Responsible Tourism in Pokhara
A few places in Pokhara to look out for, all with an eye to practicing responsible tourism.
Douglas Maclagan has been working in Nepal since 1994 and set up his first medical health centre two years later in Lamjung. CWS (Child Welfare Scheme) was set up to provide access to healthcare and education for underprivileged children. It now covers a wide area in Lamjung with health-care centres and a vocational centre in Pokhara, working in partnerships with many like-minded organisations.
Furse Kola, Pokhara
Moving to Furse Khola in 1996, Douglas set up the organic farm where he lives with his family. He built a farmhouse guesthouse as a way of ‘giving something back’ by generating income to cover the cost of pensions for the workers on the farm, to raise money to help pay towards the overheads of CWS and to make money for projects that give back to the local village community. A health post has been built in the village at Furse Khola along with a community building for a dairy cooperative that has been set up.
Following on the success of this, plans are to develop the concept of the Furse Khola Farmhouse still further, turning it into a high-end, quality resort that can generate funds to support the work of CWS in a wider sense.
Not only is this socially responsible, providing much-needed help for underprivileged youngsters for education and for healthcare, but the project continues to promote how organic farming should work, by encouraging local farmers to follow and producing a good supply of fresh and tasty vegetables for the guests. Solar energy is used not only to heat the water for showers, but also for boiling water and cooking vegetables. Plans are still in their early days, but Douglas has bought the land and is looking to create the new resort in the coming year, which will provide a long-term and viable means of support for the charity’s work in the region.
Just outside Pokhara, Furse Kola Farmhouse provides comfortable accommodation for families or small groups in its three bedrooms (10-beds).With a kitchen, guests can opt for a cook to do all the work for them, or they can cook for themselves, picking fresh from the farm next door.
Tiger Mountain, Pokhara
A boutique hotel, sitting on a hill outside of Pokhara overlooking the Annapurnas, Tiger Mountain is an island of serenity and comfort. Designed to blend into the scenery, the hotel nestles unobtrusively on the hillside. Marcus Cotton has been running the hotel since 2001. Relishing the calm and solitude, he not only takes care of the staff like they were family but is also very committed to responsible conservation tourism taking a pragmatic approach to working in partnership with the local people.
Begnas Lake Resort, Pokhara
Tucked away at the far end of Begnas Lake, the resort is secluded and a world apart from the hustle and bustle of Pokhara. A perfect place to relax, this is an ideal place to come to indulge in some Pamperi. The resort offers a full course of ayurvedic treatments and massages, or you could go trekking (the Royal Trek starts near here), go hiking or boating on the lake, try your hand fishing or go swimming in the beautiful lakeside pool.
Arjun Pokherel, the General Manager at the resort has been working here since the 90s and has built up a closing working relationship with the local community. As well as employing staff from the local village, he seeks to support the school and villagers and through the resort and its guests, have helped to set up a new library at the primary school, rebuild toilets and a build a new community centre where adult education and training programmes will be held. Encouraging and supporting volunteers who want to help the school, this poor farming community can be seen to be benefitting not only from local employment opportunities that the resort inevitably brings but further useful support that can be enjoyed by the whole community.
Raniban Resort, Pokhara
On the far side of Fewa Lake, up about the World Peace Pagoda at Pumdikot is a newly opened resort which boasts some of the most enchanting views of the Annapurnas. This is a great escape, where you can relax and admire the Himalayan panorama stretching across from Dhaulagiri, the Annapurnas, Fish Tail and Manaslu.
Still very early days, but the resort is looking at how it can help the local community beyond providing much-needed local employment. Looking at reducing the environmental impact that tourism brings, rubbish bins and clear signposts lead guests up from the lake to the resort. It’s a start and the resort is exploring how to make as a little impact but at the same time maximise benefits to the local people.
Marigold Hotel, Pokhara
A modest hotel in the centre of town, the Marigold can’t boast much in itself but it is run by the three Adhikari brothers from Astam, a village 17 kilometers from Pokhara who as well as a keen involvement in waste management, are also running the Annapurna Eco-Village project that promotes organic farming and is helping to bring tourists to a village that otherwise would not see visitors. In partnership with the school and some doctors in Australia, they have enlisted support for the local school and medical centre. The brothers and Purna, in particular, are committed in the fight to manage waste in Pokhara and are working to recycle plastic waste in Pokhara where they are trying to raise awareness of the problem.
Butterfly Lodge, Pokhara
A haven for volunteers, the Butterfly Lodge supports the Butterfly Foundation that runs a childcare center among other social projects in Pokhara. Govinda Prahari, owner of the Lodge, has been working in the social area for over thirty years and as well as the Butterfly Foundation, is a key supporter of the Red Cross in Pokhara and numerous other projects. Located in the center of Pokhara, it is popular with volunteers and tourists alike.