Monthly Archives: December 2014

NAC to resume Delhi flights with new Airbus

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has said it plans to resume services on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector in mid-March with at least two flights daily.

Industry watchers expect airfares to drop with the national flag carrier flying the Delhi route once again. Ticket prices have swelled three-fold since troubled NAC went offline creating a bonanza for competing carriers.

NAC said its new Airbus A320-200, which is in the final stages of completion, would be flown on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector first. The carrier recently issued a notice to appoint general sales agents (GSA) in Delhi.

Similarly, NAC said that the frequency on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector would be doubled to 14 flights weekly as soon as the new planes arrive. NAC has ordered two new Airbus A320 jets, and the first one is expected to arrive in Nepal by February. It currently serves the international sector with two ageing Boeing 757s.

“We have accorded high priority to the Delhi sector as travel demand has increased tremendously. That’s why we have planned to operate two flights a day on this sector,” said Madan Kharel, managing director of NAC. “We have also planned to resume flights on the Kathmandu-Bangalore sector after a long break.”

Travel agencies said airline ticket prices increased dramatically immediately after NAC suspended its operations on the sector.  A one-way ticket on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector that costs Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000  was priced at Rs 40,000 during the September-November peak season. Ticket prices of budget carriers jumped to around Rs 30,000 from the normal Rs 12,000.

Currently, four Indian carriers, Jet Airways, Air India, Spice Jet and IndiGo, operate 60 flights weekly on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector. These four airlines commanded a 26.67 percent market share of 1.722 million passengers in the first six months of 2014, said Tribhuvan International Airport.

Last year, NAC formally ceased its Kathmandu-Delhi services due to lack of planes. On March 14, 2013, NAC headquarters in Kathmandu notified its regional office in India of its decision to suspend its Delhi operations.

Meanwhile, Kharel said that NAC would station only two employees in Delhi for monitoring work after a GSA had been appointed. Before the suspension of the Delhi flights, NAC had 85 employees at its Delhi office with their salaries and perks resulting in a massive drain on its resources. “As there won’t be a big financial burden on the sector, NAC should be able to offer a one-way ticket for Rs 12,000,” Kharel said.

Meanwhile, NAC’s plan to add seven flights weekly to its Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur service is also expected to push down airfares. Kuala Lumpur is served by NAC, Malaysia Airlines and low-cost carrier Air Asia. In addition, another low-cost airline Malindo Air is slated to begin flights in February.

Appointment of NAC board members stayed

The Supreme Court has issued a stay order against the Tourism Ministry’s decision to appoint a new board of directors at NAC.

On December 5, Tourism Minister Deepak Chandra Amatya had removed Ashok Chandra Pokharel, Amar Narayan Mali and Tek Nath Acharya representing the private sector from the NAC board and appointed Pabitra Kumar Karki, Nima Nuru Sherpa and Mukti Ram Pandey in their place.

Subsequently, two of the ousted members filed a writ at the court stating that their tenure had not expired.

Everest Base Camp Trek – Adventure Dream Destination

Trekking to Base camp is an extreme objective for trekkers and a start of the endeavor offer for the climbers. Intended for those searching for extreme adrenaline surge, the trek might be intense however rich in endeavor encounters. One having sound health, fitness and past knowledge of trekking can need the two weeks of Everest trek.

The Everest Base Camp Trek detracts you from the hurrying around of your ordinary life carrying you peace and smooth with tremendously required timeout from the burdens and loads of an occupied lifestyle.

From Kathmandu we have energizing flight to Lukla runway to begin the experience to Everest base camp. Climbing along the Dudh Koshi River, we move up to the busting Sherpa settlement of Namche Bazaar.

We likewise have the chance to climb Kala Patthar (5554m) from where we can get some great perspectives of the Himalayan titans which actually insensible your faculties with short of breath adoration that observes the eye; and makes up for the lung-blasting climb that took you up there.

Investment in tourism increasing: Rijal

Minister of Information and Communications Minendra Rijal said investment in tourism has increased lately.

Speaking at the 36th annual general meeting (AGM) of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Rijal said tourism is the indicator of development and as investments in the sector has been increasing we can say that our country is moving toward economic development.

“China and India are increasing grants and loans to Nepal while international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are also interested to invest in Nepal,” said Rijal.

TAAN launched the DVD of Badimalika, which the association is develop into a religious trekking destination.

Ramesh Dhamala, president of TAAN said TAAN and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) will work together as they are inter-related. “TAAN will promote the mountains below the height of 5,800 meters and NMA will promote those above 5,800 meters,” said Dhamala.

Saying lack of information took lives of several people in the avalanche in Annapurna region, Dhamala requested the minister to develop a modern information center that can provide necessary information to the trekkers and climbers round-the-clock.

Pradip Jung Pandey, president of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it is only through investment and development of hydropower and tourism that Nepal can reduce its ballooning trade deficit.

TAAN Fetes Maskey

TAAN felicitated Sushmita Maskey, who recently scaled all the highest peaks in seven continents. Minister for Information and Communications Minendra Rijal and Ramesh Dhamal, president of TAAN, felicitated Maskey.

Maskey, who took mountaineering training from Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) in 2003, scaled Mt. Everest in 2008 and started scaling six other highest peaks from June 2013 and completed in 1.5 years.

“I scaled all the peaks except Mount Everest on my own expenses and it was very difficult to manage the fund that I had to take loans from my friends and relatives to achieve my dream,” said Maskey.

Minister Rijal said Maskey is a pride of Nepal.

Source: Myrepublica

Chitwan elephant fest slated to start Dec 26

The 11th edition of the Chitwan Elephant Festival is scheduled to be held in Sauraha from December 26-30 on the occasion of Christmas and New Year 2015.

The festival is aimed at promoting tourism and spreading awareness about wildlife preservation, said Suman Ghimire, coordinator of the event. It started in 2004 as an international elephant race and since then it has been celebrated as a festival.

The organizer said that a picnic would also be organized for the elephants this year. “Wildlife is our asset and it should be preserved well,” said Ghimire.

Another objective of the festival is to encourage tourists to remain in Nepal through the Christmas and the New Year holidays as most of them return to their own countries for the celebrations. The holiday season is also a lean period for Nepal tourism as arrivals start dropping from mid-December.

“The festival is targeted at increasing tourist numbers,” said Gyanendra Kumar Bista, president of Regional Hotel Association Nepal in Chitwan. “Such events will also help create awareness to preserve wildlife.”

Hotels and restaurants offer discounts and serve distinct varieties of foods for visitors. Local hotels and restaurants are normally packed with domestic and international tourists during this time.

Around 20 elephants compete in a 150-metre race. Likewise, elephant calves play football while an elephant beauty competition is also held which has become one of the major attractions at the tourist hotspot. The event has been successful in promoting tourism in past years.

“This is why we have been continuing the festival,” said Deepak Bhattarai, second vice-president of the association. Apart from foreign visitors, the festival has been attracting huge numbers of domestic visitors. Sauraha has more than 100 hotels and all of them are packed during the festival.

The Nepal jungle safari destination of Sauraha has not only seen an aggressive development of hotels and resorts over the past few years, entrepreneurs have also been making large investments in elephants to carry tourists on sightseeing tours in the jungle.

Around Rs 330 million has been spent on rearing elephants. The jumbos have become an integral part of tour packages of the hotels and resorts here.

Situated in the lush tropical plains of southern Nepal, Sauraha attracts safari goers with its rich wildlife and thick jungles. There are 51 elephants owned by hoteliers and cooperatives in Sauraha.

Source: Ekantipur

German travel organizations agree to remove elephant rides

December 19th, 2014

German travel organizations have agreed to remove elephant rides and other tourist attractions involving elephants from their program.

Following discussions with Pro Wildlife, AIDA Cruises, TUI Germany, Hauser Exkursionen and Geograf Exkursionen announced they will introduce elephant-friendly tourism. They vowed not to offer safaris and other attractions involving elephants.

Daniela Freyer of Pro Wildlife lauded the move adding that several companies have now agreed to refrain from offering tours inflicting cruel treatment on elephants in a statement.

The statement touched upon Nepal wherein at least five elephants are smuggled across the border from India each year to be employed in the safari industry. They are subjected to a brutal practice where they are chained, confined, beaten and torture, reads the statement.

Source: Myrepublica

Langtang Valley Trekking – Information

Langtang is an interesting Tibetan style village with stone walls enclosing houses fields where you just might see your first yaks. The langtang National Park headquarters is also located here. Trekking to Langtang is just another amazing trip in Nepal.

Though there different trekking trails in the langtang region, the most popular trail is often known as the Langatng valley Trek takes trekkers to most of the popular landmarks in the region in just ten days.

The best time to start Langtang valley trek is from mid Oct to mid Dec and from mid Feb until mid April when weather is usually clear. From mid April to mid June, it is warm but often cloudy with thunder showers. Summer monsoon lasts until the beginning of October. During winter months, day time temperatures are low and chances of snowfall become high.

The 10 Coolest Places To Visit In 2015

The world is enormous. And getting bigger. Every serious traveler I know says their wish list grows longer, not shorter, every time they visit a new corner of the world.

So how to prioritize? What’s newly safe or newly uncovered? What’s right at that sweet spot between sleepy backwater and developed destination? What are new takes on places we thought we knew? What must we see right now, before it changes forever?

I put those questions to Owen Gaddis, a luxury travel manager at the super-high-end experiential travel-planning company Absolute Travel. He knows what he’s talking about, having adventured through glaciers in Chamonix, deserts in Oman, rain forests in Nicaragua and rugged coastal areas in Western Africa—and retained a soft spot for nice linens, plush robes and a great bottle of burgundy. Like all the planners at Absolute, Gaddis has extensive global connections, firsthand knowledge of destinations he books, and a mandate to learn just as much about his clients’ interests and customize trips accordingly.

Here’s his hot list for next year.

Aside from the new Eleven Experience property, Deplar Farm, opening in 2016, Gaddis says there’s a million other reasons Iceland tops his list (and has topped lists as the happiest place on earth). Largely uninhabited, Iceland is a place where trolls and fairies are rumored to wander the painted hills, jump the ice crevices, bathe in the natural hot springs and scale the misty cliffs. Somehow, once there, he notes, this seems entirely possible. “Traveling to Iceland is like being transported to a parallel world where every waking moment is filled with adventure, incredible landscapes, folklore and understated pleasures. It will make you believe in the magical again,” says Gaddis, adding that the country offers river rafting, fishing, diving snorkeling, surfing, caving and hiking.

Adventurous Morocco
By now, lots of us have gotten lost in the souks and relaxed in the riads of Marrakech. Absolute’s new itineraries showcase the country beyond shopping and design. Intrepid visitors can scale the sheer walls of the Todra Gorge for summit views of the rose valleys beyond; trek the Atlas Mountains, stopping at waterfalls and Berber villages as they climb (and then sleep in an opulent “tented suite” at Richard Branson’s luxurious Kasbah Tamadot); and head for the horizon to gloriously outfitted Bedouin tents rising from a sea of sand dunes in Erg Chebbi, the gateway to the Sahara. Along the way they speed down dunes on sand boards, zip line between mountain peaks, watch the sunset from camelback and perhaps learn the secrets of the desert from a local host over a cup of Maghrebi mint tea (a.k.a. Berber whiskey).

Vietnam Now: Seaplanes, Vespas and a New Aman Resort
From sleepy fishing villages to the rooftop discos of Saigon, age-old tradition meets cosmopolitan modernity in today’s Vietnam. Luxe new ways to explore what’s been a hip Asian destination for a decade-plus now: a recently launched seaplane experience over Halong Bay, which lets visitors take in the bay’s otherworldly limestone cliffs from a new perspective—that doesn’t require two days on a dodgy boat—and the brand-new Amanoi, Aman’s latest enclave of Aman-ness, on the dramatic cliffs of Nui Chua National Park on the country’s south central coast. Absolute’s trips may also include a nightlife tour of Saigon by Vespa and an opportunity to talk with a Vietnam War veteran.

America’s Serengeti: The American Prairie Reserve
In northeastern Montana, a major restoration effort is under way. Absolute is the only company to bring in guests to observe and assist—and it puts those guests up in high-end yurts, inspired by safari tents, at Kestrel Camp. The American Prairie Reserve is buying back private land, tearing down fences and undertaking one of the biggest conservation efforts of our time, with the goal of creating the largest national park in the Lower 48 and repopulating the abundance of bison, grizzlies, deer, beavers, elk and antelope that were described by Lewis and Clark.

Tantalizing Tasmania
For many in the U.S., Tasmania holds few associations beyond the famed devil. But for connoisseurs of the remote and the untouched, this lack of popularity is the Holy Grail. Travel innovators are beginning to take advantage of this diverse destination rich in stunning landscapes, a homegrown food culture, and wildlife adventures that rival the Galapagos, South Africa and New Zealand—combined. Absolute travelers can shuck the world’s freshest oysters; encounter platypus under the cloak of darkness with Craig Williams (a.k.a Bushy), Tasmania’s best (and quirkiest) guide; and follow the dramatic coastline in search of cloistered wineries and whiskey distilleries. There’s also a new boat tour intriguingly called the Tasmanian Seafood Seduction.

For curious travelers seeking their next big adventure, Gaddis recommends luxury travel in Colombia, where “you can savor this South American up-and-comer’s charisma, authenticity and jugo de lulo (trust us, just drink it).” JetBlue’s new-ish five-hour flight from New York to Cartagena made Colombia more accessible than ever, a stable government made it safe, and a new breed of hoteliers and operators are making it luxurious. The country encompasses everything from pristine Caribbean coastlines, picturesque cobblestone streets in Cartagena, the exotic Amazon rain forest, seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, the buzzing metropolis of Bogotá and some of the world’s most vivacious people. Plus, one of Absolute’s favorite inns, Hacienda Bambusa, in the Coffee Triangle, is reopening in 2015.

Japan: Past and Present
A new bullet train linking Tokyo to Kanazawa virtually eliminates the need for air travel, meaning visitors can easily see more of the country in one trip. Food is serious business here (and a serious draw), with Japan leading in innovation and quality—Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, never mind the sushi delicacies that can’t be found anywhere else. Finally, highly anticipated new properties will open in the coming year, including the exquisite Aman Tokyo—Gaddis says a single night’s stay is reason enough to visit. Meanwhile, in a country that thrives on innovation, now is the time to see historical landmarks and experience traditional practices before they are permanently altered or disappear entirely. The famous Tsukiji Fish Market, for instance, is about to be significantly scaled down and moved as Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Argentine Patagonia
Chilean luxury Patagonia has been growing in popularity in recent years, thanks to lavish lodges like the Singular, Tierra, Explora and others. But the Argentine side was long overlooked by all but the most adventurous. Absolute Travel has solved the luxury-travel conundrum by designing a new itinerary around the beautiful, untouched landscape of glaciers, crystal pools and jagged mountain peaks. After a couple nights at the remote luxury lodge Aguas Arriba near El Chalten, guests trek along trails past Cerro Fitz Roy, Glacier Torre and Cerro Torre, staying at custom tricked-out camping posts, an eco-friendly six-room mountain cabin and Estancia Cristina, a former sheep-shearing station that’s reachable only by boat and home to world-class fly-fishing and one of the best local culinary experiences.

Nepal, Above and Beyond
Long beloved as a Nepal trekking is paradise, It is slowly emerging as a luxury destination. Absolute directs visitors to immerse themselves in Nepal’s astounding beauty and diverse artistic traditions, watch the sun light up the world as it rises over the Himalayas, stroll bucolic mountain valleys, visit ceramic and textile workshops, explore impressive temples and monasteries, and take a leisurely boat ride on Lake Phewa, whose calm waters mirror the snowy peaks that tower above. Go now to stay at the newly opened wellness-focused Dwarika’s Resort before it’s discovered by the crowds.

Sri Lanka for Wildlife
Now that the country is at peace, Sri Lanka offers tremendous value but is still often overlooked. The Aman Resorts here are as pampering as those elsewhere, but for a fraction of the cost. Absolute also arranges insider experiences such as a tour of the secret gardens of Galle Fort with author Juliet Coombe. But the main draw, Gaddis says, is the wildlife: Elusive leopards, wild elephants, boar, sloth bears and dazzling bird life from peacocks to hornbills roam this surprisingly diverse island. “We can’t think of another country that has the variety of experiences that Sri Lanka does,” he adds. Yala National Park has been the longtime go-to, but he’s excited about the reopened Wilpattu National Park, which had been closed for years due to the civil war, and where, he says, many guests are able to enjoy their safari in private.

Getting There (or Anywhere)
The newly launched Absolute Air, directed by a million-mile-certified expert, helps clients use miles and points to book round-the-world tours in first and business class, charter customized private jets and save thousands of dollars on future flights with individualized award plans.