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The Budhaneelkantha Sundarijal Day Hike offers a delightful journey through the forested hills on the northern edge of Kathmandu. This adventure allows you to immerse yourself in the lush surroundings and wildlife of the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, the sole national park within the Kathmandu Valley. The trail leads you deep into the national park, culminating in Sundarijal, a favored spot for day hikes and mountain biking. Along the way, you’ll encounter Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery, and several small Hindu shrines.
The trail is easily accessible from the city and can be completed in about five or six hours, though experienced hikers may finish in three or four hours. It primarily follows a rugged jeep track with minimal ascents and descents. The most challenging sections are at the beginning and end, where you’ll encounter steep inclines and declines. The middle portion of the trail is straightforward and comfortable. The route doesn’t require technical equipment and can be comfortably covered on foot.
The journey commences in the morning, with your guide picking you up from your hotel. Together, you’ll head towards Budhaneelkantha at the northern end of the city. Upon arriving at the Shivapuri National Park gate, you’ll pay the entry fee and start the hike. The initial stretch involves a steep climb for about an hour until you reach Nagi Gompa. Here, you’ll explore the nunnery and enjoy a light refreshment. This Buddhist nunnery was established by a Tibetan lama who fled Tibet during the Chinese invasion, providing education to young ‘anis’ or Buddhist nuns who have relinquished worldly pursuits in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.
Continuing the hike, you’ll pass close to Tarebhir and Shivapuri Hill, offering magnificent views of Kathmandu and the surrounding hills. The route takes you through local farms and homesteads, where you’ll find patches of vegetable gardens and grazing goats and cows. On clear days, you can catch glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Ganesh Himal, Dorje Lakpa, and Langtang Lirung.
Following a rough jeep track into a dense forest, you’ll be enveloped by the shade of rhododendrons, oaks, bamboo, and cherry trees. This trail is infrequently used by locals, ensuring a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere, punctuated only by the cheerful melodies of birdsong and the gentle flow of streams. Surrounded by nature, you’ll feel the stresses of daily life melt away. Around midday, you can pause at a picturesque spot to enjoy your packed lunch. Afterwards, you’ll continue your walk towards Sundarijal.
Sundarijal, meaning ‘beautiful water,’ is adorned with various water bodies. The sacred Bagmati River surges through immense boulders, making its way towards the city. The final descent to Sundarijal involves navigating a long stone staircase. Along the way, you’ll pass by a captivating waterfall, Hindu shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the checkpoint of Shivapuri National Park. The Bagmati River roars below the trail.
The hike concludes as you reach the main market. Our vehicle will be ready to pick you up and transport you back to the hotel. The journey from Sundarijal to central Kathmandu is quite lengthy, taking approximately an hour or so, depending on traffic.
The Budhaneelkantha Sundarijal Day Hike can be undertaken at any time of the year. However, be cautious during the monsoon or summer season due to heavy rainfall and slippery paths. Additionally, expect to encounter leeches on the trail during the summer.
This hike is moderately easy and suitable for individuals of all ages with good health and stamina. However, less experienced hikers may find it slightly challenging due to the distance covered. Most of the time, you’ll be walking on even ground with slight inclines. Only the initial and concluding sections involve more demanding terrain. It’s worth noting that there are no shops or restaurants along the trail, so be sure to carry a packed lunch, drinking water, and snacks.
The Budhaneelkantha Sundarijal Day Hike serves as a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The journey through the lush forests is certain to provide solace and a deeper connection with nature.
Here are the key highlights of the Budhaneelkantha Sundarijal Day Hike:
– Immerse yourself in a rejuvenating forest walk, fostering a deeper connection with nature.
– Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley and the majestic Himalayan Mountains, including Langtang Lirung, Ganesh Himal, and Dorje Lakpa.
– Traverse enchanting landscapes with beautiful waterfalls and meandering streams adding to the scenic beauty.
– Explore Nagi Gompa, a significant Buddhist nunnery, and encounter various Hindu shrines along the way.
– Witness the pure and unspoiled Bagmati River as it flows gracefully from its source, creating a serene and picturesque ambiance.
Your guide will collect you from your hotel and drive you towards the northern outskirts of Kathmandu. Your journey will culminate at the entrance of Shivapuri National Park.
After acquiring your entry tickets, your hike commences under the guidance of your tour leader. The trail initially leads uphill. After approximately an hour of walking, you’ll reach Nagi Gompa, a significant Buddhist nunnery. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the nunnery and engage with the nuns.
Continuing along the path, you’ll come close to Tarebhir. This vantage point offers sweeping vistas of the Kathmandu Valley. If the weather is clear, you’ll even have the privilege of beholding the snow-clad peaks of Langtang Lirung, Ganesh Himal, and Dorje Lakpa gleaming on the horizon.
Along the way, you’ll encounter quaint agricultural settlements, a striking contrast to the ultra-modern structures of Kathmandu. The trail takes you through a dense forest characterized by oak, rhododendron, bamboo, and cherry trees. As you venture further, the surroundings become more secluded. Deep within the park, you won’t find human habitation or shops. This allows you to relish the hike enveloped by nature’s tranquility. The serenity is occasionally interrupted by the melodious chirping of birds and the gentle babbling of streams. The sights of waterfalls and babbling brooks along the way serve as delightful sensory experiences.
The trail primarily follows a rough jeep track. For the most part, you’ll be walking on even terrain. With the exception of the steep ascent and descent at the beginning and end of the hike, the mid-section of the trail features gentle inclines.
Around noon, you’ll find a suitable spot to stop for lunch. Since there are no eateries within the park, it’s imperative that you pack your lunch from the hotel before embarking on the hike. Additionally, you may wish to bring along some snacks for the journey.
As you stroll through the lush forest, you’ll encounter small shrines dedicated to Hindu deities. A metal bridge spans a waterway, leading you to descend a flight of stone steps. On the other side, you’ll find the revered Bagmati River flowing gently. Adjacent to the staircase, a breathtaking waterfall graces the landscape.
Sundarijal, whose name translates to ‘beautiful water,’ is an enchanting location adorned with various religious sites. Here, you’ll bear witness to the Bagmati River’s initial course, pure and untamed, before it winds its way down to the main city, where its waters grow murkier.
As you embark on your final descent, you’ll pass through the Shivapuri National Park’s checkpoint and enter Sundarijal Bazaar. Our driver will be waiting for you at the bus stop to take you back to your hotel. Depending on the traffic conditions, the journey back to your hotel will take approximately an hour or less.