Kathmandu is a buzzing city south of Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park and is surrounded by perfect countryside for hardy mountain bikers. The mountainous terrain in 35 degrees heat was a tricky mix and it certainly challenged my poor legs! Having said that, I gave this activity a good bash and can’t tell you what a feel-good day it was… so don’t listen to my moaning!
First stop at Swaymbhunath Stupa
We had a moment to get to know our bikes, checking the seat is at the right height and gears in working order. I was handed an anti-pollution mask, I thought it was a I looked bad-ass on my bike but apparently Kathmandu has ranked 5th in Pollution Index 2017 so you’ll find them common place in the capital city.
Heading through the city towards Swaymbhunath Stupa, also known as Monkey Temple, we followed single file and I was surprised at how we weaved our way through across lanes of busy traffic without any issues. We were greeted with 365 steep stone steps to reach the top, no rest for these legs today, however, we were rewarded with tremendous panoramic views of Kathmandu.
The Swaymbhunath Stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises (Swayambhu literally means “self-existent one”). As we walked around the temple we were faced with a few hundred monkeys on the ground, we took pictures and admired how cute they were, some were carrying babies, some cleaning each other. Then two bigger monkeys came and they all seemed to group off, there was a stand-off happening and we were caught in the middle. Time to exit we thought but the monkeys ran in the same direction, this was a little frightening as a couple of the monkeys scratched two people in our group on the legs which led to Rabies injections at the local hospital that evening!
Cycling in Kathmandu Valley
The cycling was not too steep to start with then it began, I had to cycle with all my might to beat these ascents. Stopping to admire the stunning views secretly gave me chance to rest for a moment. We cycled by local farms, workers busy in the rice fields and general village life.
Our lunch stop at Bhimdhungga looking down over the city was just beautiful, the leg work was very much worth it. Getting in the shade was much needed, that sun was certainly helping bring on the sweaty red-faced look. Home-cooked Nepalese momos (stuffed dumplings) were delicious, followed by a huge plate of noodles and rice was bringing on a food coma.
Downhill to Thamel
I was loving the downhill trails, many school buses were driving past and the school children were walking past holding hands or waving at us. There were lots of strange items being carried or wheeled along holding up the traffic, all part of the experience. We reached our final turn off the main busy street, this was a head-scratcher as to how we interrupt the traffic to cross the road, it seems if you just start moving then the cars and motorbikes will stop for you… phew! We did our final weave through the back streets to complete our 23km mountain bike adventure. Bravo team!
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>> Trip organised by Trekkup
Don’t forget your travel insurance
Especially if you’re getting involved in real adventure sports, make travel insurance a priority! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.