New Nepal-china cross­ing opens

Action Asia - - NEWS & VIEWS -

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.

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