World Challenge is confident that all school teams due to travel to Nepal on expedition in 2016 will be able to do so safely after updated advice and information from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and our private security partners.
Following the devastating earthquakes which had detrimental effects on areas of the country’s infrastructure including disruption to transport links, communications, power supplies and buildings integrity, a decision was taken to divert all teams due to travel with World Challenge to other destinations for the foreseeable future.
However, latest updates from our network of contacts now confirm that travel to central and western districts of the country, including the capital Kathmandu, can resume with careful planning and communications support.
All airports are open and both international and domestic flights are operating as normal.
In October, World Challenge will be commissioning a reconnaissance trip to further assess the situation in the areas that our teams visit.
Our experienced Nepalese in-country agent and trek supplier will be concentrating on reviewing the safety of trails, bridges, and campsites as well as the reliability of entry and departure points for the World Challenge trekking portfolio in approved regions.
The Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal is confident that trekking will be able to commence again in certain areas from September.
Before teams return, we are also conducting a comprehensive assessment of all of our community project sites within the Kathmandu Valley to ensure our teams can best contribute to and support local reconstruction priorities
World Challenge will continue to closely monitor the situation in Nepal and will react accordingly to any significant developments. We will be working with all schools due to travel from 2016 to ensure they have the appropriately planned itineraries.
The safety of our participants remains our number one priority.
World Challenge can confirm that it has no school teams currently in country following the latest major earthquake to strike Nepal, this time near Mount Everest.
Our In-Country Agent Andrew Kumai has also confirmed that he and his Summit Nepal Trekking staff are all safe.
Following the initial devastating quake two weeks ago, a company decision had already been made to divert the 28 teams due to travel to Nepal between now and the end of September 2015 to other destinations.
Our thoughts continue to go out to friends, colleagues and the people of Nepal during these extremely difficult times.
World Challenge continues to work hard following the recent, tragic events in Nepal.
By late last week we had safely repatriated the four teams that were in country at the time of the earthquake, at which point we turned our attention to teams due to travel in the coming weeks. We are happy to report that diversion preparations for these teams are largely complete and whilst destinations have changed, travel dates remain the same.
The next step will be to focus on November to January departures. As we have 24 teams due to visit Nepal, in one of our busiest periods, this will take some time. We would ask for your patience while we work through the detail involved in identifying potential flights and alternative destinations.
Please contact our Customer Support Team on 1300 728 568 AUS or 0800 456 134 NZ if you have any further questions.
When will a decision be made on whether or not the team will travel to Nepal?
We would like as much information as possible to make a reasoned and informed decision, so will take our time in deciding if a diversion is necessary. We would anticipate that a decision will be made no later than September.
How will World Challenge ensure that Nepal is safe at the end of the year?
World Challenge employs a range of specialists, including people with a great depth of experience in outdoor activities, developing world travel, military and emergency services operations. These people are specifically employed to ensure that all our expeditions are as safe as possible. In addition to these in-house experts, World Challenge utilise a range of external agencies to determine the level of risk involved in travelling to any destination. We maintain bilateral communications with government organisations such as Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), who issue travel advisories on all countries including Nepal. Whilst we would not send teams to Nepal based on current advice, this changes over time and we will monitor the relevant diplomatic channels for any updates. International SOS (ISOS) are another organisation that provide both security consultancy and intelligence on medical facilities and infrastructure for World Challenge, and we will continue to work with them to determine the level of risk for our teams. Drum Cussac and Red24 are two additional risk consultancies that advise on operational security in support of many clients around the world. World Challenge subscribe to the services of both, receiving regular intelligence reports on safety and risk issues. In-country staff such as our In Country Agent, Andrew Kumai, also provide reliable on-the-ground information on travel and risk in Nepal. Regardless of the final decision we make, please be assured that the safety of your child will be the number one priority.
How will the diversion be managed?
At the point that we decide a diversion is necessary World Challenge would consult the school to determine the alternative destination. We would then confirm flights, itineraries and visa requirements, distributing all relevant information to families in due course.
Can we have a say on an alternative destination?
As there are many teams affected, and alternatives rely on flight availability and capacity in our destination countries, World Challenge and the school would not be able to consult individual families on their preference for alternative destinations. We would however work hard to provide an expedition in a similar environment to Nepal, and are fully confident that the program would be a rewarding and powerful personal development experience for your child.
What experience does World Challenge have in managing diversions?
Being able to manage large scale diversions is a speciality of World Challenge and part of the industry-leading service you sign up for when booking with us. Over the years we have managed all manner of natural disaster, health and security risks that have necessitated diverting teams. We are confident our in-house experts and external partners would deliver a very high quality travel experience.
The four school teams still situated in Nepal following Saturday’s earthquakes remain safe, well and comfortable with an ample supply of food and water.
The World Challenge Operations Centre is in constant communication with teams and is currently working with its experienced In-Country Agent to bring them all together on a recognised project site approximately an hour and a half away from the capital Kathmandu.
The teams will then remain together until their scheduled departure dates (April 29 and 30) and with the international airport having now reopened, albeit with a restricted service, World Challenge is hopeful that they will all depart from Nepal as scheduled.
In the meantime, teams have been asked to conserve their mobile phones and satellite communications devices so as to ensure regular contact with the Operations Centre and In-Country Agent can be maintained.
World Challenge is continuing to monitor the situation in-country and is also relaying information to the schools and parents as and when appropriate.
World Challenge’s highest priority is the safety of our participants. Over the last 27 years we’ve worked hard to develop an excellent reputation for our approach to safety and how we operate in over 40 destinations around the world.
Our thoughts go out to the people of Nepal and to those who have lost loved ones in the tragedy at this very difficult time.