Pine trees, the fresh scent of Eucalyptus, calm soothing winds, fallen pine cones and a bunch of scattered leaves on brown mud is the first thing one notices about Nagarkot mountain. But all that doesn’t compare to the spectacular views of the famous snow capped mountains in the world. No trip to Nepal is complete without a glimpse of the earth towering Himalayas.
For hikers pressed on time or are on a fixed budget yet you’re not planning to leave Nepal without getting a good view of the Himalayas (as long as weather visibility is good) accompanied by one of the best sunsets you will ever see, then Nagarkot day hike is your best choice. It is an adventure guaranteed to remain as a lasting memory.
From Kathmandu, the distance to Nagarkot is only 20 km and with the twisted roads of Nepal’s mountain valleys, it takes an hour (1 hour and 10 minutes at the most) to reach the glorious trekking routes of the 7000ft high Nagarkot. During the March/April times, the starting path of this mountain can be dry with dust flying up whenever a village truck passes through it but a few minutes of climb later that dry sand will change into a dense Eucalyptus forest.
The trek begins on a path of dry sand, treeless narrow roads and small houses of huts lining up on one side of the mountain while the other side is shaped into the familiar steps for farming. This route is a steep slope upwards and for non climbers it can be a bit of a hard-breathing hike.
These dry roads go on for a good half an hour or more. The huts that are built in this terrain is lived by locals, innocent and pure-hearted farmers that are not new to the sight of hikers passing by. Some of them will smile and wave. Cattle of goats run around and kids run behind them, giggling and laughing in glee. If asked, they will gladly pose to take a picture with you.
As you continue through this path, you will come across a small restaurant run by a family where you can grab a bite of lunch. Nagarkot is away from Kathmandu and in this rural terrain, the food is as basic and local as it gets. You can either go for a basic noodle soup or take the hardcore way and munch on a meal that includes beaten rice, some hard meat, boiled potatoes, fried beans and a fried egg. Don’t be fooled by its appearance. They provide some hard core fueling for a good climb.
Once you have finished your wholesome but light-on-the-stomach lunch, the glorious part of the Nagarkot nature trail would be awaiting. A guide is recommended to hike this terrain. The path might look straightforward but there are tons of shortcuts through forests that one might not see if they are new to the place. A guide ensures you are hiking along the right path and would reach the peak in time to see one of the best sunsets in the world.
The forest is filled with pine trees and Eucalyptus fills your lungs with a minty scent and fresh air. Eagles soar high above the trees while a fox might scurry about. In the summer seasons (March-May), Nagarkot mountain can get a little dry with more sand than wet mud. But the evergreen trees ensure a soothing climate that perks you up on your journey.
After a good 12km of easy hike, the hard terrain starts. At this point, you put all your belongings into your bag and make sure its zipped up properly so nothing falls and gets destroyed on rough rocks and steep grounds. This part is the toughest hike of the entire journey, filled with dense forest and no civilization. But once this part of the hike is over, you will emerge out to the summit. Your sight will be filled with miles and miles of the famous, snow covered, white caps of the glorious Himalayas.
If you are lucky and the weather is clear, you will get to see the grand mountains in all its glory, everything from every hikers favorite Langtang valley, the dangerous Annapurna circuit and the magnificent and famous Mt Everest. The cold winds of the Himalayas are apparent even in the midst of Nepal’s summer, and they make their way to the top of Nagarkot.
There is a tall watch tower built to give you an even spectacular view of the Himalayas. A few minutes of spending your time from one corner of the viewpoint to the other, the time will come that would greet you with one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. Like a stunning performance of nature, the golden ball sinks beyond the white capped mountains and melts into the horizon. A sight that never ceases to amaze.
Once the sun is set, all hikers are ushered into their cars as the hike down would be impossible in the dark. The hike to Nagarkot is an experience in itself. The grandeur of the Himalayan mountains, the 12km trail and the view of the sunset is one that will bring you back before you know it.