G Adventures is searching for seven new Ambassadors of Change to serve on a year-long mission promoting the benefits of sustainability and tourism as a method by which to create opportunity.
One of the greatest benefits of being a G Adventures ambassador is the opportunity to participate firsthand in activism and engage in social change on a G Adventures journey.
Last year, Sarah Nelson, executive vice president of A World of Travel in Gilbert, Arizona, was selected as an Ambassador for Change and she received a dream trip to Nepal that would be integrated into her efforts to promote social change.
During her year-long tenure as an Ambassador of Change, Nelson raised funds to support the Kathmandu-based SASANE-Sisterhood of Survivors program, an organization that works to combat human trafficking and rehabilitate victims. In Nepal, she was able to meet with members of the organization, since visiting with the Sisterhood of Survivors is included on the National Geographic, Himalaya Highlights itinerary as a G for Good Moment.
“Seeing the project firsthand was a great experience,” she said. “While the trip I was selected for was absolutely the highlight of my year in the program, it was amazing to see people give when it was fundraising time.”
TravelPulse joined Nelson on her Himalaya Highlights itinerary, a 10-day trip that starts and ends in Kathmandu and showcases Nepal in an enlightening way for travelers.
National Geographic Journeys take place in small groups of no more than 15 people. They include upgraded accommodations, private transportation and more meals and activities than other G Adventures tours. Guests also experience Journeys Highlight Moments, which are exclusive activities which, for this journey, included such experiences as staying overnight in a Buddhist Monastery and joining the monks in a morning ceremony, learning about ancient weaving traditions practiced in the Himalayas and joining efforts for tiger conservation in Chitwan National Park.
Each group is led by a Chief Experience Officer and local guides join the group to give in-depth commentary in each destination. Our CEO, Narayan Tamraker, kicked off our journey with a group meeting for introductions and a discussion of Nepal as well as details about our impending adventure. The event was followed by a Nepalese feast, a six-course meal at Krishnarpan Restaurant, that was a filling introduction to the culinary adventure awaiting us.
One of the optional adventures on this itinerary is the chance to take an early-morning flight to Mount Everest for up-close views of the peaks of the Himalayas. For those not joining the early-morning flight, our day began with an excursion to Bhaktapur.
Lunch was with the Sisterhood of Survivors, a G Adventures-supported grassroots project to help combat human trafficking, which is a major problem in Nepal. Survivors shared their experiences with our group and then walked us through the basics of making traditional Nepalese dumplings called “momo.” We were then treated to lunch made by the women and listened to a talk about how SASANE works to help women regain a footing in society after they escape abuse.
Part of the project involves teaching women to be paralegals, who then become a point of contact for women caught up in human trafficking. The program also teaches women to work in the field of hospitality. The overall goal of the organization is to give women who have escaped human trafficking a dignified means of earning a living.
The day continues with a stop at Kathmandu’s famous Bodhnath Stupa, perfectly timed at the end of the day when the light is just right for photos.
The next day, we left Kathmandu and headed to Pharping, where we spent the night at the Neydo Monastery, an exclusive Your Journeys Highlight Moment.
Before arriving in Pharping, we stopped for a lecture (and yummy snacks) provided by National Geographic grantee Chhing Lhomi, who works to preserve the ancient weaving traditions of the Lowa community in the Upper Mustang region of the Himalayas.
This experience was another Your Journeys Highlight Moment.
The next day, we drove to Kurintar for another unique lodging experience. The Summit River Lodge is tucked away on the banks of the Trishuli River.
We packed light overnight bags and hiked across the suspension bridge over the river and up to the lodge where we swam and enjoyed stunning views of the valley and countryside.
The next two days we spent in Chitwan National Park where we had our hearts set on spotting the elusive tigers. There were several opportunities, including a Jeep safari and a riverboat ride on the Rapti River (during which we also had sundowners).
Despite our best efforts, the tigers remained elusive. However, some of the best wildlife viewing was right from the Barahi Lodge, which is perched on the banks of the river.
Our group also learned about tiger conservation from the Nepal Tiger Trust, which is another highlight moment included on the journey, and we enjoyed an evening of cultural dancing.
Pokhara was our final stop before returning to Kathmandu. Located on the shores of Phewa Lake, the resort town is a hub of adventure. This is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs and trinkets to memorialize your journey. There are also a number of coffeehouses, bars and unique restaurants serving every kind of food you can imagine.
We had plenty of time to explore on our own but also took advantage of the chance to rise at early to see the sunrise at Sarangkot, which, when it’s clear, afford visitors amazing views of the Himalayas and Annapurnas. We were not so lucky. There is also a hike to the World Peace Pagoda for more views, this time of the lake, and a stop at the Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp for lunch.
Our journey ended with a plane ride back to Kathmandu. The flight afforded those of us who didn’t take the flight to Everest our first glimpse of the peaks of the Himalayas. Once back in Kathmandu, we had the option to tour the Pashupatinath Ghats, however, most of us headed to Thamel for some last-minute shopping.
While the journey may seem fast-paced, there was plenty of free time to enjoy each and every stop along the way and foster a deep connection with the people and culture of Nepal. Our accommodation always felt like an extension of what we experienced on each day’s outings, and our time in Nepal resulted in lasting friendships and the excitement that comes from having completed a wonderful adventure.
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