Winter hiking can be even more fun and beautiful than hiking in comfortable weather. It is only during winters that you get to walk through meadows decked with dew drops that look like tiny sparkling crystals, and the unforgettable cold breeze, while you walk across an ocean of dense white shimmering clouds. The views are even spectacular with crepuscular rays raining down through the small breaks in the cloud, cloaking the sky with brilliant colors. The moment owns you, and all you can do is remain awestruck.
Nagarjuna Jamacho Hike: This is one the nearest hiking trails in Kathmandu Valley, also, one of the most strenuous. A motor ride leads up straight to the Jamacho Stupa, which usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The hiking trail is five kilometers long. It will take your through the dense Nagarjuna forest or Rani Ban (Queen’s Forest), and through steep paths lined with stony steps.
During winter the trail, lined with dense forest, will be covered with thick fogs, limiting your vision to four feet. A little more than halfway up the trail, you will reach a grassy clearing that offers spectacular views of the forest and hills around. At Jamacho Stupa (2,128 m), you will be greeted by the sight of monks praying, the smell of incense, and the fluttering of prayer flags. In the wintery mornings, you might not be able to see the northern Himalayan range so well. But when the clouds disperse, the beautiful vistas of Manaslu, Langtang, Dorje Lakpa, and Ganesh slowly emerge on the skyline.
Shivapuri: The hiking trail from Buddanilkantha to Shivapuri is one of the closest hiking trails in Kathmandu. It will take you through the Shivapuri Conservation Area. There are numerous trails that we can t ake at Shivapuri, one of the most frequently traveled would be the trail to Bagdhwar (a spring that is one of the nearest source of the Bagmati River).
Shivapuri, at 2,563 m, is the second highest hill around Kathmandu Valley. The hike to Baghdwar takes you through Nagi Gumba, which starts from the southern boundary of the area where the army-check point is situated. The hike will take us through the dense forest areas at Shivapuri that is rich in both flora and fauna. On wintery days, the trail will be densely cloaked with fog. While walking through dense forested area, and steep trails with mostly stone stairs, we will come across meadows and grassy open areas that provide spectacular views of the hills. Stony trails lead us to Bagdhwar, which lies right below the summit of Shivapuri peak. The spring water tap, adorned with metal carvings of a tiger, is extremely cold even during the summer, and at winter, it reaches freezingly cold points.
Dahachowk: Lying five kilometers northwest of Kalanki, Dahachowk is one of the most beautiful hiking spots in Kathmandu that not many people know of. It not only offers one of the best panoramic views of Kathmandu Valley, but also holds historical and cultural importance. The moderately easy trail passes through the community forest that has many bird species as well as spotted deer and monkeys. During the winter season, we might not be able to come across many of the bird species, but the walk through the lush green forest and the spectacular view it offers from its vantage point pretty much makes up for it. The trail gets even better as we move uphill. The vantage point greets us with a spectacular view of Langtang, Ganesh, and Manaslu; which is especially more beautiful in the winter. When it’s sunny, you can see the panoramic view of Kathmandu, Kirtipur, and sometimes even Dhading.
When we reach Dahachowk, we will be greeted with culturally and historically significant sites. You can choose to go around Indradaha (pond) and Manakamana Temple, and even visit the grave of Kaji Kalu Pandey, one of the leading figures at the time of Nepal’s unification by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. Dahachowk has a lot to offer in terms of scenic views, culture, and history.
Champadevi: Situated to the southwest of Kathmandu at an altitude of 2,285 m, Champadevi is another great hiking spot in Kathmandu. You can either walk from Tau Daha or Pharping (on the way to Dakshinkali Temple). From Pharping, it’s a two- to three-hour walk along the north ridge, where you will pass through lush pine forest cloaked in fog. You will encounter a few steep points, but the trail is relatively even. Champadevi has a Buddhist stupa and a Hindu shrine where you will meet pilgrims burning butter lamps and incense. The vantage point from Champadevi offers spectacular views of Langtang, Gauri Shankar, Jugal, and Dorge Lakpa. Kathmandu city looks like a wintery fairyland covered in white clouds. The clouds slowly start dispersing with the rising sun, unveiling Kathmandu city and the serene villages around it.