Trekking In The Nepali Himalayas, 1998 3
by Ella Maughan
by Ella Maughan
- Deforestation: this is a growing problem in Nepal, which is exacerbated by the influx of Western trekkers. Some areas now have introduced rules enforcing the use of kerosene instead of wood for fuel. In regions without such rules there are a number of ways to minimise your impact when trekking independently.
- Find out Nepali eating times and aim to coincide your mealtimes with theirs. If food is being prepared anyway it's not a problem to make a bit extra, this is providing you stick to the traditional Nepali fare. This will generally be dish called dahl bhat, rice served with soupy lentils, not exactly haute cuisine but it is filling and nutritious. If you are unable to eat at the traditional times, noodle soup is quick and easy for lodge owners to prepare and is available in the popular trekking regions.
- In the major trekking areas the lodges and hotels often have surprisingly extensive menus. Another way to reduce fuel consumption if you are trekking with friends, is to all choose the same food. It will take a great deal more firewood to prepare several different dishes than to produce one large meal.
- Littering: don't do it! Be prepared to carry your rubbish away with you. The most unsightly and common form of littering is plastic water bottles. Take a water container and a good supply of purification tablets, we never had any problems filling our containers from communal village taps. Buying water is totally unnecessary and rounding a corner in the beautiful Himalayan countryside to be confronted by a pile of plastic bottles is distressing.
- Other beverages may be available, like coke or even beer! In the case of coke bottles it is often worth while for the locals to carry the empties back to civilisation and claim the deposit on the bottles, however I'm not sure of what becomes of the beer bottles. Don't eat or drink anything if you suspect the bottles or containers will end up poorly disguised, in a heap behind a rock.
- How to dress: it can get pretty hot when you're trekking, unfortunately the Nepalese take a pretty dim view of scantily clad Western tourists, especially women. Revealing clothing tends to be associated with dubious morals and does nothing for the reputation of Western tourists in Asia. If you cover up and acknowledge local feelings on these matters you will find people respond in a positive and friendly way.
- Economics: as most trekkers look to Lonely Planet guides to recommend good lodges and the best ways to break up a trekking route, some villages benefit more from tourism than others. By splitting your trek up in slightly different way to the recommendations of Lonely Planet you may discover some delightful places to stay as well as help to spread the benefits of tourism a little more evenly.