Thursday, February 23, 2012

Press Release: Responsible Tourism Events in the Spotlight at ITB Berlin 2012

Kathmandu, Nepal – 23 February 2012 | At ITB Berlin 2012 socialtours and its sustainable partners will get together to present the latest innovations in responsible travel.

Raj Gyawali, Founder and Managing Director of socialtours, will give a presentation on the GO LOCAL | Insider Tours on Friday, 9 March at 13.00h in Hall 4.1b, ITB Eco & Adventure Stage. The popular series includes an amazing collection of tours from cooking courses to village walks and learning to make paper from elephant dung. The GO LOCAL series will even take you on cross-border tours – for example the Green Triangles of India and Nepal to explore the two countries from a responsible perspective.

This year socialtours will partner with the Blue Yonder and the Green Circuit to feature a series of Responsible Travel Clinics during the trade visitors days 7-9 March, where experts will share their experiences in building sustainable tourism businesses. Topics include social media for destination promotion, power of story telling, moving beyond conventional tourism and power of networking. All the clinics will take place in Hall 4.1/201 at the Blue Yonder stand. Please contact us for a more detailed schedule of these events.

The annual Responsible Networking Event on Friday, 9 March at 17:30h in Hall 4.1 will provide a perfect opportunity to get connected, interact and listen to inspiring stories from destinations as well as short pitches from responsible tourism initiatives around the world.

About us

socialtours | nepal is an award-nominated, National Geographic Adventure and Lonely Planet recommended soft adventure specialist based in Nepal covering Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India, offering local, active, immersive and involving experiences tailor-made to individual requirements.

The Blue Yonder, recipient of Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Awards and prestigious First Choice Responsible Tourism Award is a pioneering and most innovative travel company promoting sustainable and responsible travel in India.

The Green Circuit is an initiative to bring together the best responsible tour operators in the Indian sub-continent.

For more information, please email During the week of 6-11 March 2012, please call +43 664 73533483. 

Press Release: GO LOCAL | Insider Tours: Discover Hidden Secrets of Nepal Only Locals Know

Kathmandu, Nepal – 23 February 2012 | With the GO LOCAL series socialtours now combines a soft adventure tour with an insider's view of Nepal, giving the traveller memorable and meaningful experiences to fulfill their holiday.

Socialtours launched the GO LOCAL | Insider Tours last year. The popular series now includes cooking courses, pottery classes, organic farm stays, coffee farm visits, village walks, cycling tours, watching a city wake up, learning the process of converting elephant dung into paper - an amazing collection of experiences to give an insight into the culture, people and nature of Nepal.

The GO LOCAL series will even take you on cross-border tours – for example the Green Triangles of India and Nepal to explore the two countries from a responsible perspective.

At ITB Berlin 2012 Raj Gyawali, Founder and Managing Director of socialtours, will give a presentation on the GO LOCAL series on Friday, 9 March at 13.00h in Hall 4.1b, ITB Eco & Adventure Stage.

All the tours are fully customized to meet time requirements and special interests of the traveller. They are ideal for families and people on a short visit to Nepal and can take place both in Kathmandu and Pokhara, highlighting the cities’ hidden secrets only known to locals. A well-trained, local guide will accompany each tour.

For those inspired, socialtours GO LOCAL series is a perfect way to explore deeper into the rich cultural heritage of Nepal and discover something new and out of the ordinary.

About socialtours | nepal

socialtours | nepal is an award-nominated, National Geographic Adventure and Lonely Planet recommended soft adventure specialist based in Nepal, covering Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India, offering local, active, immersive and involving experiences tailor-made to individual requirements.

For more information or to schedule a meeting in Berlin, please email
During the week of 6-11 March 2012, please call +43 664 73533483. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Advanced Guide Training | day one

Twenty four guides got together at socialtours today to start day one of the Advanced Guide Training. The group was lively and presented many issues to the trainers to discuss. It started with introductions from Raj Gyawali and Robin Boustead and then continued into main sessions.

Ian Wall took the session on Understanding the Mountain Environment and sensitised the participants on the issues of weather patterns, and how it manifests itself in the mountain environment. Also how this effects guiding. He also stressed on the importance of being really interested in learning about the mountain environment.

After this, Robin and Amrit took over to explain about maps and map reading. There was active participation on this session as participants wanted to learn well how to read a map, obviously a skill some of them lacked. They learnt about contours, measuring distances, calculating times required of trekking, and for finding out the coordinates to provide the helicopter for the rescue.

NOTE: Rule of thumb is that in one hour, a person with a backpack can walk about 3.2 kms on a normal track, but if we are climbing, for every 300 meters, one has to add one hour extra.

Prem later spoke informally about how we need to prepare well, and make sure that we have the right equipment with us when we travel as guides. A lot of this build respect for the guide which then helps establish a positive relationship between guides and clients.

Sarita took over after this on the essential of First Aid. She explained about common problems, how to handle a thermometer, how to recognise AMS. Rajesh took over for a while explaining in detail, with demonstrations, on how to handle difficult health situations on a trek. Later, a Gammow bag was taken out to explain how to use it in an extreme situation.

Raj and Ian then took the last session on leadership, going over the Good GUIDE LIST and also other issues in consideration relating to leadership in guiding.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Advanced Guide Training | Schedule

The following is the schedule decided for the Guide Training. Lead Instructors are mentioned below. They will be supported by other instructors too.

Please remember that punctuality is extremely important.

22nd Feb 2012

1000 hrs:
Introduction to the training - Raj Gyawali, Robin Boustead

1015 - 1200 hrs:
Understanding the Mountain Environment and what it means to guiding - Ian Wall
Navigation | Orientation | Map Reading - Amrit Ale, Prem Guvaju

Tea & Snacks Break

1400 - 1600 hrs:
First Aid - the box and how to use it - Sarita Lama
Leadership Skills - Raj Gyawali, Ian Wall, Prem Guvaju, Amrit Ale

23rd Feb 2012

1000 hrs:
How important is the guide to the company he/she works for?

1015-1200 hrs:
Responsible Tourism - understanding what it relates to guiding, Raj Gyawali
Rescue & Insurance Implications - Prem Guvaju, Amrit Ale, Ian Wall, Raj Gyawali

Tea & Snacks Break

1400 - 1600 hrs:
Client Expectations - understanding and managing them, Ian Wall, Raj Gyawali
Questions & Answers - Final session


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Advanced Guide Training | Characteristics of a Good Tour Guide

Sent by Raj Tamang, responsible adventures, and one of the trainers

Being a good guide is not rocket science. Using very simple principles and values, internalised deep down, one can slowly develop into a well-respected guide. The list below is by no means complete, but is a guideline for what things to work on.

This has been adapted from Good Guide Guidelines developed for National Parks and Conservation Areas. It applies equally for mountain leaders


1. Speaks Loudly and Clearly
2. Uses Non-Verbal Communication
a) Smiles
b) Makes eye contact  
c) Uses body language

3. Acts Professionally
a) Is punctual
b) Greets tourists
c) Is courteous and attentive
d) Dresses well

4. Prepares in Advance
a) Completes a site inventory b) Researches c) Practices

5. Provides Necessary Information for Tourists a) Informs visitors of the location, time, and length of tour b) Informs visitors what they will need to bring and wear c) Informs visitors of norms, rules and special considerations

6. Is knowledgeable
a) Uses appropriate equipment 
b) Uses guide books 
c) Knows about the area being toured 
d) Takes advantage of teachable moments
e) Knows the difference between different types of tours

7. Knows the Audience 
a) Learns about visitors between stops 
b) Uses visitor and universally relevant information to make examples more personal

8. Helps the Tourists Learn by Themselves (Asks Questions) 
a) Asks questions 
b) Engages tourists in “Guided Discovery” (asks questions and gives hints to help tourists figure things out on their own)

9. Has a “Message” for Every Tour 
a) Simple full-sentence “message” 
b) Message is original

10. Prepares a Structure for Every Tour
a) Uses an introduction, stops, and a conclusion 
b) Writes an outline 
c) Stops exhibit attractive natural resources/appropriate examples of message

11. Has a POW at the Beginning of Every Tour

12. Makes the Tour Dynamic
a) Uses games, activities, or demonstrations
b) Uses sense activities besides vision - sounds, smells, touch
c) Uses natural objects or other props

13. Uses Interesting Language 
a) Uses interesting language 
b) Relays natural history stories appropriate to the message

14. Manages the Group
a) Makes sure everyone can see and hear well
b) Assures visitors safe passage
c) Handles unexpected situations 
d) Chooses comfortable locations for stops

15. Knows First-Aid and Carries Appropriate Equipment
a) Assembles and carries a First-aid kit
b) Attends to the injured
c) Carries appropriate comfort equipment

16. Relays Accurate Information and Handles Difficult Questions 
a) Relays only accurate information 
b) Is honest (“I don’t know”) 
c) Writes down visitor questions and follows up with answers (contact info) 
d) Is able to act as a nature detective, suggesting possible answers

17. Suggests a Relevant Conservation Action
a) Illustrates environmental and conservation problems
b) Suggests an action that tourists can undertake to help protect the area
c) Helps visitors to care for the site during their visit

18. Makes Smooth Transitions Between Stops
a) Asks questions or provides an activity to maintain tourist interest between stops
b) Talks to tourists between stops

19. Evaluates the Tour 
a) Asks questions at the end—conducts a “check for learning” 
b) Does a self-evaluation 
c) Distributes and collects a tourist survey

20. Continues to Learn and Improve the Tour

Friday, February 17, 2012

Advanced Guide Training | 22-23 Feb 2012 | Course Outline

This course will have four sessions of two hours each from 1000 - 1200 and from 1400 - 1600 hrs on both days.

This is what is planned for level ONE of this GUIDE Training:-

‘Nepal’s diverse Mountain Environment’ - one session
      The formation of the mountains and valleys of Nepal
      The Himalaya and position in the continent
      How the prevailing winds effect the climate and daily weather
      How the mountain environment affects our judgment as leaders
      Knowledge of the environment and the weather can help avoid problems
      Using knowledge and the environment to aid a safe passage for our clients
      What IS perceived to be safe by the clients ..and Nepal staff?
      Dangers in the environment – from external sources

‘AMS’ - one session
      What, where and why!
      How to deal with the problem
      The Gammo Bag

‘Suggested contents / considerations for a First Aid Kit’ - one session
      Organising it
      What should we consider – who might use it?
      Who carries it and where?

Map Reading Skills and Orientation - one session

Understanding Client Expectations and Managing it - two sessions

Responsible Tourism in a Trekking Environment - one session
      Environmental Sensitivity - LNT etc.
      Cultural Sensitivity
      Contribution into the local economy

Rescue and Problem Solving in the mountains - one session
      Dealing with Helicopter Rescue
      Emergency procedures - preparing for an emergency

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easing out the Visa Process

On our other blog, Nepal Travel Advisory, we have listed what needs to be done to get your VISA on Arrival in Nepal. The best advice is to download the form, fill it up and bring it when you come. This will make it faster, as you will be head the queue, while others fill up the forms just before immigration.

Here is the link to the advisory on that:

Welcome to Nepal!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Advanced Guide Training | 22-23 Feb 2012

It's high time guides in Nepal raised the standards of guiding to international levels. With a small team of dedicated people from the Nepalese Tourism Industry, socialtours is launching an initiative this February to kick-start this process, slowly priming up the standards through short highly concentrated advanced skill and leadership trainings.

Step one is to register yourself for the training. Use the form below! This will close on 19th Feb 2012. So hurry!

IMPORTANT: the decision of the team as to who is selected as a candidate is final. If you do not make ti to this first round of trainings, there will be others that will be conducted too in due course. The training material will also be 'copylefted', and will be all available online.

Watch this space for more information regarding this training! Curriculum, expert team profiles etc.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happening at ITB 2012 | do not miss it

Its all happening at ITB. And we will be there at the thick of it. Our stall is at Hall 4.1b # 221 and all the following is happening right around us.

09 Mar 2012 - 1300 hrs - A presentation by Raj Gyawali, Founder Director on the GO LOCAL series of products - all brand new from the socialtours stable.

Later we partner with The Blue Yonder, India and our other partners at the Green Circuit Initiative, to present the following.

Responsible tourism clinics:

These are series of clinics where you interact with practitioners who run social businesses in tourism. Pose your questions on related topics and find solutions from experts.

07. Mar. 2012 | 14.00-15.00 Social Media for destination promotion: How to increase business through social media marketing? - Damian Cook - E-Tourism frontiers

08. Mar. 2012 | 11.00-12.00 Power of Story Telling : How to use stories to promote your business?
- Zainab Kakal - Chief Enthusiasm Officer at The Blue Yonder

08. Mar. 2012 | 14.00-15.00 Moving beyond conventional tourism - How to develop innovative experiences ?

- Monk for a month
- Ethical Travel Portal
- Cape Town tourism

Experiences shared by suppliers in India, Thailand, Nepal and South Africa

09. Mar. 2012 | 11.00-12.00 Power of networking: How collaboration can bring more business ?
- Raj Gyawali - The Green Circuit | socialtours nepal

**All the clinics will be at stand Hall 4.1/201(The Blue Yonder)


09. Mar. 2012 Friday | 1730-1800
Venue: Stage of the Exhibition Area: Experience Adventure, ECOtourism & Expeditions in hall 4.1

Inspiring stories from destinations.

Listen to inspiring and innovative stories from destinations that are chosen from a collection of applications from around the world.

ITB-Berlin responsible tourism networking
Partnering : The Blue Yonder, The Green Circuit and Tripbod
Supported by: Pocket village
Media partner: Vision Travel Mole

1800: Welcome:
- Rika Jean-Francoise CSR commissioner ITB-Berlin

1810-2030 : RT pitches and networking
- listen to 2 minutes pitches from responsible tourism initiatives around the world and interact with those involved in sustainable tourism


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