Epic dayhike in Kathmandu valley
What started with an easy 2-3 hours day hike ended up with us venturing into dense jungle in the dark with lots of weird noises, cannabis plants, leeches, blood and at the end… some romance of sorts!… As well as lots of lessons learned.
The original plan was to hike from Sundarijal to Chisopani. Which is the north side of the Kathmandu valley. With my two Nepali friends we looked at the map and saw that it would be 8.5 kilometres long. We were not calculating in the elevation difference which was over 1300 meters though, and the map did not show the hight of the villages either. We actually ended up with a 16 kilometres uphill hike (with some extra surprise kilometers after). Lesson learned to definitely count in the elevation!
I will definitely calculate my next trek more carefully as in a couple of days I will be leaving for a month for the Annapurna region, which is at a higher altitude.
We started in a little village Sundarigal and then steeply climbed up the stairs for many hours. At the beginning of the trek there is the entrance for Sundarijal national park and you have to pay 565NPR to enter. For the first hour, we were walking through small villages with terraced rice fields.
There were also lots of cannabis trees along the way. Apparently it is illegal to smoke, but people still do. I did not smoke though, would be bad for my health.
After leaving the small villages we started going into the forests, where there were a few military bunkers. You are not welcome to hang around nearby to the barracks, which is a shame as there was a beautiful picnic spot there. I am not too sure why the trek goes nearby to the barracks, but we carried on past it to find another nice spot so that we didn’t get into any trouble. The Army staff that I saw were very nice, they smiled and greeted me as we passed.
The forests were becoming more dense as we pushed forward, but the steps were still there. From the 1300 meters elevation, I would say that 1000 meters were stairs.
After going for so long upwards, we had a little 20 minutes downhill stairs which was actually very nice just before reaching Chisopani.
After 5 hours of stairs we finally reached our final destination of Chisopani. I then found out that we needed to walk for another 2-3 hours to reach the nearest village where we could get transport back to Kathmandu.
Chisopani is a tiny little village on a top of a hill at elevation 2451m (“small hill” as my friends referred to it as). The village was badly damaged by the earthquake.
Lots of houses in Nepal look cracked and damaged but are still standing as people don’t have money to destroy them and then rebuild them again. They usually live in a tent next to their house if there is a free space. The hotel here is also empty but the owner did have small bunker like rooms with beautiful views of the mountains. I wish I could have stayed here for a night, because on a clear day from the bed you would be able to have an amazing view of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas including Everest but we had a rainy day with lots of clouds.
After Chisopani the forest turns into a jungle and the stairs have finally disappeared. When leaving the village, the trail also becomes a mountain bike trail.
One of my friend forgot a his waterproofs, but we found a broken umbrella at one of the refugee points.
After Chisopani the sun started to set and we did not have a head torch with us (another lesson learned). We walked a few hours in the dark where sometimes I was not sure if a bird was singing or somebody was screaming or cutting a tree with a whipshaw because there were such a weird sounds I have never heard before.
When we set off I knew there can be spiders and snakes but what I did not know that there was going to be lots of leeches. This was the first time that I have seen leeches in the flesh… on my flesh!
I always saw them on the Discovery channel where people were pulling leeches off their skin in the jungle and I was always amazed by it. My friends were laughing at me how much I freaked out and I must admit that after 10 minutes I was also laughing at myself too. These leeches are kind of harmless, just feels pretty disgusting when you pull them off your body to find that they then attach themselves to your fingers too. It has been never on my list or plan to do, but I am pretty proud that I have dealt with them now, so I have put it on my bucket list.
Now there should always be a happy ending with some romance.
We reached Chauki Bhanghyang (the nearest village after 5 hours trekking through the jungle). All this added up to hiking for 10 hours. In this village we had to wait to get the transport back to Kathmandu and decided to have some tea at the local bar. We were sitting there and this young boy (who was probably the most eligible bachelor in the village) tried to chat me up. He was a very nice and kind young boy and it was nice to talk to him, but unfortunately he was not my type – about 15 years too young!
The transport came after 20 minutes to rescue me. No happily ever after I’m afraid, it was a very short lived romance and from his side only. It was definitely a long and awesome day though!