In April 2015 an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale hit just east of the town of Pokhara, Nepal, killing about 9,000 people, injuring 23,000 and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
The quake was the worst natural disaster to strike the Himalayan country in more than 80 years, and was followed by major aftershocks—one so severe that it registered 7.4 near Mount Everest and the Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar, both key points in the country’s lucrative trekking trade.
The massive tremor flattened entire villages, damaged the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, and caused that infamous avalanche on Everest which killed 19 climbers, making it the single worst day in the mountain’s modern history. It also did considerable damage to much of the country’s tourism, trekking and climbing infrastructure, an industry that provides Nepal with approximately four percent of its GDP.
With the country on a solid road to recovery, Nepal desperately needs visitors to return—and for many trekkers and climbers that invitation cannot come quickly enough
For most travellers in Nepal at the time, the priority was to get home. And with basics such as food and water in short supply and lines of communication stretched, the last thing local officials needed was to worry about in-country travellers (but they did, and well!).
Now with the country on a solid road to recovery, Nepal desperately needs visitors to return—and for many trekkers and climbers that invitation cannot come quickly enough. While some areas are still considered a no-go for visitors, much of the country has reopened for business and is eager to see travellers back.
Nepal has also long been a popular destination for both volunteering and voluntourism—sadly, the disaster resulted in the creation of more of those opportunities. For some it’s a chance to give back to a country that has provided so many people throughout the world with unforgettable travel memories; for others it’s a chance to see the country for the first time, and to lend a hand to the Nepalese people.