Yak Teahouse ExodusBlog

The time is right for Nepal but, please, let’s get the timing right!

When considering your school trip, the wonderful destination of Nepal is back on the map. Let's ensure we understand the best time to get the most from our school trip to Nepal.

Here at STC Towers we love to get on our soap box! In the office (affectionately known as the Bat Cave) ramblings are often awash with discussion (or rumblings) about school trips and expeditions - particularly around the topics of safety, value for money and educational justification.  Recently, though, it has been more about should schools travel to Nepal? And, if we’re going to be really specific, when schools should travel to Nepal.

The recent Channel 4 program following Levison Wood as he walked the Himalayas showed, amongst many other wonderful things, that Nepal is very much open for business.  And, if Nepal is open for business, then it’s open for school trips and expeditions too.  

It’s all too easy to remember that the media/press are in the business of selling the news, not just telling the news. This is a pretty broad statement, but their rather unbalanced views can have a great impact on schools planning trips abroad.   The recent flurry of activity about Zika is a good case in point. 

With tourism making up nearly 5% of Nepal’s GDP annually, the drop off in tourism following the earthquake is having a very big effect. According to Ian Wall in ‘The Professional Mountaineer’ (Issue 13), the number of tourist arrivals was down 65% for Spring and Autumn 2015.  If you are Nepali relying on tourists for income, your short term financial security is very poor. Whichever way you look at it, it is pretty obvious, Nepal is still a fantastic destination, it just needs tourists to start returning, and that includes school groups.  The vast majority of treks are open, but Langtang in an exception. The longer Nepal stays out of the press the better and we have been pleased to notice a recent increase in enquiries for school trips to Nepal. 

That’s obviously welcome, and it leads nicely onto the next part of this post – when to travel to Nepal. Occasionally, we get asked to arrange school expeditions to Nepal in July or August. Not many people have an encyclopaedic knowledge of world climate and therefore don’t know that summer is monsoon in Nepal. What’s particularly galling, though, is that we get more than a handful of teachers saying they’ve had advice from other school travel companies to say that trekking in the summer is ok!  To put it politely, we don’t agree.

I grant you, the summer monsoon rains are often at night and morning views can sometimes be spectacular in the clear Himalayan air.  And, if you are prepared to entertain the students at the airport while the queues back up due to cancelled flights or hang out in a small village when the road is washed out ahead, then Nepal in the summer is for you. Perhaps you relish trekking in warm grey mist and drizzle?

By all means, take a school trip to Nepal in the summer - just don’t go for the trekking.  Some school travel companies offer Mustang as a summer option, and it’s true the rain shadow means it is dry.  Just cross your fingers that the flight can get you out of KTM, and back!  In our view, a school trip or expedition to Nepal should be during spring, autumn or winter. 

Make sure you see Nepal at its best. In fact just make sure you can see it!