Fair Trails Himalayas: A sustainable tourism project

17. Feb. 2021

Fair Trails Himalayas is the passionately driven contribution of Trail Angels in the development cooperation between Austria and Nepal: It combines new, high standards for sustainable and fair trekking tourism with uniquely exceptional trips - the "Fair Trails Experiences".

Being gifted with a smile, meeting at eye level, and fostering mutual understanding is the magic of travel! A Fair Trails Exploration in Dolpo, Western Nepal ©Trail Angels

The Trail Angels team has been traveling the Himalayas since 1992. The Trail Angels have led expeditions to its remotest corners and seven-thousand-meter peaks, have studied its different ethnicities and cultures, and during their travels have formed friendships for life. For us Trail Angels it was motivation to go one step further, which is why we started the project “Fair Trails Himalayas” in 2016. We are supported by the Austrian Development Agency, the official agency for development cooperation of the Republic of Austria www.entwicklung.at and have teamed up with ENNOVENT. This international team of experts at ENNOVENT specializes in developing sustainable business models for under-developed markets.
Panoramaweg Südalpen Sonnenuntergang
Fair Trails Himalayas: A responsible tourism project to protect nature and celebrate the cultural heritage of the Himalayas. Pictured: Female farmers in the remote province of Dolpo separating straw from wheat. ©Trail Angels

Fair Trails – responsible Trekking

Together with ENNOVENT and selected Nepalese tourism and sustainability experts – because they know best about their country – we have developed the Fair Trails Himalayas program. This is based on three key aspects:

Fair Trails Tour operator:
Fair Trails Tour operator, like Trail Angels, commit to the following sustainability criteria:

  • CO2 compensation for the flight to Kathmandu via www.climateaustria.at. Climate Austria is the compensation platform in Austria supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism.
  • A transparent and fair business model for Fair Trails products, which includes a commission self-restriction and a Fair Trails licensing fee for supporting selected Fair Trails projects.
  • Knowledge and technology transfer in support of regionally managed sustainable tourism in the Himalayan countries through the Fair Trails Academy, which is currently being developed
Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
Fair Trails Himalayas: A sustainable tourism project at eye level! Workshop in Kathmandu with representatives of Trail Angels, ENNOVENT and Fair Trails certified trekking agencies. ©Trail Angels

Fair Trails Trekking Agencies
We work exclusively with Fair Trails certified trekking agencies in Nepal for the implementation of the Fair Trails programs. These commit themselves among other things to:

  • Fair wages and working environment, both for the trekking crews (guides, carriers) and for the office teams.
  • The maximum insurance coverage available in the Himalayan countries for the trekking crews
  • Fair prices for the service providers along the trekking route (e.g. lodges, homestays, campsites)
  • Preference for lodge or homestay trekking (where available) rather than tent trekking to increase regional added value (additionally: preference for regionally operated lodges and regional food).
  • Compliance with high ecological standards during the trekking trip (e.g. active waste management; no open fires etc.)
  • .

  • Long-term contractual commitment of selected professional experts for the competent accompaniment of Fair Trails expeditions. The experts are selected by Fair Trails Himalayas and explore the programs offered on their own explorations.
Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
Fair Trails Himalayas: Sustainable tourism projects can be implemented particularly effectively in remote regions that have hardly been developed for tourism. Photo: The village of Phu near the border with Tibet is located on the Snow Leopard Trail. ©Trail Angels/Josef Essl

Fair Trails Destinations
The Fair Trails concept is to be used in very specific regions in the Himalayas that have hardly been subject to tourism development to date, with the following objectives:

  • Increase in regional value creation through a sustainable tourism model while foregoing major infrastructural measures.
  • .

  • Integration of a Fair Trails fee in the tour price, in order to be able to support selected projects on site independently in financial terms.
  • Networking of a wide variety of initiatives to be able to trigger an overall development, beyond tourism.
Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
Snow Leopard Trail – on the tracks of the mystical snow leopard. The 1. Fair Trail in the Himalayas ©Snow Leopard Conservancy

»

Fair Trails Expeditions:
Lifetime Experiences beyond Trekking

The final result of all these efforts in a sustainable tourism project should still be the specific travel product! In our case it is the “Fair Trails Experiences”. These are, despite their own superlatives, the conscious antipole to resource-devouring ego trips, such as the ascent of Mount Everest. The careful preparation, the local knowledge and the accompaniment by recognized experts make the Fair Trails Expeditions something very special: To life experiences beyond tourism! Whether they are also life-changing, as we are also convinced, then depends on each individual. In any case, they make the world a little bit better. Through their completely sustainable design in less developed regions and through the financial contribution to support one of the selected projects.

And these are our Fair Trails:

Snow Leopard Trail
On the tracks of the snow leopard

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
On the Snow Leopard Trail: Renowned wildlife biologist and nature photographer Tashi R. Ghale is considered the leading snow leopard expert in the Himalayas. Tashi will accompany the Fair Trails expeditions on the Snow Leopard Trail. Pictured here with Trail Angel and Fair Trails Project Manager Günter Mussnig at the legendary Snow Leopard Cave. ©Trail Angels

Our 1st Official Fair Trail covers a remote Himalayan area north of the mighty Annapurna Himal. There where the “Spirit of the Himalaya”, the mystical Snow Leopard still finds a largely intact habitat. Learn more about the Snow Leopard Trail and its bookable offers here!

 

Chitwan Ethno Trail
On lonely paths in Nepal’s exciting south

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
On the Chitwan Etho Trail: The Tharu people in southern Nepal have developed a very special form of fishing: They use mud dams to separate parts of the jungle river, then scoop them out and finally collect the fish. For Trail Angel and Fair Trails project manager Günter Mussnig and ENNOVENT boss Peter Scheuch it was time to help! ©Trail Angels

This breathtaking trail leads at the junction of two world landscapes – Himalaya and Ganges plains – and far off the beaten track in Nepal’s exciting south. You will hike from village to village, eat and spend the night in the houses of the locals, and occasionally lend a hand yourself in their daily work. You will get to know four fascinating ethnic groups: The Newar from the valley of Kathmandu; the Gurung, cattle breeders and farmers in the Mahabharat mountains; the Chepang, who have lived in isolation for a long time and still hunt bats, and the Tharu fishing people in the jungle of Chitwan. Finally, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Chitwan National Park, and be a guest at the legendary Tiger Tops Lodge. Soon bookable here!

 

Salt Caravan Trail
On the road with the last salt caravan in the Himalayas

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
On the Salt Caravan Trail: The last great salt caravan, consisting of several hundred magnificent yaks still crosses the Himalayas from the salt lakes of Tibet to the remote region of Dolpo. Here in the picture: A smaller yak caravan in the highlands of Dolpo. ©Trail Angels

The movie “Himalaya – A leader’s childhood” was a world success. Alone his images of crossing the Himalayas with yak caravans, whose last the so valuable Himalayan salt, extracted on the salt lakes in the inhospitable Tibetan plateau, are so beguiling to think they are real. Here the link to the film!
But modern times do not stop at the Himalayas. While road link after road link is being built across this world mountain range, connecting the two emerging economic powers of India and China, there is still a salt caravan in the remote province of Dolpo. We have decided to protect this cultural heritage. You can help and be a part of it by accompanying this caravan.
Incredible but true. And soon bookable with us!

We have you for our project “Fair Trails Himalayas” can inspire?
You want to know more about it. Or even participate yourself in one of the next exploration expeditions?
Then just send us an email!

Registration and further info:
Trail Info- & Booking Center
Tel: +43 4782 93093
E-Mail: info@bookyourtrail.com

Author

Günter Mussnig

The geographer is one of the founders and managing directors of Trail Angels, who are responsible for the online platform Bookyourtrail.com. As a trekking & outdoor freak, he is one of the fathers of the Alpe-Adria Trail and has been exploring the Nepalese Himalayas for more than 25 years.

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