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Month Ninety-Three was spent entirely in Nepal – one of my new favorite countries!
I started the month with one more day in Kathmandu which we used to visit the hilltop “monkey temple”, Swayambhu, and to secure our TIMS and ACAP permits for trekking.
From Kathmandu, we headed south to Sauraha, the gateway to Chitwan National Park, where we spent one full day trekking in the park, spotting rhinos, elephants, wild boars, crocodiles, and monkeys.
After Chitwan, we had a few nights in Pokhara to prepare for our Annapurna Circuit trek and hike up to the dazzling white World Peace Pagoda, and then it was time to hit the trail.
We ended up spending fourteen days on the trail – twelve of this hiking from Besisahar to Kagbeni, and then Jomsom to Marpha (we caught a bus ten kilometers from Kagbeni to Jomsom to miss some of the worst road walking on the circuit).
We also had a snow/rest day in Manang and spent a day getting the bus from Marpha to Tatopani and soaking in the hot springs there.
On day fifteen we took the bus back to Pokhara, which felt like a busy city after two weeks in small mountain villages!
We spent five nights in Pokhara just relaxing, wandering the lakeside trail, watching a movie at the Movie Garden, eating at our favorite restaurant – The Juicery, and hanging out with trekking friends. Oh, and I spent a night and day sick with food poisoning – not so relaxing.
The last three nights of the month were spent in the lovely hill town of Bandipur with beautiful architecture and flowers everywhere.
Now onto the stats!
Countries Visited: Nepal
- Nepal: Kathmandu, Sauraha, Pokhara, Besisahar, Bhulbhule, Bahandanda, Ghermu, Jagat, Tal, Dharapani, Timang, Chame, Bratang, Upper Pisang, Ngawal, Manang, Yak Kharka, Thorong Phedi, Muktinath, Kagbeni, Marpha, Tatopani, Bandipur
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Chitwan National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area.
Islands Visited: Tal Barahi Temple Island on Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal.
Days on the Road: 28 days.
Best Meals: Chicken schnitzel with fries and salad from Sakunda in Pokhara; Porridge with poached pears, pomegranate and granola from The Juicery in Pokhara; Apple donut in Bhratang; Cinnamon roll from the Tilicho Hotel in Manang; Apple and custard pie from Hotel Sonam in Marpha; Chocolate brownie skillet with ice cream from Cafe Red Castle in Bandipur; Dal Baht and vege momos along the Annapurna Circuit.
Worst Meals: Fried chicken momos from Thamel Momo House – I’m still questioning whether the very brown-looking meat was actually chicken; Pizza from Movie Garden in Pokhara – I think that this very questionable pizza may have given me food poisoning; terrible momos and a chicken sizzler plate that was basically deep fried chicken bone, spaghetti and gravy in Bandipur.
Best Craft Beer: Nepal isn’t really known for its craft beer but I did enjoy the Red Ale at Nepal Micropub in Pokhara.
- Full-day hiking in Chitwan National Park 14 miles
- World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara 2.8 miles
- Annapurna Circuit from Besisahar to Kagbeni and Jomsom to Marpha 98 miles
- Siddha Cave from Bandipur 4.3 miles
- Thani Mai viewpoint in Bandipur 1.2 miles
Watching: Breaking Bad (for the first time – not sure if I like it yet), Half Brothers.
Reading: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (re-read – one of my favorites).
New Posts: I wrote one new post this month, a guide to Koh Libong, one of the most authentic, local islands you can visit in Thailand.
The Chaos and Energy of Kathmandu
Kathmandu is chaotic, frenetic, and exciting, and I kind of loved that about it. There are hidden alleyways, small squares with temples, hawkers, a hilltop temple crawling with monkeys, and crazy traffic. It reminded me so much of Delhi but with not as many people and I enjoyed my short time there.
Full-Day Hike in Chitwan National Park
We only had time in our schedule for two nights and one full day in Chitwan National Park and we definitely made the most of it. I had heard that the best way to see animals in the park is by going on a guided hike so that is what we did.
It was an exhausting ten-hour day of hiking through the park with our two guides but it was incredible. Our main guide with United Jungle Guide Service was super knowledgeable, pointing out different medicinal plants and fruits, as well as animals.
We ended up seeing eight rhinos, three of them up close, two elephants, crocodiles, wild boar, langurs, and macaques. No tigers, leopards, or sloth bears but I was more than happy with what I did get to see.
Chilling Lakeside in Pokhara
There are lots of adventure activities you can do in Pokhara but we were happy to just mostly relax during our time there, getting ready for the trek for our first three-day visit, then recovering from the trek (and food poisoning) for the five days after.
I loved strolling the lakeside pathway, getting a trekkers massage, eating at The Juicery – our favorite restaurant, meeting up with trekking friends, and watching a movie at the Movie Garden. We also loved our friendly family-run hotel, Hotel My Dream, where they made us feel so welcome and looked after our bags for us while we were trekking.
Visiting the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara
One activity we did make time for in Pokhara was hiking up to the World Peace Pagoda. We took a boat across the lake via a quick stop at the Tal Barahi Temple Island to the start of the trail.
After a short but steep hike to the top, we got to the shining white pagoda that overlooks town and Phewa Lake, we could even see the larger snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas peeking through the haze.
We hiked the long way back to town to extend the adventure.
Hiking the Annapurna Circuit
We did it! Although we finished a bit earlier than planned (the weather was turning and Toby hurt his shoulder) we successfully hiked from Besisahar to Kagbeni on the Annapurna Circuit and loved it.
There were so many highlights from our fourteen days on the circuit but to just condense it down to a short blurb here were the main highlights – the incredible kindness and friendliness of the Nepali people, sitting by a warm fire in the teahouses in the evening and chatting to new trekking friends, the epic mountain views – the Himalayas are something else, feeling strong and capable in myself, and seeing how people live in the rural and alpine regions of the Himalayas.
Hiking the Annapurna Circuit is one of the best experiences I have ever had and I already know I want to return to do more trekking in Nepal.
Reaching Thorong La Pass
One of the biggest highlights of the Annapurna Circuit was making it over the 5416-meter Thorong La Pass. Many people attempt the circuit and don’t make it this far due to altitude sickness, hiking injuries, or not being able to hack the cold/multiple days of hiking/relentless uphill. We knew it wouldn’t be a given that we would make it so I am so proud that we did.
I was having trouble breathing at altitude for the few days prior to doing the pass and Toby was worried about his knee when hiking the 1700 meters down to Muktinath after the pass, so we hired a porter for one day to carry a lot of our stuff and it made such a difference.
I was able to breathe much easier and although it was still cold and difficult, I was able to enjoy the challenge and the feeling of reaching the pass. I don’t know if I have ever felt such a sense of accomplishment before and I will never forget it.
It took us nine hours to hike 16km – 1000 meters up to the pass and then 1700 meters down the other side. What a day!
Hot Springs Day in Tatopani
We spent our last day on the circuit (after taking a very bumpy bus ride from Marpha) in Tatopani with a few trekking friends and we celebrated by spending half a day soaking in the mineral springs there. The perfect way to end two weeks of trekking.
Exploring Bandipur, My Favorite Town in Nepal
I visited so many beautiful small towns in Nepal but my favorite was Bandipur, a charming hilltop town with restored traditional Newari buildings, a pedestrian-only main street, hiking trails, friendly locals, and incredible views of the higher Himalayas.
During our three days there we hiked down a mountain (and back up again) to go caving in the largest cave in Nepal, hiked to a sunset viewpoint, and walked all over the village. It was wonderful.
Freezing Cold in the Mountains
I really wasn’t emotionally prepared for how cold it would be in the higher elevations of the Annapurna Circuit in early March, and it was really cold. I did check the forecast before we left and bought some more cold-weather gear and I managed to stay cozy when I was in bed with lots of blankets and my fleece liner, and when I was hiking, but I was cold a lot of the rest of the time.
Haze in Pokhara and Lower Sections of the ACT
We had a fair bit of haze during our time in Pokhara and for the first few days on the Circuit but thankfully not a lot of rain. I was getting worried that it was going to be like that the whole way but once we got into more alpine terrain we had clear blue skies.
Food Poisoning in Pokhara
I’m still not sure if this was food poisoning because my stomach never hurt and I didn’t have diarrhea but something made me spend the night throwing up and the next day feeling like crap and it was extremely unpleasant.
I have dropped my phone a few times in the past couple of years so it is looking pretty beat up but still worked fine but after I dropped it in the snow when I was hiking Thorong La Pass, the bottom of the screen developed a flashing white banner glitch.
Despite that, it is still working (for now at least), so I am holding on to hope that it will last another month till I am back in the U.S. and I can get a new one.
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
It’s nice to come under budget this month – not that I really have a budget but I tend to spend $1500 – $2000 per month most months. This will DEFINITELY increase next month when I am mostly in Japan.
My 19 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of one night in a private room at a hostel in Kathmandu, two nights at a hotel in Sauraha, eight nights at a hotel in Pokhara, fourteen nights in teahouses and hotels on the Annapurna Circuit, and three nights at hotels in Bandipur.
My nine nights of unpaid accommodation this month consisted of nine nights in teahouses on the Annapurna Circuit where we got a free room in exchange for eating dinner and breakfast at our teahouse.
Food and Drink $521
Actually more than I thought it would be as food in Nepal is generally cheap – must have been all those bougie meals and smoothies at The Juicery in Pokhara.
- Buff $1.50
- Mittens $4.50
- Hiking pants $35
- Fleece zip-up top $15
- Taxis in Kathmandu $2
- Bus from Kathmandu to Sauraha $9
- Bus from Sauraha to Pokhara $7.50
- Taxis in Pokhara $5
- Bus from Pokhara to Besisahar $6
- Bus from Kagbeni to Jomsom $2
- Bus Marpha to Tatopani $7.50
- Bus Tatopani to Pokhara $7
- Taxi from Pokhara to Bandipur $21
- Entry to Swayambhu Temple in Kathmandu $1.50
- One Day entry to Chitwan National Park $15
- Full-day walking safari in Chitwan National Park and tip $31
- Boat rental to Tal Barahi Temple Island and World Peace Pagoda trail in Pokhara $3.50
- Monastery tour in Kagbeni $2
- Tatopani Hot Springs entry $1
- Trekkers Massage in Pokhara $25
- Entry to Movie Garden in Pokhara $2.50
- Siddha Cave tour in Bandipur $1.50
- U.S. Phone plan $35
- Nepal SIM $4.50
- Spotify $10.50
- Toiletries $5.50
- Laundry $12.50
- TIMS and ACAP permits for the Annapurna Circuit $38
- Charity $3
- Crampons $11.50
- Passport holder $2
- Visa extension $54
- Fleece sleeping bag liner $15
- Hiking pole $5.50
- Gaiters $7.50
- Porter for one day and tip $50
- Bracelets $7.50
- Books $45
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van/RV Costs $14
- RV insurance for the month $14
What’s in Store for Next Month
We still have a couple of nights left in Nepal before starting our journey to Japan via a night and day in Bangkok where I will be getting another filling, and a night in Manila.
We fly into Tokyo and have three nights to explore before heading up to the mountain town of Hakone for cherry blossoms, onsen, and hopefully a sighting of Mount Fuji.
From Hakone, we are planning to visit the coastal city of Kanazawa which is known for its gardens, and the mountain city of Takayama before taking the train to Kyoto for more cherry blossoms.
After that, we will be visiting Hiroshima and Miyajima Island, Nara for temples and tame deer, maybe Yoshino on a day trip for more cherry blossoms, and Osaka for some big city excitement before hiking the five-day Kumano Kodo Nakehechi Route – a UNESCO-listed pilgrimage route on the Kii Peninsula.
I am SO excited about our Japan adventures!
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here