Tourovation Spotlight: Solar Powered Showers and Batteries at Tibetan Lodge, Langtang
By: Samanata Thapa
Picture Courtesy: Shreyash Suwal
I first dropped out from my school trek to Langtang in 2009 and in November of 2017, after having planned almost everything, I had to yet again cancel my trek to the valley. I would like to believe that it was time preparing me to learn more about the valley to make it a truly purposeful one. Thanks to my job as the program and incubation officer at the ICIMOD Tourovation Hub, I had the pleasure of learning more about the beautiful valley of glaciers through Dindu Lama Jangba, the owner of Tibetan Lodge located in Ghoda Tabela en route to Langtang as one of the 8 tourism enterprises incubated in the program.
The Langtang valley is located 30km from Kathmandu and if you are in the capital, it is one of the closest treks that you can embark on with a relatively shorter itinerary. The trek starts from Shabrubeshi, 8 hours drive from Kathmandu, and along the way from Shabrubeshi to Langtang Valley, you will come across Tibetan Lodge in Ghoda Tabela: a famous lunch stop for trekkers that also provides accommodation to those who are in no rush to reach their destination! The green meadow is a perfect place to view the mystical Langtang mountain range. The livelihood of the valley is driven by tourism. Prior to the pandemic, 16,386 foreign and 5,559 Nepali trekkers thronged Langtang National Park. The increasing number of trekkers to the valley has raised alarming concerns amongst the locals in terms of practicing responsible tourism and comfortably catering to the now diversified needs. Hence, businesses like Tibetan Lodge are trying their best to address them by adopting changes in their regular day-to-day operations, one of the reasons why Tibetan Lodge joined the Tourovation Hub.
It is certainly not easy to operate a lodge at an altitude above 3000m, especially with limited infrastructural facilities in order to provide a comfortable stay. Tibetan Lodge joined the Tourovation Hub with the aim to address challenges related to their existing solar panel system, the use of firewood for water heating purposes, and access to clean drinking water in the region. Through the program, Tibetan Lodge is soon to install a 200 Watt Solar Array System with a 900 VA inverter and 160Ah battery from Lotus Energy. The installation of this solar system will allow the lodge to have their lights available throughout the night without any disturbance and also allow trekkers to charge their phones and batteries which has been a problem for the trekkers in the route. Similarly, with the growing number of visitors, the lodge has been using a lot of firewood to prepare hot water showers for their guests. The lodge is all set to install a solar-powered water heating system, reducing the use of firewood by resorting to RE and EE solutions and providing home-like showers to their guests. Tips for trekkers looking forward to Langtang, Tibetan Lodge is your safe haven for warm showers and fully charged phones and cameras to capture the scenic beauty.
Picture Courtesy: Shreyash Suwal
We often have this misconception that tourism businesses in remote locations are overcharging tourists for basics like a bottle of mineral water at a ridiculously high price in the name of the business. On the contrary, the entrepreneurs in the Himalayas like Dindu are looking for alternatives to provide safe drinking water without having to charge a high amount of money for a bottle of water. In Langtang, the entire valley is dependent on glacier water, which has a high chance of getting polluted. In order to call it safe for drinking, especially for people who are not locals requires businesses in the route to transport bottled mineral water through porters. A bottle of water that costs about Nepalese Rupees 20 in Shabrubesi, the starting point of the trek goes up to cost around Nepalese Rupees 200 per bottle by the time it reaches the tea shops and lodges in the route. Similarly, there has been a growing concern amongst the locals and entrepreneurs about the plastic bottle waste being generated by trekkers in the national park. Hence, Tibetan Lodge is currently refining and working to secure investments to install a solar water purifying system to make safe drinking water available to the trekkers, neighboring businesses, and locals at a reasonable cost.
Building back after the devastating 2015 earthquake that swept away the entire Langtang village, the locals are yet again struck by new challenges because of the pandemic. But the locals have been showing remarkable resilience and Dindu Jangba is one such example. The virtual incubation journey has not been an easy one, especially for Tibetan Lodge who joined us all the way from Ghoda Tabela. Dindu is no ordinary entrepreneur that you will come across on your trek to Langtang. His enthusiasm to learn and his willingness to make a difference through Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency solutions in his business and region to provide trekkers with the best experience has been commendable and evident through his dedication towards the program. There were days when he attended the program by sitting in the middle of the meadow through the scorching sun and windy afternoons for an uninterrupted data connection. And it is entrepreneurs like Dindu that encourage Nepal Communitere to diversify and make our innovation hub accessible to all, no matter your geographic location.
“Our business was at a complete halt when we joined the Tourovation Hub in October of 2020. This gave us the opportunity to become a part of the program and refine our business strategies to become resilient by incorporating RE and EE solutions which have been delayed for various reasons, especially the cost. Our concerns regarding the installation cost of RE and EE solutions have been well addressed through the program. The seed fund came as a relief to make our plans a reality, upgrade our existing solar system and soon we will be able to provide hot water showers to our guests. We now look forward to providing access to safe drinking water in Langtang in the near future as we wait for the tourism industry to reopen at its fullest potential. The program has helped entrepreneurs like us to dream again for better days ahead and explore our social and environmental impact.”-Dindu Lama Jangba, Owner, Tibetan Lodge, Langtang
If you’re waiting for the pandemic to subside and make your way to Langtang, I recommend you to not just stop for lunch but also spend a night, take a warm shower and recharge your batteries and yourself at the Tibetan Lodge in Ghoda Tabela.
For booking and more information:
Phone: +977 9845353537 / 9741186813