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As for the Mt Cook trip, it was absolutely brilliant. Thoroughly enjoyed it and the 10 day course taught me a lot! I'm already thinking of what I would like to climb next.... Possibly something in the Himalayas. Just need to keep up the fitness (and save up a lot of money!!).
Nepal Earthquake Update: Monday 27 April @ 3.30pm Sydney time
It is now 11.30am in Nepal. We have received feedback once again from all group leaders this morning and wish to reassure all families and friends of our travellers in Nepal that they are fine. Please note that we have forwarded details of all the Australian nationals travelling in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan with us now to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to assist with their processes of identifying those on their missing list and removing any of our travellers who may have been listed on the same. The domestic airport has reportedly reopened today but we are unsure if all scheduled services will be operational. International flights continue to come in and out of Kathmandu. Power in Kathmandu is still not operational and most businesses, shops and offices remain closed. We reported to some that the Everest Base Camp was not affected but wish to correct that by saying that the trekkers base camp did sustain an avalanche. No World Expeditions travellers were in the area at the time and base camp will be avoided for any currently out trekking in the Everest region. World Expeditions is sending our Himalayan operations manager to Nepal today who will be there from tomorrow to assist with coordinating arrangements for travellers coming in or out of Kathmandu.
Specific trip updates:
Beijing to Kathmandu 07 April
Group is now in Kathmandu and are safe and well. As of today, the Chinese government has stopped issuing visas for Tibet so this will affect the onward arrangements for this group. Our staff in Kathmandu are providing assistance to group members to reorganise their onward flights.
Private Hawkins Everest Base Camp 10 April
Were due to fly between Lukla and Kathmandu yesterday but due to the non operation of the domestic airport remained overnight in Lukla. We are trying to have them fly to Kathmandu today but there is some backlog of customers awaiting flights from Lukla so we will have more information soon.
Everest Base Camp 13 April
Group spent last night at Deboche and are walking down the valley to Namche Bazaar today where there is fairly reliable mobile coverage.
Manaslu Circuit 13 April
The group crossed the Larkya La and are safely proceeding with the scheduled trek and will be staying at Bimtang this evening. All staff and members are fine.
Annapurna Machapuchare 14 April
All passengers have now left Nepal following their trek.
Complete Annapurna Dhaulagiri 14 April
The group spent last night in Swarga and will be proceeding with the scheduled trek as planned, overnighting in Bhibrang this evening. They are all fine.
Everest Circuit 15 April
Group is at Machermo and are all fine. They are descending toward Portse Tenga avoiding the Cho La Pass.
Ama Dablam Base Camp 17 April
Group is in Namche Bazaar 3400m where there is fairly reliable mobile coverage and are all fine.
Oz Harvest Everest Trek 19 April
Spent the night in Dingboche and are trekking down today to Namche Bazaar where there is fairly good mobile coverage. All are fine.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp 19 April
Group are at Ghunsa and will be continuing with the planned trek. They are on schedule and have not needed to deviate since starting the trek due to little tremor activity.
Everest Base Camp 20 April
Group are in Namche Bazaar where there is fairly reliable mobile coverage. They are staying in a lodge on a flat plateau at the top of the town. They have remained in Namche for the last few nights and have felt ongoing tremors but are all fine.
High Road to Lhasa 26 April
All passengers have left for onward flights or home countries.
Highlights of Lhasa 23 April
Passengers are flying from Lhasa back to Kathmandu tomorrow with connecting outbound international flights the same day. They will therefore remain in the passenger terminal between flights and not travel into Kathmandu city.
East Himalaya Kingdoms 27 April
The group are scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu today. We have news that three passengers joining this departure were en route by road from Chitwan National Park to Kathmandu. A section of the road has been affected and is impassable so those travellers have returned to Chitwan where we will be trying to organise a flight to Kathmandu for them. We are checking logistics for operating the trip and will be updating details tomorrow. One member of the group has already left Kathmandu for home.
Himalayan Panorama 20 April
Group have been in Kathmandu the last 2 nights and are fine. They will continue to Lhasa tomorrow but we have confirmation that one group member will leave the trip early and return home tomorrow.
WWOT Tibet Everest Group 22 April
The group are currently in Lhasa. Today the Chinese have declared all trekking areas in Tibet closed. The road between Kathmandu and Lhasa has also been affected in two areas near Zhangmu and Kodari and is allegedly impassable. We are currently determining alternative arrangements for the group.
Everest Circuit 29 April
Trip has been cancelled today and all passengers informed.
Note: All treks in Bhutan are operating normally
As always, please contact us if you would like any further information specifically about family members that are travelling on any of the above or future departures. We will be making decisions about forthcoming groups in the next couple of days.
Nepal Earthquake Update: Sunday 26 April @ 8.20pm Sydney time
We have been advised that the domestic airport in Kathmandu today has not been operating. This is because many pilots and airport staff are assisting their family members who have needed assistance. The international airport remains open and we know that at least one commercial flight today arrived and departed Kathmandu, with some of our travellers on board. Kathmandu, as you will imagine, is in a fairly chaotic situation. For this reason, we have asked our guides to not hurry back to airstrips connecting from the mountain regions to Kathmandu because in the first instance, the domestic flights are currently not operating, but also, because it will be very difficult for our travellers to procure an earlier flight out of Kathmandu. With no power currently in Kathmandu, on going tremors and hotels being affected by the earthquake, we have taken the view that it is safer for the time being for our travellers in the mountains to remain there. Whether they continue with the scheduled trek or sit tight will be the decision of their experienced guides who are assessing all factors and will make decisions for the safety of all members. We are in touch with all of our guides in the mountains. Furthermore, we are fielding many enquiries about avalanche and landslips and we again reiterate that staff will be carefully assessing the immediate environments and ensuring the safety of clients and staff before any decisions are taken. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like any further information.
Nepal Earthquake update – Sunday 26 April
The results of the devastating earthquake in Nepal are being most felt in the capital of Kathmandu. If you have family or friends in Kathmandu please be advised that they are all well. The airport is open and the runway is unaffected. The airport is being controlled by the government and access to the passenger terminal is only being afforded to those with imminent flight departures. Others are otherwise waiting outside the terminal. Roads between the Radisson Hotel and the airport are still functional. Telecommunications are functional but due to the high level of incoming and outgoing calls, can be unreliable. Email services are currently down. There is no power in Kathmandu but many properties are functioning using generators. For those in the mountains trekking, we are advised that all travellers are accounted for and well. We expect updates from tour guides today. The government has taken control of all aviation services across Nepal and will deploy services to where the need is greatest. World Expeditions are therefore unable to organise any evacuations from the mountains as all helicopters will be utilised for emergency situations as per the government. Groups have a full crew, food and shelter and we expect will move on with the trek or retreat as conditions are carefully surveyed.
Nepal Earthquake Update: Saturday the 25 April
An earthquake measuring 7.9 struck an area between Kathmandu and Pokhara, resulting in widespread damage and significant loss of life. The magnitude of the situation is still to be realised. Tremors were felt across the region, as far afield as Pakistan, Bangladesh and neighbouring India and it is reported avalanches have been triggered in the Everest region, among other areas.
All World Expeditions clients are safe and accounted for. Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal, whom we will continue to support, at this difficult time.
Chile and Argentina Update: 27 April 2015
Volcano Calbuco in southern Chile erupted for the first time in more than five decades sending a thick plume of ash and smoke nearly 20 kilometres into the sky. Airlines have cancelled flights to and from Puerto Montt (Chile) and Bariloche (Argentina), due to the presence of volcanic ash, which can potentially damage aircraft and make flying dangerous. The ‘Lake Crossing’ between Bariloche to Puerto Montt is closed. There are no reports of deaths, missing persons or injuries. World Expeditions currently have no trips affected and continues to monitor the situation.
Kenya Update: 9 April 2015 On the morning of Thursday 2nd April 2015 gunmen from the Somali terrorist group, Al-shabaab attacked Garissa University, located in Garissa, near the border of Kenya and Somalia. The number of casualties is approximately 148 with nearly 80 wounded. Al-shabaab have claimed it is in response to Kenyan military activities in Somalia. The Kenyan Tourism Board has issued the following information about Garissa: KTB would like to confirm that Garissa is located near the border with Somalia in an area that has no tourist facilities and is not frequented by international visitors. All tourist activity continues as normal throughout the country with holiday-makers visiting the country for safari circuits and the popular coastal resorts on the south coast, including Diani Beach, Galu Beach, Kinondo, Msambweni, Funzi Island, Shimoni and Wasini Island. World Expeditions takes the safety and security of our travellers extremely seriously and are in constant contact with our staff on the ground in Kenya. None of our trips travel near the area that has been affected by the recent incident. Clive Doherty, a World Expeditions consultant who has spent his whole life in Kenya and continues to do so has commented that ‘In Kenya there is shock but else all continues as normal: Garissa is very isolated – I personally have never been there nor have we ever sent a tourist there.
All World Expeditions trips are running as per normal and we do not foresee any changes required as a result of this tragic incident. The advice for Australians travelling to Kenya overall, issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is ‘exercise a high degree of caution’, this advice has not been changed following Thursday’s incident.
We will continue to support the people of Kenya at this difficult time. By continuing travel to the country, the lifeline that is tourism will flow, benefiting the many people who are employed to care for travellers during their journey.
As always the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority and this will not be compromised. It is our view that aborting travel to Kenya at this time is neither prudent nor warranted; naturally we will monitor events on an ongoing basis and if necessary, enact changes to our trips.
Egypt Update: 1 April 2015
As a result of ongoing political tensions in Egypt the security situation across the country remains unstable. Further violence and civil unrest as a result of ongoing demonstrations could occur without warning. Due to the potential for ongoing civil unrest, and Govt Travel Advice for Australia, UK, NZ, Canada and USA all indicating all but essential travel should be avoided, World Expeditions' scheduled departures to Egypt remain cancelled until further notice.
Syria Update: 1 April 2015
Civil unrest continues to occur throughout Syria, affecting the entire country. Security along and entry / exit to/from any of Syria's borders or airports cannot be guaranteed. The Australian, UK, NZ & Canadian Government Travel Advices and the US State Department continue to warn against travel to all parts of Syria. In light of travel warnings that remain in place, World Expeditions’ scheduled departures to Syria have been cancelled until further notice.
Iran and Middle East in General Update: 24th March 2015
The security situation in Iraq and Syria continues to deteriorate significantly and can continue to without warning. This deepening conflict may pose greater security threats to neighbouring Iran and Turkey. We are recieving constant updates from our partners in the region as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who advise that their borders are fully safe and secure and there is no security problem resulting from the situation in Iraq. We continue to monitor the situation.
Northern Shan State Myanmar: 24th March 2015
In recent days, sporadic fighting has occured between ethnic Kokang fighters and the Myanmar army. The skirmishes are isolated to the Myanmar - Chinese border region in the Northern Shan State. No fighting has occured in the tourist destinations of Hsipaw and Lashio, but being regions of high activity near the border, the areas have seen an increased military presence. The government, military and ethnic armed groups signed a commitment to continue peace talks last Thursday. No World Expeditions groups go to, or are anywhere near that area. We continue to monitor the situation.
Ebola and World Expeditions position on travelling in Africa – 1 April 2015
There are plenty of people wondering whether it is a good idea to book a trip to Africa, or if booked, should they continue with their planned itinerary due to the Ebola outbreak in some West African nations. We’ve prepared this statement to share some key facts about Ebola to assist.
The first thing to consider is that Africa is a huge continent. The entire land mass of the USA, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, UK and India collectively fit within its parameters. We think this map provides a good indication of the coloured countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia) where the Ebola has been detected and has taken lives and the remaining African countries which are Ebola Free.
What you’ll recognise from this is that the virus is in a very tiny area of the continent and destinations such as Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Ethiopia, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa as examples, where most tours operate, are unaffected. World Expeditions does not operate trips to any of the affected countries. Further, it would be our recommendation that travellers visiting other areas of Africa do not tack on any additional travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia at this time.
The next important point is that organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as many other medical experts and teams, are working swiftly to contain the virus in the affected areas and operating diligent surveillance of whether the virus is spreading to other nations. They appear to be effective as there is no evidence of the Ebola virus spreading to other nations and some countries such as Nigeria, where cases of Ebola was present, have contained the virus and are now declared an Ebola free nation.
The only way that Ebola may be transmitted from one person to another is through coming into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids when that person is displaying the symptoms of Ebola. Currently there is no evidence that Ebola can be contracted by airborne transmission. Researchers have found a different strain where there is evidence of airborne transmission from pigs to monkeys but that strain does not infect humans and should be discounted as posing any threat. As the Ebola virus cannot be contracted by a person unless there is transmission of the fluids of an infected person to another it is widely accepted that Ebola will not evolve to a pandemic.
While the loss of anyone’s life is a great tragedy, the actual number of deaths by Ebola including the total number of people infected, is very very low compared to other diseases in the world. HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, flu and diarrheal diseases cause more than 9 million deaths worldwide each year.
Our Governments are always monitoring changing circumstances in countries where disease outbreaks, war and natural disasters are occurring. Their duty of care to citizens of their nation is to report on these situations with advice for travellers. Of note, other than the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, there is no country in Africa where our governments are warning travellers not to visit due to this virus. You can be sure that if they felt there was a real risk for travellers visiting other areas of Africa, that their travel advices would see the stealthy inclusion of a ‘do not travel’ warning against such countries.
Finally, from a purely humanitarian perspective, there are companies operating holidays for foreign visitors across Africa who are the source of employment for hundreds of thousands of local African people. To decide not to travel to Africa at this time will have an adverse effect on them and their families.
We do hope you will consider the real facts in determining whether to travel to Africa at this time.
Nepal Update: 20 October 2014
On October 14, a serious storm hit the upper Annapurna, Mustang and Manaslu regions resulting in blizzard conditions with prevailing heavy snow conditions and avalanche activity. Tragically, this has resulted in a human death toll of over 35 people and there are still tens of others missing. Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased.
As per our previous release all World Expeditions trekkers and staff are safe and have been accounted for.
A significant rescue mission was mobilised last Wednesday and remains underway. The worst hit area was around the famous Thorong La (5380m), a pass linking the Annapurna and Mustang regions. The pass was closed over the weekend to enable the rescue personnel to do their work unhindered and because there may still be a risk of avalanche activity.
This storm and the ensuing situation is a reminder to all trekkers intending to visit the Himalaya that mountain environments are not to be underestimated. The weather patterns are unpredictable and freak storms, such as the blizzards that struck these high areas last Tuesday, while rare, can occur without much notice. Independent trekkers are particularly vulnerable and should be extremely careful in their planning and with decisions taken when crossing high mountain passes or trekking into remote terrain.
World Expeditions highlights that any trekking in Nepal should be approached with respect; a philosophy that initiated the company’s focus on risk minimisation, guide training, menu and hygiene planning as well as emergency procedures, decades ago. We take our duty of care to our thousands of travellers to Nepal each season seriously. Our itineraries are carefully planned with acclimatisation and rest days that can also be utilised in the case of deteriorating weather conditions. Each of our travellers is provided with a detailed clothing and equipment list to ensure they are comprehensively prepared for adverse weather and cold climate trekking, as well as fitness preparation guidelines. The remaining risk is managed by our highly experienced trekking guides and crew. On all treks our guides carry comprehensive medical kits and safety equipment and where pass crossings or remote valleys are involved, additional equipment such as space blankets and bivouac tents, portable altitude chambers and satellites phones are also carried. Our guide to traveller ratio is high and all members are kept together so there is careful monitoring in these circumstances. Our guides, who are highly adept in high altitude conditions and reading the signs, will take the ultimate decision about whether to cross a pass or venture into an isolated valley.
Trekking in the Himalaya is a most enjoyable activity and personal journey with profound rejuvenating qualities. This tragedy should not be viewed as a reason not to go trekking, but rather, to appreciate that mountain environments can be unpredictable and trekkers should thoroughly understand the risks if trekking independently, or, choose to book their treks with a reputable trekking company where specialist knowledge and experience exists.
Lebanon Update: 1 April 2015
There has been continuing tension in Beirut and Tripoli, including random explosions and violent demonstrations, with sporadic closure of the main road leading to the international airport in Beirut. Govt Travel Advices warn against travel to regions of the Bekaa Valley, where World Expeditions scheduled itineraries would visit, due to proximity to the Syrian border and ongoing tension in those regions. The ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria is having a destabilising effect on Lebanon and together with internal political and sectarian tensions there is potential for violent protests in any part of the country. All World Expeditions scheduled departures remain cancelled until further notice.
Kenya Update: 1 April 2015
All clients visiting Nairobi and Mombasa are strongly advised to pay close attention to personal security at all times, heed the advice of local authorities, hotels and tour guides and avoid non-essential visits to large public places. You should avoid the Nairobi central CBD area (World Expeditions does not stay at hotels in the central CBD) and low income areas of the city particularly Kibera, Mathare, Kasirani and Eastleigh.
Aust Govt Travel Advisory advises to “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” for coastal Tana River county and all of Lamu county due to the high threat of ongoing violence and terrorist attack. For the time being, all trips to Lamu are not operational.
Govt Travel Advice also warns not to travel to the border regions with Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the A2 highway north of Isiolo. None of these regions are visited on World Expeditions itineraries. Our local partners and other tour operators in Kenya continue to host many visitors from around the world. There are no travel restrictions in place for Kenya overall, with the exception of the FCO (UK) travel advice below.
The FCO (UK) advises against all but essential travel to Mombasa Island and the surrounding area within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to and including Tiwi; this area includes Moi International Airport (including transit through the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu following recent incidents and the continuing threat of violence in the area. Following on from this, several UK travel companies have cancelled all charter (private) flights and trips to Mombasa until 2015. The FCO (UK) advisory to avoid all but non-essential travel currently refers to specific areas in and around Mombasa (as above), areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, Kiwayu and coastal areas north of Pate Island (both are north of Lamu Island), Garissa County (near Somalia), the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, and Lamu County and those areas of Tana River County north of the Tana river itself. The travel advisories from the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA remain at a lower level.
Security around major establishments in Nairobi and Mombasa such as airports, government buildings, shopping malls and hotels is very high, and has been for a while now. These include enhanced security checks at all Kenyan airports, and on the main roads leading to/from the airports. Also there have been no changes or cancellations to international scheduled flights by the major airlines (eg. Kenya Airways; KLM etc) passing through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) or Moi International Airport (Mombasa). All World Expeditions scheduled departures to Kenya remain operational, as are transits through Nairobi to other East African countries. All our tour guides are trained to keep abreast of local conditions and to avoid the nominated areas of Nairobi. Further updates will be provided should the situation change. The safety of our travellers is our foremost priority, and we are receiving constant updates from our local partners in Kenya.