If you’ve got some energy to spare while you’re in the valley, put on your hiking boots and get ready to stretch those leg muscles. These hiking routes top the favourites’ list not only because you don’t have to spend a fortune to get there but also because they do not test your physical limits too much. They are bound to awe you with rewarding sights. Throw a dart on the map and be on your way!

 

Shivapuri (Budhanilkantha)

There are several routes in Kathmandu to take you to the hills of Shivapuri, and Budhanilkantha is one of them. Buses to Budhanilkantha leave from Ratnapark and will get you to the location in about an hour. The place gets its name from Budhanilkantha himself, a form of Lord Vishnu. The statue of the sleeping lord lies in repose on top of a bed of serpents and is one of the largest in the country, situated inside the famous Narayanthan temple.

The hike starts from the Shivapuri National Park’s entry gate in Budhanilkantha. Anyone would gladly point you to the entrance, which is about a fifteen minute gradual uphill walk from the bus stop. You are required to pay a minimal entry fee at the Park’s gate here and pass through some army checkpoints.

Please do not make light of the fact that you’re walking into a wildlife sanctuary and take care to respect the regulations and any precautions given to you for your safety. Although you are close to the city, it is still a walk into the wild side!

The national park boasts an assortment of varied species of flora and fauna and is also suitable for bird watching. You can take the uphill route to reach Nagi Gumba, which is a Buddhist nunnery situated inside the park limits. Since the monastery is literally perched atop a hill, the place offers uninterrupted views of the valley below.

Nagarjuna-Jamacho

Nagarjuna hill is also in the Shivapuri National Park and this hike to Jamacho is probably one of the shortest and easiest hiking routes around. Getting to the Nagarjuna gate is as easy as it can get. As you take to the Trishuli highway from Balaju Bypass, you can ask to be dropped off at the gate itself, or you can choose to walk from Balaju, which is less than an hour away. While at the entry gate, make sure you duly register your name and address for security reasons.

The trail offers refreshing views of the valley as you make your way to Jamacho peak, which is about a two and a half hours hike. The peak is embellished with shrines and stupas and is a revered pilgrimage site for Buddhist and Hindu devotees alike. A great number of people flock to the hill on the day of Balaju Purnima, a festival observed usually in the month of March. The view point also offers majestic views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges.

Champadevi
There are two different routes to reach the vantage point of Champadevi, but both are no less rewarding than the other. You can choose to commence the hike either from Kirtipur or farther away, from Pharping.

The hill of Champadevi serves as the borderline that separates Makawanpur and Kathmandu. You can easily hop on a local bus to Pharping or to Kirtipur from Ratnapark. From Pharping, ask for directions to the Hattiban Resort. It’s an uphill route and devoid of local stores, so make sure you have your water bottle filled and your snacks ready. Since Hattiban is also famous among mountain bikers for its downhill biking trails, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you come across a few of them zooming in and out of the woods. The hiking route to Champadevi is a peaceful three to four hours of hiking, snaking through the forest of old pine trees. The trail goes along the ridge of the hill so you’ll be accompanied by views of the valley and vistas of the mountain ranges–Langtang, Gauri Shankar, and Jugal to name a few.

Saankhu-Nagarkot

The hike from Saankhu to Nagarkot is probably considered one of the best hiking routes around Kathmandu. The hike starts from the little Newari town of Saankhu, also a famous pilgrimage site for many Buddhist and Hindu devotees. Saankhu is about 90 minutes ride away from Ratnapark and there you’ll come across curious and friendly locals, as well as tea and sweetmeats shops. Indulge while you can as the route to Nagarkot is around a five hour walk. The trail is filled with beautiful landscapes and ancient temples and is also excellent for bird lovers. Nagarkot is situated at an elevation of 2133m (7000ft) and is a famed hill station with scenic views of the villages and valleys, and awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets. The hill also rewards travellers with views of some of the highest peaks, including Mount Everest, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, and Langtang among others. Nagarkot offers a good choice of comfortable stays at affordable prices and you can opt to spend a night here and return to Kathmandu the next day.

Godawari-Phulchoki

Godawari is a quaint settlement, snug in the foothills of Phulchowki. The village is also home to the famous and largest botanical garden in Nepal. You can find buses to Godawari going directly from Lagankhel in Lalitpur. If you’re in Kathmandu, head to Ratnapark first and get on a bus to Lagankhel.

Phulchowki literally translates to mean ‘the hill of flowers’. The hill is home to rhododendron trees, which in the spring, when they are in full bloom, is a fabulous sight. The hiking trail goes through dense forest, so if you’re lucky enough, you will also be welcomed by various species of birds and butterflies.

The shrine of Phulchoki Mai sits atop the hill and is surrounded by prayer flags. If the weather permits, you can enjoy panoramic vistas of Gaurishankar. Pulchowki Hill is one of the highest in Kathmandu and is among the places in the valley that experiences snowfall during winter.