Spoilt for choice, if you want to stay in a family/community homestays in Nepal, then there are now more than 20 listed on the Community Homestay Network; with new ones joining all the time.
Mainly managed by women, they are given training and support from Royal Mountain Travel to be able to welcome guests into their homes in a sustainable and well-organised manner. Set up by Royal Mountain Travel is a corporate giving strategy, CHN works on a non-profit basis and is now working with 21 community homestays all over Nepal.
The diversity in Nepal means that no homestay experience is the same. Scattered all over the country, there is a wide range of cultural heritage, traditions, scenery, things to do and cuisines!
I have had the opportunity to visit many of these communities in the early days. Obviously the priorities of guests – tourists who usually have little idea of life in these rural villages – is that most need access to clean, comfortable beds and good bathroom facilities.
While some homestays in small villages tend to be more basic, generally those located in the Kathmandu Valley. Likewise, in towns such as Tansen tend to be more comfortable. However, even in the most rural and simple accommodation, outside toilets will not be far and everything is clean.
Depending on your time duration and how far you want to go, and perhaps the level of comfort, you have a wide choice. There are seven community homestays in and around Kathmandu, all within about two hours drive from Kathmandu.
Community Homestays in Nepal
There are a few new ones, added during the pandemic, that I have not yet had the opportunity to visit. But here I will describe my top 10 personal favourite community homestays in Nepal. These community homestays are the places where I have been and of which I have special memories.
Panauti Community Homestay
The first and the flagship, Panauti community homestay started out when the wife of an employee working for Royal Mountain Travel was encouraged to help organise a group of women to make available one or two rooms in their homes for guests to stay in. At the time, many of the women spoke very little English. They had to rely on their children to translate and help teach them the basics of English. Panaulti itself has much to offer visitors. About two hours from Kathmandu, this small historic town is home to the lush countryside of the Kathmandu Valley. Panauti is easy to reach and has lots of interest in its beautifully preserved old town centre. I first visited Panauti in 1994 on my first trip to Nepal. Apart from some changes in dress and perhaps the number of vehicles, not much has changed; it is still possible to see girls winnowing the rice in the streets.
Every time I return to Nepal, I always try to fit in a visit to Panauti. Just to say hello to old friends and to bring my friends here.Continue reading