Himalaya View from Nagarkot
Himalaya View from Nagarkot

The city of Kathmandu lies in a fertile valley surrounded by forested hills and ridges. Rising to a maximum elevation of 2,695 meters, these hills offer excellent opportunities for short treks, day hikes, nature walks, and bird watching tours.

The dense forests leading to these hills are home to a variety of birds, wild animals, butterflies, Himalayan herbs, and wildflowers. The trails are gentle and easy and weave past Newar and Tamang villages. One can enjoy outstanding views of the valley as well as the surrounding mountains from the top.

Nepal is one of the best destinations for trekking and hiking adventures. The Himalayan range stretches across the country from east to west. While hardcore trekkers frequent trails leading to Mount Everest, Annapurna Massif, Manaslu, and Kanchenjunga, the middle hills that lie between these mountains and the major cities offer wonderful opportunities for soft and easy trekking.

Kathmandu, the capital city is an urban jungle filled with concrete buildings and a dense population. Some visitors may find the chaos and pollution overwhelming. A walk to the green hills hemming the city’s rim offers a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle.

One can take a short day hike or trek for a couple of days, camping or staying at the homes of locals. The walk through the paddy fields and traditional villages offer you an insight into local lifestyle and culture.

Kathmandu is regarded as a sacred valley by Hindus and Buddhists alike and it’s not uncommon to find ancient Hindu shrines, Buddhist monasteries, and meditation caves of Buddhist saints dotting the hillsides surrounding the valley.

During winter, a stunning panorama of Himalayan peaks can be enjoyed from the hills and the ridge tops. The snow-covered summits of Ganesh Himal, Langtang Range, Dorje Lhakpa, Gaurishanker, and Jugal Himal are visible from most places in Kathmandu. On a clear day if you are lucky enough you can spot a tiny glimpse of Mount Everest’s summit.

Some of the popular destinations for short treks from Kathmandu are Phulchowki Hill, Shivapuri National Park, Chandragiri, Jamacho, Champa Devi Hill, Nagarjun Forest Reserve, Chisapani, Sundarijal, Lakuri Bhanjyang, Kakani, Nagarkot, and Dhulikhel. Most of the trailheads lie in the city itself. Vantage points like Nagarkot, Kakani and Lakuri Bhanjyang can be accessed via villages on the outskirts of the city.

The highest hill surrounding the Kathmandu valley is Phulchowki at 2,695 meters. Located in the southern end of the valley, the hill can be accessed from Godavari village.

The rhododendron forest covering the hill turns into a riot of color at springtime as the trees are laden with red, white, and pink blooms. As the hill is covered with wildflowers, it has been named ‘Phulchowki’, which means a ‘hill of flowers’ in Nepali.

The Chisapani-Nagarkot-Dhulikhel trail takes you past traditional farms, Newari villages, and medieval towns. The hike to Jamacho which takes around 3-4 hours each way is the easiest and the shortest hike inside the valley.

Kathmandu is not only a city of historical monuments and heritage sites, but it is also a valley filled with forests, hills, and lookout points from where one can enjoy a Himalayan panorama.

The short treks around Kathmandu are ideal for people who wish to experience the Himalayan scenery without having to journey to the remote mountains.

Trekking Routes