Your Facebook feed must be swamped with pictures of people in Mustang and Annapurna Base Camp making you want to travel to exotic locations yourself. Though these places might be out of question right away, there are some other incredible places you can visit to rid yourself of that jealous stab. Here, we present to you a short list of places in Eastern Nepal that are definitely worth a visit and the good bit about it is that it won’t break your bank either.
Mai Pokhari Wetland, Ilam
Spread over an area of 90 hectares, this Ramsar site encircles the serene lake of religious importance, the sight of which is instantly soothing. On its margin lies the Mai Pokhari Botanical Garden with a rock garden, an orchid house, and a green house in its premises. Walking through narrow trails, you can see an exotic variety of flowers and herbs and if you get lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of leopard cat, Eurasian otter, white-rumped vulture and other majestic birds.
To get there you can take a flight to Bhadrapur or Biratnagar from Kathmandu followed by a bus ride through Charali, Jhapa to Ilam bazaar. Alternatively, direct buses to Ilam are also available from Kathmandu. You can then either hike across the 13-kilometer slippery way to Mai Pokhari from Ilam bazaar or hire a private vehicle to take you there. The friendly locals operate hotels and lodges with hygienic and appetizing Thakali food and clean lodging facilities. If you are in search of some peace and alone time, Mai Pokhari is the perfect place.
At 3600 meters above sea level, this trail is famous by the name Rhododendron Trail. It touches Terathum, Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung districts. More than 28 species of Rhododendron and the hues of blossoms mostly red, and also white, pink during the flowering season justify its name. The magically towering hills and green pasture along with the crisp, cool air never lets you be worn out through the long journey.
Teahouses are available within every one or two hours of walking distance which also provide accommodation and food for a relatively low price. Provided that the weather is favorable, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Kanchanjunga and Mt. Everest could be greeting you on the way as well. Guphapokhari, a naturally emerged pond of religious significance, lies along the trail, and there are many other serene lakes as well. You might be lucky to get a view of the reflection of Mt. Makalu on the surface of Guphapokhari.
The trek starts from Tute Deurali, few kilometers away from Basantapur bazaar in the East. Basantapur can be reached via a microbus or a bus from Dharan. A trip to Tumlingtar, Taplejung by air is another option that leads to the road to Chauki. This is one among the easiest and cost effective routes for trekking in Nepal.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
It is situated in the floodplains of Sapta Koshi River, covering the wetlands of Sunsari, Saptari and Udaypur. The birdwatcher’s heaven favors the inhabitance of around 439 species along with migratory birds from Siberia. Several species of storks, herons, ducks, ibis, wild buffalo, wild boar, hog deer, spotted deer, blue bell, and jackal can be spotted with appearance of dolphins and gharials while walking through the jungle, village or rafting in the Koshi River.
On a clear day, the startling whiteness of Mt. Makalu accentuates the panorama. For accommodation, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp in the proximity of the reserve is a perfect spot for bird views and nature lovers.
Take a bus down the East-West Highway or fly to Biratnagar before a bus ride of three to four hours to the reserve or raft down the Sunkoshi River for 9-10 days. The choice is all yours.
There might barely be a person in the East that doesn’t like this picturesque city. A British settlement ages ago, its popularity is widespread throughout the country whether it comes to the landscapes, Gorkha Regiment, or the fashion conscious population. Besides, it invites Hindu pilgrims from all the corners of the world, owing to the numerous temples such as Pindeshwor, Pancha Kanya, Budha Subba, and Dantakali to name a few. About nine kilometers north to Dharan, Bhedetar gives the best view of the plains at the height of 1420 meters. For adventure lovers, paragliding from Koldanda near Bhedetar is the ultimate treat. The good news is the prices are comparatively lower than other places.
For devotees of Lord Shiva, Haleshi Mahadev Cave is not an unfamiliar name. It is popular among the Kiratis, Buddhists, and Hindus alike. At an elevation of about 1400 meters, it comprises of four big and numerous small caves.
Apart from the religious tour, Haleshi can be an excellent getaway for mountain viewing. Everest mountain range can be noticed after a two-hour uphill walk from Haleshi, if the weather permits.
A 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lamidanda followed by a four to five hour jeep ride will get you to Haleshi. Or you can go by bus to Katari Bazaar in Udaypur, take a jeep or a bus to Ghurmi and then either hike all the way to Haleshi which takes about five to six hours or take yet another jeep. It sounds a bit tiring, doesn’t it? But we guarantee it’s worth the effort once you get there.