It might be a bit difficult, but not impossible for a wheelchair user to visit Nepal. Nepal is one of the best tourism destinations in the world. It features in the bucket list of most of the travellers around the world.
▌ Text By Banita Khanal & Photo Courtsey: Pankaj Pradhananga
Disability is not the end, it is the beginning of your life as a warrior. Accidents can happen to anyone. Anyone can have a bad health. Anyone can be disabled anytime. Hence it is our duty to do maximum of what we can do to make the life of differently-able people easier and enjoyable. We would be doing this for our own uncertain future.
As a human being, we have lots of desires. We have different hobbies. Although we have to remain busy for living, we spare some time from our busy schedule for get-together, partying, and having a holiday far from home. People with disabilities are no different. Some organs might not be functioning well, but they still are humans. They have the same level of desires, same number of hobbies like others. They also want to get together, enjoy partying and they also want to celebrate holidays far from home.
It might be a bit difficult, but not impossible for a wheelchair user to visit Nepal. Nepal is one of the best tourism destinations in the world. It features in the bucket list of most of the travellers around the world. The country is full of adventure, nature, culture, religion and many more. It definitely can lure a person in a wheelchair too. Though some of the activities might not be possible for them but little adventure, sightseeing and observing the culture is possible. If you follow Buddhism, you can fulfil your dream to come to his birth land.
Nepal is a least-developed country. But it is developing every second; it is changing. Kathmandu, where wheelchairs were only seen in hospitals earlier, now are seen on heavy roads with heavy traffic. We see differently-abled people going to their offices in the morning, either in a wheelchair or four-wheeled scooters. It seems like their life has changed and so is their perception toward life. The government as well as other big organizations have started seriously considering accessibility. Few hotels have already made themselves accessible for disabled travellers.
Recently Asia Try 2016 was held in Nepal in order to give a strong message to all the concerned stakeholders for developing accessible buildings. More than 100 people with disability participated in the event.
The first thing that a disabled tourist needs when he enters Nepal is an ambulift. S/he will have to pay a fee of $70 to avail ambulift service. Please note that you won’t be finding any vehicles that are accessible. Good thing, however, is that Asia Try Japan is planning to provide an accessible vehicle to the Independent Living Centre Nepal. After you get out of the airport, another thing you would need would be an accessible hotel.
Though the participants of Asia Try stayed in Hotel Marsyangdi in Thamel, it is not accessible. But it can be used by a wheelchair user as it has rooms on the ground floor.
Few other hotel options are:
• Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is the number one accessible hotel in the country. Its construction is based on universal design. They have three accessible rooms in three different floors. Hyatt even has a chair for shower.
• Soaltee Crowne Plaza has well-designed ramps. They have four accessible rooms on the ground floor.
• Hotel Himalaya has one accessible room. Though it is not as per the universal design, it can be used as it is on the ground floor. But they don’t have handles in the toilet.
• Gokarna Forest Resort has few relatively accessible rooms on the ground floor.
• Radisson Hotel Kathmandu also has some rooms that can be called accessible.
Activities that can be done by wheelchair users in Nepal:
• Some of the wheelchair users from Asia Try enjoyed rafting in Trishuli River. Hence rafting can be one of the adventurous options.
• Sightseeing is also possible in all the three palace squares of Kathmandu. Boudhha is also accessible and it has one accessible restaurant called Flavour.
• You can also enjoy a highway bus ride. Just make sure that you make a friend in the bus to lift you to the wheelchair.
• Sightseeing in Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini is possible.
• Paragliding, ultra light flights, canyoning, jeep ride and bull cart ride in Chitwan are accessible and enjoyable too.
• One of the best things a wheelchair user can do in Nepal is to enjoy a trip to Thamel. Thamel offers stylish bars and clubs. Most of them are situated on the ground floor. Thus a wheelchair user can find it accessible. Thamel is a place full of entertainment and fun that focuses in night life. You can listen to rock and roll or Indian and Nepal folk songs or Jaaz and many more.
Tom Haig, a documentary maker from USA who is a wheelchair user, said: “Most of the night clubs and bars in Thamel are on the ground floor, hence I love this place”.
The idea of accessible tourism is developing day by day. Many tour operators in Nepal have already started taking it seriously. Tour companies like Four Seasons Travel and Accessible Himalaya are running different accessible packages. They even organize a talk program on accessible tourism every three months. Nepal tourism industry is looking to welcome wheelchair travellers in Nepal in the coming days.