Looking for a chance to see a different side of Nepal, venture off the beaten track and get your hands dirty? If so Mango Tree Resort may be the place for you.
Mango Tree is classified by its owner/founder Devendra as an ‘perma-adventure resort’, from here you can organise trekking to Annapurna Circuit, Manang, Canyoning in Marshyangadi Valley, Rafting/Kayaking and just so much more. From the grounds of Mango Tree, you can hike to remote villages up top with experienced local guides or take a fully supported camping trek to a place called Baraha Pokhari (Lake) at an altitude of more than 3100m starting which requires no permit and the views are absolutely breath taking – from the photos that i have seen from their past visits. There’s more to Mango Tree than adventure sports – you can also learn about sustainable growing on a residential permaculture course, do some yoga and meditation or just relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
With its quiet hillside location and beautiful mountain views, Mango Tree is a great place to forget all your worries and unwind. I found out about the place online and noticed that they were asking for volunteers to help with the farm/eco resort and generally look after the place. My husband James and I thought Mango Tree sounded like a great place to stop off for a while during our travels around Asia.
After a long and sweaty bus journey from Kathmandu, James and I arrived at Chipleti Dalal, near Besisahar in the Lamjung region of Nepal. We were greeted by Lonneke, a Dutch girl who had been helping as a volunteer at Mango Tree for the last three months. She was very cheerful and welcoming, despite having waited at the bus stop for over an hour thanks to the delayed bus! The three of us headed over the 200 metre-long suspension bridge and up the hill to Mango Tree. There we met Devendra, the resort’s friendly and laid-back owner. Using his experience as a builder he devised and built the place from scratch- with the help of some friends of course. And there are plenty of those- people from the local village are always dropping in for a chat, to ask for advice or to bend his ear about something or other.
Devendra gave us the grand Mango Tree tour- it’s a fairly small area but there’s a lot squeezed into it. There’s a lawn with some cosy tents and traditional thatched huts to sleep in, various vegetable patches, some banana trees, a fish pond and a sunny terrace with a great view of the nearby lake. We also met Hunter the tiny cat and Laurie, the friendly and excitable dog. We settled into our tent and had a pleasant evening getting to know everyone and making ourselves at home, and talking about what we’d be doing during our ten days of volunteering at Mango Tree.
A typical day at Mango Tree began with an early start and a cup of tea to get us going, whilst we contemplated what we want to achieve that day. After all, part of the permaculture philosophy is ‘to undertake careful and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour’ (in the words of the movement’s founder Bill Mollinson), which suits us just fine. Then we’ll get stuck in with watering the vegetable patch, pulling up weeds, turning the compost heap or maybe something creative like baking bread in the clay oven or painting a mural on the wall.
The reason for that early start is that by 11am in the summer it’s getting too hot for any kind of exertion, mental or physical! So we have some dal bhat provided by resident cook Tika, and then relax under the eponymous mango tree or in the cool roundhouse. Once the heat of the day has died down, we’ll finish off the morning’s activities and maybe fire up the clay oven to cook a pizza for dinner.
During our stay we had the chance to find out a bit more about permaculture and the Nepali way of life; Devendra took us out for walks to see the local swimming area and to meet some of the villagers. Of course Devendra had some t tasks for us to do, like building a new compost heap and building a storage area for glass bottles (there’s no recycling collections in here!), but he also encouraged us to be creative and think for ourselves about how best to use our time. So we upcycled some plastic bottles to make a funky herb planter, and painted a big mural on the wall of a Himalayan mountain scene. We also got creative in the kitchen, with mixed results- turns out it’s quite tricky to bake flapjacks in a pizza oven, and without any oats!
Though our time at Mango Tree was quite short, we learned a lot and had the chance to meet some lovely people at the same time. It’s such a chilled-out and friendly place, you could easily slip into a relaxed routine and find that you’ve spent a month there before you know it! Soon we’d be heading off to Tibet so we sadly waved goodbye to Mango Tree and our new friends, feeling inspired to create our own permaculture project, or at least a vegetable patch, once we get back to the UK.
James & Emma Robinsons,UK