How to leave anything but footprints!

Today this post is quite long, but worth it. Here we show you how important sustainable tourism is for us and give you some tips you should apply while you are trekking and thus not only in Nepal, but also anywhere else on our beautiful Planet! 

We believe that tour operators should play a central role in climate change through their ability to influence the tourism supply chain and shape demand. The tour operator also has the ability to inform and educate clients so that they adopt the principles of sustainable tourism.

Let us all operate together for a green and sustainable future. Let us preserve the nature and make it possible for future generations to visit this beautiful country; but more important, make it possible to live in for future generations.

Sustainability – What is it?

Sustainable living is living in a way in which we can continue to do so, as if we are going to live forever. Currently, if everyone in the world lived like the average British we would need three planet earths!

To support and sustain our world we need to keep it as healthy as possible by protecting and sustaining wildlife, plants, ecosystems and habitats because all these things are connected and they each need each other for support.

 Sustainability is not only about ecology as many think it is. No, sustainability is also about social and economic.

 Indeed, if people are treated equally according to their rights, they then have the chance to get a proper job and earn money to live their life. Living their life is also about caring for their health, which is strongly connected with our Mother Earth’s health.

Now that you understand that everything is related, let us give you some tips to help people of this country take care of their life and their wildlife’s life.

One of the most important rule in sustainability is the 4R rule:

    Refuse      Try not to accept extra packaging or wrappers.

    Reduce     Reduce the use of plastic bags, bottles…

    Reuse        Repair what is broken, give the things you don’t use anymore to charity or find them a second life.

    Recycle     Transform or reassert the value of the material.

The 4R rule should be put into practice already at home every day and while packing. For example, do not take too much wrapped items with you. These will be heavy to carry up and to carry back to the next bin. 

Implication of climate change in Nepal

Less water

The retreat of the glaciers is one of the most visible impacts of climate change in Nepal. This deglaciation could have important impact on the water. As the storage capacity of the glaciers will go down, the flow will be lower. These effects will mostly be felt in the arid parts of the region which are already very dry.

Ecosystem services

Climate change already affects forest type and area, primary productivity, species populations and migration, the occurrence of pests and disease, and forest regeneration. The interaction between elevated CO2 and climate change plays and important role in the overall response of net primary productivity.

People’s well-being

Climate change can also affect people’s wellbeing in a variety of ways. It increases the food insecurity and malnutrition. Some diseases such as malaria and dengue fever may move to higher altitudes. Water-borne diseases are also likely to increase with the increasing water stress accompanied by the lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in the region. 

Climate change impact on the mountains

Mountain environments, worldwide, are likely to be some of the most severely impacted ecosystems in the World from future climate change. The Himalayan alpine zone is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation. Mountains are naturally and physically vulnerable areas. Climate change, now recognized as the most critical global challenges or our times, has the potentials to convert these vulnerabilities and potential natural hazards into severe natural disasters like floods, crop failures and outbreak of pandemic diseases as has been already demonstrated in recent years: accelerated glacier melting, increased erosion of our thin soil cover and nutrients, slope instability, flash floods etc.

Climate change may affect the critical ecosystems services and environmental flow with potential adverse impacts on the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people living not only in the core areas of Eastern Himalayan slopes but also in the downstream ecosystems.

Water

DID YOU KNOW?

3.3 million People in Nepal do not have access to safe water. 

That is why we kindly ask you to be careful with the water consumption

  •  Keep your showers short.
  • Turn off the tap whilst you brush your teeth.
  • Avoid excessive flushing of the toilet; do not use it as a general dustbin!
  • Please do not buy bottled water. During the trek, ask your guides where to fill your bottle the night before.

Best ways to get clean water

There are many different ways to purify water. The easiest and cheapest way is to boil water to get rid of the bacteria or parasites it might contain.

There are a lot of different purification tablets you can buy in Thamel to clean water:

  •     Chlorine Dioxide is a common and cheap option.
  •     odine tablets are another good solution, mostly used by campers. 

Both of these methods are the most effective if the water you are purifying is at around 21 °C (68 Fahrenheit). One pill will purify 1 litre of water in 20-30 minutes. Please note: Pregnant women, women over 50 and people with thyroid problems should consult with a doctor prior using these tablets. Further, these tablets might change the taste of the water.

Another solution is to buy a SteriPEN, a portable UV purifier, which does not contain harmful chemicals and does not change the taste of the water. Take some batteries with you to recharge the SteriPEN.

Waste – Leave only footprints

Waste is always a problem when on a trek or expedition. What should I do with the wrappers or any other thing I want to throw away? Well, exactly the same thing you did before using them… carry them with you until the next garbage bin on your way. It is as simple as that.

If you are afraid of getting your stuff dirty, think of carrying with you a ZIP bag to put your rubbish in.

Taking care of his/her waste is good, taking care of the other’s waste is even better!

Yes, errare humanum est (to err is human) and some other trekkers or locals might have forgotten some wrappers on their way… As you already collect yours, you have certainly some place left for theirs.

Once again, to follow the 4R rule, try to consume, while on trek, only unwrapped things. If everybody does it, the demand will decrease which will lead the lodges’ owners to order less of these products and less wrappers will be produced and let on the trails.

IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT!

Of course nobody will blame you if you order a good and fresh bottled beer during your journey. J

You have to enjoy your trip after all!

Here you can find some essential tips for leaving no trace and help the locals preserving the beautiful panoramas that Nepal offers.

    Use butane, propane, or kerosene stoves whenever you can rather than wood. Even though wood sounds more eco-friendly, keep in mind that mountainous regions in Nepal are prone to deforestation.

    Carry spent batteries back to your own country and remember that cigarettes butts are non-biodegradable. Smokers should carry a portable ashtray or quit smoking J

    Patronize hotels and restaurants that cooks on solar or hydro power; encourage the others to do so.

    Patronize hotels that have solar-heated showers or using hydro power.

    Keep to the trails to prevent erosion and do not alter the natural surroundings.

    Please don’t collect flowers, plants or seeds as this disturb the plant lifecycle.

    For feminine hygiene: women can consider bringing an environment friendly, reusable menstrual cup (e.g., Mooncup) that collects menstrual fluids, as an alternative for tampons. This might be one of the best option as tampons are not easily found (even in Kathmandu) and some bathroom’s guest house are not equipped with dustbin. That will help you avoid finding a bin in the house or caring your tampons with you until you find a bin, which can takes some time in some remote area.

    Bury your faeces and burn all toilet paper used if you are not able to wait until the next lodge.

    In the lodge, please remember not to throw the paper in the toilets, which would risk to block it or ends in the river.

    After reading the previous line, you are now aware that drinking water from the river might not be the best idea... 

Nepali culture, fauna and flora

As explained before, sustainability is not only about ecology, but also about social and economics. This is why there are some things that every trekkers should pay attention to. Indeed, Nepali people are trying to preserve their heritage for themselves, but also for curious tourists like us. So why don’t we help them?

Even though it might be very tempting to bring back home Mani stones from a Mani wall, you should consider taking a lot of pictures of them instead to show your beloved ones how beautiful it looks in the Nepali background.

Do not be tempted to buy animal or plant parts, such as fur or orchids and let the store or hotel knows how you feel about it if you see illegal items for sale. Animals and flowers are so much more beautiful when alive!

Employing local companies is also a way to be sustainable as well as eating Nepali food. Remember Think Global, Act Local.

As employing guides and porters, this means that you are now responsible for them.

    Tip them fairly

    Make sure that they are not carrying too much weight (15 Kg should be a maximum)

    They also should be well-equipped, take care that they are wearing good shoes before leaving on a trek.

When you come back from an expedition or a trek and you don’t want to take some of your equipment back home, your guide or porters will be happy to help you get rid of it.

Nepal is a beautiful country that everyone should try to protect. Its inhabitants are all shown incredible strength of character and still face their destiny with determination and positivism. Despite the challenges imposed on them by Mother Nature, the country still raises kindly but surely. Therefore, we must, we lovers of beautiful scenery and nature, help them protect their land so that everyone can enjoy it.

 Remember, a good trekker is not the first to reach the top, a good trekker is the one who wants the next generations to enjoy the same paths he had enjoyed before.

We hope that you found these information useful and not too complicated to apply. For further information, here is a list of very interesting books that inspired us for writing this brochure. You can also visit the website of the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project who helped us writting this blog post

Bezruchka, S., & Lyons, A. (2011). Trekking Nepal, 8th Edition: A Traveler's Guide. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books.
Karki, M., Mool, P., & Shrestha, A. (2009). Climate Change and its Increasing Impacts in Nepal. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/init.v3i0.2425
Meyer, K. (2011). How to shit in the woods: An environmentally sound approach to a lost art. New York: Ten Speed Press.

Diane Rebstein & Deborah Taugwalder

Water Project in Bupsa 2016

Water Project in Bupsa 2016

Bupsa is a village in the region called Solo Khumbu, in the Himalayan Mountains. The village has around 120 houses and one of the major problems is the water supply. The inhabitants are forced to walk for hours since they do not have access to clean water.

This is what Adventure Alternative (Nepal) in cooperation with Moving Mountains wants to change.

A group of seven students of the Leeds University in the UK has started the project in March/April. The students have raised money over the last couple of month and have then been helping in Bupsa to install a water system. The project was a great success. They managed to get clean tap water to 12 houses!

 

The Chairman of Moving Mountains Trust Nepal, Ang Chhongpa Sherpa, sees the end of the project in 2019. One house is provided with water in a half day, with the help of three people working hard on it.

Nevertheless, the project is not completed yet, there are still 108 houses without access to safe drinking water. It is a long term project to bring clean water to all the 120 houses in the village and the Leeds RAG team have made a fantastic start.

To be able to continue this great project, we need all the help we can get! You get the opportunity to see the beautiful nature of Nepal and the surrounding mountains, but also the life and the kindness of the Sherpa family in the Himalayan villages.

To successfully complete the water project, tanks and pipe liness from the tanks to the houses still need to be installed. All of this, the workers and the material, cost a lot of money. If you do not have the time to help directly on site, a donation would already help a lot to continue the project!

 

 

 

 

Having access to clean drinking water is essential for a good health and not even a question for us, it is just always there, running of a tap. Let us make a change and give the villages the life standard we can enjoy.

Nepal Is S A F E - Nepal awaits you!

 

 

Ancient scriptures say there was a sacred island on a lake between mountains where a blue lotus grew. With his sword, Buddha Manjushri cut a gorge into the rocks. The lake ran dry and turned into a fertile soil.

- This is how Katmandu Valley was born -

Patan Durbar Square has still a lot to offer. 

For centuries, Nepali people have managed to build many beautiful temples and monasteries in the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. The number of Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples is undefinable. This amalgam of cultural and built heritage, beside the fame of the Himalayan expeditions, has forged the Nepali reputation among the most famous touristic destinations.

Indeed, the Kathmandu Valley is inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage as a single site comprising of seven Monuments Zones. These monuments are part of the cultural and built heritage of the country and most of all they are part of the Nepali authenticity.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation Nepal took a census of 790’118 tourists in 2014. This number unfortunately decreased after the terrible earthquake that happened in April 2015. Most of the treks that have been planned were cancelled and many tourists shortened their stay and took the first plane they could get to fly back home. Despite the fact that it impeached the help from other countries to arrive.

Indeed the quake damaged some heritage sites and did immense harm to Nepal’s image. But the fact is that heritage sites in only 10 of the 75 districts in Nepal were affected.

Moreover the border agitation, which led to “economic blockade” of the landlocked country, send the message that Nepal is not safe anymore for holiday-makers.

The Stua of Bouddhanath being rebuilt

Since then, tourism in Nepal has a hard time to recover which leads to a huge economic loss. Even though local communities have put a lot of effort and money into the reconstruction of some of the monument such as Bouddhanath in Kathmandu City, the tourists are still afraid to come and enjoy the endless activities and wonders that this country offers. Moreover the international media has almost completely destroyed the image of the country as a safe destination, resulting in a dramatic decrease of the number of tourists. For instance in the months following the earthquake some hotels registered an occupation rate of less than 5%.

Tourism is a really important sector for Nepal; it contributes substantially to a strong economic growth, the creation of skilled and semi-skilled jobs, greater export returns, foreign investments and currencies, economic well-being and social stability. Usually 55’000 tourists arrive every year between May and June to visit Nepal’s protected areas, but last year, this number has dropped close to zero says the Nepal Tourism Board.

Anyway Nepal is totally safe! I am myself in Kathmandu right now and I have never felt myself so safe. No quake or maybe a little one, but nothing to declare and its part of the adventure anyway. My colleague and I are both working here in Nepal and even as women we could not expect any better security.

Don’t be afraid anymore! Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and nature-lovers have so much to see and learn from this country. Being afraid of coming and visit would be missing a great opportunity to discover a country where there is so much to love.  

Diane Rebstein

Book your holidays with a local travel agency

Why to book your holidays with a local travel agency

Yesterday I had a talk with a woman from America about trekking holidays. I work for Adventure Alternative Nepal, a ground agency for activity holidays (trekking, expedition, yoga retreats, safari holidays and more) in Kathmandu and I told her that it is not easy for a Nepal travel agency to make business, especially if you do not have an office in the main tourist area in Kathmandu, the Thamel. Furthermore, many Westerners who intend to do trekking holidays, already book their holidays at home.

We were also talking about the trustworthiness of local agencies in Nepal. She said that she understands it that if you plan to go on an expedition, you would not book your holidays in Nepal with a local agency, but at home in Europe or the US, because you never know what happens when you book your holidays with a local agency. Is my money safe? Am I safe? What kind of materials are they using? Yesterday I agreed on what she was saying. Today I thought about it again, and I now see that this way of thinking is actually wrong.

Ascent of Mera Peak

First of all: The agencies in the UK or the US are using the same material like we use. We all have our material made in China. It might be that western countries pay more for their material, but that does not mean it is any better. In Thamel you can buy everything a mountaineering heart is beating for. You can even find “real” brands like Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Millet and The North Face.

 

Next thing you might be worried about: Do the Nepali guides have a “real” education to be mountains guides? Do they know how to guide? Yes they do! Every mountain guide who is working for Adventure Alternative Nepal is a certified mountain guide and has years of experience. Most of them grew up in the mountains, walking around the Himalayas at the age of 10. Nobody has as much experience as the Nepali mountain guides. They all know the area 100 times better than the best mountain guides of the US, Switzerland or Austria. Let’s take Mount Everest as an example. Nobody has climbed this mighty mountain as much as the “Sherpas” the cast coming from the Everest region, Solokhumbu. Sir Edmond Hillary would have never summited Everest without Sherpa Tenzing Norgay! No western travel agency would try to summit Mount Everest without the help of local people, if it is the Sherpa guides, the porters or the chefs, preparing the meals.

A woman carrying the heavy luggage

The Nepalis can only profit of tourism if we book our holidays in Nepal through a local travel agency. Otherways all the money goes to the “big players”, the leakage is immense. Let us all help Nepal to rebuild their beautiful country by supporting the tourism and make sure that the money ends at the right place – with the people who work the hardest and need the money the most!

 

Deborah Taugwalder

 

Why should you go on an adventure holiday?

The feeling of fresh air pumping through your lungs, the adrenalin kick you get when you are looking down from the highest peaks to the rest of the world; let’s have a look at why an adventure holiday is a must for every free spirit.

When we are talking about an adventure travel we do not mean to travel in a remote destination and staying there in a five star hotel, we do not mean drinking tap water in Kathmandu or trying to cross the road, even if it is quite adventurous. When we are talking about an adventure, we mean stepping out of your comfort zone and giving yourself to the nature and the unknown.

We ae giving you some good reasons why to choose an adventure holiday for your next trip!

 

CHALLENGE YOURSELF AND TRY NEW THINGS

You don’t know if you are ready for adventure? If you don’t try, you will never know. Don’t settle for the same old same old – there is too much out there to experience! Step out of your comfort zone, go out there and push yourself. Nothing is comparable to the feeling you get when you conquered a challenge you thought you would never manage, like climbing Yala or Island peak.

 

LEAD FROM THE FRONT

You might have heard of the world getting smaller and smaller. Very few places on this earth have not been discovered yet, and formerly unique destinations become more and more popular. Be more than a tourist and take your way off the beaten track, discover the unexplored beauty of the Himalaya and the surroundings before it becomes a mass tourist area.

 

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE

On an adventure holiday, you will experience things not every tourist will experience. Getting to know the culture of the Nepali people in the remote areas, getting to see the beauty of the Himalaya and the surrounding mountains, this is a once in a lifetime experience you will not forget – it has the power to create lasting and vivid memories.

Same as electives and volunteering – you will get a unique experience to become part of the local culture, if it is in Kathmandu itself or one of the towns in the mountains like Bupsa. Working with local projects, you will be immersed in the community. You will see things a normal traveller will never see, and taste the delicious homemade food like Dal Baht.

 

 

REMEMBER

Travelling is not about impressing people, it is about getting to know the world, getting to know yourself!

Everest Expedition 2007

This is the story of the beginning of a long and meaningful friendship and an expedition you will never forget.

In 2007 Gavin Bate, founder of Adventure Alternative was preparing for his third climb to Mount Everest, on the North side. His plan was to traverse the highest mountain of the world, at 8848m, from Tibet to Nepal by himself with no oxygen or any camps. Having previously climbed on the south side without oxygen using only one tent at Camp 2 and achieving a non-stop ascent from there to just short of the summit where he encountered a long queue which forced him to turn back, the plan for 2007 was a non-stop climb from base camp to summit and down to base camp in Nepal in about 60 hours.

His old friend Ang Chhongba Sherpa, now chairman of Moving Mountains Nepal, and his wife Lakhpa both urged Gavin to go with their close relative Pasang Tendi Sherpa, who had already made several climbs of Everest. Having once before climbed the north side without bottled oxygen in 2002 with a friend who dislocated his kneecap at 8750 metres which resulted in a long and difficult for both of them during which they both nearly perished, Gavin agreed to take Pasang along as an ‘insurance policy’ in case anything went wrong. Pasang would carry oxygen to use just in case.

In March 2007, Gavin flew to Kathmandu to meet Pasang and to prepare for the risky adventure. Climbing without bottled oxygen is only attempted by about 5% of climbers and the fatality rate is one in three. To climb without using any camps was pushing the boundaries of known knowledge of high altitude performance and ability. Pasang and Gavin got along with each other immediately! After the preparation was finished in Kathmandu, they made their way to the mountains.

Before heading to Everest, Gavin and Pasang took a group to climb Cho Oyu, “The Turquoise Goddess”, which at 8201 m the sixth highest mountain on earth. They planned to acclimatise on this mountain before heading to the top of the world. The group did not make it to the top. The last part of the ascent is very steep and the serac barrier was hard ice; some of the climbers were not feeling ready for such a climb and the group decided to turn around. Gavin and Pasang then, together with one cook and one kitchen boy, made their way to the advanced Everest Base Camp on the Rongbuk Glacier at around 4600 metres, where the real adventure was about to begin. For weeks they acclimatised on the fearsome north face, climbing high in the rarefied atmosphere to prepare for the main ascent.

Everest North Face

Everest North Face

The final day to leave base camp for the top of Mount Everest finally arrived! Gavin climbed without oxygen; Pasang, who was behind Gavin, ascended with oxygen. They climbed through Camp 1 on the north col at 7000 metres, Camp 2 at the top of the huge snow ramp at 7500 metres, and Camp 3 high on the face at 8300 metres. They had climbed through the day and now it was getting dark again. The route to the top along the northeast ridge and up the First and Second Steps would be done at night, with a summit at dawn and the rest of the next day to descend into Nepal.

Destiny worked her way though and somewhere on the northeast ridge Gavin was struck by a pulmonary oedema. Without properly acknowledging it, they maintained their progression on the mountain towards the Second Step. Past 8650 m, Gavin eventually stopped. He began to aspirate on the liquid that had built up in his lungs which was coming out during violent coughing fits that left him clinging to the rock with a lot of air beneath his feet. It was a perilous moment.

Suddenly out of the swirling mists Pasang appeared with the lifesaving rucksack of oxygen bottles. He quickly covered Gavin’s face with an oxygen mask. “Time to go home” he said. Thus began a long and arduous descent which took every ounce of energy out of Gavin and pushed Pasang to his own limits of endurance. With the oedema threatening to overcome his every breath, the point of mind over matter had been reached but it was the encouragement and presence of Pasang that kept the word impossible out of Gavin’s mind. They had to survive and come down together.

I will never forget the situation we were in at 8600m and turning back at 1.00am to the Base Camp. We were both very tired and sad that we did not reach the summit but we came back with our lives
— Tendi Pasang Sherpa
It’s perhaps easy to romanticise an event like in retrospect, but at the time I had to accept that in all likelihood I was not going to survive. The sheer effort of getting back down, and the camaraderie that Pasang and I had in order to achieve it, is what sticks in my mind. There is just no doubt that he saved my life on that day.
— Gavin Bate

The whole expedition took them around 60 days. Both of them were happy when they were reunited with their families and thankful that they got home safely.

Gavin and Pasang on top of Mount Everest in 2011

Gavin and Pasang on top of Mount Everest in 2011

After five expeditions to climb Mount Everest, three times without bottled oxygen and by both the north and south sides, and every time getting to within 100 metres of the summit, Gavin finally reached the top on May 20th 2011. His summit partner that day was Pasang Tendi Sherpa.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about Gavin Bate's and Adventure Alternative's involvement, please visit their website.


Gallery

Himlung Expedition, September 2015

The expedition to Himlung, 7126 m, is a true mountaineering adventure! Since it is one of the recently opened peaks for climbing, very few western travellers have seen it.

 

 

 

The journey started on the 12 of October, a sunny and warm day in Kathmandu. The team composed of four guests, three cooks, four climbing Sherpas and 15 donkeys to carry food and some gear. Tendi Pasang Sherpa, head of Adventure Alternative Nepal, lead the team from Kathmandu to Himlung.

Himlung Base Camp

Himlung Base Camp

The trip lead them through the beautiful landscape of Nepal, from Kathmandu to Beshisahar, from Beshisahar to Dharapani to Koto lodge, followed by Meta lodge and the base camp of Himlung. After the breathtaking journey, the adventurous climb began!

With Himlung in front of the team, the mood was very silent. Everbody was getting ready for the big climb! Pasang explained the four Englishmen how to use crampons and the harness in order to avoid any risks while climbing.

To climb Mount Himlung, you have to be physically and mentally strong!

A good preparation for Himlung is Yala or Mera Peak!
— Tendi Pasang Sherpa

They made their way up steady. Basecamp 2, basecamp 3 and finally the day was there. The big day of the climb to the summit of Himlung! The team was ready to reach the top, mentally and physically. But there are other factors you have to deal with. Factor nobody, except for mother nature can influence!

The weather on the day of the final climb was very windy and cold. Nobody wanted to take too much risk, so the team decided to make their way back to the basecamp. The next three days were very snowy and everybody was happy that they made the right decision to turn back. It's not only the summit which is important, much more the journey and the memories you take home with you.

Part of the Himlung team

Part of the Himlung team

On the way back to Kathmandu, a big party was ahead of them. Everybody was dancing to Nepali music with the scarf around their neck and a beer in their hands. The scarf is a symbol for good luck and blessing.

 

 

 

We had a lot of fun!
— Tendi Pasang Sherpa