Friday, January 11, 2013

Nepal 2012 Oasis of Heat - Yak Dung

In the southern parts of Nepal, firewood is used for cooking and heating ... cut by handsaws and axes, and often carried long distances by porters.

In northern Nepal there is no firewood. For most people, kerosene is far too expensive and must be carried by porters from Kathmandu. Yak dung is the fuel of choice. (This is not dissimilar to the buffalo-chips used throughout much of the prairies of North America just a few generations ago).

The process for making yak dung into fuel is quite simple but labour intensive, and takes several months.
Of course yaks generate the raw dung.

The raw dung is collected and dried - usually on rocks, facing the sun. The drying dung is normally 'turned over' each day and covered by a tarp at night. Dried dung is often bagged and carried by a porter, then stored for use in the winter season.

This fuel is valuable, so is used sparingly, and only when it's very cold. Oil-drum stoves are used for heating a lodge. A few yak chips are put in the stove and a small amount of kerosene is used as starter.

We trekked for 34 days, staying in tents or lodges ... all unheated, even when the temperature was well below freezing. But the lodge-owners want to keep their guests happy, so occasionally will have a brief fire in the common room. Guests gather, huddle close to the stove, and try to soak up some heat before retiring to their cold rooms.

After a long, hard, cold day of trekking, this stove, fueled by yak dung, is much anticipated and appreciated 
... like an Oasis of Heat.


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