Local Life Trail

Close to life in Nepal’s mysterious south

Our Local Life Trails take you off the beaten paths and into the real Nepal: close to the life of its diverse ethnic groups, which are spread across the Himalayan state like multifaceted mosaics. This very special Local Life Trail winds its way along the historic Salt Route through the mysterious south of Nepal. Past the remote villages of the semi-nomadic Chepang people in the rugged mountains of the pre-Himalayas to the Tharu fishing people in the jungles of the lowlands. Our adventure tours are accompanied by the well-known environmental activist and food blogger Prashant Khanal, with whom you will immerse yourself deeply into the lives of the people. You will eat and sleep in selected homestays, directly with host families, and also share their daily work routine with them. A journey that truly changes, because Fair Trails also specifically supports the improvement of people’s living conditions along the Local Life Trail. PS: The grand finale is the jungle safari with the team of the world famous Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, a true pioneer for responsible tourism in Asia.

01 — THE MYTH

The guardians
of the Himalayas

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Guardians of the Himalayas: This elderly Chepang couple still follows the ancient salt route to get from their remote villages to the bustling markets in the lowlands of the south © Trail Angels

In terms of territory, Nepal is actually quite a small country. With its 147,000 square kilometers, it is roughly the size of Austria and Switzerland combined. However, its very special location between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan highlands and its downright dramatic landscape have influenced the country’s settlement history for thousands of years. Today, more than 150 different ethnic groups are spread throughout the country. They live from the lowest point, at 70 meters above sea level in the steaming jungle of the lowlands, to the highest settlements in the world, at about 4500 meters above sea level, at the foot of ice-clad Mt. Everest. A landscape that leaves its mark.

“It often seems to me that landscapes affect the way of thinking, change the forms of thoughts, influence the course of ideas. So that in the end it seems: one thinks and feels differently in every region”.,

as the Bachmann Literature Prize winner Valerie Fritsch has so eloquently put it on paper. The unique diversity of Nepal’s geography has had a decisive influence on the traditions, the food and the culture of its ethnic groups. From the Indo-Aryan people groups in the lowlands of the south to the Tibeto-Burman people, such as the famous Sherpas, in the rugged Himalayan mountains in the north. In a relatively small area, the maximum north-south extension of the country is just 241km, fascinatingly large differences are apparent from one community to the next. A multicolored and multifaceted mosaic, which has remained unnoticed until today far away from the well-known trekking routes, but which constitutes the real character of the country.


With all the diversity, one thing is common to the peoples of Nepal: they are called the “Guardians of the Himalayas”. Because without the people, their cultures, traditions, practices and ways of life, even the highest mountains in the world are just dead, lifeless rocks. The Local Life Trails are therefore dedicated to these guardians and their diversity. To their traditions, their lives and their challenges in a world in upheaval. This very special first Local Life Trail starts in the center of Kathmandu, the capital of the country, and then moves on to the mysterious south. Our Local Life Trail experience focuses on the lives of the Newar, Chepang, Gurung and Tharu people, all of whom live along the ancient salt routes. They used to connect China with India, thus passing through Nepal and promoting a prolific cultural exchange through trade.
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The true Nepal: Its true character is revealed to you off the beaten trekking paths in remote villages. As in the labyrinth of the Mahabharat Mountains, connecting the world of the eight-thousander-peaks with the Indian lowlands. ©Trail Angels/Humitsch
The Local Life Trails give you a deep insight into the life of the different ethnic groups, their traditions, their food and their labour. ©Trail Angels/Humitsch
Guardian of the Himalayas: An old Gurung woman in the enchanting village of Baspur on the Local Life Trail @Trail Angels
Shy and a little proud, this Chepang presents her traditional oil extractor. Soap is produced from jungle produce and sold at the market ©Trail Angels
The Tharu people of the lowlands of the Terai have developed a very special technique for fishing in the shallow jungle rivers. You will learn how this works by helping them with their fishing. @Trail Angels

Centuries-old cultures meet a world in transition. What does the future hold for this little girl at the Local Life Trail? @Trail Angels

02 — THE EXPERIENCE

Dive into the world of
the guardians of the Himalayas

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Fishing with the Tharu at the jungle river: One of the many highlights of this unique adventure trip through the mysterious south of Nepal. The Fair Trails team around Günter, Peter and Prashant tried it themselves and were impressed ©Trail Angels

THE ROUTE

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The Local Life Trail follows an ancient salt route then leads through the labyrinth of the Mahabhrat Mountains down into the Terai, the lowlands of southern Nepal. ©Trail Angels/Raj Gyawali
The Local Life Trail in southern Nepal starts in the center of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where the traces of the historic salt routes are picked up in markets and narrow alleys. One of these salt routes is used for the actual trek, which starts at the Trishuli River that flows between the Himalayas and the Mahabharat Mountains, the so-called pre-Himalayas. The route crosses these same Mahabharat Mountains from north to south, with the first section climbing quite steeply into the labyrinth of the pre-Himalayas. The rest of the route then follows the paths of the Salt Route, connecting remote villages of different ethnic groups, such as the Gurung or the Chepang. The landscape alternates between fertile cultivated land and dense monsoon forest, with small mountain passes, so-called Bhanjyang, being crossed again and again. Especially here, the path also repeatedly gives a view of two beguiling world landscapes: In the north, the ice-armored peaks of the Himalayas, from the Annapuran Himal to the particularly close Manaslu and Ganesh Himal to the Langtang Himal. And to the south, the steaming lush green lowlands of the Ganges plain. At the fortified village of Upardhandaghi, the trail then descends steeply into the Terai lowlands, where the trek ends in the bustling market of Shatikor.

The rest of the trip benefits from several transfers to reach the two highlights of the Local Life Trail in the Terai lowlands in a time-saving way: The Tharu village of Meghauli at the confluence of the two great rivers Narayani and Rapti and the famous Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge in Chitwan National Park, where a memorable jungle safari experience is yet to come. The tour then concludes with the final transfer to Kathmandu.

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THE FAIR TRAILS® EXPERT
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Prashant Khanal (left) is our very knowledgeable and insightful Fair Trails Expert for this Local Life Trail. Here in the picture with the Fair Trails Expert Peter and Mingma Sherpa. ©Trail Angels
Prashant Khanal is a blogger, researcher and entrepreneur. His passion is to explore native Nepali ingredients and foods, find out more about the diverse food culture and traditional recipes, and try to spread the word to inspire as many people as possible. He currently runs a food blog called The Gundruk and is one of the partners of the equally celebrated and charming restaurant called Raithaane (which translates to “local”). Raithaane is located in Patan, the most pristine of the three royal cities in Kathmandu’s valley. Prashant Khanal travels all over the country to search for, collect, and most importantly understand different ingredients and recipes.

So he couldn’t be better qualified as a Fair Trails expert, especially for the Local Life Trails. He has the passion and the professional expertise, has traveled extensively, and has a broad knowledge of how local foods can evolve and change around the world. Combine that with his excellent command of English, his thoughtful and pleasant nature, and his desire to promote Nepalese cuisine around the world, and he makes the perfect Fair Trails expert.

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THE PROGRAM AND ITS HIGHLIGHTS
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The Local Life Trail: Close to life in the villages of the mysterious south of Nepal. This girl is just returning from collecting fodder for the sheep and goats in the morning in the Gurung village Baspur ©Trail Angels
The travel program at the Local Life Trail is characterized by its diversity and surprising insights. It starts with a fascinating tour through old Kathmandu. Along the so-called “Kathmandu Food Trail” the traces of the old salt caravans are picked up and immersed in the culture of the Newar people. This is followed by the transfer to the enchantingly located Himalica Camp on the wildly roaring Trishuli River. The camp forms the spectacular base camp for trekking across the Mahabharat Mountains. The trekking through fertile cultivated land, dense monsoon forests and over rugged mountain ridges is spectacular, but without making any major technical demands. In addition, our Fair Trails expert Prashant Khanal opens up profound and also surprising insights into the life of the villages along the way. Highlights of the trek will be the working day with the Chepang in the enchantingly located village of Uparghandaghi and the handover of urgently needed water filters in the selected project villages. The second part of the itinerary will offer you two unforgettable experiences in the lowlands of the Terai: fishing in the jungle river with the Tharu fishing people and jungle safaris with the great team of the Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge. From the “Elephant Walk” through the jungle to the jeep safari into the core zone of the Chitwan National Park.

The program highlights of the Fair Trails® Experience at a glance:

  • Kathmandu Food Trail
  • Himalica Camp at the Trishuli river
  • Trekking through the Mahabharat Mountains
  • Overnight stay in homestays with a host familyn
  • In-depth insights from Fair Trails expert Prashanta Khanal
  • Handover of water filters in the project villages
  • Fishing in the jungle river with the Tharu fishing people
  • Jungle safaris with the team of the world famous Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

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THE FAIR TRAILS® PROJECT

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Smart Paani’s portable water filters make a valuable contribution to a safe drinking water supply in the remote regions of Nepal. ©Smart Paani

In the course of the Fair Trails Experiences, we always support a specific project that serves nature protection, the preservation of cultural heritage or social development. The selection of the projects is done in close cooperation with our Fair Trails experts and selected local partner organizations to guarantee efficient and unbureaucratic help. At Local Life Trail, we partner with SmartPaani, an innovative Nepalese company that develops environmentally friendly and economically sustainable water management solutions. We plan to use proceeds from the Fair Trails Experiences to fund portable water filters for the remote Chepang village of Jhandala, an overnight stop on the Local Life Trail. Thanks to these water filters with silver nano-technology and 4 filtration levels, purification of drinking water can be done easily and directly on site. Without the need for boiling, which saves costs and, most importantly, valuable firewood. As there is a shortage of clean drinking water in this region, our project helps to provide local communities with clean drinking water, thus ensuring a healthier life and also preventing deforestation of monsoon forests.

It is planned to hand over one water filter per Fair Trails Experience directly to the village community of Jhandala. In this way, you too will become an active contributor to this very important project in the Mahabharat Mountains.

Blue Ridge Mountains: This Local Life Trail crosses the labyrinth of the Mahabharat Mountains. This so-called “Pre-Himalaya” spectacularly separates two world landscapes, the ice-armored Himalayas and the subtropical Ganges Plain ©Trail Angels
In the heart of the Mahabharat Mountains, the Local Life Trail follows the historic salt routes that were once used to transport the treasured Himalayan salt from Tibet over the high Himalayan passes to India. ©Trail Angels
Trekking along the Local Life Trail over the Mahabharat Mountains is spectacular and varied. A welcome cool down at one of the many waterfalls ©Trail Angels
On the Local Life Trail: trekking through the fertile cultivated landscapes is particularly appealing. Here during the descent from the Mahabharat Mountains down to the Terai lowlands. @Trail Angels
Fair Trails expert Prashant Khanal knows a lot about the life and culture of the different ethnic groups along the Local Life Trail. Here he presents the operation of a basic grain mill of the Chepang people ©Trail Angels

In austrian hotels this would probably be called “Show Cooking”. The traditional cuisine along the Local Life Trail tastes excellent: Preparing dinner at the Upardhandagi ©Trail Angels

The magic of the Local Life Trail: Close to the life of the people in Nepal! A warm farewell to a Fair Trails Experience group after a day of work together in one of the project villages. ©Trail Angels

While fishing in the jungle river, this armored rhino paid us an unexpected visit. Not unusual for the Tharu fishermen, but for us it was an unforgettable experience. @Trail Angels

Protected by elephants you are safe: The “Elephant Walks” of Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge are unique and offer breathtaking encounters with the fascinating inhabitants of Chitwan National Park. @Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge – the stylish finale of an memorable trip. The world-famous lodge on the edge of Chitwan National Park is characterized by a dedicated conservation concept and a very special charm ©Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge

03 — THE OFFER

The Fair Trails® Experiences

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Local Life Trail/Snow Leopard Trail:
Media Explorer Tour

Guided trekking with media production

Start date: 03 November 2021
Duration: 17 days
Price: € 2.318,- p.P.

Local Life Trail:
Nepal’s mysterious south
Fair Trails Experience®
Guided trekking tour

Start date: April 2022
Duration: 15 days
Price: from € 2.980,- p.P.

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