Tourists are safe in the New Republic of Nepal. More than decade-old Maoists insurgency has ended with the abolition of 2 and half-century-long monarchy, and the country is towards peace and stability.
Although the Maoists insurgents fought a bloody war against the government for more than a decade, the abolition of the monarchy was surprisingly peaceful. The army and police who were believed to be loyal to the king accepted the change, and most importantly, the king didn’t have to leave the country or face any charges.
Until Nepal turned a republic dramatically in May 2008, the country had been under the sway of a hereditary monarchy or ruling family for most of its known history, primarily isolated from the rest of the world. The Shah Dynasty kings ruled in Nepal for more than 250 years, but for 104 years from 1846 till 1950, a secondary family rule of Ranas became prominent. The period of Nepal is infamous as “Rana Regime” and was abolished in 1950 by the popular revolt of the Shah King and the democratic parties.
A brief experiment with multi-party politics in 1959 ended with King Mahendra suspending parliament, banning political parties and taking sole charge. Democratic politics was introduced in 1991 after widespread protests, but it was extremely factionalized with frequent changes of government, and people didn’t enjoy any fruits of Democracy. With intent on setting up a communist republic, the Maoists communist (one of the several communists’ parties of Nepal) waged a decade-long campaign against the constitutional monarchy. The war left more than 12,000 people dead, and as per the UN, 100,000 people were displaced. The use of torture by government forces and rebels was routine.
On a dramatic event on June 02, 2001, Nepal’s crown prince shot and killed his parents- the king and queen and other family members and also killed himself and Gyanendra-the only surviving brother of the king ascended the throne. But within a couple of years of his ascent on the throne, he followed the path of his father King Mahendra and sidelined the political parties. And he became the sole ruler of the country, which turned a suicidal step for the monarchy of Nepal bringing democratic parties and the warring Maoists together. The Maoists suspended the violent war and joined the political parties for peaceful revolt.
When King Gyanendra's direct rule ended in April 2006, the rebels entered talks on how to end the civil war. There was an agreement on a landmark peace deal in November, and in early 2007 the Maoists joined an interim government.
The Maoists emerged as the largest party in parliament following elections in April 2008, and the monarchy was abolished a month later. A new Maoist-dominated government finally took office in August 2008.
Now, the parliament is drafting new constitution and management of the Maoists army, who are confined at the UN-supervised cantonment currently, is underway. Nepal is moving towards peace and stability. Nepal, with its ancient culture and the Himalayas as a backdrop, is still the destination of choice for travelers in search of adventure. Maoist Insurgency of the past decade had certainly disturbed the tourism of Nepal. It had projected a distorted picture of the security situation. Still, the matter of the fact was that no single tourist was under direct threat, killed or injured, although the insurgency left with more than 12,000 Nepalis dead. But, there were some reports that Maoists collected mandatory donations from travelers on some trekking routes.
As the war has ended and the rebellions are in the political mainstream, travelers who had earlier postponed their trip to Nepal are traveling to Nepal. There are reports that flights are running full and hotels fully booked up. Tourism entrepreneurs are busier than ever.
At Far and High Adventure Travel, travelers’ safety is of utmost importance, and so we follow closely on the travel conditions of the areas we promote and update our travelers. We do not sell tours to the areas of unrest. We also suggest you check the travel advisory of respective countries.
With some precautions, you can travel to Nepal smoothly. Its always recommended going with a companion or in a group. If you are leaving for a remote area, please inform your related person or other colleagues about your visit and to all concerned authorities and organizations.
- Inform your whereabouts immediately upon arrival to the local police or concerned embassy or consulate.
- Use the services of government registered travel and trekking agencies only.
- Do not trek alone in remote areas.
- While traveling by public transport, be careful with the people who advance being over-friendly. Do not accept food or drinks given by strangers.
- Stay only at government registered hotels, resorts, guest houses, and lodges. Most of the theft and burglary cases reported are from cheapest guesthouses and lodges
- Use only those guides or porters who are authorized by your travel agency or hotel
- Exchange foreign currency only at authorized places.
- Carry certified copies of documents and leave the originals and other valuables in the safe deposit box of your hotel.
- Do not carry large sums of cash. Do not carry large sums of money. Do not show off your money or any valuables in public luring the criminals. Carry travelers' cheques and a limited amount of cash while on tour
- Even in your hotel room, do not leave stuff open. Keep them properly in your suitcases or the closets.
- Never leave your luggage and other valuables unattended at any time, any place
- In case of theft or loss, contact the nearest police station immediately.
For up-to-date information on trekking conditions and health risks, there are Associations like the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) and the Kathmandu Environment Education Process (KEEP) to help you.
Woman Traveler Safety
- Avoid wearing skimpy clothes to avoid any unwanted attention.
- Avoid traveling alone in the dark and late nights at pubs and bars. Do not hang out with people you barely know.
- Do not accept a dinner invitation or free sightseeing ride from strangers.
- Do not trek alone in the wilderness area.
Though the chances of robbery are rare, just in case of a mishap, go to Interpol (ph: 4412602) at the Police Headquarters in Naxal, Kathmandu.
A special unit of the Nepal Police, the Tourist Police is trained specially to assist visitors with security and travel-related problems. An English-speaking officer on duty is just a call away between 11 am and 5 pm at 4247041. These officers are also stationed at all the major tourist sites, and their blue van is always on constant patrol.