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.


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