Eco-Cultural Tourism: Sustainable Development and Promotion of Cultural Heritage

Nepal, without a doubt, is a tourist’s paradise. Though a small nation, it is highly blessed with ecological and cultural values. Nepal is home to the eight highest peaks, over 8000 meters, and over a hundred other peaks.

Not to mention, Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, and multi-cultural state. The rugged mountain trails, lush villages, and pristine mountains are not the only adventures of the country. You can expect diverse cultures, several religions, and multiple pilgrim sites to explore.

Herewith, Nepal is the perfect destination for eco-cultural tourism. You will come across vibrant arts and architectural history during your travel activities. Tourists have been attracted to Nepal for decades because of its unique history, vibrant culture, and diverse culture.

Eco-Cultural Tourism In Nepal: Sustainable Development And Promotion

As ecotourism has been a burning issue in the travel industry, Nepal has realized its need way ahead. Also, as developing countries, the promotion of this area of tourism has paved the way for sustainable development.

Massive efforts have been made to develop eco-cultural tourism to provide maximum benefits for local communities with environmental conservation through the maximum involvement of all tourism industry stakeholders.

Well, all these tourism projects assist in delivering socio-economic enhancement of remote and rural areas and safeguard the host community’s environment.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)

This project was launched in 1986 and is the first Conservation Area and largest Protected Area in Nepal. Not only this, but it is also the home to over 100,000 residents of different cultural and linguistic groups. 

This project protects both the biological and cultural diversity of this region. Here, the area treasures 1,226 species of flowering plants, 105 mammals, 518 birds, 40 reptiles, and 23 amphibians. Additionally, it houses the world’s largest rhododendron forest world’s highest altitude freshwater lake.

Annapurna Conservation Area
Annapurna Conservation Area (Source – Wikimedia Commons)

Moving on to the artistic side, this area hosts unique traditions with local people residing in the five districts of 15 rural municipalities. This area lets you experience the daily life of ethnic groups; Gurung, Magar, Thakali, Manange, Brahmin, Chhetri, and Loba.

Due to these culturally and naturally rich villages, it is one of the most popular trekking locations. Hence, this project assists the tourism sector to boom in this area.

Ghalegaon Sikles Ecotourism Project (GSEP)

This project was launched in 1992 to contribute conservation of natural resources and local community development through responsible tourism. Under it, there have been several sustainable activities.

Some such activities include foot trail construction, forest zoning, river training, sustainable forest harvesting, school education, community toilets, drinking water programs, various training related to tourism, and many more.

Here, all these activities encourage the active participation of locals to promote the culture and tradition. Furthermore, they are also given leadership training to preserve the environment.

Kanchenjunga Community-Based Ecotourism Project

This project has been in progress since 1998 and works to manage waste and conserve the natural environment with the help of the maximum involvement of locals. This project collaborates with the Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation program.

Together, it helps with ecotourism development, agro-forestry, and local involvement in cultural promotion.

Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP)

Launched in 1997 as the Manaslu Ecotourism Development Project, it worked to elevate tourism infrastructure in the area. This conservation area houses over 2,000 species of plants, 39 mammals, 201 birds, three reptiles, and 11 butterflies in 11 types of forest.

Moving on, this area boasts rare flora, fauna, and a unique culture, with people of Tibetan origin following Buddhism. This project ensures harmony between religion and environmental conservation.

Furthermore, it has extensive programs to motivate and mobilize the local people to take the lead in managing their resources.

Upper Mustang Biodiversity Conservation Project

This project started in 2000 to preserve biodiversity and cultural heritages through sustainable tourism management. It encourages the active participation of locals to conserve their own culture and environment.

Cultural Ecotourism
Great views from Thsele down to the fields of Chusang village and Nilgiri with its steep north face. (Source – Wikimedia Commons)

Under it, the project has hosted several programs for awareness and training related to responsible tourism for generating income.

Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Program (TRPAP)

This project is launched in selected rural areas to use tourism to help to address disadvantaged groups. They aim to make a remarkable tourism model in various touristic areas to promote sustainable development by enhancing the local economy.

Simikot, Humla Development Package

This project works to conserve the country’s northwestern region’s Buddhist cultural and religious heritages and natural resources. It supports significant works such as paving the trails, managing waste, sanitation, and drainage and improving lodges and religious heritages.

Furthermore, it helps to conduct skill development programs for the locals.

Eco-Cultural Tourism In Nepal: Principal Tourist Activities

Eco-cultural tourism ventures into remote areas and cultural locations through local settlements. It also helps manage the tourist crowd and contributes a big deal to protecting and preserving the country’s natural resources.

In the meantime, responsible travel also helps towards the sustainable development of the local communities. Overall, ecotourism creates an economic value for specific communities if untouched.

Guidelines And Principles To Understand Eco-Cultural Tourism

Understanding ecotourism means following its guidelines and principle while traveling to protect flora and fauna. Below are some of such policies for responsible travel.

  • Create awareness among people to protect nature and the environment.
  • Reduce the physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impact on nature while traveling.
  • Respect the local lifestyle and settlements of the people.
  • Produce direct financial benefits for conservation
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Create a positive impact on the journey for both travelers and the host.
  • Design and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Provide realistic expectations to travelers.
  • Encourage everyone to understand the intrinsic value of the resources.
  • Promote moral and ethical responsibilities towards the natural and cultural environment.

Prime Activities Under Eco-Cultural Tourism


It is one of the prime activities of eco-cultural tourism that gives travelers a chance to get closer to the natural and cultural beauty of the area. All the trekking trails let the tourists and travelers experience the local lifestyle and culture first-hand. Furthermore, it allows exploring and enjoying the natural scenic beauty while traveling around the remote settlement areas.

Cultural Ecotourism
Cho Oyu And The Photographers, Sagarmatha National Park, Solukhumbu, Nepal (Source – The Carey Adventures)

When you come here with the intention of trekking, you will face multiple choices of trekking tracks and regions. Some of the famous treks in its regions are mentioned below.

  • Everest Region Trails: Everest Base Camp trek, Everest View Trek, Everest Base Camp Kala Pattar trek, Everest Base Camp Cho-La Pass and Gokyo trek, Everest Three High Pass Trek, and many more.
  • Annapurna Region Trails: Annapurna Circuit Trekking, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Jomson to Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Ghorepani Poonhill trek, and so on.
  • Langtang Region Trails: Langtang Valley Trek, Langtang and Gosaikunda Trek, Ganja La pass Trek, Langtang Gosainkunda Helambu Trek and Helambu Trek, and many more.
  • Manaslu Region Trek: Lower Manaslu Eco Trek, Tsum Valley Trek, Manaslu Circuit Trekking, etc.


Nepal also offers multiple hiking choices, and it is the perfect start for novice travelers on their adventure journey. All the tracks may be a journey you can accomplish in a day or two.

Furthermore, most of these tracks are pretty near around the valley and inside the valley. You can experience these trails, from easy to hard, as per your desired difficulty level.

Below are some of such popular hiking tracks to try.

  • Shivapuri Hike
  • Nagarkot Hike
  • Kakani Hike
  • Chisapani Hike
  • Chandragiri Hike
  • Phulchowki Hike
  • Champadevi Hike
  • Namo buddha Hike
  • Sundarijal Hike

Jungle Safari

Nepal consists of nine National Parks, four Wildlife Reserves, and three Conservation Areas. Most of these conserved areas are in the lowlands of Terai, which are rich with tall grasslands interspersed with riverine and hardwood Sal Forest.

Here, you can enjoy the jungle safaris through both jeep and elephant as per your choice. Below are some of the destinations to enjoy them.

Bird Watching

As a fun fact, Nepal covers around 9% of the world’s total bird species. In other words, there are 890 recorded species of birds found in Nepal, which makes it a paradise for bird watching.

Cultural Ecotourism
Bird Watching (Source – Wikimedia Commons)

Well, in the highlands and mountainous regions, you will find rare species of birds such as Himalayan griffon, Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, etc. 

  • Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park: Long-tailed broad bill, Spiny babbler, Long-tail minivet, Forktail, Warbler, Finches, Bulbul, Thrushes, etc.
  • Taudaha: Lapwing, Ruddy shelduck, Mallard, Sandpiper, Snipe, Wagtail, and so on.
  • Chitwan National Park: Blue Indian Roller, Stork-billed Kingfishers, Bengal Florican, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Bee-eaters, Cormorants Great hornbill, pied horn bill, and many more.
  • Gosaikunda Pass: Kalij pheasant, Blood pheasant, Himalayan monal, Snow partridge, Parrotbill, Snow pigeon, Woodpecker, Minivet, owls, and many more.
  • Mardi Himal: Satyr tragopan, Woodpeckers, Laughing thrushes, Himalayan vultures, Magpie, Warblers, Bulbul, Finches, Chough, Minivets, and more.
  • Manaslu: Cuckoo, Bulbul, Minivet, Drongo, Kalij pheasant, Blood pheasant, Himalayan monal, Tibetan snowcock, Snow partridge, Snow pigeon, Barbets, Woodpeckers, Vultures, Tits, Spotted nutcrackers, and many others.
  • Everest Base Camp: Tibetan snow cock, Himalayan vulture, Bared vulture, Finches, Blood pheasant, Thrushes, Accentor, Grosbeak, Tits, and many more.

Other Activities

Apart from these few activities mentioned earlier, there are loads to venture into when it says ecotourism. Any activity or visits you make without leaving your traces behind is responsible travel, and some of the other activities you can enjoy are as below.

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Mountain Biking
  • Horse Riding
  • Ziplining
  • Meditation
  • Cultural Visits
  • Fishing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is eco-cultural tourism?

Eco-cultural tourism refers to the idea of combining the ecological and cultural elements of terrain to create a tourist destination.

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development is a concept that aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is often associated with environmental protection, economic growth, social equity, and inclusion.

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