Monday, September 27, 2010


More than 200 people turned out on Saturday the 25th of September for a fun filled adventure to discover the ‘Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail’ (KVCTT). The day covered the leg of the KVCTT from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel. Trekkers covered the 12km distance in around 4 hours, soaking up the spectacular monsoon green views of Panckhal Valley and the hills beyond. The weather was perfect for the day, nice temperature for hiking and made for a relaxed atmosphere. The main aim of the event was to promote the KVCTT and health and recreation.

The day started from 6:30am with a bus ride from the Nepal Tourism Board in Bhrikutimandap. Once all aboard, we left the chaos of the city behind and climbed up the winding road to Nagarkot. Everyone relaxed as we left the city behind and the green hills opened up in front of us. On arrival at Hotel Club Himalaya, we had a scrumptious breakfast laid on by the resort. The relaxed garden court yard was the perfect setting for the start of our days trekking.

People had come from all over Kathmandu to join the hike, Ex Pats, Government Personal, Embassy Workers, Hoteliers, INGO/NGO staff, local community members, local youth groups, media and press representatives and many others turned up for the event. Spirits where high and cameras clicking as we left Club Himalaya and preceded on the hike.

This section of the KVCTT, begins by following the main road that goes to the Nagarkot view tower for about 15 mins. Passing the army camp and a set of tea shops the hikers turned off the main road and the real adventure of the trek began. Hikers where awed as the mist cleared and valley view’s opened up and it was hard to keep eyes on the narrow trail! The trail passed through towering fields of maize and alongside small farmhouses. The hiking group spread out along the route with some choosing to set a fast pace and others content on a relaxed stroll and taking in the environment. The trail joined a wider jeep track and curved high above the valley through some native shrub to Rohini Bhangyang. Hikers took advantage of the NETIF rest shelter and took time to rest and enjoy this tiny village. The map and sign markers pointed out our onward trail.

Soon hikers where treated for an adventure as we turned off the jeep track and followed a newly made single track through pristine jungle. For about 1km we followed this trail, seeking out different kinds of jungle plants, mosses and mushrooms. The cool air and sweet smell of the jungle made everyone feel fresh and rejuvenated. Emerging from the jungle a different valley view opened up before us of Nala and the green rice fields around Banepa. The next NETIF rest shelter/view deck was a good place to take in the views and sip some water. From here the trail dropped steeply down and everyone was grateful of the newly built stone staircase thanks to the support of NETIF, The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, Tourism Infrastructure Development Project and the local community on what would of normally been a slippery & dangerous decent.

On reaching Kashi Bhanjyang, many people commented on the stunning views and almost everyone was relieved to take a rest. Locally prepared snacks of hot, fresh shellroti, channa, pokodas and juicy sweet guava was lapped up by everyone, filling the hole in our bellies and giving us the energy for the climb to come. Most people choose to relax a while in Kashi Bhanjyang and some even indulged in a chilled beer to savour the moment. The atmosphere was jovial and it was clear that everyone was having a splendid day. At Kashi Bhanjyang, volunteers had also set up a toilet facility and a medical post to treat any injured trekkers, fix minor scrapes and generally make sure everyone was in good working order.

So with full bellies and rested legs, hikers climbed up through picturesque fields of neatly rowed potatoes and purple flowering aubergines. Steep and narrow, the climb was a challenge for some but a breeze for others. The sun was shining by now and there was sweat on everyone brow! A welcome rest was taken at the small, yellow painted Buddhist monastery at the top of the hill in Tanchowk. From here the trail was super narrow, almost like a goat track, and zig-zagged its way down the hillside which was scattered with Tamang and Brahmin farms to Opi. At some points this was a real adventure, and we have to thank the guides from the Kavre Guides Association for marking the trail and making sure none of us got lost.....good job boys!

Passing Opi the trail climbed again steady up through some pine forests and finally made the last descent down to Dhulikhel. Hikers where warmly welcomed at Hotel Himalayan Horizons and happily accepted the welcome tikka and khadha. Tired but happy hikers then retired to the lovely gardens of the Hotel for welcome drinks and rest.

Once the last wary bunch had strolled in it was time for the celebrations of the great day to begin. A lavish feast of local cuisine was laid on and plates piled high as guests settled down under the evening sky to enjoy a cultural dance program performed by local group The Gauri Shanker Dance Club. The dance group put on a selection of traditional dances from the many different ethnic groups of Nepal. A very bright and colourful performance and many of the guests also got up and danced along. Gauri Shanker Cultural Dance group is a local business incentive program which NETIF helped to establish, providing training, costumes and instruments to local youths. The Group is now their own self supporting and fully registered business.

As the sunset on this amazing and successful day, the buses headed back to Kathmandu full of satisfied hikers, all having experienced rural Nepal at its finest by discovering the Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail.

Special thanks has to go to all participants, event organizers, volunteers, medical support, local communities and hoteliers who lent a hand to make the day such a great success.

Stay tuned for NETIF’s next big adventure!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prospects of Eco-tourism & Challenges of Waste Management In “Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT)”


(A case study of Nagarkot, a popular hill station)

1. Background:
Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and latitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60m above sea level to the highest point on earth, the Mt.Everest at 8848m.Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is one of the most densely populated cities. It is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. Inside and around the city, we can find many big Hotels, Resorts, Restaurants, Casinos, Lodges, etc.

Naturally and culturally the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas have unique and attractive tourist products. Within a 20km radius there are seven World Heritage Sites, one can see panoramic view of mountain range during the Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking, and can also observe the best Nepal’s rural culture life with minimum equipment. But at the same time it is an obvious fact that Kathmandu has expanded over the last decade with new buildings of all shape. As a result of it, the valley has to witness a difficult situation of fast-growing unplanned urbanization and uncontrolled land development creating lots of problem regarding proper solid and sewage waste management.

Aiming at avoiding its environmental and cultural problems efforts are being made through government and non-government levels. There are some NGOs in Nepal that support tourism and environment related activities working with local communities, government organization and private sectors. “Nepal Environment and Tourism Initiative Foundation (NETIF)” is one of them. This organization has already undertaken few programs regarding tourism and environment in “Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT)” for the sustainable tourism development.

Presently NETIF is working with local communities and encouraging environmental sustainable practices for the promotion of Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail. Some of the noteworthy works includes clean-up campaigns, construction of tourist shelters, installations of incinerators, bins and toilets as well as local capacity building programs including waste management and environment conservation.

2. Introduction of Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT):
Tourism is one of the major industries of the Nepalese economy. It represents a significant position of the gross domestic product. It is highly consumer centered activity. The constant increase of the number of visitors/ tourists has put extra pressure on the local environment and requires the development of additional infrastructure and facilities. Apart from environmental degradation from infrastructure development in the tourist areas, there has been a big challenge of waste management and environment pollution not only from local people but also from hotels, resorts, restaurants etc.

The need has been realized by the organization (NETIF), which is working to promote community based eco-tourism in the area and has developed “Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT)” as one of the major tourism products of the country. In the context of KVCTT, the problem of waste management is one of the big challenges of managing the waste properly to promote responsible tourism in the area. To address those challenges various awareness campaigns like- capacity building trainings for hotels, resorts, lodges and tea-houses, placing environment slogans in the trekking trail are being carried out, incinerators are constructed in the major settlements, waste collection bins are placed throughout the trail. Some of the major activates performed by NETIF to promote eco-friendly tourism and to address waste management related issues in KVCTT are:
• Mushroom and Off seasonal vegetable Cultivation trainings
• Doll making from Corn husk( Waste to Resources)
• Food and Personal Hygiene and Sanitation training in Hotel
• Cleanup campaign in various destinations.
• Workshop organized on Organic farming, Waste Management and Heritage Conservation
• Different research surveys on Solid Waste Management

Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT) passes through a National Park and three other Hill Stations. Since Nagarkot is a typical popular tourist destination as well as part of Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCTT), this paper is also based on the study of solid waste management situation in Nagarkot.

3. Case Study of Nagarkot:
Nagarkot is situated at an elevation of 2,175 meter above sea level. It is located 32km to east of Kathmandu city. It has been a weekend spot for mountain viewers in quite and comfort. The sunrise viewed from this hill presents the majestic panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges from Mt. Dhaulagiri in the west to the Mt. Everest in the east. Presently there are around 40 tourist standard hotels, resorts, restaurants and tea-houses and numbers are still increasing.

3. 1. Total Waste Generated in Nagarkot

The different categories of solid waste generated from hotels, resorts, restaurants, lodges and shops are classified as biodegradable wastes (food waste, vegetable waste etc.) and non-biodegradable waste (paper, plastic, glass, metals, dust etc). In Nagarkot tourist area, the average total waste generated from different sources is 1453.83 kg/day.

3.2. Waste Collection System in Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants:
The collection of wastes in the hotels and resorts is done by using plastic buckets, metal bins or paper boxes due to the fact that there is no specific type of collection system and most of them have to manage their waste by themselves. Some of the hotels and resorts have solid waste collection system .The wastes are being transported to nearby dumping site. From the survey done for the case study, it was found that almost all hotels are willing to have a specific collection system and two pay charge for the service.

3. 3. Reuse /Recycle
Though reuse and recycle of the waste can help to reduce the amount of the waste it was found that very few hoteliers are aware of it. Some of the hotels, resorts and restaurants are reusing mineral water bottles. Almost all the hotels are selling the empty bottles to the scrap dealers.

3. 4. Problems and Challenges of Waste Management
  • The waste is managed in traditional way in hotels, resorts & restaurants,
  • There is no such awareness in the public and no strict rules against the waste pollution,
  • Management of solid waste is extremely poor and hazardous to health,
  • Adoption of general available technology,
  • Commitment of waste management by stakeholders.
3. 5. Necessary Steps to Implement for Recycling Programme in Hotel Waste Management
  • Identify and quantify recyclable materials currently being thrown away in open land,
  • Involving the hotel’s participation in all stages of the recycling program,
  • Promote and identify “Green Hotels/Resorts” (which means the hotel who uses resources wisely incorporating energy, water, recycling & water),
  • Select products made from recycled materials,
  • Purchases energy efficient equipment that causes less environment harm,
  • Appointment of a Waste Manager who will be responsible for implementation of procedures & standards of waste management.
4. Conclusion and Recommendations:
Naturally, solid Waste Management is one of the major issues for tourism promotion and also play a major role to save or destroy the beauty of the place. But so far it shows that there has not been adequately considered in practice over this aspects of solid waste management.
Taking into account, the present situation of Nagarkot, it is obvious that solid waste problem has created many serious huddles in tourism development. Thus there is still a need more efforts to address such problem as soon as possible by promoting eco-tourism in “Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail” with the involvement of local communities. Taking into conservation all these facts following recommendations are suggested:
  • Awareness programs, trainings and workshops should be conducted for waste handling for local community, tourist, staffs of the hotels, resorts, restaurants, tea-houses, local shops etc,
  • Habit of waste reduction at source itself should be practiced to reduce solid waste problem. Even the various types of wastes should be segregated at the point of source so that treatment of solid waste would be easier and efficient,
  • New technology need to be introduced to recycle and reuse the plastics waste and other mineral water bottles ,
  • Incinerators have been placed by NETIF for demonstration purposes which are working well there. More incinerator are required to be placed in various location for burning non-biodegradable waste,
  • Since hotels, resorts and restaurants generate relatively high amount of organic wastes, it is recommended for them to adopt compost making technology by them individual basis as well.
  • Bhatta Damodar Prasad (June 2006). “Ecotourism in Nepal”, Quality Printers Pvt.Ltd, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • GTZ (1988). “Solid Waste Management with People’s participation, An example in Nepal”. Kathmandu: SWMRMC
  • ICIMOD and MoEST (2007). “Kathmandu Valley Environment Outlook”
  • Manandhar Isha (August 2009). “Study on Solid Waste Management in Tourist Area of Nagarkot”, Kathmandu University
  • The Ecotourism Society (1999). “Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners & Manager”, Natraj Publication, Dehra Dun
  • Website of Nepal Environment & Tourism Initiative Foundation(NETIF)-