Mountaineers can once again scale the peaks of Nepal’s Himalayas. The country has opened its borders after a seven month lockdown.
Mountaineers looking to scale Nepal‘s Himalayan peaks can finally do so for the first time in seven months. The country has reopened to foreign travellers, though some have criticised the move as the coronavirus pandemic has left the country short of hospital beds.
Nepal is home to eight of the 14 highest mountains in the world, including the holy grail for climbers – Mount Everest. Foreign visitors are a major source of income for Nepal, especially for the small town of Lukla which is often used as a base for Mount Everest climbers.
Which nationalities can visit Nepal?
For now, the reopening will come with restrictions and is mainly limited to those seeking to climb or trek its famous peaks. Rudra Singh Tamang, director general of Nepal’s Department of Tourism said:
“We are not opening the country for all visitors and only mountaineers and trekkers who have already had a permit taken prior permit will be allowed to come to Nepal.
“We are opening to a sector of visitors who we know we can handle and manage.”
COVID-19 travel requirements for Nepal
Rather than a visa on arrival, visitors now need to get prior approval, give details of their itinerary, hire a local outfitting company and have health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment.
Tourists are required to take a coronavirus test before leaving their home country, stay for a week in quarantine at a hotel in Kathmandu (Nepal’s capital city) and then take another coronavirus test before being allowed to travel onward.
Local guides, porters, cooks and helpers who will be part of any mountaineering support team will also be required to take coronavirus tests and prove they have been living in areas with no infections for the past two weeks.
“We are trying to revive the tourism industry that was badly hit by the pandemic, but we are not taking any changes or any risks,” said Tamang. “We did a test run just recently with a foreign expedition team and now have a good idea of how to manage the adventure tourists.”
The impact of COVID-19 on Nepal
An estimated 800,000 people working in the tourism industry