Remote Lands, Responsible Travel

Middle Ground: Responsible Wilderness Tourism in Nepal’s Tiger Tops

August 19, 2019

Julianne Gauron

When the Nepali tourism industry stalled out for over a year after the tragic earthquakes in 2015 the Tiger Tops management team had a lot of time to reflect on their decades as the leader in conservation tourism in Nepal. Tiger Tops started out as a hunting outfit in remote Nepal in 1964, but was bought out by Jim and John Edwards in 1972 after a chance meeting with the founders at the famed Explorers Society in New York. Since then it has expanded to include the Karnali Lodge, Tharu Lodge, Elephant Camps, and the Tiger Mountain Lodge run by the next generation of Edwards, all with a focus conservation tourism.

The ten elephants at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp in Chitwan National Park have come to find a “change in their job description” as GM Marie Stissing Jensen says.

Aware that change does not come overnight, having grown up in Nepal, Kristjan Edwards slowly shifted the focus of the Tiger Tops Elephant program. But now what differentiates Tiger Tops from other hotels in Nepal is that at Tiger Tops “elephants are allowed to be elephants,” and the guests get to be a part of this, to live among them in camp and walk beside them into the jungle and to gather their food. The elephants were never the product, Kristjan says, they were the vehicle.

Julianne GauronComment