Newsletter Issue 4, February 2009

Namaste and welcome to the latest issue of The Responsible Travellers’ newsletter. We are delighted to bring you news of our volunteer activities this spring, and some new trips.

Bringing you value and giving the local community hope

Namaste from the Himalayas! In this issue we will give you the honest story of the Classic Annapurna Circuit, introduce some great new treks and facilities, and give you some great late availability options ……

Classic Annapurna Circuit: the honest review

Classic Annapurna Circuit: the honest review

Many of you will be familiar with the classic Annapurna Circuit as one of the world’s most renowned treks for both scenery and culture. In recent years this region has seen much development, and after comments from our trekkers this autumn we decided it was time to review the trek in order to give you, our customers, an honest appraisal. The western side in lower Mustang receives many Hindu pilgrims to Muktinath temple, and with these travellers in mind there is now a road connecting to Muktinath. This of course is good news to the local populations, allowing goods to be brought to the villages from Pokhara, and for local produce to be taken to market, as well as making health and medical supplies more accessible.

However, the roads are causing some controversy amongst the trekking fraternity. For the beginner trekker this route is still a great trek, and the development undoubtedly makes the route easier and therefore enjoyable to more people. We have, however, modified our itinerary to maintain the cultural and scenic trek that you expect, and indeed we believe this new itinerary allows you more time to see the mediaeval villages and some additional locations which enhance the trek and overall experience. We have adjusted the start of the trek to stay in alternative villages, added a night at Gyaru to enable you to see some of the most spectacular views omitted from the traditional trail and help you acclimatise, a diversion to Tilicho Lake, and then finally ascending Throng La. We believe the area has much to offer, with sensational mountain scenes, mediaeval villages of Manang and Mustang
districts, and incredible cultural diversity, and with our newly appraised itinerary you can continue to enjoy the Annapurnas and experience this magical area. Do it soon before the development makes further “inroads”. Click here to book 2009 departure for our enhanced Annapurna Circuit Trek.

What’s New!

What’s New!

With the economic issues making us all think twice, Nepal remains a destination where your sterling will go further. And to make things easier, we have also introduced a new “Budget Bespoke Traveller” service where you can take a guide or porter and reduce the services you purchase. This enables you to have peace of mind travelling with The Responsible Travellers, and the assurance of our ethics and policies, but perhaps take a bespoke itinerary with a personal guide or porter. This is especially good for those who may be looking to reduce their travel budget, or those wishing to get away for a longer period and have the reliability of a credible and responsible operator behind their career break plans.

Kopra Danda & Khayer Tal

Kopra Danda & Khayer Tal

As part of our commitment to leading responsible and ethical tourism practices here in the Himalayas, we are constantly looking to new areas where we can help alleviate rural poverty and bring economic benefit and for the trekker to experience pristine villages away from the regular tourist trail. This winter we have added two great trips to the off the beaten track series. The first of these is Kopra Danda & Khayer Tal (lake) which gives you the opportunity to walk superb ridges with spectacular views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, stay in untouched Nepali villages and spend a night at “high camp” to enable a trip to Khayer Tal – a sacred Lake at the base of Annapurna South. This unique itinerary works above and beyond to get you to places others do not venture to!

Click here to see the full details…

Gurung Trails

Gurung Trails

Secondly, the Gurung Trails are a great low altitude option with wonderful culture of traditional Gurung villages. Adding to our home stay options, this trek gives you a taste of the fabulous Nepali hospitality in traditional Nepali village houses, and with cultural exchange and evening singing and dancing you get to see real village life in this famous Gurung region at the foot of the Annapurna mountains. The trail will finish by climbing Rupa Kot – the main view point of the old Royal Trek and descend with a river crossing to our new eco guesthouse (see below for details). This trek gives several opportunities for wonderful mountain vistas without having to climb to dizzy heights! Click here to see full details….

And now for some of our trips

Mustang Tiji Festival

The forbidden city of Lo Mantang, the capital of Mustang, is one of the great must see places of the Himalayas. This mystical Kingdom of the Himalayas comes alive for the Tiji Festival, when the King gives his blessing. How can you resist? This is the year to go, as there are roads being built below Mustang, and it will not be long before the region gets more developed.

So join the Special Tiji Festival Departure!

Start Date: 7th May

Click here to see full details ……..

Mustang Tiji Festival

Late Getaway for Annapurna Sanctuary Charity trek

Why not get away from the winter and challenge yourself to a trek in aid of children’s education in the developing world? Not only is this a classic journey to the heart of the Himalayas, but also a great chance to experience the work of a children’s charity in Nepal. There is still late availability for a unique trek, or join a group over Easter to enjoy the stunning display of rhododendrons on this world class trek!

Annapurna Sanctuary

Start date: 26th February 2009 / 10th April 2009

Click here to see full details….

Late Getaway for Annapurna Sanctuary Charity trek

Annapurna Trails and Family Homestay Volunteer Week

If you want to get to know the real destination of Nepal, why not get stuck into a volunteer week and introductory trek in the Himalayas?

Experience Nepali hospitality on our unique Annapurna Trails & Volunteer Homestay. You will also get to spend five days living and working in a Nepali village, helping with a community project.

Start Date: 1st April 2009 / 8th November 2009

Click here to see full details…..

Annapurna Trails and Family Homestay Volunteer Week

What happened as a result of my trip?

Our policy is to ensure that as a result of your holiday with us, there is economic development to rural communities, a focus on conservation and biodiversity in our charity work and improved standard of living and livelihoods for Himalayan communities. These are being achieved through our charity partners and below are some of the recent activities and donations we have made:

Biogas Success!

In the last issue we told you about the high altitude biogas project that we are managing in association with BSP Nepal. We are delighted to bring you news that there is success in the Manang and Mustang districts, with biogas being produced in these high and remote outposts of the Himalayas. Hooray! This is fabulous news and we are working on a plan to help transfer best practices from the successful plants to other biogas users. Further work is already being undertaken in far west district of Mugu, and as a result of our research on the Kopra Danda trail we shall also be helping to promote this great renewable energy technology to the villages on this trail.

Bird Conservation

Our trek leaders Rajendra Gurung and Siling Ghale attended the AGM for Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), an organisation for which we are the first corporate members! We are proud to be pioneering the engagement of companies in the national bird conservation activities, and hope that introducing this membership type will help raise awareness of both the organisation and its work as well as bring a new revenue stream to BCN.

This year has seen Rajendra involved in the research and production of a new publication, “Garden Birds of Nepal”, which we congratulate him on for his hard work and diligence. One of the major themes of the BCN has been the Vulture conservation programme. There are three species of vulture which have seen staggering decline in population numbers in the India subcontinent. BCN have worked on research and surveying, which alarmingly revealed that in many parts there were no breeding activities at all. As a result, a breeding centre has been set up and community education programmes initiated, and we hope there will be good news for these species in the future. To read more about this story, and other activities of BCN please click here.

CHANCE for children

This autumn we donated many Nepali handicrafts to CHANCE, a children’s education charity who use them for fund raising. This has allowed CHANCE to raise thousands of pounds which will be invested in our joint projects of providing school equipments and infrastructure. CHANCE’s activities over the next year will include teacher training, and vocational training to school leaving girls for nursing and classroom equipment, all of which are enabled through the donations we are making.

To read more about CHANCE please click here.

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