Add Extra Spice to Your Trip to Kathmandu with these Off-the-Beaten-Track Adventures
Let’s be honest – Kathmandu isn’t the first name that springs to most people’s minds when planning a trip with the kids. A history of political instability and a reputation for pollution and chaotic streets means many families leave it off their Asian itineraries, but families that do make the trip will find a whole host of family friendly adventures, and that sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’ve ventured where relatively few family travelers have gone before. This ‘City of the Gods’ is home to magnificent temples, deep shrine-filled valleys, and some of the most colorful street life anywhere on the planet – (think monkeys and bovine beasts jostling for space with pedestrians in bright religious robes).
Families in Kathmandu are unlikely to find themselves battling to escape the tourist masses, but escaping the thick pollution and the congested streets is more likely to be a concern. Luckily, fresh air is never far away – families can expect to spend time hiking and getting to grips with nature, without straying far from the city.
Spend a Day on a Farm
Kathmandu is better known for its chaos and congestion than its fertile farmlands, but families in the city need only delve a little deeper than street level to find that some enterprising locals are indeed raising vegetable as well as livestock at various semi-rural spots. Some companies such as Backstreet Academy arrange trips to urban farms, where families can spend the day learning how to work the land and see how a self-sustaining vegetable farm can work in a big city, and older children can even enjoy collecting eggs and milking cows. It’s hard work, but one which should work up an appetite to enjoy a meal made with freshly-picked produce. It’s not your average day in the big city, which is part of the appeal, and families prepared to put in the work will learn a great deal about traditional Nepalese farming methods.
Check out a Hermit’s Art Collection
Of all the off-the-wall things to do in and around Kathmandu, visiting the home and art studio of a self-declared hermit could perhaps be top of the list. At the Hermitage – an artist’s cottage set in grand gardens some 6km from the city at Pasang Lhamu Road in Bouddha – Manju Babu Mishra welcomes curious visitors. Those who make the trip can can admire his many very distinctive artworks and stroll around impressive gardens filled with fruit trees and sculptures. He may not choose to venture out himself, but the self declared hermit does enjoy welcoming visitors to his home, and waxing lyrical on his favorite subjects – art and literature. That might not sound like the most alluring prospect for kids, but a quick peek around the garden – and the novelty of the whole thing – should pique inquisitive children’s imaginations.
Take a Hike
There’s no question about it, the air pollution in Kathmandu is an issue. The air quality ranks among the worst in the world (anti-pollution masks are advisable), and families are likely to find themselves literally gasping for some fresh air. Handy, then, that some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable surrounds the city on all sides, and taking a hike or jumping on a bike is a family-friendly way to explore it. It’s rare to see many other walkers even on well-known routes such as the Chisapani hike and Nagarjun hike, and the sunsets over the horizon are truly magical. Perhaps most stunning of all is the hill station of Nagarkot, which sits at 2300 feet above the Kathmandu Valley, and where the snow-topped mountains make a particularly picturesque backdrop to hikes and nature walks – the trekking route around the town takes some three hours, taking in traditional mud hut villages, bright wild flowers and dense forests. There are guided walks available, but experienced walkers will find it easy to navigate the trails by themselves. About one hour’s bumpy drive Northeast of Kathmandu, it’s possible to see Nagarkot as a day trip, but with plenty of inexpensive places to stay, it’s worth making it into a short side trip to make the most of the mountain air and fresh breezes.
Don’t Miss this Fried Ice Cream
OK, so this is no hidden gem, and it’s not going to win any healthy eating awards, but kids and their parents need a sweet treat sometimes, and the fried ice cream rolls at FunKey Delights rally deliver the goods. Stirred, fried and cooled ice cream is served up in all manner of drool-inducing combinations, many of which feature chocolate in diverse and abundant forms – anyone for the signature fried ice cream roll, featuring chocolate cookies, chocolate syrup, chocolate itself, and chocolate pie. Yes, it’s darned chocolatey. Fruit puts in an occasional appearance, should parents need to convince themselves that there is a health element to be gleaned from a visit to this calorie-laden cafe, and kids can even set to work making their own ice creams to be devoured in seconds.