Nepal, ‘The Home of the Gods’, hosts eight of the 10 highest peaks in the world and provides breath-taking experiences, writes Oliver Haenlein.
One of the best ways to get under the skin of Nepal is with Intrepid Travel, a boutique travel company contributing all the profits from this season’s trekking trips to the rebuilding of the country after the devastating earthquake. Responsible travel, small groups, big adventures; these three values are at the heart of what Intrepid Travel does. Two close friends, dedicated travellers Geoff Manchester and Darrell Wade founded the company after driving across Africa in a truck, where they identified what they thought the travel industry was in need of.
What they consequently created was a company that delivers real-life experiences to travellers who have a real curiosity about the world. Intrepid customers travel in small groups with a local group leader, using the local transport and accommodation. “Intrepid is about the cultural adventure,” co-founder Machester tells me, “learning about a place as it really is, warts and all.
“We want travellers to meet local people, learn about their lives, their culture, and their country. Intrepid is conscious of the impact companies have on the world and we want to ensure we are contributing positively. We want to be part of the change from companies focusing solely on profits, to creating shared value for all our stakeholders. We do this by focusing on the social and environmental impacts of our business.”
Unfortunately, this is not how the vast majority of the industry works. But Intrepid’s model has been successful; Geoff Manchester was the first tour leader, and now there are around 1,500 of them working for 17 of its Destination Management Companies around the world. Intrepid travellers head to 120 countries in groups of around 10 people meeting local people in cities, small towns and remote places. You can visit well-trodden destinations like Vietnam, India, Peru and Australia or be more adventurous with more remote options like Guatemala, Rwanda or Bhutan. One of the places Intrepid offers trips to is Nepal. Perched beneath the towering Himalayas, the country offers what is widely thought of as the best trekking in the world, while tourists are met with the widest of smiles by the locals.
Flying into Lukla, visitors explore the mountains and valleys, rest in Nepalese teahouses ad learn about the traditions and cultures of the Sherpa. If trekking’s not your thing, you can explore the cultural gem of Bhaktapur, spot red pandas in Langtang National Park, shop for handicrafts in Kathmandu and sample tasty Nepalese dishes. The colourful country – rich with experiences, nature and history – remains an inspirational, exhilarating destination despite adversity.