Nepal is becoming a popular destination with adventure-seekers and spiritual travellers alike, but its majestic views of the Himalayas, mystic temples and thrilling treks have been marred by a number of incidents recently, leading many travellers to ask if the destination is still safe.
What has been happening?
The tragic loss of lives in an airline crash in Kathmandu on 12 March 2018 drew the world’s attention to Nepal.
49 of the 71 people on board flight BS211 were killed when the aircraft veered off the runway upon landing, and the airline and air traffic control are still debating who was to blame.
One fact confirmed by authorities is that the crash was not terrorism-related – it was most likely a combination of misunderstandings and miscommunication regarding the direction of approach to the runway.
It’s worth noting that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises that, “All air carriers from Nepal have been refused permission to operate air services to the EU due to safety concerns,” so if you do travel to Nepal, you should consider other modes of transport.
Latest FCO Updates
In addition to the airplane crash, the FCO has reported the following over the past few months:
- 19 March 2018 - Threats of violence against businesses, and local and international schools in the Kathmandu Valley, particularly the Chandragiri Hills cable car attraction in Thankot.
You’re advised to avoid using the cable car during March 2018 and remain vigilant if travelling in the area.
This seems to have largely been missed by the media so far, but we think it’s important to consider.
[caption id="attachment_1263" align="alignnone" width="666"] Map of Nepal showing Kathmandu’s proximity to Chandragiri Hills cable car.
(Source: Google Maps)[/caption]
There have also been a few cases of political unrest, but these don’t seem to have caused major problems:
- Nationwide general strike on 9-10 March 2018 – Transport disruptions and protests were anticipated.
- December 2017 / January 2018 – Elections took place; disruptions were expected.
- December 2017 - A number of blasts involving small IEDs targeting election-related events took place.
- Some roads damaged by a severe earthquake in April 2015 are still undergoing repairs, so you should check that all proposed routes are viable.
In addition to being aware of the above risks, the FCO cautions visitors not to go trekking/hiking alone, and to always book with a reputable agency or guide.
Remember that Nepal is known to experience earthquakes. Does your travel insurance policy cover natural disasters? This is one of those items – like terrorism – that’s often limited or excluded on standard travel insurance policies, so be sure to check your policy wording!
Is there a high threat of terrorism?
The FCO advises that, “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Nepal. Attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Be vigilant in public places and take local advice.”
Around 40,000 Brits visit Nepal each year and most of those visits are trouble-free, but it’s clear that some caution and preparation is required.
If you are considering a visit to Kathmandu or the Chandragiri Hills, would you be able to cancel if an attack took place and you no longer felt comfortable going there?
It’s easy to top up your travel insurance with comprehensive terrorism cover – including cancellation if there’s an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks before your departure date. Get a quick, no-obligations quote and see how cost-effective this extra financial protection can be, and read the full details of cover, exclusions, terms and conditions here.
More About Nepal
This fascinating country is also home to one of the world's "scariest airports" - Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla.
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