• Accomodation
  • 03 July, 2023

Narchyang Community Homestay – Experiencing true Nepali hospitality

Narchyang Community Homestay – Experiencing true Nepali hospitality

Narchyang, a village nestled in the Annapurna rural municipality, is home to several indigenous groups who settled here in the 1960s. Before that, they were a nomadic people, herding livestock in the high passes of the mountains. A melting pot of language and culture, the people of Narchyang live simple lives in the shadow of the Annapurna mountain range, where agriculture is the primary industry. Recently, community homestay projects such as those operated by the Royal Mountain Community Homestay Network have become popular for tourists to experience true Nepalese culture while empowering locals by providing a unique revenue stream. these community homestays really give travelers an insight into the hospitality of Nepali homes. 

We visited Narchyang as part of a six-day hike with our guide, Asis, but it’s easy enough to reach for an overnight stay from Pokhara. Upon arrival, we were welcomed into our homestay in the traditional way, with a garland of flowers placed around our necks and tikas (a red dot blessing) on our foreheads. This welcoming was the first taste we got of the traditional hospitality of Nepali homes. After a cup of mint tea, we settled in the garden to learn more about this incredible location and why this homestay in Narchyang is so special.

Travelers being welcomed in a nepali home in the traditional way, nepali hospitality
Being welcomed by our hosts with a tika
travelers welcomed in nepal, tika and flower garland, nepali hospitality
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
Adorned in tika and a traditional welcoming flower garden

The vision of the community homestay project is to provide mutual benefit to the visitors and the locals. Our guide Asis tells us that initially, it was difficult to convince locals of the benefits homestays would bring. “The first few years were very difficult,” he says, “because just as the project was beginning to gain momentum, we were hit by Covid, and all tourism came to a halt.”

Despite the slow start, it’s easy to see now that community homestays are on the rise in the region. Their investment is reasonably modest for a family who wishes to join the program. They must provide suitable accommodation for their guests, cook a traditional meal and give a little of their time. In exchange, they are paid a fair rate, allowing them to access a revenue stream that is not tethered to the land. As the impact of climate change is felt, this is of growing concern.

“The rains are very late this year,” admits Asis. “Every day that passes raises the chances that the whole crop will be ruined, and people will starve.” Our host is out tending to her crops as we speak, and it’s clear that almost everything that will go into our dinner has been grown less than 30 feet away. Should the crops fail, the family will need income to feed themselves.

I ask Asis if interest in the homestay project is growing. “When we started, our hosts were nervous. They do not all speak English, and they were intimidated into hosting tourists in their homes. That’s why the guides are so important.” Asis is proud to speak more than three languages and dialects of Nepal and acts as an interpreter when we interact with our host. She tells us that her neighbors want to join the homestay program because they recognize its positive impact on the community and her life. 

homestay in nepal, nepali hospitality
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
Walking to the homestay.
garden area in a nepali homestay, nepali hospitality
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
The garden area in the homestay

Narchyang is becoming increasingly popular because it provides an authentic alternative to now overcrowded stops such as Tato Pani on the Annapurna circuit. “It’s very authentic,” says Asis. “Since these people are just living normal lives, guests taste the real Nepal.” The feedback from tourists is overwhelmingly positive, too, and it’s easy to see why. Our hosts are warm, friendly, and inviting. The insight into their culture is fascinating and a little humbling. “Nepal needs tourism,” Asis tells us, “and the local people can see that now.” For our part, it feels good to know that we are empowering our hosts by putting our money directly into their pockets. 

We head to the local hot springs to wash away the dust of the day’s hike, which involves a short walk back through the village. Schoolchildren are on their way home and take the opportunity to call out to us, shyly practicing their English. Asis tells us that Narchyang was built to provide school education for the local children. Three farmers are plowing their fields with the help of a yoked water buffalo. In the distance, the waterfall on the mountain sets a picture-perfect scene of Himalayan life.

nepali farmer ploughng a field
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
Farmer plowing a field with the help of cattle

Arriving at the hot springs, we realize we are the only tourists in attendance, but they are packed with bathing locals. Slipping into the warm water feels wonderful on sore muscles and a body tight from trekking. I notice a little boy staring and imagine that he may have never seen Westerners before, but in fact, it’s Asis’s height that has drawn his attention. “Are you Nepalese?” he demands. “I’ve never seen such a tall Nepali man before!” He turns out to be a basketball fan, envious of Asis’s 6′ 6” build…

hospitality in a traditional nepali home
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
Our host preparing beautiful plates of dal bhat

Our host’s husband meets us at home just in time for dinner. Since he speaks English well, we chatted with him about his work at a local school and what representing the true hospitality of Nepali homes means for him. Dinner is dal bhat, a local lentil curry that is served with rice, papad, and vegetables. After our third helping, we pushed the plates away, groaning, “It’s delicious, but we can’t take another mouthful.” He pours us some Raksi, a spirit made from millet that reminds us of sake. It serves to lubricate conversation until we are all laughing and chatting. Before long, we are all full, sleepy, and ready for bed, looking forward to a good night’s rest and a simple breakfast with our newly adopted family in the morning.

nepali hilly view, view from a hospitable nepali home
Narchyang Community Homestay - Experiencing true Nepali hospitality
View surrounding the homestay

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