The Responsible
Adventure Travel Company

Overview

With this great gap trip in the Himalayas we're proud to offer the chance to go beyond the trekking trails and into the villages of Bupsa and Bumburi in the Everest region to spend time with the Sherpas and experience the way that these mountain communities live their life and how our company and charity Moving Mountains have helped to shape their lives and their future.

We combine adventure travel with volunteering; the theme is personal development through close interaction with local communities, and helping with the projects and programmes that have been running there for many years. It is a very sociable trip, helping out in the schools and monasteries, helping the children speak and read English, and also to use computers. We also have building projects, and you can learn from the Sherpas techniques like dry stone building and using slate. Some of the projects involve finishing work, or installing cooking stoves and taps into people's homes.

There is also a great trekking expedition in the mountains and time spent in our guesthouse in Kathmandu, where you can learn how to speak some Nepali and how to cook local food, as well as explore the Kathmandu valley with all the ancient towns like Bhaktapur and Patan. You will be escorted by great Sherpa guides who will explain the meanings of many important places like the Boudinath stupa, as well as the concepts behind Tibetan Buddhism.

Group Logistics

Generally the groups are in teams of six to ten, accompanied by a large number of staff and helpers with the company and the charity. In the village, you become one of the villagers so everyone looks after you, it is very sociable! The teams meet up in the UK beforehand to prepare for the trip with our own staff, and we do provide correct training and selection procedures so that the right people end up going on the trip. It's important that everyone gets on together and understands the meaning behind the trip, which is to provide both personal development and a benefit to the communities.

In Kathmandu we have a lovely big guesthouse with a huge garden, it's very safe and close to the city centre. From there you head out on all sorts of adventures and cultural tours, and it's a lot of fun having a base which you can call home. Up in the mountains on the trek you stay in lodges or tents and move as a team with our staf on hand all the time.

More Information

Everyone is talking about the integrity of gap trips and in particular how can they possibly achieve all they say in the advertising? Especially when a company sells 50 different trips to 20 countries! And it's true, a lot of the projects are set up just to accommodate the visitor, with the community having little or no say. This is one of the reasons why Gavin was instrumental in starting Fair Trade Volunteering, to properly document how money on gap trips is spread and who it benefits.

We only offer school and trips to three countries - Kenya, Nepal and Borneo - and we do this because these are the places where the company and the charity Moving Mountains (both created by Gavin Bate) operate, and it's where we have twenty years of history and expertise. And we don't burden the villages with visitors, and we only run projects or programmes that are determined by the communities. Over such a long time, we've created a seriously productive relationship whereby the charity provides capital investment and the company brings tourism in order to bring revenue. We've got nearly two decades of experience in the villages, and some very deep friendships. In fact many of them are Trustees of the NGO, and Directors of the AA regional company.

Coming on our gap trip offers you the chance to understand how charity and company and community can all work together in harmony and equality. We would hope that you get involved with charity for long after you leave.

Staff

We have fully trained and experienced UK and Nepali staff in place to ensure that you will always have the backup and support that you need. We will organise the logistical aspects of your trip and assist you in all aspects of your experience. However we also a degree of freedom and responsibility which is essential to the trip and allows you to get the most out of your involvement with the community.

Activities and Highlights

Living in a Sherpa village and experiencing life in a traditional home
Trekking in the Himalayas
Making some amazing friends
Understanding how an NGO works in the mountains and really delivers long term benefits to a community
Learning a new language and picking up on a new culture

Project History

The projects you will be involved in have been long term development aims of Moving Mountains for many years. Moving Mountains Trust is a group of registered charities in the UK, Ireland, Kenya, Nepal and Borneo. It also funds a large tree-planting project in Borneo, which is our carbon-offset initiative. Every GapNepal trip will give you the chance to get a hands-on experience with all of the projects and programmes that we run, which is a remarkable opportunity to see the country and work with Nepali staff in everything from construction to education, mentoring, sports, camping and welfare. These programmes are all run by the Nepal NGO and all of them represent many years of input from Moving Mountains UK and a personal lifelong vision of Gavin Bate.

Every trip we run has some sort of link with the development of the community or village through Moving Mountains, since this was the reason that Gavin Bate started the company and the charity in the first place. It is very much an example of social enterprise, using tourism to create development and wealth.

Read more about the exact projects in the More Info section.

Project Support

The programme content is handled by Adventure Alternative UK and our local staff in Kathmandu. Adventure Alternative has an enviable amount of resources, including our own guesthouse and a network of support across the Khumbu region in particular.

Prior to your trip and when you return you have full back-up and support from staff in the UK office who have been organising and leading our trips for over ten years. Andy Hunt, another of our project and support staff lives in Wales and he runs a structured programme of pre-trip support for all our groups.

We also work with Interhealth, which provides a complete medical service for overseas travellers including medical back-up during your trip on an emergency line which is 24/7. Plus we are part of the Know Before You Go Campaign and recommend you register with the Locate programme run by the Foreign Office.

Value of Your Visit

Moving Mountains has it's main support from the clientele of Adventure Alternative, and these Gap trips and School trips are very much part of the policy of the charity to raise funds for projects and provide revenue and support for our programmes. The money that comes from the Gap trips provides an external cash injection into a small community, which then allows the charity to provide training for capacity building and community development.

We don't allow your visit to prevent local people from gaining employment, in fact it will achieve the opposite. The whole company is set up to provide training and development and careers for local people, and your visit enables AA and MM to maintain a high level of investment into capacity building and providing full time employment.

For the detailed value of each section of the AlternativeGap Nepal trip, you can read more on the More Info pages

Type of People

Alternative GapNepal should attract people who have a real desire to explore a country and understand both it's development needs and also appreciate it's uniqueness. This will take an open mind, initiative and a sense of curiosity about the world. We really want people to come back from our trips and use their experiences to gain skills and help them in their career and lives. It may even contribute to people making some significant life choices. 

We want the trip to help those people who are less fortunate, and therefore the participants should see themselves as a mentor to some of the children they will meet, some of whom will be materially poor and coming from very difficult backgrounds. We want the trip to show how, even though there is great disparity and exploitation and material poverty in the world, we are all humans with equal rights and equal opportunities. This is not a trip designed to promote a 'colonial' type of aid, you will be constantly interacting with people of your own age to prove that in reality they are just the same as you.

Since Moving Mountains actively promotes the aims of the Millennium Development Goals, we want to invite people who are prepared to learn about their role in the world, and teach others about their role too. Therefore we invite people from all backgrounds, particularly those who might normally find it difficult to travel or to get opportunities like this.

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Dates and Itinerary

2012 dates to be announced soon

Time in Country

66 days

Detailed Itinerary
Day Elevation Travel Time Info
1-2 London: Team meets in UK for final meeting and briefing on their trip, hosted by management experts and Company Director. Final check of kit and team-building sessions before heading to the airport and flying to Kathmandu
3-5 Kathmandu: Meeting your Nepali staff and staying at our guesthouse where you can visit the projects in the area and get a feeling for your trip.
6-19 Project location 1
20-34 Project location 2
35-44 Expedition
45-49 Days spent preparing for next project stage
50-64 Project location 3
65-68 Kathmandu: Back in the city it is a time of celebration and evaluation with our counsellors and NGO managers to help you leave Nepal with a clear understanding of what you have achieved during your time in-country. Goodbyes and flight home.
69-70 London: Arrive back in UK and travel to a centre for a debrief and final goodbye to your fellow Gap participants. A chance also to discuss the impact of your trip and discussion of what to do next. This is followed by a further communication and keeping in touch, receipt of your reference and certificate, and an annual reunion for all the trips of the year.
Daily Routine

The trip follows blocks of time spent in different areas doing different projects so therefore the daily routine does change somewhat throughout your ten weeks. Sometimes you will be in a guesthouse, sightseeing and learning Nepali, other times on the road with a trekking team, and longer periods spent at a project site doing the work with the Moving Mountains staff. This could be building, teaching, helping in the fields or spending time in local homes with families.

During the adventure phase you will be trekking on the age-old footpath routes of the Himalaya. This will be a true expedition and we will move as a large team with local porters, cooks and guides. We will move from village to village and have time to see the sights of each as we progress.

You work alongside your fellow Gap team, plus the staff and the Nepali youngsters; therefore the daily routine will include looking after yourselves, preparing camps, cooking, shopping and keeping discipline. This is very much an expedition and will require teamwork and leadership.

Independent Travel

At the end of your ten week expedition with us you have the opportunity to stay in Nepal and do some independent travel. We can help you with this and ensure that where you are going and where you stay will be safe. We can provide a friendly face in most areas, and our company in Nepal can act as a back-up for emergencies and leaving gear. However you will be responsible for yourselves, and it is important to understand that although we take a moral responsibility for you, we can't be on hand every day. You and your family should see this as an additional service of safety and advice if you choose to travel a bit by yourself or with some friends after your trip with us.

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Cost

Gap Expedition to Nepal cost: £2,800.00

Includes
  • Adventure Alternative UK organisation of your trip
  • Venue for the pre- and post- trip briefings on the itinerary
  • Adventure Alternative Nepal staffing and ground logistics
  • Medical back-up from Interhealth
  • All internal transport and travel
  • All meals and food in-country
  • All Park fees and permits
  • All activities in the itinerary
  • All payments and donations made to host communities and individuals
  • Reference and certificate
Excludes
  • Return flight to Kathmandu
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel vaccinations
  • Pre-trip training weekends
  • Fundraising total for the charity Moving Mountains (£1500) which goes to all the programmes and projects.
Insurance

You are required to purchase insurance for this trip and we strongly recommend buying a policy after booking your trip so that you are covered for cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances. Some companies offer special Gap Year insurance and it is worth checking gapyear.com for offers and options.

Make sure you have cover for personal belongings, personal liability, cancellation cover, personal accident, legal expenses and always check the exemptions!

Read more about insurance on the More Info page.

Profit Share

Your trip fee is calculated to benefit as many local individuals and organisations as possible. This is a big part of our commitment to the principles of Fair Trade Volunteering, which tries to ensure that companies follow a moral responsibility to make sure that the host community gets some of the money from tourism, and it doesn't end up costing them to look after you.You can see a complete breakdown in the More Info section on your trip fee.

Adventure Alternative Nepal is a company which was set up by Gavin, and it employs a lot of people. 10% of your trip fee goes directly to AA Nepal as a profit margin, which is used to pay salaries and overheads and training. Since we work with AA Nepal to ensure a wage level which is well above the average in Nepal, this means that visitors like you are contributing to establishing a proper employment policy which actually lets people think about their future, and put their children into school.

Local Benefits

The programmes in the project locations will all benefit from your presence, but also from the external cash that we bring into the area courtesy of your visit. A family who offer you a homestay will be paid for their hospitality, and we will also cover your food. A school will benefit from having a roof fixed, courtesy of your visit, and that school will be part of a long term action plan that we have with the Board. During your holiday you will be able to talk to the Nepali staff and be a part of this process so it is completely open.

It's the link between Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains that allows commerce to support charity; charity provides capital investment and company promotes revenue. Read more on the Responsible Tourism pages for a detailed discussion of this and much more.

Local Providers

Adventure Alternative Nepal is the main local provider; it has all the staff,  tents, equipment and guesthouse to manage your stay and also all our school trips, treks and expeditions. We have spent many years providing the investment and training to get AA Nepal to the point it is at now, and we are very proud of it! We don't outsource and we keep an eye on all the agreements and contracts to make sure that nobody is exploited or taken advantage of.

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Fitness

Selection Process

After filling out an application form we will review the details supplied and call you for a short, informal interview, possibly by telephone. This is not something that you should worry about or become anxious about your performance. It is as much an opportunity for you to quiz us as it is for us to get to know you. We need to make sure that you know exactly what it is that you are embarking on and that it will meet your expectations. Please also see our More Info page entitled "Recruitment".

Training

All specific training required for this trip will be provided as part of the pre-departure schedule and at relevant times during the trip. However we would highly recommend that you independently read up on Nepal before you travel, in particular the areas that you are planning to travel to. Prior knowledge on the history, cultures, tribes and local customs will only enhance your trip.

The majority of Nepalis speak some English in the cities but not in the villages, so you will find it useful learning some Nepali.  Nepalis will love that you have made an effort to learn their language.

Role Model

Without doubt you will witness the strong links between Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains and the communities that you are placed in.  As such you will be an ambassador for both Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains and there will be many young people looking to you as a role model. You need to appreciate what responsibility you are taking on in this respect and to conduct yourself in an appropriate way. These communities are naturally traditional and conservative and we are not expecting that you impse western ways on them, but rather that you immerse yourself in their way of life and carry out the work of the charity which is determined by the villagers and the Nepalese Trustees in the first place.

The children you meet will see you as a role model, and therefore your behaviour around them is important. You will be working alongside Nepalese teachers too, and they will also look to you for good citizenship and moral uprightness! This is something we will discuss before you go out, but for sure it takes a degree of maturity and understanding of the environment in which you will be living and working.

The Promise to Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains started as a small charity in 1991 when Gavin Bate was teaching in the slums of Kenya and then working in the mountain villages of Nepal. Some of the children he taught are now adults and working for the charity and the company. Along the way Gavin has put into action a set of beliefs in how a charity should best be run. This is nothing to do with helping a child, but a way of running a community which can break free of poverty and not become reliant on others for handouts. It defines the way money is spent, how it is distributed, and how it fits in with the wider needs. It doesn’t focus on the child, but on how the child is brought up in the family and the community. It’s taken nearly twenty years of experience to get to the point where Moving Mountains is now a big charity which has such a successful ‘business model’ that the local people themselves love it.

We want you to be a part of it, but we ask that you respect our system. We have rules, which include not giving ‘things’ to children and not making private arrangements for personal sponsorships or gifts or money. We have seen this happen before, and it has never worked. The Nepalis respect a system that doesn’t just hand it out, but gives them a chance to become owners of something successful and long-term, like any self-respecting person. It’s easy to fall into the trap of responding to an emotional response and just handing over money, but that isn’t aid and it doesn’t actually help. What helps is clever expenditure of money, a strategy to spend it properly, and the realisation that money is hard to come by in any society.

Your trip is enough to make a difference. It’s part of something successful and inspiring, and it’s part of a vision that somebody had a long time ago. Your promise to us is to let that vision continue.

More Information

We absolutely need your feedback, but we also hope that you will stay involved with the communities you visit in Nepal and also with the charity. A lot of our gap members over the years have stayed in touch and ended up bringing their own children on one of our school trips! For us, we rely heavily on work of mouth recommendation and repeat business, rather than putting lots of money into advertising, so we really hope that you can help us move forward and take the MM vision further.

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Gear

Kit List
  • One rucksack of about 65 litres or a duffle bag (max 20kg for flight)
  • One piece of durable cabin baggage, eg small 35litre daypack, max 5kg Size:55X38X20cm for flight
  • Small money bag
  • Loose fitting and comfortable clothes-T shirts, Shorts, trousers or long skirt, trainers/shoes, sunhat, shirts, swimwear,
  • sandals/reefs, socks, towel, underwear etc
  • Fleece, Gloves thick Thermals
  • Warm hat & Sunglasses
  • 2 pairs hiking socks Hiking shirt/top
  • Waterproofs Gaiters Hiking boots
  • Rollmat Sleeping bag, 3 season
  • Mug, Cutlery, Bowl/plate Torch + spares
  • 2 x 1lt water botts Personal Admin & First Aid
  • Toiletry bag - suncream, moisturiser, lypsyl, paracetamol, malaria tablets, insect repellant, prescribed Medicines, germolene, Vitamin tablets, Immodium, Bonijel, Plasters
  • Documentation & Misc: Passport, photocopy of pp, money, camera & film, books, spare laces, batts, paper & pens,copy of insurance, copy of student card
Additional Kit Info

Make sure hiking boots are leather and broken in. You can take leather or fabric.
A sleeping bag is only as good as your rollmat. Make sure it's a thick closed cell mat. Make your own sleeping bag liner if you want from an old sheet sewn into a mummy shape. Don't make it too tight around you.
You will be able to wash clothes - handwash in washing powder, that is. The problem is trying to dry things so you may only have the opportunity to wash smalls. Out in the wilds and on the coast there is no real opportunity to wash clothes at all.
Carry OLD CLOTHES to wear for the project and camp, they will get very dirty, covered in paint quitepossibly. You need travel clothes which are clean for the travelling home bit, and for the restaurant, but in the schools, camps etc it will be pretty dirty. A lot of people just leave stuff behind because it’s not worth taking home!
Choose your clothing based on usefulness and durability, not for fashion statements. Some clothes you may want to give away or swap at the end for souvenirs.
If you wear contact lenses take plenty of saline and comfort drops- it can get dusty.
Do not bring porcelain plates - bring plastic and a few spare spoons - they always go missing.
Girls will have to dress conservatively in villages and in public. You will draw unnecessary attention to yourself and maybe cause offence if revealing clothing is worn.
Keep your money somewhere safe in a bumbag. Do not bring large wads of notes with you. If you take sterling cash with you make sure they are Bank of England notes, not regional notes eg Northern Irish notes or Scottish notes.
For the mountain, work on a layering system which gives you versatility - Tshirt or thermals, shirt or warm top, fleece, waterproofs. Gloves and hats are vital - remember spare socks can double as mitts in emergencies.
Do not pack too much - the tents, stoves and food may have to go into your rucksack for the trek. Group equipment will not have to be put into your rucksacks at the airport - they go separately. Pack your own rucksack and take lots of plastic bags.

Clothing Suggestions

Take a selection of clothes, and remember you can wash everything while in Nepal, and you can buy pretty much anything you need in the markets and shops. Take a jacket or fleece, and remember to take a selection of short and long sleeved items, so you've got cover from the sun. Remember this is a conservative society so best to avoid revealing clothing of any sort.

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Why Us

  • This trip provides direct revenue for the villages of Bupsa and Bumburi.
  • The trip is run by Nepalese who are trained and employed by us, so no outsourcing.
  • We can identify to you exactly what your money is being spent on and how much goes to the community.
  • We do not contract out our trips, we employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
  • We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in developing countries in a real way.
  • Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
  • Financially bonded and a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators.
  • We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.

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