This is a special place lost in time. I planned to do a trip to Mount Everest from this city, however weather issues caused the whole trip to be changed to Annapurna One Base camp.
The city is busy and at times very dirty, but the hotels are wonderful provided you do some research in advance. There are many international tourists here planning a trip to Everest or Annapurna. The airport is very old an can make the experience of flying to Lukla for Everest or Pokhara for Annapurna, a long and trying experience. There are many accidents that occur around this airport and especially Lukla simply because the weather is so unpredictable. Any traveller planning to come to the Himalayas should consider flexibility in their schedule as there can be massive delays for air travel. I spent three days sitting in Katmandu airport waiting to board a flight to Lukla so that I could begin my Everest trek … only to change plans on day four and head to Annapurna. It should be noted that while trekking Annapurna I was advised that people were trapped for 10 days in Lukla trying to get back to Katmandu from Everest. Imagine being trapped on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and not being able to fly out because of zero visibility for 10 days! This happens more than people realise. Baggage reclaim at Katmandu airport is a sight to behold. Don’t expect a carrousel and air-conditioned environment to wait for your bags. I stood outside and waited patiently by a basic looking shelter and witnessed a gentleman bring all our backpacks in a cart! Then there was a brief scrum to find your particular bag. Of course the majority of the international tourists were laughing at the absurdity of the experience. I should mention that one of the first priorities for the government in Nepal is to get their airport up to scratch.
back to Katmandu. I enjoyed walking around this city tremendously. It can be very scary crossing the road but you feel so alive and thrilled to be caught up in the energy. In the old quarter of the city you will find many temples and prayer vigils. I found large amounts of fruit and dates with a large fish sitting on top of a mound as an offer to a daiety. It was very unique and I could not remember where else in the world I had seen such an ornate display out in public.
The pollution is shocking to see when you drive past it for the first time. This is truly the developing world and when seeing things like the picture to your right … you wonder if there has been an apoclypse. the nation has been through many upheavals and wars and corruption. The result is infrastructure on the brink of collapse. you would not know that there was a serious problem if you stayed in you five star hotel which is a sad commentary of the divide between the rich and the poor.
I have enclosed a slideshow below of my favourite aspects of the city.