After months of indecision, conflicting information, and false rumors, Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism finally issued rules all foreigners (non-Nepali citizens) must meet as they enter the country, apparently effective October 17, 2020. It includes a 7-day quarantine requirement.
They were posted on the Nepal Tourism Board website
Entry Protocol for Mountaineering Expeditions and Trekking in Nepal
As per the information released by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation all foreign tourists visiting Nepal for Mountaineering Expeditions and Trekking must abide by the following terms and conditions for minimizing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Terms and conditions in this document are valid till a new official notice regarding the same is published by the Government of Nepal.
Terms and Conditions to be followed by Foreign Tourists Visiting Nepal for Mountaineering Expeditions and Trekking:
- All tourists coming to Nepal for mountaineering and trekking must obtain required visa before arriving in Nepal.In case of countries where prior visa provision for Nepal is not currently available, expedition teams or trekkers shall coordinate with their Travel/ Trekking Agency based in Nepal for arrangement of prior approval to enter Nepal. For prior visa approval, the Nepal based Agencies shall submit all prescribed details of the client/s and relevant details to Department of Tourism (DoT) for Expedition Teams and the Nepal Tourism Board for Trekking Tours, for recommendation of visa to be submitted to the Department of Immigration in advance. The concerned Agency shall be notified regarding visa recommendations.
- For the tourists arriving in Nepal with visa recommendation and prior approval as per Article 1, the visa shall be provided at the point of entry by the Department of Immigration.
- Tourists entering Nepal shall present following documents at Nepalese Immigration Entry Point:
- Negative report of RT (Polymerase Chain Reaction: PCR) test taken within 72 hours before arrival.
- Visa or prior approval document (ref Article 1) for entry to Nepal.
- Hotel booking for at least 7 days’ quarantine in Nepal.
- Insurance Coverage of at least US$ 5,000.00 (Five Thousand US Dollars) against COVID-19 per person
- After entry to Nepal, tourists shall stay in hotel quarantine for a minimum of 7 days
- Tourists shall be required to take PCR test on the fifth day of hotel quarantine at their own expenses, and shall be allowed to proceed for expeditions or trekking on obtaining RT PCR Negative test report
- As per Article 5, a tourist who tests RT PCR Positive for COVID-19, quarantine shall be extended till he/ she obtains a RT PCR Negative test report
- Expedition or trekking teams shall provide insurance coverage of minimum of NPR 100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Nepali Rupees only) against COVID-19 to team members from Nepal prior to obtaining permission for expedition or trekking
- While in expedition or trekking in Nepal, health protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Population of the Government of Nepal shall be duly followed
- Other terms and provisions to be followed by tourists in Nepal shall be as per regular notice and updates published by the Department of Tourism. The concerned Agency shall provide detailed information on the entry protocols to their clients/ tourists before the expedition or trekking in Nepal.
I have several Summit Coach clients headed over next week after learning of these official rules. Still, a moral dilemma remains of going to a country with an accelerating infection and death rate with limited or maxed-out medical facilities while running the risk of bringing the virus to remote areas unwittingly – in spite of testing – and giving it to an already isolated population.
Yes, Nepal depends on tourism like many other impoverished countries, and yes the industry need foreigners to salvage what is already a lost year, but as I was told by a representative of the Tourism Ministry in July, “I know so many are planning to go outside, but health is more important to human beings, we are discussing with the medical representative and also looking for a better condition.”
If it were me, and it isn’t, I’d wait for next year. As the saying goes, the mountains are not going anywhere.
Memories are Everything