Everest Base Camp - Sustainable Tourism

By Yvette Crossley

Travelling with a Purpose

While many of my colleagues were at our annual Ensemble Travel Conference focusing on “Travelling with a Purpose”, I was in Nepal hiking to Everest Base Camp.

It was a trip that has been on my bucket list for more than 20 years and I was living what the conference was promoting. What a great adventure! I was part of a group of six people who trekked in the Himalaya’s from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and back. I could sit back and let the guide take the lead.

It was awesome that Exodus tours and our guide in Nepal gave us information and ways to keep the region beautiful. As part of the trip notes, Exodus recommended that we purchase a “SteriPen” to sterilize water rather than purchase bottles of water on the trek. I happily complied and am very thankful I did. Our group had a total of four SteriPens and we did not purchase one plastic bottle of water during the entire trek. Part of keeping altitude sickness at bay is to drink 3 – 4 litres of water a day. If we were purchasing bottled water, we would have used 80 – 90 plastic bottles per person! Instead of creating a mountain of plastic waste, a couple of times a day, we would have our guide fill our reusable water bottles with tap water and we’d sit at our table waving our lit up pens in the bottles as the UV light killed the bacteria in the water. It was surprising how many people asked us what we were doing and had no idea how they could have kept more plastics out of the mountains. I will say, not one of us had any stomach issues.

Our guide from Exodus travels recommended that we eat local “Sherpa” food as much as possible and to avoid all meat. By eating Dal bhat, Sherpa stew, etc., not only would we help put money into the small local economies but we would decrease the amount of food that has to be flown to Lukla and then carried up the to the villages on the back of a person, yak or donkey. Dal bhat power! I was keen to adopt this style of eating, as I make an effort on my tours to support local communities and people especially women's co-operatives.

There is also a very new program to take plastic garbage out of the Himalayas. On our way to Base Camp, our guide had us speak with the manager of the program which has hikers carry a re-useable bag weighing .5 – 1kg containing plastics from Namche Bazaar to Lukla. Then the airlines would bring the garbage to the Kathmandu valley to be recycled. In only a few weeks, the program had already taken 8,000 kg of plastic out of the mountains. On our way down, each of gladly took a bag and attached it tour our backpacks.

We at Personal Travel Management, have travel partners who make this a priority and can assist you in making a great trip more ecologically sustainable. Just ask! We look forward to helping you climb that mountain and support local communities.

Contact Yvette