Against all odds - Building a perma-adventure resort in the Himalaya!

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    By Devendra Babu, founder -owner

By Devendra Babu, founder -owner

At Mango Tree Resort, out here in the Marshyangadi Valley, Nepal, we practice permaculture, take people on adventures and most of all have fun! Our unique mix of eco-adventure tourism and permaculture ideals really needed a whole new category so we have become a perma-adventure resort where we try to ensure that all our actions care for the Earth and its people, for now and into the future. Oh, and did I mention all the fun?

Our great location means we can get up in the morning and go kayaking and rafting on the beautiful Marshyangadi River, which flows right through our resort. We also have at our doorstep the beginning of the world famous Annapurna Circuit and Manaslu Trek, or people can try our very own Baraha Pokhari Trek. Our favourite sport of all, though, is CANYONING! And where can you find one of the best places in the world for this? The Marshyangadi valley, of course. This year, with the help of Rich Carlson from American Canyoneering Academy and others, we even managed to train more than 25 people as Entry Level Canyon Guides.  

But let me tell you more about the Mango Tree. We have been working tirelessly since 2012, making every effort to tread lightly on our planet. Take the story of putting a roof over our head. Our stone round house needed to be re-thatched, a task to be taken seriously since the materials and skills needed are in short supply these days. Historically, most roofs in the area would have thatch, using local sustainable materials and traditional methods. Now, most of the villagers opt for corrugated tin because it is freely available and easy to put up, even though thatch is cheaper in the long run and virtually maintenance-free for many years. Because the tradition is slowly declining, the old skills and knowledge of the older generations is being lost as young people move abroad and into the cities in search of jobs. Sadly, the thatch tradition in Nepal is almost dead.

So, we decided to rise to the challenge, but little did we know what we were taking on. Since people have stopped harvesting the thatch, it was a mission in itself to get hold of the stuff. We called friends, sent out messages and visited local land owners but still there was no thatch to be found. So, we decided to look for an alternative and discovered we could use a plant locally called babiyoo which grows on cliffs. So, we had a source at last, but how to harvest it? The answer was to use our well-practised canyoning skills and dangle from the cliff! We managed to harvest a few bundles within a couple of hours and were packing up to return the next day when some local guys told us that for a small fee they could harvest it for us. We instantly agreed! With that, harvests from some other areas, and salvaging some of the thatch still on the roof we finally had enough.

Next we needed bamboo batons. For this, our camp manager and I had to hike for an hour every morning to harvest the bamboo and walk back to camp in the evening. It took us five solid days to harvest, split and make batons but we finally had everything we needed to start on the roof.

It took four paid local roofers, four volunteers, and three Mango Tree staff four days of hard work. But now we have a great looking, durable roof with brilliant thermal properties which everyone admires.  It wasn’t easy, but we are very glad we kept at it.

And what are our future plans? We need to build more accommodation, a hall, tile the bathroom, put up a solar water heater, make a bigger adobe oven, raise the vegetable beds, set up a proper nursery and herb garden, plant more trees -  the list goes on! This August we are running a four-week Permaculture Design Course right here, with the help from our permaculturist friends from all over the world. If you are interested please get in touch as there are still places left. Soon after this we will be running few canyoning courses too. It is our favourite, after all.

The beauty of a Swiss permaculture system

By Nina Baumgartner

This summer I spent two months at the permaculture community of Balmeggberg, in the Emmental region of Switzerland. It’s a glorious spot, 1000m up a mountain where six adults and their four children live permanently and hundreds of other people orbit around them.

During this time I had an insight into the implementation of the permaculture principles within this specific habitat and community, helping them out with anything that needed to be done. I was personally very eager to learn even the smallest of the details, and I was lucky to find a group of people happy to share their knowledge and love for the place.

The summer jobs in Balmeggberg. included gardening the three hectares of cultivated land, harvesting vegetables, leaves, flowers and berries, composting, pruning, feeding rabbits, ducks, chickens and sheep, building, repairing, cooking and everything else country life brings. Of course music and fun were also important factors of this happy equation.


In Balmeggberg the main goal is not to obtain total self-sufficiency but rather to find and keep a dynamic balance between what lies within the community and the outside world.

In this way the community can experiment with food production and efficiency, without relying 100% on the success of plant growth or harvesting for living, and in most cases people have part-time jobs in the world below.

Visitors of Balmeggberg can be inspired both through physical and spiritual work (i.e. woofing, courses of yoga and poi, sweat lodges etc.). For those in search for more intellectual stimulation they run a two-week Permaculture Design course. Anyone seeking help with a personal permaculture project can also ask for a consultancy with the experienced group of permaculturalists Toni, Marco, Sherpa and Elena at “Plano Futuro – Systeme zum Glück” (=system with happiness)


I reached Balmeggberg looking forward to learning more about permaculture and about my personal adequacy to this system. Now that my experience in Balmeggberg is finished I can say that, more than learning about the permaculture approach, I was happier to have found a deep connection within myself, with the place and with the others around me – I found the spirit of permaculture.

For more info (in German)

Nina has a marine biology background but she is now exploring terrestrial ecosystems and the permaculture principles. She is a Director of Project MAYA.