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Month

September 2021
11Tourism revival in Nepal with new travel rules in place

Tourism Revival in Nepal

Nepal on Thursday threw away the seven-day quarantine requirement and resumed issuing on-arrival visas to all vaccinated foreign travellers in a bid to bring its virus-ravaged tourism industry back to life.

Visitors should have received their last dose of Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 full days prior to entering Nepal. Those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated will not get on-arrival visas. They have to get their entry permits from Nepali diplomatic missions, and also spend 10 days in quarantine in government-listed hotels.

A negative RT-PCR or Gene Expert or True NAAT test is required for all to travel to Nepal, according to a new travel protocol issued on Thursday. All travellers need to undergo mandatory antigen or rapid antigen tests at immigration entry points.

The new protocol was issued under the Infectious Disease Act (1964), after the Covid-19 Crisis Management Ordinance (2020), along with around a dozen ordinances, introduced by the government, became ineffective from September 16 when they failed to get through Parliament within the constitutional deadline.

After the Covid-19 Crisis Management Ordinance failed to get parliamentary approval, all legal frameworks related to travel also became invalid.
On Monday, the Cabinet approved the new travel protocol under the old Infectious Disease Act.

“We have approved the removal of the quarantine requirement for all vaccinated travellers arriving in Nepal from all international destinations and updated the travel procedures effective from Thursday, September 23,” Taranath Adhikari, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, told the Post. “The measures are expected to boost the country’s tourism industry.”

Before boarding a flight to Nepal, all vaccinated travellers will have to present a negative Covid-19 test result taken 72 hours prior to the departure, and fill up the international travellers’ online form at www.ccmc.gov.np and have a printed copy to apply for on-arrival visa at the airport, according to the travel protocol published by the Tourism Ministry on Thursday.

If they test positive, they will be sent to an isolation centre or hospital recommended by the Health Ministry. According to the new rules, if there is no antigen testing facility at the airport or immigration point, foreigners have to undergo the test at the hotel. They will be allowed to leave the hotel if the test comes back negative.

“Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated tourists have to mandatorily quarantine themselves at the hotel for 10 days at their own expense. On the 11th day, if they test negative, they are free to travel,” according to the new rule.

All expenses for testing for Covid-19, isolation and insurance should be borne by the travellers themselves. Travel and trekking agencies are responsible for enforcing all conditions set by the new rule.

Hotels will be responsible for implementing quarantine and isolation. If visitors don’t abide by the rules, the hotel should inform the police or other agencies concerned, according to the rule.

“Though a delayed decision, it is a huge boost for the country’s tourism industry,” said Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal. “We expect a partial recovery in arrivals this autumn, the country’s peak tourism season. There are high hopes for a full spring season recovery if there are no threats of a Covid-19 resurgence.”

Travel trade entrepreneurs say that inquiries from potential visitors to Nepal have been massive, and they were eagerly waiting for Nepal’s decision to ease quarantine requirements and visa issuance.

Travel and tourism businesses, which accounted for around 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and provided more than 1.05 million jobs directly and indirectly in pre-Covid-19 times, were the hardest hit after travel restrictions came into force in late March last year.

Last spring, the government reopened the country to foreign travellers in the hope of lifting the economy and employment by reviving tourism.

Subsequently, Nepal received a record-high number of foreigners aspiring to climb the world’s tallest peak, Mt Everest, as the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to peter out. But fresh Delta outbreaks and slow vaccine rollout again cast a pall on the country’s tourism.

After the second Covid-19 wave hit Nepal in April, the country slid into a devastating crisis with the authorities enforcing strict lockdown measures. About two months later, the restrictions were relaxed gradually, and since September 1, almost everything has been allowed to reopen.

Daily coronavirus infections have also fallen sharply from a high of 9,317 on May 11, 2021, to 1,239 on Thursday. Restrictions on businesses have been eased, and encouraging signs of an economic revival are emerging even as concerns persist about renewed outbreaks.

On Wednesday, the Asian Development Bank revised down its forecast for Nepal’s economic growth in the current fiscal year 2021-22 to 4.1 percent from the previous 5.1 percent, largely due to high Covid-19 cases and risks, though reduced now, and slowed growth in tourism and services. Tourism-dependent Nepal hosted 230,085 foreign tourists in 2020, a drop of more than 80 percent compared to 2019 and a figure similar to that of 1986. As of August, total international arrivals to Nepal had numbered just 66,966 individuals.

According to the new rule, on-arrival visas have been resumed for non-resident Nepalis or foreigners who are married to Nepali citizens too. If they are fully vaccinated, receiving the last dose at least 14 full days prior to the day they enter Nepal, they are allowed to proceed to their respective destinations.

If they are not fully vaccinated or have not had the last dose at least 14 full days prior to the day they enter Nepal, they will be allowed to continue to their respective destinations if their antigen test comes back negative.

According to the rules, people returning to Nepal for mourning rituals following the death of their loved ones will be allowed to go to their destinations if their antigen test comes back negative, based on the recommendation of the local government. Similarly, persons suffering from having illnesses or disabilities and their carers, are allowed to go to their homes directly if their antigen test comes back negative, based on hospital documents and the recommendation of the local government.

People aged above 75, their carers and children below five and their carers are allowed to go home following a negative antigen test at the airport, based on the recommendation of the local government.

Representatives of diplomatic agencies and their family members have to submit a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure. The online form at www.ccmc.gov.np for their on-arrival visa is mandatory for them as well. Those who have secured a visa at Nepal’s diplomatic missions abroad have to submit a negative Covid-19 report and fill up the form and submit it at the immigration point. If they don’t have Covid-19 symptoms after their arrival in Nepal, they will be allowed to go to their destination.

Official representatives of diplomatic missions in Nepal, if they are not vaccinated, should quarantine themselves for 10 days at a place recommended by their agency.

The government has also opened land entry points for all tourists, including Indian travellers.
Travellers entering Nepal through surface routes have to fill up the arrival form and undergo antigen tests. A negative report will allow them to enter Nepal. Except Indians who do not require visas, other visitors should obtain visas from the Nepali diplomatic mission in their respective countries.

According to the new rules, if the immigration points do not have facilities to conduct antigen tests, they need to do it at the hotel.

Similarly, fully vaccinated foreigners transiting to third countries through Kathmandu’s airport, after a short stay in Nepal, have to submit a negative test report 48 hours prior to their departure.

The rules say that children below five years of age do not require vaccines and tests. For children between five and 18 years of age, vaccination is not mandatory. Passengers departing from Nepal have to submit a negative Covid-19 test report taken less than 48 hours before departure or as per the rules of the countries they are travelling to.

With cases declining and almost everything opening up, tourism entrepreneurs for quite a while had been mounting pressure on the government to lift the travel ban.

Deepak Raj Joshi, former chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board, said the new rules are better late than never.
“Delays in government approval have caused headaches for scores of prospective travellers, who made their plan to visit Nepal in autumn, but had to cancel due to quarantine requirements,” Joshi told the Post. “The government should have made this decision a month earlier. Nonetheless, the decision has been made and this will be a big boost to the tourism industry as it emerges from this pandemic.”

Source: The Kathmandu Post

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Itinerary

Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek is considered as one of the most famous treks in Nepal but less popular than the classic Everest Base Camp trek and Annapurna Base Camp trek. So, this trek is less cramped and you will have an amazing experience of trekking.

Trekking to the third highest mountain of the world is a tea house trek as there are many tea houses and small lodges along the route where varieties of foods are served.  Kanchenjunga region is a restricted area. So, a local guide and at least 2 trekkers are required to collect important permits for the trek.

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek Itinerary
Tented camp in Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Where is it located?

Kanchenjunga is located at the far eastern side of Nepal preserved under the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project and Mount Kanchenjunga is known as one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. And the word Kanchenjunga is a Tibetan word meaning “Five treasure of The Great Snow” which symbolizes the five summits as gold, silver, precious stones, Grain and Holy Scriptures. Different species of flora and fauna can be spotted during this trek as the region is protected under conservation area.

When to trek?

Trekkers heading towards Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are the most favorable seasons to trek in Nepal as the weather is moderate, stable and warm and the skies remain clear which help you to relish the beauty. Summer (June-August) is also a rainy season which makes your trek risky and winter (December- February) is quite risky too as the trails are covered with snow and the weather is extremely cold.

You will have an amazing adventure that rewards you with scenic beauties of lakes, mountain peaks, glaciers, landscapes, meadows, rich local culture and tradition and rich flora and fauna.

Trip Highlights

  • Witness the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga.
  • Opportunity to sight some abundant wildlife such as musk deer, snow leopards, blue sheep, etc.
  • Experience the lifestyle and rich culture of Sherpas, Rais and Limbus along with Tibetan Refugees.
  • Scenic Vista of Mount Makalu and Mount Everest.
  • Amazing walk to the glacial lakes like Zuma, Thalung, Rathong and Yalung glaciers.
Trekker heading towards Kanchenjunga Base Camp

Outline Itinerary

Day 01: Fly to Bhadrapur and drive to Ilam (1677m) (5 hrs)

  • Early breakfast and take a 45 minutes flight to Bhadrapur from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
  • Further you will take a local bus or jeep and drive to Illam (Queen of hills).

Overnight in Illam. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 02: Drive to Taplejung (1820m) (4 hrs)

  • Today you will have a scenic drive to Taplejung via Mechi Highway.
  • Driving for 4 hours on a pitched and graveled road, you will arrive at Taplejung.

Overnight in Taplejung. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 03: Trek to Chiruwa (1270m) (5-6 hrs)

  • Starting off your journey from Taplejung, you enter the official Kanchenjunga trek route passing through Hungdewa River and Tamur Khola.
  • Following the east bank of Tamur Khola, the trail gradually ascends and descends taking you to the Sinwa village.
  • Continuing your trek you will find a suspension bridge above Thiwa Khola. By crossing that bridge you will reach Chiruwa- a small settlement of Limbu people.

Overnight in Chiruwa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 04: Trek to Lelep (1860m) (7 hrs)

  • Early morning breakfast in Chiruwa.
  • Start off your today’s journey by slightly ascending towards Lelep.
  • Pass through the lush forest of rhododendron along with a dramatic waterfall.
  • Cross a wooden bridge over Tamur River and reach Lelep with an extraordinary view of landscapes.

Overnight in Lelep. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 05: Trek to Amjilosa 2510m) (8-9 hrs)

  • Leaving Lelep behind, you will continue your journey by walking in a narrow path along the bank of flowing Tamur River with a fascinating view of the impressive backdrop of a gorge.
  • Further, you will be taken to a dense forest of different vegetation and tiny villages through an isolated trail.
  • Then, you will follow a complex trail descending and ascending frequently which ends at Amjilosa – a small settlement of Tibetan and Sherpa people.

Overnight in Amjilosa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 06: Trek to Gyabla (2730m) (4 hrs)

  • Following your early breakfast in Amjilosa, you will walk through a trail descending down to Thangyap.
  • Hike through Bamboo, Oaks, Rhododendron forests and bank of the Tamur River and stop at Thangyap for lunch.
  • Later pass through a dramatic waterfall and cross a wooden bridge over a Ghunsa River and finally reach at Gyabla village, a small settlement of Tibetan inhabitants.

Overnight in Gyabla. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 07: Trek Ghunsa (3595m) (4 hrs)

  • Today, you will have an easy trekking day to Ghunsa.
  • After breakfast at Gyabla village, you will walk through the dense forest of rhododendrons.
  • You will follow the banks of the river and reach at Phale village- a Tibetan inhabitant with beautiful potato farms.
  • Pay your visit to a Tibetan Monastery in Phale and continue your trek following the trail passing through the green fields and a forest of larches.
  • Later follow the trail descending down to the river bank of Ghunsa River.
  • Cross a wooden bridge before reaching Ghunsa village with Tibetan people as it’s inhabitants.

Overnight in Ghunsa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 08: Acclimatization Day

(Finally, a deserving rest day has come.)

  • Today, you will stay active by hiking to the surrounding terrains.
  • And, you will hike up to Lapsang La Monastery through the lush forest of rhododendrons and oaks.
  • Descend back to the village in the evening and spend the rest of the night.

Overnight in Ghunsa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 09: Trek to Kambachen (4100m) (4 hrs)

  • Leave Ghunsa after your early breakfast.
  • Walk through a landslide prone trail which passes through the off beaten trail of north Kanchenjunga.
  • Hiking through dramatic terrain, the trail slowly climbs uphill to the forest of Juniper and larches along the east bank of the river.
  • You will pass through green meadows, walk over the sandy river bank and cross a wooden and stone bridge and reach Rambuk Kharka (3720m).

(You will be amazed with an incredible sight of Mount Jannu (7710m) and Jannu Glacier.)

  • Lastly, reach Kambachen (a temporary settlement with few tea houses) after descending through the mountainside.

Opt 1: Overnight in a teahouse with basic facilities.

Opt 2: Overnight at a camp at the base of the Jammu glacier rewarding you with a beautiful night sky.

Overnight in Kambachen. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 10: Trek to Lhonak (4785m) (4hrs)

  • Today’s journey is quite challenging as you will walk through rocky fields and slippery paths.
  • You will follow the trail slightly climbing up to the lateral of moraine debris.
  • You will walk alongside the north bank of the river and cross over the Lhonak glacier.
  • Further trekking for a few hours will take you to Lhonak where few teahouses are available.

 Opt 1: Overnight in a teahouse with basic facilities.

Opt 2: Overnight in a camp in a huge grassy meadow. (Camping is better than teahouses rewarding you with the possibilities of seeing some fauna such as blue sheep, mountain goat, hyrax or marmots.)

Overnight in Lhonak. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 11: Trek to Kanchenjunga North Base Camp (4785m) (9-10 hrs)

  • Today, you will be heading towards Pangpema.

(Pangpema is the local name of Kanchenjunga North Base Camp. It is a flat land known for rewarding the best view of Mount Kanchenjunga, Pathivara Peak and impressive ice fall along with massive Himalayan glaciers.)

  • You will gradually climb the trail following the line of moraine. 
  • Few hours of challenging trek in the rocky trail will take you to the flat grassy plain of Pangpema where you will notice a small stone hut with a rock decorated with prayer flags on the side.
  • Relish the view and collect some memories before you return to Lhonak.

Overnight in Lhonak. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 12: Trek to Ghunsa (3595m) (6 hrs)

  • After breakfast in Lhonak, you will retrace the route to Ghunsa.
  • Today’s trek is mostly downhill enjoying the views of the peaks, meadows and glaciers.
  • You will pass Kambachen and Rampak Kharka to reach Ghunsa.

Overnight in Ghunsa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 13: Trek to Sele Le (4290m) (4 hrs)

  • Leaving Ghunsa behind, you will take a right hand sided trail to reach Sele Le.
  • The trail is mostly steep and is also isolated from human settlements until you reach Sele Le.
  • You will reach Sele Le crossing dense rhododendron and juniper forest.

Overnight in Sele Le. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 14: Trek to Cheram (3870m) (9 hrs)

  • Enjoy your breakfast with beautiful morning views
  • Today you will climb about 400m to the Mirgin La Pass (4480m) enjoying the spectacular views of the Jannu peak, Makalu, Baruntse, Chamlang, Kanchenjunga, and kabru. Some of the Himalayan range across the Sikkim border is also visible.
  • You will also come through the highest pass of this trek, Sele Le La Pass
    (4843m).
  • After a hideous day, you will rest and spend your night in one of the lodges in Cheram.

Overnight in Cheram. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 15: Trek to Kanchenjunga South Base Camp (4580m) (6-7 hrs)

(Kanchenjunga South Base Camp is also known as Oktang Base Camp.)

  • After early breakfast, you will start your day off by heading towards Oktang.
  • You will be amazed as you ascend higher as the views of Mount Rothang and Kabru in Nepal-Sikkim border gets closer and clearer.
  • You will pass through the snout of Yalung glacier and the array of ablation valleys before arriving in Oktang Base Camp.
  • Enjoy an awe-inspiring view of Kumbhakarna Glacier from the base camp as it displays the most dramatic vista of the eastern part of the glacier.
  • Finally descend down to Cheram to spend the night.

Overnight in Cheram. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 16: Trek to Torongdling (2995m) (6-7 hrs)

  • After your breakfast at Cheram, you will trek downhill to lower altitudes enjoying splendid vistas of different peaks and glaciers.
  • You will walk down through the forests of rhododendrons and oaks.
  • Further, you will follow an easy trail along with Simbua Khola and walk through the jungles of rhododendron and pines before you reach Torongdling.

Overnight in Torongdling. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 17: Trek to Yamphuding (2080m) (7-8 hrs)

(This is one of the toughest days throughout the journey to Kanchenjunga Base Camp. You will be walking through landslide prone trails and difficult sections.)

  • You will have a tough 600m climb to Lamite Pass (3500m).
  • Further climbing will take you to Simbau Khola Valley and here you will cross a wooden bridge.
  • Walking by the woods of rhododendron and pine you will come to another pass called Dhupi Bhanjyang (2540m).
  • From here, the path descends down to the cultivable fields where you will cross ridge and reach Yamphuding.

(Yamphuding is a beautiful village of Sherpas, Rais, Limbus, and Gurungs. It is as bright as a village in Ghunsa.)

Overnight in Yamphuding. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 18: Trek to Khebang (1910m) (5-6 hrs)

  • Early breakfast in Yamphuding.
  • Leaving the village behind, you will trek through villages of Chettri and Brahmins.
  • As you continue the journey, you come through splendid landscapes and settlements of different ethnic groups.
  • After some ascents and descents, you will arrive in Khebang.

Overnight in Khebang. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 19: Trek to Khamdime (1500m) (5-6 hrs)

(The last day to trek in the Himalayas.)

  • Leaving off from Khebang, you will descend towards a beautiful place called Dobhan.
  • Having lunch at Dobhan, you will continue your trek with water breaks in between the route.
  • Following the trail through villages, farms and green meadows, you will come to Khamdime and spend the night.

Overnight in Khamdime. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 20: Drive to Bhadrapur (10 hrs)

  • The drive will be quite long, exhausting and tiring today yet rewarding.
  • Exhaustion may make you feel low but the views throughout the journey will turn you up.
  • Nearly 10 hours of off-road drive from Khamdime will take you to Bhadrapur.

Overnight in Bhadrapur. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 21: Fly to Kathmandu (45 min)

  • You will have your breakfast and take a 45 minutes long scenic flight to Kathmandu city.
  • You will fly above magnificent Himalayan ranges like Mount Everest, Mt. Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga.

Overnight in Kathmandu. Breakfast included.

Conclusion

Journey to Kanchenjunga Base Camp will be an amazing trip rewarding you beautiful memories of the splendid views of the Himalayas landscapes, lakes and glaciers. You will witness the third highest massif of the world with some local culture and tradition and experience the lifestyle of Nepali ethnic groups.