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Honey Hunting Nepal

Abhishek Subedi June 10, 2020

Honey Hunting in Nepal is one of the most amazing adventure tours in Nepal. It is an age old tradition usually practiced among the Gurung and Magar community in Bhujung and Pas Gaun. This is the tradition which is observed twice in a year, especially during spring and autumn. Twice a year high in the Himalayan foothills  of central Nepal teams of men gather around cliffs that are home to the world’s largest honeybee, Apis laboriosa. As they have for generations, the men come to harvest the Himalayan cliff bee’s honey. The harvest ritual, which varies slightly from community to community, begins with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice. 

Honey Hunting Nepal

It is found that honey hunting has been done since 13000 BC. This ancestral job still continues in many rural villages to reduce the problem of bread and butter. The pure cliff honey cost a fortune in the market area.  The introduction of non indigenous plant species and the European honey bee Apis mellifera have put lots of pressure on these local bees to compete and they need to fly further and further to forage their preferred plant species. This along with over harvesting has resulted in the bees’ decline. The Himalayan honey bees project for the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu has been actively involved in sustainable management of honey hunting and work with the local communities to ensure the survival of the species.

How Honey Hunting is done

The harvest season is observed twice a year in the Gurung and Magar community of the upper Himalayas in Pokhara region. Mainly, the strong and skilled man goes to collect the honey. This tradition is passed from generations to generations as the age old professions. It has helped many communities to run their household and earn bread and rice for the family. Usually, this ritual varies from the community to community but it begins with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits and rice. Then, they mark their journey towards the cliffs of the hills with all the necessary equipment.

Honey Hunting Nepal

 They lit a fire at the base of the cliff to make smoke in order to let out the bees from the honeycombs. From above, a honey hunter descends the cliff harnessed to a ladder by ropes. As his mates secure the rope and ladder from the top and ferry tools up down as required. The honey hunter fights territorial bees as he cuts out chunks of honey from the comb. This is the best opportunity for the travelers to view and experience the traditional honey harvest of the Gurung and Magar people. The bees Apis laboriosa and Apis dorsata are indigenous to the region and the traditional methods of harvesting the honey on steep cliffs have remained unchanged for generations.  A large section of travelers are increasingly showing interest in honey hunting, making it one of the most desired tours in Nepal.

Day 1 Drive from Kathmandu to Khudi via Besisahar

The ride from Kathmandu to Khudi takes about 7- 8 hours. It is a ride full of scenic views of hills, landscapes, river valleys and Trishuli river until you reach the Siddha Cave. You can visit this amazing cave along the way and explore the surrounding area. From here the road goes along the Marsyangdi River and the rolling hills which is one of the best stunning and scenic long drives. You drive along the Prithvi highway across beautiful villages, local people, and landscapes and all the way you drive along the river valley. The tour to Buddha Monasteries and Khudi Bazaar will bring you a lot of opportunities to study more about the local culture.

Day 2 Hike to honey hunting Site and Honey hunting Village

The day starts after the quick breakfast in the beautiful and traditional guest house of the village. The travelers will mark their journey towards the honey hunting village and hunting sites. There they can witness the traditional way of collecting the honey from the cliffs. It is one of the best adventurous activities to witness in Nepal where young men without the use of any modern equipment collect the honey from the cliff risking their life. You will also visit some of the Magar and Gurung communities of Baglung and Pas Gaun which are famous for honey hunting. Travelers will take a short tour around the village and exchange the conversation with people. You would receive a hearty welcome by the villagers and can enjoy Gurung culture dances after dinner. 

Day 3 Trek to honey hunting site

The travelers have to hike for about 6 to 7 hours to reach the honey hunting site. This day you can be the part of honey hunters and continue honey hunting. Honey hunting in Nepal with local knowledge is a tough job. But dare to hunt honey with them and you will have the best adventure experience of honey hunting.  The day is to enjoy the few hours walk from the honey hunting site. You can observe their traditional way of praying before they go hunting.  The travelers can view the heart thrilling honey hunting program at the cliff. After you enjoy the hunting program, return back to the base camp village. In the evening, you will spend a few moments enjoying culture dances of mother union.

 Day 4 Trek to Khudi

You will leave the village with the beautiful and thrilling memories. The excitement of honey hunting will be your lifetime achievement. The hike starts after the hearty breakfast and the lovely farewell from the Gurung people. It takes about 6 to 7 hours of walk from the village to Khudi.  Along the way you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes, lush green forests and paddy fields. You can also refresh your tired and sweaty body by taking a quick dip at the Natural swimming pool. The travelers can even go for an evening walk at the banks of the Marshyangdi River and Khudi stream. You can enjoy the cool and fresh evening breeze with the views of the beautiful Himalayas and landscapes.

Day 5 Drive from Khudi to Kathmandu

The ride from the Khudi to reach the Kathmandu Valley takes about 6 to 7 hours. You will drive along the Prithvi Highway across beautiful villages, colorful people, landscapes. The ride will make you feel like you are one with the huge and beautiful Trishuli river.

Honey Hunting is one of the oldest traditions of Nepal which has been passed from generations to generations. This is the best adventure the visitors can enjoy and taste the delicious local honey without any harmful chemicals and preservatives.  You can observe the culture and traditions of the beautiful and humble Gurung people.

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