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To see the Himalayas in 10 days?

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Jul 2nd, 2017, 02:16 PM
  #1
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To see the Himalayas in 10 days?

Hello all, I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to India and Bangladesh in August up to early September. In between the two trips, somewhere during early-mid September, I have 10 days where I've given myself to explore the Himalayan mountain range.

This is something I've always wanted to do but I have a limited budget (surprise surprise), and am aware it's the tail end of the monsoon which means unpredictable views and delays getting around.

I have never trekked before but am reasonably fit (run 3-4 times a week, yoga, walk every day). However, I'm more keen to stay in one place, perhaps explore the local area and be blessed with a great view of a part of the range. Not ashamed to say I would like to take it easy and have a more mindful experience. I'm a solo female traveller and this is my first time solo in this part of the world.

I'm deciding between: Sikkim, Ladakh, and possibly if I do make it over to Nepal then Nagarkot/Dhulikhel. I've chosen these areas because I've read they fall in the rain shadow area/are generally drier/serve great views of Mt Everest and other mountains/do not involve too many costly internal flights.

My question is - what do you think of these plans? Do you have any other suggestions? Am I being too apprehensive?

Thanks for any help, much appreciated.
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Jul 2nd, 2017, 02:23 PM
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Oops, meant to say, I will be in India - Bangladesh from August to end of October. The 10 day trip for seeing the Himalayas should be somewhere during early-mid September.
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Jul 2nd, 2017, 03:22 PM
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I think the big question is whether you will be able to see the mountains in the 10 days you have in the region. No guarantees.

I'd cross Nagarkot/Dhulikhel off your list as possible places to view the Himalayas. I've been there at optimal times for viewing and never saw a glimpse of the mountains. Sikkim is a good place to go (we loved our time there!). There is a to of travel by road over twisting roads with frequent rock slides from above and below and episodic views of the mountains. If you opt for Sikkim, start in Gangtok ("best" way to get there is to fly into Bagdogra, then get a car to take you to Gangtok). Then, after some time there (where you will get periodic mountain view, make your way across Sikkim to Pelling, which is located on a ridge with spectacular views. Of course, those views are often obscured, as is true with all mountain views, but spend a few days there to give you the best chance of seeing the mountains. From there, you can go to Darjeeling for more opportunities to see the mountains.

Be aware that there is no way you can "explore the Himalayas"in that limited time. The best you can hope for is some wonderful views. Good Luck!

Our photos are at www.marlandc.com/Sikkim-2010
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Jul 2nd, 2017, 10:38 PM
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I'd head to Pokhara. The air is much cleaner and clearer than the Kathmandu Valley.

You won't see Everest, but you will get fantastic mountain views.

Closeby is Bandipur....enter another world for a couple of nights.
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Jul 3rd, 2017, 01:39 PM
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Thank you both for your helpful insights! Much appreciated.

Kathie, I read some of your previous posts here about Sikkim and this inspired me to look it up as a destination. You're totally right though, I'm not expecting to explore the full Himalayas but just a glimpse will make me happy! Did you feel Sikkim was safe for a solo female tourist?

LancasterLad, thanks for your suggestion - I did read that Pokhara gets the most rain during the monsoon season in Nepal, this is why I crossed treks from Pokhara off my list. Have you been there during monsoon season?

Does anyone have any insight about Ladakh as an option?
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Jul 3rd, 2017, 02:23 PM
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Yes, I consider Sikkim safe for a solo female traveler. An esteemed poster here who has now passed on, noted that Sikkim is "not India." Indeed, once you get to Sikkim there is no trash on the ground and women are treated with respect.

Sikkim has tropical valleys - entirely different from Ladkah with its arid and frozen landscape.

Personally, I wouldn't go to Pokhara during the monsoon season.
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Jul 4th, 2017, 05:13 AM
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<<>>

We were in Nepal from mid March to late April 2014.

I wouldn't touch the place during the wet season if my intention was to travel around and trek. I'd imagine that every internal flight would be likely to be delayed and/or cancelled. The state of the roads, the general state of vehicles, and poor driving standards more than put me off.

The only good thing about all the rain is to dampen down and improve the air quality in Kathmandu and Kathmandu Valley.

We went from Kathmandu to Pokhara by bus, and got stuck on the Prithvi Highway for 5 hours by a landslide......the whole area became the biggest open toilet in the world! The rest of the drive was a thrill a minute.....definitely focuses the mind.
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Jul 5th, 2017, 04:29 PM
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Thank you both very much again, Kathie and LancasterLad! Very helpful.

So after some thought I'm considering splitting my 10 days between Kathmandu and Sikkim, to find ways of getting good views of the Himalayas (fingers crossed) and exploring the local culture.
I am still however fearful of the risk of monsoon during this time (3-12 September).

A final alternative option for me would be the Tibet side. Does anyone have any insight/recommendations into visiting Tibet to see the Himalayas?
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Jul 5th, 2017, 07:26 PM
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While your plan to visit Kathmandu and Sikkim sounds good, logistically, I think it would be very difficult. Overland from one to the other really isn't possible. You would have to fly, which would likely mean flying from Kathmandu to Kolkata to Bagdogra, then catching a bus or taxi to get to Gangtok. It would take at least a full day, and depending on flight time, it might require an overnight in Kolkata or near Bagdogra.

For a number of reasons, I am not enamored of the idea of going to Tibet to try to see the Himalayas. Tibet is very different from Nepal and Sikkim - it is more like Ladkah in terms of being arid and barren, while both Nepal and Sikkim have tropical valleys between the mountains that are lovely. I love Kathmandu and there is much to see there. Take a look at my trip report and our photos, which document all of the World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. In Sikkim you will feel you are up close and personal with the mountains. You will not have the same experience in Nepal, though you might all have a similar experience in Bhutan.

BTW, You will actually see the mountains from the plane as you arrive in Nepal.
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Jul 8th, 2017, 07:16 PM
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I too was inspired by Kathy and visited Sikkim some years ago, I agree it is unlike the rest of India (I am originally from India). As a woman, I felt safer there than in most other places. The roads can be dangerous though, and the monsoons might make them even more so. If you do visit, I would suggest Rinchenpong and Pelling. Here are my photos from October, just after the monsoons. There are a couple of pictures of road work and waterfall crossings. There were some instances where it almost felt our car was going to drop down into the valley. I also want to say that it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and it was gorgeous in October. Skies were clear, the valleys were lush from the recent rains yet it was dry. The vegetation is fascinating, I had never seen alpines and tropical trees like bananas and guava growing next to each other.

https://flic.kr/s/aHskZHG92P
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Jul 16th, 2017, 06:06 AM
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Forget Pokhara. I spent several days there, not in monsoon season, and only got a glimpse of the mountains the morning I left.

Forget Tibet. For a short trip it's too much hassle. In addition to a Chinese visa you need special permits for Tibet, and must be with a guide or a group. See, e.g.
https://www.travelchinaguide.com/faq...travel-permit/

If you just want somewhere other than Sikkim for a couple of days consider Darjeeling, staying at the Windamere and riding the "toy" train.
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Jul 16th, 2017, 10:52 PM
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<<>>

We were in the Pokhara and Bandipur for for just under a fortnight, and saw the mountains every day, some days they felt almost close enough to touch.

The views from nearby Sarangot were like this.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlRICOLPn8s

Whereas in 3 weeks in Kathmandu and the the Kathmandu Valley we saw the square root of zilch.
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Jul 17th, 2017, 07:08 AM
  #13
 
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Mountains, all mountains, are quite capricious in their appearance/disappearance. Just because one person saw or didn't see the mountains form particular place is not a predictor of whether you will see them. My last trip to Kathmandu, we saw the Himalayas every day from Kathmandu. We were there at the optimal time for viewing the mountains - November - but there are never any guarantees.
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 05:43 AM
  #14
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Thank you all for your replies! I've been thinking for some time and have made a rough itinerary. I appreciate it's not a black or white decision when it comes to viewing mountains and the weather. So I'm taking a gamble this time of year but this may be my one chance to visit Nepal and glimpse the Himalayas so I'll take it!

Begins in early September, ends in mid-September:

Day 1 – Arrive Kathmandu early afternoon, explore Kathmandu local area/World Heritage sights
Day 2 – Kathmandu day trip (Nagarkot or Bhaktapur?)
Day 3 – Kathmandu day trip (Everest flight? Monasteries later?)
Day 4 – Kathmandu --> Pokhara early flight or bus, explore Pokhara if I get there early (Sarangkot day hike?)
Days 5 to 9 - Poon Hill trek
Day 10 – Pokhara --> Kathmandu flight or bus
Day 11 – Leave Kathmandu

Would be great if anyone could let me know their thoughts.
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 06:24 AM
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You want an early Everest flight, so really you have a practically full day afterwards.

I would fly at least one way to/from Pokhara. It's a long bus ride, but worth doing - once. Sit on the right side going to Pokhara. I stopped off in Bandipur on the way, but doesn't look like you have enough time.

https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...f-in-bandipur/
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 07:07 AM
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Day 1.....You won't have a lot of time to see all the must-sees during daylight. I'd go for Patan, and then make sure I got to Boudhanath by dusk and be amazed. There are several good restaurants and cafes opposite the Stupa at Boudhanath.

Day 2.....If you set off by say 0800 to Bhaktapur, you'll be there before 0900. Find somewhere for breakfast, then have a wander round. You can get a public bus from just outside the Heritage Area to Nargakot, takes about 50 minutes, and is an interesting ride. But Nargakot is very spread out, so unless it's good visibility I wouldn't bother, and just enjoy Bhaktapur for the day.

Day 4.....Like Thursday writes above, take the bus to Pokhara and sit on the right-hand side. We booked with Greenline a few days in advance and got pick of the seats, and sat right behind the driver.....just like in an Action movie. If you book with Greenline, opposite their compound is the Garden of Dreams, a nice bit of peace and quiet away from all the noise.

The views from Sarangkot are amazing, we got a taxi both ways. If we'd walked, then it would have been downhill back to Pokhara with all the scenery in front of you.....you could even paraglide from just below Sarangkot down to the Lakeside.....it's very popular.
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 08:30 AM
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You don't have enough time for all of the World heritage sites in Kathmandu on day 1. I'd suggest you go to the Durbar square in Kathmandu on day 1, make that your primary goal for day 1. That will give you a good introduction to what was the last Hindu Kingdom.

Day 2, I consider Bhaktapur a must-visit in the Kathmandu valley. I found Nagarkot to be a complete waste of time.

Day 3, Do try for the first Everest flight of the day. Many flights don't go, so if you schedule for 8 am, you may get out by 2 pm. I hope you will have time of other things that day, but no guarantee. If you can, go to Patan that day.

I'd suggest you look at all of the World Heritage sites in the valley and choose which ones you want to visit. For instance, we loved Boudnath and visited it several times. Others might feel that Pashputinath is a must-visit.

I have no advice for you on Pokhara, as in my two trips to Nepal (for a total of 5 weeks) I chose not to go there. But my focus was on culture rather than on scenery.

Enjoy your trip!
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 08:46 AM
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I think I scheduled for 7:30 for the Everest flight, and was actually on the 7:00. OP should also be aware that the safety record for these flights is not stellar.
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Jul 25th, 2017, 06:14 AM
  #19
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Thank you all so much for your advice and suggestions. You have been so much help and insight throughout all my planning. I'll make sure I feed back when I return from my trip! Now I'm just excited to see Nepal and see the reality of all your suggestions
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Dec 12th, 2017, 03:21 PM
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Hello all, so I thought I would give an update and let you all know how the trip went. To feed back to you after all your help (t, and also to help others who stumble across this topic and have the same questions I do.

In short, my 10 day trip was fantastic and I fell in love with the country and the people I met. Oh, and the Himalayas. And, I NEED to go back!!

I arrived in Kathmandu in the late afternoon after a few weeks in India, and spent 2 nights there. This gave me PLENTY of time to explore the city. I must admit I was quite tired by this point and guiltily organised my days in Kathmandu around ticking a few sights off my list, namely the main temples there. I browsed around a couple of shops on my first day and quickly decided I couldn't afford the Mt Everest flight, and would rather focus my energies on a short trek in Pokhara. I bought trekking trainers on the same day! On the second day, went to the Durbar Square and milled around getting a feel for the city.

I completely understand what many travellers have reiterated about Kathmandu - that it's noisy, busy and very polluted - but only felt the reality of that after Pokhara. (Nevertheless, Kathmandu was a breath of fresh air after India).

On the 3rd day, I left the bulk of my luggage in my Kathmandu hotel and took a small trekking bag and the an early morning bus to Pokhara which took about 8 hours and did not feel that long at all! Actually, I loved the bus journey. After over-researching the difference between buses and flights to Pokhara, I am so glad I stuck to my (budgeting) instinct and just took the bus. It was organised and comfortable. There were regular breaks, and the scenery once we entered the Pokhara region (or more so, left Kathmandu) was beautiful, and such a fresh change from the bustling and polluted Kathmandu. I loved the transition you could see out the window. Never got bored of watching the river flowing and all the undulating valley drives. (Although, I've frequented many rocky bus rides in Bangladesh so this journey was a breeze for me)

Once I arrived at the bus station, finally left alone without hounds of shops, buses, motorcycles and tourists zooming around me. This seemed to be a quiet-ish time of year. I took a 10 minute walk to my hotel along the river, revelling in the fresh air and silence I could finally experience!!

Once in my hotel, I arranged to meet with my tour guide who I had liaised with a few weeks earlier. She was *incredible* and we organised a 5 day trek up to Poon Hill based on my own needs. I was so excited by this point, I could just meet her the following day and she would take care of my dream to view the mountains. In the mean time, I strolled around Fewa Lake (which, as a solo female felt very safe even in the evenings) and just enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere.

The Poon Hill trek itself was a great way to view the Annapurna range. The trek is "little bit up, little bit down" with quite a few uphill climbs. All up organised steps and routes, but definitely uphill and of course downhill on the way back. And long walks with a trekking bag on your back (I didn't hire a porter). So for a new trekker it was ideal, but do be prepared regardless.

I loved the teahouses... the dahl bhat (which I was craving after a few weeks in India - Bangladeshis need their rice too, just like the Nepalese!!)... loved the chats with my guides... the excitement building looking for the mountains... the breathtaking scenery and the freedom, as a solo trekker with a solo guide, to stop whenever you want to take in the view and take a picture too.

I was incredibly lucky in that I didn't get a spot of rain until the day we arrived into Ghorepani. We were literally about 500m from the gate to Ghorepani when monsoon rains flooded the path so we had to wait for it to slow down. My guide warned me of leeches - I'm used to seeing big fat black leeches in the movies - but the small, tiny black leeches that quite literally leeched onto your shoes, into the tiny holes through to your socks then your feet... they were perhaps even more frightening!! I must admit I hated this day of rain and a pathetic fear of leeches seeping into my shoes!

But it was all worth it once we reached our teahouse in Ghorepani, the thick white clouds parted allowing a beautiful pink sunset over a teasing glimpse of the Annapurna range. I'm becoming all poetic... the scene is something I'll never forget. The following morning, at 4am we trudged up to Poon Hill in the dark and in complete silence to witness sunrise over the Annapurna range.

And here was my second time being lucky - completely clear skies, a crystal clear view of the Annapurna range, all my apprehensions silenced by the majesty of the Himalayas. Wow. I actually got to see it! Feel it and be with it.

So I'll leave it at that... but I achieved my dream to "see the Himalayas in 10 days" - it was both a physical and mental achievement for me.

Needless to say, I extended my trip in Pokhara by one day so I had one less day in Kathmandu, and was even able to take the bus back to Kathmandu with some friends I made on the trek. My hotel in Kathmandu sounded a knowing "ok, that's fine" when I told them I wanted one less day in Kathmandu! I spent my extra day in Pokhara chilling with my new friends and just relaxing in a cafe.

A perfect time. I'll be back, Nepal!
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