Commencing on the 13th of February the event continued till the 17th of February 2017. Certainly a pearl of great price,this is a recognition, which the company (GoingWild) has earned by dint of sheer hard work and years of experience, which includes extensive studies and research on wildlife, nature and ecotourism. The Directorate of Ecotourism in collaboration with Forest Department of Sikkim is developing and promoting various sustainable and community oriented ecotourism, adventure products and packages in different parts of the state. According to them, currently four ecotourism zones spreading in three districts of the state are ready for tourism and in each of these ecotourism zones, tourists will be able to experience the unparalleled natural and cultural beauties of Sikkim Himalayas. There are various ecotourism packages which are being developed in these areas. Well, before going for mass marketing they invited some of the prominent tour operators and tourism department officials from selected areas of India to these zones on a familiarization / FAM trip and in this connection, our organization i.e. GoingWild was recommended by AITOA from West Bengal region. It is worth mentioning here that only two companies were invited from West Bengal and we were of course, one of their esteemed guests. I shall now go on to discuss about my experience being a part of this great event, as the representative managing partner of GoingWild.
I was assigned to assess the East Pendam ecotourism zone and was honoured to participate in this 'all expenses paid' trip.
Experiencing Sikkim in a whole new light
On 13th of February 2017, we were escorted to Budang village, East Pendam, Sikkim. We were greeted with love and it was truly refreshing to be met with such hospitality after such a long and tiresome journey. They gifted us "Khada" (a ceremonial scarf) and sang, what I could comprehend from their way of singing, a greeting song for us, which was again quite lovely to hear. We took delight in indulging our taste buds by tasting the local cuisine, we had Gundruk, Ningro etc. I loved 'Ningro' in particular.
|Greeting at Budang Village on 13th February 2017|
Next day that is on the 14th February 2017, we went to visit and assess different birding trails with Rozan Dhungel, we saw some really beautiful birds like Scimitar Babblers, Wren Babblers and other common birds, got some really beautiful images of the same. At around 13:00 hrs we returned for lunch. The post lunch session began with a trip to organic farming areas, guided by Laknath Niraula and Nisha Sharma. They showed us the farms and the smiling organically grown vegetables seemed to greet us with mirth and gaiety, watching the terrace steps was a very new experience for me as I never got the chance to behold such beauty from such proximity ever before in life. As I stated earlier, the vegetables are grown here organically which means that the fertilizers that they use are not chemical by-products, instead they use compost manure. We came back from the farming site at around 17:00 hrs. A local cultural programme showcasing Tamang, Sherpa and Bhotia folk dance and local folk songs was presented by the locals. Dinner was served at around 19:30 hrs. Along with dinner they served a mild organically produced millet liquor which is popularly called "Thumba". After the pretty eventful day, we retired to our beds and rested for the night at Budang home stay.
|Sherpa tribe group dance in their traditional attire at East Pendam-Budang Ecotourism Zone on 14th February 2017. PC:Rozan Dhungel|
|Bhotia tribe group dance in their traditional attire at East Pendam-Budang Ecotourism Zone on 14th February 2017. PC:Rozan Dhungel|
|Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler from the bird watching familiarization tour to East Pendam-Budang||This is the third Flying squirrel I saw - Parti-colored Flying Squirrel. Had some Sikkim special dishes that night and wildlife watching with Rozan was really fantastic. While we observed this individual - it had buffy hair on face and underparts. Though it is a very high ISO image taken with hella led torch.|
On 15th February 2017 we headed towards Gangtok, as per the itinerary, we were supposed to give a detailed presentation on the FAM trip to Pendam and the assessment made by us regarding the ecotourism potentials of the zone. Our presentation was greatly applauded by the JICA members, SBFP members and the higher officials and ministers of the Sikkim Tourism and Forest department. Later we had dinner at Tara Palace and spent some quality time with the them.
On 16th of February 2017 we went to Sidkeong Tulku hall at the forest secretariat in Gangtok. The presence of the Honorable Minister of Tourism of Govt of Sikkim Shri Ugen T Gyatso made the conclave fruitful. The stakeholders' meet with NGOs, tour operators from the state of Sikkim and abroad, travel agents' organizations from Sikkim, Maharastra Tourism Department was a triumph. Later on the event ended around 18:00 hrs and we moved back to Tara Palace, Gangtok.
|Honorable Minister of Tourism Shri Ugen T Gyatso at the the conclave at Sidkeong Tulku Hall at Gangtok on 16th February 2017.|
|From Left - Mr Madhu Menon, Divisional Forest Officer Mr Jaswant, National Ecotourism Marketing Specialist MD Nahar, JLR Karnataka Manager Mr Balaji and Managing Partner of GoingWild LLP Dibyendu Ash||The Final Photograph of the esteemed guests and event participants at the Ecotourism meet, Sikkim on 16th February 2017.|
On 17th February 2017 we went to visit Nampong-Lindok, we reached there around 11:00 hrs and moved for FAM trip again and the outcome was without doubt pretty affirmative and the trip ended on a positive noted.
|Dancing with them at the ecotourism zone at Nampong Lingdok in Sikkim|
Considering the ecotourism potential of the zone and in order to encourage the community to promote, to market and to sell the various components like - Bird watching, package tours for nature lovers and bird watchers, consume the products developed by the community and consume the logistics and service provided by the community of the zones; GoingWild signed the MOU i.e. Memorandum of Understanding which enabled the company to work collaboratively with DOE and Sikkim FD, in order to make Sikkim an assorted destination globally, for new and varied ecotourism program.
This entire initiative was supported by
Directorate of Ecotourism Forest, Environment & Wildlife Management Department of Govt. of Sikkim
Joint Forest Management Committee
Japan International Cooperation Agency
Sikkim Biodiversity Conservation and Forest Management