This website just received an enquiry from someone coming to live in Kathmandu. The essence of the question was this:

“Having heard about Kathmandu’s pollution problem, I’m really keen to find out a bit more about how easy it is to get good aerobic exercise in the city?”

It’s a good question. If you observe a few minutes in the day for a traffic policeman posted on one of the main road junctions in the city, you’ll certainly question his or her life expectancy. In one busy section of road in Putalisadak, which translates to butterfly road, the pollution levels get up to double the agreed level of dangerous. All the butterflies are long gone needless to say.

Many people here don’t get beyond imagining it to be impossible to run here.

But still, away from the main roads there is less traffic, the air is less polluted, and you can safely go running. Many mornings in the week I head from Lazimpat, through the back streets of Ranibari, crossing the infamous ring-road (hold your breath) and into Dhapasi. Another few kilometres on, and you’re out into the fields near Tokha with the buffaloes, the sowing of seeds or harvesting of rice or wheat. It’s wonderful.

The run is about 13 km and if that is too far, it is easy to take a bike for 10 minutes and lock it somewhere before starting.

Similarly, in the NGO-quarter of town arond Sanepa, it is pretty much the same but heading south. Head through Dhobighat to Chobar or south to Bungmati – fresh air in abundance, though don’t get too close to the Bagmati river there.

Check this map of trails here:

For some other runs in Kathmandu see these Kathmandu running trails.

Finally, there is the world famous HASH which happens every Saturday somewhere in the Kathmandu valley. The Himalayan House House Harriers website is here. Jurgen has documented many of their past runs here:

View Jur9en’s profile on EveryTrail

Map your trips on EveryTrail

So to answer the question, it’s very much possible – just takes a bit of determination!

  1. admin says:

    “Maybe only that one of the joys of running is the exploration of back roads and alleys, with or without dirt, sewers and hidden temples and other wonders. So use your running as a way of exploratory travel rather than focus on the ‘exercise’ bit of it. And if exercise is your explicit goal, there are nooks and corners to be found, like the water ponds area near the Bagmati opposite Chobar, or maybe the Stadium and probably something up North too, where the obsessed can do their intervals… – perhaps it would be good to figure out a one or two day/week track possibility in the stadium? – in KTM too, and get some Nepali runners to join.”

  2. Moire says:

    When I arrived in Kathmandu, I first headed to the Hash House Harriers. I know they’ve a bad overall rep for drinking and carousing, but this group are actually more runners than alcoholics. For example, last weekend was a 14km run in and around Gokarna. Most lads opted for Coca-cola rather than Everest after the run.

    Quite a number of the hash runners have been in Nepal for years and so they know all the routes. I bought myself a 1:50000 Kathmandu Valley map and brought it along for them to show me where to go.

    Admittedly, the map’s contours are far better than its features – many of the map’s paths aren’t there on the ground and instead other ones have sprung up subsequently that aren’t marked. To check paths, I log on to the Nepal link on (link given above) and try to work out where they went on the path.

    One of the great things though about running in the mountains in the Valley is that you can’t really get lost. If you start to feel like you’re losing your bearings, all you have to do is head back down towards the city (which is either on your left or right). If you really get lost, there’s always someone who can tell you the name of the nearest village that you can then find on your map. And if things get desperate, all the buses are heading back to Kathmandu anyway, so just hop on one of those and you’ll be fine in a few minutes. But as Roger said, the best part is exploring the trails, finding new ones, and using running to just do some high speed tourism.

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