It’s no secret that I love Nepal. In two years I’ve spent a collective eight months trekking and exploring the country. While the mountains are the thing I love most about Nepal, there are also some pretty incredible alpine lakes.
I’m talking turquoise and emerald blue, perfect reflection of the mountains, no one else around to interrupt the serenity kind of lakes.
Panch Pokhari is also known as “the five holy lakes” and is located to the east of Lang Tang National Park. Unless you’re visiting during pilgrimage time in August, expect to maybe see a few locals here. There are no permanent residents at Panch Pokhari, although there is a man who makes dal bhat and tea for visitors during hiking season.
It’s worth spending most of a day at Panch Pokhari. The lakes look drastically different depending on if the weather is sunny, cloudy, if there’s snow on the ground, or a blue sky.
The quickest way to get here is from the village of Bhotang. You can take a bus to the village from Kathmandu. It takes two days to hike up to Panch Pokhari from Bhotang and one long day to hike back down. Be aware of acute mountain sickness when making the trek. Panch Pokhari lies at 13,500 feet (4,100 meters).
If you’re interested in the long journey to Panch Pokhari, head to the Last Resort. It’s a safari-style resort that has lots of adventure activities to choose from, none of which I tried. From the Last Resort it’s a journey of about five days with only a few villages along the way. The trail is easy to lose and navigation can be frustrating. I had to backtrack a handful of times in this section, the most memorable of which involved getting lost of a ridge line in a hailstorm.
Was it worth it to reach my destination and feel like I’m in an abstract painting? I think so.
Gokyo Lakes are located in the Everest region of Nepal and are often skipped over by trekkers who would prefer to journey to the nearby Everest Base Camp instead. Personally, if I only had two weeks in the Everest region I would choose to come to Gokyo over base camp because it’s less crowded and more beautiful.
There are cozy lodges that serve delicious food in Gokyo, so plan on staying here for a few days in order to do all of the day hikes (or in my case recover from a cold). For my information, check out my guide to Gokyo.
The lakes of Gosaikunda are in the Lang Tang region of Nepal. Out of all the lakes on this list, Gosaikunda is the most easy to access. Not to say it is easy to access. You are still looking at a week long hike from beginning to end.
However, Lang Tang National Park has well marked trails and enough guest houses that you will never have to camp. It’s easy enough to navigate that you don’t need a guide. From Kathmandu, take a bus to the town of Dhunche and start hiking south through Lang Tang. When you end your hike a week later, you will be on the outskirts of Kathmandu and can take a taxi or bus back into the city.
The most inaccessible of all the lakes on this list, Phoksundo is way out in Western Nepal. To reach this lake you can fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, fly from Nepalgunj to Juphal, then walk for several days to reach Phoksundo. If you are rich in time and have an affinity for bus rides that last upwards of 20 hours, no need to fly.
I took an indirect route to Phoksundo Lake, opting to walk for 10 days through Dolpa to get here. You can read my Dolpa post to hear more about it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the lakes of Nepal. There are so many that some don’t even have names and aren’t marked on maps. And I have yet to visit Rara Lake, which some people say is the best one.