Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nepal Reopens Annapurna Circuit

One of the best trekking routes in the world has reopened in Nepal after being closed for the past three months following the devastating earthquake on April 25. Earlier today it was announced that the Annapurna Circuit is ready to receive hikers once again after an independent inspection team certified it safe for foreign visitors.

In the wake of the disaster, the Nepali government hired a California-based structural engineering company called  Miyamoto International to survey the Annapurna trail, as well as villages, tea houses, and other structures along its length. After an exhaustive study, the firm says that it found that less than 1% of the route, and 3% of the teahouses, had suffered any damage from the earthquake.

The news shouldn't come as much of a surprise, although it is good to know that the Annapurna Circuit is safe. The initial earthquake took place in the Kathmandu Valley, destroying homes, historical sites, and sometimes whole villages in the process. But the epicenter was far from the Annapurna region, which obviously suffered very little from the natural disaster.

A major aftershock hit Nepal just a few days after the April 25 quake. That one had its epicenter in the Khumbu Valley region, which is closer to Everest. Miyamoto is still surveying the trail to Everest Base Camp – the other popular trekking route in Nepal – and will release its results on that inspection soon. It is expected that the damage will be greater in that area, but that the trekking route will be reopened as well.

Nepal sees about 140,000 visitors each year just to hike these two routes. As the country struggles to rebuild, you can understand why it would want to reassure travelers that these areas are safe. Tourism dollars will play a big role in getting the country back on its feet, and this is a good step in rebuilding that industry. With the fall trekking season now just a couple of months away, it will be interesting to see how many people return, and how many stay away.

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