Is It Safe to Visit Nepal After the 2015 Earthquake?

In May 2015, Nepal was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Many travelers are still wondering if it's safe to visit Nepal. The short answer is "yes". The earthquake has caused severe damage in certain regions, but the country is rebuilding and open for travel.

Ngima Dorji Sherpa, one of our Insiders in Nepal provides some more detail here:

Tell us about the months after the earthquake. What types of recovery efforts did you participate in? Are there any personal stories you'd like to share?

All sectors in Nepal, including tourism, were badly affected by the earthquake. People in the affected areas have great problems as their homes have fallen or cracked and need to be completely demolished or repaired. Due to a lack of government activeness, victims still need shelter as they are living under temporary tarpaulins in this harsh, cold weather. Our organization, Nepal Myths & Mountain Trails, has been collecting funds from various sources around the world with the help of many friends, and kind donors.

Nepal, before and after the earthquake.
All efforts are now on rebuilding homes in villages affected by the earthquake.

We distributed food and sanitary materials in rural villages around Kathmandu, namely Bhimdhunga, Pharping and Chapagaun. We also organized rice supplies in Dolkha District but we were hit by the second major earthquake on May 12 while on the way to Dolkha. Luckily, there was no major damage to our team or supplies and we arranged to handover the supplies to a repesentative in Dolkha.

Afterward, we arranged the distribution of 226 bundles of corrugated zinc sheets to 113 households in Bhittari village of Namadi VDC, Ramechhap District, as the monsoon was approaching and people had no roofing to protect from the rain. The people were incredibly grateful, as they had little faith that government support would come any time soon.

Distributing tin roofs in villages.
Distributing tin roofs in Bhittari village of Namadi VDC.

We then started distributing zinc roofs to the victims of villagers in Juving VDC of Solukhumbu District. Until now, we have distributed zinc sheets roofing to 143 households with four bundles to each of them. Some house construction using the zinc sheets provided by us is already completed and some are in progress. We are  still planning to distribute four bundles each to 25 more houses in Juving, and for this I am heading off to the village next week.

Nepal earthquake reconstruction
Nepal earthquake reconstruction
Nepal earthquake reconstruction
Nepal earthquake reconstruction
Is it safe for tourists to visit Nepal right now? Can you tell us about the situation on the trails? Are hiking trails open? Are lodges operating again?

Nepal is perfectly safe to visit as the aftershocks have ceased and most of the hotels have been repaired. There are no problems along the trekking routes, and all the lodges, except in the village of Langtang and Kyagin Gompa, are operational. As the Langtang and Kyagin villages were significantly affected by the earthquake and landslides, they are still closed for trekking. However, trekkers can visit these places during their trek.

Can you describe the situation of major heritage sites in Kathmandu, such as Boudhanath, Swayambunath and Durbar Square? Are these open to visitors?

Many cultural heritage sites in Kathmandu valley were damaged by the earthquake and now the reconstruction process is going on. However, these sites are open to visitors and they can view the effects of the earthquake with their own eyes and can see how the reconstruction is going on. However, a guide can explain the important history and values of the site that can never get erased from the importance of each place.

Boudhanath stupa in repairs after the earthquake
Temporary camps until homes are rebuilt.
If people want to help rebuild Nepal, what can they do? Are there any on-the-ground volunteer opportunities that you can recommend?

There are many places that still need our help. Nepal has been further weakened by the ongoing Madhesh riots and blockade. Black markets are emerging and prices are rising due to the fuel shortage. Business is very much hampered and people are increasingly becoming unemployed due to the weak economy.

Distributing tin roofs in villages.
Finished roof reconstruction in Bhittari village of Namadi VDC.

We can help by uplifting the tourism sector. If people want to help rebuild Nepal, I encourage them to visit Nepal, make trips and spend their dollars in Nepal. This will give employment to numerous people who are directly or indirectly involved in the tourism sector. And the government will also earn taxes which will be utilized to rebuild the nation.

For those who are willing to volunteer and help rebuild Nepal, we have designed some programs and trips to the villages. People can visit Nepal for trips for trekking or join free Medical Health camp. If they can raise funds back home, our program will help get those funds utilized in purchasing necessary goods for the victims and they themselves can participate in handing over those goods in the villages. We are working hard to organize similar programs that can both help victims and also satisfy peoples' willingness to help.