Monthly Archives: October 2014

Khumbu listed among Lonely Planet’s 10 best regions

Lonely Planet has placed Nepal’s Khumbu region among the 10 best regions to explore in 2015. Khumbu is also known as the Everest region.

The Australian-based world’s largest travel guide publisher has also cautioned would-be visitors about recent mishaps in Nepal.

The guide book has placed Nepal in the sixth spot after Gallipoli in Turkey, Rocky Mountain National Park in the US, Toledo in Belize, Tasmania in Australia and Norway Arctic in Norway.

It said that Everest was a classic journey following in the footsteps of Tenzing and Hillary into the planet’s most jaw-dropping mountain arena, home to the world’s highest peak. “With Nepal’s Maoist uprising firmly behind it, trekkers are rediscovering the region’s remoter trails. We don’t really need to sell you on the mountain glories of the Khumbu region; just a whisper of the word ‘Everest’ and everyone in the room snaps to attention,” it said.

“Try the high-altitude Three Passes trek or adventurous Mera Peak expedition. And since 2015 marks a half-century since Major Jimmy Roberts organized the first commercial trek in Nepal, it might be time to dust off those trekking boots,” the guide book said.

“If you want something more authentic, tread the old-school approach routes to Everest from Jiri and Tumlingtar, along parts of the 1,700-km-long Great Himalaya Trail. Already popular, the trails to Everest are only going to get busier in future seasons. Why trek to Everest? Well, as Mallory famously quipped, ‘Because it’s there’.”

It said that this month’s tragic events in Annapurna which killed dozens of trekkers have pushed mountain safety to the top of the agenda. Extreme weather can occur in the Himalaya at any time, and it is essential to monitor local weather conditions and seek shelter if conditions deteriorate.

“On any trek, make sure you are properly equipped, inform people of where you are going and when you will be back, and seek local advice as you trek.”

With 60 flights arriving daily at Lukla airport in the peak season and 200 people queuing up to attempt Everest on a good day, overcrowding on the trails is an ever-pressing issue.

Finding a sustainable way to deal with the waste produced by so many trekkers and porters in such a remote region is a complex problem, though solar-powered technology is making a difference in many trekking lodges.

The book added, “Fans of the bizarre will want to hike up to Khumjung Monastery to get a peek at its yeti scalp. Nearby Pangboche Monastery had its famous yeti hand stolen in 1991, but a replica is now on display.

From this year, each Everest climber is required to carry 8 kg of waste off the mountain. It said that air safety in Nepal is another concern, after air crashes in 2010, 2011 and 2012 killed dozens of trekkers and Nepali staff en route to or from the region.

The Everest region receives around 36,000 trekkers and mountaineers annually. The local Sherpa people are what make trekking in Everest region such a joy.

“Many of the lodges you stay in will be run by retired summiteers, and most families have at least one member employed as a climbing porter or trekking guide.”


Pokhara tourism industry bears brunt of Annapurna blizzard

Tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara fear the blizzard and avalanches in the Annapurna Region in the second week of October, which claimed lives of many trekkers and Nepali support staff, could affect their business.

They say foreign tourists could defer or cancel their plan to trek in the Annapurna Region following the disaster.

Blizzards and avalanches in different parts of the Annapurna Region on October 14 claimed at least 40 lives.

Hoteliers say some foreign tourists have already canceled their bookings. Hari Sharma, president of Paschimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara, told Republica that the tragic incident during the peak tourist season may have frightened many foreigners. “Many tourists have already diverted to other destinations,” he added. “Hotels in Pokhara used to be full at this time of year. Now, we have only handful of tourists.”

Tourism entrepreneurs say the disaster also tarnished the image of the Annapurna Region which is home to some of the best trekking trails in the world.

“Foreigners have started saying that trekking in Nepal are not safe and lack even basic infrastructures,” added Sharma.

Om Prakash Pandey, proprietor of Landmark Hotel, said 26 visitors from Germany and Australia have cancelled their booking after the Annapurna blizzard. “They were preparing to trek in the Annapurna Region. Following the disaster, they have diverted to other destination,” he added.

Similarly, officials of Shangri-La Village Resort said 72 Japanese visitors have canceled their booking. Gupt Giri, front office manager of the resort, said four groups of Japanese tourists had booked rooms for two nights. “They had booked the rooms for one night before the trek and another night after the trek. But they have canceled all the bookings,” Giri said.

Around 115,000 foreign tourists trek in Annapurna Region annually.

Ram Chandra Sharma, president of Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Pokhara Chapter, said the Annapurna blizzard would make long-term impact on Nepali tourism industry. “As we couldn´t rescue trekkers stuck in different trekking trails in time, foreigners feel Nepal is not a safe destination. It is a big setback for the tourism industry,” he added.

Tourism experts also say the Annapurna blizzards will deteriorate country´s tourism image in the international market. “We couldn´t adopt precautionary measures even though India was on high alert to minimize the impact,” tourism expert Jhalak Thapa said.

My Republica

Pokhara int’l airport project gets cabinet nod

The cabinet meeting on Monday approved the agreement between the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and China CAMC Engineering Co Ltd (CAMCE) for the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport.

The decision paves the way for construction of the airport which had been pending for the past 40 years.

Luo Yan, chairman and president of CAMCE, and Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, director general of CAAN, had signed the agreement on May 22.

“The cabinet meeting has given a go-ahead today (Monday). Now construction works on the airport will begin,” Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Deepak Chandra Amatya told Republica.

The proposed airport, which will spread over 200 hectares, has a 2,500 meters long and 45 meters wide runway.

As per the agreement, CAMCE will construct the runway, taxi-way, apron, international and domestic terminal buildings, air-traffic control tower, cargo terminal building and airport hangar.

Birendra Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson of CAAN, the airport will be constructed at a total investment of Rs 21.47 billion. “The Ministry of Finance (MoF) will get concessional loans from Export Import (Exim) Bank China. The ministry will then issue the loan to CAAN charging interest rate of 8 percent,” added Shrestha. He further added that the cabinet nod to the agreement will expedite the loan sanctioning process.

CAAN had invited tenders for the airport in BoQ (Bills of Quantities) model with the cost estimated at US$ 145 million. The airport project has been on hold since July 2012 after the lowest bidder — China CAMCE — bid $305 million, which was 85 percent higher than the cost estimated by Nepal.

On April 7 this year, the CAAN board gave the green signal for the construction of the controversial regional international airport in Pokhara. That meeting of the CAAN board, chaired by the then tourism minister Bhim Acharya, approved the project under a revised cost of $216 million as recommended by an independent three-member panel formed by the government.

The government acquired 3,106 ropanis of land at Chinedanda for the airport 38 years ago and this year plans to add 500 ropanis to the project as the new study suggests that it requires additional land.

“The government in the budget for the current fiscal year has allocated Rs 2.6 billion for the construction of the airport. The allocated amount will be used for land acquisition and for fencing purpose,” added Shrestha.

CAMCE is expected to complete construction of the airport within four years of the beginning of work. According to CAAN, the airport will come into operation from 2019.

My Republica

Tsho Rolpa: Fusion of nature & culture

Tsho Rolpa is one of the biggest glacial lakes in Nepal. Located at an altitude of 4,580 meters in the Dolakha District, this lake lies between the famous Langtang and Everest trekking ranges.

The trekkers will be rewarded with the enchanting view of Majestic Mountain Gaurishankar. The route is near by the Tibet border side so that one can understand a little about Tibetan culture too. This area is mostly used by Buddhist people However, we can also see the Brahmin, Chhetri, Tamang and Sherpa villages and theirs life style.

The trail following the course of River Tamakoshi on the way to Simigaun adds more thrills to the trek. Between the Everest and Langtang region is the stunning mid-Eastern range of the Himalayas; the Rolwaling valley. This is home to famous peaks such as Mount Ghauri Shankar (7134m), Dorje Lakpa, and many others. A few miles south of the Tibetan border, it is known as one of the seven hidden valleys in the Himalayas.

This is a wild and barely explored district where legendary tales of the abominable snowman, known as the “Yeti”, haunt the imagination of climbers. On the slope of Rolwaling Peak itself, the famous British mountaineer, Eric Shipton, first photographed Yeti footprints in 1951. The trek starts from Dolakha, near Charikot, an eight-hour drive from Kathmandu. Trekkers also will be enjoying beauty of Tsho-Rolpa, the largest Glacier Lake in Nepal.

There is a Great nunnery Gompa called Bigu Gompa. There are more than 300 nuns. Two festivals are celebrated in a year in this place like Mani Rimdu in Tenngboche Gompa in Khumbu region. In Sherpa Language, Biku means “Seed”. There is Sherpa village from where stunning View of Gaurishankar (7,145m), Melungtse (7,181m) and other mountains, a good landscapes; the village of Beding (3,690m) and monastery, the village of Na (4,183m), Tso Rolpa Lake are the main attractions.

Major Attraction: Exploring the Tsho Rolpa Ice Lake, breathtaking scenery of terrace farmlands, panoramic snow covered soaring high Himalayan peaks, majority of Sherpa people and their own traditional culture, a historical place in Dolakha Bazzar, beautiful and scenic Beding Village.


455 trekkers rescued in Himalayas, blizzards death toll climbs to 43

The government and Trekking Agency Association of Nepal 9TAAN) has rescued 455 trekkers including foreign tourists trapped due to snowstorm and in avalanches that took place Tuesday and Wednesday in Manang, Mustang, and Myagdi and Dolpa districts.

Many trekkers returning from the Annapurna circuit and Upper Dolpa remain out of contact.

Six foreigners and nine Nepalese have been rescued from Yamang Pass and Ghok area along the border of Mustang and Dolpa districts, according to District Administration Office, Mustang. Nine more Nepali trekkers are learnt to have missing in the area.

Likewise in Manang district, as many as 251 including 162 Nepalese and 89 foreigners trapped in the glacier and snowy hills have been rescued until Saturday evening, said CDO Devendra Lamichhane.

CDO Lamichhane told that the rescue operations could not be made effective due to a bad weather condition in the snow covered areas on Saturday while a search for the missing three Nepalese, four Canadians, three Indians and Japanese is underway, he added.

Baburam Bhandari, Chief District Officer in Mustang district said as many as 171 people were rescued from Mustang alone.

In the meanwhile an additional body of a Japanese woman was found on Saturday. Vidhya Hirachan, Executive Member of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), said the Japanese woman’s body was discovered in the Thorung-La pass area. With this, the death toll from avalanche and snowfall in Nepal Himalayas has reached to 43.

23 tourists rescued from Dolpa

Some 23 tourists including 15 foreigners left stranded due to heavy snowfall in mountainous Dolpa district have been rescued Saturday through a chopper belonging to Fishtail Ai.

The tourists were heading toward Shey Phoksundo, Saldang in the district through Chharka VDC. They were airlifted through a chopper after it became impossible for them to return on foot owing to heavy snowfall.

Meanwhile, Mamthupa Adventures agency has informed that some 47 tourist are returning on foot from upper Dolpa regions.


Blizzard death toll climbs to 29

Death toll from snowfall and avalanche that struck high mountains in western Nepal reached 29 Thursday with recovery of 18 new bodies.

According to Nagrik news report that quoted local authorities as saying, Nepal Army (NA) personnel recovered 10 more dead bodies in Mustang and three more dead bodies in Manang until Thursday.

Likewise,  five trekkers missing following an avalanche in Myagdi were also found dead on Thursday, according to local authorities.

Earlier, 11 bodies — four in Mustang and seven in Manang — were found as of Wednesday.

Of the total 10 new dead bodies found in Mustang, two are of Israelis, one is of Polish and two are of Nepalis. Identities of the remaining six bodies have yet to be confirmed. Similarly, of the total three new dead bodies found in Manang, two are of Indians and one is of a Nepali.

In Myagdi, three of the five people found dead are Nepali while the remaining are Solvakians. Meanwhile, rescue workers have recovered 10 bodies from Phu and Kangla area of Manang.

“Rescue team of Nepal Army (NA) has told us that there are eight bodies near Doomcamp below Thorong Pass. We will bring them Friday,” Hari Bhujel, second vice president of TAAN Pokhara Chapter, said.

JTCC welcomes director general of Tourism Department

Wednesday, 15th October, 2014

Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) – a forum of around three dozen travel trade organizations – on Tuesday organized a program to welcome Tulsi Prasad Gautam, director general of the newly formed Tourism Department.

JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Prasad Dhamala welcomed Director General Gautam by offering bouquet and khadas. Similarly, representatives of other member organizations of JTCC also offered khadas to Gautam.   In the program, TAAN General Secretary Sagar Pandey gave brief introduction of JTCC and elaborated on activities being carried by it.   Speaking at the program, Deepak Mahat, former president of TAAN and coordinator of Nepal Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism (NEAT) Nepal, said as the new director general should clear suspicion among tourism entrepreneurs that the department has been formed as an alternative to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). “The department cannot work without taking private sector into confidence because tourism industry is driven by the private sector,” he said, adding: “We are willing to join hands with the department for the betterment of Nepali tourism industry.” Similarly, Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), said the department should take initiative for lifting restriction on foreign trekkers to different controlled areas of the country. “If foreign tourists are allowed entry in controlled areas like other trekking areas in the country, the number of foreign tourists will increase significantly.  This would create new jobs and make big contribution to national economy,” he added.

Likewise, Chandra Rijal, president of Nepal National Tourism Entrepreneurs Organization, urged the new director general to introduce a one-window system for all services needed for tourism entrepreneurs. “The existing system of visiting different agencies should be stopped. I request the new director general to take the initiative to this effect,” added Rijal.   Addressing the program, Director General Gautam assured the tourism stakeholders that the Tourism Department does not intend to replace NTB as it has its own objectives and jurisdiction. “NTB will continue to perform responsibilities assigned to it. The department has been revived to enhance service delivery of the then Tourism Industry Division,” he added. Gautam also said there is a need to make amendment to Tourism Act and review different regulations related to the tourism industry. “We will soon organize a meeting of stakeholders to discussion on the act and regulations,” he added.   Gautam also said he would start internal study for introducing one-window system for all tourism related services very soon.

JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Prasad Dhamala said they initiated protest against NTB to usher in good governance. “Good governance is necessary not only in NTB, but also in other organizations,” he added. Dhamala, who is also the president of TAAN, requested Director General Gautam to take initiative for end transportation syndicate which has been barring the movement of tourist vehicles in different parts of the country. He also urged Gautam to implement ‘no trekking without guide/porter system’ to ensure safety of trekkers.

Source: TAAN

Paragliding to start soon in KTM Valley

Kathmandu, Nepal – The super adventurous sport of paragliding will commence officially in the Kathmandu valley after conclusion of the Bada Dashain festival with a joint effort from the South Korean ParaLove Company and the Paragliding And Hand Gliding Company based in the capital city.

The paragliding will take place from Bisankhunarayan VDC of the Lalitpur district.

At least 10 glider-aircrafts –five double seated aircrafts with pilots and five single seated aircrafts – will be used for the airborne entertainment at Kotdanda, Chapakharka and Bistachap areas of Bisankhunarayan-4.

The airborne entertainment service is currently on a test at the localities from where visitors get a chance of relishing a splendid view of the three districts of the valley below.

The service that will start with the theme ´Paragliding in Kathmandu´ will be open for public from 8 am to 5 pm.