77. Responsible trekking
The dawn breaks in the village of Chisapani in Nepal. The light falls on the hiking trail leading to the village of Nagarkot. At an elevation of just over two kilometres, Nagarkot is considered one of the most scenic spots in the Kathmandu valley, with a panoramic view of the Himalayas.
Nepal is an important trekking destination. A majority of the tourists choose the most popular trekking trails, and thereby benefit the locals only in certain areas. The Outdoor Association of Finland (Suomen Latu) and the Nepal Environment and Tourism Initiative Foundation (NETIF) wanted to help tourists find even less-visited areas and restored an old cultural trekking trail in the Kathmandu valley in 2011–2013. The trail is 72 kilometres long, and there are villages, Buddhist shrines and terraced plantations along the trail. It is part of the Great Himalaya Trail, launched in 2011, that winds for 1,700 kilometres through Nepal.
The locals have benefitted in many ways from the reopened cultural trail. In addition to restoring the trail and constructing waste collection points and other trekking infrastructure, the project also improved the tourism skills, income and environment in the local communities. Suomen Latu received support from Finland’s development cooperation funds.
Photo: Hanna Päivärinta, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta