A cosmopolitan group of travel guides will ride motorbikes from Hanoi to Kathmandu to revive tourism in earthquake-affected Nepal and raise funds to rebuild trekking facilities.
When a devastating series of earthquakes hit Nepal in April this year, the homes, temples and places of business of hundreds of thousands of Nepalis were destroyed.
Nearly US$100 million in donations were offered by the international community for post-earthquake relief and reconstruction in Nepal. The money was well received but fell short of the US$423 million the U.N. had asked donors to help earthquake victims recoup. Nepal's tourism sector offers a sustainable alternative to foreign aid because it operates mostly at the grassroots level – family-run lodges, trekking companies and restaurants. But the sector was hard hit after the earthquake, with thousands of foreign tourists cancelling their treks over fear of further aftershocks. But the aftershocks are finished. Not visiting Nepal for fear of earthquakes is like avoiding New Orleans because of cyclones or Brisbane because of floods.
To help show the world Nepal is now safe to visit, a small group of tour guides from Nepal, France and Vietnam – and a journalist from Australia – have banded together to stage an epic motorbike rally from Hanoi to Kathmandu. The rally will cross seven countries – Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Neap – and cover nearly 5,000km of terrain over four weeks.
“Shortly after the earthquake in Nepal, I was having dinner in an expensive restaurant with my old friend Herve in Paris,” says Ahn Tuan of Mototours Asia in Hanoi. “The moment we started talking about the earthquakes in Nepal we couldn't swallow our food. So Herve suggested we organise motorbike rally from Hanoi to Nepal, and that we try to raise money to rebuild some of the villages his company worked with in Nepal over the year years. We became very excited, our appetites returned and we started putting together a team.”
1. Tuan Anh Nguyen, founder of MotoTours Asia, Vietnam, 20 years experience leading motorbike tours and expeditions in Southeast Asia.
1. Hervé Pichoux, president of AMA Voyages, France, UIAGM qualified mountain guide with 30 years expeditionary experience in Europe and the Himalayas.
3. Furba Tamang, co-founder of Pike Peak Trek, Nepal, a Sirdar (leader of a group of Sherpas) with a lifetime's mountain-guiding experience.
4. Isabelle Montégudet, associate with AMA Voyages, France, professional team builder, qualified accountant, accomplished painter and traveler.
5. Ian Lloyd Neubauer, journalist & photojournalist, Australia, 15 years experience creating motorbike content for BBC, TIME, Travel + Leisure and many motorcycle and inflight magazines.
Day 1: 13/9/15 Hanoi - Na Meo 253km
Day 2: 14/9/15 Na Meo - Phonsavan 333km (Border crossing Vietnam - Laos)
Day 3: 15/9/15 Phonsavan - Luang Prabang 260km
Day 4: 16/9/15 Luang Prabang - Huay Xai 477km
Day 5: 17/9/15 Huay Xai - Keng Tung 256km (Border crossing Laos - Thailand - Myanmar)
Day 6: 18/9/15 Keng Tung - Loilem 327km
Day 7: 19/9/15 Loilem - Mandalay 308km
Day 8: rest day
Day 9: 22/9/15 Mandalay - Kale 362km
Day 10: 22/9/15 Kale - Khangabok 218km (Border crossing Myanmar - India)
Day 11: 23/9/15 Khangabok - Golaghat 318km
Day 12: 24/9/15 Golaghat - Nalbari 319km
Day 15: 27/9/15 Nalbari - Sarpang 179km (Border crossing India – Bhutan)
Day 16: 28/9/15 Sarpang - Thimphu 248km
Day 17: rest day
Day 18: 30/9/15 Thinphu – Paro - 60km
Day 19: 1/10/15 Paro - Nagrakata 226km (Border crossing Bhutan - India)
Day 20: 2/10/15 Ngrakata - Darjeeling 101km
Day 21: 3/10/15 Darjeeling - Bakdhauwa 260 (Border crossing India - Nepal)
Day 22: 4/10/2015 Bakdhauwa - Kathmandu 308km
Total Length of ride: 4,775km
Funds raised will be used to rebuild camping facilities at villages and hamlets on the Pike Peak trek in the Lower Solu Khumbu district of Nepal. The rally's official partner, French-based NGO AMA Solidarite Nepal, can rebuild a toilet, hot shower and kitchen for as little as US$1,500. Once several such sites are rebuilt, the Pike Peak trek – and the hundreds of villagers that normally worked on it will be back in business.
Donations can by made directly to AMA Solidarite Nepal amasolidaritenepal.org/fr/faire-un-don/.