From trekking to drinking water

Sustainable travel in Nepal

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Nepal wants to receive considerably more guests than before. This is fundamental to the economic growth of the developing country, but also brings with it problems. Sustainable tourism is therefore particularly important in Nepal - and travelers can do their part. Here are a few tips.

Nepal's Ministry of Tourism has a clear objective: the Himalayan state wants to welcome two million visitors every year from 2020 onwards. The country needs tourism, it is its second most important source of income and thus fundamental to its economic development. At the same time, higher visitor numbers are challenging the structurally weak Nepal . So that potential problems do not grow out, the guests themselves are in demand. Here are some simple tips for sustainable travel in Nepal .

Sustainable travel in Nepal: avoid plastic

This is true worldwide and especially where plastic is not recycled: Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, it is better to refill a bottle with you. In Nepal , this is easy for travelers to implement. Both private households and hotels usually deliver drinking water in 20-liter vats, which when empty are collected and recycled.

Guests can enjoy free use of these water dispensers. Some accommodations even provide them with stable drinking bottles in the rooms.

Cloth bag instead of plastic bags

Just as at home, it's best to always bring a backpack with you or pack a tote bag to carry groceries or other groceries. Many shops in Nepal spend their time on sturdy, mostly yellow or red cloth bags. If you do not have your own bag with you, you can reuse these bags wonderfully in the future.

Best with the bus through the country

Nepalese airlines offer domestic flights to various tourist hubs in the country. For example, in just 25 minutes, you can fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Nepal's second largest city, from where many tourists trek for trekking in the Himalayas. The same applies to the Chitwan National Park in the south of Nepal: In 20 minutes you can fly from the capital to Bharatpur on the edge of the nature reserve.

But it is much more environmentally friendly: all major towns outside the Kathmandu Valley are approached by well-equipped tourist buses from the capital. Most buses leave from Sorakhutte near the tourist district of Thamel at 7:00 am in the morning. Collaborating with the hotels and tour operators who sell the tickets is, in my experience, going well.

Overland travel in Nepal certainly takes its time : for example, the bus needs seven hours for the 200 kilometers from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The culprits are the narrow, winding and dilapidated streets and the traffic jam in the capital. A lunch break is therefore always provided for such long journeys, the food in the restaurant is included in the fare.

Trekken with responsibility

Again and again there are reports in Nepal about garbage slopes and hiking trails. Important (and, of course, of course): Take your rubbish back, at least where it can be disposed of and recycled. This is especially true for dead batteries and other electronic waste.

Incidentally, sustainability already starts with packing a suitcase or a backpack at home: at best, if possible, you do without things that only turn into garbage in your holiday destination. And: An environmental organization has calculated that 7537 tons less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually, travelers would reduce their luggage by 25 percent.

The plastic bottle problem also exists on the hiking trails: many tourists are simply too scared to catch something by drinking natural fresh water. They therefore prefer to cover themselves with drinking water in plastic bottles. Today, there are several options for safe mobile water treatment . Another advantage: you have to carry much less weight with you.

Anyone who sets out on a guided tour while hiking in the Himalayas should make sure that they meet certain sustainability standards when choosing the tour operator. That is, the population is considered, the employees treated well, equipped and paid. Many popular trekking routes, such as the Manaslu Circuit, pass through villages that were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake . Sustainable tour operators donate part of their revenue for the reconstruction of these towns and are therefore particularly worthy of support.

Many travelers who travel independently engage a Nepalese porter (porter) privately. You should know: they are largely responsible for the well-being of the porters. The men are mostly simple farmers, and working as a carrier is the only way for many of them to make any money. Often, however, they carry too much weight on their shoulders through the mountains and do not even have adequate and safe trekking clothing.

“) mit Sitz in Thamel setzt sich für das Wohlergehen der Porter ein. The Nepali NGO Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (" KEEP ") based in Thamel is committed to the well-being of Porter. She also accepts clothes donations for the porters. Since Nepalese are smaller on average, the trekking jackets and pants often do not suit Western tourists. Sleeping bags, sunglasses, gloves, socks and boots will gladly accept the organization's donation center.

Sustainable travel in Nepal: hotel tips

More and more inns and hotels in Nepal are committed to sustainability. I got to know two of them in person. For one, the Bed and Breakfast "Traditional Homes Swotha" near the Patan Durbar Square:

It is a 100 year old Newar home that has been lovingly restored. The traditional construction of the Newar, the largest ethnic group in the Kathmandu Valley, has been preserved in this way: window frames, furniture and wooden columns characterize the tastefully yet modern rooms. Curtains, rugs and soaps are bought from local dealers in Patan. In addition, the house relies on solar energy in case of power failure and water heating.

Another pioneer in terms of sustainability is the "Kantipur Temple House" in Thamel: Just like "Traditional Homes Swotha", the house attaches great importance to preserving the typical New Aryan architecture. Particularly impressive is the courtyard with its elaborate carvings. The hotel dispenses with plastic, composts its bio-waste, works with a recycling company and uses traditional energy-saving methods, such as hot water bottles for guests in winter and fans in summer. Moreover, it only processes organic food from Nepalese farms and plantations.

So much for the sustainable lodgings in Kathmandu and Patan, of which I could personally make an impression. In the meantime, there are a large number of hotels on the Internet that also strive for environmental friendliness.

Save electricity

In all accommodation, guests are required to turn off lights and, if necessary, heat and, if possible, to disconnect all electrical appliances when leaving their room. They also consume energy when they are not turned on. Although the power supply has stabilized decisively, at least in the Kathmandu Valley, last year, one still has to expect blackouts from time to time.

save water

Also, the water supply is still often reaching its limits. Many hotels and private households are therefore reliant on buying and pumping up additional water, especially in the harsh months. Guests should use water sparingly and, for example, take no longer than necessary showering.

Getting to know locals: Community Homestays

The term sustainability in the context of tourism also includes respectful encounters with the inhabitants of a country and its culture. A grateful opportunity to connect with locals in Nepal is community homestays . Meanwhile, they are available throughout the country. Tourists choosing these accommodations stay in private homes in the middle of a Nepalese community, with foreign guest rooms equipped with western toilets and showers with hot water. Travelers are included in the daily lives of locals and get to know Nepalese culture first-hand.

Rangolis painting with professionals: In community homestays visitors are involved in the everyday life of the locals

In addition, guests support the community with their stay in two ways. Firstly, they help to strengthen the local local women. In the community homestays, women take over central tasks and earn their own income in this way. Secondly, part of the money goes to the local community, including schools.

I visited the Tharu Community Homestay in the south of Nepal and spent time with the locals, the Tharu. A unique experience.

Buy local products

This point sounded already at the hotel tips above: Travelers buy products - from handicrafts to food - if possible, best of local dealers. Not only do they boost the local economy, they also help to save the energy and costs of importing various goods.


Disclosure: The tour operator "Fairaway" has invited me to spend one night at "Tradtional Homes Swotha" and two nights at "Tharu Community Homestay".

  1. Great contribution! I think it's great to buy products from the locals, because you can also learn a lot about the culture. In order to buy well in Germany, for example, I take an online shop for women's shoes, where I know how to make it. I can only appeal, relying on quality and workmanship, not the price.

  2. Good entry! I think it's great to buy products from the locals because you can learn a lot about the culture as well.

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