Shivapuri National Park, also called Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, forms the northern part of the Kathmandu valley and covers an area of 159 square kilometers. The park is located in the transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates, which can be observed in the parks typical plant life. In the forests, hikers will find many familiar trees and shrubs, such as pine, oak and rhododendron and especially notable are the countless orchids with their large blooms, which can be found everywhere along the way. Mushrooms grow here naturally and approximately 129 separate species of fungi have been counted.
Also not to be forgotten is the wildlife in the Shivapuri National Park, which includes the Himalayan black bear, Indian leopards, Indian civets, golden jackals and jungle cats. Rhesus monkeys perform their gymnastics in the treetops and their antics have been known to scare many a hiker sunken in thought. Since the national park forms a wide valley, the trails are especially popular with trekkers and mountain bikers, who can climb up to sights such as the Buddhist Nagi Gompa monastery, where about a hundred nuns live with spectacular views over the green valley slopes and the Himalayan backdrop. Visitors can go up even higher and follow the trail up to over 2,700 meters to the second highest peak of Kathmandu Valley. At the very top, the origin of the Bagmati river, one of the main sources of drinking water in the valley, flows out of the mouth of two tigers – an imposing sight.
The border of Shivapuri National Park is located about 12 kilometers from Kathmandu and it’s best to arrive there by car – either in a rented vehicle or by taxi. If you aren’t into hiking, you can even enter the park by car and drive as far up as Nagi Gompa, but only if your vehicle has a 4x4 drive. It is also possible to take the bus to Budhanilkantha and trek to the park entrance from there and quite a few people even opt to do the whole journey on a mountain bike.