Pioneering Community eco-trail!
Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco-Treks (ADCET) – an ALTERNATE trekking TRAILs for SUSTAINABLE Tourism in Nepal!
Area: Myagdi, Dhaulagiri zone, west Nepal
Initiated in the year 2010
With a great enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement, the very first exploratory trip took place on the first week of January 2010. Myself with Mr. Megh Ale (MD of Borderlands group), with our senior staffs, carried out this exploration trip. The trip of whole one week was accomplished very well, amidst great hope that, we at Nature-treks.com Himalaya (NTH) can play an unique participatory role in communities, for communities and the country, in promoting this unique, least explored area on the very lap of majestic Himalayan peaks of mount Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range, for the unique experience for the visitors, as this area still stands very intact from the environmental degradation and communities very supportive.
The road development on all the main trekking trails in Annapurna and Everest area and the environmental destruction and cultural transformation was destroying many refula trekking trails in the country. This is, one of the best alternative trail. It was this time; Mr. Mahabir Pun, (the Magsaysay award winner, pioneer of rural wireless technology and social entrepreneurs), invited us to visit this area that is located to very next to the magical and spectacular mountains of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Machhapuchhare and popular trekking trail of Ghorepani and Annapurna. He himself was not able to join the trip but his assistance Chitra Pun joined us, who led us through the communities starting from Bas Kharka to Khopra and Narchyang. It was such a great trek, that we realized is being neglected and has remained isolated, with almost no tourist visiting in this trail on the whole way.
During this trip, We met, interacted and had series of meetings with the locals in every villages along the trail from Bas Kharka to Narchyang. The locals welcomed us and very excited about starting and managing the area that benefits whole communities rather than single or individual/s. They were also not very happy with the situation that this area was left out by tourism activities, in spite of being so close to the main tourist trail of Ghorepani and Annapurna Base camp. At the same time they showed a great interest to support in developing this area for the unique hiking trail in a sustainable and ethical way.
Right after the trip, we had few meeting with Mahabir in Kathmandu and decided, we can go ahead and start this project in whole new and unique way.
The area needed really good practice of marketing with partners and stakeholders. The people were very desperate to see the viable number of tourist to have the economic benefit as enjoyed by their neighboring area such as Tatopani and Ghorepani and Ghandruk. It’s not that this area did not see any tourist. Few individuals and companies have been taking their clients though this area. However, their area of interest as every business companies has their own, were limited to Khopra with Ghorepani and hence the communities are yet to harvest the economic benefit from the tourism. Companies like this could take long time and with few other companies
Concept and naming of trek
We realized that this area was and is desperate to make it to happen. This is well understood that it cannot be done without some support from outside. We know everyone is trying to promote their company by putting or leveling their company as ECO, the community, village tourism and homestay even though most of them are just opposite but still trying be responsible operators. Finding the proper name and running it genuinely can be very hard. On the way at couple of places, we saw the old sign board saying, “Annapurna Dhaulagiri community lodge”, as they were not sure if that is right name. This really appealed us as these are the names of famous mountain in the world and it’s already a strong brand. This way we started naming the trips as Annapurna Dhaulagiri treks with the strong environmental and ecotourism message and hence the name, “Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco-lodge treks or Trails) was finalized. There could be many names, people can call this trek but we understand, this could be the best for our new trekking project. And we really wanted to make the use of eco-word genuinely and would operate the treks as it sounds. So this meaningful trek is conceptualized by us in Nature-treks.com (NTH)
Minimum tourism impact
To minimize the tourism impact on its environment and culture, we understand that we have to be very careful. One factor would be the group size and hence the group size to be kept 10 -12 person of under this figure. And other factors would be the education and awareness to the local community, trekking lodge staffs, trekking staffs and the visitors too. The training would be so important to deliver in right way!
We believe that the eco-lodges be dedicated and committed to carry the practice of highest standard service, which will provide our guest and visitors the added value of this trip they are on. The managements of the whole area would abide by the standard of best possible in the area and try to improve as the time goes.
Pricing and economical benefits
The price of this trek has been designed carefully, so that the communities get the maximum economical benefits and the guest or visitors gets the most of the trip out there. NTH has already carried out this policy providing the maximum economic benefit to the community and whatever is left is being used for marketing, guiding, communication with very little profit now.
Past and future
We would like to see that the communities change into a sustainable community that can generate its own local employments to the youth, establish its own educations institutions and health care system in future at the same time persevering the past cultural and social norms of the society and conserving the natural heritage they are proud to be associated with.
Marketing and promotion
The most of the marketing and promotion has been carried out by Nature-treks.com Himalaya from the very beginning of the project by brochures, flyers and in social media. From the beginning this product has been marketed in the international seminars and travel trade fair held in Japan, Europe and USA
To manage the flow of the tourist in that area, we would like to develop a mechanism of booking in Kathmandu rather than turning up there suddenly. This is for securing the accommodations and the best possible service so that the tourists do not return back and disappointments. At least the area know how many clients are getting booked in the particular lodges and prepare accordingly.
Local expectation and excitement
Local communities are very excited about this project and are really looking forward to reap the benefit as this one of the best and easy way. To meet the expectation of the communities, some time can be not so easy but will have to educate them what to expect.
We can still see few drawbacks even here, such as less available manpower, politics, legality, short term expectation from the communities and competition among themselves in unhealthy way that can not only harm the whole system but themselves too. At the same time travel agents or tour operators trying to promote this as a mass tourism with cut-throat competitions as seen in other trekking trails.
But we must understand that we are living in the 21st century and we cannot have everything but we are working hard and will continue to work hard to dedicate ourselves, to make this project run well, that is beneficial to all collectively.
It is possible absolutely……
Suggestions and feedback please send to us at these email addresses as: [email protected] or [email protected] For trip information please check us out in the following links:https://www.nature-treks.com/community-eco-trails/
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