UK Tel : 01539 567118
Outside UK Tel: +44 15395 67118
It's what we do and who we are
As a Snow Cat Travel customer a contribution to the Support Rural Nepal project is included in the cost of your holiday.
As we're a Nepal Trekking Agency & Nepal Tour Operator,of course by choosing to visit Nepal itself and booking directly with a 100% Nepalese owned company benefits Nepal by default too.
However, do please take a moment of your time to discover both the roots and philosophy of Snow Cat Travel and the foundations from which Support Rural Nepal was formed.
Hopefully you've seen our official About Us page already. We like to think that this is the REAL ABOUT US page. So, let's get the corporate mumbo jumbo out of the way.
Nepal likes its bureaucracy, so we have to have separate companies for our hotels (Rural Heritage) and our tour operations (Rural Heritage Journeys, which is where Snow Cat Travel belongs as a brand too).
We always have and always will see ourselves to be "one big family" and Support Rural Nepal is now part of our family too. It has become a name, but it has always been with us right from the very start.
From the very outset we have strived to ensure that we have provided support for the people in rural Nepal. Indeed, it is within rural Nepal that the ‘heart and soul’ of our wonderful country exists. Nepal in the 21st Century still remains by and large a country of rural villages and small, close knit communities.
In developing our wonderful accommodations: The Famous Farm at Nuwakot & The Old Inn at Bandipur not only have we painstakingly preserved “at risk” architectural heritage, we have worked closely with the communities where our accommodations are based to ensure both prosperity and sustainability can be brought.
“Building a Future by Reclaiming the Past” has long been our mantra.
Unique, rural historical architecture is now severely at risk of being lost forever in Nepal.
The challenge for us was to not only endeavour to preserve, but also to create an ongoing legacy. A way in which our painstaking efforts in restoring some fine examples of Nepal’s proud heritage would also lead to a revitalisation of the local economy too.
But, it seemed like we had thrown the usual “business rules” right out of the proverbial window to many.
Neither Bandipur or Nuwakot were on the “tourist map” of Nepal. Even now, most guide books don’t include Nuwakot. Who in their right mind would consider creating tourist accommodation where tourists don’t go?
Well, the answer is we did and now 15 years later our “madness” has been proven to have worked beyond all doubt.
However, we were conscious that this would only be temporary. So, we ensured ongoing local benefit by ensuring that much of the staffing required was drawn from the local community as well as most supplies too. All of this creates a “knock on” effect throughout the locality.
Life has been breathed back into Bandipur as it is now firmly established as a tourist destination.
Of course our tour operations benefit rural Nepal too. Not only through the client contribution, but indirectly via employment for guides & porters, drivers, owners of trekking lodges (all Nepalese) and so on.
In Nuwakot our involvement with the local community is less visible. But, look a little closer and you’ll find that we have helped create and maintain the only school in Nepal for deaf/mute children. As any visitor to Nuwakot will tell you, there’s a certain magic here and we were acutely aware that were it to be over run by tourism, it would not only be too much change, but would take away the essence and magic of Nuwakot.
At our Trisuli Centre Rafting Camp the abject poverty that the handful of local people endured has been improved massively by better employment, directly and indirectly as a result of us “setting up camp”. Not least when we created and built The Trisuli Young Leaders Club where the youngsters in the area come to learn and develop life skills.
All the while we’ve been quietly “getting on with it”. No big PR campaign to make us look good. We just got on with it.
Then came change in the form of the recent big earthquake and the woeful response from Government. As with many things in Nepal, it is the private sector that provides leadership and initiative.
Thus in response to the 2015 earthquake, Support Rural Nepal was formalised as a private initiative. Suddenly we had found ourselves being inundated with overwhelming goodwill from the many guests who have stayed and travelled with us, to our friends within the travel trade. A formal, but dynamic enterprise was required and quickly too. Providing immediate relief to those affected was clearly first and foremost. However, continuing support remains absolutely essential, not only to recover and rebuild but to also help the future outlook of the people of rural Nepal. We remain 100% committed to this benevolent project and our work remains ongoing.
Support Rural Nepal has extended boundaries and our efforts no longer remain just in the places we operate in commercially. We have lent expertise, on the ground logistical services and other assistance and we continue to do so.
You can keep up with what Support Rural Nepal does on its own Facebook page
On the right -This derelict and forlorn former Newari Mansion House in the "no tourists ever visit there" village of Nuwakot was destined to become The Famous Farm. The locals thought we were crazy. Then came employment and sustainability. The loclas don't think we're are crazy anymore and indeed chose the name-The Famous Farm
On the left - some of the local people from Nuwakot that worked on the restoration of The Famous Farm, some of whom now work there nowadays too!
On the right - Since it became operational The Famous Farm is indeed a haven of peace and tranquility. But it also supports the local community, which in turn means clients staying here are made to feel welcome by the locals.
On the right - Inside The Famous Farm. Craftsmen and artisans were needed to preserve and re-create ornate, traditional Newari architectural features. Skills that are at risk of being lost forever. Little did we know then that these skills would be even more essential for Nepal as a whole when the earthquake struck. See this video Rise of the Artisans
On the right- Abhi Shrestha (our Operations Manager) making a financial donation to the Langtang Disaster Relief Fund. The Langtang Valley was hit badly by the earthquake. But, with support trekking in Langtang is back on the menu again and is vital to the local economy.
On the left - The earthquake caused devastation beyond our comprehension. This was a school.
Above - from the rubble of the school it took money, thought and determination to rebuild it. Not as it was before, but better. Not only were local people employed to do the work, but volunteers from outside of Nepal came to help too, including a couple of school groups. This required co-ordination in itself, but such kindness and committment gave hope to the local people at a time when there seemed to be no hope.
Above and right - One now completed school building and some of the kids that are actually very, very happy to be both back at school and with their "new" school. Not the school as it was, but an upgrade!
It's just one school, but it is one of many varied things Support Rural Nepal has been involved with.
Big things require big thinking. One thing we realised fairly early on when Support Rural Nepal became formalised was that you have to throw your own "ego out of the window" and not try to score the goal yourself. In other words work with other organisations as a team. As a tour operator we could readily bring specialist skills, as well as no small amount of influence (always useful in Nepal) to make things happen and money too. That's the way things are.....money talks and money helps. But, it goes beyond that. With our hotels we had experience of "restore and preserve", which we learned the hard way.
Below is just one illustrative example of teamwork between Support Rural Nepal, several other like-minded voluntary organisations, the financial sector, design professionals and commerce. The objective was to "start from scratch" and rebuild Bhairabi Tole. Make it better than it was, but try and keep it similar to what is was. Let's be honest, this isn't something that we're particularly good at in Nepal. Our ancestors built those wonderful monuments, temples, palaces and so on that you'll marvel at in the likes of Bhaktapur, as well as the "oh so quaint" traditional homes that tourists like to photograph. Yet one look at the urban sprawl of Kathmandu would suggest that square, featureless and rather ugly is how buildings are in Nepal nowadays. Maybe now our original mantra “Building a Future by Reclaiming the Past” makes even more sense?
Anyway, we could probably write a book about the two images below, as so much was involved to get this stage and the work has now started to make the dream a reality. Hopefully pictures do indeed "paint a thousand words".
So, what is Support Rural Nepal? It's a mindset, a way of thinking and doing what feels right. An adventure that began many years ago and continues to evolve.
And this is what we do as our "day job"