10.5 mile hike. Six hours. Nagarkot to Nala. Miles and miles of terraced farmland.
The weather was pleasant and my guide and I took off at 8:30am to start the hike from Nagarkot, a city 32 km east of Kathmandu with an elevation over 13,700 feet, to Nala, a village so tiny, I don’t think it registers on a map.
Because of Nagarkot’s elevation it has one of the best views of the mountains and the valleys, and even though the mountains weren’t visible during my stay, I have to agree that the view was spectacular.
As I’ve said before, I am not an outdoorsy type of person. The longest hike I’ve ever done before this was an eleven mile hike when I was twelve or thirteen and only because my friend incessantly persuaded me. We were camping with her family and church group and we had a choice between a three mile easy hike or an eleven mile one. All the grandmas took the three mile one and when my friend pointed this out, I reluctantly agreed to do the eleven mile one with all the “younger kids”. I was sore for five days afterwards. Given how “successfully” that trek turned out, I was a bit apprehensive about taking on another long hike but I was in Nepal and isn’t that what people do when they come to Nepal? I decided to suck it up because I didn’t have a choice to bail this time; our driver left after he dropped us off in Nagarkot the day prior and was planning to meet us in Nala.
I am so glad I didn’t bail.
Not only did I see some of the most stunning views of my life over the next six hours, but I can also knock off #9 on this list, too. We would hike for a little bit, turn a corner, and be rewarded with increasingly better views of the valley. There were so many moments when I looked out and thought how marvelously beautiful this place is. I wish I could bottle up its beauty and take a whiff of it every time I wanted to be in a happy place!
As a bonus, the trek also brought us through rural villages I’d otherwise never see. The people in these villages are self-sustaining. They grow their own food and only go to a market place to buy clothes or spices. Every family has a cow (for milk), goats (for meat), chickens (for eggs and meat), a cat (to catch rats), and maybe even a dog; Nepalis actually don’t really have pets for fun the way we do at home so every animal they have has a purpose.
Since they live on the side of a mountain, they hike up and down the mountain all day long and often carrying huge loads in the baskets on their back.
At one point, I was hiking downhill and a local man was hiking uphill with two goats. After I passed him, I turned around to look at the goats and I noticed that the goat in the front was peeing while the one in the back was drinking it! Uh, gross. This must be why goats faint! My guide must have seen the disgusted look on my face because he explained that that’s how male goats know if the female goat is ready to reproduce. It’s not like goats can converse with each other so they don’t have any other way to communicate. Interesting…well, there’s something I wasn’t planning on learning in Nepal!
The villagers were all extremely friendly. My favorite was this little school girl I saw early on in the day. She was walking alone so I said “Namaste” (it’s their standard greeting although the translation is, “I greet the divine one in you”) to her. She stopped in her tracks, looked up at me, and said “Namaste” back in the most adorable way. So cute!
I have a weakness for anything “cute”. Like this calf I saw.
After cooing at the calf for 10 minutes, the villager noticed how in love I was with it and said he would give me the calf. Heck yea – Mr. T, get ready, I got us a calf! Just kidding. He made the offer, but I politely declined since I’m not sure how it’d fit in my luggage for the next 10 countries. But the offer was still nice.
As we made our way down to the valley floor, we also passed by some interesting plants en route. This just grows along the side of houses and rivers banks here!
The villagers may be poor but they could really make a killing exporting this or even just selling it to weary travelers (ahem, Amsterdam). 😉
Six hours later we finally made it to Nala, which has only one dirt path through the village, clothes swinging clothing lines, chickens running around, and people sitting outside on the street either hanging out (mostly the men, of course) or cleaning vegetables (duh, the women). They all looked at me with curious eyes as I walked by. I don’t think they get outsiders often.
For the record, not all the men hang out and do nothing all day even though whenever I see anyone hanging out it is always men. Here’s one who breaks the mold.
Although the best part of the day was the views and the unplanned interactions with random villagers (oh, and playing with the cute calf!), I was so proud I made it through all 10.5 miles with energy to spare! And the next day, I wasn’t even sore. I love moments like this when you take on a challenge and realize you were actually a lot tougher than you thought. Or in my case, I was in better shape than I thought. I might just sign up for another hike now!