Most visitors go gaga over the lovely scenery around Kathmandu Valley, and their appreciation becomes all the more pronounced when traveling to Nagarkot (2,100 m), and spending a night or two there. Nagarkot is a mere 32-km east of the capital. As the road starts climbing from Bhaktapur, you’ll surely be in for a thrilling ride. It’s a lovely drive through verdant hillside forests, but it can also be a bit scary at times, especially when a bus is coming your way, hogging most of the narrow road. Still, all said and done, you’ll likely be exclaiming, “This is it. This is what I came to Nepal for!” You might well come back with the fond wish that you could have a personal retreat there, so wonderful are the surroundings.
On reaching Nagarkot, you are assured of spectacular panoramic views of majestic ice-capped Himalayan peaks. There are many attractive resorts, some of them located on hilltops, their backdrops being rolling hills that change color with the distance. Nagarkot gets a lot of visitors every day because of its proximity to Bhaktapur and Kathmandu, and also because of the many amenities available there. In case you are the sort looking for a more secluded retreat, you could go hiking on fine isolated trails that will take you across quiet villages where you’ll meet simple village folk going about the same everyday tasks as they have done for ages. In other words, you’ll find the lifestyle pretty laidback, and perhaps that should be to your liking.
You have the option of choosing from quite a few back tracks around Nagarkot, all of which give you the opportunity to experience rural life up close. For example, one trail takes you to a place called Telkot, a matter of a few kilometers only, but you’ll be surprised at how different it is from the touristy Nagarkot. From tranquil Telkot, you can walk to the nearby dam, or to Changunarayan village, which is some distance further. There’s a lookout point in Telkot from where the views are, of course, just splendid. The sunset from here, the gradual fading of colors in the sky from orange to blue, is a special treat. Far below, dark green pines and brown terracotta homes mesh together in an artistic tapestry. Another pleasant trek, the one going to the Muhan waterfalls, should take one hour or so. The trail goes up and down steep slopes and through lovely forests. On the way you’ll come across some nice picnic spots, meaning, you can hike at your own pace, taking as many breaks as you want to enjoy the beautiful country scenery.
Hiking is no doubt the most popular way to explore the countryside, but you can also go mountain biking, since the trails make for excellent biking tracks. When driving up to Nagarkot, you’ll probably come across some mountain-biking enthusiasts making their way uphill to Nagarkot from Kathmandu (4-5 hours). Such bikers often ride along the back trails around Nagarkot to secluded villages and return via stone-back roads to Kathmandu. Oh yes, Nagarkot has plenty to keep you refreshingly occupied for a few days, and there’s always those lovely resorts to relax in between all the hiking and the biking. Stay a night or two, because you don’t want to miss the sunrise, the early morning sky changing its hues from black to purple to different shades of red and orange behind the magnificent Himalayan peaks. It’s something else altogether!