Leave No Trace - Raising Environmental Awareness in The Himalayas

Leave no trace is a set of outdoor ethics that promotes conservation in the outdoors. There are seven principles of its practice.

  • Advance planning and preparation.
  • Travel and Camp on durable surfaces.
  • Proper waste disposal.
  • Leave what you find,
  • Avoid campfire if possible otherwise minimize its impacts.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate to other visitors.

These principles have been adapted to various ecosystems, environments, and activities. Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a nonprofit organization also known as Leave No Trace (LNT), has existed since 1994 to educate people about their impact on nature through their recreational activities as well as the principles of Leave No Trace to prevent or minimize such effects.

We at Responsible Adventures have always educated our trek leaders, support crew, and porters on how to trek in an environmentally friendly manner. Some of our porters have even started collecting rubbish they see in their resting place.

I lead a group from Poland on remote Upper Dolpo traverse trek from Late September until the middle of October 2017. We saw that even this remote region, which has a relatively small number of trekkers compared to other trekking areas of Nepal was beginning to get some form of rubbish at the trails and campsites. “It is one of cleanest areas I have trekked in, and it must be kept in its pristine state. “ There were constructions of a growing number of lodges in anticipation of more trekkers both foreign and local. Rapid development without proper education on environmental issues the locals do more damage than benefit to both the locals and their sensitive surroundings.

The first opportunity I had was when I went to meet the newly elected Mr. Tashi Tundup Gurung – Head of Shey Phoksundo Village Municipality at his home in Saldang village. I formally introduced myself to him and sat down to have a serious talk with him after exchanging pleasantries. I asked him what his thoughts on tourism were to which he replied; it benefits the people of inner Dolpo very little. The trekking companies hire pack animals; buy most rations for this camping trek at the lower regions, despite fresh vegetables and rations being available in the interior villages of Dolpo.  I told him how beautiful his District was and how important it was to educate the new entrepreneurs and the staff of camping groups in keeping the surrounding clean. Mr. Tashi sort mumbled why bother when they receive next to no benefit. I told him this was the very reason they should insist all camping groups bring out the rubbish they produce; the villagers should say to the trekking group’s staff that they are welcome to visit their beautiful district, understand their culture and religion but leave their environment pristine.

To encourage him further, I said that Dolpa district could be a leader in the country on Leave No Trace principles by cooperating with neighboring Village Municipality chiefs to implement these policies. They can lead the way in being ecologically sound despite being new on the trekking scene and being a very remote district. This got Mr. Tashi excited, and it was visible on his face. He thanked us for visiting and educating him on environmental issues and sounding my concerns for their district.

Awareness needs to start at the grassroots level, to implement LNT policies; I spoke to our mule drivers Kaji and Bhim. They were reluctant in the beginning. However, they were convinced when they learned that trekkers have options of going to many other areas or even countries should their district become dirty.


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