Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hiking matters #288: Mt. Shivapuri (शिवपुरी), the highest peak around Kathmandu Valley, Nepal


KATHMANDU, NEPAL - Today, our first full day in Nepal, we climbed Mt. Shivapuri (शिवपुरी), the 2,732-meter peak perched at the rim surrounding Kathmandu Valley - one of the highest in the area. The trek involved gaining 1000m in altitude and walking for a total of 24 kilometers: 12 up, 12 down. September in Nepal is not hiking season, owing to the unfavorable weather conditions, but we still managed to have a great climb!

From our hotel in Thamel, Kathmandu, we headed north to Panimuhan, 12 kilometers away, and we started trekking at the Shivapuri-Nagarjun N.P. Headquarters. A young guide named Chuda accompanied us - he is an experienced mountain guide who has joined treks up to 7000 MASL. Later on, we would ask him to tell of his experiences in high-altitude hikes.

It was immediately forested, while the initial trail - a rough road - instantly reminded us of Mt. Tapulao. After an hour, however, we left the rough road for a footpath that took us through a beautiful forest. Some challenges we faced: Because the footpath was partly cemented, it was quite slippery. Moreover, there were limatik, just like in the Philippines! Finally, there were annoying ghats and other insects that incessantly orbited our heads like the moons of Jupiter.

The assault was continuous, and eventually we reached a couple of flat areas, one of which our guide claimed was the end of the Shivapuri trek! But since my altimeter just showed it to be around 2400 MASL, we refused to believe him, and insisted that we want to reach the summit. He eventually relented, and led us to a smaller trail that went up the mountains. Even though there were no views of the Himalayas at the top, it was still very rewarding for us because of the enchanting rhododendron forest!

On the way down, we decided to take another trail - the Nagi Gomba Trail. Six kilometers from the peak, we reached the Tibetean Buddhist monastery called Nagi Gomba, made beautiful to us by the colorful Buddhist flags that heralded its proximity.

We noticed that there were several foreigners staying there, perhaps to share in the tranquility of the place. By this time, the weather has greatly improved, and we had a great view of Kathmandu Valley!

By 1600H, we were back at the trailhead, but because our vehicle has not yet arrived, we walked down for a couple of kilometers to see the slice of Nepali village life. Altogether, it was a great dayhike, a nice adventure to start off this ongoing Himalayan hiking trip!

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