Newsletter Issue 3, September 2008
Namaste and welcome to the third issue of The Responsible Travellers newsletter. We are delighted to bring you news of our volunteer activities this spring, and some new trips.
Great new trips in Ladakh!
We just can’t wait to tell you about our new trips in Ladakh! If you are interested in a trip to the land of high passes, or “Little Tibet” as it’s known, then click here to read about four great newly designed trips to Ladakh. We have designed many of these to incorporate the local festivals, so check out the trip notes for details. You can choose from an exploring trip which includes a trek on part of the old Silk Route, a volunteer & home stay trip to experience the wonderful Ladakhi culture, an exclusive trek we have designed including the Markha valley, and a traverse of the Stok Range on the Hemis National Park Circuit trek, or finally a Discovery Tour which explores Ladakh’s Festival and travels overland between Ladakh, Delhi and Amritsar with a myriad of sights to feast upon!
We shall also be setting up new projects here, the first of which will be a solar powered housing scheme, working with the Ecological Development Group; so watch out for more details on this next time. Pictured on the right is The Responsible Travellers leader Siling Ghale chatting with a local animal herder, and learning the Ladakhi names of all the pastures. His pronunciation is causing some amusement!
Say no to plastic
This year we commenced our campaign against plastic by giving every customer a re-usable shopping bag. After doing this we decided we could do more, and so extended our campaign to include the local populations as well as visiting tourists.
There are two new activities to promote environmentally friendly bags to retailers and encourage them to only issue paper or cloth bags. One is being targeted at the supermarkets and traders in Thamel, the tourist heart of Kathmandu, and the other is encouraging locals to take re-usable shopping bags to the market. A trip to do the shopping here may render you with 5-10 black plastic bags which are not recycleable and end up being dumped in the Bagmati River, so encouraging locals to adopt a more environmentally friendly habit to stop the waste at source can have a huge impact on the city environment here in Kathmandu. Pictured here is one Thamel trader who has “converted”, sporting her new paper bags.
Did you know you can buy gear made from recycled drink cans?
Earlier this year we met product managers from outdoor clothing company Patagonia at Keswick Mountain Festival. With the environment always at the forefront of our minds, we were very excited to learn about some ground breaking fabric developments and recycling of clothes; and we are pleased to share these initiatives with you all. There have been fabric developments which allow clothes to be manufactured from re-cycled drink cans! Click here to read about base layers and other products made from this fabric.
Moreover there are now products available made from recycled material, and so we would like to urge you to recycle all those old fleeces, polyester and polartec clothes and give them a new lease of life. To find out more about this scheme follow this link to Patagonia’s Common thread garment recycling programme. You can locate your local recycling outlet to deposit your old clothes, by visiting the Patagonia store locator.
What happened as a result of my trip?
For those of you who travelled with us in the spring season, we’re delighted to update you on the charitable projects that we’ve been able to support as a result of your trip. Since you left, the team have been busy with three major projects.
High Altitude Biogas – developing renewable energy
Firstly, our biogas project has now developed into a truly ground breaking project. A feasibility study was undertaken during May in the upper reaches of the Manang and Mustang districts by BSP (Biogas Support Programme) Nepal and The Responsible Travellers. The result of this study is a pilot high altitude project of 12 plants to be installed this summer. Work is already underway and the team have also started to sensitize other agencies, such as the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) officials to encourage their involvement in further roll-out of this technology. This autumn there will be signs up in the lodges, with biogas plants asking clients to use the “Bio-Toilet”. Thanks to suggestions from the Glasgow University Study tour members Helen, Carole and Murdo, implementation and training will be improved to include a section on health and sanitation to further enhance the benefits of this project. If you’d like to visit this project you can join a trip on the Annapurna Circuit. We hope to continue our reach across Dolpo, Jumla and onto Ladakh.
School building – providing local facilities
Secondly, the building of Sri Buddha Lower Secondary School, Chhampi, Lalitpur, Nepal is now complete. Firstly we pass on our thanks to local partner KEEP for their logistical support during the volunteers home stay week, and to CHANCE for Children our partner for education projects for providing additional funding for the project, without whom it would not have been possible.
Now this school is upgraded to secondary, and will be a facility for the local catchment of children who come from very poor homes, most of which are consist of migrant workers who have come to Kathmandu in search of work. The parents mostly work in the nearby quarries breaking stones, earning just enough to live hand to mouth each day. The children are the first generation to receive education, and we hope with this facility will go on to help the community provide a brighter future for their children.
Micro hydroelectricity – empowering the local community
Finally, we’ve made a contribution towards a micro hydro project for the Bhushinga and Rawadolu villages in Okhaldunga. Our leader Rajendra Gurung has been working during his spare time as a project coordinator for this local hydro-electricity project to the east of the well known Solo Khumbu.
We were so impressed with his commitment to this and other projects that we decided to add a third project to our repertoire this summer! Hot off the press: from a meeting with local MPs and the project committee we shall be helping with income generation projects to help the community develop greater economic benefits from agriculture, with new opportunities such as agro-processing. This is also a beautiful part of the Gauri Shankar region, with splendid views of the Himalaya, including Everest. As part of our “off the beaten track” policy we shall be working with the Nepal Tourism Board to operate the “Preservation of Heritage”, along with hospitality and waste management training to encourage good practices and allow the local villagers to develop tourism.
And now for some of our trips
Autumn in the Annapurnas?
We have the world famous Annapurna Circuit starting on September 27th, acclaimed as one of the most fascinating treks in the world. Or for those wanting to go off the beaten track, on October 17th you can join a trek to the restricted valley of Naar & Phu with an extension to climb Chulu East, the second highest trekking peak in Nepal!
See the Annapurnas like never before
Annapurna Circuit, October 2008
Traditional Nepali homestays
Our exclusive Tamang Heritage Trail itinerary gives you the opportunity to stay with Nepali families and have an authentic and culturally enriching experience. Really get to know the people as you explore the remote culture of the Tamang and Tibetan borderland area.
Tamang Heritage Trails
Tibetan borderlands, sacred lakes, heritage trails, homestays and hot springs are just some of the treasures of this unique trip …
Start date: 8th November
Tamang Heritage & Sacred Lakes, November 2008
Everest Base Camp?
Join a classic trek through Sherpa heartland to Everest Base Camp. This exclusive itinerary also gives you time to explore Chukung valley and climb Nangershang Peak, as well as Kala Patthar.
Everest Base Camp
Start date: 2nd October
Everest Base Camp, October 2008
How about a discovery tour that gives you more?
A tour across the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara, Chitwan National Park and Bandipur old town contains the ultimate highlights of Nepal. With culture, wildlife and mountains, you will be mystified at this ancient land.
Nepal Discovery Tour
Start date: 5th October
Discover Nepal , October 2008