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unadogger
5th March 2005, 03:56 AM
Namaste all, I am new to this group. I trekked Annapurna Sanctuary 2000 and Around Annapurna Circuit 2001 and took the past few years in between to do some backpacking in the USA on the Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack High Peaks, Indian Peaks Colorado and La Garita Wilderness Colorado (Colorado Trail), and the Long Trail of Vermont.
I am interested in trekking again in Nepal in late 2005.
How is Nepal these days?
I remember it was peaceful and safe even after 911 (and I was happy to be five weeks in Nepal after 911 being a NYer!). These days I am not so sure? Haven't heard any emails from trekking friends in Nepal for at least a year.

Thanks,
Sabrina

mieke
7th March 2005, 12:06 AM
Hi Sabrina,
Welcome here! Let me bump up this thread for you, since it seems some others have overlooked it.

About the situation in Nepal these days: myself I've never trekked there. But in fact all the reports lately of trekkers who are currently there or were there in recent times (I mean their postings on many travelboards, in newsletters etc.), say it's peaceful and safe for them like it always was, even in spite of the present political turmoil. It is however not crowded with tourists/trekkers. At present tourist arrivals have dropped a whole lot, but nobody can predict what it will be like in the autumn of 2005. In fact there was a newsreport today, also quoting the Nepalese TAAN president who said something about increased bookings for the coming season (link to Nepalnews.com ( http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2005/mar/mar06/news05.php)).

Just a few remarks in general: it's not recommendable to be out there (the mountains) all alone all the time; it can just be not safe enough in several ways, as I'm sure you'll understand for you're an experienced trekker. But besides the risk of getting some injury on a trail, several accurate reportings say that in the past couple of years especially a few lone trekkers have fallen victim to robberies while out there. Next to that a few foreign trekkers went missing in recent years; at least a couple of them were presumably alone. Also be aware of the number of notorious "bandhs" or strikes, initiated by the Maoists. As a result of them domestic transport can suffer from a lot of delays. At present most trekkers fly to Lukla, instead of starting their trek at Jiri, for safety reasons mainly. The recent 2-weeks bandh disrupted much of the ordinary road traffic to Pokhara, so trekkers to that part of the country often saw themselves forced to take a plane. Due to the decline in tourist arrivals, at present a number of hotels in Pokhara unfortunately had to close their doors. Another thing you should be aware of is that a part of the US visitors decided to "hide" their nationality outside Ktm/Ktm Valley; trekkers have been reporting rather often that they met with Americans on some trail, who had even stitched the "Maple Leaf" onto their backpacks :)
So what part of Nepal are you planning to go? I'm asking because there is a difference re. Maoist presence and activities (including the demand for a financial "donation") between f.e. parts of the Annapurna region, and the Khumbu/Sagarmatha Park north of Lukla. But Nepal is bigger than those regions only. Perhaps if you care to let us know more about your plans, others here can fill you in about the situation in more detail.

All things combined I think if you really plan on going there this autumn, you should start to follow the news about Nepal and about trekking there a bit more closely than I assume you've been doing until now. A lot could change, politically, between now and the end of this year. Whether or not that would affect tourism and trekking especially, is impossible to predict imo.

Hope this info helps for the time being; if you have any more questions pls. post them here.

yakshaver
7th March 2005, 04:27 AM
Despite all the stuff in the media, Nepal is as safe for trekkers as it has been over the last few years. Road transport is functioning normally again since the beginning of last week, and the traditional trekking areas. (Everest/Khumbu, Langtang, Annapurna) are as safe as they have ever been. Kathmandu has been relatively free of bandhs since the king's takeover.

If you've been to Nepal after September 2001, you will find the situation much the same.

Sharon
7th March 2005, 05:57 AM
Just have extra time. I have 2 girl friends who just arrived back. They were in Nepal over the King's coup. Mkae sure you have spare days as transportation may not go as smoothly as you hope. There can also be weather delays for flights. The Nepalese are such wonderful people as you know, you will have a great time. less crowded as many people are afraid to travel there in these difficult times. THe people need the support of our tourism dollars though.

Unregistered
9th March 2005, 03:25 PM
I understand that mostly things are fine. I'm due to leave on April 1 - hope that's not a bad sign (April Fools Day). I'm in the last group of 3 groups travelling from Australia trekking with World Expeditions. The first group returned 2 weeks ago. Everything went fine except at the end of their trek there was no bus as organised to pick them up as it had been stopped at a road block. Each trekker had to pay US$200 to helicopter lift the group back to Kathmandu. Unfortunately, that sort of thing is rarely covered by travel insurance.

Unregistered
9th March 2005, 05:25 PM
This by no means a bad reflection on World Expeditions - they did the best they could under the conditions.

yakshaver
10th March 2005, 05:26 AM
Getting helicopters to get people to Kathmandu is indeed a good thing if transport is not available. Right now the transport situation is normal, although the insurgents have threatened further disurptions. Let's hope it lasts by the time you go there. Else, the helicopter ride, while expensive, is an excellent way to see the mountains and the country side from a different perspective. One of the reasons I put up with the very scarry landing in Lukla is the amazing sights of the hills and villages from on high.

Morrissey
10th March 2005, 10:09 AM
Well, the transport situation is not that normal; land transport anyway. I finished the Annapurna Circuit and week ago (in a snowy, sketchy winter crossing of the Tholung La), and the transport to Besi Shahar was a bitch. Kathmandu to Besi Shahar is typically 6 hours: we did it in 12... Went to Pokhara from Beni after the trek, spent a couple of days around Lake Side, and then returned to Kathmandu. Generally a 5 hour bus ride was turned into an unadventurous 11 hour ride. The army is under going frequent 'strikes' where large swathes of highway are closed for upwards to an hour at a time. Long caravans of buses, transports, jeeps, and cars have no choice but to wait. Even in the hills now the donkey caravans are being halted while the army checks the hills and the herders. It's wild. Other than that, all is pretty kosher as kosher goes in Nepal. Had a great time last night: some Everest whisky and a bean burrito at Jesse James, some drinks at New Orleans. Good times.
By the way, the trek was stellar as well.

Linwood
12th March 2005, 09:38 AM
This is just to say that Kathmandu seems very much the same as it did last Sept/Oct when I was here last. Maybe not a good baseline, but it feels safe and everything I've heard indicates that trekking on the regular routes is fine. I haven't really spent any time in Thamel, but as far as I can tell, there are far fewer tourists than there were last fall, which is sad, and I think unnecessary if people use common sense and do as their guides/advisors/Nepali friends recommend. There is, from what I can see, an extensive, effective informal communication system that is well-established for passing along "on-the-ground" information about the current situation.

On the approach to KTM from the air, I did see a caravan of vehicles headed northeast (?), all bunched together coming up out of the valley... this was on March 5 (after the 2 week "indefinite" bandh had been lifted for a week already), so I think it is safe to say, as was said earlier, that ground transport is potentially unpredictable and slow. Add to that the Maoists stated intentions to reassess the situation mid-March (the 14th I think... beginning of the Nepali month of Chaitra I think) and possible impose another bandh, and it would be wise to build flexibility into trekking plans. I can't imagine not doing this anyhow, regardless of the political situation.

I think it is reasonably safe to be here (or I wouldn't be here), and saw no reason to postpone plans due to the situation as it currently exists. I would only advise to educate yourself about the situation through the many avenues available, and then decide if you are comfortable with it. And of course, things are fluid, so it is advisable to keep current.

Happy trekking!

linwood

PS. to the person (SEH?) who was concerned about needing a visa to go through Delhi... you do not need this unless you want to leave the airport! Save your money! I had an overnight there and an American reporter took me under his wing and invited me to be his guest at one of the hotel lounges (uh, no strings attached... just some very interesting conversation). I think these lounges must be the most comfortable places in the airport, so see if you can manage to get your foot in the door there if you have to stay overnight. Free food!

yakshaver
14th March 2005, 06:19 AM
Thanks Linwood. Please continue to keep us informed.

Unregistered
14th March 2005, 05:14 PM
Linwood,
just a small question concerning your PS. (I havent read the question), but as I gather from your advice, there is no need to apply for tranzit visa or whatever visa if Im staying at the airport? Im flying Wien-Moscow-Delhi with Aeroflot and then to Kathmandu with India airlines, I suppose in Wien they wont check-in my luggage as far as Ktm, so Ill have to pick them up in Delhi, which usually means going through passport control.. Officers at Indian embassy are unable (or not willing) to help me, so I was on the verge of applying for visa..

Lenka

Linwood
21st March 2005, 05:03 PM
Hi Lenka,

Sorry for the delayed reply. I didn't check back in from KTM, and just got back yesterday.

My experience (with Austrian Airlines and Jet Airlines) was that I did NOT need a visa to stay in the airport, and I also was able to check my baggage through all the way from the US to KTM. I had misgivings about doing this because I had read that one must move one's own luggage in Delhi (LP?), but it turned out fine.

It is strange the way things are done sometimes in my very limited experience in that region, though, and I am continually surprised. As the time was approaching for departure from Delhi to KTM, an airlines rep from Jet approached me in the crowded departure lounge and asked me to come identify my luggage so that it could be loaded for KTM. I did and they loaded it and I had no trouble. How these folks picked me out amongst the crowd, I have no idea. I was certainly not the only westerner (or American) there. They somehow manage, though, and that whole journey went smoothly. The trip back, however, well that's another tale! But no visa problems then either, although I did not go through Delhi on the return. (The only reason I went through Delhi on the flight there is because Austrian Airlines freaked on Feb 1 or 2 and cancelled, then later re-routed my original flight.)

I hope this reply is helpful and not too late. Best wishes for a safe happy trip...

Linwood