Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is in the north of the Kathmandu Valley, a chance to enjoy nature close to the city. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails through the park, and on a clear day visitors can see snow-capped mountains to the north. It’s a great place to come for a quick escape from Kathmandu, or to embark on a longer trek.
Nagarkot, a small town on the eastern edge of the Kathmandu Valley, is popular for its sunrise and sunset views of the Himalaya. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Mount Everest to the northeast and the Annapurna ranges to the northwest. There are many places to stay within Nagarkot and cultural attractions, too.The BasicsLocated just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from central Kathmandu, Nagarkot is a popular day trip for its clear mountain views. On a high ridge at 7,136 feet (2,175 meters), the town is surrounded by thick pine forests, which allow for day hikes or longer treks to surrounding towns. Guided tours often arrive for sunrise and may include a hike. Others visit as part of a longer tour or stay overnight for sunset and sunrise. Things to Know Before You GoAlthough Nagarkot is not far from Kathmandu, poor roads mean it can take three hours to reach.Some accommodations in Nagarkot have mountain views—request them if that’s your preference.The viewing tower is a great place from which to snap a photo. Arrive well in advance of sunrise or sunset to get a good spot.How to Get ThereNagarkot is accessible by public bus, but from Kathmandu it requires a change in Bhaktapur. The most direct way is to take a tour that includes transport, hire a taxi from Kathmandu for the day, or arrange for drop-off and next-day pickup with a driver.When to Get ThereThe mountain views are clearest in winter (December-February), although it can get cold at the high altitude. November is slightly warmer, and has a high chance of clear views. Avoid Nagarkot during the monsoon (June-August), as views are generally poor and the road condition are particularly bad.Hike to Changu NarayanA good day hike from Nagarkot is to Changu Narayan, home to the oldest temple in Nepal. The approximately 4-hour hike is mostly downhill from Nagarkot, through forested hills, terraced farmland, and small villages. For the best experience, join a guided tour with all transportation included, or arrange to stay in Nagarkot overnight and set out for Changu Narayan in the morning. From Changu Narayan, take a bus or taxi back to Bhaktapur or Kathmandu.
Dudh Kosi River
Dudh Kosi means “milk river” in the Nepali language, so called because of its frothy waters, white with cold. The Dudh Kosi originates on the southern slopes of Mount Everest and rushes down the valley named after it in the Khumbu region, before it joins the Sun Kosi River on its southeastern journey to India. The BasicsTrekkers on the popular Everest Base Camp trek meet the Dudh Kosi River in Sagarmatha National Park. Extreme white-water kayakers also enjoy paddling on the river, although this should only be attempted by experienced kayakers. It’s a very cold river, as it originates at the base of Mount Everest. Trekkers will get the chance to see it from many of the high-suspension bridge crossings in the Everest region. Most visitors to the Dudh Kosi go on guided treks, such the Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Lakes, or Three Passes trek. Things to Know Before You GoHiking with a guide in the Everest region is strongly recommended.While it’s not necessary to be a super athlete to trek in the Everest region, it does help to have a good level of fitness.The Everest region is at high altitude. Be sure to acclimatize slowly, learn the signs of altitude sickness, and be prepared to turn back if necessary.Travelers can prepare for a trip to the Dudh Kosi by watching the classic 1977 BBC documentary Dudh Kosi: Relentless River of Everest. How to Get ThereThere is really only one way to get to the Dudh Kosi in the Everest region: to walk. Travelers can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, then walk up to Namche Bazaar and along the Everest Base Camp trail, where they will encounter the Dudh Kosi. When to Get ThereThe Everest region is best visited in Nepal’s spring (March-May) or autumn (September-November), when the weather is mildest and the mountain views are clear. The winters can be very cold, especially at higher altitudes, and the monsoon season is wet, with limited visibility. Nepal’s Karnali RiverAnother remote river in Nepal that makes a good destination for an adventurous trip is the Karnali. This river, in Far Western Nepal, runs all the way from Tibet to the Indian border, passing through Bardia National Park in the south. White-water rafters and kayakers can enjoy clean waters, plenty of fun rapids, unique cultures, and camping on white-sand beaches.
Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mount Everest, and the Sagarmatha National Park is where the tallest mountain in the world sits. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of natural wonders: other high mountains, trekking trails, diverse wildlife, and Sherpa culture. It’s Nepal’s most popular trekking destination. The BasicsSagarmatha National Park is in the Solu-Khumbu District, in eastern Nepal and bordering Tibet to its north. Though the park is famous for its namesake mountain, several other notable mountains lie within the park, including Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Ama Dablam and Pumori. Nepal’s national bird—the colorful peacock-like danphe—can be found in the park, as well as the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the Sherpa people who live here. Many people come to the Sagarmatha National Park to trek to Everest Base Camp, but this isn’t the only trek possible in the area. It’s important to be reasonably fit to undertake any Himalayan trek, but trails suited to a range of experience and fitness levels can be found. It’s not mandatory to trek with a guide and porter, but it is a good idea for safety reasons. Scenic helicopter flights from Kathmandu can also be arranged. Things to Know Before You GoPermits are required for trekking in the park. If you book with a trekking company, these will be arranged for you before leaving Kathmandu, or you can collect them yourself in Kathmandu if you are traveling independently.The quality of accommodation throughout the park ranges from very basic to luxurious.The park sits at high altitude, ranging from 9,333 feet (2,845 meters) to 29,028 feet (8,848 meters) at the summit of Everest. Proper acclimatization is required. How to Get ThereThe most common way to get to the park is to take a 30-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, which is several hours to a couple of days’ walk from the park entrance. Flights to Lukla are often delayed due to poor weather or visibility. Keen trekkers can do the “pioneers’ route” from Jiri, skipping the flight and trekking an extra week. Travelers with a generous budget can take a helicopter tour from Kathmandu. When to Get ThereSpring (March-May) and autumn (October-November) are the best times to visit, as the weather is clearest and temperatures warm. However, these are also the most crowded seasons, with trails and lodges at full capacity. Winter (December-February) is not a bad time to trek, but be well prepared for the cold. Avoid the monsoon (June-September). Trek in the Makalu Barun National ParkExperienced trekkers seeking a more remote experience could head to the Makalu Barun National Park, to the east of the Sagarmatha National Park. The infrastructure there is much less developed, but adventurous trekkers will be rewarded with unspoiled mountain vistas and authentic local life untouched by tourism.