There are mixed reports coming out of Nepal. The media says it’s not safe, other tourists, backpackers and trekking companies are saying it’s just fine. In fact, it’s cheaper and better because you have much of the country to yourself.
BootsnAll adventure staff recently met up with Bishnu Subedi, who runs a Nepalese trekking and adventure company. Bishnu gave us his inside scoop on safety and his company in Nepal.
1. Over the last few years, tourism has dramatically declined in Nepal because of the Maoists. Should this concern tourists?
It is true that tourism has gone down drastically in the last few years, mostly due to political unrest and Maoist activities. In such a situation, it is obvious for the travelers to be conscious of the safety and security status. To be honest, we are very concerned about these issues and try to disseminate the right information to our potential clients. After all, we understand their wants and needs, as we do not want to put them into a bad situation or create a vacation experience that would cause them to never come again.
Actually, I think there isn’t as much political unrest in Kathmandu city as the media wants us to believe. The media exaggeration had made people believe that violence is widespread. Contrary to newspaper and television coverage, tourists are still travelling to Kathmandu, both on business and for leisure. People who have been to Nepal say it is safe to travel to major tourist attractions. I feel the media is one-sided in their reporting on this issue. What I am trying to explain is that there is unrest in Nepal, but it is restricted to certain areas. It is similar to the problems we are having in the South of Thailand. But I presume, when people read news coverage about the separatist problems in Thailand, they might wrongly think the violence is widespread.
Being a responsible member of this sensitive industry, I should say that the current situation of Nepal should not concern the tourist at all. Tourists need not to be afraid, as the unrest is limited to areas controlled by Maoist insurgents, who have gone on record to say that they will not harm tourists. We understand and know of these locations very well, and we will never put our clients, friends and colleagues in harms way.
2. Are you still able to operate all your trips without compromising safety?
Since its inception, our company has never operated without safety guidelines. Our membership in major home tourism associations and other important links ensures this particular matter. In fact, we are in the process and shortly will be an ISO certified company, which calls for greater attention and systematic approaches to operation of any trips.
To date, every client or group who has joined us for their holiday has returned with a happy smile of satisfaction, this is what we strive for. In fact, out of the numerous services that we offer, we make sure and confirm that safety always comes firstes first. We take every possible safety measure beforehand and there is no question of compromising it.
3. Are other tourists coming to Nepal or is basically no one there?
As I said earlier, there is certainly a decrease in the number of tourists visiting Nepal due to the present political scenario and the exaggeration by media. However, this has not affected true holiday lovers from continuing to vacation in this beautiful country. In spite of all the odds, you will see tourists every day, and it is true that Nature Trail has been busy in the last season, and optimistic to have better days ahead.
4. Tell us a little bit about your company Nature Trail Nepal, what makes your company unique compared to the hundreds of other Nepalese trekking companies?
Established in 1991, Nature Trail is one of the fastest emerging Travel / Trekking companies in Nepal, recognized by Govt. of Nepal, Ministry of Tourism. At the early start, Nature Trail was a mere tour operator for FITs (Free Individual Travellers) and has since rapidly grown with expansion of its activities to handling groups inclusive over the Indo-China region. We are an active member of several associations: Trekking Agent Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Association of Travel and Tours Agents (NATTA), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and we are on our way to be the first trekking company in Nepal to be ISO certified.
Though we may not appear unique among the crowded trekking companies in Nepal but we simply believe in the attitude of â€˜Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently’. This means that we undertake everything within our power to exceed client’s expectation in terms of quality and value. Thus, we have developed a company with an environment of sincere commitment to overall quality and safety. Without this, we would not be Nature Trail Trekking.
Being a fully-licensed, private, Nepalese owned company, we are able to offer our clients flexibility in costing and program development. Importantly, our first hand knowledge of the cultures and lifestyles of Nepal enables us to create unique program and customize itineraries to individual preferences. Our business policy has been based upon trust, honesty, commitment and co-operation. We simply see ourselves as a well established and professional travel organizer in Nepal.
5. We know some of the top destinations in Nepal are the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp, but what are the new up-and-coming destinations that people like to visit?
Apart of Annapurna and Everest area, there are few other areas one shouldn’t miss to explore.
- Langtang Valley
- Upper Mustang
- Dolpo Area (both upper and lower)
- Manaslu and Dhaulagiri area,
- Jumla and Rara Lake
The Langtang National Park, located due north of Kathmandu, until the Tibetan border, provides some really awesome trekking opportunities. Langtang trekking is good for trekkers of all experiences. Some may opt for a more strenuous up and down trek, hiking 10-12 hours a day, and others may opt for a lighter trek hiking for only about 4-6 hours per day. It is a beautiful trekking area, not too far from Kathmandu in location, but you would never know that a city was within 500 kilometers from here. Similarly, we organize treks to other regions to the likes of Khaptad Ramaroshan in the far west, Ganesh Himal in the north, Rolwaling in the east, Rara Lake in the remote area of Karnali district.
One can feel privileged to be able to trek through the villages and remote highlands of Nepal. The country has a timeless nature that captivates people. The relaxed way of life, the warm, friendly people, and arguably the most magnificent scenery in the world make the Himalaya a wonderful travel destination.
There are few better experiences than trekking under the canvas of Nepal’s wilderness. The freedom, fresh air and exhilarating views make for an unforgettable experience in this country of contrast. Camping treks with Nature Trails is based on team work where everyone pulls together, for it is as much about the journey along the way as it is about the destination. For those wanting to go away from the beaten path, we do offer number of itineraries, which cover a variety of ‘off the beaten track’ destinations.
6. If you could offer any advice to potential tourists looking for a great outdoor adventure vacation, what would you tell them about your country?
Nepal is considered one of the best adventure destinations in the world. It is the only country in the world where you can climb the highest mountains, trek the scenic countryside with the icy peaks always in the background as well as enjoy a jungle safari in the densest of forests or engage in extreme activities.
Ever since the country opened its peak to climbers in 1949, the Nepal Himalaya has become a great theatre of mountaineering activity, and the drama of success and failure have provided impetus to thousands of men and women to meet the ultimate challenge. However, to experience Nepal’s unbeatable combination of natural beauty and cultural riches is to walk through them. One can walk along the beaten trails or virgin tracks, either way you are in for an experience of lifetime. In recent years, this tiny Himalayan Kingdom has also earned a reputation as one of the finest places in the worlds for river running. There are numerous rivers which offer excellent rafting, kayaking or canyoning trips.
The ultimate thrill of a bungy jump can now be experienced in Nepal at one of the best sites that this sport can boast of anywhere in the world. Paragliding can be truly a wonderful and fulfilling experience for the adventure seekers. A trip will take you over some of the best scenery on earth, as you will share airspace with Himalayan griffin vultures, eagles, kites and float over villages, monasteries, temples, lakes with majestic views. One can also go for hot air ballooning for it affords the most spectacular bird’s eye view Himalayan ranges. For those who wished they could fly like birds when growing up, they must go for ultra-light aircraft flights. Besides, there are plenty of adventures to choose from such as cable car ride, boating, rock climbing, Everest flights, mountain biking, pony trekking and the list continues.
Few destinations in the world can match Nepal in the variety of adventure tourism. Only in Nepal is one able to participate in such a wide variety of adventure sports while being immersed in breathtaking views. I would say that our country is one of the finest, the most beautiful and affordable destinations for your adventure vacation, and to experience this, you have to try it!