Encircled by lush hills in a strikingly flat valley, the lakeside city of Pokhara is one of Nepal's most idyllic places. Just 40km to the north three giant 8000m mountain ranges lie tantalisingly close, dwarfing you in this low-lying valley, their immense scale hard to comprehend. Although lacking in historical sights, the area is full of natural features including waterfalls, gorges, and canyons, and the high Himalayas reflected on Phewa Tal Lake is one of the country's iconic images. The valley served as a transit point for traders in medieval times ferrying salt from Tibet and exotic produce from India, and Pokhara grew into one of Nepal's main trading centres. Pokhara's economy has diversified in recent times as trekking routes have been forged in the nearby Annapurna region, and the city has become a hub for travellers in pursuit of adventures in the Himalayas. A plethora of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops line the lakeside, making Pokhara a comfortable place to relax and recuperate after a long journey. Those in search of activities will not be disappointed - gentle paddle boat rides on the lake, white water rafting on the Sethi River, paragliding from the Sarangkot viewpoint, mountain biking and trekking to authentic villages are all possible as day trips. Also in town is an interesting museum dedicated to the Gurkha soldiers, with stories of those who have been awarded the Victoria Cross for some remarkable achievements.

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