Nepal on Foot – Day 3: From The Nagarkot Himalayan Panoramic Trail to Thamel

Nepal on Foot – Day 3: From The Nagarkot Himalayan Panoramic Trail to Thamel

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Nepal on Foot from Kindred on Vimeo.


Overview: 8 days in Nepal

Our flights, itineraries, and hikes were all D-I-Y and based mostly on first-hand experience, online research, and inquiries. As a way of giving back and adding to the resource pool, here are itemized per-day blog posts that I’m hoping future Nepal hikers will find helpful.

  1. Summary
  2. Day 1: From Tribhuvan Airport to Bhaktapur
  3. Day 2: From Bhaktapur to Nagarkot
  4. Currently reading: Day 3: From Nagarkot to Thamel, and the Nagarkot Panoramic Hike
  5. Day 4: From Thamel to Pokhara, from Pokhara to Deurali Himalayan Resort (coming UP)
  6. Day 5: The Annapurnas: Phedi – Dhampus Village – Australian Camp Hike (coming soon)
  7. Day 6: The Annapurnas: Australian Camp – Kande Hike, From Kande to Pokhara Lakeside (coming soon)
  8. Day 7: From Pokhara to Patan, Kathmandu (coming soon)
  9. Day 8: Patan, Kathmandu to Bangkok, Thailand (coming soon)


The 1 1/2-hour hike was a nice breather before going to the frantic district of Thamel, where we would take a bus to Pokhara the next day. A GPX file of the hike route can be viewed and downloaded at EveryTrail.

  • 8:30 am – Breakfast
  • 9:30 am – Start of hike at Hotel at the End of the Universe with our hired guide, Dil
  • 11:00 am – Tea break at Nagarkot Bus Park, end of hike
  • 12:00 pm – Back at Hotel at the End of the Universe, checked out
  • 1:00 pm – Special lunch at Peaceful Cottage and free time
  • 3:00 pm – Departed Nagarkot. Started drive to Thamel with Oasis
  • 4:30 pm – Arrived in Thamel. Checked in at Kathmandu Home Hotel. Freshened up.
  • 6:00 pm – Dinner at Roadhouse Cafe in Thamel
  • 8:00 pm – Desserts at Kaiser Cafe (in Garden of Dreams)
  • 9:00 pm – Free time in Garden of Dreams
  • 10:00 pm – Back in Kathmandu Home Hotel

See footnote for detailed expenses.



Retrospective (I promise this is related to the hike!)


Nagarkot – I remember standing in front of the Himalayas for the first time in 2013. I had just turned 27, and had ended a 7-year relationship the same year. I was in awe of the view, completely disregarding for a minute everything or anyone that wasn’t in front of me. Whatever was ahead of me was the only thing that mattered: a glorious mountain range that stretched on to the edges of my imagination. That moment gave me clarity. That moment would anchor me for the years that followed.

Maybe it was the alpenglow beauty and the fixation it brings. I had been looking at the mountains for what could have been an hour but hardly noticed time passing. It certainly helped getting some focus and a certain part of myself back, as cheesy as that might sound to regular ears. The Himalayas were therapeutic to look at to say the least.

I wouldn’t go ahead and say I took the worst hit from the break-up, but I hadn’t fully forgiven myself then either. There was no series of fights that gave birth to the break-up. Nothing like that. It was a calm moment that needed to happen: I wasn’t at my happiest in the relationship any more; he accepted it eventually. We ended in peaceful terms. Still, the burden of ending the relationship and causing someone’s unhappiness was on me.

When you’ve been with a person for 7 years and lived with him for half of that and you decide to part ways, there’s just so much that goes away. I began to question my own happiness, my choices. But I also knew that I knew the answers to those questions. First, I had to forgive myself and accept the consequences of my choices. Second, I had to get comfortable with being myself and being by myself.

So, in short, I went alone to a far away place and looked at mountains. It healed me. I’ve gone on multiple birthday trips alone, but this one was particularly when I felt most alone, but also in many ways the best. Months passed before I could say I’ve recovered a 100%. The choices I made brought me the person I am with now, and for that I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t see going through the years ahead with any another person.

Fast forward to 2015. I swore (to myself) to bring Justin with me the next time I returned to Nepal. I promised the country – if it even takes any promises – that we’d go hiking. Justin loves the outdoors probably more than I do. We had been together for 2 years in December of 2015, so we decided to celebrate it with a hike.

Itinerary: The Nagarkot Himalayan Panoramic Trail Hike


We planned 2 hikes: Nagarkot Himayalan Panoramic Hike being the first. We had pre-booked and locked down the hiking guide fees via email with Kyarol Dhoju of Peaceful Cottage before arriving in Nepal. We had no idea which trail at first, but we specifically wanted mountain views. The Panoramic Trail was Kyarol’s best suggestion.


Nagarkot Panoramic Trail at
Nagarkot Panoramic Trail at
  • 9:30 am. After breakfast, Dil (our guide), Justin and I began our hike along the Nagarkot Highway.
Concrete roads at the start of the trail
  • 9:50 am. Went off road and started descent along an established, albeit narrow dirt trail. We passed by high school students in uniform on their way to school.


  • 10:00 am. We now saw where the Panoramic Hike got its name. 30 minutes into the hike, we stopped to take pictures of this glorious view.
The Himalayas, 30 minutes into the hike.
  • 10:15 am. More marked trail, houses, farm yards, terraces followed. Livestock could be seen anywhere.
More marked trail, houses, farm yards, terraces followed
  • 10:45 am. Back on the road again.
A bus roaring by with merry passengers. Dil said they were on the way to a wedding party.
  • 11:00 am. Reached Nagarkot Town proper where the hike would end. Our last stop was the Bus Stop view point.
Bus park view point. Photo by Justin.
  • 11:15 am. Snacks and tea time before officially ending the hike.
Buffalo milk tea
  • 11:30 am. Back at the hotel.


If you are interested to see more of the trail, check out the slideshow below:


Photo with our hired guide, Dil. He works for Peaceful Cottage


A visit to Peaceful Cottage (no cafe du mont)


We began our day not with breakfast or the hike, but with a visit to the currently under renovation Peaceful Cottage and cafe du mont. Being next door to our hotel (Hotel at the End of the Universe), there was no excuse not to visit my favorite hotel in the world and its Himalayan-view roofdeck.

The hotel’s new building right across is accepting guests again but the old building where the roofdeck is located was closed to the public. I had previously asked the hotel manager for permission to check out the roofdeck, but since he wasn’t there at the time, we carefully proceeded our way up to see the old building (or what’s left of it).

No one got hurt in the incident but the damage is catastrophic. The renovation workers expect 2-3 more months of work.

We got our first, clearest glimpse of the Himalayas.


Me! At Peaceful Cottage. Photo by Justin


Wrapping up in Nagarkot


With the hike done, we were ready to part ways with Nagarkot and start an hour drive to Kathmandu. This charming hill town, small as it might, has so much left to offer. The views from the hotel became even clearer just as we were getting ready to leave! What a way to keep us longer a bit.



The 30 KM ride from Nagarkot to Thamel cost us 4000 Nrs – the most we’ve paid for transportation for this trip. I could confidently say this is the best rate you could get for a private car service in December 2015.


Oasis offered to drive us himself. He seemed very interested in experiencing the Philippines’ tropical weather so we made sure to fill him in with insider tips during the long ride.


Lodging: Kathmandu Home Hotel


We haven't looked at ourselves in a full mirror in days! At Kathmandu Home Hotel's lounge
We haven’t looked at ourselves in a full mirror in days! At Kathmandu Home Hotel’s lounge


KHH is at most 5 minutes away from the tourist bus park along Kanti Path (street). We were bound for Pokhara at 7 am the next day (which was a Tuesday), which makes KHH just the perfect 12-hour transit hotel. KHH is nestled in an area swarming with tourist transit hotels that offer basic bed & breakfast needs. As soon as we arrived, I informed KHH’s receptionist about our early check-out plans. He seemed to know the drill, even offering to pack our breakfast for two to go.


Where is the Kanti Path bus park? There’s no actual terminal. Everyday at 6 am Kanti Path is lined up with tourist buses going to Chitwan, Pokhara, and other points of interest. About 15 buses lined up in a street is not hard to miss. Buses dispatch at 7 am.


What’s in Thamel


  • Expect hotels to have tourist basics such as wi-fi, hot shower, elevators (some), bus and flight ticket booking support, and 24-hour (or so) reception service. They are used to tourists coming and going.
  • Facilities more modern than Patan or Bhaktapur
  • More bars and restaurants here than anywhere, hence noisier.
  • Souvenirs: you could generally get keepsakes here cheaper than anywhere, bargaining skills notwithstanding. Semi-pro tip: buy in bulk so you could bargain better, and in one shop that has it all.
  • Gear: If in case of an emergency you would need to buy gear for your hike or next activity — extra batteries, shoes, plane tickets — do not think twice to buy it here or regret not finding it in, say, Pokhara or Nagarkot.


Around Thamel: Roadhouse Cafe, Garden of Dreams, and Kaiser Cafe


TNF 100 Kathmandu 2016/2073 race poster at TNF Kathmandu.
TNF 100 Kathmandu 2016/2073 race poster at TNF Kathmandu.

While the Gregorian year is widely used, Nepal follows its own calendar system, Bikram Samvat, with its own new year’s day. 2015-2016 is 2072-2073 in Newari years.

We popped open Foursquare for dinner place suggestions and found Roadhouse Cafe at #1: a casual fusion restaurant with lots of positive reviews. It’s a place you’d bring friends to for dinner and pre-game drinks. People were dressed but not to the nines.

You just know you’re back in the city when they serve you drinks in a fancy mug :))


Kaiser Cafe was fancier; apt for dinner dates, special celebrations, meetings or intimate catching up. We saw more foreigners than locals. Because it is set inside a garden, I would imagine the mood would feel lighter in daylight.



You have to pay the Garden of Dreams entrance fee of 200 Nrs (foreigner rate) to
access Kaiser Cafe.


We wandered out into the dark, plush gardens. Just the two of us :) Photo by Justin.
We wandered out in the plush gardens. Just the two of us 🙂 Photo by Justin.


Garden of Dreams was an unexpected change of scenery for us, but something we still thoroughly enjoyed. It was outdoors but not as down to earth as the other places we’ve visited so far. The venue obviously had an image to preserve, kept perfectly lawned and even at night you could tell it was squeaky clean. Read the story behind Garden of Dreams here.






I highly recommend the Nagarkot Panoramic Trail hike for anyone looking for light hiking. The trail does not require and is not covered by the ACAP or TIMS permit. Be sure to practice responsible hiking by informing your friends or relatives (or your hotel desk) of your hiking plans. First timers should get a guide. There is a tourist center in Nagarkot where you can get all the info you need.

Hiking trails are continuously developed and documented. Photo by Justin.
Hiking trails are actively developed and documented. Photo by Justin.
Nagarkot tourist center
Nagarkot tourist center

Temples aside, one full night in Thamel is enough if all you want to do is feel Nepal’s capital city’s night vibe. About 6 hours in Thamel is enough to get dinner and drinks, walk around, do a little shopping, or catch an event or concert if you’ve got the energy for it.

Off to Pokhara the next morning !


Coming up: Day 4: From Thamel to Pokhara, from Pokhara to Deurali Himalayan Resort




Now on to our expenses:



      • 4000 Nrs. Car hire to Thamel c/o Oasis.



      • 2000 Nrs. Kathmandu Home Hotel (Thamel, Kathmandu). Standard Room with hot shower, fridge, T.V. With 2 x free toast, hard-boiled egg, and juice for breakfast. Pre-booked via Agoda.


Food & Drinks

  • 1500 Nrs. 2 x Hotel at the End of the Universe toast, omelette, and hot tea for breakfast.
  • 200 Nrs. Snacks at Nagarkot Bus Park. 3 x buffalo milk tea and sel roti.
  • 900 Nrs. Lunch at Peaceful Cottage. 2 x Nepali meal (chicken curry) and water.
  • 2000 Nrs. Dinner at Roadhouse Cafe. Brick-oven cheese pizza, chicken kebab, appetizers, shake, and iced tea. (Was really good!)
  • 700 Nrs. Desserts at Kaiser Cafe. 2 x Masala tea, minus tip.


Tourist Fees

      • 1500 Nrs. Guide fee for Dil for the Nagarkot Panoramic Trail Hike, minus tip
      • No hiking fees or permits needed for the Panoramic trail. It is not covered by the ACAP or TIMS permit.
      • 400 Nrs. 2 x entrance fees (foreigner rate) to Garden of Dreams.




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