A BLUNT TAKE ON SAFETY WHEN TRAVELING TO NEPAL

Even during normal circumstances, travelling to a distant land can be daunting. Over the years, some of our customers from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia have gotten so close to our trekking guides and have invited them to visit them. Upon their return, they tell us the same story; it was daunting for them to navigate through the public transportation, cars that travel faster and airports that are like cities. One of our guides was actually lost for 6 hours at the Hong Kong airport on his way to visit one of our customers in UK!

For everyone seeking to travel to Nepal, our customers and not, we understand the anguish which has been magnified due to the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal last April and the political ups and downs that has distorted the lives of people, especially due to fuel (petroleum and cooking gas shortage). In an effort to calm your jitters, here is a compilation of our sentiment along with the sentiments from various government agencies and travelers themselves. Ultimately nothing is superior to your personal instincts, but hopefully these recent views on traveling to Nepal will help you.

Krishna Mandir as it stands today

Krishna Mandir as it stands today

IMPACT OF THE EARTHQUAKE:

We had a group of trekkers in the Everest Base Camp when the Earthquake hit in April 2016. A few of our customers after returning to Nepal decided to extend their stay to help out; bless their heart. Emma, a nurse who was with our group went back to her country, spent 2 months collecting medical supplies and started a Gofundme account and took a leave of absence to come back to help more. “Wow, compared to how Kathmandu was when I left, it looks like the earthquake never happened now” was her first remark when she came back in June of 2015. With regards to tourist activities and venues of interest, here is our quick update.

  • Out of the 8 World Heritage Site in Kathmandu, none of them are destroyed. One of them (Swyambunath Temple) saw significant damage, but it is open and repairs are rapidly happening. Here is a video that shows the site right after the earthquake where the sorrounding homes and one temple was damaged with the Swyambunath temple still standing
  • None of the hotels that are popular with tourists in Kathmandu and elsewhere suffered damages. They are taking reservations and their operations are business as usual.
  • Restaurants are operating at a normal level.
  • Among all of the popular trekking routes, only the Langtang trekking route saw the biggest disruption. Langtang valley suffered a heavy damage during the earthquake. We have not shut down our reservations for this trekking route since the natural setting in intact and our customers ask for Langtang reservations since it is very popular route.
  • The airport suffered no damages in popular tourist destinations. This includes Kathmandu, Pokhara , Lukla, Chitwan and Jomsom.

Swyambhunath Stupa

Swyambhunath Stupa – The vertically standing white temple you see on the right was damaged during the earthquake

POST CONSTITUTION UNREST:

  • The southern part of Nepal saw a great deal of civil unrest after the new constitution was announced although no tourist suffered any issues except for delays in taking buses from popular destinations in India such as Vanarasi.
  • Tourist arrival in Nepal went down significantly from November of 2015 till February of 2016 since there was an acute shortage of cooking fuel, petroleum, medicines and other essentials that come from India. Restaurants ran with limited menu. Things are normal now and we do not have any reasons to foresee similar interruptions.

Above is our assessment and we stand by it. Now let’s look at what others have to say:

THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA:

  • There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Nepal
  • Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the Dolakha, Gorkha, Rasuwa (which includes the Langtang Valley trekking region), and Sindhupalchok regions of Nepal, due to the damage caused by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 25, 2015.

THE GOVERNMENT OF UNITED KINGDOM:

  • Never trek alone. Use a reputable agency, remain on established routes and walk with at least one other person. Take note of weather conditions and forecasts, and come prepared. Altitude sickness is a risk in all trekking regions.
  • Around 40,000 British nationals visited Nepal in 2013. Most visits are trouble-free.

GOVERNMENT OF NEW ZEALAND

  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to most of the areas of Nepal bordering India, including travel on the East/West Highway, due to widespread violent protests.
  • If you choose to trek in Nepal, you should only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. You should not trek alone.

TRIP ADVISER:

The short answer (above Nepal being a safe place to travel) is yes, it is very safe in fact. Nepal feels more safe than most other countries around the globe, possibly due to the religious nature of the people and their natural kindness.

Trip Adviser further states “over the past 10 years Nepal has enjoyed a growing fascination to visit from travelers from all over the world. The People are very hospitable. The Nepalese accept that tourism is a mainstay of the economy, and are very welcoming. This applies to all sections and political groups: even during the Maoist hostilities of the early 21st century there were very few cases of any hostility towards visitors and the Maoist-led government declared 2011 to be ‘Visit Nepal Year’.”

FROM A TRIP ADVISER TRAVEL FORUM (MAR 02, 2016, 9:52 AM)

“Hello all, we just came back from out fantastic trip to Nepal. We have managed to travel around Kathmandu valley, Pokhara and Poon Hill trek. Nepal is a lovely place to visit with hospitable people”…read more here.

Every place on earth has the good, the bad and the ugly and Nepal is no exception. While Nepalis are feared as the legendary brave Gurkha soldiers all over the world, they are better known as one of the friendlies people on earth. Things happen and things have happened, but casualties affecting tourists are VERY rare. Moreover, if you are under our care while you are in Nepal, we have one of the best records in terms of the safety and enjoyment of their stay in Nepal for 33 years and counting.

Come with and open mind. Leave as our ambassador.