We learned when we arrived in Pokhara that it is possible to engage a guide to take you up Sarangkot for something like USD85. You absolutely do not need to do this.
Hiking up Sarangkot seems like it should be straightforward, as you essentially climb straight up the hill behind Pokhara, but you do need to find the right turnings and sometimes in can be a bit counter-intuitive. We were armed with one of the few blogs that we could find with a route and our maps.me app and we most definitely went the wrong way. This picture is a pretty good representation of the type of “path” that we found ourselves on.So here it is, our comprehensive, foolproof guide to getting to the top of the mountain. Number one, and it pains us to say this but do not use maps.me, you will get to the top but you will find yourself scaling an extra hill and/or wading shoulder deep through weeds on private property like we did. It was a “fun” adventure but it can be much much easier. Other things to bear in mind; sun cream and water are an absolute must. You can buy water along the route all the way to the top as well, just be aware that the prices go up the higher you get. There are occasional red arrows painted on to rocks to show you the way but do not rely solely on these as they are few and far between. A majority of the walk is up and down stone steps of different depths and heights, so it can be hard work on the knees as well as the heart rate, if you don’t like steps this is not the walk for you. Finally; whilst the walk is technically a half-day hike it takes up to 5 hours and is very hard work. We were pretty out of shape when we did it which would account for some of the gasping for air but still, do not underestimate this walk. If you are using it as a warm up make sure that you have a rest day before setting off on your main hike.
The walk: Set off from Lakeside and head north, or for those like Caro who have zero sense of direction; face the lake, turn right, walk. You follow the main road for quite a while, about 20-30 minutes, past the end of the lake path, round the headland and away from the lake again. As you walk inland you will come around a curve to the left in to another small built up area, continue for about 300m until you come to a right turn on to a wide dirt road. These are the signs on the left of the main road and the building on the right in front of which you need to turn right.
At the time of writing the road was under construction and there was extensive building work going on along either side with the development of what looked like medium sized hotels.
It is possible that the road will be sealed in future but for now it is dirt and stone. Keep following this road until you come to a T-Junction with the Namaste Cafe opposite you.
The painted sign on the wall says that it takes an hour and a half from here, this is ambitious to say the least. Turn right and walk up to the boarding school.
Turn right immediately after the boarding school and follow the stone and grass track for about 200m. You aren’t walking to the end of this track so keep an eye out on your left for a low rough stone wall with red arrows and, if you look closely, ” Way to Sarangkot” written on it.
Climb over the wall and follow the track up to the edge of the forest.
Up you go. There’s only one track and it is mostly made of stone steps, just keep working your way up through the forest. Do take care on the fallen leaves, particularly on the way down, as they are slippery little suckers.
After about 500 years of climbing you will emerge from the forest in to the open. You will start to see and hear paragliders overhead and the views open out over the lake.
Keep following the track up the hill and you will reach a corrugated iron shed with a faded blue door.
Congratulations you are halfway there! Deadly serious, there are so many more steps ahead of you. Keep climbing the steps and take the track immediately in front of you. On a clear day make sure to keep looking out to the views on your right.
You will briefly re-enter a wooded area before climbing another set of steps out of the trees and on to a road. Turn right and walk along the road for about 30m before taking another set of steps off to the right of the road, there is a low stone wall running along the left hand side of the steps. The view to the right is pretty cool, if you care to look, which you probably won’t on the way up but will on the way down.
A road briefly runs alongside the steps, ignore this and continue up the steps on the right hand side.
Be warned: it looks like the paragliders are launching off the hill immediately above you, they aren’t, you’ve got fair way to go yet. These steps will eventually bring you up on to a dirt road. Go straight across the road and take the track cut in to the hill opposite. After about 30m this track continues straight on around the hill but you want to take the switchback round to the right.
Follow the track and keep the climbing up the steps with the cliff on your right. Eventually you will turn away from the cliff and up through some houses. Keep going up the steps until you emerge in front of a really bright pink and green house.
Turn right here and follow the stone and grass track for about 100m and then take the concrete slope on the left. If you are interested, the elevated pile of straw on the right of the slope is a cattle feed store.
You will walk along a jagged stone pathway before hitting more stone steps up through small holdings with vegetables, chickens, goats, one incredibly comfortable looking buffalo and the occasional beehive. The people around will likely greet you and offer to sell you cold drinks.
At the top of these stone steps you will emerge on to a tarmac road with shops either side. Stock up on water here if you need to because the prices go up a lot from here on in. Turn left and walk about 50m along the main road. From here the tarmac road continues left, you want to take the dirt track on the right.
Walk up this track for about 50m, when it curves to the right you should keep going straight ahead and up some steps on to the paragliding launchpad. If there aren’t any paragliders there then look out for the wind socks.
Go straight across the launchpad to the set of steps with white railings on the far side. Take a seat on the stairs and watch a couple of people launch, it’s a good excuse for a break and pretty cool to watch. Walk up the stone steps, at one point you reach a junction with a set of steps going down to your left, ignore these and keep going up. The steps lead on to a steep concrete pathway which in turn brings you back to the main road.
Cross the road and go through the first archway welcoming you to Sarangkot View Point.
Climb up through the village past the souvenir shops and take a minute to appreciate all of the bins around the place and the fact that Sarangkot is very clean.
Go through the second archway welcoming you to Sarangkot View Point.
Pay 50 rupees at the gate and make your way up past the small temple to the view point at the top. Take photos and feel superior to everyone else there who took a car up
For the return route simply retrace your steps, taking a bit more time to appreciate the views and to remind yourself of just how many steps you climbed to get there. Get back to town, eat a burger and have a shower.
We really enjoyed our hike up Sarangkot because we like to walk, the views are nice and you get to go through some lovely villages and forest on the way up. The only caution that we would give is that if you are only climbing for the views from the top then check the weather and your expectations very carefully before you set off. It can be very hazy, as it was on the day we climbed, and on these occasions the mountains are mere blurred outlines and you aren’t going to get amazing photographs.
That being said, we were lucky enough to be driving back from our next hike on a clear day and would have paid good money to be on top of Sarangkot at the time because the view must have been astonishing. Either way, we would definitely recommend the walk and if you are a bit out of shape its a good way to kick start your body in to fighting fit order ready for longer hikes.