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An update from Evaneos

Security conditions in Nepal

If Nepal isn't considered the safest country in the region, it's due to its history of clashes between the Maoists and the authorities. It's now nearly 10 years since the state of emergency was lifted At the moment there is no great risk coming here and your holiday in Nepal should go smoothly.

NB Since the powerful earthquakes that hit Népal in April and May 2015, the country is recovering little by little. This article was written before the disaster.

Potential dangers

The state of emergency in the country ended in 2006 when the ruling authorities at the time signed a peace treaty with the Maoists. Currently, the British government advises those going to Nepalagainst all but essential travel in some parts of the country and suggests that you read their travel advice for other areas. Even the trekking areas occupied by the Maoists are safe enough. The main risk to which you will be exposed in Nepal is that of theft. As a result of the explosion in the tourist sector, petty crime has increased considerably. This is especially the case in the main towns such as Katmandu, Pokhara and the main tourist sites. It can also be a problem on public transport and whilst trekking. There is also a risk of assault in some areas.

As regards being ripped-off, here there is a genuine and significant risk. Apart from the fact that the shopkeepers often try to make you pay more than you should you must be on the look out for counterfeit products. Ancient relics are often, in reality, mass produced. Pashminas are often made of goat hair, and gold, silver and precious stones are often fake.

One last recommendation, tell yourself that the hippie era is long gone and that the dealers that you meet now belong to dangerous mafia type criminal gangs.

Life in Katmandu

How to avoid getting into trouble

To avoid being a victim of any sort of theft, the main advice is to blend into the crowd and not to appear too much like a tourist. Forget all about carrying bum-bags around your waist and cameras around your neck. Always keep an eye on your belongings on public transport and put padlocks on your bags.

Never go trekking alone, always use an agency. When going on a short walk, ask hotel staff about the safety of your chosen route. In case of any agression, the general rule is not to take risks and not to resist. Remain as calm as you can, don't argue and hand over whatever you are asked for. Try not to keep all of your money in the same place. Have multiple hiding places and always keep a small sum of money easily accessible, since this might be enough to satisfy your assailant.

To avoid being ripped off whilst you shop, be ready to haggle firmly over prices. If buying jewellery, antiques or pashminas, only go into the most reputable shops.

A last word on this subject: don't be tempted by anything illegal. Drugs have been illegal since 1973 and the police increasingly carrying out checks. You have been warned.

David Debrincat
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