Nepal Village Hike :Travel into their real lives with homestay

YunmiSeo (Asha)

Nepal Village Hike : Travel into their real lives with homestay

1. About the project
Pokhara, the second largest city of Nepal, is where trekkers come to see Annapurna Himal and MachapuchareHimal. Many tourists visit Pokhara to see the mountains but at the same time many peoples’ actual lives are in the mountains, on rice terraces at over 1500 meters high. Nepalese from villages have left their homes to cities or even overseas to seek jobs. But still, agriculture is the key industry of the country.

People in the village have preserved their traditional culture on the marvelous rice terraces. If you visit the villages, it would be a great chance to experience their lives. It would also provide financial support and motivates village people to keep their cultural identities. We invite you to this meaningful homestay hike. Come and discover the real village life and share your culture.

This project is funded by KOICA(Korea International Cooperation Agency) and designed by YunmiSeo, a member of World Friends Korea who is assigned to Pokhara Metropolitan City Office as a Community-Based Tourism Volunteer.

․2. Why Homestay Hike?

1) Enjoy the Himalayas with short trails.

Although you can’t spare your time for a long trek, there are many short trails you can still enjoy the Himalayas. Spend your own quality time away from busy tourist attractions.

2) Experience the real village life

Explore the real village life on the wonderful rice terraces. Taste the local organic food, and cook your own Dal Bhat. Feel the changing seasons with different views. Not only can you experience daily lives in the village, but you can also experience traditional Gurung culture.

3) Positive influence on the village

Homestay villages receive tourists upon their own rules. Most of the villages save $1 per tourist as a community fund for road maintenance, environmental improvement, and preservation of the culture. Your consumption can make a good impact on the village.

4) Rural women empowerment

Since most of the men left the village for jobs, women have taken care of the village for themselves. Women’s participation is a large part of the homestay, too. Women take active roles in greeting tourists, making food, organizing cultural events and even homestay committee activities. Profits from the homestay will support their economic conditions and strengthen their abilities.

3. Routes of village hikes

1) Panchase-Bhadaure
A trail of yoga and meditation where you can see the panoramic sunrise and sunset.

Route :Ghatichinna-Shidane-Panchase-Bhadaure-Kande (1 Night 2 Days)
via Australian Camp (2 Nights 3 Days)

Take the bus to Pame at Hallanchowk in the Lakeside, Pokhara and get off at the last stop. Then you’ll arrive in GhatiChinna. Unpaved roads on the way might make you feel tired, but the view of Fewa Lake and farmlands will let you forget about it. (Takes 1 hour, Bus fee is 55NPR.)

It’s not easy to find the way from the uphill road in GhatiChinna. Head to Sidhane homestay village via Dam Dame homestay village.(Takes 1 hour and 10 mins. 2 hours and a half from GhatiChinna.) You might have some roti and chiya for lunch in Sidhane. About 4 households run homestay in Sidhane. It costs $10 to stay and 100NPR per person goes to the community fund. Or you can take a break and enjoy the view from the public school on the way to Dam Dame.

Go up more to Panchase, today’s destination. (Takes 2 hours from Sidhane, 5-6hours from GhatiChinna.)Panchase is well known for the panoramic view, yoga, and meditation. You can find some good lodges rather than a homestay.

Don’t miss the sunrise with the panoramic view in the next morning. And choose a way to Bhadaure, whether to take a direct way or the other way via PanchaseByanjang. It takes about 2 hours if you take the direct way. Have some lunch in Bhadaure, and after 2 more hours, you’ll get to Kande. You can take a bus to the downtown Pokhara. Or you can head to Australian Camp from Kande. (Takes 1 hour and a half.) Stay one more night in Australian Camp, and you may come back to Kande or go to Phedi via Dampus.

Note : There are many lodges in Panchase. You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”.
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.

2) Chapakot(Ghaderi) – Bhumdikot
A trail that leads you to Peace Pagoda where you can look down Fewa Lake.

Route :Hallanchowk-Pame-Chapakot(Ghaderi eco-village) (1 Day),
Bhumdikot-Chapakot-Pokhara(1 Day),
Bhumdikot via Peace Pagoda (1 Night 2 Days)

Take a bus at Hallanchowk in the lakeside and get off at Pame. (Takes 40 mins) As soon as you get off the bus, cross the bridge on your left side. After the bridge, go over the ridge. You need to go over another ridge again. You should ask people about the way since there is no road sign. You need to walk uphill road for about 2 hours to Chapakot, so take a break and enjoy your peace of mind at Chaudara where village people rest and look down Fewa Lake. In Chapakot, there is only a small store and no homestay families. So pass the village and go up for about 15 mins, then you’ll find Ghaderi eco-village.

It’s inhabited by about 25 households of Brahmin people and some Dalit people while most of the mountain villages near Pokhara are inhabited by Gurung People. This village is called ‘Eco-village’ because people have been working on a project of collecting waste plastic bottles in Fawa Lake and building structures out of the bottles.

If you go up another hour, you can see Bhumdikot. You may take a rest, stay one night and go back to Pokhara by bus. (Bus fee is 75NPR. The bus service starts at 5:30a.m. and the bus runs every 2 hours. It takes one hour and a half along bumpy roads to PrithiviChowk, Pokhara.)
Otherwise, you can walk down for about 2 hours via Peace Pagoda. From Peace Pagoda, you can either walk down through the forest or take a car and then take a boat to cross the lake.

Note : You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.


3) Lwang, Ghalel, Ghachowk
A trail with a marvelous view of Pokhara from the tea farm in Lwang.

Route :Lwang-Ghalel-Lumle (1 Night 2 Days),
viaGhachowk (2 Nights 3 Days)

Ghachowk(Thuche) village is the starting point of Machapuchare Model Trek. 20 households have started homestay in 2018 with the support of Karitas. Houses in Ghachowk are quite widespread whereas houses in other villages are huddled between small alleys and rice terraces. You can enjoy looking around the neighborhood.

Take a bus to Ghachowk at HariChowk which is the starting point of many local buses. It takes about 1 hour and a half by either bus or jeep. You can easily take a jeep at Milan Chowk, too. (Bus fee is 80NPR, 100NPR for a jeep.) Homestay fee is $13 including accommodation, dinner and breakfast and 100NPR per person goes to Community Fund. Cultural program costs $30 for Nepalese, $50 for foreigners.

*HariChowk and Milan Chowk are located on Pokhara-Baglung highway. You can take buses to other villages such as Hemja, Baglung, Gandruk, Nayapul, Lwang, Ghalel and Dhital.

We recommend the 1 Night 2 Days trail of Lwang-Ghalel. If you’d like to go to Lwang right away, there are buses from Hari or Milan Chowk to Lwang. But they are always crowded with village people as there are only 2 buses a day. On the other hand, there are many buses to Koramuk at Hari or Milan Chowk. It takes 1 hour and a half walk to Lwang from Koramuk. If you stayed the night before in Ghachowk, you need to come down for about 40 mins by bus and walk for 3 hours to Lwang. There are few stops where you can grab a bite at a store.
Lwang is the destination of Mardi Himal Trek. You can either pass by the village or you can visit the Tea Garden at 1600 meters high. It’s a 30-40 mins walk. The view of villages and downtown Pokhara from the garden is wonderful.

You need a trekking permit to visit Lwang. 12 households are running homestay in Lwang. The fee is $13-15 and 75NPR per person goes to Community Fund. The village has been operating homestay for a long time and it has good toilet and shower facilities. The cultural program is prepared by the youth and it costs $30.

After the stay in Lwang, continue your journey to Ghalel. It takes about 2 hours and a half. You can see the magnificent Himals and rice terraces on the way, so it’s a very enjoyable walk. Ghalel also operates homestay and has small stores. But if you decided to come down to Lumle, it’ll take an hour and you can take a ride on a jeep to Milan Chowk from Lumle. (It costs 150NPR.)

Note : You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”.
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.


4) Astam, Hyangjakot, Dhampus
A trail to Australian Camp.Raksi, the traditional Gurung liquor, is on the way!

Route :Millanchowk-Astam-Hyangjakot-Dhampus-Pedi (1 Night 2 Days)
via Australian Camp (2 Nights 3 Days)

Take a bus to Milan Chowk for about 20 mins from HariChowk , and go up to Astam via Jhijhirka. It’s a 2-hour walk to Astam from Milan Chowk. There’s a good restaurant to eat and rest in Astam. Take some rest and keep walking for an hour, then you’ll reach Hyangjakot homestay village. There are 12 homestay households, and it costs $13. Why don’t you try Raksi, the traditional Gurung liquor at dinner?

(*HariChowk and Milan Chowk are located on Pokhara-Baglung highway. You can take buses to other villages such as Hemja, Baglung, Gandruk, Nayapul, Lwang, Ghalel and Dhital.)

Enjoy the sunset with a panoramic view on the next day(just like Sarangkot). You can either come down to Phedi via Dhampus or go to Australian Camp and stay one more night and come back to Kande. One day trail, 1 Night 2 Days or 2 Nights 3 Days trails are possible depending on your condition and time.

Note : You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”.
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.

5) Sikles, Tanting Eco-trekking
An impressive trail that you can enjoy the lights of the village shining like stars.

Route :Sikles-Tanting(1 Night 2 Day),
Armala-Atighar-Mauja-Thak, Eco-trekking(4 Nights 5 Days)

Both Sikles and Tanting villages are available for 1 Night 2 Days homestay since you can go there by jeep from Pokhara. (3 hours to Tanting, 5 hours to Sikles. The jeep leaves at KahuKhola.) Sikles eco-trek has been operated differently compare to Annapurna trek. Sikles village is located at 2000 meters high, and you can see the Himalayas very closely. This village is very big with well-maintained lodges, so many tourists visit there. There are 13 homestay households. Homestay fee is $10 and 50NPR per person goes to Community Fund. If you move to Tanting from Sikles, you get to walk both uphill and downhill roads for 3 hours. It’s the same the other way, too. Sikles and Tanting are located along both sides of a deep winding valley. You can see the lights of the opposite village shining just like stars at night, and the grand Himals in the morning.

Tanting is a big village with over 200 households, and 12 out of them are running homestay. From a Buddhist temple to traditional style houses with wooden windows, it’s a good place to walk around and see here and there. (If you’d like to have a look at the village but are not in a good condition to walk, you can just stay in Tanting only and come back. It takes only 3 hours to Pokhara by jeep. You need a trekking permit to visit Sikles and Tanting.

You can start this trail from Armala-Aatighar, too. Armala-Atighar trail is also one of 8 trails from this project. (Link) However, we only suggest this longer course if you love the remote area and don’t mind staying in the villages for a long time. If you’d like to try this longer trail, start your journey from Armala – Aatighar and stay one night in Mauja. On the next day, walk up a steep slope for 3 hours, stay another night in Thaplanga, Sildujure. And then head to Sikles. It’s a 2-hour drive by jeep, and it costs 300NPR. If you stay in Sikles and Tanting, you’ll make a 4 Night 5 Days trip. If you can’t stay for a long time in the village, 1 Night 2 Days trip would be great, too.

Another variation of Sikles eco-trek is to include BhurjungKhola and Tara Hill Top. Visit any travel agencies in Pokhara and plan your trip as your preference.

Note : You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”.
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.


6) Long Bridge, Armala, Mauja
A trail with a beautiful view of Long Bridge and small beautiful villages.

Route :Valam(long bridge)-Harihar cave-Armala-Aatighar-Mauja-KahuKhola (1 Day or 1 Night 2 Days)

If you choose to have a one day trail, your hike will start in the morning and ends in the evening. (6-7 hours hike.) Or you may stay one night in Aatighar or Mauja, if you feel tired walking long hours. This trail starts from Long Bridge near Gurkha Museum. You can reach there by bus. Take the bus in downtown Pokhara. Find a bus that goes to Bagar which is the last stop. The view along both sides of the bridge is beautiful. Head to Haribar Cave, the temple of yoga and meditation(1 hour) first, and go to Armala village. You can bring your own lunch or have some Nepali noodles at a store in Armala. (2 hours)

Next stop is Aatighar. (1 hour) It is a very charming village but their homestay is not quite ready yet. If you still want to stay in the village, there’s one family you can stay with. Just contact them in advance.

If you don’t stay in Aatighar, there’s one homestay family at the next stop, Mauja, too. (1 hour) Warm-hearted homestay mother will welcome you happily.
On your way back, walk down to KahuKhola for an hour and take a bus to downtown Pokhara. It takes 1 hour.

If you go to Armala from Long Bridge, it’s a long pull up, taking 3 hours. But after that, flatland or even downhill roads are waiting for you.

Note : You’d better bring your own water and snacks. Take a look at the list of things you need in “How to prepare”.
The written times are walking time. All prices are according to local transportation. If you hire a guide or vehicle, the price will vary. You’ll be guided to a homestay house in order of the village’s principle.


7) Thulakot, Chisapani, Begnas Lake
A skyline trail along the Himalayas, Rupalake, and Begnas Lake.

Route :Kasyari-Thulakot-Lipeyani-Chisapani-Talbesi (2 Nights 3 Days),
viaRupa lake, Begnas lake (3 Nights 4 Days)

There was no accommodation in the old days, so people used to camp to enjoy this trek. Nowadays, many roads are under construction and there are a few accommodations available. But still, there are not many. When Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, and Mick Zaggar, the vocalist of The Rolling Stones visited this trek, it became famous and people called it ‘Royal Trek’.

Take the bus to Kahu Kola and get off at the last stop, Kayari. Go up for about 3 hours from there and you’ll find a homestay family who provides lunch. Go up another hour, and you’ll see the destination of the day, Thulakot. Enjoy the view of Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake. You’ll meet some goat friends welcoming you as well.

After the night, head to Lipeyani. At this time you’ll see the Himalayas on the opposite side with two lakes on both sides. It takes about 5 hours to Lipeyani and the way can be very challenging. Stay another night in Lipeyni. You can take the only bus back to Pokhara in the morning. Or stay one more night in Begnas Lake or Rupa Lake via Chisapani.


8) Accessible trek
The very first accessible trekking trail in Nepal

Route :Naudanda-Deurali-Kaskikot-Sarangkot (1 Day)

Accessible tourism which is inclusive of people with disabilities and the elderly has been an important issue along with ‘Inclusive Tourism’ and ‘Tourism for all’. The International Conference on Accessible Adventure was held in Pokhara in March 2018. There were case presentations regarding ‘Slow Walk’, and the importance of accessibility for disabled and elderly people was discussed. The first accessible trekking trail was inaugurated as a part of the conference with the participation of differently-abled people from all around the world. This event was organized by Nepal Tourism Board, National Federation of the Disabled-Nepal, Center for Independent Living for Persons with Disabilities, and supported by UNDP Nepal, Indian Embassy, Turkish Airlines, Soarway Foundation.

Naudanda has easy access. It takes only an hour from HariChowk. The trail starts from Naudanda. Enjoy the beautiful view from the Deurali viewpoint. And come back to Fewa Lake via Sarangkot. Not the entire trail is wheelchair accessible yet. It’s still under construction. You can find road signs marked with the slope angles. Wheelchair accessible trail is 45 minutes long at the moment. It’s not quite possible for a wheelchair user to go there by oneself, yet. But still, it is very meaningful that the first accessible trekking trail was launched. If you are a wheelchair user, you need to take a ride from the viewpoint. (Link to a newspaper article)


4. How to prepare

One of the most important things is your attitude of mind. Traveling is not just about admiring the scenery. It is also about trying to understand a different culture and interacting with local people. If you are ready not to judge the different culture, religion, and lifestyle, you may start on a journey.

*Things you need :
Simple hiking wear (Check the weather ahead, and prepare depending on the season. As villages are in the mountain, it could be chilly or cold even in summer. Thin jackets are useful.)
Comfortable shoes (Should be suitable for trekking or hiking.)
Backpack
Sun cap
Sunscreen cream
Handkerchief
Underwear
Socks
Sunglasses
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Shampoo and conditioner
Quick-dry towel
First-aid medicine
Supplementary battery for your electronic devices
Umbrella or raincoat and mosquito repellent in Summer

Shower : It’s a very local style. It’s not in the house. There’s a small shower booth in the yard. You can take a shower with the hose attached inside. (As mentioned earlier, you need to bring your own toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and towel.)

Water : You’ll be provided with local water that village people drink. If there’s a store in the village, you can buy mineral water. Otherwise, bring your own water. You may ask people to boil local water for you.

Food : The staple food of Nepal is Dal Bhat. It consists of lentil soup called ‘Dal’ and steamed rice ‘Bhat’. It is served with local organic vegetables as side dishes. If the village raises chickens, you can order non-veg chicken Dal Bhat as well. Just ask your homestay host. Nepalese have Dal Bhat as lunch and dinner. They have ‘Khaja(snack)’ between lunch and dinner. It could be corns, roti(Nepalese flatbread), rice bread, eggs, or chiya. Nepalese have Khaja quite late, so dinner time will be 8-9p.m. in the evening. You’d better check the dinner time with your host. Chiya is Nepalese black or milk tea. When you have chiya, you’d better tell your host about the amount of sugar you take as Nepalese take chiya very sweet. Breakfast is usually chiya, eggs, and roti. If you have any preference, you might talk with your host about the next day’s breakfast in the evening. You may have a look at the kitchen while your host makes Dal Bhat and participate.

People : So many different ethnic groups coexist in Nepal. There are over 100 languages as well. We encourage you to look up some information about people in Nepal. In most villages, there are Gurung people. If you check up on any books, videos or documents especially about Gurung people before you come, you can get closer to local people’s lives. In Gurung villages, you can drink Raksi which is the traditional distilled alcoholic beverage. (Approx. 30-50NPR.)

Cultural programs : If you visit the village as a group, you can ask for a cultural program. You can enjoy traditional dance, music and all. It usually starts after dinner. You’ll have a delightful night, dancing and listening to music with village people. It could be a fixed price, and if it’s not, you may pay individually depending on your satisfaction.

Festivals and time to visit : Hinduism is a huge part of Nepal. However, Shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism and other religions and different groups of people make festivals more colorful. The best time to visit Nepal is from Feb to May and from Sep to Dec. The weather is wonderful during those months.

In March, there’s ‘Shiva Ratri’ which is to praise Shiva, one of the three main gods in Hinduism and ‘Holi’, the festival of colors. The Nepali New Year is in April. From mid-June to mid-July is called ‘Ashad’. It’s the busiest season to plant rice. You can see the villages getting colored with green while enjoying ‘Ropain’, the rice planting festival.

In mid-July, Nepalese women apply ‘Mehndi(Henna)’ on their arms while wearing green bracelets to celebrate ‘SauneSankranti’, the solstice festival. And it is followed by many different Hindu festivals. ‘Teej’, the monsoon festival celebrated by women, is in September. The two biggest festivals ‘Dashain’ and ‘Tihar’ are in October and November.

*The Himalayas are not something that you can always see. Nepalese say that only God allows you to see. The mountains are hardly seen in the monsoon season. (June to August)

Homestay price : Most villages provide 3 meals and accommodation for $15. This is a base price and it can vary according to the options(liquor, cultural program and water etc.) you choose. Speaking of transportation, the condition between the local bus and rented vehicle is very different. Please check on the information of each route of village hikes.

5. Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct for the Visitors
The homestay visitors are expected to abide by the following points:

1. Do not pressure the owner for food, beverage, and facilities not available at homestay.
2. Do not disturb people at home or outside.
3. Do not offer anything to the people beyond one’s capacity.
4. Beware of doing any behavior (such as sexual activities), which is impermissible to the local socio-cultural values.
5. Respect to the rites and rituals of the local people. Wear such clothes that are permissible to the community.
6. Do not impress the owner or use or other people for doing immoral or illegal activities. Respect to the household routine for entrance and exit.
7. Supply and use of narcotics or any forms of psychotropic drugs at home or outside are strictly prohibited.
8. Respect to the biodiversity and ecology of the environment.

6. Contact

If there are any inquiries about the project, please contact [email protected]