Travel pages on Instagram that motivate you to pack your bags and explore Nepal
The year 2020 is to be the ‘Visit Nepal’ year and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) reported an unprecedented surge in the numbers of both domestic and international tourists in the years leading up to 2020. Among the various factors that have played a role this, the growing influence of social media is particularly significant. Travel pages on various social media platforms have thousands of followers. Such travel pages have helped connect local service providers to prospective travelers, and thus aided in making traveling both comfortable and affordable. With improved systems of communication and an increasing number of people taking interest in the wilderness, the surge in numbers isn’t very surprising. The Week’s Rakshya Khadka selects a few travel pages that not only feature breathtaking landscapes and local stories but have also contributed in increasing footfall at some remote areas of the country.
The travel enthusiasts
Kanchan Rai loved traveling and posting pictures of himself at his new place of visit. But for him, taking pictures was about fitting the view into his shots and not fitting himself in the scene. He did it like most people usually do, but it was only after his brother pointed out that he would rather see the place than his face that he realized he was missing the point of travel pictures. He then began prioritizing the scenes.
Following this, his band of friends, all travel enthusiasts, and Kanchan opened a website to post their travel stories and pictures. “Our intention then was to include advertisements on our posts so that we could finance our next trip,” he says. Although their work today involves connecting travelers and sharing their stories, they launched Ghumante without any such motivation. The name ‘Ghumante’ (a Nepali slang for a travel enthusiast) was chosen to reflect the spirits of travel fanatics.
But the page gradually expanded on its own accord. It seemed to the team that there were many Nepalis who wished to travel but didn’t because they were convinced that there would be a lack of amenities. Ghumante soon created its Facebook and Instagram page and a great number of people enthusiastically followed them and kept tabs on all the recent posts.
Today, Ghumante is a network of photographers and independent travelers, video makers who post their travel stories and make videos of their trips. Contributors often bring in their own stories too. And they have travel blogs depicting local life. As Kanchan explains their work has been of great pleasure to them. “We get messages from people telling us that they visited a certain location because of a post we put up. As travelers we realize the importance of more domestic and international visitors to help the locals,” he concludes.
It’s the journey that counts
Odyssey Nepal is Aditya Lama’s solo venture. Aditya, like many young people, realized the sheer power of social media in bringing about attention to all kinds of things. There were pages running in Nepal (on Instagram) featuring scenes from daily lives, Nepali gags and captures of the majestic mountains. As a tourism student, he felt the need to make use of this platform and therefore opened the page, Odyssey Nepal. However, he wanted to promote his page particularly among the international crowd.
“Of course we ought to encourage Nepalis to travel in their own country but it is just as much important to show what Nepal has to offer to the world. Traveling in Nepal is a beautiful journey (thus the name Odyssey) and I wanted to show that to a larger audience,” he says
Although a very experienced traveler himself, Aditya has rarely posted his own travel pictures. This, he admits, is because of his limited photography skills. “Somehow I could never capture pictures that did any justice to the scenes but there were others, fantastic photographers who could. Odyssey Nepal is a platform for such people,” he shares.
Most posts on Odyssey Nepal come from contributors. Travelers who wish to share their stories but have limited exposure on their own personal accounts share their stories on Odyssey Nepal that has 11,000 followers. Often they share their experiences and the insights they gained on their travels. They write about honey hunting, the lone airports on high altitudes, and the tiring hikes to Rara Lake. With two to three posts everyday, there’s something for everyone.
Most reach out to Aditya and enquire in regards to the locations, the means of travel and basic facilities. He then links them up with guides and, should they request, arranges for customized tour packages. Having worked in the industry for several years, Aditya is good at it too. He is also in the process of launching his own trekking agency.
The purpose of Odyssey Nepal was to provide free information to prospective international tourists; to bring attention to the unparalleled naturalness of Nepal and Aditya believes that he has achieved this to a large extent. But he also confesses that there’s a lot more to do and a lot more to share.
The wonder makers
“Heaven in a myth, Nepal is real.”
With an Instagram following of nearly 93,000, Nepal 8th Wonder of the World is one of the most followed non-celebrity Nepali pages on the social media platform. And they didn’t do it overnight. Hemanta Bhandari started Nepal 8th Wonder from a page on Facebook back in 2012. The account on Instagram was opened on 2015.
As a traveler himself, Hemanta saw how unaware the Nepali crowd was about their own country’s destinations. “It seemed to me that people knew more about destinations abroad than they did about those here. Up in the mountains there were more foreigners than Nepalis and that was very upsetting. I wanted to do something about this,” he claims. There are more places to visit than just Pokhara and Chitwan, he wanted to let people know this
Facebook had taken over the Nepali crowd then, so he made use of that. He posted his travel stories and those of his friends and steadily gained a following. He realized that it wasn’t so much a lack of interest in the Nepalis that kept them from traveling. It was because of the complete lack of information. He feels those who actively seek information or work in the industry ought to take responsibility to share what they know.
As a video maker by profession Hemanta wanted to make use of his travels, his audience and his own expertise to make travel vlogs. Every month the team behind Nepal 8th Wonder (cinematographers, travelers, editors) post a travel vlog on their YouTube channel. It is one journey undertaken by a team of travelers captured in all its spontaneity. So far, five episodes are out.
The team behind Nepal 8th Wonder (led by Hemanta) has realized the impact they have had in connecting local service providers and travelers. Neglected areas of Nepal are starting to get noticed and the number of visitors is increasing. People from various countries are showing genuine interest in the locations and regularly message them asking for details. Seeing their work have this kind of impact is what keeps the team going.