An overnight retreat in Hetauda gives you the opportunity to laze in a pool under palm trees, embark on an invigorating bike ride and go tubing in the Rapti River. Experience the untouched and perhaps the quintessential “real” Nepal with Life Cycle Nepal, a progressive resort for a dreamy getaway.
Hetauda is certainly not a name you stumble upon in the pages of Lonely Planet, but a tranquil getaway in the outskirts of the city is creating quite the buzz. Life Cycle Resort, an off-beat retreat in an otherwise neglected region, is rapidly gaining attention. Rest assured, the scrumptious food, tropical ambience, easy-going people, a host of adventures and, of course, an alluring pool all culminate into a series of memorable moments.
Take your mountain bike along to Balkhu sufficiently early to catch a Sumo SUV to Hetauda. (Not owning one is no cause for concern because Life Cycle will make arrangements; if you are taking yours, make sure it’s secured tight on the roof rack because the road ahead is quite bumpy.) The drive takes you to Dakshinkali and all the way across the viewpoint at Deurali, well known for its gorgeous views of the Kulekhani reservoir and its massive dam. As you travel on, revel in the humbling views of the surreal hills on the other side of the gorge that drop deep down into the river below. Through switchbacks, steep climbs and scarier drops, we reach the fairly flat town of Bhimphedi, which marks the start of the Terai and our biking as well.
Feel relieved getting off the Sumo as you fix your bike and start riding down wide metalled roads with little traffic and a ton of beautiful scenery. Plug in your iPod and take in the sights of temples, ropeways, picturesque villages, and kids chasing you on foot. Should the heat be a bother, feel free to pull over and cool down in the Rapti River which follow you almost throughout your ride to Hetauda. Once you reach Hetauda Bazaar, some 20 minutes riding on the highway towards Narayanghat brings you to Padam Pokhari Chowk. Taking a left turn here, we immediately reach a large suspension bridge where we pause to soak in the amazing glimpses of hills in the horizon and the meadows along Rapti’s shore, stretched as far as the eyes can see.
A short ride away is Life Cycle Resort where enthusiastic guide Shyam Limbu, caretaker Laxmi and the azure swimming pool are all lined up to welcome you. Give into your temptations and jump into the welcoming water right away! As the name suggests, the resort is keen on promoting cycling as a recreational sport. So, after a quick lunch, we head out on our bikes with Limbu, who happens to be a national mountain biking athlete, to ride through the perfectly serene landscapes of Hetauda’s Terai. Carefully pedalling on narrow and slippery trails amidst the vast greenery of Churia Hills and rice paddies, we blaze through flat trails crisscrossing farms and villages as the sun sets in the horizon – a spectacular sight indeed.
Before it gets dark, we head back to the resort for dinner and crispy potato wedges, by far some of the best we’ve had. We limit ourselves to no more than a couple of bottles of beer because first, we’ll be jumping into the pool under the moon; and second, a peaceful morning walk about the village awaits. We find our tented camp next to the swimming pool and call it a night. Life Cycle has different plans if you’re hoping to upload pictures on Instagram; an internet connection is deliberately absent in the resort because you’re better off enjoying your vacation – and they make a valid point.
Wake up to a gorgeous sunrise the next day, a rarity in Kathmandu, thanks to concrete high rises. The village here comes alive with farmers heading to the fields, women to the market and kids towards their shenanigans. Walking through the farms and admiring the vista from the suspension bridge makes for a pleasant way to start our day. Top off the wonderful walk with a masala tea at bajai’s shop under the bridge where a cool breeze wafting through the bamboo shrubs complements the seamlessly calm ambience.
Make sure to get back to the resort for breakfast prepared by Laxmi and ready yourself for another round of biking in the meadows! Limbu leads the way to the river through several brooklets and chautaras en route. The broad jeep tracks will instantly make you want to go full throttle with nothing but adrenaline and bliss flowing in your veins. The ride today concludes with a single track ride through the woods, then it’s back to the resort.
What follows has become a favorite activity for Life Cycle, perhaps as much, if not more, than cycling: tubing! The mild Rapti current is fabulous for the sport where a huge truck tube becomes your raft and all you have to do is sit and stay adrift. You’re provided with a helmet and a lifejacket by the folks from the resort, and needless to say, they take safety very seriously. The seemingly quick three kilometers on the tube concludes as you float under the suspension bridge near the resort.
Drenched in the chilly waters of the Rapti, we get back to our tents and dry up. All good things must come to an end they say, so we prepare to leave this dreamy vacation spot. We cycle over the bridge and reach the highway where we turn right towards Hetauda Bazaar to catch a Sumo back home. The left will lead us to Sauraha on 70kms of paved road, an adventure we’ll save for another weekend. For now, we savour Hetauda’s memories backed by a million pictures of our Life Cycle trip dying to be uploaded on Instagram.