If ever the phrase, "close enough to, far enough from" was applicable then without doubt it applies to the beautiful Shivapuri Hills. From downtown Kathmandu it's only around 30mins drive into the Shivapuri Hills, but essentially a world apart from Kathmandu. The forested hills and the Shivapuri National Park lie at around 2000m, so are above the Kathmandu smog and considering their proximity to Kathmandu are surprisingly overlooked by the masses. That's not a bad thing, as up here in the tranquil hills you can enjoy a much more relaxed and authentically natural environment.
Particularly if you don't fancy staying in Kathmandu, then staying up in the Shivapuri Hills and the Shivapuri National Park is a great way to avoid the hustle and bustle and soak up the peace and quiet, fresh air and do absolutely nothing if you like. You're only 45 mins from Kathmandu International Airport, so staying in the Shivapuri Hills is a relaxing way to end your Nepal holiday.
Note: To enter the National Park itself you will need to pay entry fees.
If you're staying up here (and we highly recommend that you do), located approximately 30 minutes walk from Shivapuri Heights Cottage is NAMKHA KHYUNG DZONG RIGDIN CHOLING MONASTERY. This lovely Monastery is well worth a visit and the walk itself passes through a few quaint traditional Tamang Village houses.
There are approximately 50 monks in residence. The best time to visit is around 3:00 pm since often the monks will be in prayer. With permission visitors are welcome to enter the Monastery building and sit quietly for a while to soak up the beauty and energy of the place.
The main town of Budhanilkantha is situated approximately 20-30 minutes walk from Shivapuri Heights Cottage and this is where you will find the splendid carved stone idol of the Sleeping Vishnu. Carved from a single block of black basalt stone of unknown origin, the statue measures 5 metres in length and lies in a reclining position inside a recessed tank of water. Only Hindu's can approach the statue to leave offerings but other visitors can view the statue through the fence that surrounds the sacred tank.
Considering its proximity to Kathmandu, the wildlife found in the Shivapuri National Park is astounding (see species list further below). Mammals include Common Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Jungle Cat and the Himalayan Serow.
However, Shivapuri is perhaps best known for its birds, of which 318 different species have been recorded amongst the densely forested, steep mountain slopes by ornithologists.
102 species of butterflies and 129 species of mushrooms even!
For Snow Cat Travel clients visiting Shivapuri with wildlife in mind, we can provide a specialist guide from Bird Conservancy Nepal, but you'll need your hiking boots as well as binoculars. We did mention steep mountain slopes just back there and thus on foot wildlife watching in Shivapuri is not without its physical challenges either