Kapan Homestay Village
Kunsang Dorje Lama is the Coordinator of Kapan Homestay Village (KHV) in Kapan, Faika, Kathmandu, Nepal. KHV is a Community Project Office and Training Center that works in partnership with the Kapan Village Development Committee. Its logo is simple: “Live the Simple Life”. However, its ambitions are not so simple. KHV’s goal is to enhance development of this substantially populated village that is about an hour away in the outskirts of Kathmandu, by augmenting the income of local families and increasing the economy of the village as a whole.
KHV was registered only last year although some homestays have already been operating for two-three years back. According to Lama, KHV has improved the management of homestays and is helping to make the whole idea of homestays a great success. “I believe it has a great future,” he says. He further informs, “Currently we have 60 homestays in the village although only 24 are presently in operation.” The rest are undergoing training being provided by KHV. Talking about the procedural aspects, Lama says that not more than four rooms can be utilized in a house for homestay purposes and that the homeowners have to undergo different training. “We give training in housekeeping, food and beverage, hygiene and in English language,” he says. In addition, the organization also provides training in marketing and customer service, environment awareness and area resource development.
“Many of the homestays grow their own vegetables using organic farming methods. This of course is a plus point for health conscious guests,” Lama says. Other plus points of the program have to do with the village itself. “For one, its location is not far from the international airport (only 10 km), secondly, we have a clean and green unpolluted and safe environment, thirdly, the village’s inhabitants are a mix of various ethnicities and cultures, and last but not least, Kapan is popular as a center for Buddhist learning.” Talking about this, the village is home to the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) which was founded in 1975 at Kopan Monastery and now has over 150 centers in more than 33 countries.
In fact, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) had first approached the Spiritual Director of FPMT, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rimpoche, in 2007, to help enhance tourism in the area. Subsequently, the idea of a homestay village came into being and a committee was formed to oversee the project. There are also other picturesque monasteries and a nunnery in the village. According to Lama, the Kopan Monastery receives many foreign researchers and students who come here to learn about Mahayana Buddhism. “There are also some long time expatriates living in Kapan now,” he says.
Kapan has 15 different ethnicities. Guests can learn about and actually experience many cultures. Lama says, “Visitors can choose to stay with Brahmin families, or Chettris, or Newars, or Tamangs, or Sherpas, or Magars, or with many of the ethinic group. In fact, some of the homestays even have names like “Poudyal Homestay”, “Tamang Family Homestay”, “Gurung Family Homestay”, and so on” Another interesting fact is that Kapan happens to be the resident village of more than 50 experienced mountain climbers including renowned names like Kaji Sherpa, Ang Rita Sherpa and the late Babu Chiri Sherpa, the fastest man to have reached the Everest summit without an oxygen tank.
Doubtless, Kapan is an interesting destination for tourists coming to Nepal and its well organized homestay program can only make their stay all the more memorable.
Lama is enthusiastic about how things are working out and discloses, “One tour operator whose clients are mostly American has been sending groups every season for a one-day dinner program at our homestays. They say that they have received excellent feedback from their guests. This season alone, they sent us 17 groups of about15 people each. Now, they are planning to convert such programs into overnight stays.” Indeed, Kapan Homestay Village appears to be a success story, perhaps the most successful of any of NTB’s programs in Nepal Tourism Year 2011.