One of the most memorable things you can do on any visit to Pokhara, Nepal’s 2nd biggest city, is watching the sunrise over the Annapurna Himalayan Range from Sarangkot. Some go as far as claiming it almost a religious experience (Lonely Planet) which I can just confirm, the view of the Annapurna Himalayas is breathtaking and unforgettable. I actually went there twice on my trip just because it’s so beautiful, one time before and one time after my Annapurna Circuit Track. And it’s not just the experience itself that makes Sarangkot Pokhara’s most popular sunrise watching trip, but also its proximity and easy access from the city.
You can spend easily two hours just sitting there on a wooden bench and soaking up the incredible view: A wide valley just down the hill with small villages and scenic farms and then behind the Annapurna Himalayan Range dramatically arising, with some of the highest mountains in the world. On a clear day you can see the panoramic sweep of Himalayan peaks, the most prominent being Dhaulagiri (8167m, the world’s 7th highest mountain), Annapurna South (7219m), Annapurna I (8091m, the world’s 10th highest mountain), Hiunchuli (6441m), Machhapuchhare (6997m, the “Fishtail” and holy mountain), Annapurna III (7555m), Annapurna IV (7525m) and Annapurna II (7937m) and Lamjung Himal (6983m), from west to east. After all, you need to be a bit lucky with the weather. The first time I visited Sarangkot, it was quite cloudy with most of the peaks invisible. The second time I came I got the best sunset possible,
What it surprised me when I came to Sarangkot: It’s not even that touristic at all. Both times I visited there were less than 20 foreigners around. I just had a cup of tea and biscuits in a local guy’s garden near the main village just below the ridge. It’s also possible to walk up to an ancient hill-fort (kot) – concrete steps are leading up there, the small hike takes 20 to 30 minutes from Sarangkot village. The views from up there are similar stunning.
Sarangkot is maybe your best “effort for value” experience you can do in Nepal. And here you can take some of your most beautiful pictures of your trip as well.
So how to get to Sarangkot for the Sunrise?
Sarangkot is located on a hill about 10 km northeast of Lakeside Pokhara. To get there, you have three options:
The first option is to book a taxi the day before at your guesthouse or at one of the many travel agents in Lakeside. Prices vary and are negotiable, a realistic rate is 800 NPR for a taxi that takes you up there, waits for two hours and takes you back down to Pokhara.
The second option is to rent a motorcycle and drive there by yourself, like I did. The daily rate is around 500 NPR for a scooter and 700-800 NPR for the bigger bikes starting from 150 ccm. Coming from Lakeside, drive north along the main road towards the old town. At some point you have to take a left. It’s quite hard to describe where exactly so I can only recommend you asking the locals for the way to Sarangkot and they will tell you the direction to the junction. From there, it’s a scenic and fun drive up the hill for around 20 to 25 minutes and you are there.
The third option is you just walk to Sarangkot. However, it’s quite far coming all the way from Lakeside Pokhara (10 km) so if you really want to hike, you should at least take a taxi to the foot of the hill and hike up there, depending on your pace one to two hours. Keep in mind though, if you are coming for the sunrise you will be walking up through the dark which means no views. I’d rather suggest to take a one way taxi up, and hike back down. By then it’s also easy to go back to Lakeside Pokhara via public bus.
Note: There is a national park entrance fee of 50 NPR per person (foreigners only).
Sunrise is between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, depending on the time of the year. Just google “Sunrise Sarangkot” to get the current time for the sunrise.