Gurungs of Nepal – the honey hunters – mad honey – hallucinogen

by Bijay
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Much has been publicized about the mad honey or the hallucinogen honey that could be fatal.  This type of honey is harvested by a special tribe of people called the Gurungs in Western Nepal.  This special honey hunters live in a village call Khilang. Here are more facts and figures about Khilang.

Wild Honey from Nepal

Image Source: https://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/14538404/Los-cazadores-de-la-miel-de-Nepal.html

Khilang is located approximately about 13.7 km / 8.5 mi (as the crow flies) Pokhara (Pokhara) the next major city in Nepal. From Kathmandu (Kathmandu) is approximately 141 km / 87 mi (as the crow flies). Although it seems pretty close in terms of distance, due to the rugged nature of the topography in the Himalayas, it could take several days walk to get to Khilang from Pokhara.

Source:Google Map

The Giant Bees are found in huge nests around the villages along the Madi river, where the Gurung villages are located.  The bee nests can reach up to 5 feet in diameter and each of these nests can contain about 60 kg of honey.

This type of honey contains a special alcohol (diterpenic alcohol). You can feel the effect of the alcohol quickly as soon as you eat some of this raw honey.  The diterpenic alcohol results from the nectar of the Rhododendron flower, the National flower of Nepal. Interestingly this type of alcohol is know to have a lesser impact at lower altitudes. Rhododendron plants are known to contain Grayanotoxins. You might be able to get the effect of this toxin even when eating the plant directly. Honey produced from the nectar and pollen of this plant results in the diterpenic alcohol which gives the hallucinating effect.

Here is a video of the actual trek to Khilang. You will see footage of Khilang at 12:04.

Gurung people are found all over the country but primarily in Lamjung, Kaski, Tanahu and Pohara area of Western Nepal. They are known for their bravery and loyalty and are recruited by armies around the world.

 

Great video on the honey hunters of Nepal below.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/gallery/2014/feb/27/honey-hunters-nepal-in-pictures

http://themadhoney.com/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268629834_Honey_Hunting_by_the_Gurungs_of_Nepal