New Nepal-china crossing opens
THE APRIL 2015 EARTHQUAKE left the then-popular ZhangmuKodari overland route between Nepal and China in ruins. That left flying between the two as the only option. Until last October that is, when the Kerung-rasuwa route, 180 kilometres northwest of the old crossing opened, receiving its first tour groups starting this spring. What was a rubble-and-debris route exclusive to cargo lorries is now a paved road, said owner and lead trekking guide at Himalaya Journey, Jamin York. He recently accompanied a party of 13 trekkers on the nine-hour ride from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp using the Kerung-rasuwa crossing. The previous Zhangmu-kodari route took only five hours. Like Zhangmu, Kerung is at around 2,700 metres above sea level, meaning it’s nestled in dense evergreen forest and is relatively warm compared to the rest of Tibet. The actual border is a full 25 kilometres south of the town, but is still named that way as Kerung is the last settlement before you reach Tibet. York says though the Tibetan side is ready for the additional traffic – he mentions the Chinese government adding new border facilities and the fact that locals are “looking forward to the newcomers” – the Nepali end is “absolutely atrocious”. Wildchina Product and Brand Director Emma Clifton also advises caution for anyone using the crossing. “The Tibetan side has a wide highway which is generally very safe, though there are always risks of snow slides from the Himalayas and floods during the rainy months. The road on the Nepal side of the border, however, is not as safe and is very narrow at points,” she said, adding that tourists should only consider crossing the Kerung border during the dry months of AprilJune and October-november, and to always check the weather ahead of time. “Although some tourists are crossing into Nepal through this new border, the vast majority of visitors still choose to fly in and out of Tibet,” she added.