Biocultural Diversity in Nepal

Details on Fall 2020 Program Coming Soon!


Langtang National Park in the Himalayas of Central Nepal is a high mountainous park with a mandate to conserve the area’s rich biological diversity as well as its colorful cultural heritage. Critically endangered Red Pandas, Snow Leopards, and Musk Deer roam the mountains while Tamang farmers terrace hillsides, graze their Yaks in alpine meadows, and supplement their diet with wild mushrooms and greens. It has been four decades since the Langtang National Park was established and the Park’s unique legacy makes it an excellent living laboratory to explore issues of biodiversity and conservation. What is working and what challenges remain?

The program is run in partnership with Western Washington University, but open to students from all universities. It includes seven weeks of intensive field work that encompasses academic studies in Himalayan biodiversity, conservation biology, and ethnobiology. Students will begin by learning how biodiversity is defined, measured, mapped, and conceptualized by biologists and other scientists. A primary focus will be on how communities continue to depend on the biodiversity despite shifts in land management, climate, and economic needs.


Key Features

  • Spend seven weeks in Nepal in the remote and mountainous Rasuwa District and learn about the unique culture of the Tamang people and local influences of Tibetan tradition

  • Visit sites of historical importance around the capital of Kathmandu to learn about Nepali heritage and challenge yourself to learn the local language

  • Study, live, and trek in the remarkable Langtang National Park to experience the breathtaking scenery, flora, and fauna

  • Learn about the daily life of villagers and traditional agricultural practices, including herding yak and sheep

  • Follow-up on earthquake rebuilding efforts and support local community development efforts in Gatlang village with RTEES Nepal

  • 15 credits through Western Washington University

Program Information

September 2020 - november 2020

$ TBD per student


  • 15 credits through Western Washington University

  • Daily living expenses (food, lodging)

  • In-country transportation

  • Admissions (temples, parks, etc.)

  • Treks and other excursions

  • Travel Health Insurance


  • Visa

  • Immunizations/personal medical expenses

  • International airfare

  • Independent travel


Community Partner: Rural Tourism & Environmental Education Society

The Nepal earthquake in 2015 killed more than 8,000 people and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of countless others. Rural areas in the Rasuwa district were devastated by the earthquake, and a because of their remoteness, are still getting little, if any, support from the government or large agencies.

In response, we partnered with the Rural Tourism and Environmental Education Society (RTEES), a local nonprofit based in Rasuwa, to support relief and reconstruction work. Our immediate efforts focused on delivering food, clothes, and medicine, and then providing sturdy tents and waterproof sleeping pads to make it through the monsoon season. We then worked with RTEES on rebuilding homes and community infrastructure.

Now that the project is complete, we are working with the local community to determine the best pathway forward to support sustainable development initiatives.

 What will you do in Nepal?

We will spend the first week in Kathmandu and surrounding areas getting acclimated to Nepali culture, visiting key historical, cultural and religious sites, and learning the language.

Each day in Kathmandu might include:

  • Language lessons & activities to begin to gain a deeper understanding of local culture

  • Visits to Buddist and Hindu temples, such as, Baudanath, Swoyambhunath, Pashupatinath

  • Opportunities to explore cultural sites like the World Heritage site of Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Kathmandu Darbar Square

  • An early morning trip to Nagarkot for the sunrise and Himalayan views

  • Visit local NGOs working with rural and mountainous communities

After our time in the bustling capital, we will head to the mountains of the beautiful Langtang National Park. We will move through the park on foot and visit different communities along the way. Our trek will culminate with homestay in Gatlang Village.

A typical day on the trail:

6:00 am: Biodiversity hike (on select days)

7:00 am: Breakfast, pack up, and hit the trail

12:00 pm: Lunch & arrive at next destination

1:00 pm - 4:00pm: Cultural activity or independent exploration

5:00 pm: Class discussion & reading of Biophilia

6:00 pm: Dinner

7:00 pm: Reading / writing / time to work on assignments


Have Questions?


Trip Leaders

Abe Loyd   WWU Faculty Member, Nepal Program

Abe Loyd
WWU Faculty Member, Nepal Program

Bipin Lama   Nepal Field Coordinator

Bipin Lama
Nepal Field Coordinator

Yardain Amron   Learning & Communications Coordinator

Yardain Amron
Learning & Communications Coordinator


Ready to join us?