Had made a quick trip to Nepal last week to take care of few things and while there I decided to do this Nagarkot-Dhulikhel Day Hike - which I often recommend to people who are looking for a short trek in outskirts of KTM valley. I have hiked around Nagarkot and Dhulikhel but never hiked this route between these two hill stations - so this had to be done - these trails needed to be boldly trodden as they never had been before!!!
And even though late July/early Aug is right in the smack middle of the monsoon season - not ideal for any hiking or trekking excursions for most of the sensible people because the trails are muddy and the views of mountains are just not there - not me - I decided to take my chances anyway. It was very cloudy in morning, day of the hike that is and it had rained a day earlier - and everyone told me that I was crazy to do this. When am I going to learn and start listening to people - I don't know. But I had this small hunch that may be it wont rain - just long enough for me to do the hike and that I would be fine. With that optimism I left KTM that morning in a car and over an hour later got dropped off in Nagarkot. It was around 11 AM already - so decided to hit the trails right away - not knowing when the rain would drench us. This hike supposedly took 4-5 hours - after which I would be picked up at Dhulikhel to get back to KTM.
Trail to Dhulikhel starts1.5 KM from the bus station at Nagarkot - right off the main road that goes towards "Tower" . ("Tower" is at the top of Nagarkot hill where there are bunch of radio antennas - hence the name)
Trail starts out wide - is actually a dirt road and there are several lodges and resorts there - some already built and many others still under construction. Once you leave the last set of resorts behind (and a bottled water factory - fresh mountain spring water - we stopped and bought some) the trail narrows somewhat. Thick vegetation - giant ferns and bushes hug the trail. Someone once told me that these surrounding hills of KTM are home to many many unique species of butterflies and dragonflies in the world. I remember seeing a whole lot of them when I used to come hiking in these areas as a kid some 25 years ago. But this time around I didn't see a whole lot - may be because of time of the year - not sure. Only occasional flutter-bys and whizzing-bys of butterflies and dragonflies here and there.
I posted the picture above to give you an idea of the trail - otherwise a rather unremarkable photo.
But the cool thing about this trail is that you hike on the side that faces the mountains not the side that faces the valley. So if it was clear you would see the all the mountains (including Everest) most of the time during your hike. Isn't that awesome??
2 hours into the hike - view of some village down below. We must be at around 7K ft - always cool to see clouds below you. Like I said if the clouds were not there I would be looking at worlds tallest mountain range. It was all cloudy and misty so the shots are not as crisp as I would have liked.
After hiking slight uphill for hour and a half after we had started the trail now goes downhill sharply. Lots of pine trees and rolling hills along the way. This light and cool mountain air is always very - shall we say - uplifting physically and mentally - a world of difference from muggy thick air of BKK where I live that feels like a heavy blanket wrapped around your shoulders most of the time.
These trails would make a kick-ass mountain biking trip. I may plan to do that next year. I am surprised that there aren't much activities going on here for a place so close to KTM. During the entire hike we only ran across group of 6 foreigners coming from Dhulikhel side.
One tricky thing at times is figuring out the trail. On some places it is well marked but on others you will need a guide or a good map. After about three hours into the hike you pass through farms and fields and light settlements.
In that sense this trail offers a variety of landscapes. Saw the locals going about their daily business. Below are some of the "faces" on the trail.
This woman was working in a corn field - as you can see in backdrop. After I was done taking her photo she offered us some freshly plucked Apricots that she was eating - I wanted to pay but she refused. It's amazing that most of the places you travel the decent and generous people are the ones who live simple lives and have nothing much to flaunt with.
This boy appeared out of nowhere from a house above the trail in a village we were passing through. He shouted with his two tiny hands on his waist "Eh Dai Mero Photo Khihnus La ; Ma Euta Geet Gaaunchu". Then he started singing while doing these awww...... so cute dance moves. Quite a showman he was and not camera-shy a bit. I took several shots - he asked me to send him the photos - which was to my complete surprise. I definitely need to find a way to send it to him.
And further down the trail there were these three adorable kids on a balcony of a house. I took about 10 shots altogether. Posting few of them here. If you are into people photography - it doesn't get better than this.
They were simply irresistible.
View in the direction of Everest. Them damn clouds - the timing of it ........let me tell you!!! Panchkhal valley down below.
Giant ferns - they hug the trail and seem pre-historic.
No sure what this flowers is - Took this shot with iPhone.
Below are the "facades" on the trail. These colorful windows caught my attention.
Dhulikhel lies an hour away behind the hill on the upper left while town of Banepa lies in the valley to the middle right. This hiking will take me 5 hours - by the time I finish. If you stop often then it is a full 8 hour journey. In the end my hunch was mostly correct - it was cloudy and misty but no rain so far. All I needed was to squeeze in another hour and I would be home free.
At the end of the trail - rows pine tree. The trail is done - will be back for more - may be a mountain bike trip. And to find the boy to see if I can give him the pictures.