From the late 50s to late 70s Kathmandu was central to the hippie trail. The 6000 mile route through Europe, Middle East, Central and Southern Asia would bring in bohemian travelers in hordes. Many came to escape the hustle bustle of western cities in a quiet corner of the Himalayas. Then things changed in 1979, with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the overland trip along the hippie trail become dangerous and along with it faded the culture.
Karna Sakya started small with a 13 room guesthouse in Thamel. Work was tough and hours were long. After the hippie crowd started petering out, he started to focus more on trekking, wildlife walks and local tours, drawing on his experience as a previous conservation officer. His approach to tourism has been embraced by many as Nepal is now most commonly known for trekking, elephant safaris, wildlife and cultural diversity.
Regardless of what detractors have to say about Sakya, there being a vocal few, what cannot be taken away from him, is that he is a role model to tourism entrepreneurs in the country in many ways.
“He was the one who really developed Thamel as a destination. He was a pioneer,” says a tourism entrepreneur who’s worked with Sakya for 25 years. He is also credited as being fundamental to the creation of Annapurna Conservation Area, which is the largest protected area in Nepal.
These days his expanded empire offers as many as 650 rooms. With cheap flights to Nepal and globalization bringing in more travelers than ever, some of his fancier hotels can cost upwards of $270 a night. However, he claims he has also remained true to his origins, with limited ultra basic rooms available upwards of $2 also available for the occasional aging hippie or student backpackers.
The above post has been adapted from an original article on Huffingtonpost.com. Read the original post here: