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Sunday, August 12, 2012

KTM Valley Nagarkot-Dhulikhel Hike

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 between these two hill stations.

This had to be done - these trails needed to be boldly trodden as they had never 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 and it had rained a day earlier - and everyone told me that I was crazy to even think about it. 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 - would just stay cloudy - just long enough for me to do the hike and that I would be fine. With that optimism I left KTM that morning and over an hour later got dropped off in Nagarkot in  small car. By the time I got there tt was around 11 AM already - so decided to hit the trails right away - again  not knowing when and if the rain would drench us. This hike supposedly took 4-5 hours - after which I was to be picked up at Dhulikhel to get back to KTM.

Trail to starts1.5 KM from the Nagarkot bus station - right off of 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. (Some estimates putting this place at having the most species 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 flutterbys and whizzing-bys of butterflies and dragonflies here and there ..............

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 along 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 8K 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 about an hour and a half 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 -  uplifting physically and mentally  - a world of difference from muggy thick air of  BKK where I live  - that feels like a heavy blanket over you 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 being so close to KTM. During the entire hike we only ran across few trekkers 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 lives on farms and fields. Below are some of the "faces" I saw 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 - I wanted to pay but she refused. It's amazing that most of the places you travel generous people are the ones who have not much to give. 

This boy appeared out of nowhere from a house above the trail on a tiny village we were passing through. With his two tiny hands planted on his hips He shouted "Eh Dai Mero Photo Khihnus La ; Ma Euta Geet Gaaunchu". Then he started singing while doing these cute dance moves. Awwwww.....quite a showman he was and not a bit camera-shy. 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 .....!!! Panchkhal valley down below.

Giant ferns - they hug the trail and looked like from Jurassic period.

Some flowers I saw along the trail - not sure what kind they are

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 have accomplished my goal.

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. 


  1. Lovely man! Thouroughly enjoyed reading this. Having lived in Kathmandu for years, and travelled to many outskirt places as Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Kakani, Sankhu, Shivpuri, etc..etc.. Had no clue there is a trail from Dhulikhen Kathmandu- Will share the links to few friends. BTW, excellent write up, it felt you were talking while showing these glimpse of amazing natural beauty, Sunder Ashant Nepal! Anil Agrawal

  2. The first picture of those 3 kids is my FAVORITE!!!!! The color is just right, and all of their eyes are sparkling!

    Hey, I think it was a good idea anyway that you took that hike. You were in Nepal, so mind as well. This will probably sound unlikable but we never know when we're going to die. So whenever we have the chance to do something, and we want to do it, then do it. Just as you had. :) From looking at the pictures you took, I can practically feel the rain in the air.

    Thanks again for sharing these photos. As you know, seeing photos of Nepal makes me very happy, in a bittersweet sense.


  3. Great! I'm really happy to read you ;-)

  4. What a view View in the direction of Everest. I really like it. Also there are so many beautiful places to see in Nepal specially, Chitwan National Park and a spectacular sunrise over the Himalayas.

    Nepal Tours

  5. I also had the same kind of experience in last September............ :)

  6. I did this hike today and really enjoyed it! despite the clouds. It is not difficult and took me five hours. You do need mountain boots, no need for poles. The hike is well marked, there are just two moments when you need to pay attention: 1. after coming down from the long stairs, do not follow the main road leading to Banepa, but keep to the left of the small sand quarry. A small trail will take you up through maize and potato fields. 2. When coming down from this trail, you arrive on a major road. After a few minutes, look for a big tree at the left with a yellow sign "Dulikhel" and follow this path. After about 30 minutes, keep left at the fork and then left at the monastery - you will see Dulikhel in front of you. Enjoy!