We are now approaching Spring, one of the best seasons to travel in Nepal. People love this season for many reasons: temperature is more stable and predictable. Days are warmer. Snow starts to melt and you no longer have to negotiate with snowy trails. On top of that, hills are covered with rhododendrons. The country’s kaleidoscopic beauty is in full display. This time also, Spring will be same – the mountains, the trails as welcoming as always. However, travelling to Nepal this Spring will definitely be different.
The travel industry is still hard hit by pandemic, and travelers are still not so sure about leaving their homes. However, it is possible for visitors to travel to Nepal. It’s to be noted that tourist arrival reached nearly about 9000 in January. So people have started being more optimistic about travelling. And it is also said that with more than a year of being locked up, we crave for freedom and wilderness even more. So, if you wish to travel to Nepal now, it’s totally justifiable. However, it is also the time we become a conscious traveler and be more mindful about our travel choices as the way we travel and look into it has changed a lot.
Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Nepal is being less severe with less than 100 cases daily, a drastic decline compared to earlier months. As of 25th February, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal has reached 273,872 including 270,223 recovered and 2767 death cases. In general, the recovery rate is more than 98% which is a silver lining in this situation. The country has already started its inoculation campaign from 27th January by prioritizing frontline workers including Airlines workers. Government of Nepal has also relaxed many of its restrictions within the country. All businesses are open. However, there are certain restrictions still applicable in immigration rules like quarantine provision, mandatory travel insurance etc.
As of now, the Government requires you to be in quarantine for 7 days in designated hotels after arrival at your own cost. You also need to have Insurance of at least $5000 against COVID-19 per person. On arrival visa is limited to certain travelers only. As elsewhere, you must have COVID – 19 negative report obtained within 72 hours (excluding the hours in transits and layovers) prior to your departure. You can get full information at https://www.immigration.gov.np/ .Though, the Government has issued these policies, the tourism fraternity has requested the Government to waive the quarantine provision and resume the visa on arrival. The consideration is being made and the reviewal is likely to happen soon. Because of all these, travelling to Nepal now has different implications though it has revived a bit. So, there are certain things a traveler needs to know and do while travelling to Nepal this Spring.
- Plan in advance
Planning in advance is always a great idea. However, sometime we exercise our impulse a bit more to add the element of adventure in our travel and just go with the flow. Now, we cannot afford to be a last minute traveler anymore. So, planning is a must! Though it can be tedious and at times stressful, we have to be well ahead. Your travelling to Nepal plan can start with choosing where you want to travel. Once the destination is fixed, figure out your budgets. Fix your travel dates in such a way that you have enough time to plan and prepare. Confirm and reconfirm your flights and accommodations. Get travel insurance. No rush and fuss while packing as it’s the point when you start to feel real. And all the time make sure that you have enough time.
- Be informed
Being informed is the most sensible thing to do in the current situation. Follow all the latest travel alerts and keep yourself updated. Know the latest rules, protocols and guidelines of Nepal Government. If you are travelling through a travel agent, they will also help you with the latest information. Not just protocols and guidelines, you should also be well informed about the current COVID -19 status and the health measures adopted in important places like airport, hotels, and public spaces. It is really important to be specific about choosing hotels. Better to choose highly rated local hotels or international chains like Aloft, Hyatt, Marriot International, Fairfield by Marriot, Crown Plaza, Radisson etc. that follow safety rules strictly. Besides hotels, it’s also equally mandatory to know about the cult and practices in your destination. For latest updates, the following sites can be resourceful to you.
- Department of Immigration – http://nepalimmigration.gov.np/
- COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC) https://ccmc.gov.np/
- Tribhuwan International Airport Civil Aviation Office – https://www.tiairport.com.np/
- Ministry of Health and Population – http://heoc.mohp.gov.np/
- Take help from a trusted and government registered travel company
Except in some restricted places, individual travel is allowed in Nepal. So for an independent traveler, Nepal is an ideal destination. However, taking help from a travel company is always a good idea. And not to mention, its importance is even more pronounced now. So, take help from a trusted company, registered with Nepal Government. You can also go through user generated portals like Trip advisor and Trustpilot while choosing a travel company. Travel company will keep you informed and alert. Not only will they guide you throughout your trip but also ensure your safety in any disruptions or unforeseen situations. And most importantly, they will save you from all the stress when you have already had enough in the last one year.
- Keep it simple
The most important thumb rule is “keep it simple” from packing to travelling. The point of your travel is to regenerate yourself, not to worn yourself out. So, from packing to returning back, keep everything simple and easy going. Since Spring has warmer days, there is no need to carry bulky clothes. Bring some layerings and wind proof wears if you are hitting mountain trails. Otherwise light coverings are fine. Have enough health safety supplies but do not over stock it. You can avoid luxury travel gears and hi tech gadgets if you can live without them for few weeks. Be informed but do not get overwhelmed by information. Internet is flooded with information, be shrewd on choosing the right resource stations like Immigration Department, Ministry of Health, COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC), Department of Tourism, Nepal Tourism Board etc. Once you hit the trail, squeeze your comfort zone a little bit, build in time to rest, or simply get lost rather than struggle with yourself.