A great side trip out of Kathmandu is to the eastern part of the Kathmandu Valley. Continuing on from Bhaktapur, we boarded one of the frequent buses to Nagarkot from the north-east bus stop. We crammed into the back seat, wedged between a young local family, as the bus filled to the brim and kids started climbing onto the roof. Yeehah!
The school-age girl beside me happily shared her potato chips while trying her very basic English with me. It consisted mostly of smiles and nods. Weaving and winding up the hills to Nagarkot was a little nerve-racking. Narrow, twisty roads, unsafe drop-offs and blind corners. I think we were more scared for the cyclists hugging the shoulders.
By the time we reached Nagarkot proper, it was just after lunch-time, and we were hot and sweaty from the cramped bus ride. A cheap, tasty vegetarian fried rice later, we were off to find our accommodation which we hadn’t booked in advance. Nagarkot sits at the top of a bunch of hills, which we were told had awesome views of the Himalayan ranges on a clear day, especially at sunset.
Unfortunately, smog and pollution wins every time, and we couldn’t see any mountain ranges, even from the main lookout spots at the top of the hills. Oh well. It was still a nice stroll, and some nice big houses up here too.
Being backpackers, we stayed at one of the cheapest lodges and paid a little extra for a room with a shower. We were told later that night that it was solar-powered, and the hot water had run out. Maybe wait until later in the morning when the sun had risen. We waited as long as possible, then just sucked it up with a nice, cold rinse. Lesson learnt. Shower in the afternoon.
Highly recommend the full-day hike from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel. The path winds up and around the hills, through rural villages, terraced farms and trees. The views were spectacular, as well as meeting a few local kids along the route. But bring a decent map and a compass. We had the latter, but not the former and somewhere along the way we took a wrong turn and ended up miles along the wrong path. The map signs are infrequent and inaccurate.
As the sun was setting, we were still walking (nearly 6 hours now) and finally reached Banepa (more than an hour walk to the west of Dhulikhel), much to our surprise but dawning realisation. Our Lonely Planet book said Banepa was 3km from Dhulikhel. It was more like 5km and the scale on the map was a little misleading. Navigating can be frustrating after such a long walk and mistakes happen.
Banepa is a dusty town, especially along the main Arniko Highway. Although we did it, I wouldn’t recommend walking it. It is dusty, dirty, not pedestrian friendly and gradually uphill. We reached Dhulikhel just after dark (9 hours after departure). We probably could have taken a bus or taxi from Banepa, we that would have admitted defeat.
Although our detour took us to parts we wouldn’t have been, the views are magnificent.
And unplanned detours are half the fun anyway.
Visited 3rd to 5th November 2013.