain in the world, the temperature can be a factor and a feature of the expedition. However, proper preparation in this cold climate is imperative. So, be sure to bring along the following materials with you.

  • Warm clothes, including jackets, sweaters, and thermal wears
  • Well-fitting gloves, socks, and shoes or boots
  • Trekking sticks
  • Snow Glasses and flashlight
  • Energy bar
  • Moisturizers and lip guard
  • Water bottles and thermos
  • Portable fire stoves

The materials mentioned above are all quite necessary; however, they are not all a must. Kanchenjunga Trek is quite popular among frequent travelers, so many hotels and home stays supply these materials but at a higher price than normal. Similarly, you can opt to get your food at any place during your stay there as per your liking.

The Kanchenjunga Trek

Initially, foreigners need a Nepali visa and need to arrive in Kathmandu. Once you arrive there, or even if you are already in Kathmandu, you must book a flight to Bhadrapur Airport in Jhapa.

Upon arriving in Jhapa, we drive or take a bus to Ilam. After visiting the famous tea gardens of Ilam, we rest for the night. Afterward, we drive four hours to Taplejung, where your trek will begin. There are the same steps our own group prefers during the trek.

On the second day, we would hike for more than five hours. Trek to Chirwa contains big upward and downward trails, so be ready for it.

The trek goes through the Tamur River with several villages and rice, millet, and potatoes farms along the way. Finally, the village of Chirwa would provide a great resting place for the night.

Today would be the day we arrive at Taplechowk. When we check in with our Trekking Permit at the park gate of the suspension bridge, we can hike for the next four hours until we get lunch at Phembu.

Our camp is at Sekathum, where your first glimpse of the high Himalayas can be seen.

After the night at Sekathum, we pass through a thick forest along the way through a steep path towards Solima. There, we get our lunch. Walking through a narrow path up above a gorge, we reach Amjilossa, where we take a rest for the night.

Enjoy the walk through oak, bamboo, and rhododendron forest on your fifth day while ascending towards a place called Thyanyani. On the way, there is a walk downwards near Ghunsa Khola. Furthermore, after passing through a waterfall and a steep path for about four hours, I reached the destination of the day, Kyabla.

About a five-hour hike along the forest and the rocky paths would take you to Ghynsa village from Dybala. Located at three thousand meters in height, you need to adapt your body to the conditions of Ghunsa and the rest of the trek. Thus, you need to take a rest for the seventh day.

During your rest day, you can visit Tibetan villages near Ghunsa. Similarly, treks to a few local villages would be a great way to spend the day.

Leaving Ghunsa means we'll get to see Ghunsa Khola as well as chortens along the way to Rampuk Kharka at an altitude of 3,720 meters. The next road might be dangerous due to its susceptibility to landslides near Khambachen. When we finally reach Khambachen, the trek for the day ends.

As earlier, the ninth day is another rest day at an altitude of 4,100 meters. However, you can opt to hike to Jannu Shrine, which is a five-hour walk there and back.

Enjoy the view along the way to Lhonak, which is about five hours walk from Khambachen.

On the eleventh day, you'll reach the highest point on your circuit at 5,143 meters in Pangpema. You'll have to walk for about 7 to 8 hours on this day and finally reach Khonak passing through the north side base camp of Kanchenjunga. You'll rest at Lhonak for the night but be sure to enjoy the view during the day.

On this day, our trek will be mostly on our way back from the summit. At the end of an 8-hour trek, we will reach Ghunsa village mostly by hiking downwards.

We continue our Journey through a rocky forest near Sele La Pass at 4,290 meters. Furthermore, we'll reach High Camp at the end of the hike to view Mount Makalu in the distance.

On this day, the trek passes through places such as High Camp, Sinon LaMirgin La Pass, and Sinelapche La Pass at an altitude of 4,840 meters. Finally, a 1,000-meter walk downwards takes you to a village near Simba River, Tseram.

After enjoying the gorgeous view of Yalung Glacier, hike along the India-Nepal border and watch the peaks of Koktang, Rathong, and Kabrus. After a long day, you need to camp at Ramche.

Our Journey back to Tseram continues as we follow the trail along the river, passing through rhododendron forests to Tortoni. We stay at Tortong for the night.

On this day, you'll get to experience the mixed culture of Yamphudin. The diverse community of Limbu, Gurung, Rai, and Sherpa would provide you with exceptional hospitality that's surely rare anywhere else.

On our way to Mamankhe, we take a path high above Yamphudin.

We hike from Mamanke towards many small villages leading to Kande Bajhang to rest for the night.

We'll traverse a mountain ridge to Khunjari before descending to Pha Khola. We'll climb through Pokhara and Shimu villages to Thenbewa and then through the forest to Lali Kharka, where we'll spend the night.

Our trek of the Kanchenjunga circuit will conclude on the twenty-first day when we reach the Suketar airfield. From there, we will drive back to Bhadrapur, where we will fly to Kathmandu or your home city.

Cost includes:

  • Arrival & Departure transport via private Car/Van/Bus.
  • Three meals per day throughout the Trekk(Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
  • Accommodation in lodges and tea houses during the trek.
  • Nights’Nights’ accommodation in Kathmandu with B/B.
  • Trekking Guide and a porter (Shared by two clients) with Insurance, food, and accommodations.
  • Sightseeing in Kathmandu or Pokhara valley with a car and tour guide
  • First Aid kit.
  • Trekking permit (Conservation fee).
  • TIMS card (Trekking information management system) is like a permit.
  • All needed government tax/vat.

Cost excludes

  • International Airfare.
  • Your travel insurance.
  • Sightseeing entrance fees
  • Nepal Visa fee (US$ 50 for 30 days and US$ 30 for 15 days; you should get a visa open your arrival)
  • Any kind of drinks, items of personal expenses like hot shower, battery charge, telephone, missing meal, WIFI Porters, etc.
  • Tips for Guide and Porters

Note

The itinerary mentioned above is the general plan arranged by Pokhara Info. The above itinerary is only a guideline; it might change due to availability of lodging and campsites, fluctuating weather conditions, unforeseen political, trail, and environmental, or any other factors beyond our control. After consulting with the group, your trek leader will decide the best way to reach a final decision if this occurs.

If the itinerary is unsuitable for you, please let us know, and we will customize it. We will be able to make changes to the itinerary if clients want to do so.

Finally, the trek to the Kanchenjunga circuit can be an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime experience because of the stunning scenery and stellar views as well as the thrilling Journey, along with the warm hospitality of the locals. We hope you enjoy and take in every moment that you spend there.