It is important that you understand that Wild Heights‘s core business of operating adventurous trips carries with it inherent risks for both its crew members and travellers.
The nature of these risks are:
- Travelling in the Himalaya typically involves walking for an extended time over rugged, steep terrain, to various luxurious stays during the course of your trip. Many popular trekking routes cross passes as high as 5,000m/18,000ft;
- Wilderness activity involves hazards: rockfall, wild rivers, freezing temperatures etc. Activities ranging from simple day hikes to crossing glaciers, can, due to error in judgment or the unpredictable forces of nature, become dangerous and potentially life threatening;
- The remoteness of the areas in which we travel can create complex emergency situations that have no simple solutions. It is not uncommon to be days from medical help.
- Nepal is a developing country and sometimes things happen on time but mostly they don‘t. The prevailing laxity of the country‘s laws and regulations governing transport and other infrastructures in general and our volatile political environment all combine to make things more difficult.
With these factors in mind, we recognise that Wild Heights has a responsibility to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to provide work and travel conditions which are safe. The aim of this document is to give our travellers an insight into the safety standards they should expect when on our trips.
Your safety and well-being are our first priority. From our choice of equipments and leaders trained in handling emergency procedures to meticulously planned itineraries ensure that nothing is left to chance. Our field crew ensures that you are on safe trails and are especially watchful of camp security and your personal belongings. Having a wide variety of local networks and ground staff mean that our response during emergencies- though its rare- is fast and effective.
- Our leaders are all trained in wilderness first-aid and crisis management, so if something does go wrong, you are in good hands;
- We carry a comprehensive first-aid kit on all tours;
- We carry oxygen bottles on high altitude treks and a Portable Altitude Chamber (or Gamow Bag) on ‘expeditionary‘ and Tibet tours;
- We carry a radio, cellular or satellite telephone on treks where we venture into most remote parts.
However, no set of precautionary measures can anticipate all possible conditions that may arise. The least we can do is to minimise the risk factors as much as possible. We ask our leaders to put sound judgment ahead of hard and fast rules, judging each situation as it arises. If in doubt about the safety of any activity on any of our trip we take the safer option.
As you are travelling over high terrain, you are likely to experience some of the minor symptoms and discomfort of altitude sickness (headache, loss of appetite) until your body adjusts to the elevation. Problems with acclimatisation on our trips due to altitude gain are rare because our treks are scheduled at a gradual and proven rate of climb. Your trek leader keeps a close watch on everybody. He or she may also recommend you to take Diamox tablets if required. If anyone shows signs of severe headaches, nausea, lethargy or in extreme cases, ataxia (loss of co-ordination) and serious breathlessness at rest, they will be evacuated to a lower altitude immediately. The leader‘s decision on descent is final.
Natural disaster/Political conflict/Sickness/Delay
Changes and alterations may take place in the itinerary due to unavoidable circumstances such as landslide, road blockage, flood, snow, political unrest, cancellation of flight, delay arrival, sickness or accidents. We may even cancel the trip. We directly rely on the information given to us by our field staff and the locals themselves when deciding whether to run a trip to a region that is a safety risk for any reason. We make every possible effort to inform travellers of a change of itinerary or trip cancellation before travelling. We reserve the right to make alterations or cancellations at any time due to safety concerns.
Evacuation by helicopter is not a common event. Problems with acclimatisation due to altitude gain are rare. The majority of medical incidents-sprains, flu, diarrhea, etc- are treated in the field. For serious medical emergencies, such as a fracture or when a patient can not walk or be carried out, a helicopter rescue is arranged.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
The access roads to major tourist destinations are fairly well maintained although access to some of the starting point of the treks may be made on dirt road. The accident rate in Nepal is comparatively very minimal and fatalities from such accidents are rare as compared to other big cities of the globe.
Travelling by buses
- In general travelling in a bus or a car outside of Kathmandu can be a hairy experience as the road is generally cut out from the side of a hill with a raging river below. Although scenic, it often involves plenty of switchbacks and sharp bends, and travelling time is generally longer or slower. Drivers on tourist buses have a reputation for responsible driving (no report yet of tourist/s being killed in road accident!). However, the seat belts are not readily available on Nepal‘s either charter or public transport;
- We advice against riding on the roof of buses or any other form of transport;
- When we charter a bus for the sole use of our group we ensure that the driver has the appropriate driving license and that the vehicle is regularly serviced.
In general, Nepal is remarkably free from theft but you must remember that it does occur. In countries where wages are low, your possessions have incredible value
Travelling to Nepal by air is considered safe. Nepal is well connected by over a dozen international airlines from all major cities of Europe and Asia. It also has a fair number of domestic airlines. Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) infrastructures have been duly extended in order to meet the rising demand for air safety measures.
Accommodation and Food
The hygiene standards in all the hotels/guesthouses we use are satisfactory but as anywhere you will need to be careful as to what you eat and drink. We recommend that you only drink boiled and treated water or bottled water and abstain from eating anything that is available on roadsides. Our staff will ensure that the food you eat on the trek are well cooked and is safe to eat. You should also make sure that your water bottle is properly sealed and that the lip is clean. On the trek, we fill up your bottle with well-boiled water.
Health and Hygiene
Vaccinations aren‘t compulsory, but we strongly advise you to have Hepatitis, Tetanus, Meningococcal Meningitis and Typhoid shots. If you are travelling to the Terai, you may also need protection against malaria although its occurrence is rare. Kathmandu based CIWEC Clinic Travel Medicine Center‘s interactive web site is excellent for medical advice on travel in Nepal:
-It is important that you consult your doctor in regard to all necessary medical procedures and that he/she knows the conditions under which you will be taking any medication. As some drugs cause adverse reaction at altitude, it is essential that you discuss about these with your doctor before departure.
We highly recommend that you take out a comprehensive Personal Travel Insurance Policy before leaving home. This should cover you for trip cancellation/interruption, loss of baggage, airline delays, accident, theft etc. Supplemental health insurance that specifically covers overseas treatment and helicopter evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility is strongly recommended.