When it came to choosing a place for his honeymoon, RAW Travel owner Dave Reynolds found the perfect accommodation for two people who loved the Himalayas…

Imagine a place where you can stay in relative luxury while being immersed in local village life and have stunning views of Himalayan giants from your own private villa. Such a lodge exists just outside the Nepalese city of Pokhara.

Perched on a ridge looking across at the mighty Annapurnas is the unique and spectacular Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, which offers a window into Nepalese culture with wonderful service that harks back to an earlier age of trekking in Nepal. This is not surprising given that one of the lodge’s founders was Colonel Jimmy Roberts, who is credited as being the father of the trekking industry in Nepal in the early 1960s.

Trekking in the Annapurnas

Arrive as a guest; leave as a friend

The vision of Tiger Mountain founders was to create a haven for guests to relax and rejuvenate after their treks in the Himalayas. The concept was to create not a hotel, but a place that felt like home backed by the warm and friendly service that is a trademark of the Nepalese. As the lodge claims ‘you arrive as a guest but leave as a friend’, and once you have experienced their service first-hand it is hard to argue with that statement. The lodge also runs on high environmental and ethical principles and blends in admirably to the surroundings of local villages, thanks to its wonderful traditional architecture and initiatives that support local schools and conservation of the environment.

Each cottage has been built from hand-cut stone

Barefoot luxury

From its ridge location, Tiger MountainPokhara Lodge commands stunning views of the Annapurna peaks and has beautiful gardens with terraced slopes that the cottage accommodation sits on. You can take your breakfast on the outdoor terrace and bar area and marvel at the panorama of mountains before you. The accommodation, described as ‘barefoot luxury’, has been built very tastefully and to local aesthetics and incorporates many traditional elements while still being modern and very comfortable. Each cottage has been built from hand-cut stone and furnished with beautiful Tibetan rugs, original artwork and hand-crafted wooden furniture.

Cottages are beautifully furnished with Tibetan rugs and hand-crafted furniture

One of the simple delights of Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is to sit on your verandah and listen to the sounds of village life floating up from the hillsides below. There are opportunities to walk and explore the surroundings villages with the excellent in-house guides who are very knowledgeable about local life and nature and can customise walks to individual interests. For instance, the lodge hosts many keen birders who are attracted by the many wonderful bird species in the local area, which you can see on the forested pathways. Nature sits in balance with local villages that cling to the terraced hillsides all around.

Outdoor terrace and bar

Responsible conservation tourism

Working with the local community and respecting the region’s environment, the staff have kept the lodge grounds in their natural state in order to support the habitat for the birds, butterflies and other native animals. In keeping with its environmental principles the lodge also uses lanterns at night time to light up the pathways and outdoor areas, which minimises the light pollution and allows you to see the stars more clearly. It is a wonderful experience to wander back from the bar area at night to your villa guided by the lanterns and beautiful enveloping serenity.

The lodge also has an infinity edge swimming pool that is an amazing place to relax with a book and take in the jaw dropping views. The in-house library is a treasury of books and maps about the Himalayas and Nepal, so it’s an excellent base camp to prepare for a trek into the mountains with some seriously relaxing R&R before (or after) your trip. There is Shiatsu massage, Ayurvedic treatments and yoga offered at the lodge to add to the relaxation element.

A seriously good place to relax

Food is always a high priority on the modern traveller’s agenda and it goes without saying that the food here is excellent and a real highlight. The restaurant serves traditional, home-style cooking of authentic Nepali food, as well as European and Middle Eastern dishes. Vegetarian, vegan and other special dietary needs are happily catered for. Indeed the most difficult thing about Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is leaving at the end of your stay – once you have entered this peaceful sanctuary your willpower to leave is easily sapped and sitting with a book and a gin & tonic on the terrace seems far more appealing! The lodge has its own transportation, so you can visit Pokhara city and the airport (40 minutes) whenever you want.

High tea

A haven of comfort and tranquility

For anyone who has not visited Nepal before this is an excellent opportunity to explore Nepalese culture and experience the best traditions of Nepalese hospitality while taking in incredible mountain views – all without having to step foot on a trekking trail! Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is part of the ‘Secret Retreats’ collection of exclusive accommodations in Asia. As you’d expect it is not a cheap place to stay but undoubtedly you get value for money and many guests return – the experience is that good! The Lodge’s long-time Managing Director, Englishman Marcus Cotton, sums up nicely what they offer: “We aim to set new standards for responsible conservation tourism in this diverse and fragile country. We wish to provide a haven of comfort and tranquility, a place where guests can relax and re-charge, contemplate, meditate, and revitalise their mind and spirit”.

Private verandah with breathtaking views

RAW Travel trips

RAW Travel offers flexible stays at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge that you can combine with any treks in the Annapurna or Upper Mustang areas. Alternatively, you can have a lodge-based program of walks around the local area and make this the focus of your stay in Nepal – an excellent idea if you are worried about your ability to undertake a trek but would still like to have a fantastic experience of Nepalese hill culture and views of the Himalayan giants, something which Dave Reynolds thinks everyone should experience at least once in their life – even if it’s not your honeymoon!

Entrance to Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge

All photos courtesy Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge