A beautiful city of lakes surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world, Pokhara is also the gateway to many other attractive destinations around. If you plan to visit Nepal and have Pokhara and Annapurna on your bucket list, going beyond the city and usual Annapurna trekking routes will give you a unique opportunity to explore the mesmerizing yet unexplored areas, their diverse culture, and way of life.
Hemjakot Community Homestay
Hemjakot is a perfect getaway to witness the majestic mountains and experience the rural Nepali way of life. About an hour’s drive and a moderate hike for another one hour from Pokhara, it is ideally located on the foothills of Mt. Machhapuchhare (often referred to as Fishtail Mountain to English speakers). Along with diverse culture and beautiful landscape, Hemjakot Community Homestay belonging to the Gurung, Magar, and Dalit communities adds a different charm to this village. While the facilities at the community homestays are basic, you would be provided with everything from clean linen to toilet paper. The concept of community homestays here also supports the traditionally underprivileged Dalit groups (the Damai and Kami) to improve their livelihoods. Staying at Hemjakot Community Homestay will also give you an excellent opportunity to understand and reflect on the typical traditional architecture of the western Himalayan region of Nepal. The houses are uniquely designed and often made with stones from the area itself. Hemjakot is also an excellent base for short hikes around Pokhara. Travellers who want to explore the beautiful landscapes without going on a strenuous trek can hike to Dhampus and Asthma which provides up close views of the mighty himalayas. In addition to the majestic views and changing colours of the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre over the sunrise and sunset, you would also enjoy the cultural diversity, their hospitality and leave Hemjakot with warm feelings.
Kalabaang Community Homestay
A picturesque village near Pokhara city celebrates the togetherness and we-feeling of the Gurung community. Kalabang Community Homestay was initiated with the support of Lahure soldiers with the help of the ASIAN forum and a Swiss organisation. This community homestay not just promotes the accommodation facilities but also the traditional crafts, souvenirs, culture, and diverse food. Even though 18 families are directly involved in providing accommodation services, the rest of the village also benefits through the program. It has attracted the locals who have previously migrated to Pokhara and other cities. While immersing yourself in a traditional Gurung lifestyle, you will be able to taste raksi, the local liquor made with millet or rice, have breakfasts that include a fusion of Nepali and Western food like millet pancake. The evening at Kalabang is filled with laughter and stories from Lahures or retired Lahures. The hosts will be happy to make a campfire and organize cultural programs.
Narchyang Community Homestay
Around five hours drive from Pokhara, you will be able to immerse yourself in one of Nepal’s most beautiful yet unexplored landscapes. A village tucked in the laps of the Himalayas, Narchyang is a scenic destination with a view of Shangri-la and aims to evolve as a sustainable community via operating a community homestay. A typical mountain village previously known to only a few trekkers, Narchyang is a refreshing alternative to the usual trekking route in the Annapurna region. As it is in the ‘rain-shadow’ area, it can be visited around the year and is favourable to travellers who would like to indulge in a leisurely hike. Along with the mesmerising view of the mountains, one could explore the waterfalls and hot springs around the area. With five households, the Narchyang Community Homestay offers the traditional Magar culture and some of the most authentic dishes like Dhido Set (buckwheat mash with a smooth and creamy taste, with melted ghee on top).
Mustang Bon Community Homestay
Lower Mustang offers a different landscape from the rest of Nepal and holds an even more mysterious place as it has started to relatively welcome outsiders recently. Anyone who visits the area, will be mesmerised by the landscape and majestic view of the mountains. To immerse yourself in a Bon culture itself is a rare opportunity to understand remnants of an older, pre-Buddhist religion. Mustang Bon Community Homestay is situated in the small village of Lubra that will allow you to enjoy a rural mountainous experience. The community homestays in Lubra have basic facilities but will manage to keep you comfortable. The hosts eagerly wait to celebrate and keep parts of their culture alive, which could otherwise be forgotten due to modernization. Another highlight of your stay would be a chance to prepare and eat locally grown food. Depending on your length of stay and the season, you will also be able to plant and gather their foods. If you are looking for some adventure, you can go on a hiking trail to Falek and Pakling or follow the trail to spot the elusive snow leopard. You can also cycle around the region on mountain bikes.