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Environmental Challenges in Pokhara - Himalayan Footsteps

Nature and tourism heritage in Pokhara are under threat. Pollution and human encroachment, invasive species, overuse of water and open drainages are threatening the environment. (The Himalayan Times) Pokhara is a touristically very significant destination, end point of the popular Annapurna Circuit Trek and a last chance to stock up on comforts before many other mountain trails. So no wonder overcrowding from tourists and locals who want their share of the business is taking its toll. Responsible tourism, however, can also help the area to recover: it will provide the necessary funds to restore ecology, afford education and infrastructure and provide locals with an income that gives them a chance to think about their environment instead of just bare survival. At Himalayan Footsteps we often send travellers to Pokhara, and of course we are racking our brains over what can be done to help.

Now here is our part: Our hotels are chosen by very high standards. Here our latest hotel survey with the answers of Hotel Meera in Pokhara, one of our hotel suppliers:

1.    Do you educate your visitors about keeping water usage to a minimum? If yes, in what way?
Yes, we do. We have made special notices to encourage our guests to minimize water usage.

2.     Do you collect rainwater?
Yes, we do. We have installed troughs and channels, which drain rainwater into our reservoir tanks.

3.     Do you use any sources of renewable/green energy?
Yes, we do. The hot water for our showers is heated by solar panels and stored in specially insulated tanks. We are also considering installing solar powered electrical system as a backup when there are power outages

4.     What are your environmental policies?
We have not drawn up formal written environmental policies as such but in spirit whenever possible we encourage both our staff and guests to be sensitive to the environment. We try to educate them regarding conserving resources and minimizing wastage.

5.     How do you dispose of waste water?
We have constructed special underground soak pits which naturally filter waste matter from the water. The pits are cleaned on a regular basis so the filtration procedure remains smooth and effective.

6.     Where does the food you provide for the guests come from?
We have our own vegetable and animal farm in the outskirt of Pokhara from where we supply fresh produce for our restaurant. When our farm is not able to meet the demand then we purchase from the local market where farmers from surrounding villages come to sell their products. For special products which are not available in Nepal we purchase them through our suppliers in Pokhara and Kathmandu.

Now maybe after reading this you really feel like this is the place to go? Perhaps you want to help the local groups removing water hyacinth from the lake, or have any other good ideas for volunteering? Don’t hesitate to contact us at holiday@himalayanfootsteps.com/!