Japan – Typhoon Hagibis: 14 Oct 2019
Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Japan as forecast on Saturday, October 12 and swept through Central Japan on Sunday, October 13, causing the grounding of flights, halting train connections, blocking roads and leaving many areas north of Tokyo flooded. Japan as a nation is well prepared for natural disasters with extensive contingency plans in place. The rescue and clean-up operation was underway by Sunday with tens of thousands of personnel from the Self-Defence Forces, Coast Guard, police and fire departments being deployed. World Expeditions had a number a groups in-country. On Saturday, precautionary measures were put in place and all travellers were instructed to remain at their hotels. However, since then, our trips have returned to their set itineraries and all travellers are safe and accounted for.
Iran Travel Advice: 17 Sep 2019
With several itineraries which guide travellers through Iran, we are keeping a close eye on events both within and outside the country; the rhetoric has thus far had no impact whatsoever. We currently have groups in-country and are in constant contact with our local team. At present, the media reported escalation of tensions has had no effect on the ground. We rely on the constant updates provided by our local partners, Government Travel Warnings and briefings held with our various sources of information. There are no general travel restrictions in place for Iran at the time of writing from the Australian, UK, New Zealand and Canadian governments. Canadian travel advice remains at ‘exercise a high degree of caution’, New Zealand ‘exercise increased caution’ and the UK at ‘see advice’ for all but dual UK and Iranian Nationals. The Australian Govt (DFAT) Travel Advisory level for Iran has remained unchanged since the 26th Nov. 2018 with, ‘reconsider your need to travel’. We have guided many travellers through Iran and not one has encountered any issues whatsoever. All our tour leaders and drivers are kept updated and are very careful to observe directions from local authorities.
World Expeditions is by nature risk averse when it comes to the safety of our travellers, and this is a position we do not compromise on. World Expeditions have been guiding travellers through Iran since 1998 and have never received anything but fantastic feedback regarding the warmth and generosity of the Iranian people and the ease to travel there. We will continue to offer our adventures to Iran in the hope of disarming misconceptions and sharing what a truly magnificent place it is, whilst keeping a close eye on developments in the region.
Dengue Fever Nepal: 16 September 2019
Nepal is currently experiencing an outbreak of Dengue fever across several districts including Kathmandu and Chitwan. Dengue fever outbreaks usually occur during hot and humid months and when there is a high prevalence of mosquitoes, typically after the end of the monsoon season. The most common symptoms of dengue fever are flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, pain behind the eyes and/or rash. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Local district administrations have been on high alert and are taking the appropriate preventative measures, enacting management initiatives around cities and towns.
There have been no reported cases of dengue fever in the Annapurna or Everest regions or at any of our campsites. Our local staff are implementing prevention controls outlined by the World Health Organisation, including frequent cleaning of campsites, covering/emptying water storage containers, routinely spraying insecticides around tents and common areas including dining and toilet/shower blocks. We are also conducting an audit of all our tents and their inner linings to ensure they are well sealed, utilising mosquito coils in common areas at the appropriate times and installing mosquito nets at specific campsites where mosquitoes are most prevalent (Pokhara and Ramechap). It should be noted that once at higher altitudes, the prevalence of mosquitos is reduced.
The risk of exposure is minimal provided proper precautions are taken. Travellers are advised to protect themselves from mosquito bites by regularly applying insect repellent (containing DEET) and to wear long sleeves, long pants and socks during dusk/dawn hours. We highly advise travellers to bring a supply of insect repellent (containing DEET) as we have been informed that local supplies are dwindling due to high demand.
Government travel advisory boards (including Australia, New Zealand, US, UK and Canada) are aware of the outbreak but have not changed their travel warnings. We will of course be monitoring the situation and will provide updates if there are any developments warranting concern, which is not expected. All of our trips remain operational.
Amazon Fires: 26 August 2019
As has been widely reported, there are extensive fires in the Amazon basin, primarily in the Brazilian Amazon, as the area is gripped by its most vigorous fire season since 2010. NASA reports that “While drought has played a large role in exacerbating fires in the past, the timing and location of fire detections early in the 2019 dry season are more consistent with land clearing than with regional drought.” Studies show that the rainforest is at tipping point, with large fragmented sections at risk of transforming into a drier ecosystem which could result in the severe loss of species, the acceleration of climate change and spell disaster for the indigenous populations who call the forest home. World Expeditions laments this loss and is proactively campaigning, through our World Expeditions Foundation, to raise funds in support of those working to arrest the damage.
The scale of the region is so large that the areas where we operate our jungle trips are not affected by the fires. There is no risk to our travellers or our traveller’s experience on any of our trips in Peru or Ecuador. We will continue to monitor the situation and contingency plans will be enacted if required. As always, the safety of our travellers is our foremost priority and one we will not compromise on. We will continue to support the preservation of this vital wilderness and those who live and work in it.
Jammu and Kashmir Update: 9 August 2019
We wish to update World Expeditions travellers with forthcoming travel plans to Jammu and Kashmir as well as intending travellers on recent developments in the region. On the 5th of August, the Indian Government announced constitutional changes which will affect the political status of Jammu and Kashmir specifically relating to the abrogation of provisions granting autonomy to Muslim-majority state. The city of Srinagar is currently experiencing a near-total communication black out and a very heavy security presence is in place. The situation is continually developing and we are closely monitoring developments with the assistance of our local operators, Government travel warnings and our in house experts. On 8th of August, the UK Govt (FOC) changed their rating to “advising against all travel to the city of Srinagar and on the Srinagar-Jammu national Highway.” The Australian government and other travel advisory boards have remained unchanged at the time of writing, that is, for travellers to reconsider their need to travel to Srinagar, but falling short of a ‘Do not travel’ warning at the time of writing.
We do not currently have any World Expeditions’ travellers in Kashmir. In light of the unpredictable security situation in Kashmir (as distinct from Ladakh), we have decided to cancel our departures for the rest of 2019 to Kashmir only. For existing 2019 bookings, we will be amending itineraries to exclude Kashmir and travellers will be contacted directly to outline these changes. We will review forthcoming trips set to depart in 2020 in the coming months, once the implications of the current situation are clearer. Naturally it is our intention to support Kashmir, as we have done since the inception of World Expeditions back in 1975, as soon as is tenable.
Government advisories pertaining to Ladakh are currently unchanged; the UK and Australian governments list Ladakh as safe to travel and all is calm in Leh and surrounding areas. Ladakh now operates as a separate union territory and there have been no escalations pertaining to the changes enacted by the Indian Government above. After carefully reviewing many and varied information sources, liaising with our local ground operators and our Indian Himalaya expert, our 2019 trips to Ladakh remain operational and our commitment in supporting the vital tourism industry in Ladakh remains as strong as ever. We will continue to monitor events on the ground very closely and contingency plans will be enacted if they are required. As always, the safety of our travellers is our number one priority and one we will not compromise on.
Zimbabwe Update: 8 July 2019 – Change in local currency
From Tuesday, June 25, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe made the Zimbabwe Dollar the sole currency for legal tender purposes. This affects the local purchase of goods such as supermarkets, local shops, fuel stations, local businesses etc. Our local guides will advise guests while on tour as to how best to handle the situation and also assist with changing money at appropriate bank tellers or currency exchanges when needed. However it is business as usual for foreign tourists, with payment in tourism areas such as Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park still in US dollars cash, including the entrance fee to Victoria Falls, national park fees, KAZA Univisa and visa entry fees, tourism activities, hotel extras, etc. We recommend that you travel with USD cash (printed from 2009 onwards), EUR or ZAR cash. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in major and tourist centres, such as Victoria Falls. Whilst tourism operations are not expected to be affected, the Zimbabwe currency situation is still fluid as local shops and businesses are adjusting to the new circumstances.
Iran Update: 31 May 2019
With several itineraries which guide travellers through Iran, we are keeping a close eye on events both within and outside the country; the rhetoric has thus far had no impact whatsoever. We currently have groups in-country and are in constant contact with our local team. At present, the media reported escalation of tensions has had no effect on the ground. We rely on the constant updates provided by our local partners, Government Travel Warnings and briefings held with our various sources of information. There no general travel restrictions in place for Iran at the time of writing from the Australian, UK, New Zealand and Canadian governments. Canadian travel advice remains at ‘exercise a high degree of caution’, New Zealand ‘exercise increased caution’ and the UK at ‘see advice’ for all but dual UK and Iranian Nationals. The Australian Govt (DFAT) Travel Advisory level for Iran has remained unchanged since the 26th Nov. 2018 with, ‘reconsider your need to travel’. We have guided many travellers through Iran since the 26th Nov 2018 and not one has encountered any issues whatsoever. All our tour leaders and drivers are kept updated and are very careful to observe directions from local authorities. World Expeditions are by nature risk averse when it comes to the safety of our travellers, and this is a position we do not compromise on. World Expeditions have been guiding travellers through Iran since 1998 and have never received anything but fantastic feedback regarding the warmth and generosity of the Iranian people and the ease to travel there. We will continue to offer our adventures to Iran in the hope of disarming misconceptions and sharing what a truly magnificent place it is.
Nepal Update: 27 May 2019
We are shocked to hear the news of explosions in Kathmandu on the 26th May 2019 which took place in the outskirts of Kathmandu and in the city centre, resulting in the tragic loss of four lives as well as injuries to seven bystanders. Authorities believe these attacks are politically motivated and involve internal conflict within the Maoist party utilising rudimentary, crude explosive devices. Arrests have been made and authorities have acted swiftly with officers patrolling key areas of Kathmandu. The Maoist party have always upheld the view that tourism is a vital source of foreign income and it should be noted that none of these recent incidents involve tourists nor are they being targeted. All World Expeditions staff and travellers in the field are safe. Being towards the end of the Spring season, we have only four groups in country at present and no changes to forthcoming post monsoon trips are currently planned. Australian, British, Canadian, US and NZ Government travel advisories remain unchanged. Safety is one of our major priorities at World Expeditions and we will continue to monitor the events closely. Should you have any questions related to your forthcoming trip, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Peru Update: 27 May 2019
A large earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck north-central Peru, 80 kilometres southeast of the village of Lagunas, early on May 26. The tremors were felt in northern and central Peru, including the capital Lima. The Interior Ministry said on its official Twitter page that no injuries or deaths had been reported, but some houses had collapsed. Quakes of similar depth typically cause less damage on the ground surface but may be felt at great distance from their epicentres. Experts at the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated there was no tsunami threat because the earthquake is located too deep inside the earth. World Expeditions have no trips in the region where the earthquake struck, all our travellers are safe and amendments to trips are not necessary.
Sri Lanka Update: 22 April 2019
We are shocked and saddened following events on Sunday in Sri Lanka, where multiple bomb blasts targeting churches and hotels in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa resulted in the loss of over two hundred lives and injuries to countless others. Arrests have made in connection with these events and the situation is continually evolving. All World Expeditions travellers are safe and well as are our office staff and leaders. As always, the safety of our travellers is our number one priority and we will continue to monitor events on the ground, with forthcoming departures being assessed on a case by case basis. Future travellers will be contacted regarding their journeys in due course. Our thoughts are with the people of Sri Lanka and the families of those affected. We will continue to support Sri Lanka, as we have done for many years, in the coming weeks and months.
Nepal Update: 15 April 2019
Further to our recent update, we now provide further detail as to our operations in Nepal in respect of domestic air travel. As you are all well aware, Nepal is a mountainous country with unpredictable weather patterns. Domestic flights are used to access many of the most popular trekking regions. About 50,000 passengers safely fly each year within Nepal, to all corners of the country.
World Expeditions utilises Tara Air and its subsidiary, Yeti Airlines, for our internal flights. These are also the airlines of choice for organisations such as the UN due to their higher safety record. Yeti Airlines and Tara Air have on their own initiative retained the services of Aviation & Marine Safety Solutions International (AMSSI), an internationally reputed safety audit firm, in order to help them achieve the highest degree of organisational safety possible given the nature of their operations and the constraints within the operational environment. AMSSI has been contracted to conduct a thorough safety audit, based on the standards of IATA IOSA, of Yeti Airlines and Tara Air once every two years. We are confident that the airlines we partner with hold the best possible safety standards given their environment.
Adventure Travel in the Himalaya does involve certain risks. Flying is one of those and we recognise that some of our travellers may be concerned about flying in Nepal. Naturally we are not able to give any guarantees but our alignment with those airlines demonstrating a track record for safety and compliance is paramount.
World Expeditions have been operating in Nepal for 40 years and in this time we have not been involved in any airline accidents. We plan to continue using the domestic airline industry for our range of treks and tours throughout the Himalaya and we welcome you to contact us should you have any questions in relation to forthcoming journeys.
Nepal Update: 14 April 2019
World Expeditions are deeply saddened to hear of an accident which occurred today at Lukla airport, when a flight operated by Summit Airlines collided with a helicopter while taking off, resulting in the loss of several lives as well as injuries. There were no World Expeditions travellers or staff on board. The airport has since reopened and is operating normally. Further updates will be posted in due course. Our thoughts are with the families of those involved.
Uganda Update: 9 April 2019
A security related incident, which did not involve a World Expeditions traveller, took place on 2 April 2019 evening when an American tourist travelling in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and her Ugandan guide were kidnapped by armed men. Other guests travelling in the same vehicle were left unharmed and raised the alarm at their lodge. On 7 April, both the missing tourist and guide were found safe and unharmed.
This is a completely unprecedented incident in the area and further such incidents in the future are extremely unlikely, given the swift and decisive action taken by law enforcement authorities, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and lodge owners to step up security measures in the Ishasha section of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the security forces continuing in their pursuit of the perpetrators to bring them to justice.
In line with our risk averse protocols, we have implemented precautionary measures and all our upcoming tours/game drives in the Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park will have extra security and be escorted by a Ranger Guide. The Ishasha section of the Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to magnificent tree climbing lions and is a highlight for many travellers to Uganda.
The reinforcement of all security measures will deter similar events in the future and all World Expeditions scheduled departures to Uganda remain operational. The safety of our travellers is our number one priority. It should be noted that all government travel advisories remain unchanged, for Australia remaining at a high degree of caution. Uganda is, and remains, one of the most welcoming destinations the world over.
Mozambique, Malawi and Eastern Zimbabwe Update: 22 March 2019
Cyclone Idai has caused extensive flooding and damage to parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Eastern Zimbabwe. In addition, there are ongoing protests in Bulawayo and Harare (Zimbabwe). The overall level of Travel Advice from the UK, US, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian governments has not changed for these countries.
Our local operators have advised that none of their trips will be affected. All World Expeditions scheduled departures to Zimbabwe, Malwai and Mozambique remain operational.
The safety of our travellers is of the utmost importance; we are closely monitoring the situation and are in constant contact with our local operators. It is business as usual in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. Should it be necessary, contingency plans will be enacted however, at present, all trips are operating as normal.
Kashmir Update: 8 March 2019
We wish to update World Expeditions travellers with forthcoming travel plans to Kashmir as well as intending travellers on the tensions that arose between India and Pakistan during the last week of February.
On 14th February a car bomb was driven into a convoy of roughly 70 vehicles carrying CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personal on the Srinagar to Jammu highway around 30km (18 miles) from the main city. On 26th February India launched an air force attack on terrorist camps in Pakistan that resulted in a retaliatory attack by Pakistan air forces the following day. Tensions were reduced on 28th February when Pakistan agreed, as a peace gesture, to release an Indian air force officer whose aircraft had been shot down in Pakistan. The officer was released on 1st March. While since then there has been a number of minor incidents along the Indian and Pakistan (LOC) Line of Control the area is well away from Srinagar and in fact, has been off limits to foreigners since 1947.
In summary there is a general consensus that tensions have reduced between India and Pakistan with the Indian political parties now focusing on the Lok Sabha elections scheduled in April.
As always, the safety of our travellers is our highest priority and we will continue to monitor events on the ground, enacting changes to upcoming departures if necessary. Our Indian Himalaya expert, Garry Weare along with his wife Margie Thomas are currently in Kashmir and in consultation with senior administrators who have reported that the situation in Srinagar (where our groups travel) is returning to normalcy. Future travellers will be contacted regarding contingency plans if they are required.
Currently World Expeditions does not have any travellers in the region. Our trips upcoming in May, September and October carefully follow the Australian government advisory* has not changed since the outbreak of political tensions in mid-February. It should also be noted that tourists have not been the target of militant attacks and that all political parties including the Hurriyat (who represent the various militant groups in Kashmir) welcome both domestic and foreign tourists to the Kashmir Valley.
Kashmir Update: 15 February 2019
We wish to update World Expeditions travellers with forthcoming travel plans to Kashmir as well as intending travellers about an incident that occurred on Thursday, 14th of February in the Indian administered Kashmir. A car bomb was driven into a convoy of roughly 70 vehicles carrying around 2,500 Indian troops to the Kashmir Valley. The incident took place along the Srinagar to Jammu highway around 30km (18 miles) from the main city. It is reported that Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the attack. World Expeditions does not currently have any travellers in the region. Our trips upcoming in May and September carefully follows the Australian government advisory and do not use the Srinagar to Jammu highway, instead transporting guests by air. It should also be noted that tourists have not been the target of this attack. The Australian government travel advice has remained unchanged following this incident. As always, the safety of our travellers is our number one priority and we will continue to monitor events on the ground, enacting changes to upcoming departures if necessary. Our Indian Himalaya expert, Garry Weare will be arriving in Kashmir in the following days and we will be making further assessments. Future travellers will be contacted regarding contingency plans if they are required.
Kenya Update: 17 January 2019
On 15 January 2019 an attack occurred at the DusitD2 luxury hotel and office complex in the Westlands suburb in central Nairobi, sadly resulting in fatalities and injuries. The Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. All World Expeditions travellers and local staff are safe and well.
The overall level of Travel Advice from the UK, US, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian governments for Kenya has not changed – i.e. For Australia (DFAT) it remains ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’ in Kenya overall; with higher levels applying in some parts of the country. We continue to monitor these advice and heed advice from our partners in Kenya. Authorities advise that the area and buildings are now secure, and it is business as usual in Nairobi. There is a general heightened terrorism alert globally. Kenya has been sending troops to fight against Al-Shabab in Somalia since 2011, and has seen a number of terror attacks in recent years – most notably in areas close to the Somali border and in the country’s capital.
All World Expeditions scheduled departures to Kenya remain operational. The hotels we use in Nairobi have an extremely high level of security, utilising features such as vehicle barriers, baggage scanners and security guards, depending on the property, to mitigate security concerns. World Expeditions are by nature risk averse when it comes to the safety of our travellers, and this is a position we will not compromise on. World Expeditions and our local partners in Kenya and East Africa continue to monitor the situation.