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I so appreciated to spend those days close to the Wall and not just to “fly in” for one day. This enables me to get a bit of a “feel” for the country. To be with the Chinese crew also was a privilege I won’t forget. Our tour guide gave us valuable insights. I am thankful that I could be part of this challenge, it was worth it.
Thailand Update: 23 October
World Expeditions joins the people of Thailand and people all over the world in offering our deepest condolences and respect upon the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The dedication of His Majesty to the well-being of the nation and its people is unparalleled.
Thailand is entering a period of mourning that will last for one year commencing 14 October 2016. During the first 30 days of the mourning period, all public festivities are cancelled. In the initial period, some entertainment venues may decide to close or operate with restricted hours. Major sites, with the exception of Wat Pra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace in Bangkok, are open as usual, as are restaurants and shops. The general atmosphere is, as expected, subdued.
Travellers should exercise special sensitivity as Thailand mourns the passing of its monarch. The Tourism Authority of Thailand encourages visitors to continue with their travel plans as normal and has created a list of recommendations regarding the Mourning Period for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The recommendations should be adhered to as a mark of respect and solidarity with the Thai people.
• Many Thai people will be wearing black or white clothing as a sign of mourning. This is not required of visitors but if possible, they should wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public and avoid colourful, eye-catching dress.
• Visitors should refrain from conducting any inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour.
• Most of the traditional and cultural events will be taking place as usual, although the celebrations may be changed for appropriateness as a mark of respect, or the events may be dedicated to the memory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
• All transport, banks, hospitals and other public services will be operating as usual.
• The related authorities have stepped up safety and security measures for all Thais and visitors to facilitate their travelling around the country.
All World Expeditions trips are operating as normal and do so with the utmost respect for the remarkable King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his people.
Vietnam Update: 18 October
Vietnam has been struck by severe flooding from a tropical low pressure event that brought rains of up to 900mm to central parts of the country in recent days. Reports indicate that at least 25 people have died and four are missing, with these numbers expected, unfortunately, to rise. Our thoughts are with those affected by this event. The regions affected (at present) are four provinces in the central north of Vietnam (Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Vinh and Ha Tinh). All World Expeditions travellers are safe and accounted for.
The country is bracing for the prospect of more floods and landslides to come as Typhoon Sarika regroups over the South China Sea. Winds are forecast to be up to 150 km per hour, with the storm expected to be in striking distance of Vietnam’s northern coast by tomorrow morning or possibly this evening. All cruises in Halong Bay will be cancelled for the next few days at least.
Below is the status in relation to current and forthcoming trips (until the end of October). As always, the safety of our travellers is our foremost concern. If required, contingencies will be implemented. Naturally the situation is fluid and we are receiving regular updates from Vietnam as the situation unfolds.
Best of Vietnam and Cambodia - 1/10/16 - The group have left Vietnam and are doing well in Cambodia.
Vietnam by Bike - 15/10/2016 - Travelling to Hue by train tonight (18 October). The railway routes from the north to the centre of Vietnam are operating normally. The group completed the overnight cruise in Halong bay as normal last night but this morning for safety reasons all the cruises returned to shore earlier than scheduled by about 2 hours; the trip continues to follow the itinerary as normal.
Mekong Delta Cycle - 15/10/2016 - Trip runs in Southern Vietnam, no impact at present.
Waters Vietnam Adventure - 17/10/2016 - Halong bay cruise is cancelled today, remaining in Hanoi tonight and will continue as normal tomorrow.
The forthcoming trips below are expected to operate as normal however the situation is fluid and contingencies will be implemented if needed.
Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat Cycle - 29/10/2016
Mekong Explorer River Cruise - 29/10/2016
Bike, Hike and Kayak Northern Vietnam - 31/10/2016
Myanmar Update: 14 October
The government has imposed a state of emergency in the majority of Rakhine State (except Sittwe and resort areas at Ngapali Beach) in response to armed clashes. World Expeditions does not offer trips in this area and all forthcoming World Expeditions trips are operational. The rest of the country is calm; the affected area is in the most Northern part of Rakhine State and it is business as usual in the rest of the country. The people of Myanmar look forward to welcoming travellers as always.
China Typhoon Meranti Update: 19 September 2016
Typhoon Meranti made landfall early Thursday September 15 in Fujian province. The strongest typhoon to hit China this year has left 28 people dead and 15 others missing in the east of the country. Reportedly the worst hit area is Xiamen (or Amoy) and Fuzhou has been flood affected. World Expeditions trips do not go to any of these places so none of our trips have been impacted, however naturally we are watchful as ever during Typhoon season. Chinese authorities on Saturday warned of high waves and strong winds from a new storm, Malakas, which was bearing down on the east coast of the Chinese mainland after skirting Taiwan; we will monitor the impacts of this new storm however it is likely to affect the same region as Meranti. Our thoughts are with those affected by these storms. All trips in China are operational as normal and as always we are carefully monitoring conditions, with trip changes implemented where necessary to ensure the safety of travellers.
Myanmar Earthquake Update: 28 August 2016
On the 24th of August a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck 19 km from Seikphyu (south of Bagan) in Myanmar, resulting in the deaths of three and damage to some 187 pagodas and temples. All World Expeditions travellers and staff on the ground are safe and all trips have continued to run as normal. After an earthquake struck Bagan in 1975, more than 600 pagodas were poorly renovated. The parts of the pagodas that were renewed after the 1975 earthquake have been damaged but the ancient bricks have not collapsed. We will continue to monitor conditions locally and if necessary amendments to itineraries will be implemented however at this stage no significant changes are expected. As always the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority.
Ecuador Earthquake Update: 19 April 2016
On Saturday 16 April a 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred on the coast of Ecuador. All World Expeditions travellers and staff on the ground are safe and all trips have continued to run as normal. Both Quito and Galapagos airports have remained opened. As always the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority and we are receiving constant updates from our local partners in Ecuador.
India Earthquake Update: 4th January 2016
An earthquake measuring 6.7 magnitude has hit northeast India, near its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, killing at least one person. The quake hit at 04:35 local time (23:05 GMT Sunday) about 29km (18 miles) northwest of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).Strong tremors have been felt across the region. The earthquake was originally reported to have measured 6.8 magnitude. The tremor cracked walls and a newly built six-story building in Imphal collapsed, police said. Other buildings were also reported to have been damaged. One person has been killed Imphal police said and dozens injured. Casualties have not yet been reported on the Myanmar side of the border, which is sparsely populated. No World Expedition groups are in the proximity.
Nepal Update: 18 November 2015
Back in June we were able to announce that we would be resuming our treks to the Annapurna and Everest regions following detailed surveillance of these two regions. It is really heartening to report that the season which commenced in late September to the two regions has proven to be very successful. This is despite the fuel shortages which have been ongoing since early September which with some good logistical planning ensured that all of our treks were able to proceed as planned. The feedback from our returning travellers has been so positive with a common theme being their pleasure in being able to assist Nepal in its recovery by travelling in the country. Also, as we know the flow on effect of a single trek, which employs up to 25 staff, is profound in terms of injecting money into the tourism and flow on industries. So we would again like to sincerely thank all of our travellers who have trekked this season so far in the Everest, Annapurna, Solu Khumbu and Lumding regions while also enjoying the sites of Kathmandu and for some, the Chitwan National Park. Two of our Sydney schools have also recently returned from their adventures in Nepal after forging strong connections with the local school communities that they have visited and supported. We can also report from scores of trekkers returning from the Nepal Rebuild treks which lent a helping hand in the reconstruction of the Lura School located in the Solu Khumbu, that there was much exhilaration as they worked on the foundations and walls which will ultimately lead to their completion and getting the kids back to school. We’d like to share this feedback from one of the participants. “We did the Rebuild Nepal: Lura School & Everest Base Camp trip and it was astounding. Words truly fall short when you try to describe the beauty you see in the Himalayas. The team World Expeditions employs are incredible, they care and they try to fulfill your every need and then some. Make sure you have a good camera, you won't regret it! 10/10 The most memorable part of the trip would have been when we made it, finally to the top of Kala Pattar, which was one of the toughest parts of the trip, but certainly the most rewarding!”
Next week the Kshamawati School looks forward to welcoming our first group of trekkers to assist with its rebuild program to deliver the same results.
We are also very pleased to announce that having completed our surveys of the trail, bridge and village conditions in Langtang, Manaslu, Mustang and Dolpo that our treks to those areas will also resume with immediate effect. On the Manaslu Circuit we have identified four areas of the trail where landslides occurred during the earthquake. These trails have been moderately repaired but not completely. There is also a bridge that was destroyed and a makeshift bridge has been erected in its place. In both cases the local people are using these trails and bridge on a daily basis. We have assessed the risk and feel 100% confident that we can mitigate that by fixing a rope with anchors at each side and have our travellers clip in to the rope for safe passage. We have not identified there to be any falling rock and the local people also concur with this. That said, we will of course assess conditions during the trek, particularly in the event of heavy rainfall, to confirm this still to be the case. The Manaslu Circuit is a fantastic trek and we would like to encourage travellers to seriously consider it .
In respect of Langtang, since tragedy struck earlier this year there have clearly been emergency services, army and contractors in the region where a widespread rescue and clean up operation has taken place. We’d like to acknowledge that for some, the fact that with so many casualties in the villages following the earthquakes, it is natural that there is some reticence about travelling to Langtang. However, we would like to report that the very strong sentiment from the local communities of the region is that they need tourism and would like it to be known , that travellers can expect to be only met with warm hospitality and a gratitude that trekkers have made the journey. We would therefore like to do a shout out for the people of the Langtang region that they’re open for business and ready to showcase all the wonderful elements that make this region so special. We do know that independent trekkers may have some problems obtaining a permit to trek in Langtang right now but group travel approvals are no problem. With a good familiarity of trail conditions and where diversions have been put in place we see these as minor obstacles that we can manage quite easily.
Our mountaineering trips have also been operating, including those to the classic trekking peaks of Mera and Island Peaks as well as to more remote and challenging peaks such as Lumding north of Lukla. The recent Lumding Exploratory trek that was guided by our Himalayan expert, Soren Ledet, was on all accounts touted ‘a real adventure’ and feedback from our travellers nothing short of inspiring . You can look at some amazing photos of the expedition by visiting the World Expeditions Mountaineering Facebook site. Being exploratory in nature, the trek reminds us of the variables that can be expected in unpopulated regions post earthquakes. Self sufficiency and provisions for any possibility were essential elements of our planning for this trek last month and we will be using this same approach for our Great Himalaya Trail that departs in February. While we have extensive intel on most of the trails and villages along the five month long trek, of course, there are some stretches where we don’t. So planning for any eventualities is underway and we have our strongest local leader and crew line up keenly awaiting the arrival of our six full traverse travellers and those joining other segments of the GHT. Of course, if you have an itch to undertake one of the most profound, inspiring and challenging treks possible, there are still a couple of spots available!
Finally, as winter approaches in Nepal, we continue to support the most marginalised communities with blankets, clothing and other helpful materials during these colder months. The World Expeditions Foundation (WEF) is grateful for any further donations toward this cause and is very close to launching its Christmas Appeal, which focuses on supporting Nepal’s school students and families affected by earthquakes where the family income has been directed to essential building and there is no budget for non essential, yet important, items.
- $20 - Education Pack including books and stationery for one child for one year
- $40 - School Uniform for one child for one year
- $60 - Food Package for a family of 5-6 people (2 bags of rice, 5kgs lentils, 3kgs salt, 5kgs sugar, 1 kg tea leaves, 5 litres cooking oil)
- $130 - Corrugated iron roofing for one home
- $400 - 1000 litre drinking water tank for schools or homes including the transport and installation of the tank
Thanks again to all who have supported Nepal by returning in this post monsoon period and or by supporting the World Expeditions Foundation efforts to deliver tangible help to the communities who live throughout the mountain regions.
JapanTropical Storm Etau, Mt Aso volcano eruption and Ichihara earthquake: 14th Sept 2015
14/09/2015 - We have received updated information today that all World Expedition groups currently in Japan have not been affected by recent flooding disasters and are continuing with set itinerary. An earthquake registering 5.4 struck in Ichihara near the flooded area last Saturday causing further terrain instability. Mount Aso, a volcano on Japan's main southern island of Kyushu, erupted today, blasting a plume of black smoke 2 km high, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Nepal Update: 26 June 2015
There is much to report on since our last update.
Our Nepal Rebuild Project trips have now been fully scoped and we have pre released details of them to those who registered their interest in participating. The projects revolve around rebuilding two schools and include a trekking component to ensure Nepal’s mountain communities will be also benefiting. They’ll be escorted by our very capable guides Harka Rai, Padam Barmale and Sujan Khatri and details of the project trips will be announced publically next Tuesday.
At least one of the projects is likely to be erected using earthbag construction and we have arranged for some of these guides and the key builder from the affected village to attend a training course in that application method. We know this will be invaluable in sharing the knowledge they’ll acquire to assist in other developments. It’s quite thrilling that we are able to upskill some of our guides to assist in the rebuild process.
The tarpaulins, ropes and blankets donated by SES NSW have now been delivered to communities of the following schools in the Solukhumbu (see photos)
•Shree Jansewa Lower Secondary Madhyamik School – Chaula Kharka – 2 – Solu Khumbu
•Shree Dudh Kaushika Lower Secondary School Deusa – Ranem –Solu Khumbu
•Shree Saraswoti Primary School - Deusa - Ranem – Solu Khumbu
•Shree SeesaKhola Lower Secondary School – Seesa Khola - Tapting 1 – Solu Khumbu
•Shree Chyangba Primary School – Chyangba – Tapting 1 – Solu Khumbu
•Jalesory Lower Secondary School – Waku – Wapsa – Solu Khumbu
•Island Peak Primary School – Waku – Wapsa – Solu Khumbu
•Badabar Primary School – Waku – Wapsa – Solu Khumbu
This week a school teacher from NSW who has taken a group of her Australian students to trek in Nepal with World Expeditions almost every year since 2009, has travelled to Kathmandu to personally assess safety aspects for her group who are due to travel in September. We would like to share her update with you verbatim:
Nepal Reconnaissance - Airport, Roads, The Radisson Hotel and Visit to Thamel - Tourist Shopping Precinct
“The International and Domestic airport are fully operational. Major roads and highways from the airport to Kathmandu are in good condition. There is no evidence of earthquake damage on these major thoroughfares, although one can observe damage to residents’ homes from the vehicle, and there are a few pockets of displaced people living in tent cities.
The Radisson Hotel received their green ticket declaring them being structurally safe by Government Engineers back in May. The hotel is fully operational and staff are incredibly welcoming and delightful as usual. There is no evidence from visual observations of any damage to the Hotel. It appears to be in pristine condition. Bottled water is provided in each room, and free wi fi is available. Interestingly, our 3 day visit co-incides witha major conference for engineers to discuss the rebuilding of Nepal post earthquake.
We walked from the Radisson to Thamel along the main route normally travelled on a school trek. The footpaths are in better condition and safer than they were two years ago. The roadwork has been completed so walking along the right hand footpath is safe but chaotic (as usual). The footpath has a railing to protect pedestrians from traffic.
On the opposite side of the road, earthquake damage is evident, as a 4 ft brick wall has collapsed and is currently being rebuilt. Pedestrians do not access that side of the road.
Closer to Thamel, the road is in good condition. There is no evidence of earthquake damage and pedestrian access and traffic is operating as normal.
In Thamel, there is no clear evidence from visual observations of earthquake damage to major buildings. We visited Kilroys (a restaurant we eat at after we return to Kathmandu after the trek), and it is fully operational. We spoke to the manager and he stated they sustained no earthquake damage. We also visited Rum Doodle ( a quaint restaurant frequented by mountain climbers) and that is also fully operational and sustained no earthquake damage. Shopkeepers have kept their shops well stocked and all shops are open for business. In the older area of Thamel (which we don’t visit on the school trip), there are old buildings damaged by the earthquake. Many are supported by timber and steel beams. Businesses in this area are also all operating as normal.
Food is abundant and there are many store holders selling fresh fruit including mangoes, paw paw, bananas, cucumbers and tomatoes. This is encouraging as it means families are still able to sustain their livelihood by growing crops and selling them in the business hub. Bottled water and food is readily available and cheap.
Summary: The excursion today revealed the walk to Thamel and visit to the shopping precinct is operating as normal. The walk is actually safer now, than it was in 2013, due to road works being completed. The shopping experience is no different to previous trips.
As an extra, we visited Kathmandu Durbar Square. The damage to the palaces and temples is extensive. Many residents in this small precinct have been displaced either through losing their homes or choosing to avoid the dangers in structurally unsound buildings and preferring to live in tents. In this area we found a mobile blood bank, operating under a tarp. A school was operating in a large tent in the same area using wooden slats as seating for the students in the tent. The devastation the Nepalese are enduring is profound in this small area of the city. But life goes on and they continue to try to live day by day, facing the challenges as they come. “
Finally, we’d like to update all of our travellers on the World Expeditions Foundation’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal. We know many of our travellers were concerned about the welfare of our staff who were affected by the earthquake and we’re pleased to advise that the $50,000 allocated to staff will be distributed by the 15th of July so that they can use these funds to rebuild their damaged homes.
Nepal Update: 15 June 2015
We are very pleased to announce that we will be operating all of our scheduled treks in the Annapurna and Everest regions from September. A further final review will be conducted after the monsoon however no changes to this position are foreseen. We also wish to update those with bookings on treks in other regions.
As you may know from our previous updates, we have had staff out in the field reviewing the state of some of our main trekking regions following the earthquake. During these reviews we have focused on trail conditions, bridges, our private campsite infrastructure and the general state of community villages. We’ve also been keen to establish that the entry and departure points for our treks, being road access and air strips, are reliable. The international airport is fully functional and the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu has received an official ‘green sticker’ which confirms it as structurally sound.
The Nepal government has also been undertaking its own surveillance and we are advised there was an official function in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square by the Tourism Minister where he announced that Nepal is safe for travel.
About 90% of Nepal’s 28 million people live in the foothills and mountain areas. Over centuries, they have established trade routes which in more recent history are the trails used by trekkers also. These trail networks are fundamentally important for trade, movement of goods, health and education and we know that any key mountain trails that have experienced damage will be repaired very quickly due to the complete reliance on them.
We are fortunate that in the Everest and Annapurna regions we have our private campsites which are all in good condition, with only minor repairs that are currently underway in two of our Everest camps. That work will be completed well before the season recommences. Otherwise, with our full service camping treks in all other regions we can continue to be as flexible as we need to be and not reliant on any private accommodation.
The Annapurna region: This area sustained very little affect from the earthquake, other than some damage to the village of Jomsom (on the Annapurna Circuit route) on the north western side of the Annapurna range. The area up around Manang is also reported to be mostly unaffected. Most of our treks in the region take place south of the Annapurna massif where all conditions are stable and in good condition for trekkers.
Everest region: There were two small landslips on the trails north of Lukla which have already been addressed by government appointed workers. Any danger has been removed and we have reports of trekkers and the normal stream of local people using these and all other trail networks in the region. There are some lodges, monasteries and schools that have been damaged throughout the area, but, we have assessed that they will not pose any risk to our operations. The Everest Base Camp is intact and we would like to highlight that the landslide that did occur post earthquake was at the base camp used by climbing expeditions, several hours hike above Gorak Shep, the highest village in which our trekkers sleep. With our guides up there last week we don’t see any issues visiting base camp or Kala Patar going forward. The Cho La pass that links the Everest and Gokyo valley is unaffected, as is the Renjo La pass linking the Gokyo and Thame Valleys. The Kongma La, being the pass between the Chukung Valley and Lobuche is also fine as per our Everest High Passes trek. The trails to Ama Dablam Base Camp are reported to be in good trekking condition.
Mountaineering Trips: Island Peak and Mera Peak are reported to be operationally ready for trips post monsoon. We do not have any information as yet about Baruntse and nor do we have first hand information about Lumding Valley and Teng Kangpoche. However, what we can say in relation to the latter is that the region is not populated with villages, does not contain any bridge crossings and our base camp at Teng Kangpoche will be situated on a high grassy plateau above the lake so does not present any risk with its situation. We have one departure visiting this area in October and are confident that our reviews drawing on satellite technology indicate no landslips. This will be rechecked post monsoon but having the robust experience of mountaineering leader Soren Kruse Ledet and our expert climbing Sherpas will mean that we’ll be able to navigate most conditions as is consistent with any exploratory style trip that we operate. We don’t foresee there being any issue with the continued operation of this trip.
Dolpo: This remote region in western Nepal has not been affected by the earthquake.
Api Himal: This region in the far west of Nepal has not been affected by the earthquake.
Mustang: The trails conditions are good but there were some monasteries that have sustained damage. We have been advised that there is work planned for their restoration but we again wish to advise that our treks in the region are camping based and we are therefore totally self sufficient to camp in places that are without risk.
Manaslu: We have had pieces of information back in about Manaslu. In some parts we know the area has sustained damage and we are awaiting the outcome of the army survey which we understand will be underway before the end of the month before sending in our own staff toward the end of August, when the monsoon should start to subside. We are asking any of our travellers with bookings for Manaslu to wait for these reports to be forthcoming.
Kanchenjunga: There was a mud slide in the region last week following the onset of the monsoon which typically starts in the east and moves west. Two rivers became engorged with unprecedented rainfall that triggered the slide. This is unrelated to the earthquake. We expect that there will be no problems operating our treks in the region after the monsoon.
Great Himalaya Trail: The Great Himalaya Trail does not operate until February 2016. We are very confident that the trip will be fully operational, however, there are some assessments and possible contingencies that we may need to do around the Rolwaling and Langtang areas. These , if necessary, are not expected to impact on the continuous nature of the trek. We’ll be in touch with our GHT trekkers later in the year when we have completed our reviews and any contingency plans.
We have scheduled a series of Nepal Update Sessions around Australia during July. This will be a great opportunity to hear more about current information in Nepal and to ask questions. Please visit the website for details. We otherwise encourage any of our travellers with questions to please call us or email your enquiry and we’ll be pleased to respond quickly.
Nepal Earthquake: Update Friday 05 June
We have received reports that aftershocks are lessening in frequency and scale. This was corroborated by World Expeditions mountaineering guide Soren Kruse Ledet who returned from Nepal last weekend after spending a week in the Solu Khumbu (the lower Everest region below Lukla). He reported being surprised at not feeling any earth movement while in the region or in the capital. Conditions in the Solu Khumbu region are confirmed to be as we have reported earlier, with arbitrary damage in the various valleys and fortunately no reported loss of life. Kathmandu is certainly returning to a sense of normality with most services now operating. The damaged heritage sites of Pathupatinath temples and Boudhanath stupa in the capital have been declared safe and are expected to open by the end of this month.
With our crew out this week in the Gokyo Valley, who have now crossed the Cho La Pass that links the Gokyo and Everest Base Camp valleys, they have arrived in Gorak Shep which is two days below Everest Base Camp where they intend to go next. There were some small landslips that they report have been repaired by government appointed workers and that trail conditions are good. There are no aftershocks being experienced in that region. We’ll be providing a fuller report next week once they are back in Kathmandu.
No more affected by the earthquake have been the younger members of this mountain society. Education services have largely recommenced across the country although it is estimated that over 5000 schools have been damaged or destroyed. Makeshift classrooms outside under tarpaulins have been erected where school structures have been deemed unsafe. There is a long road ahead in repairing and rebuilding these affected schools which could run into years. In the meantime a country wide initiative has been launched to advise school teachers to use half of every school day in the short term to rebuild confidence and a sense of fun in students. This translates to sing alongs, dancing and group sporting activities to divert attention away from the trauma of the earthquake and get students laughing and smiling again.
We have now earmarked two schools where much needed work is required. One is the Kshamawati Higher Secondard School in the Dolakha District, the other, the Manju Shree Primary School in Lura village in the lower Solu Khumbu. Staff has been on the ground to assess the landscapes and to establish that we can safely camp in the immediate vicinity of the schools. These will be the initial two schools that we will be supporting with the project trips that we are developing. Thank you again for your patience but there has been much work to do in terms of inspections and assessments of the works. We expect to announce further details about the project trips which are anticipated to run between November and January 2015/16, subject to a final review of operational safety. Those who have listed their interest will be notified in the first instance.
Many donors expressed their wishes for part of the money from the WEF Nepal Earthquake Appeal to benefit any earthquake affected porters and crew who made their time trekking in Nepal so memorable. Like thousands of other Nepalis, they have been suffered loss or damage of property and some with injured family members. As you may recall, World Expeditions kick started the Nepal Earthquake Appeal with a AUD$50,000 donation. This week the World Expeditions Foundation board members agreed to quarantine this amount (AUD$50,000) to be directed to a fund to benefit all the World Expeditions porters and trek crew whose homes were damaged by the earthquake. The distribution of these funds will be administered in a way that each member will receive the same fixed amount to ensure that there is fairness in the contribution to each of their situations.
Finally for this week, we wish to advise that the World Expeditions Nepal Earthquake Appeal has raised AUD$216,647.75. Of this AUD$72,254 has already been deployed to purchase and deliver food, tarpaulins, blankets and corrugated gavlanised sheets of iron to badly affected mountain communities in the districts of Solu Khumbu, Ramche, Betang, Rasuwa, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Lalitpur District, Kavre District and Ramechap. This will be on going so please donate if you haven’t already, and thank you very much again, to all of you that have.
Nepal Earthquake Update – Friday 29 May
Through our surveillance work we are staggered at how arbitrary this earthquake has been in affecting some areas of the country so badly, while others have avoided damage at all. Taksindo Monastery in the valley adjacent to Junbesi was virtually unscathed (see photo), while across the ridge in Junbesi village, extensive damage was experienced. Every day we gather more and more information about conditions in the mountains. Much of the information coming back in is positive but we will need to also conduct our reviews again after the monsoon to see if there has been any change.
Between now and September, we’ll also be consulting with a range of organizations, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and carefully researching reports from expert seismologists. It has been fortunate that large infrastructure such as the airport, main roads and dams, as well as the country’s cellphone system, were largely unaffected by the earthquakes.
We received tragic news this week that four of our porters, who were with our Kangchenjunga group last month, returned to their villages to hear about the loss of immediate family members. We are deeply saddened by this news and would like to extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the families involved. World Expeditions will be providing support to them also.
The urgency in Nepal now turns to providing temporary accommodation for people in the earthquake affected areas with the advancing monsoon. The World Expeditions Foundation released AU$43,000 of the total funds raised for the earthquake appeal this week, for the purpose of purchasing corrugated galvanised tin sheets to badly impacted villages in the Langtang region. Many World Expeditions porters come from this region. With the rains already apparent, these sheets will provide much needed shelter. Bundles of sheets went to 436 houses, across two villages; Ramche Village where a total of 346 homes received the materials and in Betang Village, 90 further homes were supplied with the roofing material. Our sincere thanks to World Expeditions trekking guides Tsering Lama, Sujan Khatri, Tshering Tamang, Binod Lama and Bir Singh who were on the ground coordinating these drops.
Now that the goods donated by the NSW SES have cleared through customs, the tarpaulins, ropes and blankets have been dispatched to some of the impacted schools in the Lower Solu Khumbu region. The tarpaulin sheets will be used for making temporary classrooms and the blankets will be distributed to students.
The need is great in the mountain communities of Nepal, if you haven’t already donated to this appeal please consider making a contribution, every dollar helps.
We’d like to make special mention of the efforts of Daniel Robertshaw (see photo) who has spent time in Nepal and was clearly upset by news of the unfolding disaster. He jumped in quickly to start fundraising for the World Expeditions Foundation Earthquake Appeal by auctioning his prints of the recent Nepal trip. Daniel has now raised over $2,700- truly an inspiring effort, thank you.
Ellie Locke’s now raised $11,300 by shaving off her much-loved dreadlocks while Joanne Parsons has raised over $230 by climbing thousands of stairs.
Peru Update – Monday 25 May
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has updated its advice to travellers, warning that on 27 and 28 May, strikes and demonstrations against the proposed Tia Maria copper mining project are expected in various regions of Peru including Arequipa, Cusco, Ica, Piura and Puno. In the past protestors have blocked major roads and restricted transport movement.
We will of course be monitoring the situation and will provide updates if there are any further developments. In the event that any of our trips will be affected, contingency plans will be implemented to ensure their smooth running. As always the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority. World Expeditions and our partner in Peru continue to monitor the situation and we are receiving constant updates.
Nepal Earthquake Update - Wednesday 20 May
We no longer have any groups in Nepal and hope all that have returned home following their treks over the earthquake period are doing well.
Since the second earthquake that struck last Tuesday, there have been daily aftershocks including the capital which is to be expected after an episode of its scale. While extremely sad that there has been further loss of life, the casualties have been few in comparison with the initial quake. One of the hardest hit areas was the Dolakha district east of Kathmandu. We also know that the Solu Khumbu (the Everest area below Lukla) was affected and that some of the medical and school facilities where we have conducted project work, with the involvement of our groups over the years, has sustained rather extensive damage – particularly in the region around Junbesi. Soren Kruse Ledet who is a lead mountaineering guide for World Expeditions departs this Sunday to travel up to the Solu Khumbu region to survey the villages and facilities.
Next week, our trekking guides will resume their surveillance in the regions north of Lukla in the upper Everest region. We postponed this work after the second earthquake. They will be reviewing the Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Valleys. Thame, in the valley adjacent to Gokyo will also be checked. Our recent phone contact with people in the villages of these valleys is that there is damage, but it is minimal in comparison with other regions. That said, it is important that we see this first hand and make our own assessments. Further, we will also be conducting a post monsoon inspection to ensure that the rainy season has not had any impact.
Over in the Annapurna region, we too will resume the research of trails. While we know that the lower Annapurna regions, including the trails linked with our Annapurna Machapuchare, Ultimate Annapurna Dhaulagiri, Annapurna Trek & Classic Poon Hill are all in tact with little earthquake affect, our focus is on the upper Annapurna regions around the Thorong La and Jomsom.
What we can say is that things are looking positive for treks post monsoon for the Everest and Annapurna region treks that we operate. Support Nepal by trekking in Nepal.
We will update on the other regions (Dolpo, Kanchenjuga, Damodar, Great Himalaya Trail, Langtang, Manaslu to name just a few) as more comes to light and on that note, our intention is to send out surveillance teams in the coming months to ascertain conditions in those areas.
Between Kathmandu and Lhasa (Tibet) is the roadway known as the Friendship Highway. The border areas around Kodari, as we reported earlier, was affected in the initial earthquake which damaged a section of the road north on the Tibetan side. We have been advised that the Chinese have already sent road workers to rectify those sections and that government vehicles are using the road- yet civilian & commercial use is currently restricted. However, this is good news as it means that very soon the highway may be functional again.
For those interested in rebuild projects, we need to advise that this will take a little more time. Our aim is to wait for the aftershocks to subside and when confident, we’ll go to the schools in the villages we know we want to support and determine next steps. Our hope is that we will be able to make announcements by July.
As we reported earlier too, NSW SES generously donated 25 tarps, 400 blankets, 400 pairs of gloves and ropes that all arrived in Kathmandu today. These are going to be deployed as soon as possible to one of the most marginalized villages. We will provide details in the coming days.
An update on our 21 year old Ellie Locke (legend) – who you may recall had decided to raise money for the World Expeditions Foundation Earthquake Appeal, by taking a leap of faith and asked her community of family and friends to sponsor her quest to remove her ‘characteristic’ dreadlocks.. She writes “After the recent disaster in Nepal I decided to raise money for relief and reconstruction. If I reached my ambitious goal of $10 000, I vowed to shave off my dreadlocks which I've been growing and maintaining for 5 years. I sent many emails, put up posters at Uni, uploaded Instagram photos and raided my friends' Facebook feeds. I reached the $10K after 11 days of fundraising, and the figures are only rising!
We’re told by Ellie they are coming off on Saturday week. We wish to congratulate Ellie on this most fantastic quest.
But, we also want to again acknowledge and sincerely thank all of our community – you have all been so connected to the cause and generous and you have our pledge that your donations will go straight to the roots where they are most needed.
Nepal Earthquake Update - Monday 18 May
We have prepared the following information about Nepal for the benefit of clients who have a future trek booked with World Expeditions to Nepal.
WILL IT BE SAFE TO TRAVEL TO NEPAL POST MONSOON?
We are confident that trekking and travel in Nepal will be safe when the tourism season resumes in September. The safety of our travellers and staff is our number one concern and an ongoing review of all trekking regions leading up to the season opening will focus solely on that.
Immediately after the earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May, trips about to depart could not be operated because workers across the country temporarily left their workplaces to be with and assist their families in their mountain villages. Internal flights had few pilots or crew, hotels were seriously short staffed and many who were unaffected were assisting with the relief effort. Emergency services were deployed for surveillance and rescue operations. These are characteristic of the first wave of response to a natural disaster of this scale.
That phase has passed. The focus now turns to rebuilding damaged infrastructure and people getting back to their lives. All the international hotels in Kathmandu and in the larger cities are now functional and operating normally. Large numbers of people who left Kathmandu after the earthquake have returned to their work places. Schools and universities are generally now all open. The international and domestic airports are functioning normally.
The large hospitals in Kathmandu which were initially overwhelmed with patients have worked through the emergency response and have now recommenced regular out-patient services while all the general surgical units have become functional.
The CIWEC Medical Clinics in Kathmandu and Pokhara are open and running as usual.
Various mountain regions across Nepal have been affected quite badly with heavy human casualties, destruction of homes and schools and decimation of crops. The lower Langtang and Helambu were possibly the worst hit regions. Others have escaped the impact of the earthquake with very little major damage. The majority of the World Expeditions treks take place in the Everest (Khumbu) and Annapurna regions, both of which escaped major damage. The Solu Khumbu (in the lower Khumbu Everest region south of Lukla) was affected but it is important to know that the Upper Khumbu which is from Lukla and north was not. All of our treks into the Everest region commence from Lukla and head north.
The main trails in the Annapurna and Everest regions are continually in use by local people as well as the end of season trekkers since the earthquakes. Bridges on the main trails in these two regions are all intact. Some lodges in the Everest region have been damaged but building materials are already being flown in and local labour organized to restore them. All World Expeditions permanent campsites in both regions, with exception of two of the Everest camps, were not affected. The two that were damaged have repair work scheduled in the next few weeks.
World Expeditions guides are in the field now conducting a complete audit of all the trail conditions, bridges and infrastructure in these two specific regions, also checking the arterial areas. Thereafter, all other trekking areas in which World Expeditions conducts treks will also be carefully assessed including Manaslu, Makalu, Mustang, Dolpo, Kanchenjunga, Rolwaling, Upper Langtang and others. We will provide updates as soon as we have completed our surveys.
Between now and September, we’ll also be consulting with a range of organisations, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and expert seismologists to establish the country is safe.
WHY NEPAL NEEDS TOURISM MORE THAN EVER
Nepal is special. Its home to the world’s highest peak, clusters of Himalayan ranges and the hard working people who live amongst them. Collectively, they have inspired, challenged and brought positive change for travellers from around the globe who seek to experience Nepal’s majesty and the warmth of the mountain villagers. Now, more than ever, they need something back from us.
Tourism is the single largest industry in Nepal. From employees of its busy airline industry to the small Sherpa trader selling handicrafts alongside a trekking trail, almost every Nepalese person benefits from tourism. These earthquakes are something that the country can – and will - recover from. However, if there were to be a sizeable decline in tourism numbers to the country post monsoon (from September onwards), the knock on effect of a major economic crisis would have further negative consequences for the nation.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Donate - There are numerous charities you can donate to. World Expeditions encourages those wishing to make a tax deductable donation to do so through the World Expeditions Foundation and its Earthquake Appeal Fund. The Foundation responded quickly with the deployment of food drops to the hardest hit villages north of Kathmandu in the two weeks following the earthquake. This included 1000s of kgs of rice, lentils, cooking oil, sugar and salt for more than 4,500 households. With its strong focus on supporting education, its mid to longer term plans will be to help restore badly damaged schools so that young people living in mountain villages can return to receiving their education.
Travel there next season – The earthquakes that struck Nepal on 25 April and 12 May occurred at a time when the major trekking season was nearing an end in the lead up to the monsoon. It is expected that the rebuild over the coming 5 months will restore essential infrastructure so that travellers can be confident that Nepal will be ready once again to welcome trekkers when the new season gets underway in mid September. Nepal’s economy is intrinsically reliant on tourism and we appeal to travellers to continue supporting the country by travelling to this wonderful Himalayan destination when the new season resumes.
Our advocacy for supporting a return to Nepal is without commercial bias. We are committed to doing all we can to ensure that Nepal does not suffer a further crisis caused by an economic downturn that ha the potential to affect millions of people.
WILL I BE A BURDEN?
Quite to the contrary. Many Nepalese rely upon tourism to supplement the income they earn through subsistence farming while others are wholly reliant on tourism income. The people of Nepal need tourism employment.
The roads to and from India are open and supplies to Nepal, as is the norm, mean that the supermarkets in Nepal are fully stocked. There are currently no shortages, nor is it considered there will be leading up to the new season. Nepal’s tourism infrastructure will be ready for the typically busiest trekking time of the year.
World Expeditions treks run in a self sufficient manner. We stock up on supplies for the trekking days from the city. Our private permanent and wilderness camps are not taking away shelter from others. The staff we employ are well looked after. Learn more about our Responsible Travel policies in Nepal by downloading our responsible travel booklet that can be accessed from the world Expeditions website.
World Expeditions will continue to post updates on Nepal over the coming months on Facebook as well as under the travel advisory section of the website which sits under a tab on the top menu bar. Please stay in touch and contact your consultant if you have any concerns or would like to ask specific questions about the recovery process, safety matters or preparing for your trek ahead.
Nepal Earthquake Update - Tuesday 12 May
Around lunchtime today in Nepal, a new earthquake struck 76km's east of Kathmandu measuring 7.3. The epi centre was in the Rolwaling area which is west of the Everest region. We wish to advise that we have spoken with our Kathmandu base where it is reported that all of our Kanchenjunga trek members who are in the capital have been accounted for and are safe. We've been advised that there is minimal damage in the area around the Radisson Hotel and road traffic from there to the airport is flowing normally.
Nepal Earthquake Update- Monday 11 May
Our Kanchenjunga Base Camp group arrived back into Kathmandu yesterday, safe and happy. This means that we have no more groups out in Nepal until the season resumes in September. Over the next few days they’ll be leaving Kathmandu bound for home. One of our longest serving and most experienced guides, Rinzin, greeted members at the Radisson Hotel yesterday to conduct a full debrief.
Meanwhile, over the weekend another food drop was coordinated to the Ramechap District and the village of Rampur to deliver 2000kgs of rice, and 65 litres of salt and the same of cooking oil. There have been so many people behind the scenes making all of this happen – just with the weekend drop alone we had three of our leaders, (in the attached picture from left to right) Romi Tamang, Bhim Bishowkarma, Juddha Rai, as well as gentleman from the local government, Suman Parajuli, one of our star cooks Harayan Dahal and sirdar, Padam Chhantyal. Great work boys and thank you!
We also want to let you know about an inspiring young lady who is getting behind the World Expeditions Earthquake Appeal. Her name is Ellie Locke and she has a novel approach. Her campaign is to raise $10,000 for the appeal with the pledge to shave off her much loved dreadlocks. She’s only 21 and we know this is a big deal for Ellie.
She is already more than half way there so if you want to donate, click the below link and know that every dollar will go to the WEF Earthquake appeal.
A bit of an update on the status of some of Kathmandu’s great heritage sites which many will have visited, admired and photographed. They are symbolic of Nepal’s history as well as the deep respect shared by the various religions that make up Nepal’s tapestry. We’ve been informed that Nepali craftsmen and artists, engaged in various forms of traditional artworks including wood carvings, stone sculpture & wall paintings are planning a recovery process of the destroyed monuments including documentation on destroyed monuments and protection of recovered valuable pieces from the earthquake hit sites. At least four out of seven Unesco World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley – including three ancient city squares were severely damaged. Swayambhunath, Dharahara tower, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square were damaged. We are heartened to see this work is going ahead.
Nepal Earthquake Update- Friday 08 May
All reports indicate that Kathmandu is about 80% back to normal operations – although we know that there are still many people living in tents on the outskirts who have had their homes damaged or destroyed. Email has been restored and 90% of shops and businesses are open. We currently have no groups in the city.
The relief efforts in the mountain villages north of Kathmandu are still underway where shortages of food, water and alternative accommodation endure. Almost two weeks on from the earthquake there are reports of people living in caves. With our entire inventory of tents and tarpaulins in use since the earthquake, we have been desperately trying to secure others without much success but are having stocks made. There are some coming through from India and other nations and local manufactures are working around the clock to produce this much needed product.
In these times of need, we are continually surprised by the generosity of others and today received fantastic news from our friends at NSW State Emergency Services who are donating 25 large tarpaulins, ropes, 400 blankets, 400 winter weight jackets and 400 pairs of working gloves. Our mission now is to have them flown to Kathmandu and distributed as a matter of urgency.
We continue to receive many enquiries about our porters, sherpas, cooks and kitchen staff. It is testimony to the care that they provide during our treks which resonates so strongly with travellers in years to come. We are doing whatever we can to help them as many have had their homes impacted as they live in some ofthe affected areas. They, like all those people in the hardest hit villages remain our highest priority.
We would like to acknowledge the incredible job that Gavin Turner (our Himalayan Ops Manager) has carried out in Nepal, in greeting and debriefing with our groups coming back into Kathmandu, assisting with the coordination of the food drops and collating intel on conditions in Nepal. It’s been a huge effort from not only Gavin, but also our fantastic Kathmandu based staff - Mr Din, Mrs Uma, Zahid, Rakesh and all the crew - who have all worked tirelessly since the earthquake and who have been a tower of strength. We owe our gratitude to them also for their efforts in coordinating the relief efforts for the World Expeditions Foundation which has not been without its challenges. It has been an outstanding team effort – thank you!
Finally, thank you to our entire community.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp 19 April
We’ve had news from Hakka today that the group are en route to Taplejung. You may read that there is an air strip at this village however please be aware that it has been under renovation well before the earthquake and is not functional. For this reason, on Saturday the group will continue to walk down the valley to Bhadrapur where they will overnight, the following morning taking the flight back to Kathmandu.
Nepal Earthquake Update – Thursday 07 May
We’re excited that our final group will be back in Kathmandu this weekend as they complete their trek in the Kanchenjunga region. It’s been 12 days since the harrowing earthquake struck and we feel both relieved and blessed to have our groups and staff safe and well. The feedback from all of our community and beyond has been incredible and we’d like to thank you all for your positive comments, thoughts and prayers for the safety of the wonderful people of Nepal. After tomorrow our updates will cease being daily but we will continue to have regular information on Nepal’s progress. And for all of those who have expressed an interest in getting involved in community work in Nepal post monsoon, after our field research next week we hope to be able to provide details of these project trips,
Meanwhile donations continue to come in for the World Expeditions Foundation Earthquake Appeal and we wish to again express our deep appreciation for the support which has generated over $165,000 already and which is flowing on to where it is immediately needed.
Our staff went to the Bhattedanda District yesterday to assist up to 2340 households with food drops. We were humbled by a Facebook post today from one of the affected villages where a young man wrote the following: TshEring Lopchan #World_Expeditions did great job in my village where government failed to do so. Thank You So much #WE !
We were so touched to receive this message and thanks again to all of our donors who made this possible.
IN FIELD TODAY:
Kanchenjunga Base Camp 19 April
A bit of a change in the schedule with this group who are walking into Mitlung today. The last few days have meant that the group will not return to Kathmandu ahead of schedule on the 08th as was intended, but will stick to the original plan and fly from Bhadrapur to Kathmandu on 10 May. When we spoke with the guide Hakka today the group were enjoying lunch in a nice grassy area.
Everest Circuit 15 April
The final group members left from Nepal today.
Nepal Earthquake Update – Wednesday 06 May
Yesterday we delivered our food drops to the villages of Ramche, Betang, Jivanpur, Suspa Kshamawati & Dubachour which was gratefully accepted by the communities who’ve been hard hit by the earthquake. This was enabled by the World Expeditions Foundation and the generosity of donors to the Earthquake Appeal. New information about the village of Dalits near Nowako shows that they too are badly in need of the same staples. Responding to that, we today purchased another shipment of food including rice, dhal, cooking oil, salt & sugar that have been deployed to the village and surrounding settlements. Things are very fluid and the government and NGO’s are stretched, so it seems that right now, where we know of hard hit villages who are suffering food shortages they will have to be our immediate concern. We’re also sourcing tarpaulins as a priority.
Just in is news about the lower Mustang area. A friend who has been in the region the last few days has reported that “Kagbeni, Muktinath-Ranipawa, Jharkot, Jhong, Eklabatti, Lubra, Jomsom, Thinigaon, Dhumba, Syang, Marpha, and Tserok, with the exception of Old Jomsom, the villages and roads of Lower Mustang have not been devastatingly affected by the earthquake. There have been no casualties. Old Jomsom has several homes that have been damaged. There is very, very little earthquake damage to the villages and road between Jomsom and Pokhara”.
As we said yesterday, we’ll also be conducting our own review then too and all other trails as well.
Otherwise in the capital, around 75% of the city has reopened for business and last night was the first evening where no aftershocks were felt. The airport is functioning normally and the weather over the last two days has been clear and temperatures are pleasant around 25-28 degrees.
IN FIELD TODAY:
Kanchenjunga Base Camp 19 April
This is now our only group still out trekking and they are doing just fine. Hakka has reported that they are on their way down to Cherwa today where they will overnight. They are still on schedule to return to Kathmandu on May 8.
Everest Circuit 15 April
Several of the group members departed Kathmandu today bound for home where they’ll reunited with family and friends. Gavin, our rep, met with them all last night at the Radisson Hotel to debrief as we have been doing with all of our groups coming back into Kathmandu.
OzHarvest Everest Trek 18 April
Final members of the group departed today.
Nepal Earthquake Update – Tuesday 05 May
Over the last week as our groups have been arriving back into Kathmandu, we’ve taken the opportunity to have some very in-depth discussions with our guides and crew, as well as some of our travellers, about the conditions of trails, bridges and villages in areas where they’ve just returned from. Already, we can say that our treks in the Everest and Annapurna regions will be operating from September this year onward. There has been some damage to homes and some of the lodges in various villages in the Everest region but bridges are all intact and trails have experienced little change from pre earthquake conditions. The Annapurna trails (exception Annapurna Circuit which we have not researched as yet) were fortunate to escape the wrath of the quake with little damage at all.
Part of our risk assessment and safety procedure will now be to ensure that we have assessed each of our treks fully. Next week, some of our Nepali guides and crew will be going back into the mountains to start the process of a thorough review of each and every trail, pass, bridge and village encountered on our treks in the Everest and Annapurna regions as a start. In coming weeks we will do