Outside of Kathmandu, the obvious thing to do is trek the couple of hundred kilometers of the Anapurna trail. However trekking isn’t exactly going to put you in touch with life live in the mountains. For something more authentic and less physically daunting, why not join Restoration Works International on a trip of a lifetime- combining a bit of trekking, cultural conservation and plenty of opportunities to eat, work and hang out with the locals.

What is it?
Restoration Works International is a US based NGO who fix old cultural sitesorganises work with the help of the local population, local architects and volunteers. Joining in the restoration makes for an unforgettable experience for particpants and also funds the reconstruction as well as supporting the local community with employment. Once completed, the restored sites are once again able to be used bye the community, in this case monks can once again support the people of Chhairo.

What do volunteers do?
Restoration Works International’s project in Nepal is at Chhairo, a small village in mountainous Lower Mustang. The trip alone is worth it, flying to Pokhara and then onto Jomsom. At Chhairo, you’ll stay in a homey little guesthouse 15 mins walk from the gompa. Days are spent getting your hands dirty fixing up the gompa, or taking a day trek to local villages, visiting the nearby Tibetan rerugee camp or a jeep ride to the holy site at Muktinath. Work can range from plastering walls to more delicate tasks like cleaning ancient relics. With an expert guide and the head lama present, you can get into the routine of daily life up in the mountains, witness rare religious ceremonies, share your Nepali co-workers’ food and partake in many other such experiences visitors rarely get a chance to experience.

How much is it? When to go?
Two trips are planned for this spring, April 14-25 and April 28-May 9. It’s US$2,950, including flights from Kathmandu, meals for all 12 days, the guesthouse and day walking trips. Given prices for guides and trekking permits in Nepal, this is a pretty reasonable way to spend 12 days in the mountains.

To find out more or to book - www.restorationworksinternational.org