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"What is merely a sip of milk for the tourists is, to the cattle-holders, the most precious commodity they own. Nevertheless they are willing to share it. Apart from that, they obviously greatly enjoy watching unsuspecting travelers' faces upon tasting the milk."
- Marcell Nimführ

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Nepal

Modern travels in Archaic Country - village trekking in Nepal
by Marcell Nimführ and Martin Kramar, Kathmandu, Nepal
photos by Martin Kramar
Feb 18, 2000

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It is the month of May. The monsoon season is still ahead. Rain last fell seven months ago. The sun beats down on the village of Trisuli Bazaar not far from Katmandu, Nepal's capital.

Shepherds with weatherworn faces squat on the bare ground of the arid pasture, chopping hay with old, blunt long-blades. Out-of-town tourists are a welcome distraction: a chance to trade cigarettes, Marlboros for Yak Filters. Every once in a while, one of the men gets up, takes a stool and sits down by his buffalo. He moistens the teats and starts milking with slow, deliberate movements. Out of hospitality, the shepherds offer the strangers a drink from the bucket.

Nepal

What is merely a sip of milk for the tourists is, to the cattle-holders, the most precious commodity they own. Nevertheless they are willing to share it. Apart from that, they obviously greatly enjoy watching unsuspecting travelers' faces upon tasting the milk. Fresh buffalo milk is a unique, acquired and for most of us, probably once-in-a-lifetime taste. In the early evening, the day's yield, a 3-liter jug (not quite a gallon) of milk from each animal, is brought to the communal dairy, where it is traded in for 20 rupees. That is exactly the price of a small bottle of Coca Cola: an extravagance tourists enjoy several times daily without giving it a second thought.

These meetings between shepherds and travelers are not part of conventional mass tourism. Indeed, both travelers and natives are taking part in an ambitious project by the Nepalese organization CCODER ("Center Community Development and Research"), which has been in charge, aided by consultant Martina Mäscher from Germany's overseas development service (Deutsche Entwicklungsdienst - DED), of planning community-based tourism in Nepal.

Its plan is to ensure a better standard of living for Nepal's villages by helping them plan their own development. A total of 2.500 people in 150 communities are participating in the large-scale project. The first village trekking venture was completed by a tourist party in October 1998. However, the project is scheduled to properly take off in the next few weeks. The Gorkha region, to the West of Trisuli Bazaar, will be the destination of the trekking parties. No matter what, the participating travelers will set foot in beautiful country, completely untouched by conventional tour operators.

The trekking philosophy..

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