As you're booking with a Nepal Trekking Agency and Nepal Tour Operator, of course, choosing to visit Nepal itself and booking directly with a 100% Nepalese-owned company benefits Nepal by default too. Hopefully, you've seen our official About Us Our Story 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 hotels (Rural Heritage) and tour operations (Rural Heritage Journeys, which is where the Snow Cat Travel brand belongs) We are, always have been, and always will see ourselves as "one big family," and Support Rural Nepal is a big part of our family too. It has become a project name, but it has always been with us, right from the very start.
From the very outset, Rural Heritage Nepal has 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, and by and large, Nepal is a country of rural villages and small, close-knit communities. In developing our wonderful accommodations: The Famous Farm at Nuwakot and The Old Inn at Bandipur not only painstakingly preserved “at-risk” architectural heritage, but we have also worked closely with the communities where our accommodations are based to ensure both prosperity and sustainability can be achieved.
Unique, rural historical architecture is now severely at risk of being lost forever in Nepal. The challenge was to not only endeavour to preserve but also to create an ongoing legacy. A way in which 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 the usual “business rules” had also been thrown right out of the proverbial window. Neither Bandipur nor Nuwakot were on the “tourist map” of Nepal. Even now, most guidebooks don’t include Nuwakot. Who in their right mind would consider creating tourist accommodations where tourists don’t go?
Well, the answer is yes, 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 maintained ongoing local benefit by ensuring that much of the staffing required was drawn from the local community, as were most supplies. 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 RHJ tour operations benefit rural Nepal too. Not only through the client contribution but indirectly via employment for guides, porters, etc.
In Nuwakot, involvement with the local community is less visible. But look a little closer, and you’ll find that it has still helped create and maintain the only school in Nepal for deaf and mute children. As any visitor to Nuwakot will tell you, there’s a certain magic here, and all were acutely aware that were it to be overrun by tourism, it would not only be too much change but would take away the essence and magic of Nuwakot.
At the Trisuli Centre Rafting Camp the abject poverty that a handful of local people endured has been massively improved by better employment, both directly and indirectly, as a result of “setting up camp”. Not least with the creation of The Trisuli Young Leaders Club, where the youngsters in the area come to learn and develop life skills. All the while, it was a case of quietly “getting on with it”. There is no big PR campaign to make anyone look good. Just getting on with it.
Then came change in the form of the recent big earthquake and the woeful response from the 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 Nepal was being inundated with overwhelming goodwill, from the many guests who have stayed and travelled here in the past to friends within the travel trade. A formal but dynamic enterprise was required, and quickly. Providing immediate relief to those affected was clearly first and foremost. However, continuing support remains absolutely essential, not only to recover and rebuild but also to improve the future outlook of the people of rural Nepal. All concerned remain 100% committed to this benevolent project, and our work remains ongoing.
Support Rural Nepal has extended boundaries, and the efforts no longer remain just in the places mentioned here. Expertise, on-the-ground logistical services and other assistance have been provided elsewhere
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 to keep it similar to what it 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 are how buildings are in Nepal nowadays. Maybe now our original mantra, “Building a Future by Reclaiming the Past,” makes even more sense?
Behind every custom adventure in Nepal and Bhutan lies a passionate and dedicated team. Snow Cat Travel is operated by people for people.