Hiking Phulchoki Hill
Visitors to the vibrant city of Kathmandu can enjoy a refreshing encounter with tranquility in the forest of Phulchoki hill which is home to more than 90 recorded bird species, including Nepal’s only known endemic species, the Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis), as well as masses of colorful butterflies. Depending on the time of year, a variety of rhododendron species add splashes of color in shades ranging from pure white through to deep red, and patches of bamboo provide greenery all year around. At the summit, views of the valley and mountains are spectacular and the shrine to the Goddess Phulchoki, surrounded by streams of fluttering prayer flags, adds an authentic touch of culture to the natural beauty of the area.
Phulchoki Mountain Forest is listed as one of Nepal’s Important Bird Areas by Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN). Bird watching enthusiasts will particularly enjoy Phulchoki in March, April and October, as thousands of migratory birds are either arriving or departing. Species that hikers can look out for include the Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, Dark-throated Thrush, Rufous-bellied and Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Red-flanked Bluetail, Rufous Sibia, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, White-browed Fulvetta, Green-tailed Sunbird, Himalayan Cutia, Blue-winged Minla, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, White-browed Bush-robin, Grey-winged Blackbird, White-collared Blackbird, Buff-barred Warblers and Black-faced Warblers, to mention a few.
At about 9200 feet (2804 meters) Phulchoki is the highest peak in Kathmandu Valley, but the long and winding trail to its peak is considered manageable for hikers of reasonable fitness. To fully appreciate the area it is suggested hikers set aside at least four hours to reach the top of Phulchoki, allowing for stops along the way. The return walk takes about half to time of the upward trek. Hikers should take sufficient water and snacks along with them as there are no facilities along the nature reserve’s trail. Be sure to include some time at the Godavari Botanical Garden located at the foot of Phulchoki Hill.