EcoTrips for Zoo Staff and Volunteers

We are offering zoo staff and volunteers from around the world this discounted opportunity to join Red Panda Network and NZ Hamilton Zoo Keeper Sarah Jones on a spectacular 12 day journey in the forests and mountains of Nepal to experience red pandas in the wild!
 NZ Hamilton Zoo Keeper/ RPN Volunteer Sarah Jones

NZ Hamilton Zoo Keeper/ RPN Volunteer Sarah Jones

Come with us and be prepared for a unique wildlife and cultural experience as we immerse ourselves within the Nepali communities set amongst the incredible cloud forests of the Himalaya’s. You will see breathtaking views of Mount Kangchenjunga and Mount Everest and will be exploring one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, which is home to the elusive Nepalese Red Panda.

All profits from this trip go directly towards developing the largest “protected forest” in Nepal, the first to be managed by a network of community forests. Furthering the ongoing training and employment of local communities as Forest Guardians and the Education Centre for public conservation awareness.

Next Scheduled Trips Are:

  • March 21st through April 1st, 2017
  • November 21st through December 2nd, 2017 (one more spot remaining!)

Cost: $2,350 USD

What’s included?

  • All airport transfers, meals and lodgings, domestic (in-country) flight, car and jeep transport, guides and porters in Kathmandu and the field.
  • Lodgings are in rustic teahouses and homestays. Hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and tea gardens.
  • We cater for everyone – Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian

What’s not included?

  • Your international airfare to Nepal and visa fees
  • Bottled and alcoholic beverages
  • Personal expenses

Please check out our Ecotrips FAQs!
Contact Red Panda Network at for more information.
Check out our article Zoo Staff and Volunteer Ecotrips: Q : A With Trip Host Sarah Jones for more insight into these trips!

What To Expect:

  • Cultural guided tour of Kathmandu, it’s palaces, temples and market places
  • Traditional Nepali cuisine
  • Overnight hotel stay in beautiful tea gardens
  • Sleeping in rustic teahouses and homestays in high altitude surroundings
  • Immersing yourself in daily mountain village life
  • Being exposed to four of the world’s seven tallest mountains
  • Working alongside Forest Guardians in the field observing Red Panda and habitat monitoring
  • Searching the cloud forests for Red Panda
  • Opportunities to observe other unique forest species such as the Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Yellow Throated Marten, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal, Assam Macaque and more than 120 species of birds including the Wood Snipe, Satyr Tragopan, Common Teal, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Maroon-backed Accentor, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, and the Rusty-fronted Barwing.
  • Seeing first hand our community conservation work in action and how profits from this Eco Zoo Trip directly benefit our most important conservation partners: the rural communities who need alternatives to forest exploitation.

Download the official poster for zookeepers and RPN volunteers and see the trip itinerary below:

*Official poster by Shiru Studio

General Trip Itinerary

Day One:
Arrive at Kathmandu airport and be greeted transported to your accommodations. Free time before meeting with fellow ecotrippers and RPN team and then dinner and trip debriefing in the evening.

Day Two:
All day guided site seeing in the vibrant and beautiful Kathmandu Valley – visiting palaces, marketplaces and temples.

Day Three:
Late morning 45 minute domestic flight to Bhadrapur, with spectacular views of the Himalaya ranges including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kangchenjunga, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Makalu. Then we travel by road to Ilam and begin our journey north into the mountains, passing tea gardens and Nepali communities. Overnight hotel stay in Ilam, overlooking tea gardens.

Day Four:
Leave Ilam after breakfast and bird watch while traveling up the mountain by road (3:30 hours) and during a light hike (30 minutes) as we ascend higher into prime red panda habitat. We arrive at Choyaatar in the late afternoon – the village closest to red panda habitat and our base for the next four nights. Light hike in the evening for community visit. Overnight home stay at Choyaatar village (2200 m).

Day Five, Six and Seven:zkwebpage2
The next three days we will wake up early to begin tracking red pandas in the alpine temperate forests with RPN Forest Guardians. We will also likely see other mammal and bird species throughout the day. We will stop in local homes for lunch and hot refreshments and immerse ourselves in the community with fun tasks including traditional Nepali cooking lessons in the evenings.3 night home stays in Choyaatar.

Day Eight:
Early breakfast, pack up and leave for Jaubari (small town at the Nepal India border). Hiking and looking for red pandas and bird watching enroute and arrive at Jaubari at around noon (2:30 hours). Light hike in the evening to see beautiful landscape and RPN’s plantation area for red panda habitat restoration project. Overnight stay in Jaubari (2890m).

Day Nine:
Depart after early morning breakfast for the incredible and picturesque Sandakpur (6 hour walk). The highest peak in the Singhalila range (3,636 m), with breathtaking sunsets over Mt Kangchenjunga and Mt Everest.

Day Ten:zkwebpage3
Early rise (still dark out) we make our way to vantage points for the panoramic view of the impressive Himalayas with the rising sun. After breakfast we hike back down to Dobato village (2 hours walk) for lunch in the mid afternoon. Light walk in the evening visiting the community. Overnight Stay at Dobato village(2,650m).

Day Eleven:
Breakfast and red panda tracking in the early morning. Then leaving for our scenic drive back to Ilam after lunch with an overnight stay in a hotel overlooking tea gardens.

Day Twelve:
Our last day, departing for Ilam after breakfast by road for the return journey back to Kathmandu with our group farewell dinner in the evening.

Group size is limited, sign up to secure your place in the trekking team at!


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