As the monsoon rains slowly recede, so do our lockdown rules. After a super strict 3 week lockdown here in the Kathmandu Valley despite no respite in the number of cases being logged each day, we have been set free once more but with slightly more stringent rules to follow this time around, which are kind of being followed by some if not all.
The international airport did reopen as promised on the 1st September but with a very limited service and only for Nepali citizens, diplomats and INGO/NGO workers and their families with the relevant permissions from the Home Ministry. It was decided that tourists would not be allowed to enter the country this year to enable them to manage properly the thousands of Nepali migrant workers still waiting to come home after being stranded abroad.
With festival season just around the corner and the desire for those Nepalis who haven’t already gone to travel back to their villages, pressure on the government has been ramped up by all sides, especially the transportation providers whose planes and buses have been sitting idle for the last 6 months.
After many mixed messages and date changes, it now appears that the domestic airport will open from tomorrow, 17thSeptember with flights to all destinations, although with only 30% of slots on each route. Long distance buses will be able resume their services from Monday 21st.
The other big announcement that we all woke up to this morning is that Nepal is to open for mountaineering and trekking from the 17th October for both locals and foreigners. Quite what this means we are not sure, given that currently the country is closed to incoming tourists and as is the case with these grand announcements, there are no support documents or clear road map to back them up, so we are still in limbo as to how trips can/will run. Hopefully this information will follow sooner rather than later.
Despite the ongoing confusion, at least there is a small glimmer of light at the end of the very long and dark Covid tunnel, and we can hopefully as an industry start putting in place the ideas and protocols we have been working on to ensure that if not for this autumn season, we are ready and waiting for 2021.
In the meantime, keep wearing your mask, washing your hands and staying away from large crowds. Together we can beat this and get back once again to the mountains our hearts so yearn for.
Love, light, peace and patience. Dream now, travel later.