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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

 
Remote-Working Friendly
 
Reliable WIFI
 
Part-Time Options

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 the 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
 
Flexibility
Change your location and dates free of charge.
 
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
 
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2022

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

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.

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.


The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

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.


Live 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. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. 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.


 
 
 

COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Flights

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As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.

We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness, harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.

Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Meet the team - Senior Field Management

Hannah Westcott

Program Manager

This is Hannah, the Program Manager at GVI’s base in Pokhara, Nepal. She has been visiting Nepal for several years now, mostly working in Kathmandu. When she heard about the opportunity with GVI she was very excited, acknowledging that GVI is a purpose-driven organisation, which she respects and values.


Hannah believes that the small things are what have a large impact on communities. The projects she has been working with include teaching, women's empowerment and more. Hannah can observe the positive change the work brings to the communities. On top of this, she also sees the change that the work can have on the volunteers and how it develops them in their journeys.

Meet the team - In-Country Staff

Rhythm Gautam

Teaching Coordinator
This is Rhythm! He is 22 years old and was born and raised in Pokhara, Nepal. He was originally a trekking guide, then the opportunity to become a Teaching Coordinator popped up and he got involved. At the moment he teaches both Englishs and Math to partner schools for grades one to five.

Sita Thapa

Project Coordinator

Meet Sita. Sita is one of the Project Coordinator for the Women's Empowerment project in Pokhara, Nepal.


She has been with GVI for a year now, and it has since become family for her. As part of her role she works with community members and leads volunteers. She finds inspiration working with volunteers and is grateful to do the work she does, empowering women in different ways.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. 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. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as 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.


Early Childhood Development and Education


We support several educational facilities for young students in Nepal. GVI participants contribute by improving the infrastructure of learning environments, developing educational resources, and helping students achieve learning objectives. In addition, GVI staff and participants also sometimes run informal educational workshops with students from the local community. Subjects we support include English language learning, maths, science, and computer skills. With younger students arts and crafts lessons are held to promote fine motor skills development. Sports lessons help promote gross motor skills development, teamwork, and healthy lifestyle.


Preventative Healthcare


GVI participants support health in Nepal by conducting WASH, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, workshops. This includes facilitating practices like hand washing and tooth brushing in the local community.


Women’s Empowerment


Staff and participants contributing to our women’s empowerment program in Nepal participated in a number of educational and professional development workshops. These encompass many subjects but might include lessons on topics like conversational English, mathematics, resume writing, and alternative income generation. In addition we also support women’s health workshops to address issues like prenatal health and human rights presentations to address the prevalence of human trafficking in the region.


All these initiatives offer support to the community and local partners, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #4 – Quality Education, #3, Health and Wellbeing, #5 – Gender Equality and #6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.


Our Partners In Pokhara

Project Objectives

Pokhara’s Long-term Objectives:


1. Providing support to students to reach learning goals appropriate to their age, grade level, or individual needs through increasing access to educational resources and their effective use in providing quality learning experiences.


2. Increasing the knowledge and understanding of healthcare in the community with an emphasis on prevention, and developing health-related skills such as Emergency First Aid.


3. Increasing professional and vocational skills held by women in the community, through education and empowerment.


Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


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.


 


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


 

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 every 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 conducted, 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.


Program Ethics

 

NO ORPHANAGE PROGRAMS

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

CHILD AND VULNERABLE ADULT PROTECTION POLICY

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

NO MEDICAL VOLUNTEERING

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

NO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAMS

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Qualifications

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, 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.

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.


 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.

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.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

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.


What's Included

General
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

24-hour emergency desk

24-hour in-country support

Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)

All project equipment

Food (except on long-term internship placements

Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)

Pre-Program Training
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Group introductory call

Welcome presentation

Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Endorsed Leadership Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond
Project Work
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Sustainable project work

Leadership responsibilities

Data collection and research

Real projects with partners

Remote Support
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Program training

Tailored to your location and program focus

Remote Internship Supervisor

Remote Academic Internship Supervisor

Remote Career Internship Supervisor

Post-Program
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Preferential recruitment on GVI positions

Job portal access

Endorsed Careers Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Career coaching sessions(x2)

Job guarantee (6 month minimum)

Certificates & Achievements
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

PDF reference - upon request

Linkedin reference and skills endorsement

Exclusions

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date. The itinerary shown below has been followed by our staff and group volunteers in the past.

Saturday

Join the GVI team at a prearranged meeting point. You’ll also be introduced to the local guide who will be leading you on your trek to Annapurna sanctuary.

Sunday

Complete a guided tour of Pokhara, visiting the International Mountain Museum, the tiny Hindu temple in the middle of the central lake, and the old bazaar.

Monday

Take an early morning drive to your trek starting point. Pass mountain streams and waterfalls on your way upwards. Overnight in a traditional Nepali teahouse lodge.

Tuesday

Today you’ll reach the 2000 metres above sea level mark. Part of the way up, you’ll get your first glimpse of Annapurna South. This area is known for its tropical forests.

Wednesday

Hike up to Poon Hill to watch the sun rise over the Annapurna mountains. Your trek today will afford magnificent views of the Annapurna peaks above and green valleys below.

Thursday

Make your way through terraced fields and jungled hills. Arrive at the Modi Khola valley which leads up to the Annapurna Sanctuary.

Friday

Today the trip takes you across the Chommro Khola river and through rhododendron and bamboo forests. As you move closer to 3000 metres, the trail becomes icier.

Saturday

Make your way through a sacred forest and visit a small temple. Pass through the narrow entryway into the Annapurna Sanctuary.

Sunday

The best view from Annapurna Sanctuary is at dawn, before the clouds roll in. You’ll head up early to 4130 metres above sea level to make the most of the spectacular vista.

Monday

Drop nearly 2000 metres in a day as you make good time going downhill to Doban at 2505 metres above sea level.

Tuesday

Make two ascents and two descents to reach Chomrong. Take one last longing look at the peaks of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and Machhapuchhre.

Wednesday

Every destination on these trails asks you to go a little bit up and a little bit down, and so on, and this is the way you will travel to cross the Modi river and make your way to Landruk.

Thursday

Trek uphill to Pitam Deurali at about 2060 metres above sea level and then head down to Pothana.

Friday

Take the wide stone-paved trail from Pothana to Australian Base Camp. From here you can see the valley of Pokhara. Head down to Kande and catch a ride down to Pokhara.

Saturday

Join the rest of the volunteer team ready to begin working on ongoing sustainable development projects in the area. Explore Pokhara in your free time.

Sunday

Join the rest of the volunteer team ready to begin working on ongoing sustainable development projects in the area. Explore Pokhara in your free time.

Monday

Make a lasting impact by participating in some of our community development projects running throughout Pokhara. Be part of improving schools or assisting with education programs.

Tuesday

Make a lasting impact by participating in some of our community development projects running throughout Pokhara. Be part of improving schools or assisting with education programs.

Wednesday

Make a lasting impact by participating in some of our community development projects running throughout Pokhara. Be part of improving schools or assisting with education programs.

Thursday

Make a lasting impact by participating in some of our community development projects running throughout Pokhara. Be part of improving schools or assisting with education programs.

Friday

Make a lasting impact by participating in some of our community development projects running throughout Pokhara. Be part of improving schools or assisting with education programs.

Saturday

Travel back to the airport and watch the Himalayas you explored on foot retreat from view. Reflect on your life-changing experience in Nepal.