Nepal has always been on my "Must Visit" lists ever since a few of my friends visited there in recent years. I'm not sure if I can climb Mount Everest but the mountain trails with picturesque views attract me. It was devastating to hear about the earthquake there that destroyed many homes and took so many lives.
Ever since Nepal first opened its borders to outsiders in the 1950s, this tiny mountain nation has had an irresistible mystical allure for travellers. Today, legions of trekkers are drawn to the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking, some of the world’s best, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurnas and beyond. Nowhere else can you trek for days or even weeks in incredible mountain scenery, secure in the knowledge that a hot meal, cosy lodge and warm slice of apple pie await you at the end of the day. Nepal is nirvana for mountain lovers.
Other travellers are drawn here by the adrenaline rush of rafting down a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge. Canyoning, climbing, kayaking, paragliding and mountain biking all offer a rush against the backdrop of some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes.
According to The Guardian, at least 3,617 people are known to have died when the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday and the number is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue across the Himalayan region.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that several hundred British nationals are usually in Nepal at this time of the year.
“We expect that almost certainly some will have been caught up in the earthquakes,” he said. “But at this moment we have no reports of any British nationals killed or injured. The Foreign Office is urgently deploying additional consular response teams from London and Delhi to reinforce our embassy staff and looking at what else we can do.”
At least 17 people are believed to have been killed and 61 injured when an avalanche hit Everest base camp. Tour operator Jagged Globe, which has been running mountaineering expeditions to Everest since 1993, confirmed on Saturday that one of its team members, Daniel Fredinburg, was among those killed on the mountain. Two other team members were injured and were evacuated by helicopter on Sunday.
The operator confirmed this morning that it had now made contact with the three teams it currently has in Nepal and that all were safe and well.
Exodus, which also run trips to Nepal, was able to establish over the weekend that that all 55 of its customers and team leaders on trips there are safe. Most are now trying to return home, while those on the Tibetan side of Everest, which was less affected, may continue their treks in Tibet.
The operator has cancelled all trips to Nepal for the next three weeks and is offering customers a refund or transfer. It hopes to be able to resume trips in May or June and will be “keeping a close eye” on Foreign Office guidance.
Intrepid Travel, which had 160 customers, including 24 British citizens, in Nepal when the earthquake struck was also able to confirm all its customers are safe. It is currently establishing a means for them to return home, however damage to infrastructure means it could be several days before it is possible for them to leave the country.
Intrepid has cancelled all trips until May 11 and is offering refunds or transfers to those with upcoming bookings. The operator has launched an appeal to support the emergency relief effort in Nepal through its not-for-profit organisation, The Intrepid Foundation. UK managing director Michael Edwards described the situation as “heartbreaking”.
Jae Hopkins, marketing director at Exodus, said: “Most people know this is a very one-off situation. Good tourism to the area can be a very positive thing, bringing money to communities, and we support a lot of community groups there. We’ll be stepping up our funding for these projects.”
A spokesperson for Intrepid Travel said: “People travelling to Nepal usually understand there is an element of risk, but it is difficult to say at this stage what the long term affect will be on tourism to the region.”
According to The Star, no Malaysians were injured or killed by the earthquake that struck central Nepal Saturday morning.
The Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry said its offices in Kathmandu and New Delhi, India called up all Malaysians registered with them and found that they were safe.
A spokesman said that this was based off an initial report, and that the embassy in Kathmandu said aftershocks continued in areas near the capital.
He added that a group of climbers from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) hiking up Mount Everest were safe, despite an avalanche in the area.
He said that they were now at the mountain's base camp.
"We urge Malaysians in Kathmandu and affected areas to be calm, stay in a safe place and give full cooperation to Nepalese authorities," he said.
He added that local services there such as telecommunications were being fully mobilised to aid ongoing rescue efforts.
Malaysia is sending 30 members of an elite rescue team along with 20 medical doctors to help in the rescue and relief efforts for the Nepal earthquake, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Sunday.
HUFFINGTON POST HAS LISTED WAYS TO HELP NEPAL VICTIMS. CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.