To be honest, travelling with a disability is not easy in Nepal as facilities for them are pretty much nonexistent. And that is true of everywhere in Nepal. The majority of the hotels, buildings, roads and pavements seem to have been built without realising that disabled persons would need to use them too.
The idea of pavement is pretty much non-existent and not wheelchair friendly in most places in Nepal. Though there might be pavements along a road, they are often crowded with shopkeepers, motorbikes and anything else that can find its way onto it. The tricky urban streets get even more complicated in the rainy season.
Except in a few places where traffic police might be controlling the traffic, obedience to traffic lights do not exist. Crossing a road, therefore, can be quite difficult on your own or in a wheelchair.
Access for disabled in hotels
Except for big star hotels in Kathmandu and other major cities such as Pokhra, budget and low fare hotels are rarely equipped for the needs and movements of a disabled customer. Low fare hotels in Thamel and Pokhra are usually those buildings that were not built for hotels but for anything that they would be able to rent out. Most of these buildings don’t even have a lift and are often spread over 2-3 storeys.
Access for disabled customers on state and private run buses are none. There were no ramps or any spaces for wheelchairs access. The only exception is that usually there are some seats on every bus that are reserved for women and disabled persons. However, these seats are just normal seats and will not have the extra leg space for a disabled passenger.
Is it still possible to travel to Nepal?
Though there are hurdles in Nepal for a disabled traveller, don’t let these negative aspects stop you from visiting Nepal. It is a wonderful place and with a little bit of perseverance and preparation, you can have a good time in Nepal.
Travel with someone
Because of the difficulties it presents, travelling on your own with movement restrictions, you will be much better off travelling with someone who could lend you a hand when needed.
Book your holiday through a reputed travel agent
There are plenty of travel agents who specialise in Nepal holidays and are ABTA protected. Phone them up and discuss your requirements. You can also contact reputed travel agencies in Nepal that can accommodate your requirements. Booking a holiday through a travel agent in your own country however has its benefit in terms of services and protection of your money (as it would be easy to deal with them in case of a dispute), whereas a local travel agent will be cheaper.
Phone the hotel and other places you will be staying at
Most good and upper-end hotels are wheelchair accessible or manageable and even if they are not, you will find the hotel staff ready to help if you call out. It is a good idea to phone the places to familiarise yourself with what facilities they have for a customer with disabilities.
Trekking for a wheelchair-bound person
Unfortunately, popular treks such as Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp treks don’t have suitable tracks for wheelchair-bound travellers. The only, and the most extreme, option in such a scenario is to go on the back of a porter. I have personally seen a few trekkers trekking this way but it looked very uncomfortable and morally wrong.
Any question? Just send it in the comment box.