How the hike progresses with great strides
Bhagirathi Karki runs a small restaurant near Shivapuri National Park. She is pleasantly surprised by the increase in traffic to her shop lately.
“I’m earning in two weeks what I was earning about a month earlier,” Karki said. “Since the pandemic subsided and restrictions were lifted, my business has picked up.”
His new clients are those who come for morning hikes in the national park.
Shivapuri National Park, located in the northern part of Kathmandu, has recently become a popular hiking destination for Kathmandu residents.
As pandemic-induced restrictions saw public places, including gyms, closed, those trying to stay in shape found solace on the trails around the Kathmandu Valley. Hiking became a new fad not only for fitness enthusiasts, but also for those looking for time in peace or those who wanted to spend time with friends and families outdoors.
Antim Rokaya and Preeti Kafle, both in their mid-20s, say the city’s hubbub, claustrophobic crowding and need for fresh air drove them to hike.
“I find hiking a better way to spend our free time,” Kafle said. “There’s no escaping the Kathmandu cityscape except when you’re on a trail.”
Over the past two years, popular hiking trails – Shivapuri National Park, Amitabha Monastery, Kakani, Phulchowki, Nagarkot, Sundarijal, Champadevi and Chisapani, among others – in and around the valley have seen an increase in frequentation of hikers. in nature.
Most Covid restrictions have now been lifted, but the threat of another wave of the pandemic lingers in the air, with various states in neighboring India reporting a fresh spike in cases.
“In such a scenario, it would be unwise to resume physical contact with people. It’s uncomfortable,” Rokaya said. “So the only other option to be in the open is to hike.”
Kathmandu, the capital and the most populous city in the country, offers the best amenities, whether cinemas, pubs, bars or gymnasiums, apart from schools and colleges. But the city is one of the most polluted in the world, with experts repeatedly warning against jogging in the urban area in the morning.
Experts say the air quality around the green-covered paths is much better than in the urban area.
Archana Shrestha, a schoolteacher and regular hiker, says she used to hike in the Shivapuri National Park area and along the Sundarijal Trail earlier too. But she became a regular hiker after the pandemic.
Shivapuri National Park covers an area of 118 square kilometers and over the years has become a major hiking destination for locals and tourists.
“I go hiking to get away from the noise of the city. Hiking is an escape for me,” the 24-year-old said. “Two years ago, I didn’t pass a single person on the Shivapuri hiking trail, but these days I come across dozens.”
According to data from Shivapuri National Park, nearly 2,000 tourists visit the park during weekends. “Most of them come hiking. The number of hikers has increased in recent years,” said Manjit Bista, a park ranger.
Activity of medium difficulty, the hike progresses to such an extent that almost everyone seems to climb the small paths of the Valley.
Romkanta Pokhrel, in her late 40s, says she has hiked almost all the hiking trails in and around the Kathmandu Valley.
“Since the pandemic, several people around me have approached me with questions about the hiking trails,” Pokhrel, a doctoral student and teacher, told the Post. “Hiking is good physical activity, but it’s also good for the mind. Hiking brings us closer to nature.
Nepal has always been famous for its trekking activities. Thousands of tourists visit the country every year for mountain treks, the most popular being Annapurna Base Camp. These mountain hikes, however, last for weeks and require good preparation.
But the hike is all about walking small trails for a few hours, hikers say.
According to Prakash KC, fitness trainer and nutrition consultant, hiking is good for your health in many ways, especially for people who don’t want to lift heavy weights or don’t like indoor workouts.
“Walking for a few hours boosts endurance and conditions muscles,” KC said.
Doctors, however, say that although hiking can have its own health benefits, there are certain aspects that need to be considered before undertaking the activity and that people should not just hike the trails because everyone the fact.
According to Dr. Rakesh Shrestha, a physiotherapist at Annapurna Neuro Hospital, people with health conditions should consult their doctor before hiking.
“Since it’s all about walking the trails, some might suffer from altitude sickness or have difficulty breathing,” Shrestha said. “If a person has no health problems and the body can adapt quickly to the new environment, one can go there because it can bring huge health benefits.”
He said he has come across incidents of people collapsing while hiking. “There are pros and cons in everything,” he added.
Although the health aspect, as suggested by the doctors, is a problem with the hike, the increase in traffic around the valley trails has created another problem.
Pokhrel, the avid hiker, says on his recent hike on the Amitabh Monastery Trail, northwest of Swayambhu, he was shocked to see the rubbish strewn around the trail.
Shivapuri National Park officials also say that with the increase in hikers, the trails are littered with plastic bottles and food wrappers.
“Although we have very strict rules on waste disposal inside the park with penalties in place for irresponsible hikers, we still come across plastic bottles, wrappers, masks and litter of paper littering inside the park,” said Bista, the park ranger.
Laxman Poudel, the park’s conservation officer, said irresponsible garbage disposal inside the national park also puts wildlife at risk.
“A few months ago, I found beer bottles, tin cans, cigarette butts and plastic waste in the national park. If animals in the conservation area consume such waste, it could be fatal to them,” Poudel said.
“Most of the hikers who come here are young people and they usually come in groups. They carry their own food and snacks, and while they should take their trash with them, most don’t.