7-13 April 2017 #853

Tap and tour

Bhuntu is a smart phone app that explains Nepal’s culture from the perspective of locals
Clara Bullock

Sonia Awale

In a small office space across from City Centre mall, programmers, researchers and interns are busy developing a new smart-phone app. Bhuntu will be a tool for tourists who want to discover Nepal’s culture. Sumana Shrestha started the project when she realised that a lot of tourists she met had a wrong picture of Nepal’s culture. “They’d say things about the Kumari or traditions that were just wrong,” Shrestha says. “We wanted to change that.”

Shrestha wants to show tourists how she sees her country: she views Nepali culture as made up of many layers, but most people usually only see a few of them. Bhuntu is supposed to reveal the layers they’ve missed.

Naming the app Bhuntu, small child, is not a coincidence. The app is supposed to awaken the childish enthusiasm of discovering and learning about new things. “Children are curious about everything and they want to know more about the world they live in. We want grown-ups to rediscover that curiosity,” Shrestha says.

To achieve this, the app has three features. The events section explains important festivals and holidays going on in Nepal. The team will host their own events as well, for example food tastings. The group also researched information about all the important attractions in Kathmandu and hired locals to record tours. In section two, those tours can be purchased and listened to so tourists can explore buildings, places and streets.

The third feature is a platform for meeting people: everyone who has the app can add interests to their profile and meet likeminded tourists who might want to accompany them on their adventures.

However, the app is not only meant for visitors. Shrestha wants to make the information accessible to Nepalis as well. “Even people in Kathmandu don’t know everything about their heritage,” she says. “We offer the app itself and the events section for free, so locals can learn more about the traditions too.”

Bhuntu is part of Shrestha’s bigger goal of preserving Nepal’s heritage. She believes protecting the culture starts with educating people about history and traditions. Plus, the group will donate a percentage of the income from sales of the app to the preservation of heritage sites. They believe everyone working in the tourism industry should do so: that way there would be regular income for maintenance, and the cultural sites essential to Kathmandu’s tourism would retain their attraction.


Download and discover

Bhuntu is not the only app that helps people discover Kathmandu and Nepal. From finding domestic flights to booking a trek, there’s almost nothing you can’t do with your smart phone. Here is a selection of a few helpful apps.

Nepal Flights

If you want to go outside of Kathmandu but avoid buses, Nepal Flights offers domestic flights. You can book on various airlines flying to Pokhara, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Bharatpur and more.

Taxi Fares Nepal

One of the most annoying things for tourists in Kathmandu is when taxi drivers charge too much. This neatly arranged app shows the common price for whatever route you are about to take. Additionally, it mentions waiting charges and night prices. This app might also be useful for locals.

Yellow Nepal

Whenever you’re in a new part of town and fancy a nice dinner at a restaurant, this app will help. Yellow Nepal uses your GPS to find restaurants near you, and provides their details and reviews. It will also let you know about events and deals near you.

Honey Guide

Honey Guide is a trekking app that helps guide you through the Himalaya. It offers treks to Everest base Camp, ABC and Poon Hill. Aside from showing you the way, it reviews lodges and details on places along the way.

PeakLens

While you’re out trekking with Honey Guide, you might want to know more about the mountains around you. With PeakLens when you focus on a particular peak you will see its name and altitude. You can also add the names of mountains to photos in your gallery.

Read also:

Creating app entrepreneurs

Kathmandu's Sillicon Alley and the law, Sonia Awale

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