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Safe travel in Nepal in the Covid-19 era

Covid -19 and traveling to Nepal

Now that Covid-19 has been holding us in its grip for several months, it is starting to tickle more and more in many of us. And where you first only dreamed, you slowly start to plan more. If Nepal is already on your wish list, be sure to read on!

Can you enter Nepal as a tourist?

Klanten genieten tijdens Helambu trek in Covid-19 tijdenNepal went into lockdown in March 2020, keeping its international borders closed. The borders remained completely closed for a number of months. First closed for everyone, after that Nepalese could return home anyway. Since July, diplomats and NGO staff have also been allowed back into the country.

At the beginning of October more and more reports started to appear in the Nepalese media that the government was going to open the borders for tourists after all, and that from 17 October onwards. The reports were so contradictory that it was not clear whether this would actually be the case.

We were lucky that the wife of an acquaintance of ours wanted to travel to Nepal to accompany her husband, who lives in Nepal. This allowed us to put the theory into practice. So we can confirm that it is indeed possible to travel to Nepal with a tourist visa. Of course there are a lot of conditions attached to this! Let’s explain these below.

What conditions apply to tourists at the moment?

You can only enter Nepal for an organized trekking or expedition since 17 October 2020. There are several conditions attached to this:

  • You have to take out an additional ‘Covid-19’ insurance with a coverage of at least 5000 USD. This means that in addition to a good travel insurance, you must have an insurance that covers all the extra costs you can have because of Covid-19;
  • In order to obtain a visa upon arrival, you must have booked a trekking or expedition with a local travel agency, registered with the government and paying all of its outstanding fees. This agency will arrange a special document for you with the Immigration Department. On the basis of this document you can board without a visa and after arrival in Nepal you will receive a visa at the airport.
  • You need a negative PCR test of maximum 72 hours old when entering Nepal.
  • There is a mandatory quarantine of 7 days, which you are obliged to spend in a hotel, but you can choose for yourself in which hotel. This has to be determined in advance and will be presented to Immigration.
  • On day 5 of the quarantine, you must take a compulsory PCR test, for which you can contact one of the designated hospitals.

We also have a number of obligations as an organizing local travel agency:

  • The guide and porter who accompanies the clients are also insured with a special Covid-19 insurance.
  • We must follow all local and central guidelines and rules and are responsible for our customers.

As you can read, it is quite a procedure and you also have to add the mandatory quarantine of 7 days to the duration of your travel to Nepal.

Travelling to Nepal from your country – is that allowed?

What if you want to travel to Nepal now, does your government allows this? A lot of countries work with color codes and it pays to take a closer look. You will normally find an advice on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affair of your country.

What is the current situation in Nepal? Is it safe?

In Kathmandu, Pokhara and in the south of the country, the Covid-19 infections are still rising.

Pokhara lake in November during Covid-19

The hospitals are also at their maximum capacity at the moment. Because there is no social safety net in Nepal and therefore no money for food if you don’t work, many people are simply back to work. Mouth masks are worn, but (as in any other country) not by everyone.

In the mountains, the number of infections is luckily limited. It has therefore not been allowed to migrate for months. Now you need a negative PCR test for different parts of the Himalayas before you can enter the area. In a number of areas people are not so eager to receive tourists, out of fear that they will bring Covid-19 into their communities.

What measures are we taking?

We have not been sitting still for the last few months! We have new health & safety guidelines, we are in contact with the accommodations we work with to see if they put preventive measures in place, and our staff is trained to safely accompany a trip in Covid-19 times.

In addition, we bought an oximeter and a head thermometer, both of which will be used for trekking. Textile mouth masks were ordered from a women’s cooperative and a supply of disinfectant alcohol is on hand.

In a later blog we will tell you mor

e about what your trip will look like in Covid-19 times and we will give you tips on how to travel safely.

What do we recommend?

Even though we would love to take you to nice places and bring you in contact with interesting locals in our beautiful country, we still recommend not to travel to Nepal yet and to wait and see. There are several reasons for this:

  • The health system in Nepal is badly equipped and for the moment overloaded. The few ventilators and IC-beds have been taken up. We don’t expect that it will get better immediately. If you, as a tourist get ill or get injured during your trek, we cannot guarantee that there will be a place for you in a hospital.
  • Travel insurance is always compulsory with our trips. Many travel insurers withdraw their tails when it comes to Covid-19. The chance is small that you will find a good travel insurer who will insure you if you are going to travel in an orange or red area. Just now it is very important that you have a good travel insurance.
  • The Nepalese government is not very predictable and changes the rules from one day to the next, without any warning or clear communication. So you always run the risk of ending up in a lockdown or the borders being closed again.
  • The local authorities in the Himalayas also have difficulty drawing up clear guidelines. It is therefore possible that one day you are still allowed to enter a certain area, but suddenly you are not allowed to do so the next day.

But you can already dream or even contact us to make a tailor made travel proposal for a beautiful Nepal trip in 2021!

Special booking conditions

Trekking in autumn season in HelambuWe are convinced that travel will once again be possible in 2021. That is why we have flexible booking conditions for journeys booked for 2021. You can pay into a European bank account and you can move or cancel your trip free of charge up to 1 week before departure!

Keep in mind that Autumn is the best season to travel in Nepal: the weather is nice,

the skies are blue and the mountains are clearly visible from nearly every part of the country.

If you have any questions about the situation in Nepal, please check our webpage where we post the most up-to-date information. Or just send us an e-mail at: info@nepalinsideout.com .

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