A trove of golden liquid, frozen in timeless hills - allows the continuation of the century-old practice of honey hunting in Nepal. Steep high hills laid along with mountains shadows offer a perfect home for giant free-ranging Himalayan honey bees. The producer of the red-hued mad honey – these bees have called the hills home along with Kirati Kulungs and Gurungs of Nepal. The bees and people that share spaces in clouds while engaging in the century-old tussle for honey. The brave men of Nepal take on the mammoth task of harvesting potent mad honey; stored by bees on unimaginable ridges.
The traditional handwoven hemp or bamboo ropes, natural spirits, village shamans, need of earning a living, and continuation of ancestral practices; all are cocktail in the last honey hunting experience of Nepal. The brave Kulung and Gurung hunters make their way on the ledges, where no one dares ventures. The bee and people of these remote corners, share a love and hate relation. The lush green crops and fruits of Kulung and Gurung villages are pollinated by the same bees that don’t hesitate to sting the hunters. Further, the very bees help the trekking trail of the hunter’s village spring to life, they pollinate Rhododendron flowers. People here depend on the bees honey and their act of breathing life into flowers is vital to the people of these areas. Similarly, terrace farms and human plantation provide bees with nectar when the forest run outs of flowers. The tussle for honey is the deal breaker and starts off the enmity between the people and bees.
The political and economic isolation from capital is the root cause of its existence in recent times. In ancient times the hunt took place for solely economic purchases. The honey was a royal dish and cuisine for special times while the wax collected off these cliffs fuelled Nepal’s golden years. The metal statues that the lace Royal Durbar Squares of Kathmandu Valley, would not exist without the wax from mad honey. The need for honey hunting is waning off like melting wax but it still feeds poor and education deprived people who have been living off the land like their ancestors. Education and slowly pacing development have reached the edges of these cliffs; the last of hunters make money off their hunting skills to educate their children and grandchildren. Honey hunting exists solely to cover the basic living need of these people.
The wild cliff honey has long been the tradition in numerous mountainous and hilly region people of Nepal. The Tamangs, Gurungs, Ghales, Magars, and Kirati people living in the deep hidden valleys, indulged in the task of honey hunting in Nepal. The last honey hunter, today, belongs to the Gurung and Kulung (a subdivision of the Kirati ethnicity) people of Nepal. The rest have laid their equipment and tools, in a sanctuary of their community museums. One needs to meet up and head to the homestays of Gurung villages or Kulung villages to enjoy a trip to witness these indigenous locals take the dangerous task of stealing bees, honey.
Well, one can find the last honey hunter - Netflix series easily on their handy internet devices. However, if you want to meet these daredevils and enjoy a psychotic effect of hallucinogenic honey, then you’ll have to book a flight to Nepal. The drama and magnanimity of the hunt lay a few kilometers bus ride and hike from popular tourist cities. Choose to travel North East from Kathmandu to Hongu Valley a few kilometers below the gigantic Mount Everest or embark upon the villages of Ghan Pokhara from the touristic city of Pokhara. Alternatively, the traveler can combine their Annapurna Base Camp Trek with the honey hunting trip at numerous locations like Landruk, Pasgaun, Bhujung, Ludhi, Nai chi, and dare.
The Gurung honey hunters of Nepal are better choices for those who want to indulge in laid back honey hunting experience. During the period of late spring and late autumn, the community of Gurung villages in the western region of Nepal, organize a guided tour in partnership with the travel agencies. The same is not true for the Hongu Valley experience, the mad honey harvested from these corners also makes the international market abroad but it lacks an organized tour. The community homestay, display of culture, and trekking to Annapurna are a possible part of the experience in honey hunt of villages near Pokhara. The Hongu Valley honey hunt with Kulung people of Nepal takes one to an off beaten trail distant valley high in the hills. There are no organized tour packages and one will need to come in contact with the locals for making the trip. The honey hunting trip to Kulung villages offers a thrilling view of Everest above high hills and travels back in time to the real Nepali lifestyle; unscathed by modern development.
1. Use of all century-old traditional methods and tools of honey hunting in Nepal.
2. Courage of the people venturing steep vertical ledges on rope ladders with only a brick-sized foothold.
3. Magnificent trust between the people involved in the hunt.
4. Delicate art of chopping the hive with tango (bamboo sticks)
5. Experience of the finest high inducing mad honey fresh off the cliff.