Friday, December 14, 2012

Your opinions / reviews / feedback mean the world to us!

We take your opinions very seriously. A company which does not listen to feedback and reviews cannot develop very far. This is why we have created multiple mechanism to listen to what you have to say about us and the experiences we offer!

1. TripAdvisor - On TripAdvisor, we are listed under socialtours - day tours on this link. All you have to do is click on this link and put in your review. This will help other travellers benefit from your opinion through the worlds premier review site.

2. Facebook - We have tied up with TourRadar and have put in a TOUR REVIEWS app on some of our Facebook pages. You can make a quick review without having to leave the Facebook pages and do not have to register separately for it at all. Here are the links to the pages.

socialtours corporate page :
Trekking, Hiking, Walking :
Everest Base Camp Trek :
Annapurna Circuit Trek :

3. Linked In - We have a corporate page on Linked In where reviews are now possible. If you prefer this social media to leave your review, do feel free to do it at this page -

socialtours on Linkedin -

4. Our website - We have two corporate feedback mechanisms integrated into our website  - a shorter one which just gives us a gist of your feedback, and an optional longer one which evaluates our responsible action while on the trip. It is your choice whether you want to spend more time improving the industry's responsible action, or just providing us a quick feedback. You can do that at this link

You can choose to use any one of the above for your review. If you really want to help us, ideally you would put in your review on all links, each having its multiplier effects that help other travellers. Alternatively you can just reply to this mail too.

Thanks for your time. We value your opinions! It means the world to us

Raj Gyawali
Founder Director

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trip Extensions off Kathmandu & Pokhara

Kathmandu and Pokhara are towns where there is always a stopover for travellers into Nepal. Most of the activity in these cities are restricted to regular run of the mill city tours. Over the last few years, socialtours has worked extensively on our GO LOCAL series of extensions, meant to give a better insight into the cultural melting pots that are our cities. The list below gives a gist of what we have developed. Do check back with us constantly – we keep developing new products in this series.

All trips are guided and are reasonably priced, run with low minimums and never exceed 10 persons.

Tours around Kathmandu

Cook like a local | 3-4 hours
Discover the art of Nepali cooking in a perfect extension to any trip to Nepal. As part of the Go Local series, socialtours gives you an opportunity to learn how to cook like a Nepali. Each class starts with a tour of the bazaar to source ingredients, continues on to the actual cooking and ends in lunch. Learn to cook the Nepalese staple food, Dhal Bhat (lentil soup and curried vegetables or meat with rice), one of the most popular fast food dishes, momos (dumplings) or aloo paratha (potato stuffed flatbread). All classes are a maximum of six participants only.

Newari Village Tour | 4 hours
The tour gives you an insider's view of Nepal. The Newars are the original inhabitants of Kathmandu. Due to the fertility of Kathmandu Valley, they have a very rich cultural heritage, with highly developed art, architecture and cuisine. This is best experienced visiting the ancient Newar villages just outside Kathmandu. The tour is guided by well-trained local experts.

Throw your own souvenir | day tour
The craftsmen in the small township of Thimi just east of Kathmandu are reknown for their pottery, which is exported worldwide. You will spend a morning with these artisans learning about their skill. You will then try your hand at creating your own souvenir to take back home. For a relaxed afternoon we move on to an organic countryside farm for lunch.

Hidden Trails of Kathmandu | Cycling | day tour
The Kathmandu Valley is built for mountain biking and has more trails than one can count, catering for bikers of all experience and expertise levels, ranging from gently cultural trails to downhill and extreme uphills. Fully customizable, we will carefully select the best route based on your interests and expertise. You ride with one or more of our team of expert bikers. This trip will give you an insight into the valley and its back roads plus an excellent workout! You will visit the hidden places only regular mountain bikers discover, giving you a unique perspective into this wonderful valley.

Dawn at Bhaktapur | overnight trip
The ancient city of Bhaktapur, located east of Kathmandu, is commonly known as the culture capital of Nepal. One of the UNESCO world heritage sites, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an open museum itself with palaces, pagodas, temples and monasteries. This trip will let you experience a city waking up, something rare in more common tours of this ancient city. The whole trip will take place before breakfast. Your experience does not get more local than this.

Kumari Trail Walk | 3 hours
In Kathmandu, the Living Goddess Kumari, a young unmarried girl, comes out of her temple at Kathmandu Durbar Square only three times a year on specific routes. We follow one of these routes on an informative city walk, learning more about this tradition and discovering parts of old Kathmandu to get a true sense of history of the place with its courtyards and communities.

Bhote Koshi River Rafting/Canyoning  | 2 days
Just three hours away from Kathmandu, the Bhote Koshi River is without a doubt the most exciting thing you can do in Nepal and one of the best two-day rafting trips offered anywhere in the world. The Bhote Koshi is a very steep, continuous mountain stream, a unique combination of exceptionally fun and challenging rapids without it ever getting past the point of recreation, surrounded by mountains, forests and waterfalls. Challenging and action-packed, the Bhote Kosi offers you nothing less than the ride of a lifetime.

The Chitwan Jungle Safari | 3 days
One of Nepal's best attractions is a safari in the tropical jungles of Terai, the southern plains of Nepal, which still preserves some of the best wildlife habitat in the subcontinent. The Chitwan National Park offers protection to 56 species of mammals including one-horned rhinos. Highlights of the trip include elephant back safari, jungle walks, bird watching tours and canoeing.

Chepang Hill Trail Hike | 3 days
This hike leads you through the off-beaten trail and beautiful hillsides of Chitwan to the homeland of Chepangs and their traditional villages. Chepangs are the small ethnic group living a nomadic life with rich cultural traditions. The trek was developed to promote their culture and livelihood.

Rice Planting Tour | day tour
Rice is one of the most important commodities in Nepal. Every summer, as the rains set in the valley, it is time to celebrate the showers by making a festival of the planting of rice. Spend a day planting rice with the locals! This tour will allow you to mingle with the locals and their traditions in Kathmandu Valley and serves as a wonderful peak into the daily lives of Nepalis. Children are most welcome.

Walk with a Monk | day tour
This tour focuses on Buddhism, showcasing the different types of practice that exist in Nepal. The walking tour takes you from Kopan Monastery to the famous Boudha Stupa led by a Buddhist Lama. In Kopan Monastery you participate in a philosophy session about Buddhism followed by a short meditation. After lunch and a visit around the monastery you walk with the monk through agricultual fields and local villages to Boudha with a chance to debate and learn more about Buddhism. The tour ends with a prayer session and lighting candles in one of the many Tibetan Gompas around Boudha.

Splice of Kathmandu | 2.5 hours
This is a 2.5 km guided walking tour of the inner streets of Kathmandu and the bustling bazaars of Ason a stone's throw away from the tourist district of Thamel. Within the seeming chaos of rikshas, motorbikes and crowds, you will discover the true heart of Kathmandu and learn about vegetables, salts, spices, herbs, utensils, traditional nepali clothing and the wholesale of Tibetan items. You will get a chance to taste the spices and herbs and also shop like a local. As an added value the guide gives an insight into other important aspects of the Nepalese culture, religion and customs.

Heritage sites of Kathmandu Valley | 1-2 days
The tour takes you through the seven heritage sites of Kathmandu one by one, going from the holiest temples for hindus, Pashupatinath to the oldest temple in the valley, Changu Narayan. You will then stay overnight in the beautiful city of Bhaktapur - the Durbar Square of which is one the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley highlighting the ancient arts of Nepal. The second day of the tour takes you to Patan Durbar Square, then on to Boudha, the holy Buddhist stupa and yet to another one, Swayambhunath. Finally the tour takes you to the amazing Kathmandu Durbar Square. Just walking through these sites watching the people go about their daily lives is an incredible experience in itself.

Day tours around Pokhara

Coffee Trip | 1-2 days 
Nepal is abound with hidden secrets and the production of organic coffee is one of them. The unique climate and terrain allows for a very high quality coffee to be grown in picturesque farms in altitudes between 900–1800 meters. This trip takes you up close and personal with this coffee with a very distinct taste, while the Himalayas create the backdrop. You meet the farmers, help in the farm, visit production chain processes and end up drinking the very coffee that was roasted in front of your eyes.  

World Peace Stupa Hike | 3 hours – day hike
This hike takes you to a beautiful World Peace Stupa recently built by the Japanese up on a hill across the famous Fewa Lake. After a short boat ride across the lake, it is a leisurely walk uphill through the forest with the panoramic background of the Himalayas. From the Stupa you can watch the sun set over Pokhara. The hike can be also done as a circuit.

Dawn at Sarangkot | 3-5 hours
Setting off before sunrise with a short drive to a point where you start your walk uphill to the ridge top, you will reach the top of Sarankot at 1610 meters before sunrise to see the breathtaking mountain range near Pokhara, including the sacred Fishtail that is off-llimits to climbing. The hike up to this closest viewpoint near Pokhara takes from 45 minutes to three hours depending on your starting point. 

Biking to Pame | day tour
The villages around Pokhara present a wonderful insight into village life in the western side of Nepal. What better way than to spend the day cycling to these wonderful idyllic villages on our day tour. One could go in different directions but we are suggesting that we go towards the north of the lake to Pame.

Friday, September 21, 2012

the socialtours pitch – ITB Asia & WTM 2012

Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, socialtours is a highly innovative, soft adventure specialist offering a range of products from trekking and soft adventure trips to special interest travel, village stays and volunteering. Working with local communities, the company strives to provide the clients with locally distinctive, value-added travel experiences that help promote and preserve Nepal's rich cultural and ecological diversity.

Socialtours has been five times nominee for the Responsible Travel Awards in the UK and featured in National Geographic Adventure and Lonely Planet. It has also been listed amongst four other companies as the best sustainable tourism companies in Nepal in a UNWTO publication in 2012. Since its foundation in 2002 socialtours has constantly worked to develop new and innovative products into the market.

At ITB Asia and World Travel Market 2012, socialtours is coming with its set of innovative products and looking for industry partners wishing to expand their product base and working with a local partner who understands their markets and will help them constantly keep the market interest dynamic, through active product expansion, creativity and dedication to excellence in delivery.

Why talk to socialtours?

For over 10 years, socialtours has been honing its skills in delivery, understanding of markets and customers, and going deeper and deeper into Responsible Tourism practice. Partners stand to gain from this sort of expertise on the ground, enhancing their profiles through excellent reviews on trips, value addition through the real practice of responsible tourism on the ground, and dynamic changes in offers through an ever expanding product base. Socialtours does not only work in delivery excellence, but works together as partners.

Our OFFERS in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan & India

The experiences promoted by the company fall under distinct categories

GO LOCAL | Discover Hidden Secrets
In 2011 socialtours launched the Go Local activities, a new initiative to discover hidden secrets only locals know. The objective of these short tours is to give travellers richer, deeper and out of the ordinary experiences into culture, while at the same time making a positive impact on the local communities and environment. These tours have become extremely popular.

A very popular product in this series is Cook like a local, which gives a chance to learn typical Nepali dishes.  The course has been featured in Lonely Planet and has received spectacular reviews.

Splice of Kathmandu is the newest addition to the Go Local series and complements the cooking class. The tour leads through the local Ason markets, a wonderful place to plunge into the aromas and tastes of spices, herbs, vegetables, utensils, the traditional clothing and wholesale markets. The purpose of this tour is to discover the heart of Kathmandu. 

Since 2011 socialtours has engaged in cultural preservation experiences conducting an exotic 20 course Newar feast called Vo'ye. The driving force of this event is to revive the unique Newar, culturally sensitive tradition and prevent degradation of culture by organizing the feast every year during the Kumari / Indra Jatra festival. 

This category encompasses a number of activities ranging from trekking to white water rafting through paragliding to jungle safari. Here socialtours strives to push travellers into off beat and community based initiatives, thereby helping spread the benefits of tourism into areas where they usually do not reach.

Communityeco-lodge trek is an off the beaten track trek into the ever popular Annapurnas, with eco-lodge stays benefitting community based tourism.

A Responsible Peak is an educational tour on the intricacies of practice of responsible tourism, and takes people on a homestay based trek and combines it with a twist on the ever popular Jungle Safari.

Socialtours is also working on developing a range of cultural shorter products on the slowly popularising Great Himalaya Trail, striving to reach areas that other treks do not, thereby helping get the spread done there.

The series has been established to create enriching experiences for the customers with special interest. Highly tailor made, each trip in this series focuses on a particular cultural or environmental experience.

Crop to Cup is a Coffee tour developed for the coffee connoisseurs to experience the high quality, organic coffee grown in Nepal. The tour shows all the steps of coffee production and ends in tasting this wonderful product.

Dancing with Shamans is a monsoon trek that goes to a high mountain lake in the August Full Moon to experience apprentice shaman turn into full shaman in a yearly high altitude festival.

The Red Panda Watch is a trip into high altitude herder communities to stay with them and utilise their skill in tracking the elusive Red Panda.

This series resolves around the concept of volunteering and charity tours that has been one of the core strengths of the company right from the start.

For the second time this year Socialtours has co-organized Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge. The aim of this event is to bring together riders from Nepal and abroad to participate in 50 kilometre cycling challenge around Kathmandu Valley, raising money per kilometre biked for development. In 2012, the challenge brought together about 300 riders and raised money for upgrading birthing centers in a remote district. The fund rising target of NRs 500,000 was exceeded by 180%. The event proved to be highly successful.

The Everest and Annapurna Base Camp trek Challenges raise money per meter climbed to benefit causes which are vetted by Save the Children and implemented via the philanthropic arm of socialtours, Karma Foundation.

Since 2009, socialtours has started a regional initiative called the Green Circuit, aimed at bringing together responsible operators in the sub-continent. This has bought together award winning organisations in an effort to join forces to learn together, market together and put up a bigger front in the market.

The Green Triangles of India & Nepal brings together the popular triangles in India and Nepal in a heady mix of responsible experiences in these two countries. The cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur are combined with Kathmandu, Pohkara and Chitwan shown in a new perspective, which makes a responsible alternative to mass tourism.

The RT AUDIT | Leading Responsible Tourism Practice
Socialtours was one of the first companies in Nepal to develop a policy for responsible tourism, outlining a set of principles to adhere to in order to respect local people and environment, and to contribute into the local economy. It has committed itself to integrating tourism with social development.
Based on the formats and systems set by Responsible Tourism Reporting, an initiative spearheaded by Jenefer Bobbin and Prof. Harold Goodwin, socialtours has for the second time completed the report on sustainability performance. The report shows in detail how the company gets on in the key areas of social, economic and environmental responsibility. It also sets the targets for the next year.

Contact Raj Gyawali, founder director via email at and via phone at +43 66 47 35 33 48 3.
 … or visit our website @

*end* | 21st Sep - Kathmandu, Nepal

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whats in a Feast?

Since 2011, socialtours has been engaging in conducting an exotic Newar feast, along with our partners Powerful Hands, with whom we engage in cultural preservation experiences. This is scheduled to happen each year during the Kumari / Indra Jatra and is slowly being developed to be the FEAST of the YEAR.

We felt the need to explain why a travel company is so excited about this feast, and why the whole office and our partners are working hard to make it a success.

Simply explanation is that we love (did I already say love) Newar food, and love the 'exoticness' (if thats a word; must be, because my computer seems to accept it!) of the traditional sit down 'Lapte'. Unfortunately, we do not get invited to many anymore, and there is a reason for it. It is slowly disappearing from the regular 'feast' scene in Kathmandu, replaced by the ease of the rather 'boring' "Chinese food on one side and Indian on the other" type feasts that catering companies are good at.

Its a shame, because the Newar tradition is so unique, and amazingly 'green', 'organic', 'culturally sensitive', 'exotic' and above all, pure fun.

So, this is our thinking. If we can bring the fun back to the traditional sit down, glamourise it a bit, change the ambience, we might have started a small revival of sorts, or if that is not possible, at least slowed down the degradation of culture by just a little bit.

This year, its happening on the 30th of September, 2012 (sunday) on the second day of the Kumari / Indra Jatra in Basantapur, right on the route of the Kumari, in front of the Taleju temple.

So do come by, enjoy the food, lovingly prepared by the Ma Pucha of Lagan Tole, realising that you are also playing a small part in the preservation of this wonderful food culture. There will be over 20 different varieties of food, and free flow traditional alcohol - of course.

See you on the 30th.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Walking Tour | A taste of SPICE

Walking Tour of Ason Market Kathmandu | Understanding Nepali cuisine and uses of spices | tasting | guided trip into bazaar | maximum 6 persons

Price : $ 10 pp (min 2 persons)

Sunday through Friday. The markets are closed on Saturdays.


Spices : You can see them on every corner of the street right in the heart of Kathmandu.  The smell and taste of the spices is an integral part of the life of Nepal. Ever wondered what are the names of all of the spices and more importantly to which dishes they are added? What are the origins of Nepalese cooking and where you can find the best ingredients?

The Taste of Spice is a unique chance to become familiar with the whole realm of the spices used in the Nepalese kitchen. What are the traditional dishes and the misconception about it? How is has changed over the years and what has remained untouched. How the spices intertwine with the everyday life of the people. How to shop on the market looking for the bargains and make the most of the trip.

An added value as the guide gives an insight into other important aspects of the Nepalese culture, religion or customs. The guide can advise you about roughly anything and instruct how to discover the true Nepal in the heart of Kathmandu.

This tour is a walking tour to the Ason market, a stones throw away from the tourist hub of Thamel in Kathmandu.

Quick Itinerary
1400 hrs: Briefing at office
1415 hrs: Start the tour
1630 – 1700 hrs: end of tour

English Speaking Guide
Spice tasting
Walking Tour


Essential Information

This is a walking tour of the inner streets of Kathmandu. Be prepared to jostle amongst hundreds of shoppers.

Carry water to drink and a rain cover in case it rains.

Carry some money for small purchases.

Bring along a great attitude!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

REPORT | Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2012

Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge started in 2011 bringing cyclists together for a cause. Two teenagers, Maxim Jones from UK and Shishang Lama from Nepal, took the challenge to raise money for SAMATA School and OCCED orphanage in Kathmandu by cycling around the city. The challenge successfully took place in July 2011 with around Rs. 450 000 raised and distributed to SAMATA School and OCCED. The event was conducted by CHAIN bikes along with support from other organisations and 35 other riders who joined the event.

The route is a Kora, an auspicious clockwise circumambulation around Kathmandu. Traditionally Kora is performed by making a walking circumambulation around a temple, stupa , or other sacred site. In accordance with Buddhist tradition and belief, Kora is always performed in a clock-wise direction.

For the Kora Cycling Challenge, the riders gather to start the challenge and ride along the agreed route (the route is GPS'ed and online). Participation is free. For each kilometre they ride they request people around them to contribute a small amount. Entire donation is voluntary. People can also pledge online and name the rider they are supporting. It is not about winning, but rather something to rejoice about at the end of the challenge.

Kathmandu Kora 2012
Following the success of first ever Kora Cycling Challenge last year, Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge 2012 took place on Saturday, July 21st. The event, organised by socialtours, Talent Inc. and Save the Children, brought together around 300 riders from Nepal and abroad for the 50 kilometre challenge around Kathmandu valley to raise awareness and money per kilometre biked for a worthy cause. The flag-off from Patan was quite a spectacle in itself, with the convoy of bikers along the trail certainly gathering a lot of attention during the whole day.

Money raised this this time around goes to upgrading birthing facilities in Rukum, one of the most remote districts in Nepal. Every year, a completely unacceptable 25,000 newborns and children in Nepal die due to bad birthing facilities. Working with Save the Children and the EVERYONE campaign ( under the slogan “No Child Born to Die” the idea is simple: We need to save everyone. Rukum has some of the poorest conditions of birthing care in Nepal and is often neglected when it comes to social development. With the initiative and the money raised we will assist the process to make changes to the better in Rukum, and act as a trigger to eventually making the lives of people better in remote districts outside Kathmandu.

This year's event gathered support from over 20 corporate companies. With almost 200% of the initial target of Rs. 500,000 raised, the Kathmandu KORA Cycling Challenge successfully put forward the statement of "No Child Born To Die".

Way forward
The amount raised by the 2012 event will be channelled to District Health Office Rukum through Save the Children partner organisation, Rukumeli Samaj Development Centre, to buy equipments such as mattresses for birthing beds, torch lights, stainless scissors, etc. In Kathmandu, the money will be channelled via Karma Foundation through a zero leakage mechanism (no administrative costs). In the coming months we will be reporting back via social media and email how the money raised will be used and when the equipment will be delivered to Rukum.

Considering the social development possible through programs like this, we plan to give this initiative continuity in the coming years with the same concept of raising funds based on the challenge of riding. Preparations for next year's KORA to ride again for another fantastic cause are already well on their way. The date is set for Saturday, July 20th, 2013. So mark your calendars! 

The exact cause for the 2013 event is yet to be decided. The money contributed by people who pledge for this event goes transparently and without leakage to the intended beneficiaries. To ensure this we have an established foundation channelling the money and conducting the monitoring.

Being an off-season event (July, monsoon), this event is for the whole community and a chance to be involved in doing something good. Public can make a positive contribution towards change to better. The past events clearly showed how a popular sport like cycling can be used as a means to raise awareness and funds for social inequalities that exist in Nepal.

For the Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge community page on facebooka visit

For the next year's event details visit

For more information, please contact:

Raj Gyawali
socialtours | nepal
Tridevi Marg, Thamel
Kathmandu, PO Box 1663 Nepal
Tel: +977 1 4412508

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Getting in touch with mother nature – A mud bath for the start of rice planting season in Nepal

Going Ropain

When rice cultivation begins every monsoon in Nepal, farmlands become playgrounds. This was definitely the case last weekend at Bajrabarahi, in the southern outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, where locals, tourists and school children alike played wild with mud at Ropain – The Rice Planting Festival organised to educate about monsoon rice plantation in Nepal.

June 29th is the 15th day of the Nepali month Ashad and the first official day of the rice planting season. The day is one of celebration for the farmers of Nepal. Rice is the most important cereal crop in the country. Many people in Nepal devote their lives to cultivating rice to survive and during the planting season the fields are busy from dawn till dusk. Extra hands are always welcome. 

On Saturday June 30th, two buses full of excited rice-planters-to-be, were driven out of the bustling Kathmandu to the lush green rice fields of the beautiful local village, Bajrabarahi, to be greeted with welcoming locals. With colourfully dressed local women hands full of rice stalks and men digging up mud the paddy was already in full swing. After a short demonstration how to plant the stalks no more than two at a time, placing them deep enough into the mud to make them stick upright the group was ready to get down and dirty with hands-on planting, digging barefoot into the soggy soft earth. The soil easily reaching knee-high, it is quite easy to lose your balance and stumble in the mud before anyone got a chance to push you in anyway! 

A bunch of novices at work it seemed, amidst the locals, but everyone seemed to enjoy learning the new skill. Hope the locals didn't need to replant too many of the patches planted by the novices... 

A wooden plough pulled by oxen and driven by human is still used in farming in Nepal. It is all handwork!For the locals in the village it might have even been strange to comprehend how anyone could not have planted rice before. For the Nepalis in the group it brought back memories from childhood. For the tourists it opened up a whole new experience – maybe some had played with mud before, but not many, if any, had done it on a paddy field in a small local village of Nepal.

And when work turned into play, there was no telling who was who, covered in mud from head to toe. After a typical Newari snack and a drink or two of the local rice beer filled up with new energy, some real mud wrestling also took place.

All in all, what a healthy, therapeutic, fun experience – a free mud bath treatment for everyone! Makes anyone regain some youthful enthusiasm.

On the next day, Sunday July 1st, it was the turn for about 80 children and some 20 accompanying adults from John Dewey School in Kathmandu to have the time of their life playing in the mud in Bajrabahani. Together with Powerful Hands, socialtours organised this educational Ropain programme to educate the school children about rice planting. See for more photos here. 

Going Newari

The Ropain Festival was not just to plant rice and play in the mud, but also to immerse oneself in another tradition – that of the cuisine of the original Kathmandu Valley inhabitants, the Newars. The meal, eaten by hand consisted of several different dishes each with a symbolic significance. Different dishes are placed in a circle around the beaten rice, staple rice flakes, to represent and honour different sets of deities depending on the festival.

At meals, festivals and gatherings, Newars sit on long mats in rows. Typically, the sitting arrangement is hierarchical with the eldest sitting at the top and the youngest at the end. The dessert, a simple delicacy of yoghurt (dahi) mixed with the beaten rice (chewra) and some sugar is believed to give good luck consumed on the rice planting day. Simple but delicious!

Going home with a memory that will last

Although it was not raining at all, there was already enough water and mud to get totally immersed, in both muddy and engaged way. A day like this is only a little peak in the real lives of the locals and one can only imagine how the work goes on on their paddy fields day in day out for the weeks to come. The event may have been more about learning rice planting for some, more about playing in the mud for others, but it surely was fun for everyone, and couldn’t really get more local or bring the mother nature any closer – For people in the Western world, rice on their plate comes from far away – now having planted your own rice, just imagine if by harvesting time (end November - mid December) the very rice you planted ends up on your plate!

We at socialtours would like to thank you all who participated in this event to remember for a long time to come. We were told by the locals of the village that apparently our “work in the mud” was indeed very useful, stomping the field ready for the them to go on planting.. While some of us are still washing off the mud, here are some priceless photos to remember the day by. The adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words” seems more than applicable here. Let the photos tell the story further:

Last but not least, a big thank you goes for the locals of the village who let us into their lives – even if it was just for a day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Socialtours mentioned in SALT – the Dutch magazine for active and adventurous way of life.

The increasinly popular and one of a kind Dutch magazine SALT - for people with active, adventurous and responsible lifestyle – recently covered a story about the mother of all trails, The Great Himalaya Trail. 

Socialtours is proud to be mentioned as one of the local tour operators to book your trek with.

Our thanks go to the whole SALT team – who believe sustainable lifestyle is above all fun and a journey to discover themselves. SALT stands for authenticity, small-scale, humour, people and environment. We think alike!

Our special thanks also go to the editor Ard Krikke, who wrote this article. Ard himself is a devoted cyclist and windsurfer who recently also made his childhood dream of skating the 200km “Elfstedentocht”, Eleven cities tour, on natural ice come true. We are impressed! And we want more SALT!

With the permission from Ard Krikke and the SALT magazine, the following is a translation and partly a summary of the original article that you can read in full here (in Dutch).

THE GREAT HIMALAYA TRAIL - 4500 km on the top of the world

With the official opening of the first stretch (1700km) of the Great Himalaya Trail (4500km) a dream has come true for many adventurers. For the first time in history it is possible to trek right across Nepal by foot. Walking on the top of the world along the highest peaks also the remote mountain dwellers now have hope of some income thanks to travellers passing by. In the meantime China, Pakistan, Bhutan and India are all working hard to complete their parts of “the mother of all trails”.

Nepal is no doubt one of the most well-known outdoor countries in the world. For years already Mount Everest and Annapurna regions have had the magical appeal on adventurers seeking to get a glimpse of the highest peaks of the world. Since the successful summit of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953, it has been the holy grail of the Himalayas. The rest of the stretched country does not get so many visitors, and some 1.8 million poor mountain dwellers get hardly any profit from tourism. With the Great Himalaya Trail a traveller will not only learn about these unique, remote areas but will provide the people living in these remote areas a chance for an income - the last being the most important reason for the existence of the trail.

The trail is a result of joining the forces of different people - among whom a Dutch organisation SNV. This non-profit organisation worked closely together with the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to develop the route that would join together all the Himalayan countries. Not a small task as hardly any information about the route existed. Previously only very few people succeeded to walk across the whole length of the Himalayas and even fewer succeeded to tell their story. It used to be the local traders who walked across the region with their yaks or mules in endless search of the ideal route  over the “Abode of Snow”, the Himalayas.

Until recent times there have been a few of those adventurers who “recreationally” trekked the whole route and brought back with them pieces of information about the rugged mountain range. But it was the Australian, Robin Boustead (mountain guide and travel journalist) who in 2009 with his wife Judy Smith and a few friends and with help of GPS accurately mapped the Nepalese part of the Himalayas. Robin: “It was an enormous task but I saw the potential of this route. That's why I wanted to find a high alpine route that is feasible for the “normal” trekkers.” He succeeded in this – all his findings are recorded in the book The Great Himalaya Trail.

The 10 sections

Although the Great Himalaya Trail is now only accessible through Nepal, the route will eventually be extended through all the Himalayan countries to reach a total length of 4500km. China, Pakistan, Bhutan and India are all busy mapping their parts of the trail.

The Nepalese part runs from Api-Saipal in the far west to Kanchenjunga in the east of the country. On the way one will pass by the highest mountain peaks on our planet - of which eight are over 8000 meters high - as well as the most remote villages in the world. The route is well known for its diversity in landscapes, flora and fauna, people and cultures - from snow leopards to red pandas, from subtropical jungles to frail ecosystems at extreme heights and from Sherpas to Shamanists and ancient Bon Buddhism.

As very few people will have the chance to trek the whole 1700km requiring some six months to do in a relaxed pace, the Nepalese part of the trail has been divided into 10 different, manageable sections. Furthermore, each of these sections can be further divided into smaller parts ranging anything from 10 days to a few weeks of trekking.

The choice is also between the upper trail - the highest and also the hardest parts going up to 6000 meters, or the lower trail - reaching heights of no more than 2000 meters. The lower trail is more suitable for getting to know the villages. This way the Great Himalaya Trail caters for all adventurous minds. Hiring a guide is nevertheless always advised as the route is not marked.

Do it yourself

If  attempting to do the trail on your own, you should count on a lot of preparation time. Start with getting yourself a Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail guide ( with extensive information on the different areas and possibilities. However, as the route really still is in its baby shoes, unexpected things are likely to happen. The first challenge is the numerous permits necessary to enter and cross the different areas. Next to this you will need to find guides and porters who want to go with you. All this time and effort can be saved by booking your trek with an organisation, such as Pema Treks ( and socialtours (

Due to extreme heights, the rugged terrain in the isolated regions is a challenge even for experienced mountain trekkers. This does not mean, however, that those who never wore trekking shoes might as well forget it. The route varies so much that there are always areas and sections of it to fit everyone's condition and experience. Some parts can even be done by mountain bike!

Extensive information, including lots of photos and descriptions on each section, trail do's and dont's, maps, guides, local and international organisations with whom you can plan your trek and the latest news about the status of the trail can be found on

Read more about the 10 sections:


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