It is often said that travel is the best education. Young adventurer expeditions provide an opportunity for learning on many levels, both individually and as a group.
Students and young people can learn about their subject areas first hand through practical activities and supported by experienced instructors and guides. Adventurer expeditions offer a valuable and memorable learning experience where the potential benefits include: improved self confidence; better team working, planning, communication and leadership skills; a greater awareness and understanding of other cultures; greater enjoyment of the natural environment; improved motivation and interest in studies.
Gurkha Encounters is a leading trekking and adventure travel company, offering a wide range of Himalayan adventures and expeditions for small groups and individuals including educational expeditions for schools, colleges and universities. Our schools expeditions provide a highly valuable and enjoyable educational experience to students who will have the opportunity to explore and learn about new cultures, to meet new people, to experience new challenges and to develop and strengthen key skills both individually and working together as a team during the expedition with all the experience, back up and support of a well established and recognized adventure travel company with them at all times. In addition to this, through our partnerships with local non profit charities in Nepal, we can also organise a community project or an element of cultural exchange for students to undertake which can add an even greater dimension of learning and value to the expedition.
We are able to organise a very broad range of activities for students as well as for teaching and other support staff. We have a number of tired and tested itineraries suitable for students and we also organise tailor made expeditions which means that we will design a program to meet your specific needs and interests. For example we can design a program to match the syllabus requirements, research topics or specific interests of a Department, small group of students and/or staff members, for entire classes or for individuals. We can also arrange for groups or individuals to take part in either short or long term development projects with local communities in Nepal and a popular choice is for groups to combine this type of project with adventure activities such as trekking, white water or safari adventures. We strongly believe that tourism should benefit local communities and that it is a great method of learning new skills and ideas and for building confidence in young people particularly, so an educational program is a great and very memorable teaching tool and method of learning.
Where can we go on expedition?
We currently focus our educational expeditions in Nepal. For older students and young adults we also design study and research programs in Tibet, Bhutan, India and Sikkim in addition to Nepal.
What will we do during an expedition?
You can expect to do a combination of trekking, sightseeing and tours, jungle safaris and even whitewater rafting. Some also include the option to take part in a cultural exchange program or a community or conservation project as part of the itinerary. We tailor make all our expeditions for schools, colleges and youth groups. This means that each will be individual and designed to match the interests and requirements of your group so the exact activities of each trip will vary. We’ll discuss and agree the itinerary with your group in advance and provide a detailed day to day itinerary and pack of other useful information before you travel so you’ll know what to expect and can plan more easily. Where trekking is part of the itinerary, the trek will follow easy to moderate routes which are well within the capabilities of reasonably fit young people.
Community Projects & Cultural Exchange Projects
Many people who travel with us and visit Nepal feel they want to contribute something to the communities they have visited or to get a little bit more involved. There are many options which can be incorporated into your itinerary and we are always happy to make suggestions of suitable local projects and to make any required arrangements. A few examples of community& cultural exchange projects where students can get more involved with or support local communities are:
If you’d like to incorporate a community or cultural exchange project or a mixture of these as part of your itinerary of if you’d like more details we’ll be happy to talk through suitable options, to provide more information and to make any arrangements necessary.
Typical group size would be 16 -20 group members plus 2 teachers, 1 doctor, 2 guides and support crew. We recommend 2 teachers accompany the group. It is also a good idea to ask a doctor (perhaps a parent) to accompany the group for further reassurance and confidence of parents and students.
Safety is our highest priority for all our clients and we have the best available support and rescue procedures and facilities set up should they be needed. We only work with experienced professional guides and in the case of any unpredictable situation such as illness or bad weather during your trip, our well trained and qualified guides will provide every possible assistance including arranging for emergency evacuation if necessary. We coordinate our service with a recognised private helicopter company and the Royal Nepalese Army in the case of emergency rescue. We also register every trekker name with the appropriate Diplomatic Missions, Embassies and Consulates. As part of our focus on safety on our remote treks our guides carried a Very High Frequency (VHF) or high speed satellite phone for use in emergency or medical situations only. We can also, on request, arrange for or provide advice for your own arrangements in hire of a satellite phone at very reasonable cost should you want additional communication options. In Kathmandu and Pokhara there are many internet cafes and international phone shops so there is generally little need for additional communication methods. In other areas where international communication links are not available, some people prefer to have their own satellite phone so they can keep in touch more frequently with friends and family back home.
When to go?
The best times to visit Nepal are during the Spring, Autumn and at Christmas/New Year. During the summer months it is possible to visit but can be a little too hot and uncomfortable as well as rainy during monsoon season.
Organising a schools expedition – the process
Your needs and interests: Firstly we would discuss with you your needs and interests, perhaps to match syllabus requirements or to link to other projects that students or Departments are involved with. We can work with your ideas or are happy to share our ideas and suggestions and we will work together with you to design the right program to match your requirements, timescales, group size and budget.
Planning support: We aim not only to provide a high quality and safe adventure experience but to provide practical support to teachers and youth leaders organising school and youth group trips. Our aim is to minimise the time and effort involved in organising any such trip and to make the process as easy as possible for organisers. There are a number of ways in which we provide support and we are always open to suggestions of how we can improve upon and develop the support we offer to organisers.
At the initial planning stage we can provide suggestions and advice with any meetings you may be planning with teaching, support or management staff, students and parents as you raise awareness of, interest and support for the educational program. For example we can advise you on suggested timescales for organising your trip and what activities you might consider at each stage from planning to the time of departure and later any activities following return from the trip, we can also provide ideas for fund raising activities to help students contribute to the costs of the trip.
Tailor made itineraries and costings: Once we’ve discussed and agreed your requirements and interests we’ll send you a tailor made itinerary and costing for your trip and then contact you again (after you’ve had time to consider and discuss it with everyone involved) to make sure you are happy with the agreed itinerary.
Detailed trip dossiers: Once your booking is confirmed we will provide you with a detailed trip dossier and welcome pack, including individual dossiers for group members and a welcome/information pack for any accompanying staff or parents. The dossier includes confirmation of the booking, a detailed day by day itinerary, suggested clothing and equipment lists, health and vaccination information, visa information, suggested spending money, suggested reading list appropriate to your trip and information on discounts available from other suppliers eg bookstores etc There will also be details of how you will be met on arrival and our local contact details as well as information on any flight bookings or travel insurance bookings you have made with us.
FREE trek bag: We will provide a free t-shirt and trek bag to all members of the group. This will be sent before departure and separately to the trip dossiers.
What happens on arrival?
Groups will be met on arrival with transport arranged to take them to their accommodation and help with check in. The first day will usually include time to rest after the flight, a group introduction and group dinner and perhaps an easy walking tour around the centre of Kathmandu.
Typically, the group would stay for a time in Kathmandu and would receive briefing and familiarisation as well as any training or awareness sessions required before travelling to take part either in an educational trek or specific project or combination of both. All programs will include general cultural and environmental awareness raising. There will also be plenty of time to visit, enjoy and learn about the historical (eg World Heritage Sites) and modern day sights of Kathmandu and the surrounding KathmanduValley during the first few days.
After the briefing in Kathmandu the group or individuals will then commence the rest of their program for example trekking in a particular region or travelling elsewhere to begin their project activities
Once students return home we suggest there is at least one group meeting again to share and discuss learning. We can also help with or make arrangements for subsequent groups to continue and build on the activities of earlier groups or to develop projects and activities that can be continued (eg ongoing contact with local schools or following the progress of a project) once the group has returned.
On your return we will also ask for your feedback on our service and any ideas you have that can improve our service or that may be of interest to you or to other educational groups or institutions as our aim is to continually develop our service in the educational sector and other areas. We will only do this if you are happy to discuss this with us or to send us your feedback.
Type of accommodation
This depends on the program design. For example on a fully organised camping trek accommodation is in twin share tents with a full camp set up and we provide a full Sherpa crew and set including kitchen tent, mess tent, toilet tents, chairs/stools, all equipment and utensils. Other treks or tours will use local good quality lodges, guesthouses or hotels, all run to a high standard. For example, on safari, the group would stay in a lodge either inside or outside the National Park area, in Kathmandu the group would stay in local guesthouses or hotels. Depending on activities or projects that are part of the programs we can also arrange home stays with local families so that students really get involved in local community life and learn about local culture as well as share their culture and views. Or it might be that the accommodation is in an orphanage, village school or other area depending on the activities. Again, this very much depends on the design of the program to match the interests and needs of the group. Prices are usually based on twin share but single room accommodation (for example for teaching staff) can usually be arranged on request.
Standards of Service
We aim to always provide the best service at consistently high standards. Our office teams are all experienced travel professionals and are continually involved in planning current and new travel routes and services as well as regularly visiting and living in the destinations themselves. We also have excellent established relationships with other local service providers in the Himalayan regions, for example with hotel partners. Over the years we have established an excellent reputation for safety and for the best standards of service which we closely monitor and control to ensure you a high quality travel experience and to provide great flexibility and reliability in the service we provide to you.
Food and health
There is a choice of Western and Asian food dishes or a mixture of both in all the destinations we visit. During a trek you can expect 3 full meals a day as well as regular tea and coffee breaks, on both our fully provisioned camping style treks and our teahouse style treks, where food is freshly prepared daily. During our teahouse treks, we offer a selection of teahouses, all run to a high standard by local people familiar with catering to varying tastes and requirements. You will be able to sample a wide range of dishes, all hygienically and professionally prepared to a high standard. We are also familiar with providing interesting vegetarian meals and are able to adjust dishes to meet your requirements, for example making Asian dishes less spicy for children. In the centres we visit, for example in Kathmandu, you will be able to choose between a wide range of restaurants, cafes and bars, offering both simple and sophisticated dishes to meet your tastes. In Kathmandu, we usually arrange accommodation on a half board basis to allow you the opportunity to sample the wide range of restaurants and dishes available for yourself. We can of course provide suggestions and recommendations of where to eat in Kathmandu, should you want us to and programs can also be organised on a full board or on a bed and breakfast only basis according to your needs. For educational programs we find that full board can be very useful as students need only bring a small additional amount of spending money to cover personal expenses, snacks and souvenirs. During a trek full board is provided.
Booking and payment
To book a trip we require a completed signed booking form and a deposit per person. Payment of the full balance is due 8 weeks before departure. For educational, student and youth programs we have a number of options to make payment easier, for example a lower initial deposit, interest free payment by equal instalments spread over a period of time with final payment due before departure etc. We’d discuss the details with you and which option is better during the planning process which can also be helpful in raising support and interest among management, student and parent groups as they can more easily plan around budgets and fund raising for the trip etc.
With our extensive local experience and contacts in the Himalaya, we have fantastic flexibility in what we can offer and are able to easily create individual itineraries and private group charter adventures and expeditions. We also offer both ‘land only’ and flight inclusive travel options. All of our packages can be tailored to more closely meet your requirements or we can design, together with you, a complete tailor made itinerary based on your interests, needs, budget and timescale. Educational programs will normally be tailor made but if one of our packages is suitable we can also adjust it to exactly meet requirements. We are also happy to help if you would like to extend or add something extra to your holiday, from flights, to safaris, car and driver hire, guided sightseeing, accommodation, special celebrations and much more. If you’d like something that’s not in our brochure or website we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
Personal Travel Insurance
Everyone who travels with us are required to have appropriate insurance and we ask you to provide a copy of your policy before the start of your trip. Policies must include cover for helicopter evacuation in the event of serious illness as well as cover for accidental injury, inability to continue at high altitude, cancellation, repatriation etc. Insurance should also cover for possible evacuation in the event of being stranded in any remote airfield due to bad weather conditions.
National Park and Trekking Permits
In Nepal, to enter certain National Park or wildlife reserve areas under the King Mahendra Trust for Nature and Conservation, a special permit is required. For example an Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit to enter the Annapurna region and similar for SagarmathaNational Park, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and other areas. If you are visiting more than one of these areas you will require a separate permit for each area. Those who decide to trek to remote restricted areas also need to acquire additional special trekking permits. The price of our trips include all permit and entry fees as per the itinerary. Where this is not the case, for example you have requested a tailor made program, we will advise you of any applicable permit fees. On educational programs the cost of permits or entry fees are included in the cost of the agreed trip.
Responsible travel and local development
We care deeply about the places we visit and the people who live there and believe that tourism should and can be something positive for both the visitors and for local communities. Being responsible and protecting the environment does not mean a compromise in quality or standards of travel. We make every effort to continue to do what we can through our approaches and activities in playing an active role in the effort to minimize the negative impact of tourism and to raise awareness of responsible approaches to tourism, both with travellers and local people. We support Tourism Concern and a sponsor and supporter of the International Porter Protection Group. We also support and work with a number of local non profit charities and development organisations, including donations to local charities to support their development work.
Further Information & contact details
Please contact us for further information and to discuss your needs and interests.We’d be delighted to hear from you and talk through your plans and requirements.
Our office address in Kathmandu is Gurkha Encounters (P) Ltd, GPO Box 20195, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal.