There are at least 40 hiking routes around Kathmandu. After 3 years of hiking, I feel I have covered almost all of them (many of them multiple times). So, considering number of variables, I am listing top 5. I hope you’ll find it useful.
1. Godavari to Phulchowki
It’s a short hike of around 4 hours that starts from Godavari, 14 km south east of Kathmandu, and ends on the top of Phulchowki hill (2783 m). In winter, there’s snowfall in this area which is quite an attraction as it is rare phenomenon within the valley. As you move higher, you can enjoy a splendid bird’s-eye-view of Kathmandu valley along with the glorious display of the mountain ranges.
2. Taudaha to Champadevi:
It’s a hill in Kirtipur (northwest part of the valley) that stands 2285 m tall. Two trekking routes, Taudaha and Machhe Gaon, lead you there. I prefer Taudaha because it’s easier and offers a magnificent view of central and western Himalayan range. It takes me around 4- 5 hours to reach to the top. The other route is comparatively shorter. There’s also a temple of a Hindu Goddess, Champadevi at the top of the hill.
The weather is unstable here so don’t be surprised if a perfect sunny day turns out to be a drizzle. It rained heavily the last time I hiked so I suggest you prepare yourself for the situation.
3. Sundarijal to Chisapani
I get fascinated by the creations of nature and this route is the one to explore them. Incredible formation of rocks, cataracts, waterfalls and so on. The hike is short and easy. It starts from Sundarijal, 10 km north east of Kathmandu (45 minutes drive), and ends at Chisapani. I didn’t just get truly amazed by the panoramic mountains, the rare and beautiful flora and fauna but also got to witness the culture of the people there.It’s only a walk of five hours that took my breath away.
I managed to return in the evening despite the availability of lodging and food services. But if you want you can choose to stay. Do stack your food supply as it is limited there and also the shops are comparatively expensive.
4. Balaju to Nagarjuna
It’s a very short route of almost 2- 3 hours. I saw a lot of people going up and down, even the children and old ones. The whole route is under the awning of the trees that really makes you feel fresh. One may even come across the Nagarjuna Palace on the way to the top. The hike starts from Balaju bypass and ends at Nagarjuna. Tourists need to pay entry fee. On the top, there’s a famous monastery, Buddhist Gompa, that’s worth visiting. Surrounded by hills and mountains on the northern side, Nagarjuna captivates you and never lets you go.
5. Dhulikhel to Namobuddha
Well, this is more of a picnic cum hiking route. It starts from Dhulikhel, 30 km east of Kathmandu, and ends at Namobuddha. It is the home to a national heritage and a grand natural theatre to mountains like Gaurishanker, LakpaDorje, Langtang-Ri, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu and so on.
It’s a mere 2- 3 hours of walk and the trail allowed me to explore some of the rare species. I bought a rhododendron and tasted it (as others were doing the same). Never do that! It’s exhilarating when you reach the destination. The clear view of all these mountains is truly remarkable.There are restaurants if you want to grab some refreshments. It also happened to be a pilgrimage site for the Buddhists.
Now, I have missed my binoculars and food supplies on various occasions and got pretty helpless. So, we really need to pay attention to that. The ultimate end is always good but it’s the journey that counts as we’re hiking. Its October again and the time for one more round! Let me pack my bags!