Prakriti Resort and Organic Farm was everything I needed for a relaxing, rejuvenating, and nurturing weekend away from Kathmandu, and even more. The most popular way to get to the resort is a hike from Sundarijal Bus Park, a 12-km route in which you pass multiple gushing waterfalls and massive fern-lined trails. However, driving all the way to the resort, like I did, is also possible with a 4WD.
The resort is located just outside of Shivapuri National Park in its “buffer zone”, offering an undisturbed natural area feel, and magnificent views of deep green hills topped with snow-capped mountains most Kathmanduites and tourists alike often crave for.
As stunning as the views are from Prakriti, it is so much more than that. The mission with which the resort was conceived — to become a carbon-neutral, self-sustaining business serving the environment and community just as much as guests — makes it an exemplar of socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible tourism.
This mission is apparent the moment I stepped into the periphery of this 190-ropani resort. There are no geometrically manicured lawns lined with plants lining the entrance, something you might typically expect in a typical resort around Kathmandu. Instead, Prakriti welcomes you with native fruit trees, shrubs, and wildflowers lining organic vegetable patches. The resort’s area is a mix of flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and trees assimilating with the Shivapuri National Park surrounding the resort.
The tranquillity I experienced as soon as I arrived at Prakriti was made sweeter by the sound of the Bagmati river flowing just below the resort. Arun Shrestha, the Director refers to Prakriti as his passion project. Shrestha said, “Prakriti is a celebration of our environment, heritage, and culture. We (the team behind Prakriti) want to prevent the concretization of this area and wish for our guests to experience the place for what it is. We want to do everything sustainably, with as little modernization, waste, and environmental impact as possible.”
The resort’s celebration of Nepali culture started as soon as I settled on the patio of the reception. I was welcomed with a bota (a biodegradable Nepali serving dish strewn with dried leaves) of a Newari snack of homegrown dried corn and soybeans and gundruk sadheko (a spicy salad of fermented radish leaves) as I took in the spectacle of undulating layers of Shivapuri hills that make it hard to believe you are only a 2-hour drive from Kathmandu.
Prakriti’s commitment to highlighting Nepali tradition and culture is apparent with its earthy red wooden cottages built in traditional Nepali vernacular covering the resort, each offering a patio space looking out at the spectacular hills (and when it’s clear the Himalayas). There are two options for lodging at the resort— a glamping-style standard twin cottage with shared bathrooms and showers or a deluxe cottage with a private bathroom and shower.
Most of the materials used in building the cottages have been sourced locally; the wood panels forming the exterior of the cottages are from trees that had to be cleared to build the resort. The rooms boast a minimalist design with Nepal-made furniture, sukul (traditional Nepali handwoven straw carpet) lain floors, and windows large enough to offer a spectacular view of Prakriti’s farm fields juxtaposed against tea gardens and lush green hills. The cottages are spread out across the large area of the resort, allowing each one ample space and privacy to experience the calm and tranquil ambiance that every corner of the resort offers.
When one visits Prakriti, one must take a walking tour of the resort offered enthusiastically by staff members to appreciate the innovative and sustainable projects underway. The resort is actively preparing to get certified and accredited by Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) which requires it to meet over 100 sustainability criteria. One of the many steps taken by Prakriti to meet them include minimization of noise and light pollution, use of energy-conserving light bulbs, growing only native plants and crops, reducing plastic use, and having a sustainable waste management system including recycling food waste to compost, and producing biogas from waste, among many others.
Shrestha mentions that despite all these efforts already underway, Prakriti is continually pushing its boundaries to improve and make itself as environment-friendly as possible. This is well-evident on the walking tour — some details you can’t miss are little to no plastic use, used glass bottles collected to make ready for recycling, and lights placed low to the ground to reduce light pollution. Prakriti also pays special attention to waste management as it maintains two large composting pits to convert any food and agricultural waste at the resort to fertilizer to be used in the fields. All the plastic and glass waste are sent to recycling.
While the careful effort to maintain sustainability standards at Prakriti is impressive, the delicious food prepared by the local staff is equally enchanting. I was happy to discover that the dinner buffet for the evening was dal-bhat with a wide selection of vegetables grown within the premises and prepared in a local fashion. Accompanying dal-bhat was local free-roaming chicken curry, a taste one might find difficult to find in Kathmandu these days. As a dal-bhat lover, I helped myself to a second serving, anticipating that I’d need the extra calories for the hike through the Shivapuri jungle on the itinerary for the next morning.
As a hiking and adventure lover, I would have been remiss not to partake in one of the handful of hiking trails around the resort. Prakriti offers many hiking and activity packages to guests, depending on their appetite for exploration and adventure. The length/time of the hikes you can take from Prakriti range from about 6km (1-2 hours) to 34 km (8-10 hours). One of the shorter hikes is an exploration of the surrounding jungle and a tour of nearby tea gardens, trout, and pheasant farms; this was also the one that I opted for, and I absolutely loved it! It was incredible to see so many sustainably run businesses in the area working to boost the local economy. Both circuit hikes (start and end in Prakriti) and hikes that end in neighboring villages are led by local guides offered by the resort.
If hiking is not your thing, fret not, because Prakriti offers a range of other activities that allow you to explore the area. The Sundarijal/ Chisapani area around the resort is known for its striking waterfalls that you can visit on foot or by car (4WD only). If you’re an adventure seeker and are comfortable being in the water, you could also canyon down the waterfalls — Prakriti will make sure you are well-equipped and safe.
Another activity the area is popular for is birdwatching. Even on my 2-hour hike around the resort, I was able to spot around 6 different types of birds that I have never spotted in Kathmandu. Hearing peculiar calls and sing-songs gave me the thrilling feel of being in a jungle beaming with biodiversity. If you sign up for the birdwatching tour with Prakriti, you’ll have a birdwatching expert guide you through the forest, spot the different species of birds and their behavior, and equip you with a binocular to enjoy the sightings up close. This is something I definitely plan on signing up for during my next visit to Prakriti.
There is something for everybody here; whether you are someone who likes to slow down, sip tea and enjoy the views from the comfort of a chair for hours or someone whose idea of relaxation is long hikes and adventure, or someone who likes a bit of both. I found the resort suitable for all ages, individuals, couples, and families who appreciate being in nature.
What Prakriti is not suited for, in my opinion, is large gatherings or parties that might want to play loud music from thumping speakers into the wee hours of the night. The resort wants to maintain strict standards when it comes to noise pollution, in order to respect the rich biodiversity co-inhabiting the area. However, small gatherings involving barbeque-ing, singing, and dancing around the fire in a designated barbeque area is highly encouraged – who wouldn’t like a bit of celebration when you’re in a place as serendipitous as Prakriti?
Find out more about Prakriti Resort and Organic Farm here!