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Tourism in Nepal
About Nepal

Nepal is the most beautiful and stunning Himalayan country in the world. Explore the beauty of the snow-capped mountains, the extraordinary flora and fauna and the fascinating culture of people from several diverse ethnic groups. Nepal is popularly known for the highest mountain peak of the world, Mount Everest which stands tall at 8848 metres. It is also famous for the birthplace of Gautam Buddha who laid the foundation of Buddhism in the country. Come and explore Nepal having rich traditions of art, culture and heritage. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal is a treasure house of ancient art and culture.

Village Tourism
Nepal is a predominantly rural society, and its rich culture and ethnic diversity are best experienced in its villages. A growing number of programmes enable visitors to stay overnight in private homes in traditional villages far from the tourist trails.

Village stays (or village tourism, as this relatively new activity is called in the business) offer a unique opportunity for comfortable cultural immersion. The idea is that a tour operator contracts with a whole village to accommodate and entertain guests; rooms in local houses are fitted with bathrooms and a few tourist-style comforts, host families are trained to prepare meals hygienically, and a guide accompanies the guests to interpret. Participating villages tend to be located a couple of hours' walk from the nearest road - close enough to be easily accessible for less-than-fit visitors, yet far enough to be culturally intact and shielded from outside influences. (You'd never find these places on your own.)

Village tourism differs from trekking in a couple of important ways. First, although some walking is involved, and a trekking permit may even be required, exercise is secondary to the cultural experience: the whole point is to stay in one village and get to know its people, not to cover distances between villages. Second, accommodation is in an actual home, not a trekking inn filled with other backpackers, so the cross-cultural exchange is more authentic. And while participating villages obviously do get tourists, they get far fewer than even the most minor halt along a standard teahouse trek, and are completely uncommercialized.

Tourism and its economic benefits are far too concentrated in a few areas of Nepal, so village tourism is seen as a promising way to disperse visitors and spread thewealth. Under the best programmes, local people get to keep 50 percent of the proceeds - that's big money, given the high rates charged by operators - and since all food and services are locally produced, virtually all of the money stays in the community. However, if village tourism catches on, get-rich-quick operators can be expected to dive in with cut-price packages that give locals a much smaller portion of the cut, so if you're considering a village stay, question prospective operators closely about where the money's going.

So if you're an individual orcouple you should contact the companies well in advance and adjust your schedule to coordinate with already-scheduled departures.

A few language institutes and other recoganizations in Kathmandu also organize informal homestays with individual families in and around the valley. Most of these are intended specifically to provide Nepali language immersion, but at least one programme is set up for tourists just wanting to spend a weekend with a Nepali family.

Clothing and the body
Nepalis are innately conservative in their attitudes to clothing. Not a few are still shell-shocked from the hang-loose styles of the hippy era, and wary of all budget travellers as a result. A woman is expected to dress modestly, with legs and shoulders covered, especially in temples and monasteries: a dress or skirt that hangs to mid-calf level is best; trousers are acceptable, but shorts or a short skirt are offensive to many. A man should always wear a shirt in public, and long trousers if possible (men who wear shorts are assumed to be of a low caste). It's equally important to look clean and well groomed - travellers are rich, Nepalis reckon, and ought to look the part. You can flout these traditions, but you'll only shut yourself off from the happy encounters with locals that make travelling in Nepal so pleasant.

Nudity is a sensitive issue. Only women with babies or small children in tow bare their breasts. When Nepali men bath in public, they do it in their underwear, and women bath fully clothed. Foreigners are expected to do likewise. Nepal has some idyllic hot springs, but most are heavily used as bathing areas; don't scare the locals off by stripping. Paradoxically, it's deemed okay to defecate in the open, as in many villages there are no covered toilets - but out of sight of others, in the early morning or after dark. Men may urinate in public away from buildings - discreetly - but women have to find a sheltered spot.

Still other conventions pertain to the body. In Nepal, the forehead is regarded as the most sacred part of the body and the feet the most unclean. It's impolite to touch an adult Nepali's head, and it's an insult to kick someone. (The Nepali equivalent of tarring and feathering is to force a person to wear a garland of shoes.) Don't put your feet on chairs or tables, and when sitting, try not to point the soles of your feet at anyone. On a related note, it's bad manners to step over the legs of someone seated: in a crowded place, Nepalis will wait for you to draw in your feet so they can pass.

Nepali views about displays of affection are the opposite of what most of us are used to. It's considered acceptable for friends of the same sex to hold hands or put their arms around each other in public, but not for lovers of the opposite sex. Couples shouldn't cuddle or kiss in public, nor in front of a Nepali host. Don't shake hands with a Nepali woman, as this form of contact is not traditional.

Temples and Homes in Nepal
Major Hindu temples or their inner sanctums are usually off-limits to non-believers, who are technically outcastes. Respect this: what seems like elitism is just Hindus' way of keeping a part of their culture sacred in a country where nearly everything is open to inspection by outsiders. In most cases, you can see everything from outside anyway. Where you are allowed in, be respectful, take your shoes off before entering, don't take photos unless you've been given permission, and leave a few rupees in the donation box. Leather is usually not allowed in temple precincts. Don't touch offerings, nor people when they're on their way to shrines or are in the process of worshipping. The front of a shrine is usually marked by a pedestal supporting the deity's carrier, and/or a lotus-carved stone embedded in the ground: these define the territory of the shrine, where it's particularly important to be reverent.

Similar sensitivity is due at Buddhist temples andmonasteries. If you're granted an audience with a lama, it's traditional to present him with a kata (a ceremonial white scarf, usually sold nearby). Walk around Buddhist stupas and monuments clockwise - that is, keep the monument on your right.

If invited for a meal in a private home, bring an appopriate gift such as fruit. Take your shoes off when entering, or follow the example of your host. When the food is served you'll be expected to serve yourself first, so you won't be able to follow your host's lead. Don't take more than you can eat - it is polite to ask for seconds. The meal is typically served at the end of a gathering; when the eating is done, everyone gets up and leaves.

Ecotourism traveller's code:-
These tips come courtesy of the Nepal Tourist Watch Centre, an organization established to preserve Nepal's heritage and environment through responsible tourism.

Travel in a spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to meet and talk with the local people.

Be aware of the feelings of other people, thus preventing what might be seen as offensive behaviour. Remember this especially with photography.

Get acquainted with local customs; respect them; people will be happy to help you.
Remember that you are one of thousands of visiting tourists. Do not expect special privileges.
Make no promises to local people unless you are certain you can fulfill them.
Cultivate the habit of asking questions instead of knowing all the answers.
If you really want a home away from home, why travel

Privacy
Nepalis do not have the same concept of privacy that Westerners do. Nepali families are large and close-knit, and houses are small. Nepalis grow up constantly surrounded by other people (and noise). They like to be with other people, and they will assume you do, too.

Moreover, as a foreigner you will be an object of great curiosity as soon as you step off the beaten track. People may stare, point at you and even talk about you (in Nepali) among themselves. Nepalis will constantly be befriending you, wanting to exchange addresses and extracting solemn promises that you will write to them. Sometimes they will ask you point-blank to help them travel to your country, assuming you to be wealthy enough to pay their airfare and powerful enough to fix their visa.

There will be days when you feel that if you're asked the question "What is your country?" one more time you'll hit someone. Give yourself time off when you need it. But Nepalis are the best thing about Nepal, so don't close yourself off to meeting them

Other things
Try to convey an accurate impression of your home country - both its good and bad points - and play down materialistic standards of success. Don't rub Nepalis' noses in technology and fashions they can't afford. Nepali society is rich in the traditions of family and community that are so often mislaid in the West, but like traditional societies worldwide it is under attack, and we are only now beginning to see that tourism is a corrupting agent.

You may be dismayed by the amount of rubbish in the streets. There are few rubbish bins in Nepal (although they're starting to appear in tourist areas), and people throw their litter on the ground, where it may or may not be swept up by other people whose job it is to do so. Where they exist, toilets range from "Western" (sit-down) flush jobs to two planks projected over a stream. In lodges - tourist ones aside - the norm is a squat toilet, usually pretty stinky and flyblown. When travelling by bus, there will almost always be a bathroom available at rest stops, but sometimes the public toilet will be nothing but a designated field. When in doubt, ask Chaarpi kahaa chha ? ("Where is the toilet?"). Don't throw paper down squat toilets: put it in the basket provided. Toilet paper is not provided in more basic guest houses and restaurants, so bring your own. Nepalis use a jug of water and the left hand (try it yourself - it's no more or less disgusting than the toilet paper method).

Finally, be patient. Nepal is a developing country and things don't always work or start on time. It's unrealistic to expect things to be like they are at home, even if the menu or brochure makes it sound as if they will be. If a restaurant is slow in filling your order, it may be because they've only got one stove. Getting angry or impatient will only confuse Nepalis and won't resolve the problem. The Nepali way of dealing with setbacks isn't to complain, or even to keep a stiff upper lip, but to laugh. It's a delightful, infectious response.

You can't change Nepal, and even if you could, it is not yours to change. Many things in Nepal are slow, inefficient or downright nutty, but that's just the way things are. Taking the attitude that "somebody's got to teach them a lesson" or "if nobody complains it'll never change" (real-life dialogue overheard in Kathmandu) will only make you and everyone around you miserable. Go with the flow. It's Nepal you've come to experience - let it be Nepal.

To get by with a minimum of disappointment, the best strategy is to scale back your expectations, always double- and triple-check important arrangements, take all assurances with a pinch of salt (Nepalis will sometimes tell you what they think will make you happy rather than the truth), and find something interesting to do while you're waiting .

Eco Tourrism
Eco-tourism is often defined as a form of tourism with a purpose. Whilst in general terms it means environmentally friendly' tourism, there is not a universal definition for eco-tourism, and the specific definition as to what this actually means in practice can vary greatly from one country to another. Although it lacks one clear definition, the International Eco-tourism has classified it. Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well was being of local people. In addition, the World Conservation visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas has low negative visitor impact and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local

 

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