Hiking in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

Shivapuri National Park, located on the northern peripheral of Kathmandu valley, is known for its diverse forest types and stunning views. As a transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates, the park is home to a variety of natural forest types such as pine, oak, and rhododendron. The flora in the park varies depending on altitude and aspect, creating a rich and vibrant ecosystem.

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One of the most famous hiking trails in the park is the Budhanilkantha to Shivapuri Peak via the nunnery Nagi Gompa. This trail takes you through lush forests, serene trails, and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Along the way, you can also visit the Nagi Gompa, a monastery for nuns who practice Buddhism.

Another popular hike is the Sundarijal to Chisapani trail, which is also the starting point for the Helambu trek. This trail takes you through beautiful landscapes, dense forests, and offers panoramic views of the Himalayas. It is a great option for those looking for a longer and more challenging hike.

For those seeking a shorter hike, the Pani Muhan to Kakani trail via Shivapuri Peak is a great option. This trail offers a mix of uphill and downhill sections and rewards hikers with stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

If you prefer a hike with cultural and religious significance, the Jamacho Peak in Nagarjun is a must-visit. This trail takes you to a Buddhist stupa and offers stunning views of the Kathmandu valley.

Hiking in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is suitable for hikers of all fitness levels. Most of the trails are well-established and well-maintained, making them accessible for beginners. However, it is important to note that hikers should be prepared to walk uphill and downhill for several hours, so a moderate level of fitness is recommended.

It is also important to hire a guide when hiking in the national park, as hiking alone is strictly prohibited. Both city guides and trekking guides are eligible to guide you through the trails, ensuring your safety and providing valuable information about the park’s flora, fauna, and cultural sites.

During your hike, you will have the opportunity to witness the unique flora and fauna of Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. The park is home to a variety of plant species, including rhododendrons, oaks, and pines. It is also a haven for birdwatchers, with over 300 species of birds, including the colorful Himalayan Monal.

In addition to hiking, Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park offers a range of other outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, birdwatching, butterfly watching, and canyoning. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a cultural enthusiast, the park has something to offer for everyone.

Trail Options

There are several trail options available for those planning to explore the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there is a trail suitable for everyone’s preferences and fitness levels.

  1. Mera Peak Trail: This trail offers a challenging and rewarding experience for adventure enthusiasts. It takes you to the summit of Mera Peak, one of the highest trekking peaks in Nepal. The trail begins at the national park gate, where you will need to purchase entry tickets. From there, it leads to Nagi Gumba, a nuns monastery, and continues to Deurali Bhanjhyang, a picturesque spot perfect for a lunch break. The trail then leads to Bag Dwar, where you can witness water pouring down from the mouth of a sculpted stone tiger head. If you are up for a longer hike, you can continue for another 30-45 minutes to reach the Shivapuri Peak.
  2. Chisapani Trek: For those looking for a shorter and easier hike, the Chisapani Trek is a great option. The trek starts from the Sundarijal end of the national park and takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach from the Ring Road. The trail leads to Chisapani, a beautiful village with stunning views of the Himalayas. Along the way, you can enjoy the serene atmosphere of the national park and witness the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
  3. Budhanilkantha to Shivapuri Hill: This trail offers a circular route, starting from Budhanilkantha and ending at the same point. The hike takes approximately 6-7 hours to complete and requires carrying a packed lunch, as there are no teahouses along the trail. The highlight of this route is reaching the summit of Shivapuri Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley. Optional hikes to Kapan Gompa or Sundarijal can be included if you wish to explore different areas.
  4. Sundarijal to Thamel: This trail provides a scenic route that takes you from Sundarijal to Thamel, a popular tourist hub in Kathmandu. As you descend down the hill, you will pass by open fields, villages, and breathtaking views of Kathmandu. Near the end of the trail, there is a steep descend via concrete steps, and finally, you will reach the local bazaar at Sundarijal. From there, our representative can drive you back to your hotel in Thamel.

No matter which trail you choose, it is important to be prepared and carry essential items such as water, snacks, and appropriate clothing. It is also recommended to hike during the best time, which is considered to be September to early June, when the weather and temperatures are favorable.

National Park Gates

When embarking on a hike in the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, one of the first things you will encounter are the National Park Gates. These gates serve as the entrance to the park and are where visitors must purchase tickets to gain entry.

Located about a 20-minute drive from the Kathmandu ring road, the National Park Gates are easily accessible. If you prefer, you can hire a private vehicle to take you directly to the entrance. Once there, you will need to buy a ticket before proceeding further into the park.

It is important to note that there are fees associated with entering the national park, even for non-Nepali visitors. Therefore, it is recommended to have some cash on hand to pay for the permit. Additionally, if you are a non-Nepali trekker, it is advisable to inquire about any permit fees beforehand to avoid any surprises.

While some volunteer groups in Kathmandu offer free hikes to Shivapuri in exchange for donations or other services, it is crucial to understand that “free” does not mean “no permit fees.” These fees are separate and still need to be paid by non-Nepali trekkers. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to simply arrive at the National Park Gates and hire a guide, as they are often mandatory for certain hikes.

Before embarking on your hike, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the cost of the hike or package tour. Discuss the issue of a mandatory guide with the agency you are working with and come to an agreement on who will be responsible for paying for the guide if it is required. If the agency is unsure or unresponsive to these inquiries, it is advisable to find another agency that can provide clear information.

For the Shivapuri Hike, the starting point is the Shivapuri National Park gate located on the Budhanilkantha side. Upon arrival at the gate, you will be greeted by the friendly armies at the checkpoint who will provide you with an entrance ticket. The price of the ticket will be mentioned on it, and it is essential to pay this fee before proceeding with your hike. This entrance ticket allows you access to the national park and covers the cost of maintaining the trails and facilities within the park.

The Shivapuri Hike is recommended to be done in an anti-clockwise direction. This route gradually gains in height, making it more suitable for beginners. The first hour of the hike follows an unpaved road that leads to Nagi Gompa, a nunnery monastery affiliated with Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling. Exploring around this monastery for about 15-20 minutes adds a cultural and spiritual aspect to your hike. Afterward, you can continue your ascent towards Shivapuri Peak, enjoying the scenic beauty of the surroundings.

If you wish to extend your hike further, you can consider the Isapani to Nagarkot route. Additionally, the Bishnu Dwar hike is another option that takes you to the origin of the Bishnumati River in Kathmandu. This casual trek requires a 30-minute hike from the Buddhanilkantha temple to reach the entrance of the national park. Upon paying the entry fees, you will be able to enjoy the serene atmosphere and the soothing music of the waterfall along the trail. Keep an eye out for the watersheds if you are hiking during the right season.

Nagarjun Hill is another popular destination within the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. Located just 15 minutes away from the Ring Road, this hill offers a rewarding hike with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Similar to the other trails, an entrance fee is required to access the park and embark on your hike.

pathway in forest

Nature and Wildlife

Species of Birds in Shivapuri National Park

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is a paradise for bird lovers, hosting a diverse range of bird species. With a total of 318 species of birds, the park offers an incredible opportunity for birdwatchers to observe and appreciate the avian life in this natural haven.

Among the many bird species found in Shivapuri National Park, there are at least nine threatened species, making it an important conservation area for avian biodiversity. Some of the notable bird species that can be spotted in the park include the Himalayan Monal, a stunningly colorful pheasant native to the Himalayas. Its vibrant plumage and distinctively long tail feathers make it a prized sighting for bird enthusiasts.

Another striking bird species found in Shivapuri National Park is the Spiny Babbler. Endemic to Nepal, this elusive bird is known for its unique appearance and secretive nature. It is a small, brown bird with a spiky crest on its head, giving it its name. Spotting the Spiny Babbler requires patience and keen observation skills, but the reward of witnessing this rare species is well worth the effort.

The park is also home to the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, a majestic bird of prey with its large size and distinctive tufts of feathers on its head. This nocturnal hunter can often be seen perched on tree branches, silently waiting for its prey. The call of the Eurasian Eagle-Owl echoing through the forest is an unforgettable experience.

Other bird species that can be observed in Shivapuri National Park include the Hodgson’s Bushchat, the White-throated Redstart, the Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, the Green-backed Tit, and the Spotted Forktail. These birds add to the rich tapestry of avian life in the park and provide ample opportunities for birdwatchers to indulge in their passion.

To maximize the chances of spotting these and other bird species, it is advisable to hire a knowledgeable birding guide. These guides have a deep understanding of the park’s avian inhabitants and can help visitors navigate the trails while pointing out the elusive birds along the way. Their expertise and insights can greatly enhance the birdwatching experience in Shivapuri National Park.

Species of Butterflies and Mushrooms in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, located in the transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates, is not only known for its diverse vegetation and natural forest types but also for its rich biodiversity. One of the fascinating aspects of this national park is its abundant species of butterflies and mushrooms.

With 102 species of butterflies, including several rare and endangered species, Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is a haven for butterfly enthusiasts. The park provides a suitable habitat for these delicate creatures, offering a variety of nectar-rich flowers and host plants for their reproduction. From the vibrant Common Mormon to the elusive Kaiser-i-Hind, visitors can witness the beauty and diversity of these winged wonders as they flutter through the park’s lush greenery.

In addition to butterflies, Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park boasts an impressive number of mushroom species. With 129 recorded species, including some rare and endemic varieties, the park is a treasure trove for mushroom lovers and researchers alike. The diverse forest types, ranging from pine to oak and rhododendron, provide the perfect conditions for mushrooms to thrive. From the vibrant colors of the Amanita muscaria to the intricate patterns of the Cantharellus cibarius, the park’s mushroom species display a remarkable array of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Exploring the park’s trails and hiking routes, visitors can encounter these beautiful butterflies and mushrooms, adding an extra element of fascination to their nature experience. Hiring a knowledgeable guide, especially one with expertise in birding and wildlife, can greatly enhance the chances of spotting these elusive creatures. They can provide insights into the behavior and habitats of these species, allowing visitors to appreciate their presence in the ecosystem.

Endangered Species in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, located near Kathmandu valley in Nepal, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse forest types but also for its rich wildlife. The park is home to a wide range of exotic and endangered species, making it an important conservation area in the region.

Among the mammalian species found in the park, the Himalayan Black bear stands out as one of the threatened species. These majestic bears are known for their distinct appearance and are primarily found in mountainous regions. However, due to habitat loss and poaching, their population has been declining, making them vulnerable to extinction.

Leopards, another iconic species, also inhabit the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. These elusive and powerful predators are endangered and face numerous threats, including habitat loss, poaching, and conflict with humans. The park provides a vital sanctuary for these beautiful creatures to thrive and contribute to the biodiversity of the area.

Jungle cats and rhesus monkeys are two other mammalian species that can be found in the park. While jungle cats are small wild cats known for their adaptability, rhesus monkeys are highly social primates. Both species face various threats, including habitat destruction and illegal wildlife trade.

The avian population in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is equally impressive. With 177 species of birds, including at least nine threatened species, the park is a haven for birdwatchers and conservationists alike. These threatened bird species, such as the White-rumped Vulture and the Spiny Babbler, are facing significant population declines and require immediate conservation efforts to prevent their extinction.

Natural Features

Water Sources and Springs

When embarking on the Shivapuri hike, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the trek. Fortunately, there are several water sources and springs along the trail that provide clean and fresh water for hikers.

One of the main water sources on the hike is the Baghdwara water source, which is a natural spring. The locals drink from this source, ensuring its quality and safety. Hikers can also refill their water bottles from this spring, eliminating the need to carry large amounts of water from the start.

It is important to note that while the Baghdwara water source is reliable, it is still recommended to use a water purification system. This will further ensure that the water is free from any contaminants and safe for consumption. There are various portable water purification systems available on the market that are lightweight and easy to use.

Additionally, there is a shop at Nagi Gompa, but it is not always open. Therefore, relying on this shop for water may not be a reliable option. It is advisable to carry enough water bottles to last the duration of the hike, especially if the shop is closed. This will ensure that you have an adequate water supply throughout the trek.

Forest Types and Views

Hiking through Shivapuri, visitors can expect to be surrounded by lush greenery and diverse vegetation. The trails are well-maintained and often include staircases that lead hikers through the core jungle. As you ascend towards the hill, the views become more breathtaking. The mountains stand tall in the distance, providing a majestic backdrop to the vibrant forests and waterfalls.

One of the highlights of the hike is the opportunity to visit the source of the holy Bagmati River. The river begins from the metal statue of the tiger’s mouth, and witnessing this natural phenomenon is a truly awe-inspiring experience. In the spring months, the hill is adorned with colorful rhododendron flowers, adding to the beauty of the surroundings.

The diversity of forest types in Shivapuri National Park also creates a habitat for various wildlife species. Mammals such as Himalayan Black bears, leopards, jungle cats, and rhesus monkeys can be found within the park. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted to discover that the park is home to 177 species of birds, including several threatened species. Additionally, the park boasts 102 species of butterflies, some of which are rare and endangered. Mushroom enthusiasts will also appreciate the park’s collection of 129 species of mushrooms.

The forest types and views in Shivapuri National Park provide a captivating and immersive experience for hikers. Whether you choose the Budhanilkantha – Pani Muhan – Nagi Gumba – Deurali – Bagdwar – Shivapuri hill route or any other route, you can expect to be surrounded by sub-tropical vegetation, encounter diverse wildlife, and be treated to stunning mountain views. Don’t forget to bring your own packed lunch, snacks, and water, as there are no dining options along the hike. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Shivapuri National Park.

Caves and Pilgrim Rest House in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

One of the intriguing features of Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is the presence of caves and a pilgrim rest house that provide unique spots for exploration and respite for visitors.

The caves within the national park hold historical and religious significance. One such notable cave is the Nagi Gompa cave, which holds a revered place in Buddhist tradition. The cave is located near the Nagi Gompa monastery and is known for its serene and spiritual ambiance. Visitors can explore the cave and immerse themselves in the tranquility of the surroundings, making it an ideal spot for contemplation and spiritual introspection.

In addition to the caves, the park also features a pilgrim rest house, providing a place for travelers to rest and rejuvenate during their journey. The rest house offers basic amenities and a peaceful environment for hikers and pilgrims to take a break, have a meal, and connect with nature. It serves as a perfect sanctuary amid the rugged terrain, allowing visitors to recharge before continuing their exploration of the park.

These caves and the pilgrim rest house add an element of cultural and historical significance to the overall hiking experience in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. They provide a glimpse into the religious heritage and spiritual aspects of the park, offering visitors a chance to connect with the rich traditions and natural surroundings of this captivating destination.

Hiking Routes and Duration

Day Hike Options

Here are some of the popular day hike options within the park:

  1. Budhanilkantha to Nagi Monastery: This hike starts from the Budhanilkantha area and takes you to the Nagi Gompa, a Tibetan nunnery located within the national park. Along the way, you will pass through lush forests and enjoy panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley. The Nagi Gompa offers a peaceful retreat where you can observe the daily lives of the nuns and experience the serene atmosphere of the monastery.
  2. Baghdwar to Shivapuri Summit: Another popular day hike is the route from Baghdwar to the Shivapuri Summit. Baghdwar is the entrance point to the national park, and from here, you will embark on a steep climb through stone steps that lead to the summit of Shivapuri Hill. This hike offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Kathmandu Valley. On a clear day, you may even be able to see snow-capped peaks in the distance.
  3. Green Hike Jama Chwok & Tree Planting Day Tour: For those looking for a unique and eco-friendly day hike experience, the Green Hike Jama Chwok & Tree Planting Day Tour is a great option. This tour combines hiking with a tree planting activity, allowing you to contribute to the conservation efforts of the national park. Along the way, you will pass through picturesque landscapes and learn about the local flora and fauna from experienced guides.
  4. Private Shivapuri Day Hiking from Kathmandu: If you prefer a more personalized hiking experience, you can opt for a private day hike from Kathmandu. This allows you to customize your itinerary and explore the national park at your own pace. Your guide will lead you through scenic trails, pointing out interesting landmarks and sharing their knowledge about the park’s biodiversity.
  5. Swyambhunath Tour with Nagarjun Hill Day Hike: This tour combines a visit to the iconic Swyambhunath Stupa with a day hike to Nagarjun Hill. Swyambhunath is one of the most revered Buddhist sites in Nepal and offers stunning views of the Kathmandu Valley. After exploring the stupa, you will embark on a hike to Nagarjun Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views and immerse yourself in nature.

No matter which day hike option you choose, it is important to note that construction inside the national park is strictly prohibited. Additionally, there are no teahouses along the trails, so it is advisable to carry snacks, food items, and water bottles with you from the nearby shops at the park’s entry point.

2-4 Day Trek Options

These treks are suitable for both beginners and those who are short on time but still want to experience the beauty of the Nepalese countryside. Here are some of the best trekking options for a 2-4 day trip:

  1. Chisapani to Nagarkot: This trek takes you through the stunning hillsides and villages of Nepal. Starting from Chisapani, you will hike for about 6 hours a day, with an average altitude of 2,732 meters. The trek will take you through breathtaking landscapes and provide you with the opportunity to interact with the local communities along the way. After 2 days of trekking, you will reach Nagarkot, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayas.
  2. Nagarkot to Changunarayan: This trek is another great option for a 2-4 day trip. Starting from Nagarkot, you will hike for about 7 hours a day, with an average altitude of 2,175 meters. As you make your way to Changunarayan, you will pass through lush forests, terraced fields, and traditional Nepalese villages. Along the way, you will have the chance to witness the rich cultural heritage of the region, as well as enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  3. Changunarayan to Bhaktapur/Kathmandu: For those who are short on time, this trek can be completed in 3-4 hours a day, with an average altitude of 2,260 meters. Starting from Changunarayan, you will make your way to either Bhaktapur or Kathmandu, depending on your preference. This trek is a great option for those who want to experience the cultural and historical wonders of Nepal, as both Bhaktapur and Kathmandu are known for their UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Altitude Hike Options

When visiting the Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park in Nepal, there are several altitude hike options available for those seeking to explore the stunning Himalayan foothills. Whether you are a beginner hiker or an experienced trekker, these hikes offer a chance to immerse yourself in nature, witness breathtaking views, and prepare for higher elevated journeys in the future.

One popular hike is the Shivapuri Peak Loop, which takes you to the summit and descends via a gentler route. This hike offers a steep climb to the summit, allowing you to challenge yourself physically while enjoying panoramic views of the Kathmandu valley, Langtang mountain range, Mount Manaslu, and neighboring peaks. Along the way, you will also pass by the headwaters of the Bagmati River and Nagi Gomba, a Buddhist nunnery, adding cultural and spiritual significance to your hike.

For those looking for alternative routes, there are several options to choose from. The Sundarijal to Shivapuri Peak route is a popular choice, offering a scenic trail through lush forests and waterfalls. The Nagi Gumba to Shivapuri route takes you through a Tibetan nunnery, providing a unique cultural experience. The Kakani to Shivapuri Peak route offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas and is a great choice for photography enthusiasts. The Pani Muhan to Shivapuri Peak route is another option, allowing you to explore the natural beauty of the park while enjoying a refreshing swim in the natural springs.

No matter which altitude hike option you choose, it is important to be prepared and hire a guide if necessary. The national park is popular with birdwatchers, so make sure to bring your binoculars if you are interested in observing the diverse avian species that inhabit the area. Additionally, it is recommended to carry essential hiking gear and be aware of the park’s regulations and fees.

Guides and Personal Expenses

When embarking on the Shivapuri Nagarjun hike, it is highly recommended to have a professional and experienced trekking or hiking guide by your side. These guides are knowledgeable about the area, trails, and local culture, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for hikers.

The price of the hike includes the services of a professional guide who will accompany you throughout the journey. They will provide guidance, share interesting facts about the surroundings, and ensure that you stay on track. Having a guide not only enhances your overall experience but also ensures your safety in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

In addition to the guide, private transportation is provided for the convenience of hikers. A private car will transport you to the starting point of the hike and pick you up from the endpoint, allowing for a seamless journey.

When it comes to personal expenses, it is important to note that certain items are excluded from the price of the hike. Cold drinks such as Coke and beer are not included and would need to be purchased separately. It is advisable to carry some extra cash if you wish to indulge in these beverages during the hike.

Tips for the guide and driver are not included in the price and are at the discretion of the hikers. If you appreciate the services provided by your guide and driver, it is customary to offer a tip as a token of gratitude.

It is always a good idea to carry some extra cash for any other personal expenses you may have during the hike. This could include purchasing souvenirs, snacks, or any other items you may require along the way.

Overall, having a guide by your side and budgeting for personal expenses will ensure a smooth and enjoyable hike in the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. With the guidance of an experienced professional and the necessary funds for personal expenses, you can fully immerse yourself in the natural wonders, cultural richness, and spiritual significance that this hike has to offer.