19. Spending time with honey hunters of hilly regions of Nepal
Nepal is a beautiful country. There are many beautiful ranges in Nepal.In the same way, there are many beautiful lakes, rivers, and diversity in different parts of the country. We have come across different varieties of vegetation, plants, and animals along with beautiful places of Nepal. But adding to the context, did we ever think about honey hunters?
To be honest, when I heard about this I did not know what to write because I personally did not know anything about it. But, I began looking for the topic, I came across different sources which provided me information about honey hunters of hilly regions.
And I am really happy that I came to know so much about the honey hunters who risk their lives because the honey hunter has almost none of any guard to keep him away from bee stings. Such great work of the honey hunter provides us with the best quality honey in the market apart from other products.
The honey hunters are led by the experienced group of people of the community. After the religious ceremony, the hunters go to the chosen beehive and make the best way to reach the beehive.
In Nepal, honey is a popular product. Honey here mainly comes from two types of bees and they are ghar mauri (home bees) and ban mauri (wild bees). Ghar mauri are generally found making their beehives in near residential areas, even in some houses or some sheds or some trees. Home bees tend to be smaller than wild bees.
They tend to flourish at times when the field is filled with mustard flowers. These bees have also been commercialized to produce honey.
Ban mauri (wild bees), Apis Laboriosa is the largest honey bee in the world and live inside the dense forest of hilly regions of Nepal. They have large beehives made especially hung on rocks many feet above the ground, and they produce very delicious honey. It is also said that their honey might make a person intoxicated or elevated.
These beehives are very difficult to get hold of. It is done through the process called honey hunting. Honey hunting is also known as honey harvesting is the process of collecting honey from wild bee colonies that are found in wild and deep forest. It is one of the most practiced and ancient activities that people still use to harvest honey from such wild bees.
Before the production of sugar, honey was the primary source of sugar. And although after years of production of sugar, people still long for this extraordinary wild bees’ honey for its deliciousness and rarity and adventurous way of acquisition.
Honey hunting in Nepal has been practiced since ages by the Gurung and Magar communities in places like Bhujung, Nai Chi, Pasgoun, Naya Gaun, Ludhi, and Dare. These areas mostly lie under the mountainous region of Nepal around the origins of Hilly regions.
The bee hives are in extraordinary altitudes. Honey hunters climb up to 300 meters in their harness fewer ladders made of rope to harvest these honey. The process is extremely dangerous and many have fallen to death due to the extremity of such practice. Many of cliffs where honey is extracted are named after people who fell to their afterlife harvesting honey.
The honey hunting practice is one of the oldest traditions of Nepal and its extremities are so popular around the world that it brings many of tourist and documentary people to experience such ancient art.
So, many of the tourist guides, trekking management institutes, and travel agencies enable arrangements to visit and experience honey hunting in the season. The tourist is able to enjoy the cultural life of Nepal, view magnificent beauty of forest, hills, landscapes, and wildlife of Nepal as they march towards the place of honey hunting.
The trip includes almost 10 days of hiking climbing, long bus rides and other activities which take you to the place of honey hunters of Nepal.
Honey hunting in Nepal is mostly done twice a year once in spring and once in autumn. The bees get ample amount of time to reproduce the hive as well as store honey in it in this time difference. The indigenous people are very strict about these kinds of rules on honey hunting. They believe it is in gods’ interest that they don’t kill and destroy bees as per their desire but only per their requirement.
People organize religious ceremony before collecting honey to protect themselves from the attack of honeybees and any misshapen. The locals celebrate the honey hunting as a festival by offering flowers, grains, and sheep to the God before hunting.
The honey hunters are lead by the experienced group of people of the community. After the religious ceremony, the hunters go to the chosen beehive and make the best way to reach the beehive.
They make ladders made up of rope and bamboos that might go as far as 300 meters down the cliff. Then from below the cliff, big smoke is created by burning pieces of clothes or green leaves. The smoke is then raised to the beehive. The smoke makes the wild bees disoriented and they leave beehives vulnerable.
Capitalizing this moment, the experienced hunters get down on the ladder with a small rope as a harness with a long stick that has sort of knife at its end and cutting the beehive. The hunter has almost none of any guard to keep him away from bee stings.
He fully relies on the fumes of smoke. He then asks for a basket tied with a rope and cuts a huge chunk beehive into the basket. The basket is lowered to the people at the bottom and the hunter is pulled up. The hunter doesn’t taste the honey until he is safe.
The hallucinogenic nature of the honey might cause the hunter to lose his focus and might kill him. There have been many cases of such misfortunes and the hunters are careful to avoid these incidents.
The honey and its quality and taste can be variable from the flowers and its nectar that bees use to make the honey. To make such large amount of honey bees have to make far distance travels in search of nectar. It also depends upon the season at which honeybees make their honey.
The honey hunters are lead by the experienced group of people of the community. After the religious ceremony, the hunters go to the chosen beehive and make the best way to reach the beehive. They make ladders made up of rope and bamboos that might go as far as 300 meters down the cliff.
Then from below the cliff, big smoke is created by burning pieces of clothes or green leaves. The smoke is then raised to the beehive. It is also believed that the intoxicating nature of the honey is due to the honey created from the nectar of big blooming flowers like rhododendron.
Once the honey is harvested, the villagers divide the honey equally and the primary product made is honey tea. It uses honey instead of sugar and is very useful and efficient to cope with the extremity of the climate of such mountainous region.
The honey is also reputed for its medicinal purposes. The combs of beehive are used in a workshop in Kathmandu to cast the statues of Gods and Goddess.
Due to such use, the honey is now on the verge of being exploited and the right of indigenous people are being forcefully taken away to commercially sell the honey to other nations like China, Japan, and Korea without providing proper incentives or proper share of profit to the local people.
The Himalayan Honeybees project for the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu has been actively involved in the sustainable management of honey hunting and work with the local communities to ensure the survival of the species.
It will in the best interest of all Nepalese people to manage such an exceptional heritage that has been in practice ever since the birth of human knowledge and civilization. The honey hunters are led by the experienced group of people of the community.
After the religious ceremony, the hunters go to the chosen beehive and make the best way to reach the beehive. They make ladders made up of rope and bamboos that might go as far as 300 meters down the cliff. Then from below the cliff, big smoke is created by burning pieces of clothes or green leaves. The smoke is then raised to the beehive.
The indigenous rights must be well protected and the honey must be hunted and sold without harming the bees and their natural rate of production. Many tourists express their adventure as one of a unique ones and to promote and sustain this uniqueness is our key to successfully utilizing the cultural and natural values that traditional honey hunting provides to our country.
20. Floating in the lakes of Nepal
Nepal is a well-blessed country for water resources. Nepal has also acclaimed to be the second richest country in terms of water resources. Nepal is a beautiful country, not only with cultural and ethnic diversity but also with natural diversity in vegetation, geography, flora, and faunas.
Within the small territory, Nepal is able to include and conserve the diversity of wild animals, deep dense forest and grasslands making Nepal a suitable home for millions of birds and animals. This blessing in water resources have come in from different forms like rivers, lakes, glaciers etc.
the water resources of Nepal mainly generate from the mountainous region of the north of Nepal or from the hill ranges of Chure or Mahabharat. All these resources combined with sufficient amount of rainfall throughout the year in all parts of the nation is what makes Nepal so rich in water resources.
The country Nepal is full of mountains & hills. We can find numerous natural beauty such as lakes, rivers, caves, Mt. Everest and so on that lies in this country. It is landlocked country situated in between huge countries like India & China.
Nepal is one of the most beautiful places in the world and is a piece of heaven on the Earth. And I think most of us will agree on this one. Nepal is blessed with its natural beauty and its natural varieties too. So, it is regarded as the most beautiful country.
Despite the problems we face in everyday life, we can feel peace when we get to any place in Nepal and feel like we are in heaven. We must be proud of what we have and instead of complaining we should take a simple step and initiate to protect the natural diversity.
There are over 1000s of rivers that are above 10 kilometers long and 24 rivers that above 100 kilometers long in Nepal. There are around 5358 lakes in Nepal. Lake here is defined as a body of water of 2 hectares (5 acres) or more in the area.
Of the 75 districts, 74 consists of lakes. Although the district map of Okhaldhunga indicates two lakes, there are none on the topographical sheets. There are 21 districts where there are less than nine lakes and 16 districts where there are over 100 lakes. Among the rest of the districts, 16 have lakes between 10 and 29, and 22 have between 30 and 99 lakes.
These lakes of Nepal offer a number of great services to the people and tourist coming to enjoy their visit. The offers include boating, fishing swimming etc. all these offers help the tourist to relax and gain a heavenly experience.
Due to the difficulty of location and size of the lakes, many of the lakes are not accessible from swimming, boating or fishing. However, the incomparable beauty of the lakes at rare locations is itself a sight that stays in the mind of the visitor.
Boating is one of the most enjoyed offerings of the lakes of Nepal. The three major lakes of Nepal Phewa lake, Begnaslake, and Rupa lake offer the boating experience for the tourist. These three lakes lie in the Pokhara of Kaski District.
Phewa Lake is the most popular destination for travelers wanting to indulge in recreational boating. It is the second largest lake in Nepal and measures roughly 1.5 by 4 km. it is at the heart of Pokhara and it has a famous temple in the middle which you have to buy the waterways.
The huge spread of water in every direction makes the ride to the temple much more spectacular. And with a clear sunny sky, the reflection of Mount Machhapuchhre emerges on the lake mesmerizingly and the experience of gliding on your boat through the reflection to the temple and the forest across will be a thing that can never ever be forgotten.
The tourists are offered a ride pedal-driven boats, rowboats and sailboats.Renting a boat for a couple of hours and heading out is a preferable way of enjoying these lakes. Boats can also be hired for the whole day, or on an hourly basis. You can either row around yourself or hire a boatman.
Begnas and Rupa Tal are located 15 km out of Pokhara at the end of a road towards Kathmandu. Both these lakes offer some splendid boating experiences. Boating in such a crystal clear blue lake surrounded by green forested hill along with flowers with amazing aura are the main highlights of these lakes.
The best time for boating in Nepal is during winter from October to February, when the skies are clear and the mountains offer their shadows on the lakes crystal clear water. It is also a time of festivals so one might enjoy the cultural devotion towards water resources of Nepalese traditions.
Nepal is a beautiful country, not only with cultural and ethnic diversity but also with natural diversity. Within the small territory, Nepal is able to include and conserve the diversity of wild animals, deep dense forest, and grasslands making Nepal a suitable home for millions of birds and animals.
To be honest, Nepal is the country who must be tagged as heaven on earth because there is so much to this country in terms of natural beauty.
Swimming is another sport you can enjoy the water resources of Nepal. Swimming helps in getting fit and relaxing of body and mind with soothing stagnant water of natural reserves. The lakes of PokharaRupa, Phewa, and Begnas all offer the opportunity to swim in its water. The experience especially at summer from April/ May to October is a magnificent time to enjoy a swim in these lakes.
Some tourists also come to swim in the glaciers of Nepal. British explorer, Lewis Gordon Pugh, The Ice Bear, in May 2010 completed a 1km swim across a glacial lake on Mount Everest, at 5,300m, setting the record for the world’s highest altitude swim.
The temperature of the water was a very chilling 2C. So we can say that swimming doesn’t only mean at watery lakes with moderate temperatures, especially in the country like Nepal where such extremities of temperature can be found that swimming can be turned into a dangerous extreme sport.
Gosaikunda which is another lake of Nepal is famous for its religious reasons. Gosainkunda is an alpine freshwater lake in Nepal’s Langtang National Park, located at an altitude of 4,380 m (14,370 ft) in the Rasuwa District with a surface of 13.8 ha (34 acres).
Gosaikunda’s origin is related to many mythical events according to the Hindu mythology. It is mentioned in many holy books about the purity and sacredness of the holy water of Gosaikunda.
It is believed that one of the trinity of Hindu religion Lord Shiva once drank a poison and to cool the heat of his body, Lord Shiva thrust his trident into the ground of a mountain to extract water and drink. This then resulted in the creation of Gosaikunda.
Gosaikunda is a sacred pilgrimage for Hindu people of India and Nepal where they come at the time of Janai Purnima to take a bath in this holy water. It is believed that once a bath is done in the waters of Gosaikinda all the sins of the life get washed away.
Many tourists enjoying their trek reach to this sacred place and enjoy the bath not just from a sacred point of view but also as fun. Saraswati Kunda and Damodar are also the religiously significant lake of Nepal.
The other lakes of Nepal that present the scenic beauty of nature, crystal clear water to dive for swim and soothing experience of boating are Gaduwaltal (Chitwan), Satyavati Tal (Palpa), Khaptadtal (Doti), Barhakunetal (Dang), SurmaSarobar (Bajhang) and Tilichotal (Manang), Raratal, SheyPhoksundo lake, PaachPokhari, Tshotal, Gokyotal etc. However, due to location some of these lakes might not be accessible in winters or other harsh seasons.
To simply put, we can say that the lakes of Nepal provide so much cool things to experience in almost unreasonable places and times and many of them are valued by the culture and religion too. It is a beauty of Nepal that its resources are so rich that they themselves can serve so much variety of activities.These lakes of Nepal offer a number of great services to the people and tourist coming to enjoy their visit.
The offers include boating, fishing swimming etc. all these offers help the tourist to relax and gain a heavenly experience. Due to the difficulty of location and size of the lakes, many of the lakes are not accessible from swimming, boating or fishing.
However, the incomparable beauty of the lakes at rare locations is itself a sight that stays in the mind of the visitor. It is every person responsibility visiting or living around these lakes to improve the condition, protect and preserve its sanctity and promote them globally. The future of such natural gifts is in our hands.
21. Skydiving in Nepal
Nepal is rich in mountainous landforms with varying terrain. This richness has created best places to sightsee and explore all over Nepal. From barren hills to lush green forest, Nepal can offer plenty of wonderful destinations for tourists and adventurer all over Nepal.
Nepal is among the best destinations for bungee jumping and paragliding. Skydiving is relatively new to Nepal but it is garnering more popularity and is estimated to increase more in coming days.
Skydiving is the elite adventurous activity that has recently been introduced in Nepal. In skydiving, diver jumps off the aircraft after attaining significant height. After some period of free fall, the diver opens the parachute and he glides towards the landing zone.
It is one of the popular adventurous activity and once in a lifetime treat for aspiring adventurer. The flight for skydiving trip is done on a regular flight and when it attains the optimal height, around 10,000 feet the diver make several seconds long freefall before deploying the parachute.
After landing, you will immediately miss the excitement of free fall. Skydiving is considered less scary than bungee jumping, however, jumping from the aircraft is still scary.
Skydiving was first introduced in Nepal through a program named Everest Skydiving. The cost was significantly higher in this program. Later, Skydiving was introduced in Pokhara which became more popular among Nepalese adventurers. Skydiving in Pokhara is relatively cheaper than Everest skydiving.
Everest Skydiving is one of the best attractions in Nepal. Professional Divers from all around the world arrive in Nepal in order to experience skydiving in front of the Highest Peak in the world. The price is quite expensive in comparison to other activity, however, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience , it is advantageous to spend money.
The price starts from $22,000 for free diving (solo diving) . However, if you want to dive with the ensured safety of professional divers, you can go for tandem diving whose price starts from $25000. You get the chance to enjoy breathtaking view of Mount Everest at 8,847 m . Everest Skydiving is the highest skydiving in the world. It would be a great feat to dive from the sky atop Everest.
The landing zone is either Syangboche (12,350ft) or Amadablam Camp (15,000ft). These are the highest landing zone in the world.Furthermore, You get the chance to be a part of international club of professional skydivers and if you are lucky and daring enough, your name would be written in international record books.
Everest skydiving package includes transportation to take off zone, great accommodation facilities and short sightseeing of major locations in Kathmandu and Solukhumbu. In short, Everest skydiving is the great way to feel the sky from the highest point in the world.
After the highest skydiving Adventure- Everest Skydiving gained significant name across the world, the Standard form of Skydiving – Pokhara Skydiving was introduced. With the support of Everest Skydiving Crew, Divers will land at landing zone named Pamedanda Drop Zone near fewa lake after they jump off the AS350B3/B2 Helicopter from the altitude of 11000 ft.
Amidst the stunning backdrop of Machhaphuchre and the Annapurna, you will enjoy freefall sightseeing the breathtaking views of Fewa Lake and the beautiful Pokhara City. The cost of skydiving in Pokhara starts from NRs 35000 for Nepalese and $6000 (includes 8-day package) for the foreigner.
Cost may vary with season and the type of diving i.e. Solo and tandem(the type in which you are accompanied by the professional diver during the entire diving process). In addition, your skydiving moments would be captured during the diving for an extra nominal cost (starts from USD 150 ).
Although Skydiving options are limited in Nepal, Nepal offers unique Skydiving experience in the world. If you are the solo diver and would like to manage all the skydiving process yourself, you can take permission from civil aviation authorities and rent equipment from the authorized companies.
Skydiving is the most elite adventurous activity and if you would like to experience it in Nepal, feel free to try out Everest Skydiving or Pokhara Skydiving.
Writer: Shilu Nepal and Susan Basel,