We are now approaching Spring, one of the best seasons to travel in Nepal. People love this season for many reasons: temperature is more stable and predictable. Days are warmer. Snow starts to melt and you no longer have to negotiate with snowy trails. On top of that, hills are covered with rhododendrons. The country’s kaleidoscopic beauty is in full display. This time also, Spring will be same – the mountains, the trails as welcoming as always. However, travelling to Nepal this Spring will definitely be different.
The travel industry is still hard hit by pandemic, and travelers are still not so sure about leaving their homes. However, it is possible for visitors to travel to Nepal. It’s to be noted that tourist arrival reached nearly about 9000 in January. So people have started being more optimistic about travelling. And it is also said that with more than a year of being locked up, we crave for freedom and wilderness even more. So, if you wish to travel to Nepal now, it’s totally justifiable. However, it is also the time we become a conscious traveler and be more mindful about our travel choices as the way we travel and look into it has changed a lot.
Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Nepal is being less severe with less than 100 cases daily, a drastic decline compared to earlier months. As of 25th February, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal has reached 273,872 including 270,223 recovered and 2767 death cases. In general, the recovery rate is more than 98% which is a silver lining in this situation. The country has already started its inoculation campaign from 27th January by prioritizing frontline workers including Airlines workers. Government of Nepal has also relaxed many of its restrictions within the country. All businesses are open. However, there are certain restrictions still applicable in immigration rules like quarantine provision, mandatory travel insurance etc.
As of now, the Government requires you to be in quarantine for 7 days in designated hotels after arrival at your own cost. You also need to have Insurance of at least $5000 against COVID-19 per person. On arrival visa is limited to certain travelers only. As elsewhere, you must have COVID – 19 negative report obtained within 72 hours (excluding the hours in transits and layovers) prior to your departure. You can get full information at https://www.immigration.gov.np/ .Though, the Government has issued these policies, the tourism fraternity has requested the Government to waive the quarantine provision and resume the visa on arrival. The consideration is being made and the reviewal is likely to happen soon. Because of all these, travelling to Nepal now has different implications though it has revived a bit. So, there are certain things a traveler needs to know and do while travelling to Nepal this Spring.
Plan in advance
Planning in advance is always a great idea. However, sometime we exercise our impulse a bit more to add the element of adventure in our travel and just go with the flow. Now, we cannot afford to be a last minute traveler anymore. So, planning is a must! Though it can be tedious and at times stressful, we have to be well ahead. Your travelling to Nepal plan can start with choosing where you want to travel. Once the destination is fixed, figure out your budgets. Fix your travel dates in such a way that you have enough time to plan and prepare. Confirm and reconfirm your flights and accommodations. Get travel insurance. No rush and fuss while packing as it’s the point when you start to feel real. And all the time make sure that you have enough time.
Being informed is the most sensible thing to do in the current situation. Follow all the latest travel alerts and keep yourself updated. Know the latest rules, protocols and guidelines of Nepal Government. If you are travelling through a travel agent, they will also help you with the latest information. Not just protocols and guidelines, you should also be well informed about the current COVID -19 status and the health measures adopted in important places like airport, hotels, and public spaces. It is really important to be specific about choosing hotels. Better to choose highly rated local hotels or international chains like Aloft, Hyatt, Marriot International, Fairfield by Marriot, Crown Plaza, Radisson etc. that follow safety rules strictly. Besides hotels, it’s also equally mandatory to know about the cult and practices in your destination. For latest updates, the following sites can be resourceful to you.
Take help from a trusted and government registered travel company
Except in some restricted places, individual travel is allowed in Nepal. So for an independent traveler, Nepal is an ideal destination. However, taking help from a travel company is always a good idea. And not to mention, its importance is even more pronounced now. So, take help from a trusted company, registered with Nepal Government. You can also go through user generated portals like Trip advisor and Trustpilot while choosing a travel company. Travel company will keep you informed and alert. Not only will they guide you throughout your trip but also ensure your safety in any disruptions or unforeseen situations. And most importantly, they will save you from all the stress when you have already had enough in the last one year.
Keep it simple
The most important thumb rule is “keep it simple” from packing to travelling. The point of your travel is to regenerate yourself, not to worn yourself out. So, from packing to returning back, keep everything simple and easy going. Since Spring has warmer days, there is no need to carry bulky clothes. Bring some layerings and wind proof wears if you are hitting mountain trails. Otherwise light coverings are fine. Have enough health safety supplies but do not over stock it. You can avoid luxury travel gears and hi tech gadgets if you can live without them for few weeks. Be informed but do not get overwhelmed by information. Internet is flooded with information, be shrewd on choosing the right resource stations like Immigration Department, Ministry of Health, COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC), Department of Tourism, Nepal Tourism Board etc. Once you hit the trail, squeeze your comfort zone a little bit, build in time to rest, or simply get lost rather than struggle with yourself.
Suman Pandey, Explore Himalaya President and the former Chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter (2013- 2018), has been elected as the Secretary/Treasurer of PATA, the largest international travel association working for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. Mr. Pandey was voted in against his Malaysian counterpart through a virtual voting on 12th October. The newly appointed Executive Board is led by Chairman Soon-Hwa. As a member of the Executive Board, Mr. Pandey, together with his team, is responsible for developing strategies to support tourism boards across Asia Pacific with focus on post-Covid future and beyond. The new Executive Board members were confirmed at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on October 14, 2020.
Suman Pandey, the President of Explore Himalaya, CEO of Fishtail Air and Directors of Summit Air, Aloft Kathmandu Hotel & Chhaya Center, is an acclaimed tourism professional with 30 years of experience in Nepali Tourism. Notable for his innovative approach and diverse engagements with specialization in the Himalayan Adventure, he is accredited for his leadership role in various organizations including PATA Nepal Chapter, Nepal Tourism Board, Trekking Agent’s Association of Nepal, Airline Operators’ Association of Nepal etc. He is especially known for his remarkable initiation in various historical events including Everest Skydive (Since 2008), Kala Patthar Cabinet Meeting of Nepal Government (2009), First Himalayan Travel Mart (2017) etc.
Mr. Pandey’s remarkable contributions in Nepali Tourism is complimented by various accolades including “Suprasidha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu” from the King of Nepal in 2004; “Tourism Icon” by the Nepal Association of Tourism Journalists in 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by tourism publication Gantabya Nepal in 2017; “Tourism Man of the year” by Gantabya Nepal in 2010; and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for contributions in tourism by the “American Biographical Institute” (ABI) based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2008, to name a few.
On being elected, Mr. Pandey said, “It is a great honor to have been elected as the new Secretary/Treasurer. My focus will be both on the synergetic management of the team and the continual development of the region’s travel industry. In taking on this role, I commit to work together with the Executive Team, management team and our all members for the responsible growth of PATA and the whole tourism communities.”
We would like to congratulate Mr. Pandey and the newly appointed Team! We wish the Team every success for all the challenges that lie ahead.
Following our first update on coronavirus threat in Nepal, please find our second update as follows.
1. Taking into account the global recommendations and measure of the WHO, the Government of Nepal has decided to temporarily suspend visa-on-arrival for the nationals of the following 8 countries (to be effective from 10th March till the date of further notice). The Government has added 3 countries to the prior list of 5 countries.
i. People’s Republic of China (including Special Administrative Regions)
ii. Islamic Republic of Iran
iv. Republic of Korea
viii. Spain (Source: Department of Immigration, Government of Nepal)
2. The nationals of these 8 countries can obtain visa beforehand from the Nepali Missions abroad after submitting a recently issued health certificate stating that they are not infected by COVID-19. Those who have already got the prior visa from the mission and embassies of Nepal abroad are to provide health certificate that proves COVID-19 negative along with their travel document upon their arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport. The health certificate must be recently produced maximum 7 days earlier before the time of arrival in Nepal. (Source: Department of Immigration, Government of Nepal)
3. The nationals of these 8 countries are strongly recommended to use Tribhuwan International Airport as the only entry and exit point. Rest of the land POE (Point of Entry and Exit) in Nepal are temporarily suspended till the date of further notice. (Source: Department of Immigration, Government of Nepal)
4. At Tribhuwan International Airport, the preventive safety measures like thermal scanner, thermal gun and disinfectant spray are being continued with 24/7 Health Desk and Ambulance service. (Source: Tribhuwan International Airport Civil Aviation Office)
5. As of March 06, a total of 437 samples have been tested out of which 436 have proved corona negative. (Source: Ministry of Health, Government of Nepal)
We hope our second phase update on coronavirus threat in Nepal helps you to be informed. We shall keep you updated!
For more information:
It’s a known fact that Everest Base Camp Trek is a very rewarding highland adventure. Flying to thrilling Lukla Airport, walking past quaint Sherpa villages and breathtaking landscape, and finally getting real close to Everest, the highest of all peaks in the world, Everest Base Camp Trek is definitely a whole new level of experience. As expected of any trekking in Nepal, it also involves a lot of walking (continuously for about 11/12 days) in the alpine terrain. So, anyone interested to undertake trekking in Nepal is sure to ask mandatory questions like how high? how far? and how many hours. However, there is absolutely no reason to get worried – we are making things easier for you! Below we have listed some major facts on distance, time and elevation involved in Everest Base Camp Trek. Please note that we have used a standard itinerary to provide a general overview of the trek, though there can be some side treks and different stopovers depending on individual requirement.
Summary of distance, time and elevation
Distance in Everest Base Camp: The total distance in Everest Base Camp trek (Lukla-Everest Base Camp-Lukla) is about 130km round trip (65 km each way). Normal number of days to cover the distance is 11/12 days. So, you will be walking roughly about 11 km in about 6 hours a day in average. As the terrain is rocky with switchbacks (gradual ascent and descent), the pace will be slow about 2.5 km an hour. So, distance in Everest Base Camp Trek is achievable for people of all ages. As you need to acclimatize while going up, it takes 9 days to reach the Base Camp (including the 2 acclimatization days) and just 3 days to return to Lukla.
Elevation in Everest Base Camp Trek : Everest Base Camp Trek is not a very technical trekking. However, elevation is a bit of challenge that needs to be considered of. The very starting point of the trek, Lukla Airport itself is at an altitude of 2860m. Lukla Airport, known as Tenzing Hillary Airport, is popularly known as one of the most adventurous airports in the world due to its tricky runway perched on a cliff. The highest point you reach is 5545m (Kala Patthar), an amazing viewpoint to savor the beauty of Everest and her sister peaks. Though the altitude variation looks extreme, the itinerary is planned in such a way that your body gets enough time to acclimatize. An average elevation gain ranges from 400m to 800m per day. When you gain significantly high altitude in a particular day, the next day will usually be the rest day to acclimatize. As a whole, elevation in Everest Base Camp Trek defines both the challenge and joy.
Day to day distance, time and elevation
To get a more comprehensive idea on the distance, time (walking hours) and elevation, here is a day-to-day break down of the standard Everest Base Camp Trek with en-route highlights.
Day 1: Lukla to Phakding
2860m – 2656m
En-route Highlights: mani walls and boulders, villages like Cheplung, Lhawa and Ghat, suspension bridge (first one of six such bridges in the trail)
Day 2: Phakding to Namche
2656m – 3440m
En-route Highlights: Monjo (National Park Entry point, Entry Permit Check Point), Jorsalle, 4 suspension bridges (3 above Dudh Koshi and 1 above Imja Khola, the iconic one seen in movies), approximately 700m vertical climb before reaching Namche – shouldn’t be taken lightly as you will set off for the climb right after your lunch and when you have to walk uphill in altitude right after meal, it can’t so easy. This uphill climb is the first of the two tough climbs you will have in Everest Base Camp Trek.
Day 3: Rest Day at Namche
3440m – 3880m – 3440m
Visit to Sherpa Culture Museum, Sagarmatha National Park Museum ( about 100m above Namche) & Monastery
Hiking to Khumjung/Khunde (3790m- about 2 km from Namche) – about 400m climb from Namche to Syangboche Airport and continue to Khunde and Khumjung
Hiking to Hotel Everest View (3880m – about 2.5 km from Namche) – about 400m climb from Namche to Synagboche Airport and continue to the hotel
Hiking in a loop Namche-Syangboche-Khunde-Khumjung-Hotel Everest View-Namche; you can also choose to stay overnight in Khumjung or Hotel Everest View
En- route Highlights: Views of Everest, Nupste, Lhotse and Ama Dablam; Khunde Hospital, Khumjung School, Khumjung Monastery, Hotel Everest View (one of the highest hotels in the world) etc.
Day 4: Namche to Deboche
En-route Highlights: Views of Everest, Nupste, Lhotse and Ama Dablam; a suspension bridge over Imja Khola , after about 300m downhill walk to Punki Tenga; about 500m of climb to Tengboche (second of the two vertical climbs after Namche climb), Tengboche Monastery (3867m – 10 km, 5 hours)
Day 5: Deboche to Dingboche
3734m – 4410m
En-route Highlights: Views of towering Amadablam and Nuptse; Everest starts to hide behind the Nuptse wall; Pangboche Village (3985m- about 3 km, 2 hours) combination of 2 settlements lower and upper; Pangboche Monastery with its famed yeti skull; Pangboche is also the last village for Amadablam expedition – climbers go to Amadablam Base Camp via Pangboche; consistently flat trail throughout; crossroad one leading to Pheriche and other leading to Dingboche
Day 6: Rest Day at Dingboche
i. 1.5 km (if Nangkar Tshang Hill)
ii. 11 km (if Chhukung Village & Chukkung Ri)
i. 3 hours (includes steep climb)
ii. 6 hours
i. 4410m – 5083m
ii. 4410m – 4730m – 5550m
Hiking to Nangkar Tshang Hill (5083m, about 700m high from Dingboche, 2.5 hours) which sounds like Nagarjun (Nepali word of Sanskrit origin), at first steady climb and later on steep. Nangkar Tshang hill is right behind Dingboche village.
Hiking to Chhukung Village (4730m, about 5km, 1.5 hours) – the last village before Island Peak, can continue to Chhukung Ri (5550m, about 820m high from Chhukung Village, 3 hours) if you want to push yourself a bit harder – in this case an early start from Dingboche is required.
En-route Highlights: From Nangkar Tshang Hill 360 degree views of Mt. Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Island peak, Amadablam, Kangtega , Thamserku , Taboche, and Cholatse ; From Chhukung Ri impressive view of Imja Tse (Island Peak), Imja Glacier, Ama Dablam, Makalu and Nuptse
Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche
4410m – 4910m
En-route Highlights: Views of Amadablam, Taboche and Cholatse; Thukla – a riverside lunch stopover, A Memorial Park at Thukla Pass – has about 100 memorials (called chhortens in local language) of those who died while climbing Everest and other mountains including legendary climber Babu Chhiri Sherpa; Khumbu Glacier moraine
Day 8: Lobuche to Gorakshep (Base Camp hike)
i. 4.3 km (Lobuche – Gorakshep)
ii. 3.5 km (Gorak Shep – Everest Base Camp)
i. 2.5 hours
ii. 5 hours for round trip (3 hours + 2 hours)
i. 4910m – 5140m
ii. 5140m – 5364m – 5140m
En-route Highlights: Khumbu Glacier, close up views of Pumori, Nuptse, Khumbutse, Lhola, Everest Base Camp,Tip of Everest (highlight of the whole trek)
Day 9: Morning Kala Pathhar hike; Gorakshep to Pheriche
i. 1.2 km (Gorakshep – Kala Pathhar)
ii. 10 km (Gorak Shep – Pheriche)
i. 3.5 hours for round trip
ii. 5 hours
i. 5140m – 5545m – 5140m
ii. 5140m – 4371m
En-route Highlights: Spectacular sunrise view of Everest, Nuptse, Changtse, Lhotse etc. from Kala Pathhar
Day 10: Pheriche to Namche
4371m – 3440m
En-route Highlights: Pangboche monastery; Tengboche monastery; Suspension bridge at Phunki
Tenga; views of Nupste, Everest, Amadablam, Kangtega Thamserku, Kongde Ri etc.
Day 11: Namche to Lukla
3440m – 2860m
En-route Highlights: 5 Suspension bridges, Dudh Koshi River; and of course trees (you might have almost forgotten about them)
Chitwan National Park is a world heritage site and also the first national park in Nepal which is located in the mid-south Terai of Nepal. It is a huge block of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests. It was established in 1973 in order to protect the endangered animals which was found there. A total of 68 species of mammals, 544 species of birds, 56 species of herpetofauna and 126 species of fish have been recorded in this park. It is really popular forone horned rhino, tigers and gharials.
Chitwan National Park is also considered as the heart of the jungle found along the foot of the Himalayas. Several activities that can be done in Chitwan are;
Jungle walk is the opportunity to explore and experience the beauty of the flora and fauna. It may be of 1 to 5 days depends upon curiosity of the guest.
Canoeing is the typical handmade dugout canoe on either the Rapti or the Buddha Rapti River, which border the national park. There are chances to see two types of crocodiles, Gharial and Mugger basking on the riverbank.
Village tour/Cultural programme:
The native people of Chitwan are Tharu who offers guided cultural tours to meet the people and experience their traditional self-sufficient way of life. They also perform traditional Tharu folk dance at hotels and invite guests to join them in their rhythmic display.
Elephant breeding center:
This is recognized as the first elephant breeding center in Asia where baby elephants socialize with their parents and other babies owned by government on the purpose to raise the young elephants.
To track rare species four wheel jeep drive is prefered in the less disturbed areas. And the facilities inside the park are not available during the monsoon.
Visitors will have great opportunity to see many species of birds in early morning. Elephant back safari,an elephant back ride is one of the safest ways to enter jungle and see the wild life as it is anexciting never to be forgotten experience.
Riding on the bare back of elephant and go to the Rapti river for swimming and washing them is great fun to play.
There is a tower in the middle of the jungle where you can spend the whole night and feel real nature surroundings.
Crocodile breeding center:
Gharial crocodile is one of the endangered species of the world. To protect them, UN has established the crocodile breeding center where we product the large number of Gharials and release them in the River.
During the ride you will get to visit 20,000 lakes area, which afford a varied experience of birds and mammals.
There are three ways of transportation from Kathmandu to Chitwan; bus, car or flight. The road distance is 154.1 km. The cheapest way of transportation is by bus which costs $5 – $7 and takes 5/6 hours approximately. There is a direct bus departing from Kathmandu and arriving at Chitwan Sauraha. The quickest way of transportation is to fly which costs approximately $110 and takes 30 mins. It takes approximately 5/6 hours to drive from Kathmandu to Sauraha by car. There are 138+ hotels available in Sauraha. Prices start at $100 per night.