We are located in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of western Sichuan Province, or the Tibetan region of Kham, near a small temple town called Lhagang, or Tagong. Lhagang is a district known for its nomads, its grasslands, and its yak meat and yogurt.
We built the ecolodge after running treks in this region for 10 years, and after running a hostel and cafe in Tagong (the Khampa Cafe) for 5 years. It is a project long in the making, and founded on the realization that nomadism and the herding life might have a place in the modern world.
After several years of a move-to-town fad, nomads have found that there are trade-offs to giving up one’s yaks and moving to town. The food quality is not as good when one is buying from supermarkets, and the price for pure yak meat and milk is high. In town, one might have running water and electricity, and not need to live in a tent, but on the other hand there is little work, particularly for women, who don’t do as well with construction projects or road building. So women’s labor, so valuable in the nomad camps, is suddenly not needed. This seems wasteful to a lot of ex-nomads, so much so that they choose to return to the high plateau, perhaps with fewer yaks than before, and keeping up men’s work elsewhere to some degree.
We built the ecolodge to offer an example to nomadic herders of ways to improve their lives in their home areas, as well as to honor their traditional styles and skills. One can have running water and electricity in a rural place, and still have yaks. How to do this is what the ecolodge demonstrates. We also offer free consultations for people looking to use similar building or energy techniques.
We believe that nomadic Tibetans have something valuable to share with the world, a remembrance of things like self-sufficiency, living without complex national and international social systems, the enjoyment of closeness to nature and close community (with all the hardships and difficulties these things do, of course, also entail).