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Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and Volunteering in Nepal

Trek up to the sacred Annapurna Sanctuary and contribute to local community empowerment initiatives in Pokhara.

Program Code: NPHE0865A

Program Information

Hike up to the natural amphitheater of Annapurna Sanctuary, surrounded by the Annapurna peaks, one of which, Annapurna I, is the 10th tallest mountain in the world. Spend nearly two weeks trekking through the surprising tropical slopes up to the icy regions above 3000 metres elevation. Afterwards, volunteer on a range of sustainable development projects.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Journey to the mythical Annapurna Sanctuary, traditionally held to be the home of the gods. Your trip starts in Pokhara, a meeting place for international visitors looking to climb the Himalayas, with a tour of the old bazar and several Hindu temples. You then start your trek to Annapurna Base Camp through the Annapurna Conservation Area, known for its unique biodiversity and diversity of cultural communities that speak their own distinct languages. It is home to the world’s largest rhododendron forest and the world’s deepest river gorge both of which you pass on your trip up to the Sanctuary.

There is the opportunity of an immersive cultural experience on the Annapurna trip. The population along the trail to Everest Base Camp traditionally subscribe to a mostly Tibetan Buddhist way of life, while The Annapurna Sanctuary trek features Gurung, Thakali, and Manangba communities, among others, and practice a range of cultural and religious traditions.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ascend to over 4000 metres above sea level and view the peak of the 10th tallest mountain in the world.

  • Experience the natural beauty of the Annapurna Conservation Area.

  • Immerse yourself in the range of Nepalese cultural traditions unique to the Annapurna region.

  • Contribute to international development of Nepal by contributing to education, gender equality, healthcare, as well as economic and professional development in Pokhara.

  • Live with other participants from all over the world in a Nepalese homestay in Pokhara, a bonding experience that often results in life-long friendships.

Program Details

Further Program Details

This program is an excellent option for those interested in both trekking and volunteering. You will experience walking through Gurung, Thakali and Manangba communities and will experience a range of cultural and religious traditions.

Afterward the trek you will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing sustainable development initiatives in Pokhara. Each of our international development projects around the world are aligned to one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The main goals in Pokhara include #3, Good Health and Well-being, #4 Quality Education, #5, Gender Equality, and #15 Life on Land. After undergoing training volunteers on this program can contribute to these goals by assisting with education at schools, the construction or renovation of academic facilities, preventative healthcare workshops, environmental awareness classes, and professional development facilitation for women. GVI volunteers in Nepal stay with other volunteers, interns, and staff, at a local Nepalese homestay, allowing them to form close bonds with international participants from all over the world, immerse themselves fulling in Nepalese culture, and be supported throughout the entire journey.

*Please note that the trekking aspect of this program requires that participants to be physically fit.

*There are many cultural and religious festivals throughout the year in Nepal, and during these times schools tend to close to allow students to participate in the festivities. In addition, teaching is also not conducted during exam periods. During these periods we may run programs slightly different to our regular schedule. It is possible that during these periods you might support the running of 'holiday programs’ for young students, create lesson plans and resources to support educational initiatives, facilitate adult education programs, or assist with infrastructure development work to improve educational facilities. We would of course also like our participants to experience the local customs of the Nepalese festivities themselves. Although not always feasible, depending on the needs of the project at time and the nature of the festivities, there might be a chance to experience these festivals first-hand, including the traditional songs, dances, food, dress, and symbolic rituals unique to Nepalese cultures.

*When trekking, there is some risk of landslides, ice slides, and heavy snow falls. We partner with an organisation whose guides know the area well and are trained to monitor changing conditions and other risk factors. You will receive a full briefing before the trek as well as a daily briefing. All guides are first aid trained

Life On Base

TREKKING
For the first two nights of the program and the final night of the trek, volunteers will be staying at a hotel in Pokhara. During the trek, the main accommodation will be small Himalayan lodges known as ‘teahouses’. While the facilities are more basic than accommodation found in cities, these lodges offer stunning views and a chance to learn more about the diverse cultures of the region. Most of these lodges are small, have only eight to twelve rooms available, and can only sleep between fifteen to twenty people. Staying at these teahouses, allows tourists to support small, growing, family-owned businesses in the region. Most are also now up-to-date with the latest ecotourism practices.

Dishes offered at tea houses depend largely on the traditions of the owners. They offer visitors a chance to experience a diversity of authentic Nepalese food. Breakfasts include elements that most westerners would expect like eggs, porridge, tea and coffee, as well as local fare like chapati and gurung bread. Lunch at tea houses usually consist of a hot meal featuring typical Nepalese cuisine, including common ingredients like rice, lentils, and potatoes. When trekking through high passes, a packed lunch of sandwiches, bread with jam, honey, and peanut button, boiled eggs, fruits, chocolates, and juice, will be provided. Tea and coffee will be provided on arrival at the local teahouse. Dinner is usually also features local Nepalese dishes. However, Teahouse chefs are well-trained to create a range of dishes, including western favourites like pizza, pasta, chips, and cake. They are usually willing to create a dish based on a specific request. Vegetarianism is traditionally common in Nepal, and it is rather easily to find meals catering to these requirements.

VOLUNTEERING
During the volunteering aspect of your program, you will stay with other GVI volunteers, interns, and staff at a local homestay in Pokhara. This is truly a communal setting, with shared bedroom and bathroom facilities. The home is owned by a Nepalese family, allowing you to learn about Nepalese culture first-hand. Other accommodation is available for those who would like a more private setting. Speak to your enrolment manager to learn more about these accommodation upgrades.

Project Details

TREKKING
This program starts with the 12-day trek up to Annapurna Base Camp and back. This trek follows a trail mostly through the tropical forest lining the Southern side of the slope leading up to the Annapurna Sanctuary plateau. Throughout the trek you will be able to see Annapurna I to IV, Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre, and Hiunchuli. The trek starts in Pokhara and includes a tour of the city. Each day includes about five to seven hours of hiking and the maximum altitude reached is about 4130 metres.

VOLUNTEERING
Contribute to the educational development of children and professional development of women and other community members. Projects might include supporting English language lessons or computer skills classes. You might also assist GVI staff with conducting conservation awareness workshops. Training is provided to all volunteers and interns by experienced GVI staff before going on to join the various ongoing projects. Depending on their needs and interests volunteers might teach students from preschool age through to high school or support professional development classes in partnership with women’s empowerment groups.

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. This also helps our local partners to measure and visualise their own contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to the GVI base in your selected location, you will be learn about the history of the UN SDGs, as well as the specific goals of your location and their related the long-, mid- and short-term objectives. You will also learn how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a long-term global level.

Learn about local and global issues, so that you continue to act as an active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Nepal's short, mid, and long-term objectives:

  1. Support students to reach developmental and learning goals appropriate to their age.

  2. Support English language learning for students and local community members.

  3. Increase awareness of preventative healthcare practices in the local community.

  4. Support professional development for women in the community.

  5. Contribute to improving facilities to assist with improving health and safety standards and educational objectives.

  6. Raise awareness of environmental issues among GVI volunteers, interns, and staff, and the local community. Ensure a minimal environmental impact on the area of Lakeside, in which we are based.

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


For All GVI Participants

Welcome Presentation

Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.


Health and Safety Training

Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.


Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Participating on a program with GVI not only allows you to assist in local communities or work with endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships as established on the program.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Nepal:

Included Side Trips
As a part of your orientation, you will visit the Tal Bahari Hindu temple, a local monastery and participate in a cooking lesson. You will also have a local tour and Nepali language lesson.  


Optional Side Trips
Nepal also continues to surprise, by providing some incredible sightseeing opportunities at every corner. Apart from sightseeing in Kathmandu and Pokhara, perhaps coming across tigers and rhinos in Chitwan National Park. Nepal also boasts some of the best trekking trails in the world. There are numerous trekking opportunities not to far from our base which cater for a range of fitness levels and abilities.  Our local staff can help you find the right trek for you.


Further Travelling Opportunities
There are a wealth of opportunities in Nepal for further travel and exploration of the rest of the country. This can include Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, Chitwan National Park, treks in the Annupurna ranges, visits to some of the many UNESCO world heritage sites such as Pashupatinath and Boudhanath and of course Nepal’s most famous attraction, Mount Everest, which you can see either by or walking the famous Everest Base Camp trek or taking a stunning scenic flight.

Additional travel could include the foothills of the Himalayas in Langtang National Park, the ancient temples and villages of Tansen, Newari architecture in Bandipur, the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp, the ancient Hindu centre of Janakpur, and so many other options that will leave you questioning why you didn’t extend your trip in the first place.

Meet The Team

Jill Walker

Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!

Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Select a Start Date

  • 2019

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £15
 
+ £195
 

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Pokhara's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVINepalPokhara

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.