Of course Nepal was fantastic: the constant beautiful view on the mountains, the incredible Tibetan culture and our funny guide made that this is for us a country we will not forget soon. Nepal is, as many other developing countries, dependent on foreign tourism, which brings a lot of work for the local population.
But there is also a downside to all this: tourism generates a lot of trash.
This picture was taken on the Annapurna trek where, a little bit out of sight and hidden from direct view, a pile of plastic bottles and bags where waiting to… Well yeah? Waiting for what? When we asked our guide, he said that “it will be taken down”. The question is just: when will that be and who is going to pay for that? There are some NGOs operating in Nepal and cleaning up the place, but it is a sad fact that they have a trash problem due to tourism.
Luckily the government is getting more sensitive to this problem and even proceeded to a complete ban of bottles on some treks (like on the trek to the Annapurna Basecamp). Tourists have to bring their own bottles which can be filled up with safe, treated water on the way (a project set up with help from the government of New Zealand).
But maybe the problem should be attacked more at the source: tourists should get more conscious of their behavior (locals are drinking water from streams, bottled water is too expensive for them). And although every guidebook we got to see talks about it, trying to get tourists to think about their actions, we unfortunately found that not everybody is quite there yet and the number of times we heard “but the water is so disgusting with those pills in it” or “I don’t feel like filtering my water for 10 minutes every morning” or “well it’s just so easy to buy bottles” is just incredibly frustrating.
We used a water filter, which we found to work very well. Let’s just hope that by reading this article and seeing the evidence of “what stays behind” make people a little bit more sensitive to the problem in the future.
Vera & Jean-Christophe