The complete guide to Sarangkot, Pokhara
There it stands, in between the snow-clad mountains, having an eye to eye contact with the sun every single day. Sarangkot is a must-visit place for those who come to Pokhara, Nepal. Sitting 1600 meters above the ground, this small Hill-town located about 10KMs from Pokhara overlooks the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu mountains from its top.
An all-time favorite for sun-chasers, the USP, and top attraction (after all these years) still continues to be the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets that this viewpoint offers. But, there is so much more this village has to offer than a rushed morning trip for sunrise. Sarangkot is much famed for Paragliding too. The best place to do Paragliding in Nepal, with a view of snow-clad mountains on one side and the pristine Phewa Lake below, the experience is almost magical.
How to reach:
One can either hire a taxi or rent a bike. We initially rented a motorbike and came to Sarangkot for sunrise with hundreds of other tourists. It costs about 1100 NPR per day for the bike.
We loved the place so much that after returning to Pokhara, we booked a two-night stay at Sarangkot at the Mountain Village Home. This time, we tried our luck with the Taxi, which asked for 1800 NPR for a one-way ride from Pokhara to Sarangkot. Thankfully, our host offered a better option and sent us a taxi just for 1000 NPR.
It’s a 10 KM journey uphill, and even buses operate regularly to and fro between Pokhara and Sarangkot. The bus ride from the Pokhara main Bus stand costs only 50 NPR per ticket.
Pro Tip: The paragliders who come all the way up in taxis do not return to Pokhara on wheels (they glide from above). So, all taxis ride back to Pokhara go with empty seats.
The drivers don’t mind a good deal, and we just paid 100 NPR for a car ride all the way downhill to Pokhara bus stop. Here’s how: A driver saw us waiting for the local bus, then offered to drop us at a quoted price, we refused because the bus was about to arrive and the fares were extraordinarily lower, and we didn’t want to pay anymore than 100 NPR for the journey. He agreed, and it was a minimal effort for us to get that super cheap ride.
Things to do in Sarangkot
1. See the best sunrise in Nepal
The Sarangkot Viewpoint attracts nature enthusiasts, photographers, trekkers, and explorers alike due to the majestic color riot that the skies offer from here. Along with the Annapurna ranges, the most majestic one for me is the Mt. Fishtail (Machhapuchhre) peak that gets its name from the fishtail-like appearance, which is also visible from the viewpoint.
The sun rises from behind the Himalayas and puts the sky in a kaleidoscopic charm every dusk and dawn. During our stay in Sarangkot, we woke up every day at 4:00, to reach the sunrise point and see the drama in the sky.
2. Paraglide over the Phewa Lake
Due to its rewarding views, and perfect elevation, Sarangkot is Nepal’s best paragliding spot with really experienced pilots taking charge.
If you dare, get on a paraglider and take the leap of faith. We have done Paragliding in Indian Himalayas, but here in Sarangkot, it’s different. To see the Annapurna ranges and Machhapuchhre from the air, and to glide over the blue water of Phewa lake is an otherworldly experience. But in case you don’t have extreme guts, you can simply watch others take off and hover in the sky, painting the skyline with neon colors. It’s exciting just to see them doing the Acros in the air.
3. Hike around Sarangkot
The Kaskikot Village near Sarangkot is a rustic village. You’ll find the ruins of the Kingdom of Kaski after you finally cross the forest trails (which, by the way, is a mud road and is appropriately marked) and walk over the ridge near Sarangkot to reach this really small town in the vicinity.
The stone houses and village farms under the shadow of huge mountains are just other things you can enjoy in Sarangkot.
The living record of a leopard on the run
It was 4 am, ridiculously early for anyone to be at the viewpoint for the sunrise. Jai and I decided we’ll take the shortcut that goes through the ridge behind our homestay, to reach the viewpoint. At 4:15, we were out with our mobile torches on and almost sneaking through the woods, trying not to disturb our humble hosts.
I didn’t know why the house dogs, Bhura (The brown dog) and Kale (The black dog), started loudly barking at us (they were very friendly with us the previous night) but ignoring that, we quickly left. The sunrise sure was beautiful, and now we had an entire day, which we thought of spending on a hike to Kaskikot.
We took Kale, the owner’s dog, with us for the hike (wrong decision). As soon as we took the right turn, for the ridge walk, Kale stared at the bush and started growling. He was scared to death and started walking between us throughout the jungle. We were clueless about his behavior, as initially, he was walking quite ahead and exploring the woods. When we stopped at a local restaurant, we met a couple of Paraglider Pilots who were waiting for their turn. When they got to know about our plans to walk towards Kaskikot, with a dog, they warned us.
‘A leopard sighting happened earlier this morning near the ridge. The leopard is a fully grown one and might attack the dog,’ he added. Our jaws dropped, now along with the dog, we too were scared to take the ridge road again. He suggested leaving the dog there, which we, of course, couldn’t do, so we came back to our home.
When we met our owner in the evening, we told him the story of our hike. He brought our guts to the mouth when he said, ‘Today morning, I woke up to the barking dogs when you were out on the ridge, the moment you were there, a leopard was crossing the ridge right behind you.’ And here we stare at him in utter disbelief and terror. Any other plans to wander around were swapped with mountain gazing from the terrace.
4. Enjoy coffee at Bhanjyang Restaurant
Give me a cup of coffee with a beautiful view, and I won’t leave a place. Bhanjyang Restaurant in Sarangkot would give you that and more. Climb up to their watchtower and have a hot meal there with an equally breathtaking view.
I preferred their indoor seating as it is super comfy, and good Nepali folk music in the background is just one more thing that keeps you connected. We listened to ‘Gal Bandi’ and have not been able to get over with yet. The manager of the property deserves a shout out for all the reasons, ‘Gopal Kurki’ Ji is a superb host, very helpful, amazingly welcoming and warm.
5. Munch on some good noodles, momos, or Thukpa
Hiking to Sarangkot Viewpoint from the parking lot means climbing a lot of stairs, another reason to love those multiple small huts and cafes right outside the local’s home, that serve piping hot Chinese and Tibetian snacks that you could enjoy while heading to the top.
Where to stay:
1. Bhanjyang Village Resort
If you want to do it the local way, this is the place for you. Carefully made, stone cottages with thatched roofs which have a good mountain view are what you’ll opt for. The Resort has a lot of open space and a watchtower to have a better view of the mountain ranges.
The restaurant serves delicious food, and the very welcoming staff is yet another thing you can’t help but notice. Everyone at Bhanjyang Resort met us with a smile on their face. They offer family rooms too!
2. Hotel Annapurna View Sarangkot
If you want to treat yourself with a luxury stay in Sarangkot, Hotel Annapurna View is a complete winner, primarily because of the unparalleled views you get to see from here. The hotel is a new property with spacious rooms that are sparkling clean, and undoubtedly with the most spectacular views of the Annapurna mountain ranges.
3. Mountain Village Home
The humblest, this homestay located right next to Bhanjyang Village Resort, is what we opted for. The place is run by a local Nepali family who also lives at the property, the rooms are basic, but the floor and washrooms are spotlessly clean. The owner Ashok is a helpful and friendly guy who is fluent in English too. Ashok’s mother and sister-in-law served us the home-cooked Nepali food (which was finger-licking).
4. Other Homestays in Sarangkot
If you are here only for a day to enjoy the sunrise and want to save some money, you can stay in one of the many homestays on both sides of the stairs while walking up the viewpoint. Expect basic infrastructure and facilities with almost no luxury. It’s a good call while on the go.