Monday, November 23, 2009

Nepal Re-Visited - 30 Years Later


The Nepalese-style hotel (Kantipur Temple House) in Kathmandu is wonderfully located. The staff are friendly, the rooms large (although without some amenities - like shampoo or a hair dryer), and the restaurant excellent. I had three excellent dinners on all three evenings. The beds are quite hard, but I much prefer that to soft mattresses!

The lakeside at Pokhara seems much more geared towards tourists. The hotel (Hotel Barahi) was more like a western-style hotel and was very good; the staff especially were most helpful.


I was met at both airports, and again at the hotel in Kathmandu for the airport transfer en route to Pokhara. However, after being left on arrival at the Pohkara hotel, I was given no information about my departure, nor any contact person. The hotel even thought I was departing at noon on the 20th (my flight was at 09:10). No-one seemed to know what was happening! Eventually one of the receptionists told me not to worry (but without being specific). To be safe, I decided to pay for a car and driver for an hour’s trip to the valley and then be dropped at the airport.

Recommendation: a printed schedule with a summary of transfer activity and contact persons in each city would have been helpful.



Both TG flights were excellent and I was very grateful to have a window seat allocated, even on an economy ticket. However, if it is possible actually to request a seat, the ideal seats to Kathmandu are ‘K’ and the ideal seats out of Kathmandu are ‘A’ (rather than ‘A’ and ‘K’). This is because the Himalaya range is on the right as you fly in and the left as you fly out!


Kathmandu’s domestic airport is a ghastly chaos – the worst I have ever experienced. Once through security, there are no TV monitors, no signs about departures, only intermittent PA announcements – only for Nepal Airlines. Departures of all other flights are shouted by individuals near the boarding gate. What surprised me most about the 3-hour delay was not knowing about it prior to my leaving the hotel. In front of me at the Buddha Air check-in was a group of young Japanese, also going to Pokhara. After I checked in, I followed them into the departure lounge. Chatting with one, he told me their flight had also been delayed, but their guide had held them at their hotel for 90 minutes. So they were able to get their flight quite quickly. Prashant told me he had checked about delays and had been told they were on time. With all respect, I do find this a little hard to believe as all Buddha Air flights that day were considerably delayed. But I fully accept that obtaining information about flights seems to be well night impossible!

Recommendation: since all domestic flights fly by visual flight rules and so are totally dependent on the weather, I suggest your clients be advised to fly out of Kathmandu in the morning (so as to avoid a flight being cancelled – as mine nearly was – if it might have to land after dark). Alternatively, do the relatively short trip to Pokhara by car. (I realise this is what your agent had suggested and that it was I who insisted on going by air!). And since my return flight was also delayed by 2 hours, I suggest clients are strongly advised not to do what I insisted and return on the day of a connecting international flight. Far better to return the previous morning and overnight in Kathmandu.


Having been there before, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to see. For first time visitors, I suggest the Nepal agent should give them a printed list of possibilities, along with the price if his agency is used. I found his prices (e.g. for car hire) to be very reasonable compared to taxis. Kathmandu, especially, can be quite intimidating on a first visit.


I also think it’s worth pointing out to potential visitors that Kathmandu has power cuts of around 3 hours every evening. Some hotels have generators; others do not. It also makes walking around at night rather difficult!

John Duffus
Traveled toNepal in November 2009

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