While 2021 was a challenging year for everyone in travel, tourism and sport, at Topas we were fortunate in many ways. We welcomed plenty of domestic guests when covid allowed; we completed a number of charitable projects; we funded more great work by our charity partners; we held a major race in April which was one of the very few to occur in Vietnam in 2021; plus we made a number of eco-friendly developments at our lodges.
Here we look back at some of the highlights of 2021.
At Topas Ecolodge, we always focus on improving and investing in the most environmentally friendly solutions. In August 2021, we revamped the bungalows with various eco-solutions including removing fridges in favour of non-electric ice boxes to save energy. We also added more bamboo bathroom items for guests, removing more plastic.
We have long used organic produce from our own mini organic garden located in the resort grounds, but in 2021 we took more steps toward our bigger vision: to move toward being more self-sufficient in terms of fish and meat.
We have constructed a pond which will be large enough to provide our restaurant with trout. We’ve also purchased a small farm house nearby where we will raise chickens and other animals. Furthermore, we are preparing to install our own bee hives and look forward to producing very distinctive honey thanks to the variety of flowers we have within the grounds.
Going Organic and Self-Sufficient
Eco Upgrades at the Lodge
The insect “hotel”
In late October at Topas Ecolodge we were proud to take onboard four graduates from KOTO’s training program.
KOTO is a not-for-profit Social Enterprise which works to combat poverty by providing some of Vietnam’s most in need and vulnerable young people with the means for a stable future.
Look out for more news on their progress in future newsletters.
At Topas we have two charitable streams: we both give to established national charities and we also carry out projects directly in Sapa, where we have been working since the 90s.
This year we conducted a number of projects in the Sapa area, including the building of two new school facilities, one in Nam Lang B Village and another in Pho Village.
Alongside these projects we completed a new bridge near Nam Cang making a dangerous water crossing safe for runners and locals alike. We have also recently contributed to building concrete floors for houses near the Topas Ecolodge which had up to now had dirt floors.
We also sent donations to the Vaccine Fund of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of Sapa town, with the aim of supporting local highlanders to have the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Other fundraisers by Topas staff have included members of the team getting active to raise money themselves for Blue Dragon and also a bake sale organised by Topas Ecolodge GM Christian and his wife Rainy to raise funds for a nearby boarding school.
Charity Partner Work
Throughout 2021 our partners Operation Smile, Hue Help, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation and Newborns Vietnam have carried out more great work using funds donated from Topas.
These projects include Newborns Vietnam’s new programme in Son La Province, Hue Help’s continuing Water Safety Program in Thanh Hoa and Operation Smile’s fundraising for 37 children’s surgeries at VTM 2021.
Blue Dragon’s work rescuing victims of human trafficking and working with children in crisis within Vietnam has continued throughout the pandemic – one of their many great accomplishments was a rescue flight which brought 49 women home from Myanmar – read about that here.
Upgrading homes in Thanh Kim
Building a school for Nam Lang B
Vaccine Covid 19 donation
Podcasts Featuring Topas
We were featured on a number of podcasts in 2021. These include the Khiri Travel podcast in December, on which David Lloyd, Topas Director of Sports and Marketing, was interviewed about the Vietnam Trail Series and how sports can help grow tourism and open new destinations – listen here. Earlier in the year David was a guest on the South East Asia Travel Show, also talking about the growth of participative sport tourism – you can listen to that episode here.
VTM was the highlight of the year for many runners, not only because it was a magical race, but because it was one of the very few races to occur in 2021.
The biggest highlight for many was two Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation runners taking first and second spots in the 5k – you can read more about that here.
We have continued to develop our race offerings throughout 2021. We set up an all new race: VMM Nam Cang edition. This race will finish at the Topas Riverside Lodge.
We have also been making improvements to the original VMM, with lots more new trail added for the first 30k of the 100km route. We’ve also been researching some updates for the 42k.
And of course the all new 100mile route was further developed and is now ready.
We have also been planning a new race, but you will have to wait for more details on that…
New organic coffee
A new playground for kids
The Bamboo Cinema launched in August 2021.
it is open every night (weather permitting) on the hill between the Pavilion and Stilt House Restaurants with free cheese popcorn and soda!
New playground at Topas Ecolodge
Our brand-new playground at Topas Ecolodge was opened in July. It is inspired by the natural style playgrounds of Denmark, reflecting the roots of Topas. Everything was made on-site with locally sourced products and talent.
Trail Running Camps and Holidays
We have also added trail running camps / holidays to our offerings this year. Runners can either choose one of our existing trail camp itineraries or get in touch with us to create something bespoke for a club or group of friends.
To make these more special, we can now add wild camping for the first time. This gives runners the chance to camp out on the mountain and enjoy an evening fire – perfect for gathering around at the end of a day’s running!
Trekking tours with wild camping
At Topas Travel we have created a series of new treks which also incorporate our new wild camping ground.
Those who join will trek from near Sapa up to one of the most beautiful ridgelines in the nation which we have called Sapa’s ‘Dinosaur’s Back’.
Everything is taken care of on this trek, including a fully set up campsite complete with camp fire and an evening meal served to you under the stars.