Nepal is upbeat in its tourism growth perspective

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10 -April-2019




Nepal is upbeat in its tourism growth perspective

Tourist arrival has crossed 1 million mark by the end of the year 2018. News was splashed all over with headline “Arrival crossed the coveted one – million mark for the first time in 2018 with 1.17 million foreign tourists streaming into the country. According to the Nepal Tourism Board Nepal tourism reached the magic figure due to a jump in the arrival from India and China, USA, Sri Lanka and UK.” This is almost 25 percent growth over the last year. The board said Indian tourists arrival through land is not included in this figure.  Arrival of Chinese tourist shows strongest growth. It has grown 46.8 percent over last year figure. Out of 153,602 almost 20% entered Nepal through Rsuwagadi entry point.  The recovery after the big earth quack is quite remarkable. Apart from Asia the strongest growth is from USA. The statistic shows 19 percent increase to 91,785. Combined growth from EU countries stands at 243,284 which is 25 percent growth over compared to 2017.  Tourism contributed 7.8 percent on the GDP of the country in 2017.  Nepal Central Bank forecast has annual increase at 3.5 percent. However in terms of foreign exchange earning it is 2nd to overseas labor that Nepal exports to Malaysia, South Korea and Middle East.

Thus tourism in Nepal has all upbeat sign in the days to come. It is reflected in the recent increase in the number of deluxe and several small size hotels with deluxe and heritage qualities in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country. The recent growth of Nepalese travelers in the country side has also spurred fresh increase of home-stay small scale establishments almost everywhere in the mountain and plain.  In the tourist sector alone the recent study of Nepal central bank recorded 6,188 room nights were added in 2018. This is 9.79 percent increase in 2018. The report says the present capacity can accommodate 25.31 million persons annually. There has been a record investment – both foreign and domestic. According to Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) investment in hospitality industry has reached Rs 260 billion; It expect to see additional 4000 room nights by end of 2020. Most of the hotel construction booms are in Kathmandu valley. Next is Pokhara. There are also several high quality accommodations added in places like Janakpur, Birjung, Nepaljung, Biratnagar, Dhangadi and Bhairawa beside the two major tourist destinations.  All these are happening in the last few years because of the improvement in industrial peace, political stability, and steady supply of electricity. 

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                        Best trips from May to September

                                                  Mustang and Tiji Festival 

You can walk, trek or simply take adventure jeep and bus ride to Lo Manthang. People visit Lo Manthang, capital of Mustang, to see the spectacular land, culture and experience Tiji festival. The festival is celebrated since it’s hey days in this long lost forbidden kingdom. This festival happens from May 31 to June, 02, 2019. We advise early book because there are limited good rooms in Lo Manthang. 

This once forbidden land that has its civilization dates back to 800 BC was opened to limited number of foreign visitors in 1991. The charge to visit is US$500 per person for a minimum of 10 days. This restriction remains until today. The land mass located north of the main Himalayan chain between the snow-capped mountain on the east and west is part of Nepal that had jutted inside Tibet. The trail traverse through dull, dusty, and barren land and, crosses high passes (average 4600m) to the enigmatic land that has ancient monasteries an old fort. When it is wet in the south the weather in Mustang is good for travel from May to September. The historical and interesting sites and villages are located in the middle valley at the elevation of 3300 to 4000 meter. The landmark and sights and culture has remained same as when first time travelers like Tony Hagen, a Swiss geologist, Giuseppe Tucci- an Italian scholar, and Michael Peissel, a French adventurer traveled to Mustang in between 1952 to 1962. The land and people can still mesmerized anyone. Little has changed since then.

It is amazing to see the landscape that keeps changing with the light of the sun. The panoramic view of Nilgiri and Damodar himal are in the south and east and the dull and gray rolling hills spreads to Tibetan plateau. The houses and monasteries are enclosed in the fortress. It has historic gompas and caves. The fresco painting at the monastery in Tsarang is spectacular. You got to see to believe. And the caves used by people to live long time back is worth a visit.

The culture is also very different than you find in lower region. They called themselves Bista (Hindu surname) and their ethnicity is Gurung (ethnic of the middle hills) but their way of life style is Tibetan. Many of them have two names – one is Hindu and other is Buddhist. 

                              Tibet tour Mt. Kailash and Saga Dawa Festival 

Recent news on Tibet says the road to Lhasa through Kodari border most possibly will open in Jun 2019. The Chinese plan to complete the bridge construction by then. You may be able to travel through Kodari thus avoiding the longer route through Rasuwagardi.  Unless you have a climbing permit to climb Mt. Everest you will not be able to visit Everest Base Camp from Rongbuk because the Chinese authorities are closing it due to garbage problem. May 1st week is the beginning of a long holiday in Tibet and China. If you plan to get Tibet permit to enter Tibet from Kathmandu you may not be able to do in time. So be aware.

Date for Saga Dawa festival at Darchan is on  June 17, 2019.  We will be operating Kailash tour - both pilgirmage & overland tour - through Rasuwagadi. As always the weather condition at Simikot may cause havoc. If present unusual weather condition continues travelers should be prepared for long delay at Simikot airport. Though the airstrip is good for all weather condition yet flight may not be able to land or take off when weather is bad. Limited accommodation facility has always been a problem at both ends - at Simikot and Hilsa. Though there is marked improvement in the facility and number of rooms yet when there is adverse weather condition back log of travelers will face unexpected problem. Moreover helicopters always have hard time to keep up with the immediate demand. In such situation patience is the only virtue that makes sense.  We advise pilgrims to consider their health condition and prepare to endure unforeseen circumstances  prior to their trips. The pilgrims are always blessed on this pious journey but it is equally important to return home safe and content.

                                                     Best Time to Sight Wildlife


April and May are good seasons to get wild animal sighting in the national parks located in the plain area of Nepal known as Terai. Chitwan National Park is closer to Kathmandu. It is about 6 hour drive. Bardia is in West Nepal. You can take flight to Nepaljung and drive about 2 hour to the park. On an overland travel you can combine Lumbini, birth place of Gautuam Buddha, with safari tour in Bardia National Park. Wild life expert says dry month of summer is best to sight wild animals including tigers. During hot summer they come out to drink water in the open. In combination with Jungle safari you can break your overland travel with enjoyable white water rafting trips in Trishuli river enroute to Chitwan. On your return if you have time take a side tour to Bandipur for a short picnic hike and travel onward to Pokhara. There are nice short hike from Pokhara. You can stay overnights in villages and resorts. Take three to four days easy trek in the mountain for a close up view of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. Spend easy and relaxed time in Pokhara. While in Pokhara you have option to take sightseeing and village tours in the vicinity of Pokhara.


                                                       Trek to Inner Dolpo  

Ever thought of extreme land with spectacular view of the mountain in the back drop of unspoilt culture located deep inside some remote mountain valley. Have you wondered how original Bhotia people and their unchanged culture, traditional practice in Bonpo - an ancient religion adapting in 21st century. People in Dolpo live with their deep faith in Buddhism and tantric rituals. Yak caravan carrying goods to remote villages in nomadic tradition are their life line. This only happens in the isolated condition of Inner Dolpo. The area is located in northern part of far west Nepal. It is one of the most remote, wild and isolated land. It is good for raw adventure. The movie ‘Caravan’ was shot in the same setting. The enigmatic Shey - gompa (monastery) perched behind the high pass that divides Tarap valley in lower Dolpo is among the very few places where Bon-po, a pre Buddhist, religion is still in practice. 

There are rare species of animals like snow leopard and blue sheeps freely roaming round in the slopes. Snow leopard was first sighted by Peter Matthiessen in the mountain slopes of Dolpo. He described about his adventure in his book published in 1978. Beside the rare animal he experienced raw beauty of the land and innocence of the people; that are amazing. The deep blue sky, snow covered rolling high mountains, deep river valley and seemingly endless trail dominate the journey to Inner Dolpo.

Sangda and Charkabhot are the remote villages at the end of the edge of a long high trail from Jomsom that follows higher route through several high- passes.  Christoph Von Furer - Haimendorf in his book ‘Himalayan Traders’ said the village of Charkhabhot is unique village with fort like structure. Bhot means Tibet in Nepali and Bhotia means dwellers of high mountains. The other route starts from Dunai enter Tarap Valley. The first destination of both routes are Do Tarap where there are two major Bon po gompas and Buddhist chorten (stupa).  

Before the journey David Snellgrove, a British Tibetologist - an adventure traveler, took in 1956 and described in his book ‘Himalayan Pilgrimage’ the region north of Dhaulagiri range was a forgotten land, isolated from rest of the country. Dolpo is a hidden valley kept isolated by the huge Himalayan range in the south and, in the north there are mountain ranges of 5000 to 6000 meters high. It has many ridges, passes and peaks that expends to the Tibetan plateau. The main trail from Dunai follows to Do Tarap and cross a high pass to enter into Inner Dolpo. A shorter trail to Phoksindhu lake (3620m) cross Numa la (5190m)  and Baga la (5090m) to reach this pristine alpine lake. The alpine lake is part of Shey Phoksundo National Park established in 1984. It is a beautiful alpine lake perched in the corner of the surrounding mountain range. The trail through Shey Gompa enters the lake from the north after descending down to the river. The entire journey travels through the uncharted trail.  The trek provides an unprecedented adventure. (Strenuous trek. Maximum elevation -  5190 meter. Cost for 25 days trek package from US$4800). 

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"It is better to travel well than arrive"(Journey is important than the destination)
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