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Kathmandu's Top 10 Short Hiking Destinations

Article 17 Oct 2023 1397 0

Hiking in Kathmandu

Kathmandu's Top 10 Short Hiking Destinations

Nepal, a mesmerizing blend of beauty, nature, and wildlife, enchants visitors with its staggering Himalayas and vibrant cultural tapestry. While the towering summits beckon the boldest adventurers, there's a gentler way to immerse oneself in this natural splendor: hiking in and around Kathmandu. Whether you're time-crunched or seeking a less strenuous way to breathe in the mountain air, Kathmandu's hiking trails await.

Explore the serene beauty of Kathmandu with our guide to the top 10 short hiking destinations. Each trail offers unique vistas, from verdant valleys to panoramic mountain views. But before you embark, equip yourself with essentials and cultural insights. From packing necessities like a first-aid kit and the Nepali Rupee to respecting local customs and ensuring safe navigation with certified guides, this guide ensures a memorable and respectful hiking experience in Nepal's capital.

Why Hike in Kathmandu?

For those not up for full-scale trekking expeditions, Kathmandu offers an array of shorter, yet equally enriching hikes. Perfect for a day or two, these hikes offer a chance to immerse in nature without the extended commitment. As the famous mountaineer Edmund Hillary once said, "It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." So, lace up your boots, and let's journey through some of Kathmandu's best hiking trails.

Top 10 Short Hiking Destinations in Kathmandu

  1. Shivapuri National Park Hike:

    • Duration: 4-6 hours.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: The hike takes you through the Shivapuri National Park, which is home to dense forests, and diverse wildlife including deer, monkeys, and various bird species. Upon reaching the top, one can enjoy panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley and the northern Himalayan ranges including Ganesh Himal and Langtang.
    • Starting Point: Budhanilkantha.
    • Facilities: Few teahouses and resting points along the way.
  2. Nagarjuna Forest Reserve Hike:

    • Duration: 3-5 hours.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: Also known as Jamacho Peak hike, it leads you to ancient meditation caves, a viewpoint offering panoramic views of Kathmandu, and a Buddhist stupa at the summit.
    • Starting Point: Balaju.
    • Facilities: Basic teahouses available.
  3. Champadevi Hill Hike:

    • Duration: 4-6 hours.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: Champadevi serves as a pilgrimage site and offers panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley and distant Himalayan ranges. The Champadevi Temple at the summit is an added attraction.
    • Starting Point: Pharping.
    • Facilities: Few resting points and local eateries.
  4. Chisapani Hike:

    • Duration: 1-2 days.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: This trail offers spectacular views of the Himalayas, crossing through lush forests, terraced farmlands, and traditional villages. Chisapani, meaning 'cold water', provides a refreshing atmosphere for hikers.
    • Starting Point: Sundarijal.
    • Facilities: Guesthouses available in Chisapani for overnight stay.
  5. Dhulikhel to Namobuddha Hike:

    • Duration: 4-5 hours.
    • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    • Highlights: The hike passes through traditional villages and terraced fields, leading to the sacred Namobuddha Monastery. The panoramic views of the Himalayan range from Dhulikhel is also a major highlight.
    • Starting Point: Dhulikhel.
    • Facilities: Guesthouses in both Dhulikhel and Namobuddha.
  6. Phulchoki Hill Hike:

    • Duration: 5-7 hours.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: Phulchoki is the highest hill surrounding Kathmandu. It offers splendid views of the Himalayan range, and its dense forest is a paradise for birdwatchers.
    • Starting Point: Godawari Botanical Garden.
    • Facilities: Basic eateries at the summit.
  7. Sankhu to Nagarkot Hike:

    • Duration: 4-5 hours.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Highlights: Nagarkot offers some of the best sunrise and sunset views over the Himalayas. The trail passes through terraced fields and local villages.
    • Starting Point: Sankhu.
    • Facilities: Numerous hotels and guesthouses in Nagarkot for stay.
  8. Kakani Hike:

    • Duration: 4-5 hours.
    • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    • Highlights: Kakani provides wonderful views of Ganesh Himal, Langtang, and Annapurna ranges. The trail is adorned with rhododendron forests.
    • Starting Point: Budhanilkantha.
    • Facilities: Few guesthouses and eateries available.
  9. Goddess Bagh Bhairab Hike:

    • Duration: 3-4 hours.
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: The trail leads to the Bagh Bhairab Temple, a significant cultural heritage in Kathmandu. The surrounding provides a peaceful environment away from the city hustle.
    • Starting Point: Kirtipur.
    • Facilities: Local eateries near the temple.
  10. Bajrabarahi to Godawari Hike:

  • Duration: 3-4 hours.
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Highlights: The trail offers a mix of culture, with the Bajrabarahi Temple, and nature as it passes through lush forests leading to Godawari.
  • Starting Point: Bajrabarahi.
  • Facilities: Few teahouses and eateries available along the way.

Embracing Nepal Through Hikes

Consider the story of Rachel, a solo traveller from Canada. She visited Kathmandu with limited days in hand and was in a dilemma about whether she'd get the true essence of Nepal without embarking on long treks. Opting for short hikes instead, Rachel explored the likes of Amitabha Monastery, Kakani, and Nagarkot. Each hike provided her with unique experiences – from the mesmerizing sunset at the stupa to the rich Newari culture at Sankhu.

She states, “Despite being short on time, the hikes in Kathmandu allowed me to connect with Nepal’s nature, culture, and people in the most intimate manner. It was truly a transformative experience.”

Benefits of Hiking in Kathmandu:

  • Physical Health: Short yet invigorating, these hikes can prove to be an excellent cardio workout.

  • Mental Well-being: Being close to nature and away from the urban hustle can be a therapeutic experience, providing peace and mental clarity.

  • Cultural Exchange: These hikes are more than just about nature. They offer a deep dive into Nepal’s rich cultural and historical tapestry.

  • Affordability: Unlike long treks that require extensive gear and planning, these hikes are easy on the pocket.

Things to Know While Hiking in Kathmandu

1. Essential Gears and Items:

  • Always have a first-aid kit handy. It should include antiseptics, band-aids, painkillers, and any personal medications.
  • Stay hydrated! Carry enough water and refill at reliable water sources.
  • Health bars can be lifesavers when you need a quick energy boost.
  • Tools like a flashlight, knife, and rope can come in handy in emergencies.
  • For overnight hikes, ensure you have the right camping gear.

2. Personal Comfort and Safety:

  • Protect yourself from insect bites using an insect repellent.
  • Sunglasses shield your eyes from the harsh sun. Comfortable clothing ensures ease during hiking.
  • A lighter and matches can be vital for starting a fire in cold conditions.
  • Portable chargers keep your devices powered, ensuring you can communicate in emergencies.
  • Toiletries like hand sanitizers, wet wipes, and tissue rolls can be crucial.

3. Environment and Wildlife Care:

  • Preserve the beauty of nature. Avoid littering. Use eco-friendly products and carry a trash bag to collect and dispose of waste responsibly.
  • Wild animals should be observed from a distance. Feeding or trying to interact can be harmful to both the animal and you.

4. Local Logistics:

  • Secure the necessary permits. Some trails require special permissions.
  • It's wise to carry local currency (Nepali Rupee - NPR). Small establishments might not accept cards or foreign currency.

5. Planning and Precautions:

  • Weather can be unpredictable. Check forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes.
  • Especially if you're a newbie in Nepal, hiking in a group is safer and more enjoyable.
  • A detailed local map with marked trails is invaluable. Pre-plan your route and share your itinerary with someone trustworthy.
  • Local traditions and norms are paramount. Respect local customs, especially regarding attire, behavior, and consumption.
  • Not all guides are trustworthy. Ensure your guide is government-certified. Always ask for an identification card.

Remember, hiking is not just about the destination, but the journey. Respecting the environment and locals enhances the experience and ensures the beauty of the trails is preserved for future generations. Enjoy the serenity, challenges, and beauty that Kathmandu's trails have to offer!

Final Thoughts

Kathmandu's hikes are not just walking trails; they are pathways that lead you to the heart of Nepal. As you tread on these trails, you not only witness the sheer beauty of the Himalayas but also become a part of the stories that these mountains have whispered for eons.

Hiking in Kathmandu is an ode to the free spirit, a celebration of the wanderer's soul. Each step on these trails is a step towards discovering the essence of Nepal, its people, its culture, and most importantly, yourself.

Lifestyle and Health