बुधबार , साउन ९, २०८१

Fill the month: Easy weekend treks around Kathmandu Valley

One of the best things about living in the Capital is that hiking trails are aplenty on the hills surrounding the city.

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Lamatar to Godawari

This trail does not really qualify as a hike, but if what you want is a few hours of peace, walking through woods, mustard fields and sleepy villages, then this hike could work for you. The approximately 11-km hike starts from Lamatar, and can end at the Godawari Botanical Garden, Godamchaur, even Thaiba (but that’s a little extreme)—whatever you prefer. The path you should take is right before a small bridge, near the entrance of Shuvatara School. Take the left, and then the first right. Then the trail goes through a forest, until it reaches a clearing, which has an interrupted view of the Valley in the South—just hills and fields as far as you can see.

To reach Lamatar, you can take a public bus from Lagankhel. It’s best you take a public bus, as after the hike you can drop by Newa Suhlee in Harisiddhi and indulge in some Newari food and chyang to celebrate your hike. Also, there aren’t any signposts as such along the trail and you might get lost, but you’ll find villagers along the way to guide you and you’ll end up somewhere in Godawari.

Bungmati to the White House Hill, Taudaha

A medieval Newari town, Khokana is a charming little hamlet, just 5 kilometres from Lalitpur’s centre. Much of its buildings are still not rebuilt, since they were damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, yet the sleepy village’s charm has not diminished. The trail starts at the end of the village (near the temple of Rato Machindranath, where the deity resides for six months of the year). The trail is scenic to say the least, as it meanders through swathes of mustard fields (particularly this time of the year). Past fields, you’ll come across a suspension bridge that will take you to Pharping.

Depending on the time you have and your physical capabilities, you then have multiple options for your hike: you can go up to the picturesque forests of Hattiban, go up to Champadevi itself (which has a bird’s eye view of the neighbouring Makwanpur district) or just go up to White House Hill, the small hill beside Champadevi.

This hill might look small, but it takes at least a solid 45 minutes of uphill walking. But the view from the top—which stretches from the far reaches of Godawari to the ends of the Valley till Thankot, with the entire mountain range—is worth the tough climb. There’s even a restaurant at the top from where you can get a fairly decent meal.

Gurje Banjyang to Kakani

Just 25 kilometres north of Kathmandu, Shivapuri National Park plays host to several short hikes that provide views of various facets of Nepal’s beauty. One of the most spectacular hiking trails is one that sits on the northern edge of the forest, where one will be cloaked in greenery while receiving great views of Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Gaurishankar and Manaslu.

The walk is hardly an arduous one, so all time can be spent on absorbing the Himalayan grandeur. There’s also a chance you may stumble across some wildlife, such as goats and birds of prey, while also walking past some military checkpoints and a small chorten on the Kakani side. The trek can take as long as you might like, depending on which side you would like to hike. There’s a choice of inside the valley, or with a view of the mountains, which are 11 and 7.5 kilometres respectively.

One can choose to start at either Gurje Banjyang or Kakani on this easy hike. Be sure to eat some trout while in Kakani, you will have earned a good bite to eat.

Walking around Balthali

Approximately a 45-minute (or 1.5 hours, if you’re on public vehicle) drive away from Kathmandu, is Balthali, a settlement secluded from Kathmandu’s noise, people and pollution. Thatched houses, terraced fields, mountain views, pine forests and clean, gurgling rivers—Balthali is the perfect place for hiking, at just the right distance from the Capital. You can start hiking from Panauti, an old Newar settlement, or from Khopasa, the last bus stop. There are no particular trails you can take: you can just walk through fields, around the village, through a jungle. But if a destination is a must, then ask locals where the confluence of the two rivers in Balthali is, and head there. The spot is a great for a small picnic, and even a quick dip, where the river’s current is not too strong.

It’s best to spend the night in the village, to make the best of being amidst such beauty. For that, there are a few resorts and some local homestays you can pre book rooms at.

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