Hiking out of the Kathmandu valley is a refreshing excursion and a much needed break from the daily grind. One of the great short hikes that can be done in four to five hours is the Chisopani walk.
Catch a bus or taxi to Sundarijal where you can stop for tea or other refreshments and start walking alongside the huge pipeline that carries water from the reservoir above. The going gets steeper after a while but shortly after half an hour you arrive at the reservoir, an area which you enter after paying Shivapuri National Park entry fees. A short walk farther up and you come across the motor road to Chisopani that takes a long and winding route up. There are some lodges here which serve as a good rest stop and watering hole. If you missed your breakfast, this is your chance to refuel.
Leave the motor road and climb straight up past the first lodge. The village above is Mulkharka from where you get great views of the valley below. Chhyang just above Karma Guest House is good but best left for the return journey. You can take the motor road (paved with stone) for part of the journey to avoid the steep climb and later get on the trail by following the wooden sign that reads ‘Chisapani’. Note the spelling! You’ll come across many of these. Or follow the motor road until you come across two restaurants, one of which boasts ‘Top & the Last Stop for Lunch and Breakfast’. Walk from the side of this eatery and follow it all the way to Chisopani.
From here the path does not get too steep and alternates between a climb and a straight (Level) stretch. The trail leads through a light forest and very often you find yourself walking under a canopy of trees. It’s a delightful hike through lush green landscape. An early start means you will hear bird calls all the way. There are many species of birds found here and there will be plenty flitting about beside the trail. Some of the resident birds of the park are barbets, woodpeckers, partridges, warblers, pheasants and many more. Part of the trail goes over ridges when the going gets easy and the forest recedes giving you more space to walk.
Before the army closed the old approach to Chisopani, you could see the little settlement while descending. Now the trail leads down towards the motor road where you turn right and head toward the top of the ridge with the town on the blind side. The mountains suddenly come into view and you walk into Chisopani. The Ganesh Himal, Dorje Lakpa, Phurbi Chyacho, Gyan Chenpo and many more are clearly visible on a clear day.
There are many lodges in Chisopani; some with great views, some with more comfort, some with better hospitality; take your pick. Room rates start from Rs. 200 and go all the way up to Rs. 1,500. If you’ve reached early enough, you can either hike down or walk along the road that goes round the hillside next to Chisopani. Some of the mountains appear so close you’d think you could hike up there in a few hours. Don’t fool yourself, but the sunset may be worth raving about, if you’re lucky. The best time to admire the mountains is early morning before 7 am after which clouds may obscure your view.
The way back
The return journey gives the hiker two choices. Either take the same route back, or walk along the motor road that veers left after leaving Chisopani. The motor road is long and winding but interesting nevertheless. However, one must be careful not to head towards Nagarkot, but turn right towards Mulkharka. The view of Kathmandu valley from the trail is spectacular. You’ll come back from the trip with some pretty decent pictures.!
- 4 and half hours uphill hike. Coming back the motor way takes around five hours.
- Rs. 1000 besides hotel charges.
- A change of clothes, light jacket for summer and a heavy one for winter, towel, raincoat, umbrella, torch light and a first aid kit.
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