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Empowering Change: The Women-Led Eco-Camp Transforming Gangtey-Phobjikha Valley

In the serene Gangtey-Phobjikha valley of Bhutan, an eco-camp managed entirely by an all-women team stands as a testament to sustainable tourism, environmental stewardship, and female empowerment. 

This initiative began when five women, initially joining a culinary training program, seized the opportunity to manage a campsite in their village, marking the inception of the Gangtey-Phobji Eco-Camp. 

Located in Dazijab, under Phobjikha Gewog and away from the Ramsar site, this half-acre campsite offers breathtaking views of the valley and represents the community’s sole campsite endeavor.

Tandin Wangmo, Phuntsho Choden, Tshering Chezom, Karma Wangmo, and Nim Bidha form the pioneering team behind this eco-friendly venture. Despite facing initial challenges, including hosting visitors without compensation, their resilience has led to the campsite welcoming around 90 groups since its establishment in 2022, as reported by Kuensel.

The eco-camp has been thoughtfully designed with sustainability at its core, featuring stacked rock slate walls, a gravel footpath, and a canopy for hosting guests, alongside a traditional kitchen to offer an authentic Bhutanese culinary experience.

The success of the Gangtey-Phobji Eco-Camp is attributed to the collaborative efforts of various organizations, including the Wangdue Forest Division of the Forest and Park Services Department, Bhutan for Life (BFL), the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), gewog administration, and the forest office. 

The initiative was significantly supported by BFL, which provided funding for the campsite’s infrastructure development and culinary training for the women. 

This collective support underscored the project’s alignment with broader conservation efforts, notably aimed at diverting tourist activity from the ecologically sensitive Ramsar site and addressing waste management challenges in the valley.

Reflecting on their journey, the women recall the humble beginnings of their business venture, from packing lunches to the campsite to now earning enough to distribute profits every six months. This transformation has not only garnered support from their families but also positioned the eco-camp as a model for sustainable and responsible tourism in Bhutan.

Looking ahead, the team aspires to register the eco-camp with the Department of Tourism to meet eco-tourism standards and attract more visitors, thereby generating additional income to support their community. Their story is a powerful narrative of how sustainable tourism initiatives can empower women, conserve natural landscapes, and contribute to community development.

The Gangtey-Phobjikha Eco-Camp’s journey from a simple culinary training opportunity to a successful eco-tourism venture is a beacon of hope and inspiration. It showcases the potential of sustainable practices and women’s entrepreneurship in contributing to environmental conservation and societal progress. 

This initiative not only enriches the lives of the women involved but also serves as a catalyst for positive change in the Gangtey-Phobjikha valley and beyond.

Featured image grabbed from https://kuenselonline.com/

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Empowering Change: The Women-Led Eco-Camp Transforming Gangtey-Phobjikha Valley! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/asia/bhutan/empowering-change-the-women-led-eco-camp-transforming-gangtey-phobjikha-valley/