“Close enough to, but far enough from” may be an old cliche, but it is more applicable than ever here in the secluded hills of the Shivapuri National Park. Located on a densely wooded hillside that forms the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, it’s the ideal “get away from it all” place to stay and visit if you’ve had enough of the chaos of Kathmandu.
Kathmandu may well be colourful, vibrant and fascinating. A seething mass of humanity akin to Glastonbury gone mad with ornate temples, sacred Buddhist Stupa’s, plus more bars, restaurants and shops than you could ever possibly want or need. There’s no doubt that Kathmandu is a buzzing sort of place and certainly if it’s your first time in Nepal you have to see and experience it.
But, Kathmandu does have its drawbacks too. The air pollution is choking and the noise, impossible to fathom out traffic and more can and does get on your nerves for a while.
In other words, the novelty of Kathmandu can wear off and if you’ve just been trekking somewhere nice and remote in the Himalayas, now that you’ve gotten used to peace and quiet, well……the thought of having to go back to the mania of Kathmandu can give you the heebeegeebees.
After all, it’s the only International Airport in Nepal, so it’s more than likely you’re leaving by air and naturally need to be relatively close by the airport.
So, being less than an hour from the airport is the trump card of the Shivapuri Hills. Even if you feel the need to “pop into town” to do some last minute souvenir shopping you can still do that too and enjoy some relaxation time in the Shivapuri Hills too.
An escape from Kathmandu has never been easier.
Then again, if you do make just a little effort to explore and discover the Shivapuri Hills, you may not want to leave at all. It’s a mere 12km from touristy Thamel, but it’s a world apart.
It is peaceful, very peaceful. In fact enjoying a stroll along one of the many trails in the Shivapuri Hills, whilst enjoying expansive views across the Kathmandu Valley and the seething city far below you may appreciate the words of a wise man who once said, “ up here in the hills everything makes perfect sense, it’s down below that makes no sense at all”.
There’s a definite “off the beaten track” sensation too, even if the city is so close by. Few tourists bother to venture here, perhaps the lure of Thamels bars and shops is too great, or perhaps they just don’t know about the Shivapuri Hills.
You can quite easily lose yourself and enter the world of nature here. Countless colourful birds call the dense, sub-tropical forests of the Shivapuri Hills home. There are deer, monkeys, jungle cats and even the odd bear and leopard.
There’s traditional Nepal to discover too. Tiny villages, paddy fields carved into the hillside, hidden temples and secret monasteries….and views…..breath taking views. A wonderful insight into authentic Newari rural village life.
Yes, you can certainly forgive yourself for feeling smug up here. Kathmandu is just “there”, but could be a million miles away.
But, don’t just make your escape from crazy Kathmandu a day affair. You’d be crazy to go back amongst the mayhem. Oh no….stay here too.
Our friend Steve has the perfect, exclusive retreat. The wonderful Shivapuri Heights Cottages. Traditional, elegant and with a subtle hint of decadence, you can stay in the Shivapuri Hills in intimate comfort. The fragrant gardens are the perfect place to enjoy a nice, cold beer in the evening warmth whilst gazing down on the Kathmandu Valley after a tasty dinner…..peace, perfect peace.
If you can’t keep still, then Steve’s wife, Neeru, can provide informal cooking classes and you’d be surprised to learn that there is so much more to Nepali cuisine than Dal Bhat.
If a nature stroll hasn’t set your chill out factor low enough, then an Ayurvedic massage therapist can be called upon to ensure you get on your plane home as laid back as possible.
You’ll certainly have breathed in a lot less of the dust and air pollution of Kathmandu up here too.
All of this makes the Shivapuri Hills and the Shivapuri Heights Cottages the sensible choice for the discerning traveller.
Don’t make the same mistake as the many thousands of others who spend their last night in Nepal wrestling their way through the Kathmandu cacaphonous crowds.
Relax, chill out and enjoy!
Images by David Bristow and Shivapuri Heights Cottages