Nepal’s devastating earthquakes, tremors and aftershocks killed over 8000 people and injured over 100.000 people, throwing down this overwhelmingly beautiful, but extremely poor country down the misery hole. In the immediate wake of this natural disaster, international relief has been coming in with countries, ngo’s and indivuduals rushing to stem the wounds.
Children of Singati Bazar welcome us during our 2012 GHT trek. The village has been severely hit by the quake now with only few survivors. Are thoughts are with all the hospitable people of the whole valley we passed through on the way to Rolwaling.
Scantily, more news of the devastation intruded our lives through media and immedialtly a lot of people, especially those with a weakness for the country, felt the urge to do something. They end up fundraising or donating money through one of the many organisations active in Nepal. This help has been paramount in the immediate wake for the country but when international journalists and first relief workers left the country, attention slacked. For many not-involved ,it will be a sad memory to be confronted with when 2015 will be rear-mirrored during numerous annual reviews. And yes there is some good news, with kids returning to school, but international help stays essential with monsoon closing in soon.
International media coverage of the quake made it sound like the whole of Nepal was destroyed, and images of collapsed buildings and old heritage sites in Kathmandu made the headlines. Media failed to report that 80 per cent of Kathmandu’s houses were still intact, the airport was open, and that only 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts were severely affected. Nepali people are extremely resilient, and altough (international) help will stay necessary for quite some time, Nepal will overcome.
If you should believe media coverage, there is nothing left of historical buildings in Kathmandu worth visiting, Natioanal Geographic checked out What’s Rubble, What’s Still Standing. Nepali government is planning to reopen historical sites in and around Kathmandu from the 15th of June onwards.
We have received a lot of signs of life from Nepali people we met through our autumn 2012 great himalaya trail adventure. Even though some of our friends live in makeshift shelters, all of them report normal life picked up fast after first relief. Banks, shops and 90% of hotels are open. Busses are operating. Domestic flights serve all corners of the country. People that fled Kathamndu are returning to their homes, starting to rebuild and pick up their lives.
After the earthquake, all tourists fled the country and upcoming trips were cancelled for May and this fall. Now Thamel looks deserted, trekking gear in the numerous shops is gathering even more dust. Trekking routes are completely abandoned, and even Pokhara (Annapurna), where there wasn’t much damage, is largely empty.
Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has called upon the concerned government authorities, who warn against visits to Nepal, to step up measures for ensuring tourism activities to resume quickly. Therefore, we can’t encourage enough travelers and trekkers to come back to Nepal, the sooner the better. Tourism is Nepal’s most income generating sector. Nepal is a poor country and without your visit all development work from last decade will be shaked to dust.
The government has already formed a Tourism Recovery Committee in partnership with Hotel Association Nepal and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) to repair damaged trekking routes, heritage sites and promote safe tourism destinations. All trekking routes will be assesed by TAAN and will be declared open/closed in the upcoming weeks. So please check their website for live reports.
The west of Nepal was not touched by the quake! Upper Mustang, Humla and Dolpa, where the summer months of july/august/september are an excellent time for trekking! These areas lie in the rain shadow of the main Himalayan range and are therefore not affected by the monsoon.
There are hundreds of trekking routes untouched by the quake where people are really hoping you to come visit. Spend your money here and help them raise their own economy. Nepal has 2 distinct trekking seasons, of which October and November are the most popular trekking months. During this time, chances are high for clear skies and great mountain views. People are hesitant to come trekking, because they expect there will be more avalanches and landslides. But these are not new in mountains, they were there before the quake and more will follow. 95% of treks in Nepal, even those going really high up in the mountains, don’t go further then Base Camp of the greater peaks. Climbers in those base camps were hit by the quake, but almost no trekking tourists have been harmed.
The popular Langtang Trekking might not be possible because the village has been destroyed completely. Annapurna region, for example has remained almost untouched. Tea houses open and Sherpas are confident that they can still lead groups to Everest Base Camp and other trekking routes as well. We really encourage you to come for trekking. We know good guides whom we can put you directly in contact with to do all trekking upcoming summer months and for the fall. Government has not stopped giving permits. Hence come and experience adventure!
Be open however, that homes and lives have been devastated in many areas and it will take many years to fully rebuild some communities. Many of the regions affected need income from tourism, either through direct sales of services and products or employment of porters and trekking staff. If you cancel your booking or defer your trip to Nepal, you will only be making the impact of the earthquake worse for many families. Please do not cancel any trips scheduled after the monsoon (September 2015 onwards)… your contribution to employment and the general economy is vital to the rebuild of Nepal. (Robin Boustead, pioneer of the Great Himalaya Trail Nepal)
Suggestions for you to trek (contact us for more trip ideas!!)
Is Nepal still safe for visiting after the quake? Read it here!
Please tag your visit with #VisitNepalAutumn2015