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.
This trip offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the rich bird life in Nepal. You begin your birding journey from Phulchowki Hill that lies on the outskirts of Kathmandu. With some 288 bird species recorded to date, Phulchowki is the most popular bird watching spot in the valley. The hike to verdant Shivapuri National Park will offer you glimpses of the Spiny Babbler and Hoary-throated Barwing. Taudaha Lake located in the southern part of the valley is a favorite nesting site for migratory birds and water fowls.
You take a drive to the scenic lakeside town of Pokhara and enjoy myriad activities including bird-watching. You further proceed to Chitwan National Park & Hetauda and spot many of the endangered winged creatures while indulging in exciting jungle activities. A total of 540 species of birds has been recorded at Chitwan National Park till date. The park is especially important for grassland species like the Bengal Florican, Grey-Crowned Prinis, Slender-billed Babbler and Lesser Adjutant. Hetauda situated at an altitude of 474m is a stopover point for high altitude birds like the Ibisbill, seeking a warm site in winter. Cattle egrets, swallows, mynah and bulbuls are resident birds.
Further you drive to the next destination, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve which covers an area of 175 sq km and is in the eastern Terai region of Nepal. It is a beautiful and fascinating aquatic environment and is home to an astonishing variety of water birds that flock to its ponds full of flowering plants. The reserve provides an important habitat for a variety of wildlife but, in particular, water birds, including several migratory species such as the sarus crane from Siberia. In all, a total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded and these include many varieties of ducks, ibis, storks, egrets and herons, as well as the endangered swamp partridges and Bengal floricans. Koshi Tappu is also home to the last surviving population of wild water buffalo and its other inhabitants include blue cows, various species of deer, Gangetic dolphins and gharial crocodiles.
No doubt, this special 2 weeks’ tour provides you wonderful locations with high species count and best sightings. But most importantly, it also offers you an accomplished birding expertise of Andy Teasdale, a brilliant tour leader known for handling such remarkably challenging tasks.
Andy Teasdale, Team Leader
A passionate photographer, bird expert, qualified Mountain instructor and International Mountain Guides Carnet, Andy Teasdale runs a company based in Snowdonia offering sheltered and joyful guiding service that provides special outdoor adventures including photography, climbing, walking, alpinism and ski touring in Snowdonia and the Alps. An ardent birdwatcher and outdoor adventure enthusiast, Andy spends a lot of time in the mountains of Snowdonia and the European Alps instructing, guiding and leading expeditions year round to the greater ranges.
Andy’s expertise combines excellent birding knowledge, seamless photography skill and a vast experience of leading outdoor tours. Beside his profound interest on birds, his other photographic interests involve adventure sports and landscape. Never away from his adventure ingenuity and his loved camera to capture the spirit, Andy feels that photography is the best way to enhance and immortalize stories and experiences. You can visit his Facebook and Insta pages to see an impressive collection of his engagements. Explore Himalaya is really proud to partner with Andy Teasdale for a bird watching photography tour during November 2020, a relief project to uplift Nepali tourism that is severely hit by covid-19 setback.
Explore Himalaya congratulates Miss Wasfia Nazreen from Bangladesh on completion of her Climbing Course and for trekking upto Island Peak located in the Khumbu Region of Nepal from 17th November to 4th December 2010. After the completion of her climbing course, Ms. Nazreen climbed Island Peak (6173m) and was able to reach upto 5890m. before she had to descend due to bad weather. Her expedition and climbing course was arranged Explore Himalaya.
South Korean Oh Eun-Sun becomes the first woman to summit the 14 highest peaks
According to latest reports on BBC and Explorersweb.com a South Korean climber, Oh Eun-Sun has reached the summit of Annapurna and is claiming a record for becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks. Her ascent to the summit was telecast live on KBS TV network yesterday (27th April 2010) at 18:15 Korea time (about 3:00pm, local time). Oh Eun-Sun was accompanied by 3 sherpas and 2 KBS camera men: Mr. Ha-Young Jung and Mr. Kwan-Joo Nha.