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OneSeed Wins Gold at World Responsible Tourism Awards

OneSeed Expeditions has been named the Gold winner in the Best for Local Economic Benefit category at the at World Travel Market in London.

The WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards are presented each year at a three-day event attended by more than 600 leaders in the global travel industry. The awards are the focal point of WTM Responsible Tourism Day.

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“Investing in local communities has been the cornerstone of our adventure travel business since 2011,” said Chris Baker, founder of OneSeed Expeditions. “We are honored to be recognized with others in our industry for committing to socially responsible travel and the positive impact it can have around the world.”

OneSeed spends 79 cents of every dollar in the local economies where it operates: Nepal, Bhutan, Tanzania, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. This includes 65.8% spent on local suppliers, 3.5% dispersed to local guides through a profit-sharing program, and 10% invested in microcredit to local entrepreneurs to help expand and diversify the economy.

This year’s awards were presented last week in London by BBC’s Tanya Beckett on behalf of WTM Responsible Tourism. Awards were presented in five categories: Best for Wildlife, Best for Communicating Responsible Tourism, Best for Managing Success, Best for Employment, and Best for Local Economic Benefit.

WTM representatives said companies, like OneSeed, are being recognized for practices and initiatives that will inspire others and that are replicable across the industry.

“We want to encourage change in the industry, to single out for recognition those who are taking responsibility and can evidence that they are having a positive impact,” said Dr. Harold Goodwin, Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and Chair of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards panel.

OneSeed Expeditions links exploration with investment to develop a completely local supply chain, incentivizes and educates their partners on responsible tourism practices, and uses revenue from OneSeed clients to invest in local businesses through microfinance.

OneSeed won Silver in the Best for Poverty Reduction in 2015 -- and this year, WTM judges singled out OneSeed for significantly growing its program and impact in the last three years.

Is Group Travel Right for Me?

Deciding to take a big trip abroad can be daunting, especially if you’re tackling it on your own. Luckily, OneSeed attracts travelers from all over the states and beyond, many of whom travel solo.

Considering joining a group departure? Here are a few reasons why group travel may be right for you.

You Enjoy Meeting New People with a Shared Passion

Joining a group can be a great way to get to know to people you wouldn’t normally meet. Travelers may vary in age from their 20s to 70s with so many different experiences and points of view - but everyone shares a love of adventure and the outdoors. Tackling a tough trail or reaching a seemingly impossible summit can be a life changing experience, and it’s even better when you have new friends to support you.

It’s a Cost-Effective Way to Travel

Our group expeditions are priced to accommodate several people, while taking a private tour as a solo traveler will cost quite a bit more. Traveling solo can often require a single room supplement fee, but OneSeed offers to match solo travelers with others who want to share rooms and save money.

You Believe that the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack

Upon returning from Kilimanjaro this summer, a traveler made a great point that the strength of the wolf is the pack. Twelve unlikely travelers (6 of whom arrived solo) tackled Africa’s largest freestanding mountain together. They encountered foggy days, bluebird skies, hours of steep hiking under the stars, and a wild and unexpected ice storm on the summit. Most everyone made it to the top, not because they were the strongest or even the most experienced hiker, but because the group supported each other to get to the summit.

Guaranteed Departures No Matter the Size of the Group

All group departure dates are guaranteed, even if only one person is signed up. While this is rare, it’s good to know that no matter what happens or how many people join the expeditions - you’re hitting the trail with everything taken care of from meals and lodging, to transportation and world class local guides.


Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? Take a private trip! Our private departures follow the same model as our group expeditions, but only run when requested.



How to Assess Your Fitness for Mountain Trekking

So how difficult IS it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Or to hike all the way to Machu Picchu?

All of our expeditions are open to adventurers without previous trekking experience. Whether you want a relaxed walking tour or to push your limits with a high-altitude multi-day trek, our activity level scale indicates the expected level of fitness for each expedition.

It’s important to note that various factors that go into assigning a difficulty level to our trips. Those include altitude, whether it’s self supported (carrying your own pack), the difficulty of the terrain, the climate, and the length of time and miles on the trail.

LEVEL 1

  • These expeditions do not have any fitness requirements. No hiking is required.

  • The only Level 1 expedition we offer is the Serengeti Safari where most of your journey is spent in the car (walking discouraged for obvious reasons!)

LEVEL 2

  • These expeditions include walking or a short hike.

  • A great example would be the 5-day Taste of Peru trip. The perfect combination of sightseeing in town, exploring ancient ruins, and short hikes.

LEVEL 3

  • These expeditions require an average level of fitness and the ability to hike over variable terrain. These are great first treks of 3-6 hours duration on a typical day.

  • We offer a number of Level 3 trips, including our Hidden Colombia expedition. This trip requires several river crossings in hot and humid weather and a fair amount of hiking steep trails and stone steps.

LEVEL 4

  • These expeditions require above average physical fitness. Treks may reach high altitudes and require high levels of physical exertion. No technical skills are required, and first-time trekkers are welcome. Typical days require 5-10 hours of trekking, and some expeditions include significant elevation changes.

  • Most of our trips are rated as a Level 4. Our Ultimate Machu Picchu expedition is a great example of longer days with a few tough climbs up and over high mountain passes like Salkantay Pass. While this trek provides porters, the elevation and sections of steep trekking make it a solid 4.

LEVEL 5

  • These expeditions require excellent physical fitness. Treks include longer days, greater elevation gain, and more challenging terrain at higher altitude. Participants should expect high levels of physical exertion at times. Travelers joining these expeditions should be in good physical shape and should expect to hike all day.

  • Our two hardest treks are Everest Base Camp and our Kilimanjaro climbs. These expeditions earned a Level 5 due to the physical and mental challenges. Both require long days at very high altitudes. Despite being supported treks with porters, they both require stamina and the drive to conquer the mountain.

  • You don’t need to be a skilled mountaineer to tackle these trips - just physically fit and mentally prepared for the once in a lifetime challenge head!

 

Deciding When to Travel: Expeditions for Any Season

With so many destinations to choose from, picking a trip based on your own timeline is a breeze. It’s always important to take into consideration the “seasons of operation” for various outdoor activities. Here are a few things to consider:

What Hemisphere Is It In?

You want to pay attention to countries’ location in relation to the equator. Plenty of destinations have consistent weather near the equator and offer more year-round options for travel. Venture farther away, and changes in temps and seasonality will be a bit more variable.

Tired of the summer heat? Head to Southern Chile for frosty mornings and snow covered trails. You can only take a week off in December? Head to equatorial Tanzania to watch the great migration in the Serengeti.

Weather Patterns

Every destination will have it’s own microclimates, even within the same country or region (you trek through five on Kilimanjaro alone). OneSeed only run trips during the best weather windows so you avoid rainy monsoons. While we plan around the “optimal” times to travel, weather is always unpredictable in the mountains, and you may have wind, snow, rain, and bluebird skies all in one trip.

Seasonality Chart

We’ve put together a chart outlining the months for operations for all of our expeditions. As you can see, some countries run different trips at different times based on optimal weather and feasibility of operations.

For a quick filtering option, use our EXPLORE tool to search for trips by the month of departure.

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Bhutan: The Hidden Gem of South Asia

Bhutan is a country that is relatively new to visitors having opened its borders to tourists in 1974. Teeming with temples, traditional festivals, and some of the happiest people you will ever meet, it’s the perfect place for an atypical adventure. Check out some of our top reasons to visit Bhutan:

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1. Taktsang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)

Built on a cliffside, the iconic monastery is an architectural marvel. Legend has it that the Guru Rinpoche traveled here 1,300 years ago on the back of a flying tigress to convert the Bhutanese people to Buddhism. While the structure itself clings to the mountain face, the path up is very accessible with many spots along the way to catch your breath and take in the stunning views. Explore the Tiger’s Nest Monastery on our Druk Path trip!

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2. Wellness Over Profits (The Bhutanese Government Measures Gross National Happiness)

Prosperity of the country is measured in collective happiness rather than only gross domestic product. The term was introduced by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept of gross national happiness implies that all aspects of well-being be monitored rather than just economic prosperity. This includes monitoring psychological health, education, ecological diversity, and living standards. Bhutan has found that when they take an interest in their citizens’ happiness, employment rises and so does their GDP.  What comes along with happiness? Preservation of culture, promoting sustainable economic practices, and protecting the environment–in fact it’s law that 60% of the population live under tree cover.

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3. Care For The Environment

Speaking of Bhutan’s love of trees, they broke the world record for most trees planted in an hour with 50,000 trees in 2015. Stepping off the plane in Bhutan you can instantly notice the pristine air that you’re breathing into your lungs. Bhutan is the world’s only carbon-negative country meaning they expel more carbon than they create. This is true not only due to their massive amounts of forest area, but the country also only began developing roads in the 1960s and were very late in adopting cars.

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4. Spiritual Landmarks like Big Buddha

Thimpu is home to one of the largest statues of Buddha. Gilded in gold, the monument towers over the city and is visible from the surrounding mountains. As well as the Buddha Dordenma statue are multiple dzongs. These are beautiful fortresses that are used as government buildings, housing for monks, and the setting for religious holidays. Exploring the dzongs you will find traditional buddhist art, bright purple jacaranda trees, and panoramic views of encompassing valleys.

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5. Its Personal Spin on Archery

Bhutan claims archery as their national sport. However, it’s played in a much different manner than you may have seen seen in typical competitions such as the Olympics. Archery in Bhutan is looked at as a social celebration of their country's origin. The sport is more than just shooting an arrow at a target, there are designated singers and dancers to taunt the other teams and cheer on their own. Along with the sport of course comes plenty of eating and drinking, as all family members participate.

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6. Fantastic Trekking

Bhutan’s spectacular mountain views look even better from up close. Trek high in the Himalayas, exploring temples and markets as you soak in every bit of Bhutanese culture. Before ascending into the clouds, you’ll come across dzongs nestled in forests and up on cliff sides. Whether way up high or down low, the unique culture is visible at all times from the trail.

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Ready to see and experience Bhutan for yourself? Explore the Sacred Chomolhari trail or go on a Druk Path expedition to get your fill of trekking, culture, and adventure.

 

How to Become the Next Big Outdoor Entrepreneur: A Q&A with Craig Cooper

Lifelong adventurer Craig Cooper is continuing his search for passion and profits. The former co-host of the CNBC’s outdoor investment show “Adventure Capitalists," is joining the judging panel this month for The Pitch, a OneSeed sponsored event where budding outdoor entrepreneurs present their gear ideas for a chance to win a cash prize and product exposure.

Similar to how OneSeed funds entrepreneurs in the countries where we operate, The Pitch is looking to finance local outdoor gear creators willing to take big risks. The idea of being a part of the judging process and seeking new and bold talent to take the outdoor industry to new heights was very alluring to Craig. In fact, “meeting passionate entrepreneurs” is what gets him up in the morning.

Cooper, 55, co-founded Boost Mobile and believes that the peak of your life can be found past age 40. We asked the entrepreneur/author/athlete about what’s next for the outdoor industry and the importance of taking risks.

Q: As an outdoor enthusiast and serial entrepreneur, what excites you most about being on the panel for “The Pitch” at Outdoor Retailer this month?

My business and personal life is built around being active and outdoors, and participating in life as much as I can. Getting first hand exposure and access to new businesses and opportunities - as well as meeting passionate and driven entrepreneurs - is what gets me out of bed every morning.

Q: What do you think is the most innovative thing happening in the outdoor industry right now?

That’s a big question. I think the industry is so multi-faceted that no one thing is driving innovation. But the overall sector has certainly been getting much more attention from venture capitalists the last few years with funding allocated to the sector continuing to rise.

Having said that I think the intersection of technology and active lifestyles is driving a lot of innovation - be it in wearable sensors, sports-tech, technical fabrics, as well as digital platforms that drive better human performance. And the global shift from some of the big retailers to require sustainability standards to be met by their suppliers is something that is long overdue – so that’s going to drive a lot of innovation on the product side.

Q: Personally, is there a piece of gear that you can’t live without in your day-to-day adventures?

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Most of my outdoor activity is focused on obstacle course racing. I’m lucky to live in Southern California where it’s mostly fine all year round - so I get to be outside pretty much every day of the year doing something.

One thing I can’t live without? That’s hard. But I’ve been swimming a lot lately and I’m loving these ROKA swim shorts. I’m also an Ambassador for 2XU so I’m usually head-to-toe in their gear on the running trails.

Q: As the former co-host of the CNBC outdoor investment show “Adventure Capitalists,” what made certain products or pitches stand out to you?

There were four things always in the back of my mind that drove my investment decisions on the show:

Firstly, how passionate was the founder about their business? It may sound trite but you need to separate those entrepreneurs that are truly passionate about their business from those that are treating it purely as a business/financial opportunity. Which leads me to my second point:

Was the entrepreneur an “authentic participant” in their market segment? Did they live and breathe the lifestyle they were representing? To me, if you’re not an active participant in your industry it’s a big red flag.

Thirdly, I looked for businesses that had the potential to massively disrupt existing markets and industries. So many companies in the outdoor industry just try to compete on brand - and sometimes that works (take “Stance” socks for example). However I was looking for businesses that weren’t just a “bit” better than the entrenched competitors – they had to be “massively better” in order to compete and displace the market leaders. Most of the time brand and a marketing budget is not enough.

And lastly, I looked for businesses that were potentially creating a completely new market segment. These are the businesses that you go away asking yourself “why didn’t I think of that?”. Those are the ones that are few and far between but which can really make a difference.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the Action Fund? Why is it important to support businesses and entrepreneurs that are looking to make a meaningful contribution to the world?

The Action Fund invests in companies that drive better outcomes for humans and the planet - and that covers everything from med-tech, health-tech, sustainable food and clothing solutions, nutrition, and digital and consumer health & wellness platforms. Unlike other venture funds that “dabble” in the sector, all of the partners and associates in The Action Fund are active participants in the sectors we invest in and we’re all immersed in the industry and culture. We’re investing in the future of humanity. I don’t think there is any better calling than that.

Q: As adventurers, we see a common tie between the risk we take in the mountains with the risk people take every day opening their own business. How does risk factor into your life in both business and outdoor adventure?

Everything we do that is challenging is usually risky at some level. The difference though is that not accounting for risk in the mountains more often than not has deadly consequences! Risk and reward are the balance of opposites for an entrepreneur. We all hear the highlights of business success but rarely do we hear the struggles and personal sacrifices that are made to the health, family, and social structure of our business leaders. Being an entrepreneur is accepting that your life is about swinging for the fences and that you are going to strike out a lot. But if you want the freedoms that success brings, then you have to weather the inevitable adversity that always precedes it.

Q: Why is important to remain adventurous and active throughout your life? How does the adventure mindset help as an entrepreneur?

I think there are a lot of clichéd answers here about risk and planning - or standing atop the mountain - or how business is an adventure etc. But look no further than Richard Branson or Yvon Chouinard. These guys broke the mold in terms of leading a life of adventure first - and building great businesses second. These guys are my business heroes.

Q: What words of wisdom can you share with small outdoor start ups wanting to stand out from the crowd?

Stand out from the crowd!


Learn more about Craig's work on www.craigcooper.net, and The Pitch event on July 24th at this summer's Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, CO.  

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5 Reasons Why Nepal Should Be Your Next Big Adventure

Nepal is truly world class destination -- it’s home to the eight highest peaks in the world, crystal clear glacial lakes, and enough adventure to keep any adrenaline junky busy for a lifetime. The bucket-list topper has long attracted avid adventurists from all over the globe to witness its other worldly views, however, traveling to Nepal doesn't have feel like a distant dream anymore. Here are a few reasons why...

 

IT'S INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE

Along with Nepal's mind-blowing views comes affordable trekking options. Some top adventure destinations can become costly due to increasing government fees or pricey food and drink. In Nepal, costs can be kelp low by working with operators who employ local guides and utilize local establishments. Not only will you get to learn so much more about local culture firsthand, you're supporting the local economy through sustainable and responsible tourism practices.

Make sure you stay in mountain lodges, or "Tea Houses," for a true Nepali trekking experience. They provide delicious meals, tea (of course!), and local hospitality all for the right price.

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THE FRIENDLY AND SPIRITUAL CULTURE

The people of Nepal are some of the most happy and accommodating that you'll ever meet. They are rich in hospitality and eager to share the values they live by. During your trip, you will be immersed in new colorful culture filled with art, traditions, festivals, lifestyle, and a rich history. Its wealth of religion is shared between 125 ethnic and cast groups as well as 123 dialects and languages. There is no shortage of world heritage sites that can be visited including stupas, temples, and ancient cities. Some favorites include:

  • Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.

  • Patan, known as the fine arts capital of Nepal. It's filled with century old temples, narrow walkways, and unique art

  • Bhaktapur. Here you can learn wood carving and pottery as well as witness Changu Narayan, the oldest temple in Nepal.


IT’S TEEMING WITH WILDLIFE

Travel southwest of Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park to see some of the best wildlife viewing Nepal has to offer. The area is a huge draw of nature enthusiasts from all over the world thanks to the 200+ species of birds and 43 mammal species throughout the region.

Take a jeep or elephant safari to spot rhinos, elephants, musk deer, crocodiles, and a Bengal tiger if you’re really lucky.

This subtropical and forested climate is home to the indigenous Tharu people who have lived in and around Chitwan for centuries. Don't forget to venture into town to chat with the locals and explore all that Chitwan has to offer.

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IT'S BEING AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

As global temperatures continue to rise, glaciers recede and valleys change shape. Like the rest of the world’s wild places, the Himalayan Mountains are experiencing these changes at an increasing rate.

With rapidly changing temps, Nepal's hiking seasons are shifting as well. While some hiking seasons are longer in certain regions, others are much shorter do due warmer or erratic weather.

There's no telling what the future has in store, but experiencing Nepal in all of its snow-capped brilliance should be part of yours.


THERE'S UNLIMITED MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE

There's a reason National Geographic named Nepal the best destination for Adventure Tourism in 2008–it’s every mountain enthusiast's dream. Luckily OneSeed shares in that dream with you, and that’s why we offer multiple adventures which will have you hiking or biking above the clouds. 

Is Mount Everest on your bucket list? Check out our 19 day Everest Base Camp trip for only $1,990. Along your trek, meet like-minded travelers during your stays in Tea-houses where you can relax, eat delicious food, and play games–including a friendly game of spoons with your guides.

Want to take your adventure to new heights? Try paragliding in Pokhara before or after your trek for an unforgettable view of the Annapurna Region.

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Win a Filmmaking Adventure to Tanzania!

Are you passionate about filmmaking? How about leaving a positive impact in the places you travel? 

Here's your big break...

We're excited to be the official travel partner for World Nomads' 2018 Travel Film Scholarship. We'll send one creative traveler to capture the diverse people, places, and wildlife that make Tanzania an adventure hot-spot. During this once in a lifetime opportunity, film in and around Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park to tell a compelling story of sustainable tourism and its impact. Explore the breath-taking Tanzanian landscape alongside your scholarship mentor - professional filmmaker, Brian Rapsey! 

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One Lucky Winner Will Receive:

  • Round-trip airfare to Tanzania.
  • 12-day, all-expenses-paid trip in Tanzania courtesy of OneSeed Expeditions.
  • Three-day post-production workshop with professional filmmaker and scholarship mentor, Brian Rapsey.
  • Camera bags and accessories from Langly.
  • Audio equipment courtesy of RØDE Microphones.
  • The cost of any relevant visas, vaccinations, and travel insurance covered by World Nomads.

OneSeed has operated in Tanzania since 2016, leading travelers to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and on camping and luxury safaris in the Serengeti. We employ local experienced guides and ensure that travel dollars directly support local economies and empower local entrepreneurs through our microfinance fund. If you would like to join us this fall, consider applying to be the 2018 scholarship recipient!

Scholarship Timeline:

  • Applications Open: Now - July 10th
  • Winner Announced: August 8th
  • Trip Departure: October 2018

Previous scholarship winners share their experience:

What Route Am I Trekking on Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a one of a kind experience that will, quite literally, take your breath away. While the weather can be unpredictable, the air thin, and temps can drop well below freezing near the top - it truly is an ecological marvel and worth every step to get there. Before taking on the highest freestanding mountain in the world, you’ll want to do some research and decide on the right route for you.

 Camping along the Lemosho route.

Camping along the Lemosho route.

Lemosho Route:

Newly added to OneSeed’s Kilimanjaro expeditions is the Lemosho Route. This route is approximately 42 miles round trip and is great for trekkers who have some hiking experience. However, those who make the Lemosho Route their first backpacking trip often are successful in reaching the summit with a success rate of around 85% for a seven day trek. The top of Kili can be reached from the Lemosho Route in six days to eight days depending on how much time you want for altitude acclimatization. Lemosho was incorporated to reduce bottlenecking along certain points of the trail. Plan to stay in tents along the trail.

Trip Length: 7 Days
Total Mileage: 42 miles
Summit Success Rate: 85%  
Accommodations: Tent Camping


 The view from Horombo Hut. Photo credit:  Thorsten Hansen

The view from Horombo Hut. Photo credit: Thorsten Hansen

Marangu Route

The Marangu Route, also known as the “Coca-Cola” route, is the oldest and most established route to Africa’s highest point. OneSeed runs the majority of group trips on the Marangu route and is the only path with mountain hut accommodations the entire way. While it can be completed in 5 days, it is recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatize at Horombo Hut. Many locals prefer this Marangu as it does not require you to hike in any camping gear.

Trip Length: 6 days
Total Mileage: 45 miles round trip
Summit Success Rate: 65%  
Accommodations: Mountain Huts


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Machame Route

The Machame route is the most popular path to the summit of Kili with about 50% of all climbers choose to do take this trail. Known as “The Whiskey Route” due to its rough and strenuous hiking conditions, hikers on the Machame route should expect steep inclines, longer distances, tent camping, and breathtaking views. While the hiking is more strenuous, the greater elevation loss and gain throughout the trek allows for better acclimatization, thus a higher summit success rate than Marangu. 

Trip Length: 6 days
Total Mileage: 42 Miles
Summit Success Rate: 73%
Accommodations: Tent Camping



 

 

 

Tea Houses in Nepal: Everything You Need to Know About Accommodations on the Trail

If you're heading to Nepal for a trekking expedition, expect to stay in the basic lodges that have sprung up along all the popular trekking routes in the Everest, Langtang, and Annapurna regions. Known to travelers as “tea houses,” these mountain shelters are a welcome sight after a tough day of trekking. But what exactly is a “tea house”...?

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Tea houses are accommodations along trekking routes in Nepal that offer basic lodging and meals. Many Sherpas in the Everest region own and operate tea houses along Everest’s trekking routes. To the west, the Annapurna region is protected in a vast conservation area managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). Tea houses in the Annapurna are monitored by the NTNC and must meet specific requirements including fixed pricing, standard menus, and limits on how many tea houses can be built along specific routes.

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In lower elevations, tea houses may be multi-story concrete buildings with private rooms and attached western style bathrooms. The further you hike up, the more basic the accommodations get. Base camp may include a dorm style shared room, boiling water (because it’s all frozen!), and a game of cards by solar light to conserve energy.  

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Dining / Communal Area

Every tea house has one large communal dining area with a wood burning stove in the center. It’s a great spot to meet other trekkers, swap stories, warm up, and sip tea while you watch the sunset over the mountains. Domestic tourism has skyrocketed in the past 6-7 years, and the growing number of Nepali trekkers coupled with an influx of international travelers can lead to overcrowding in the high seasons. At higher lodges, some travelers may sleep in the community room on extra cots or even tables if all the rooms are full.

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Private and Shared Rooms

Most tea houses more than a days walk from a town have a similar setup; two to three twin beds in every room, one overhead light (that works sometimes), a window and personal lock and key for your door. The beds are generally comfortable with a foam pad, pillow, and a blanket. We always ask travelers to bring a sleeping bag to ensure that you stay warm enough at night, and there is no guarantee of cleanliness when it comes to shared beds and sheets. A sleeping bag, or at least a liner in the warm months, is always a good idea. A solid pair of earplugs will also help ensure a good night’s sleep.

We always try to reserve single rooms for travelers who request it. At times, the trail gets so crowded that trekkers may be asked to share rooms to save space. While not ideal, it’s just a fact on the trail as tea houses are limited and everyone needs a place to sleep!

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Toilets and Showers

Tea houses will either have western style (sit down) toilets or the more traditional squat toilets found across Nepal. You never know which on you’re going to get, but the higher up you trek, it’s more likely to be the latter. Make sure to bring enough toilet paper for your entire trek and always have hand sanitizer nearby.

As for showers, they’re generally only available at the lower elevation tea houses and hot water is not always a guarantee. Wet wipes are your friend!

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Electricity and Wi-Fi

Many of Nepal’s tea houses are run on solar power, providing a renewable and clean way to keep the lights on. Sometimes the power needs to be conserved, especially if it’s cloudy during the day, so expect for some power outages or afternoons where the lights won’t turn on until there’s enough energy to get everyone through the night. The electricity can also be disrupted by bad weather and wind.

Some tea houses do have wifi for a small fee. Expect slow, dial-up-like speeds. Outlets are also available at the larger, concrete tea houses near towns, but just like the lights, may not always be running with electricity during the day. Expect limited to no power the higher up you go, although some tea house owners will let you use their power strip for $1-2/hr. If it’s a huge concern, bring an extra battery pack or small solar charger.

 

Food and Drinks

Tea, tea, and more tea! The name isn’t misleading. Often the first thing you’ll be greeted with at a tea house is a warm cup of black tea with sugar. If you’re hiking in the rain, snow, or wind it’s the perfect way to relax.

Meals are often cooked over a fire in the kitchen by the owners. While much of the food is delicious, especially the Nepali staples like momos and dal bhat, the quality of the Western style dishes will vary greatly. Here’s a typical list of what you can expect to order in a tea house:

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Breakfast:

  • Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, & juice
  • Eggs any style
  • Ham/bacon/sausage (if available)
  • Toast with butter/jam/honey
  • Chapati, Tibetan bread, muesli porridge
  • Hash brown potatoes
  • Pancakes/crepes

 

Lunch & Dinner:

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  • Pasta & noodles: chow mein, noodle soup, spaghetti, fried rice
  • Momos, dal bhat, pakauda
  • Popcorn, chips, potatoes
  • Spring rolls
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches & soup
  • Dessert (rice pudding, chocolate pudding, apple or banana fritters)

 

 

Definitely help yourself to the generous portions of dal bhat, Nepal’s local dish that literally means “lentils and rice.” Mostly vegetarian, but sometimes served with meat on request, this dish is a daily staple across Nepal.

If the tea house is under staffed, or there are an abundance of trekkers, guides and porters will often hop in the kitchen to lend a hand.

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Helpful Tips

Tea houses are a unique part of your trekking experience in Nepal and add to the warm and inviting hospitality found throughout this amazing country. Here are a few extra tips for prepping for your tea house stay:

  • Have some extra rupees on hand to purchase candy bars, beer, or other snacks.
  • The plywood walls separating rooms are very thin - a good pair or two of earplugs can do wonders.
  • Fleece pants and comfy sandals are key for post-hike relaxation.
  • Portable solar lights can provide some extra light if the electricity goes out (or if you forget a headlamp).
  • Cards and books are a great way to pass the time, and don’t forget to play a friendly game of spoons with your guides! Just keep an eye on the spoons, until you realize, there is no spoon….
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🎥 Footage from local tea houses along the Mardi Himal trek in the Annapurna region:

Playing Tejo in Colombia: The Subtle Art of Throwing Rocks at Gunpowder

So what do you need to play Colombia’s national sport? Beer. Gunpowder. And one good arm.

Tejo can be found throughout bars in Colombia and is a great way to throw a few back and keep your friends on their toes. The goal of the game is to throw your “tejo” (a weighted steel disc) inside the “bocin” (a metal ring) from over 70 feet away. The bocin is rigged with mechas, paper triangles filled with gunpowder. Hit a mecha and - BOOM.

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While explosions are certainly the attraction, the scoring is based more on accuracy:

9 points: the tejo lands in the bocin while also exploding one or more mechas
6 points: the tejo lands in the bocin without an explosion
3 points: exploding a mecha without landing the tejo in the bocin
1 point: landing closer to the bocin than your opponent

Games can be played between two people or in teams of up to six, with one throw for each player per round. If you have a knack for the game, you can throw the tejo to ensure it lands in the clay surrounding the bocin instead of bouncing off the walls and heading straight for someone’s drink.

It may seem pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of rules for more competitive games. More serious players frequent outdoor venues and sponsored professional teams and tournaments can be found all over the country.

For the true Colombia bar experience, head to a local spot and try your hand at this explosive game that you’ll likely never find in the states...

MFI Partner Spotlight: Banigualdad Foundation

Explore the World. Invest in People.

This has been our credo since 2011 and it drives our approach to adventure  travel, ensuring that 10% of your trip cost is invested in the local economy through microfinance institutions (MFIs). Thanks to our travelers, as of March 2018 over $2900,000 has been invested in small businesses around the world, with 90% funneled to women entrepreneurs. That’s 619 loans in 5 countries! (For most recent numbers, visit the Invest page)

The Banigualdad Foundation is instrumental in engaging our borrowers in Chile. Working directly with MFIs like Banigualdad ensures that local experts drive loan approval and investment. Whether it’s a training session on how to open a hair salon or seed funding that can turn a small cooking business into something more, Banigualdad helps through financial planning, training, and loan distribution for small-scale entrepreneurs.

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Banigualdad Foundation is non-profit foundation that has spent over 10 years providing small loans and training to groups of low-income entrepreneurs. They currently support more than 45,400 entrepreneurs from La Serena to Puerto Montt, with 89% of the beneficiaries being women and 53% heads of household.

The mission is to invest in entrepreneurs from vulnerable sectors throughout Chile so that through their own means and support, they can improve their quality of life and be an example for their communities.

Their work methodology is based on groups of at least 18 entrepreneurs who take out individual loans ranging from $165 to $1,650 but which are jointly guaranteed, that is, if one person can’t pay the weekly fee, the other 17 members assume it collectively (Banigualdad’s repayment rate is 99.9%).

Each loan, which has a fixed duration of 5 months, goes hand in hand with a weekly training provided by social workers who work in the field with entrepreneur groups. Subjects include business, finance, basic accounting, marketing, as well as personal development (self-knowledge, healthy eating, etc.).

Small business owners like Chilean artisan Karola Vera can access services that make opening or expanding a business more manageable. When she was unsure about how to move forward, Banigualdad stepped in to help guide Karola through the loan application process that allowed her to expand her craft business.

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I wanted to work and take care of my children at the same time. I have a craft business and work with recycled materials: the wood I use for hoops comes from furniture, copper from electrical installations, and leftover fabric that other artisans do not use...When I [needed] to invest in machines and keep growing, Banigualdad appeared. The loan and the training sessions have helped me a lot, as have networking with other entrepreneurs.
— Karola Vera, Los Lagos Region, Chile

For updates on the total amount invested with Banigualdad and our other MFI partners, please visit our Invest page. All numbers are updated quarterly. 

The Daily Q&A: 5 Questions for Chris Baker

2018 marks the first year that the outdoor industry's largest US trade show has been held in our hometown of Denver, CO and we couldn't be more excited. This past week we got to catch up with some of our close friends and favorite brands at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show.

The Daily featured a great spread on OneSeed Expeditions founder Chris Baker to share more about the state of adventure travel, the OneSeed Fund, and what's next for OneSeed Expeditions:

"The adventure travel industry is thinking about the footprint it leaves behind. Beyond the tourism dollars outfitters bring to remote parts of the world, Chris Baker, a former Teach For America Colorado corps member and Yale University graduate (where he spent a semester in Nepal), wanted to do more to invest in the communities he visited. In 2011, he founded OneSeed Expeditions with a unique model that inspires and funds entrepreneurism in parts of the world where a little money could go a long way. Here, Baker opens up about what adventure travelers want, plus, his latest business plan (Wayfinder Coop) and why Colorado and Outdoor Retailer are the perfect fit."

Full article: www.snewsnet.com/trade-show/the-daily-2018-day-four

Know Before You Go: Hiking Patagonia in the Winter

There's no denying the magic and beauty of Patagonia. The towering rock faces, pristine mountain lakes, and enormous glaciers provide a wild landscape for those adventurous enough to trek there. And while most folks venture down during the warmer months, there's really nothing more off-the-beaten-path than hiking the crowdless snowy trails next to fresh puma tracks.

So what should you know before you go? Esther and Jacob of the popular travel blog Local Adventurer were the first to try our Winter Patagonia Expedition last fall. Watch their expedition video with stunning footage and helpful tips about what to expect.

Pack it up! Picking the right pack for your expedition

Your tickets are booked. You're checking and re-checking your packing list. Expedition planning is in full force.

Perhaps you're heading out for Patagonia, Peru, Kilimanjaro, or Everest Base Camp--chances are you need to think about pack selection.

The options can be a bit overwhelming. OneSeed is here to help.

1) CHECK YOUR PACKING LIST

On trips with pack animals or vehicle transport, a sturdy duffle can do just fine. On trips where you'll be carrying your own pack, a well-fit expedition pack will be important. Read your packing list carefully and let us know if you have any questions about which type of pack(s) you'll need. 

2) PICK YOUR PACK

We're partial to the goods over at MHM Gear. MHM makes beautifully designed packs with all the right features. They offer the full spectrum of pack sizes so you can pick the perfect pack for your expedition. 

First, let's talk about day packs. 

Day Packs

For nearly all OneSeed trips, you'll need a daypack. This 20-30L pack will be used to carry water, extra layers, camera, etc. while on the trail or navigating cities. This pack should be compact with the ability to stuff down into your larger pack when needed.

We like MHM's Switch 26L pack. With the signature S-zip for quick access and just enough capacity for your daily needs, the Switch is the ideal day pack for most of our expeditions. Its nine (!) pockets make for easy organization and its slick design makes you look cooler than your friends.

Expedition Packs

On some of your trips (like our trips in Patagonia), you'll need to bring a larger expedition pack that you'll carry yourself. A good expedition pack will be 50-65L and will be used to carry all of your personal gear during your time on the trail. We like the Divide 65 pack or the slightly smaller Sultan 50. Both packs are light weight and thoughtfully designed with hidden surprises like internal dry sacs and pivoting hip belts. These big haulers will get the job done on multi-day pushes.  

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3) DO YOUR RESEARCH

Wherever you get your gear, take the time to weigh the tradeoffs of each design and get comfortable carrying your pack as you train for your expedition. 

We especially appreciate the scientific method and a good field test:

OneSeed Summit

OneSeed Summit 2017

It's almost that time again!

This August 14-23, we're gathering the crew once more at our headquarters in Denver, CO. We'll be joined by country directors from around the world who will converge on Denver for 10 days of training, sharing, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. 

 OneSeed Nepal's Tek Bahadur Dong shares some tips with OneSeed Chile's Sergio Nuñez.

OneSeed Nepal's Tek Bahadur Dong shares some tips with OneSeed Chile's Sergio Nuñez.

OneSeed Summit 2015

We're not much for power point presentations here at OneSeed. When we want to do some company-wide learning, we head for the hills. 

This year, we took the whole crew to Nepal. 

Following the earthquakes of Spring 2015, we decided this was the right time to show our commitment to Nepal and our team of guides that work throughout the Himalaya. 

Over the course of two weeks, our team hiked through the Langtang region, shared best practices, and led guide trainings for our growing Nepal team. 

 We're off! The OneSeed crew heads for the hills. 

We're off! The OneSeed crew heads for the hills. 

 Not a bad place to do some staff development. 

Not a bad place to do some staff development. 

Packing for Machu Picchu? Here Are Some Tips

Your trip to Machu Picchu has been booked, now it’s time to get packing. Smart packing will make your hiking experience much more enjoyable as you’ll be prepared for any conditions you encounter. A trek to Machu Picchu is a one-of-a-kind experience that requires 5-10 hours of trekking each day.

No matter the season, you should expect rain and always pack accordingly. Since there is always a possibility of rain or cold weather, we recommend that you bring waterproof pants, a down jacket, gloves, a wool hat, and long synthetic underwear (see packing list here). At high altitude, it’s not just the cold you have to worry about. You must also prepare for the high altitude sun with sunscreen and sunglasses for those warmer and sunnier days. Check out current weather here.

On some of the hiking days, you will stay overnight at campsites which is why you’ll need to bring basic camping items such as a sleeping bag, toilet paper, Bitty bags, insect repellent, and a quick- dry towel. In addition to your camping gear, you’ll also want to bring a day pack in which you’ll carry personal toiletries, medicine, an extra layer of clothing, your camera, and other items you’ll need throughout the day.

While you’ll spend most of your time on the trail, don’t forget to pack for your time in the city as well! On those days when you’re not hiking, you’ll want clean, casual clothes for exploring the cities of Cusco and Aguas Calientes.

Have any questions as you prepare for your trip? Give our team a call at 303-586-4723 or email us anytime.

What's the Weather Like at Machu Picchu?

If you're considering a trip to Machu Picchu, it's a good idea to learn what the temperature and precipitation will be like by month. While weather is always a bit unpredictable, being prepared for seasonal changes on the trail is a good place to start.

Average temperatures throughout the year:

Average temperatures (in Fahrenheit) may reach the high 60’s but can drop as low as low 30’s. It is important to note that during the day it may be warm but as the sun goes down temperatures can drop up to 30 degrees. For current weather updates, click on the Current Weather link.

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Source: www.weather-and-climate.com

Average precipitation throughout the year:

The rainy months are usually October to March and the driest season is typically April to September.

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Source: https://www.machupicchutrek.net/best-time-to-hike-machu-picchu/    

Weather on the trail to Machu Picchu is always changing and impossible to predict. Carefully following the expedition packing list will keep you prepared for any conditions. For more information on what to pack, don’t hesitate to contact our team anytime.

Tipping in Tanzania

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is an experience of a lifetime! From the sea of stars at night to the breathtaking sunrise at summit, there are countless moments you'll never forget. One common misconception is how many staff members it takes to help hikers reach the "top of Africa". Each group requires a skilled team of guides, porters and cooks and because nothing can be stored on the mountain, everything from food and utensils to clothing and sleeping bags are carried up and down by porters. Clients often want to know how many staff members to anticipate and how to accurately tip each individual. OneSeed's philosophy is tips are "never required, but always appreciated." The chart below will serve as a good guide when considering a tip at the end of your trek. Regardless of the size of your expedition, we recommend budgeting around $250 - $350 for the trekking portion of your expedition. If you're also doing the camping safari, we recommend budgeting around $50 - $100. 

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FAQs REGARDING TIPPING:

When can I tip? There will be time on the final day of the mountain when you descend from Horombo Hut back down to the entrance gates to tip your staff. We suggest tipping the cooks and porters before arriving back to the entrance gates because there can be a lot of distractions (souvenir vendors, etc.) once you complete the trek. You can then individually tip your guides either on the last day or once you descend down to the entrance gates. 

In which currency can I tip? You can tip in Tanzania Schillings (TZS) or US Dollars but for simplicity-sake, we suggest tipping in USD. Be sure to bring small bills (nothing higher than $20)!

How do I know the total number of staff members? Ask one of your guides! They are happy to provide you with information on the total number of porters and cooks.

Anything else I should know? Most porters do not assist on the final summit but depending on the group size and pace, a few porters may join to help. It is common to tip these porters an additional ~$20 total from the group when tipping them. 

Want to learn more about how OneSeed Expeditions and the Kilimanjaro Porters Association Project work to protect the porter's working conditions on the mountain?

Still confused on tipping? Contact us at go@oneseedexpeditions.com

OneStory: Life at 3mph

The OneSeed OneStory series highlights the work of innovators and changemakers around the world. Interested in sharing your story? Contact us at info@oneseedexpeditions.com.

We often think of adventure and exploration in terms of the remote and exotic. We summit peaks and explore the unchartered pieces of the map. But there's something to be said for the type of exploration that come from simply slowing down and noticing the world around you. Walk2Connect, a Denver-based walking cooperative is doing just that.

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Launched by Jonathon Stalls following a 3,030 mile walk across the U.S. in 2010, Walk2Connect "works hard to help people and communities become healthier and more connected while also advancing awareness on the importance of walkable community design and the pedestrian experience."

With their team of six Professional Member-Owners, over 200 trained Walking Movement Leaders, 150 Life@3MPH Champions, and a host of Community Partners, Walk2Connect leads 30-45 walking, hiking, and rambling experiences throughout Colorado every week. In 2015, they hosted over 877 walking trips across open spaces, down city alleyways, and through some of the forgotten corners of the Denver metro area. 

"We're a walking platform for people, places, and community," says Stalls. "Walk2Connect is a grassroots movement connecting people to others, to the places they live, and to themselves at a one to three mile per hour pace. As our co-op culture expands and we inspire more individuals and communities to move and connect in this way, we hope to slowly launch new strategies for planting new walking communities outside of Colorado."

Whether you're gearing up for your next expedition or you just got back from a trek that you can't let go, Walk2Connect provides the community to keep on truckin'. 

 

Interested in learning more? Join the movement: http://walk2connect.com

Interested in exploring partnership opportunities? Follow #lifeat3mph to share your walking stories and to stay engaged with the movement.