If you are looking for things to do in Pokhara, watching the sunrise over the Annapurna Mountain Range from Sarangkot View Tower definitely should be on your travel to-do list.
There are several options for getting to the tower early in the morning. You can grab a taxi or hike up with your mates or via an an organized tour. My partner (John) and I decided that it will be more rewarding to witness the first sun’s rays after hiking up to the top.
Here I will share our experience and give some pointers if you want to take on this mini-adventure.
The actual hike takes anywhere between 2 - 2.5 hours, but this may vary depending on where you stay in Pokhara.
We started our journey around 4 am. It was a pretty surreal experience to walk on the empty Pokhara roads with only local dogs keeping us company. We had our headlamps on, which was perfect as it was still very dark in the wee hours of the morning. It was also a bit cold in the morning, but once we began hiking, we warmed up quickly. So wearing layers might be a good idea. If you sweat a lot like me, maybe take an extra t-shirt to change. I wish I had one on me :)
According to the maps, there are several entries to the trail. We took the one close to the cable car station construction site.
From there, we just followed stone steps all the way to the top. It’s a bit challenging but gratifying hike. If you, for some reason, find yourself lost, keep in mind that the track closely follows the cable car towers, so they can be your points of reference.
On the way, we passed a lush forest, a lovely village, and a few exposed spots with amazing views on the Phewa lake and surroundings. In some places, the trail crosses over the road, but the only place you follow the main road for a while is after you finish stone steps. This area is not far from the paragliding launch, and you’ll be able to see the tower from there.
The sunrise started around 7 am, but the sky began to lighten up around 6.40 am. It’s hard to describe how beautiful and very special it was to watch the first sunbeams of the day touch the mighty Himalayan peaks. You have to witness this for yourself. A camera can’t capture the whole experience, but to give you a bit of taste of how it was, John and I recorded a short video.
After spending some time absorbing the experience, we decided to have breakfast in a local cafe just below the tower. It has beautiful panoramic views of the lake and paragliding launch.
Hot coffee and yummy breakfast was a lovely way to end our morning adventure.
Well, in all fairness, it wasn’t a complete end as I still had to hike down, and John, who carried his paraglider all the way up, had to catch some thermals and fly back to Pokhara.
P.S: Some practical notes for your information:
- Tower entrance fee is 60 Rs per person (tourist’s price). If you are on a budget, you can avoid paying fees and still enjoy The Annapurna Mountain Range view from the grassy area behind the tower.
- Taxi ride to the tower cost between 800 to 1200 Rs depending on your negotiating skills. You can also ask your driver to wait for you for an hour or so if you want to go back down soon after sunrise.
- There are many small hotels at the top. You can stay in one of them overnight and wake up to meet the sunrise instead of getting to Sarangkot in the morning.
- As the paragliding launch is just below the Sarangkot View Tower, you can arrange for a tandem flight after sunrise. Most of the tandems take off around 10 am. You can find more information about tandems here, but I also plan on writing a separate post about paragliding in Pokhara