For us, nothing beats the feeling of exhilaration of arriving in a foreign city halfway across the globe – the expectation of a new adventure. As we exited Tribhuvan International Airport into the muggy Kathmandu evening, we were met with a sea of smiling faces and signs, one of them with our names on it. It was held by a super-friendly young Nepali guy called Dal, who grabbed our backpacks from us and hoisted them effortlessly into the waiting minibus.
“Welcome to Kathmandu!” And we set off to Hotel Horizon.
After a breakfast of wheat porridge, banana and buffalo milk, and a few sketchy directions from our host, Prem, we set off up the rocky path away from Tashidelek Guest Lodge (Tashi delek can be roughly translated as ‘blessings and good luck’).
Prem Temang is a mountain trekking guide of Tibetan descent, a constantly smiling 39 year-old grandfather who runs the lodge as part of his household, welcoming guests from all over the world to the Nepalese town of Dhulikhel, about 30km south east of Kathmandu and 74km from the Tibetan border. He told me he was Buddhist, but I understood he also prays to some of the Hindu gods, which seems fairly common practice in the area.
Nagarkot is a small village with a population of under 5 000 people. At an elevation of 2 195 metres, it is renowned for its spectacular sunrise view of the Himalayas when the weather is clear, and 8 of the 13 Himalayan ranges of Nepal can be seen from here. We were lucky enough to have clear skies and were treated to this incredible view on our second morning. We headed up to the lookout tower before sunrise and were not disappointed that we had dragged ourselves out of bed at 4:30am.
After reading headlines such as the following, we were a little apprehensive about catching a bus from Kathmandu to Chitwan:
Overcrowded bus slips off mountain road in Nepal, killing at least 14 people
Bus swept away by landslide in Nepal, 3 killed
Bus crash on mountain road in Nepal kills at least 33 people
We spent our last two days in Kathmandu visiting Bodhnath (Boudha), re-visiting Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, and doing some final gift shopping (which I always love). Bodhnath, Swayambhunath and Namobuddha are the three major Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal.