TRANSPORTATION & HIGHWAY
To meet safety standards, we at Royal Mountain Travel have been working to ensure that the vehicles we use during tours are of high quality. We have a fleet of our own vehicles and we continuously ensure that they are in good condition. All safety requirements—such as a first aid box, fire extinguishers, and seat belts—are available in our vehicles. We annually give first aid training to our drivers too, with the Red Cross Society of Bhaktapur, a branch of the Nepal Red Cross Society. Our drivers are well trained to make sure that your journey is safe and smooth. Under some circumstances, our own vehicles may be insufficient for clients’ needs. When that happens we use our supplier’s vehicles, but we take their safety standards seriously and make sure their vehicles are up to our standards.
If you are travelling in a taxi, local bus or a tourist bus, please be aware that they do not follow international transport safety standards. They do not have any safety measures and are not fitted with seat belts.
Drivers are generally not very well educated in Nepal. Many of them have not completed 12 years of basic education, and their schooling has been done in government schools in their villages. The English language is not their language of study. Hence, many drivers are not fluent in spoken or written English. They are capable of communicating with their travelers but they will not be able to brief them like guides can. But, they have many years of experience driving travelers throughout Nepal and have experience driving safely and slowly, stopping at regular intervals to give clients time to stretch their legs and enjoy the view, and so on.
** LATEST ADDITION TO OUR FLEET OF VEHICLES - HYUNDAI ELECTRIC KONA BEING DRIVEN BY WOMEN DRIVERS. This is the first ever instance where an electric vehicle is being used for tourism purpose with women behind the wheels.
ROADS OF NEPAL & TRAFFIC:
Nepal is a mountainous country and 75% of its land is covered by hills and mountains. Hence, most highways in Nepal are winding roads (except for those in the south of Nepal). Highways are mostly two-lane roads and black-topped (with some exceptions in mountain regions). Landslides are major problems for highways in Nepal, and during the monsoon, you can expect to encounter some landslides on some parts of the highways, which can cause delays. There are parts of highway where landslides are continuous, and these sections can be bumpy.
All vehicles in Nepal are left-hand drive, and vehicles drive on the left of the road.
The roads in cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan are mainly black-topped. Due to a large number of vehicles plying the roads, traffic in the city is very bad. During office and school hours, there can be huge traffic jams (generally between 8.30 to 10 AM and 4.30 to 6 PM). You will also find that most vehicles in Nepal do not follow traffic rules and regulations. The government has started to take a hard line against vehicles not following the traffic rules, and strict punishments are imposed. Nowadays, Kathmandu city is a horn-free city.
Currently, there is reconstruction work underway on many highways of Nepal, mainly to expand the width of roads. These can lead to major traffic delays, sometimes of more than two hours. Below are some of the portions of highways undergoing construction:
** We will try to keep updating this portion on timely basis
1 - Bhaktapur to Nagarkot - expansion of highway under construction
2 - Kathmandu to Dakshinkali (road to Pharping/Neydo Monastery) - expansion of highway under construction
3 - Kakani to Trishuli (highway to Kerung border) - expansion of highway under construction
4 - Galchhi to Trishuli (highway to Kerung border) - expansion of highway under construction
5 - Kalanki to Nagdhunga (the main entry point to Kathmandu Valley) - Kalanki Subway pass is complete but the highway connecting this subway to Nagdhunga is ongoing expansion process.
6 - Galeshor - Beni section road is under construction and following is schedule for highway operation
Everyday 1000 hrs to 1400 hrs closed for construction
Everyday 1600 hrs onward closed for construction
Highway is open for 2 hours on daily basis from 1400 hrs to 1600 hrs
The highways leading to the mountains and mountain towns such as Dhunche, Syabrubesi, Kerung, Jiri, Tatopani to Jomsom etc are not black-topped, so they are and bumpy. We can only use 4WD Jeeps on these highways.
** Additional Information on Kerung - Rasuwa border
During the second week of November, our team made a recce trip to the Rasuwagadhi – Nepal Tibet border. We have published the report on our blog, the link of which is below:
From our first-hand experience of the road conditions, we still feel that this highway is not smooth enough to be driven on. The road from Trishuli to Kakani is under expansion and we can see the work progressing smoothly, but the route from Kakani to Kathmandu is still the same old road, and expansion work has not yet begun on this portion. The route from Trishuli to Rasuwagadhi is still in the same old state, and most portions are a dirt road. There is no work going on to improve the condition of this portion of a highway, and there are two major landslide zones (at Grange and Ramche). We can feel that this portion of the highway will be scarier during the monsoon.
The 5 km road from Syabrubesi to Rasuwagadhi is another concern. Since this route is mostly used for commercial purposes, there are long queues of container trucks on the road. Sometimes, if the trucks park on both sides, we can expect the route to be affected by huge traffic jams. Though only a short distance, it may take around two hours to cross this stretch due to unmanaged transport and traffic.
Our conclusion on this route is that we still cannot send our tourist vehicles here. We will have to use local buses and 4WD Jeeps only as means of transportation. Though this area is only around 130 km from Kathmandu, we need two days from the border to Kathmandu due to the rough and bumpy road. We feel the group needs to have a break for a night in the town of Trishuli before heading back to Kathmandu. Otherwise, driving all the way from the border to Kathmandu could take around 12 hours.