As Recommended by Lonely Planet

Honey Hunters of Nepal – Tibet Border

Trip Title: Honey Hunters of Nepal – Tibet Border

Trip Length: 16 Days

Trip Grade: B       [Grading Overview]

Country: Nepal

Area: Borderlands

National Park: -       [Parks Overview]

Activity: Honey Hunting

Activity Grade: 3       [Grading Overview]

Special Focus: Honey Hunting

Months: August, November, December,

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Description:

Twice a year high in the steep Himalayan foothills on the Tibet / Nepal border teams of men gather around cliffs that are home to the worlds largest honeybee, Apis Laboriosa. As they have for generations, the men come to harvest the Himalayan cliff bees honey. The harvest ritual, which varies slightly from community to community, begins with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice. Then a fire is lit at the base of the cliff to smoke the bees from their honeycombs. From above, a honey hunter descends the cliff harnessed to a ladder by ropes. As his mates secure the rope and ladder from the top and ferry tools up down as required, the honey hunter fights territorial bees as he cuts out chunks of honey from the comb." A chance to view and experience the traditional honey hunting harvest of the Gurung people. The Bees Apis Laboriosa and Apis Dorsata are indigenous to the region and traditional methods of harvesting the honey on steep cliffs have remaned unchanged for generations. The introduction of non indigenous plant species and the Eurporean honey bee Apis Mellifera have put pressure on these local bees to compete, and they need to fly further and further to forage their prefered plant species. This along with over harvesting has resulted in the bees decline. The Himalayan Honeybees project for the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu has been actively involved in the sustainable management of honey hunting and work with the local communities to ensure the survival of the species. Tourism in this area helps communities protect the flora and fauna, and so gives the bees and local hunters a chance to co-exist and continue. TheBlueSpace will donate a percentage of profits from these trips to local communities who are actively involved and promoting ICIMOD ideas. There are great views of the peak Ama Bamare and the Lapchi Kang range.

Itinerary:

This is a Camping and Tented Lodge Trek. The Trek can be left out and just the honey hunting section done – making an eight day trip.

Day 1.
Drive Ktm/Mude (2,550m.) – 5 Hours and start trekking to Nigale – 4 hours.

Day 2.
Nigale – Tulo Sailung (3,100m.) – 6 hours.

Day 3. Tulo Sailung – Nigale – 6 hours.

Day 4.
Nigale – Kuri (3,480m.) – 7 hours.

Day 5.
Steep trek up to Kalinchowk (3,790m). Views of a vast and grand landscape including the Everest range, Gauri Shanker, Lapchi Kang, Langtang National Park and the Mahabharata.

Day 6.
Trekking down to the village of Tare Veer.

Day 7.
Trek to Bigu (2810m.) and rest all the day and visit the nunnery of Bigu Gompa.

Day 8.
Half day rest and after lunch, trekking up to the Tisang La (3303m) and down to Dolangsa monastery.

Day 9.
Descend down to the town of Bharabise on the banks of the Bhote Khosi.

Drive 3 hours to The Borderlands Resort, in the evening briefing and welcome dinner.
Tented Accomodation.

Day 10.
After breakfast start trek to Gati village. Afternoon village walk and visit Borderlands waterfalls and Honey Hunting Sight.

Day 11.
Honey Hunting.

Day 12.
After breakfast trek to Narayanthan via Jhirpu, might need to drive 1 hour. After reaching Narayanthan visit local village and monastery. Evening welcome ceremony by local village and honey hunter.

Day 13.
Honey Hunting.

Day 14. Trek back to Jhirpu and from Jhirpu drive 1 hour to Borderlands.

Day 15.
One day rafting at Bhote Koshi white water, evening farewell dinner.

Day 16.
Drive To Kathmandu.

Honey Hunting Techniques:

"Each area has its own distinctive style of honey hunting to suit local resources and bees. The basic method of lighting fire under the bee cliffs to smoke the bees from the combs appears to be universal. However, socio-cultural and spiritual practices carried out prior to hunting honey are quite different from community to community. A group of about a dozen men-with ropes, ladders, poles, baskets and pots proceed to the cliff. First, a worship and sacrifice is performed and cliff god is offered with flowers, fruits and rice grains. At the base of the rock a fire is made from wood and foliage, so that the smoke rise to disperse the bees upwards from the lower edges of their combs, leaving the brood and honey sections of the combs clearly visible. A ladder is suspended from the top of the cliff, tightly secured to trees at both upper and lower ends. Honey hunter is fastened to the ladder by a rope and descends the rope ladder while others at the top of the cliff make sure that the rope is held securely. Two to three persons are responsible for checking, raising and lowering the rope to send items down from above and pull items up from the floor as necessary. One person, who perches on overhanging tree, looks the event carefully and gives signals to others. Near the ladder a large woven collecting basket is lowered to the nest site through another rope. When the honey hunter gets near the nest to be harvested, he uses a long stick to balance the collecting basket exactly under the comb. Its base is guided by a rope held by the people at the base of the cliff. First the brood portion of the comb is separated. The honey hunter uses a bamboo stick to pierce a hole in the brood comb area of the colony to be harvested. By piercing the comb and attaching hook to the comb, honey hunter cuts the brood portion of the comb safely. After that, wooden or iron sickles fixed to the bamboo stick cut honeycombs. Basket is guided to catch the chunks of honey as they drop down. When full, the basket is lowered down to the ground, emptied and used again. The whole operation from start to finish is very delicate. It may take 2-3 hours or more just to harvest one of the many colonies. ICIMOD

Price:

Camping and Tented Lodge Trip.

16 days trek and honey hunting – € 2100 per person. (from Kathmandu – minimum 2 persons per trip).

8 days honey hunting trip – €1300 per person. (from Kathmandu – minimum 2 persons per trip).

The Price Include:
Food, accommodation, guide, porters, cultural program, Honey hunting trips, Vilage District Comittee permits, ground transportation, International Airport pick-up – drop, and all taxes (Local and governmental).

The Price does not include:
Hotel and food in Kathmandu, International flight, personal insurance, alcohol – and Bee Suit if you really want to have a go – best bring your own as the ones in Nepal cant guarantee to be sting proof!! A good head net and gloves will surfice!!

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Books by
The Bluespace Founder
Ben Gilbert

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