Temples of Nirvana and responsible Tourism
Earth does not belong to us.
We belong to Earth.
Take only memories,
leave nothing but footprints
Here at Temples of Nirvana we are very committed to carrying out and abiding by the ethics of Responsible Tourism. We work very hard to ensure that all we do is undertaken in a mindful and caring manner.
In 2002, 280 representatives from all sectors of tourism from 20 countries attended the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. A declaration on responsible tourism was agreed.
The 2002 Cape Town declaration agreed that responsible tourism:
- minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts
- generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well being of host communities; improves working conditions and access to the industry
- involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances
- makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity
- provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
- provides access for physically challenged people
- is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence
For our part, we at Temples of Nirvana do the best we can to adhere to these values.
Some of the ways through which we embrace responsible tourism are as follows.
Use designated routes, campsites and resting places to reduce trampling and other negative environmental impacts.
Respect local culture and traditions, use homestays, locally owned hotels/ lodges or campsites as much as possible to support the local livelihood.
Avoid/ minimize using firewood. Use common space for heating. Opt for alternatives to minimize deforestation.
Maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Use the litter box locally available. Carry back your own garbage while traveling through ecologically sensitive areas.
Encourage to place mobile toilets at a considerable distance from sources of water, river banks and springs while camping along the river sides.
Use the services of local guides and porters as much as possible to explore more about local environment and culture.
We place porter welfare as our top priority and almost all of our porters are from the communities where we operate.
We comply with the International Porter Protection Guidelines (IPPG).
We encourage our guests to buy local products.
We do everything we can to ensure that we do not hamper the environmental and cultural ecology.
Below are some imortant guidelines set out by Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP)
Tips for being environmentally friendly
- Litter looks bad and is a pollutant. All litter that you and your support team produce should be separated each day and treated properly.
- Bury biodegradable waste where there is not proper composting but remember that at high altitude, nothing decomposes.
- Carry a waterproof bag to take non-biodegradable waste to official waste disposal sites along the route or in their absence, take your waste back to Kathmandu. Batteries cannot be recycled in Nepal so try to take them back to your home country.
- Remember, cigarette butts are non-biodegradable. Smokers should carry a light portable ashtray.
- Cleaning up trekking trails doesn’t require an organized effort; pick up as you walk, at lunch and overnight stops.
- Never buy plastic bottles of water. Buy a water bottle and use water purification methods – like iodine or Biox – instead.
- Avoid bathing or washing clothes directly in streams.
- Wash in a pan/bucket and toss the water away from streams.
- Use biodegradable soap if possible (but even this adds unnatural substances to the water.)
- Make sure your toilet is set up at least 50 meters (150 ft) away from any water source.
- Holes should be dug at least 45cm (18’) deep. If possible, keep a single dirt or sod piece for recovering the hole. Sprinkle some dirt in the hole after every use to keep away flies. See that your toilet is properly buried when you leave camp.
- When trekking, stick to main trails and bypass steep short cuts which cut in-between trails – these contribute to erosion. Don’t create multiple trails across meadows. Try to preserve the natural experience for others.
- The mountain environment is fragile. Loss of vegetation contributes to erosion so don’t walk thorough shrubs no matter how hardy they appear.
- Bring adequate warm clothes so as not to depend on fires for warmth. See that staff and porters are properly outfitted.
- Discourage campfires and blazing hearths which accelerate deforestation.
- Be self-sufficient in your fuel supply and provide for the needs of your support staff.
- Give preferences to lodges and trekking companies that use solar power or kerosene and encourage their efforts to conserve the environment.
- When ordering food, choose meals that require less fuel like dal bhat, which is nutritious and a good source of energy. Order the same meals as others in your group as often there is only one stove in use in the kitchen. This not only saves fuel but means you get your dinner quicker!
- Take hot showers only when the water is heated by non-wood or fuel saving stoves. Solar power is best. Wash clothes in cold water.
- Choose established campsites wherever possible rather than disturbing new grounds, even if it means sharing a site with another group. Avoid trenching around tents.
- Please don’t collect flowers, plants or seeds as this disturbs the plant lifecycle.
- Wildlife is threatened by loss of habitat in many places. Give space to wild animals and avoid making unnecessary loud sounds.
- No one appreciates seeing graffiti scrawled on rocks or carved into wood; do your best to discourage it.
Tips for being culturally responsible
- Try to learn some basic Nepali. Visit KEEP when you are in Kathmandu to find out about Nepali language courses. Greet people with the traditional ‘Namaste’ with hands clasped together in a prayer position.
- Please don’t give money or sweets to begging children – donate to a suitable charity instead or give to a school, monastery or temple – this benefits the entire community.
- When interacting with villagers, guides and porters, help dispel their misconceptions about the West’s infinite wealth and leisure. Create a realistic picture of your country and encourage pride in their own culture.
- Pay fair prices for food, lodging and services. Buying local products benefits hill economies, but buying antiques and artefacts robs Nepal of its culture.
- Be respectful when photographing people. Always ask first and accept when the answer is “no”. Never offer money.
Respect the customs and values of Nepali people in your dress and behaviour
- Dress modestly in line with local custom: For women this means a mid-calf length shirt or loose pants and for men, long pants or knee-length shorts (long pants in monasteries.)
- Don’t bathe nude in public. Women should wear a loongi (sarong) covering them from chest to knees.
- Please try to avoid outward displays of physical affection.
Visiting religious sites
- Out of respect to local beliefs pass monasteries, stupas, mani stones and prayer flags to the left (in a clockwise direction.)
- Refrain from smoking, boisterousness and going to the toilet near sacred sites. Religious sites can be as obscure as a pile of rocks, or faded cloth hung from tree branches.
- Remove your shoes before entering temples and don’t eat, drink or smoke. If you are visiting a Hindu temple or shrine don’t wear leather.
- Avoid using flash inside monasteries, as repeated light exposure damages the paintwork.
- Consider making a small donation when visiting a monastery.
If invited into a Nepali home
- Always remove your shoes at the entrance.
- Do not put litter into a cooking hearth or fire.
- Never eat from someone else’s plate or share eating utensils.
- Feet are viewed as unclean in Nepali society so avoid stepping over religious objects, eating surfaces or anyone’s legs or feet. When sitting try not to point your feet at anyone.
Be considerate when trekking
- In some lodges the dining room doubles up as a sleeping area for your Nepali trekking staff so try not to stay up too late
- Keep noise to a minimum at night and in the morning – you might want an early start but others where you’re staying may need their sleep
- Try not to complain about facilities or the service unless you have a genuine grievance. The rooms, toilets and food may well be basic and it could take some time for your food to be cooked, but remember that you are in a remote mountainous area where everything needs to be carried in.
- Above all, remember that you are representative of an outside culture and your impact lingers long after you return home.