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Published: August 11th 2013
Today, we got up, ate breakfast at the hotel and then hired the hotels car and driver to take us to Changu Narayan. The drive was about 40 minutes through Kathmandu and the surrounding towns and rural areas. Near Changurayan, we saw many huge stacks of bricks and we knew we must be in a district famous for brick making.
Our driver dropped us at the top of the hill, and we began our trek to Nagarkot. Nagarkot is a place high above the Kathmandu Valley that is famous for its views of the surrounding area and the Himalayas. We were excited, because the weather in the morning was great, and we hoped that we might be able to catch another glimpse of the mountains. We could have taken the car straight to Nagarkot from the hotel, but we decided it would be more fun to walk. Some of the Ottawa folks did it while we were in Pokhara on our big trek and they said it took about four hours. We thought the walk would be a good way to burn off the calories we had been eating!
Instead of hiring a guide, we decided to try it
Driving through Kathmandu
The motorcycles and tuk tuks are lined up at the light
out on our own. After all, this was just a day trek and we wouldn't even be outside the Kathmandu Valley. Mike bought a map from a shop in Thamel that roughly showed the trails we needed to take. Worst come to worst, we could always cheat and use our phones because we would be in cell range!
It took about five minutes to come I out first intersection that wasn't marked on the map. Mike figured we should stick to the bigger path for now because the map showed the path as being a small road. As it turns out, this was the right call, although pretty soon it would become harder to distinguish between the right path and the wrong one!
As we walked, we noticed how much quicker we were covering ground than we did on our big trek. Although we were still quite high, the terrain here was mostly flat, so we moved along at a good clip. The driver told us it would take about 1.5 hours to meet the road again and he would wait for us there in case we decided we wanted a ride the test of the way.
As we wandered along we passed through small villages with lots of friendly people. Most people would say Namaste to us and there were no touts. It was quite a nice escape from the city.
Eventually we came to the conclusion that the map was basically junk, as it was missing virtually all of the intersections we came across. We just used out common sense and every once in a while would ask a local who we passed to see if we were on the right track. "Namaste. Nagarkot?" (While pointing in the direction we were travelling) always worked. Little kids would often come out if their house to talk to us or shout to us from the window. Since it's the slow season for tourists, I guess they found us to be a bit novel!
After about an hour and ten minutes we met up with the road again and had to sit and wait for our car. We didn't want to continue on without first telling him that we would keep hiking. It took another 20 minutes or so before he arrived because he had to drive along ways around the mountain that we walked straight
While we were waiting, some young kids came by to ask for chocolate. Once we convinced them that we didn't have any chocolate, they just hung out with us. They thought it was really cool when we introduced ourselves to them and asked their names. They asked us where we were from and we told them that we were from Canada, but they didn't know where that was. Mike showed them on a map using his iPhone.
After our little waiting break we had to climb a huge steep set of stairs. About half way up some girls stopped Elysia and asked if we could take their picture. We did and they seemed to love it. Immediately after though they began to ask for money which kind if soured the experience. They said they were really hungry and needed the money to eat. But we saw the house they came out of and they appeared to be no worse off than any if their neighbours and we firmly believe that we shouldn't support beggars. We don't want to teach these kids to make a career out if begging and we hope other travellers here do the same.
At the top of the huge stairs was a fairly large temple. We stopped for a few pictures and carried on. On our way out of the complex we ran into some locals who asked where we were going. We told them Nagarkot and the confirmed we were on the right path. Unfortunately, right past where we met them the trail split into two. One that was a tiny mud path and the other that was a really tiny mud path. We chose the path that was just tiny. (Of course, this intersection wasn't on our map!)
After a few minutes our trail lead us into a corn field and so we were concerned that we were going the wrong way. We saw a lady working in a field and stopped to ask her. Sure enough this was the right way! It was starting to feel like all paths in this area would lead to Nagarkot!
Eventually we came back out to the road. We knew this would happen, as our map actually did show that! Because we were getting pretty hungry, we stopped at a little house/market at the side of the road and bought a
pack of cookies to share. We continued along the road looking for some more trails. Eventually we found a short one that took us off the road and them back onto it. When we came off the road, we ran into another pair of hikers.
We chatted a bit with them (it was a dad and his 11 year old son). As it turns out, the dad was born in Nepal, but had moved to Atlanta in the mid-1990's. He was back in Kathmandu now visiting his parents. Walking with him was quite handy because he spoke fluent Nepalese and was able to ask the locals about the next trail to take. Once we got on the trail it was basically a straight shot to Nagarkot, and we could see it from quite a ways out.
Shortly before we came to Nagarkot, a military truck was coming down the hill while a bus was going up. The bus didn't give quite enough room and so the two vehicles actually slid along each other as they slowly crept by. It was quite the sight, because we could see the looks on the military personnel's faces while this bus went
back and forth on this steep and narrow road trying to extract his vehicle from the military truck.
After about 3 hours of total hiking time we came into Nagarkot. Unfortunately, the rain beat us there by about 20 minutes. The clouds were so dense we couldn't leer any mountains at all.
Despite the poor visibility we wanted to make it up to the viewpoint. We knew Rick wouldn't let us check it off our list unless we did that!
When we came to a split in the road, Mike wanted to go left, but our new Nepali-American friend talked to some locals and they said to go to the right. They said there was a tower up the road that we could get a good view from. So we went right.
About 4 kilometres later, in monsoon rains, we came to the entrance of a military base. The guards didn't seem to have any problems with us walking onto the base so we carried on. Eventually, we came to about we sign that said that the tower was 2 kilometres ahead. At least now we knew there was in fact a tower, but we also
knew that we had gone the wrong way. Should have turned left!
When the tower finally came into sight, it was completely covered in thick fog. We decided not to bother going all the way to the tower since we wouldn't see anything anyways and we were clearly in the wrong place. We had walked about 5 kilometres further than we should have, up hill, in the monsoon. We decided it was time to go back.
When we made it back to Nagarkot we decided to find the hotel that we were supposed to meet the driver at. We thought we would let him know that we had made it and then grab some lunch. The thing was, we couldn't find the hotel! Even with the GPS on the phone we couldn't find it. We ended up walking all the way up to the top of the viewpoint at Nagarkot, where there is a little temple, and back down to the base again, still without finding the hotel. We saw lots of others but it seemed like all we could do is walk around the hotel on the GPS.
Eventually, we broke down and asked someone. He
told us to follow this little dirt trail, which we had actually seen earlier when we tried to take a little shortcut. We followed the trail and clearly saw the hotel on our right, but there was a wall up the whole way around. We couldn't get in! Finally, the trail came out to the road again, and we recognized where we were... On our way back to the military base! Since we knew the hotel wasn't up towards the vase we decided to turn back towards Nagarkot along the road. We still couldn't find our way into the hotel until we finally came across an unmarked driveway with black iron gates. Since the gates were open, we decided to walk in and see if this was the right place. As it turns out, it was, but there is no sign visible from the road that shows the name of the hotel. You have to drive up the driveway and around the corner into the woods before you see a sign. Who builds a hotel without a sign?!?
By now, over five hours had passed. We were starving and soaked. But we didn't want to make the driver wait
any longer so we got in and headed back to the hotel. We asked the driver if he could stop somewhere to buy some bananas. He stopped at this little stand in Bhaktapur and bought about a dozen mini banana for us. Cost about 75 cents, and they were the best tasting bananas imaginable.
The drive back to the hotel was uneventful except that the car we had was huge. It was about twice the size of the typical taxi and was extremely tight to navigate through the streets of Thamel. On the plus side, the long wheelbase made he pothole filled roads a little smoother!
Back at the hotel we decided to meet up with our friends and go to the Tibetan restaurant in Thamel (Utse) we visited about a week before for Hot Pot. The food was excellent and did not disappoint. The only criticism we had was that the beer Mike ordered was warm; it was rather ironic because the beer was called Nepal Ice!
Today's Trek by the Numbers:
Starting Elevation: 1,517 m (4,977 feet)
Starting Place: Changu Narayan, Nepal (27.716536 N, 85.433012 E)
Peak Elevation: 2,060 m (6,759 feet)
Ending Place: Nagarkot,
Nepal (27.723438 N, 85.524278 E)
Total Vertical Climb (included all the ups in the ups and downs): 1,404 m (4,606 feet)
Distance Traveled over Ground: 21.43 km (13.32 miles)
Pace: 14:09 minutes/km (22:46 minutes/mile)
Hiking Time: 5:03:18
Calories Burned: 3,614
You can see a detailed and interactive map of our route, along with a 3D video of our path here: Interactive Map and Video of Route
Tot: 2.998s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 14; qc: 66; dbt: 0.0531s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.5mb