Gateway to the Himalaya’s: Fair Voyage at the Himalayan Travel Mart in Nepal
Only two years after the launch of Fair Voyage (called KiliGate at the time) we felt ready, as a team, to take on a new challenge.
We have been promoting ethical climbing of Kilimanjaro towards conscious travellers – the tallest free-standing mountain of Africa – while at the same time building our expertise around sustainability, safety and fair porter treatment in the travel climbing industry.
What could be a better next destination than Nepal, the ultimate gateway into the Himalaya’s? Both to expand our offering to our clients and to highlight the sustainable tour agencies that are creating a positive social and environmental ripple effect in the Himalayan region. The Himalayan Travel Mart (HTM) was our ideal opportunity to reach these goals.
So off to Nepal I went. Ready to explore this mysterious little country that is also the home of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, which traditional name is “Goddess Mother of the World” and “Peak of Heaven.”
My visit was fortunately too brief to come anywhere near Mount Everest or climb any of the other high mountains (it also wasn’t the climbing season, so I’m planning to come back at other times of the year). But thanks to our new partner Nepal Sanctuary Treks – with whom I connected through HTM! – I was lucky enough to marvel at the grandeur and the beauty of Mount Everest during a one-hour mountain flight. An experience I won’t soon forget!
Sustainable tourism in Nepal
Climbing Mount Everest however, has been a topic of heated discussion in climbing and travel communities since a photo with a long queue of climbers waiting to summit Everest has gone viral.
Hopefully, this awareness of and attention for the issue of mass tourism in adventure travel, like climbing Everest, will eventually lead to the much-needed turning points to preserve this magnificent and even sacred place for future generations.
Fortunately, thanks to the Himalayan Travel Mart, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with lots of conscious tour agencies and travel professionals who are walking their talk. They treat their porters well, are concerned about the safety of travellers and take environmental practices like the Leave No Trace-principle into account.
Visit Nepal 2020 International Tourism Campaign
Behind the scenes, we are working hard to set up collaborations with our new partners so that we can have our climbing itineraries up and ready before the climbing season in Nepal starts.
Timing is everything, as this will coincide with the international campaign ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ to promote tourism in the country.
This promotion does not only aim to show travellers the beautiful natural sites Nepal has to offer and the fact that Nepal is a safe country to travel to, but also to fuel the local economy. Four years after the horrible earthquake that destroyed large parts of Nepal, this is still much needed to be able to continue rebuilding and restoring the damage.
Nepal is more than the Himalayas
“Everest is more than just the climb to the summit. The Himalayas are more than just Everest. And Nepal is more than just the Himalayas”, said Norie Quintos, editor at large at National Geographic Travel, who spoke on the topic of the future of adventure travel at HTM.
And I couldn’t agree more, because Nepal literally has it all. From jungle safaris to spot all sorts of wildlife to a wide range of beautifully preserved medieval towns, sacred sites like Buddhist and Hindu temples to wonderful culinary traditions.
I had the wonderful opportunity to stay at Barahi Eco Lodge, one of the most famous eco-lodges of South Asia, right at the border with Chitwan National Park. Besides seeing the social and environmental practices of the lodge, the nature guides also taught me a lot about the wildlife living in the park as well as the conservation efforts done by the government. Over the past years, both the rhino and the tiger population have gone up! (organised by HTM)
I hiked to the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara (so far my introduction into hiking in Nepal for now) and experienced the hospitality and the potential impact of community-based tourism through visiting a home of the Community Homestay Network. (organised by HTM)
From Kathmandu to Patan, Nuwakot and Bhaktapur I was amazed by the cultural and historical heritage; I felt the presence of the spiritual energy amidst all the monks and praying people at Boudhanath, the largest stupa in the world; and had heart-warming encounters with so many friendly Nepalese people I met on my way.
Last but definitely not least: Nepal is without exaggeration a paradise for adrenaline junkies. Whether you are into white-water rafting or kayaking, canyoning, paragliding, mountain biking or rock climbing … it’s all there.
And I’ve saved the best for last, which is that all these different attractions are within a relatively short distance from each other. Which allows us to create incredibly diverse itineraries for both shorter and longer multi-day trips!
Thanks Himalayan Travel Mart to open all these new doors for us, we are excited to pay it forward to our future clients!
In the video below you can listen to my recap of 3 intense days at the Himalayan Travel Mart:
We finished 3 intense rewarding days of connecting with responsible tour operators at the Himalayan Travel Mart!
Yana is our Sustainable Travel Advisor. As Belgian semi-nomadic adventurer with a passion for travel and sustainability, Yana worked in development aid and research on sustainable tourism across continents. She has lived in Kenya, visited Kilimanjaro, climbed Mount Kenya, saw the mountain gorillas in Uganda and went on multiple hikes and safaris all over East Africa.