In spite of record COVID cases and deaths to date, the Nepal government surprised their own trekking and mountaineering community announcing trekking and mountaineering groups will also be allowed to take foreign clients up to the mountains from 17 October. Media reports that Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali made the announcement at a media briefing.
The question is, how many people will come?
Nepal has flipflopped all year on opening and closing, vague rules, and a lack of a plan to address the Pandemic across the country. Of course, they are not alone, the US has not faired much better. Nepal is a poor country dependent on tourism and remittances from overseas workers, so there is a strong incentive to revive the tourism industry, but can it be done safely?
There are many open issues in my mind:
- Will be allowed to enter Nepal from your home country?
- What are the specific health requirements?
- What are your re-patriation plans if you get sick?
- Will your travel insurance cover your evacuation back home?
- Are there enough critical care beds available in Nepal?
- What evidence do you have that Nepal’s hotel, restaurants, transportation, and guide services will follow common-sense protocols?
One huge open issue is around quarantine. The last statement from the Tourism Ministry said foreigners would have to quarantine in a hotel for seven days.
It remains unclear the current status. I confirmed today with Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism spokesperson, Mira Acharya, that all foreigners will have to quarantine for 7 days in a hotel in Kathmandu before leaving for their trek or climb when they arrive starting October 17, 2020.
For me, I wouldn’t send a deposit without a written guarantee of a 100% refund policy and that Nepal is officially open. I would get it in writing as part of my contract.
The first climbing permit issued this year was to Asian Trekking’s Dawa Steven Sherpa six-member team – all Nepali – they will climb the 7000er, Baruntse.
The 18-member Bahrain military expedition arrived in Kathmandu and will quartine before leaving for Lobuche to acclimatize for their attempt on Manaslu. They are training for an Everest attempt in 2021.
On the Tibet side of the Himalaya, a large 20+ Chinese team will attempt Cho Oyo. China is currently locked out to foreigners.
Memories are Everything