|Do's and Don'ts|
Information, Green Trekking,
Dress and Attire,
Antiques, Taking Photos, Beggars, Bargaining, Offensive Gestures,
Giving Tips, Medical Attention,
For the Sensitive Traveler we have laid out a few items where you may try not
to change Nepal, but let Nepal change you.
Travelers are ever-searching for the untrained path,
for places and peoples unspoiled and exotic. But, tourism can no longer afford
to spoil new discoveries. Litter and cultural pollution soon erode visitor appeal
and more important, indigenous lifestyles dependent upon a delicate natural balance
vanish forever. Responsible tourism is a more sound investment where everybody
In Nepal, tourism contributes to
children's dental problems in mountain villages where sweets and cavities were
once unknown. Garbage left by mountaineering expeditions piles up higher and higher,
and international media reports of toilet paper-strewn trekking trails grossly
exaggerate a real concern. Forest suffer enough from local demands. Trekkers food
and lodging needs further fuel the problem. Art theft not only depletes a reach
cultural heritage but is undermining the Nepalese peoples trust of outsiders.
heartily welcomes you, the visitor. But, whether you are trekking in the mountains
or touring the Kathmandu Valley, we ask that you treat the land and its peoples
with care and respect. Below are some tips on how you can keep the environment
clean and show appreciation for age-old culture and traditional religious beliefs.
In Nepal, eco-tourism
is more than a catch phrase to mean outdoor adventure travel. Green or eco-trekking
practices are sound measures such as carrying out or disposable of garbage and
burning no wood on the trail. Ask your trekking agent and lodge operator about
their conservation policies. Green trekking may cost a little more but is much
better for the environment.
You can also
help out by following these guidelines:
Free: Carry all your trash (including toilet paper, unless you
thoroughly burn it on the spot) to your campsite, lodge or hotel for proper disposal.
If trekking with an agency, ask the staff to designate separate places for biodegradable
and others (i.e., bottles, tins, plastics, foil, batteries etc.) which should
be packed out to Kathmandu or the next refuse pit. As fires are considered sacred,
don't put trash in the flames until the cooking is done and always inquire first.
Details: Sanitary napkins and tampons should be wrapped well and
packed out. Take batteries back to your home country for safe disposal.
Sites: Make sure your trek operator provides a toilet tent, set
up at least 50 meters (150 feet) away from any water source. If you are tea-house
trekking, select lodges with a well-sited latrines. Otherwise, pick a spot away
from water and religious sites. Bury all excreta. In the cities and en route,
public toilets are hard to find so be discreet and keep away from holy sites.
Washing: When bathing or washing clothes near streams, use biodegradable
soaps and a pan for rinsing. Toss soapy water away from the stream.
Established Campsites: Encourage your trekking staff to camp in
established campsites and to leave no trace: no trash, no tent trenches, no fire
pit, and a toilet pit filled in to look as it did before digging.
with Kerosene: If you are camping, request that cooking be done
on kerosene or gas, not wood. If you're stuck using wood, reduce the amount by
using iodine to treat water rather than boiling it. Choose lodges that use kerosene
or fuel efficient stoves, such as the back-boiler which heats water while food
cooks. You can also reduce firewood consumption by ordering the same food at the
same time as others.
Heated Showers: Limit your hot showers to those heated by solar
energy, by hydroelectricity or by the back-boiler method.
Clothes: Bring adequate clothes rather than relying on lodge hearths
for heat and never ask your trekking staff for a bonfire. See that porters will
be provided shelter, clothing and shoes for high altitude treks, saving wood otherwise
burned to keep warm.
Not Disturb: Avoid creating new trails across switchbacks, meadows
and in high fragile areas. Make sketches or take photos rather than collect flower,
plants and seeds. Do not purchase items made from wild animals skins or furs.
Take care while walking through farmland and always stay to the uphill side of
livestock on trails.
Baggy pants or calf-length skirts with a loose top
are appropriate trekking and touring wear for women. Men should wear a shirt at
all times. Men's knee-length hiking shorts are fine for trekking but not when
visiting temples, monasteries or homes.
is particularly offensive. Whether bathing in a stream or at a village tap, men
should wear shorts or underwear, women can wrap in a loongi (sarong) and douse
themselves as the village women do. Only sport a swimsuit if well secluded from
village eyes. Public affection is likewise frowned upon.
It is illegal to export anything older than 100
years. Please do not take any religious objects (prayer stones, statues, temple
ritual objects, prayer flags, etc.) away from sacred sites and discourage others
from doing so.
Most Nepalese don't mind being photographed, but some
do. Ask first, especially if photographing ceremonies or older people. Paying
for a picture reinforces a hand-out mentality. Try instead to establish a friendly
rapport with a few words or gestures.
Do not give candy, pens, trinkets or money to children but instead donate
to a school, monastery or hospital. Nepalese give a few rupees to the handicapped
and religious mendicants; you can do the same.
Bargain for souvenirs and trekking services but respect posted prices
in restaurants and lodges. Ask around to establish a fair price: paying too much
adds to inflation and paying too little denies the merchant of a fair return.
- To show appreciation
and respect, use two hands rather than one when giving or receiving something,
- Remember not to point with
a single finger but use a flat extended hand especially to indicate a sacred object
- Among Hindus, avoid touching
women and holy men the traditional palms-together "Namaste" greeting
- Don't eat with your
left hand and nor eat beef among Hindus.
not to step over or point your feet at another person, a sacred place or a hearth.
your shoes when entering a home, temple or monastery (and leather items in Hindu
temples) and avoid smoking and wearing scant dress in religious settings.
not offer food from your plate, nor eat from a common pot, and avoid touching
your lips to a shared drinking vessel.
Tipping is a newly accepted custom in Nepal. Hotel, restaurant,
touring and trekking organization staff members often make up for relatively meager
wages with tips. But, it should only reward good work. Don't tip for short taxi
rides in town or any service person you've bargain with. Groups might give a reasonable
amount per day to a tip pool to be divided among the staff, generally relative
to rank, for good service.
Even if you are an experienced medical practitioner,
it is not wise to give medicine to a sick Nepali on the trek unless you can watch
his or her reaction. Most Nepalese have never been exposed to Western medicine
and may react unpredictably. Encourage villagers to wash cuts with soap and boiled
water, and to see their closest clinic for medical treatment.
with Others: Never trek alone; if you run into trouble or
take a tumble no one will know. Trekking with an agency assures the greatest security.
Watch your gear carefully in lodges and on the trail. Don't be showy with expensive
items, and always lock your room or baggage.
Altitude Sickness: Find out more from your agent or the Himalayan
Rescue Association (HRA) about this sickness and helicopter rescue options. Always
register your trekking plans with your embassy, consulate or HRA. Beware of other
trail hazards, watch where you are going and don't over-extend yourself.
and Drinking: Never eat unpeeled fruit or vegetables unless you
know they've been adequately soaked in solution. Drink only after water is boiled
or iodized. Always wash your hands before eating.