Friday, December 2, 2016

KIMFF 2016 | 08 - 12 December

Its that time of the year again. The 14th Kathmandu Int'l Mountain Film Festival takes place from 8-12 December. More than 80 films on mountain people, culture, and sports from Nepal and around the world. Loads of documentaries, features, shorts, experimental films. 

Do not miss it for the world. Check out the Schedule here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Top Tips : First time in Nepal?

So you have decided to go to Nepal. Where is it on the Globe anyways, this tiny speck of a country which has the highest mountains of the world? (interesting fact: between 70m to the top of the world around 8.5 kms up in a meagre 250 km breadth and hence the steepest country in the world). Let me try to ease you into this amazing country called Nepal.

# 1: Quick Facts
Its in between China and India, has about 27m people, over 150 ethnicities and languages - from the Sherpas who are the Worlds top climbers (the current world record is 21 times up Everest, soon to be broken) to the Tharu - the only ethnic group in the world resistant to Malaria.

# 2: Visa on Arrival
Nepal has one of the easiest entry rules in the world. Barring a few countries, very very few, all nations are allowed in on a Visa on Arrival. You could fill an online application and come with the receipt, or fill it in at the airport, pay the visa fee, and welcome to Nepal. Easy as that!

# 3: English is more common than you think
You will be mildly surprised how easy its to get around Nepal, especially if you can speak English. The official language is Nepali, which has a 36 alphabet script of its own, but most schools teach English, so we have a huge percentage of the population who can speak English, making travel in Nepal super easy.

# 4: Internet penetration is super high
An opening of the cyber space investments by the Government in the early 90s has paved a way to get pretty decent penetration for the internet. Since the last ten odd years, the 3g networks have started and you can get fairly fast internet connectivity. It is also probably the country with the highest percentage of tourism providers offering free wifi. So you will never lose contact with your loved ones.

# 5: Its affordable
Getting to Nepal can be expensive, specially if you are coming in Long Haul, but once you are in the country, its quite inexpensive. This is quite a boon for budget travellers.

# 6: You will like the food
There are a very few travellers who have gone back after a trip to Nepal saying. “Your food sucks”. The Dal Bhaat (rice and lentil soup with other side dishes), the momos (dumplings and sauce) are super duper hits, and everyone love them.

# 7: Its safe
Crime is very very low in Nepal, and specially for travellers it is very safe. There have been incidents here too of course, but its rare and nothing untoward that could not have happened anywhere else in the world. Practice standard precautions, and you will be fine.

Photo by: Rocky Prajapati

# Smile like a local
We smile easy, and so it works really well if travellers do the same. We make friends very quickly and its not uncommon to meet a guy at a bar the first time and he will get into a fight for you by the end of the evening, if need be!

# 8: Its not all trekking and mountains
Its popular for trekking, but there are so many other layers. ParaHawking, Cayoning, bungy jumping and a giant swing, mountain biking, stand up paddling, you name it - a wide variety of safe and fun softadventure experiences are right here.

# Bring along a great attitude
Its not what you think it is. So bringing along a right attitude could be critical in determining how much you will enjoy Nepal.

Happy Journeys!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dancing with the Shamans

Hinduism, Animism and Buddhism are the major religions practised in Nepal. Regardless of their religion, however, the majority of people turn to the Dhami/Jhankri (shamans) for help. The people seek a shaman’s help for physical and emotional healings as well as relying on them to protect their animals and crops from natural calamities. The Nepali concept of health is quite different from that found in other parts of the world. A health issue is not just something that has gone wrong with an individual but can also include difficulties with their relationships with their families, communities and universe.

Nepali shamanism is based on an animistic belief that honours Mother earth and respects the spirit that resides in all living beings. This universal worldview is key in preserving the ecology of the land and in bringing harmony and creating healthy alliances with to all things visible and invisible. The role of the Dhami/Jhankri (Shaman) is to reestablish this harmony. Shamans are the central figures in their communities for they are not only healers but also the storytellers, dancers, singers, artists and musicians. They acquire these talents, their spiritual power and wisdom through their personal helping spirits, ancestral deities, elemental spirits and guides. They accomplish their work by voluntarily modifying their state of consciousness in order to perceive what aspects of the person, family or community require re-balancing.

Festival in Nepal related to Himalayan Shamans –
1. Full moon in May sending the deities to Kailash in Tibet.
2. Full Moon in August (Janai Purnima) pilgrimage to Shiva and Kali shrines such as in Gosaikunda and Kalinchok for 10 days.
3. Full moon in November.
4. Maghi Purnima or Makar Sangranti

Our trek ‘ Dancing with the Shamans’ takes us to the most famous of the festivals that is held at a sacred lake dedicated to Lord Shiva in Gosaikunda. This ten day trek will give you an opportunity to observe from close quarters the religious belief and practice of the Shamans.

Thousands of people congregate on this high alpine lake at about 4300mts to pay due respect to the shamans and renew their faith with centuries old practices and beliefs. Both Gosaikunda Lake and the August full moon are revered by Hindus and local Shamans alike so there is plenty to see at this time of the year.  Hindus come to the Lake to bathe away their sins on the date of Janai Purnima, the day they traditionally change the sacred thread (Janai) that is worn around the neck or hand all year.  The local Tamang shamans on the other hand come here to dance, bang dhyangro drums and perform sacred rituals around the lake. The large rock in the center of the lake is believed to be the head of lord Shiva. Shamans ("Dhami or Jhankri") are called Bon-Po in Tamang language, a different pre-Buddhist sect, and come from all over Nepal to the lake, to be there on full moon night. Shamans perform spiritual dancing and singing during the ceremony and this day is considered holy by the shamans, whereby apprentices or "junior Jhankris" obtain graduation from their masters or senior shamans.

The main focus of this trek is the cultural aspect of the shamans and their rituals but on the other side this trip also offers you a great trek into some of the most beautiful areas of the Langtang region. High alpine meadows, glacial lakes and snow clad high peaks are a common sight during your 10 days trek. On the way you will come across various ethnic groups: Brahmins and Chettris from the low hills to Tamangs and Bhotiyas of the Tibeto-Burmese stock in the highlands. This will give you a real insight into the cultural and religious diversity of Nepal.

If you like to get into real depth of the festival, please book here NOW

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

PRESS RELEASE : Yoga in the Mountains Festival 2017

21st June 2016 
Kathmandu, Nepal and Arendal, Norway

Marking the auspicious occasion of the summer solstice and the International Day of Yoga, we would like to announce the launch of promotion and preparation for the first ever Yoga in the Mountains Festival from 07 - 09 April 2017 in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

Talking about the event, Linda Veraasdal, head of Ethical Travel Portal in Norway and chief architect of the Festival said, “the Festival promises to be a weekend to celebrate yoga, mindfulness and the mountains with high profile instructors. It will be followed by immersive yoga treks, workshops and retreats in the week after”.

The chief organisers for the Festival are 

Ethical Travel Portal, Norway - Leader in responsible travel in Norway who has been developing innovative sustainable travel experiences in Nepal, Gambia, Romania, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia etc -

socialtours, Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepal’s first and only sustainability certified travel company with the Travelife Certified status who works in responsible and innovative travel experiences in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India -

Pranamaya Yoga, Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepal’s top Yoga Specialists - studios and experiences provider, and pioneers who have brought together the largest community of instructors, practitioners and enthusiasts -

Register to be kept in the loop in the run up to the Festival at
Follow us on social media using the hashtag #yogainthemtn

or write to Linda, Raj or Anna at

Organising Team


Monday, May 16, 2016

5x5000 - Trek for social change

Charlotte is trekking for a challenge in the Everest region which she is undertaking to crowd source funds to finance an actionable environment initiative in the outskirts of Kathmandu.

Her challenge to do the 5×5000  to raise funds to benefit a social organization in Nepal called SABAH. SABAH has been actively involved over the past several years in strengthening the livelihood of more than 2000 financially deprived and marginalized women of rural Nepal.

Khokana a small village on the southern fringe of the Kathmandu valley will be the epicenter of her work. This is so because SABAH has a strong physical presence there and we would be able to impact the local community efficiently.

The earthquake of April 25, 2016 had a devastating effect on this small village. Lives were lost, rich cultural heritage sites were flattened and the general environment suffered. SABAH will use the funds generated to help people get back on their feet and contribute to a healthier environment by helping to improve the sanitation of the village. Toilets and drainage destroyed during the earthquake will be rebuilt.

The earthquake also had a huge impact on the tourists visiting the country and Khokana.
Effort will be made to lure the tourists back to this beautiful village and help generate income for the local community.

How can we do that?
The idea is very simple: raise awareness among the 240 SABAH home-based workers in this village on the environmental issue. Explain to them how they can separate organic and plastic waste to make compost for their culture with the organic waste and to recycle the plastic waste.

Why is the money for?
To organize some training programs, to buy some big bins and to communicate about this action on the media and on Internet. In fact, the aim of this tiny action is to prove that is possible to do something visible for that big environmental issue and also, to encourage other villages in Nepal to do the same kind of actions.

For more details:
Follow her blog : L’épicurieuse – Le voyage en solo qui révèle notre potentiel d’action
YouTube channel:

Monday, February 29, 2016

Top 10: Most Instagramed Pictures of Kathmandu

Instagram is a place of inspiration and countless day dreams. Here, we count down the top 10 Instagrammed pictures from Kathmandu with stunning photography.

1. Swoyambhunath
A golden spire crowning a conical wooded hill, Swayambhunath Stupa is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley.

2. Bhaktapur Durbar Square 
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, located in the center of Bhaktapur city, is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara-style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood.

A photo posted by Saurabh Shrestha (@_saurae) on

3. Boudhanath 
It is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Buddhist culture in Nepal.

A photo posted by @jonaske on

4. Thamel 
Thamel has been the center of the tourist industry in Kathmandu for over four decades, starting from the hippie days when many artists came to Nepal and spent weeks in Thamel. Even though Thamel has been referred to as a "ghetto" by some, many low-budget travelers consider it a hotspot for tourism.

A photo posted by Masaya.S (@msy.shimajiro) on

5. Patan Durbar Square
Patan means eternity itself and Patan Durbar Square is a spectacular sight. It is full of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments with bronze gateways, guardian deities and wonderful carvings.

A photo posted by @travellifesd on

6. Ason
 A walk through Ason brings you to the heart of “normal” Nepali city life. It is the Kathmandu of many generations of inhabitants. There more temples for the gods than there are houses for people in Ason.

A photo posted by Suraj Shakya (@surajshakya) on

7. Pashupatinath 
 The Mecca of Hinduism attracts millions of devotees worldwide during the last week of February for the Shivaratri festival.

A photo posted by Hopetilltheend (@akpanthi) on

8. Kopan Monastery
Home to 360 monks, lamas. teachers and workers, visitors from all over the world come here to attend courses and enjoy the spiritual atmosphere of the place for study and practice

A photo posted by Mark Foster (@mistersmims) on

9. Basantapur
Kathmandu Durbar Square in the heart of old Kathmandu city in Basantapur never fails to impress first time visitors with its intricate wood carvings and rich history.

A photo posted by @vlad_butik on

10. Nagi Gompa
Nagi Gompa nunnery sits on a mountainside high above the Kathmandu Valley and is home to more than 100 nuns. Here, nuns from all over the Himalayan region have come to study, practice and meditate in quiet and peaceful surroundings.

A photo posted by @nono2loco on


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