Accommodation and Meals:
The accommodation used on this trip is a mixture of hotels, guesthouses and a jungle lodge. All of our selected accommodation is locally staffed and source produce locally wherever possible in order to boost the economy and help the community in their surrounding areas. The Raniban Retreat in particular is very environmentally and community conscious. They conduct free medical clinics in neighbouring villages and have a straw art exhibition which aims to raise funds for medical staff and cancer screening. Where meals aren’t included, clients can support local businesses by trying some authentic cuisine at restaurants recommended by your guide. Try Nepalese dumplings (Momos), mixed bean soup (Kwanti) with rotis or the typical Nepali dish of rice and curry and lentils (Dal Bhat).
We spend time sightseeing in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and mediaeval Bhaktapur, visiting historic and religious sites such as the Durbar squares. Entrance fees to these local sites contribute towards their maintenance which is particularly crucial following the 2015 earthquakes. We also visit the Royal Chitwan National Park where we hope to see the one-horned rhinoceros, deer, and crocodiles to name but a few animals - we aim to promote the conservation of the area and to educate visitors on the rich wildlife within the park. We have a strict animal welfare policy and do not include elephant rides in any of our itineraries as this is a type of animal interaction that we don’t wish to endorse. We are keen however to continue to visit Chitwan National Park to ensure that we support the conservation of the highly endangered species found there; the role of tourism is still key for the survival of these species and by offering alternative activities such as dugout canoe rides, jeep safaris and bird watching walks we can still offer the chance to be part of this contribution.
There are also three daywalks into the Annapurna foothills which as an activity has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit. We operate a ‘leave no trace’ policy.
Local Craft and Culture:
This trip is packed with colourful Nepalese culture and opportunities to immerse yourself in their range of religious, historical and natural sites. Highlights include: ancient architecture and temples in Bhaktapur, Pokhara’s traditional bazaar and lakes, the Japanese Peace Pagoda. In Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan there will be traditional and handcrafted souvenirs available for purchase. Buying handmade jewelry, painted masks and puppets, prayer wheels, handwoven bags and tapestries all helps to support small vendors and their craft.
After organising tours to the Himalayas for over 40 years, we have developed many long lasting partnerships with our operators and leaders as well as some of the local communities we visit. We seek ways to give something back and we usually help with small-scale practical projects that can help local communities and their environment, whilst giving the maximum possible long-term economic benefit. Together with our local leaders we manage all our own projects and over the years we have helped build schools and a children’s home. We have built water tanks and provide water pipe for villages and have helped with hydro electric projects. We have sponsored and installed more than 130 smokeless stoves and 50 solar cookers.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.