At first glance they give off the vibe of The Three Musketeers but are the real life ground-breaking personalities of adventure tourism, trekking to be specific, in Nepal. They are the ones who introduced and paved the way for the women guides for trekking expeditions in all men dominated industry.
The close knit family of three sisters Lucky, Dicky and Nicky Chhetri were originally from Darjeeling, moved to lakeside in Pokhara to run the business of restaurant and guest house in 1993. They themselves were trekkers and have climbed mountains in Nepal. They had frequently encountered other women local and foreign trekkers along their treks and at their restaurant and guest house who shared their many grievances about mistreatment from the male guides on their treks.
Hearing about the way women trekkers were treated which was supposed to be a pleasant vacation and an adventure for them turning into sour memories, the sisters came up with the idea of starting the trekking business by them for solo women trekkers and others who wouldn’t mind having women guides for their trek in the Himalayas.
This is how 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking was born in the year 1994 to guide and assist fellow women trekkers and to give them the authentic Himalayan experience and courtesy without any bitter memories to take back home with them. Lucky guided her first ever group for the Annapurna Base Camp trek (4130 m) with a basic course from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute located in Darjeeling.
During their treks, they also have experienced the life of women in the high mountains working non-stop from household chores to getting water and firewood from miles away from their homes, having a hard life without education or any work opportunities. They soon realized that these women only if were offered a little help, could support themselves and their families by working as guides in this men dominated trekking and climbing world of Nepal.
And this is why they ended up founding Empowering Women of Nepal, a non-profit organization which is registered under Nepal’s Social Organization Act 2034 in 1999 becoming the first to train and employ women guides for trekking in Nepal. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking and EWN are partners for the task of training and providing employment to these women. The training provided by EWN is free for all interested candidates.
EWN helps disadvantage women from all over Nepal by providing them skill-based practical training and work opportunity to in adventure tourism. They help these women become independent and support themselves and their family who came from underprivileged social and economic background.
The trainings are provided twice in a year during the off-season for a month long period. The total number of participants in each group is 40; this is the maximum number of trainees in every group. After finishing the basic training with EWN, they are also given the six months paid apprenticeship at 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking. Later, the trainees who prefer to work with the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking are employed starting out as porters, then assistant guides and to full-fledged guides for the treks.
Since the participants come from all over Nepal and some of them belonging to the disadvantage background in Karnali, Everest and Langtang region, they are accommodated in a hostel provided by the company. They are given the training on trekking, tourism, basic English, leadership and team building, mountaineering, culture and religion of the Himalaya along with cross-cultural communication, woman health, human rights, map reading, geography with many others.
The statistics from 1999 to 2012 show that EWN has trained over 1800 women from 47 districts in Nepal. Not stopping there, EWN further reached out to its community in order to help young girls and orphans from child labor and abusive environment. And to protect them they started Children’s Home in Pokhara in 2006 where by 2013, 16 girls, between the age of 6 to 17 live in a safe and healthy environment. They are offered meals, education, medical care and other essential necessities by EWN.
Although adventure tourism is a male dominated industry with the initiative taken by the Chhetri sisters and many others following in their footsteps, the landscape of adventure tourism is slowly but steadily changing for the better with the involvement of women in the sector. Through their tireless and dedicated effort, the number of women guides and assistants and solo women trekkers in Nepal are on a rise. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking now employs over 100 of them at the moment. They are playing a major role in balancing the gender inequality in their field of profession and helping in the cause of women empowerment and its promotion in Nepal.
For their contribution to the trekking and adventure tourism, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking have been recognized by national and international countries and organizations around the world as you can guess from the numbers of awards and recognition that came their way:
- WTM 2012 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards to 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking in Responsible Tourism in Mountain Environment
- Gold Trophy, Global Sports Forum Barcelona -2011
- Best Women Entrepreneur in Tourism 2011
- Ambassador Peace Award- Universal Peace Federation (UPF) – 2010
- Winners of Nike and Ashoka’s Game Changers competition! 2009
- 2008 ‘Travel and Leisure’ Global Vision Award on Economic Development
- Winner of the 2008 National Geographic Geo-Tourism challenge competition
- Best Trekking Agency of Pokhara 2007 Awarded by Ministry of Nepal Culture and Tourism
- First Prize Sustainable Tourism Development 2007 for the project ‘Development of Eco-Tourism in Mugu District’ Les Sommets du Tourisme-Chamonix Mount-Blanc, France.
If you are feeling excluded from this adventure because you are a man then worry not, it’s not just only for women trekkers, men can get the female guides too if they are in a mix group of 150 staff. This has also lead to increase in women trekkers in Nepal from different countries who may have thought twice about going trekking in the Himalayas. But having the support of kind, gentle and understanding women guides has encourage a significant numbers of women from all over the world to go on a solo trek in the Himalayas. Solo female trekkers who want to travel in safety can definitely get in touch with 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking for their trekking expedition in the Himalayas.
Hope you have a wonderful trekking in the majestic Himalayas with the awesome women guides who will not only make you laugh but inspire you!