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With all 2020 adventures postponed until 2021 and the Coronavirus situation still growing, let’s do some crystal ball gazing and see what Himalayan Heroes adventures might look like in 2021. 

Crystal Ball 2021

First, let’s check the data from where we are from and where we want to go to.

Coronavirus Data 29th July 2020
Note: To get to Tibet, one has to travel through Sichuan province in China or through Nepal.

 

Looking at the data above, it is clear that some countries are yet to bring the situation under control with India, Pakistan (and the USA) being the standouts. It is anyone’s guess when we’ll be allowed to travel to those countries, let alone them being safe enough to travel to.

Let’s focus on the four countries where we have a good chance of going to in 2021.  

Nepal

Talking to the team in Nepal, they tell me that lockdown restrictions are lifting. However, when i look at the data from WHO, I see the number of cases have been on the rise since May. Maybe the government have found the lockdown untenable and are adjusting to the “new normal” by easing restrictions. Tourism makes up 9% of the GDP so there must be pressures to open up again. (For comparison, tourism makes up 3% of Australia’s GDP and 75% of that is domestic)

Travel restrictions are in place until further notice.

Mongolia

Looking at the data alone, Mongolia seems to be doing great with no deaths attributed to Covid19. The team in Ulaanbaatar said (sp) “we eat lot of meat, specially horse meat in winter, that give us good immunity system :)”. They are certainly strong. We will watch with anticipation. 

Travel restrictions are in place until 31st August 2020 but could be extended further. 

Bhutan

Bhutan have handled the situation very well; closing the borders with India very quickly. It’s a stunning country and among the happiest in the world that everyone should visit once in their lifetime. For a motorcyclist, the scenery, perfect mix of sealed and unsealed roads, cultural sites and tantalising food, it is a dream adventure riding destination. The absence of traffic lights, speed cameras and police striving to reach quotas is just a bonus.

Travel restrictions are in place until further notice.

Tibet (China)

With only a single case (long since recovered), Tibet is probably the safest place to be …unless you’re American…but that’s another story. The team there are certainly keen for us to come but our challenge is not getting into Tibet but out of our own countries and into China. We have the option of riding North from Kathmandu, Nepal over the Himalayas into Tibet. We’ll play a waiting game and assess the situation closer to the date. 

Possible to travel but subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

NOTE: If you’ve paid a deposit for a trip 2020, then your deposit has been carried forward to a future trip of your choosing. In accordance with WA Consumer Protection advice, Himalayan Heroes has extended the travel credit indefinitely rather than limit it to 12 months.  

I look forward to riding with you in 2021 and hope you’re safe.

Rex Havoc

Himalayan Heroes : Have you booked for 2020?

Doing my part : Rex puts his body on the line

Sources:

2020 is postponedAll 2020 adventures have been postponed until 2021
 
At the start of the year I was optimistic that some trips in the second half of the year would still proceed. However, when I got back from the Stairway to Heaven adventure in Nepal (catching the second last flight out!) in March, I immediately postponed all 2020 trips until 2021.

While some in the industry were still promoting trips and have since closed their doors, I made an early call to stop taking deposits and postpone all 2020 trips. It turned out to be the right decision as it allowed riders to focus on preparing to weather out the storm, travel at home and look forward to 2021. 

If you’ve booked a trip for 2020, then your deposit is carried over for a 2021 trip. As these are extenuating circumstances completely out of my control, I am not able to refund deposits and will be providing 100% travel credit. The terms and conditions says “the full value of your deposit will be credited to a future trip to be booked within 12 months of the start date of the initial booked trip” however, I’ve taken advice from WA Consumer Protection. They said they want to see businesses be flexible with their terms and conditions and make an effort to listen to and communicate with reasonable client requests at this time.

In alignment with the above advice, I’ve extended the travel credit indefinitely rather than limit it to 12 months. As per normal, there are no charges or change fees to rebook or swap trips.

Monthly email newsletters will now be quarterly where I will make announcements on future trips and everyone who has paid a deposit will receive an email about the next available trip. 

Stay safe and I look forward to riding with you in 2021.

Rex Havoc

Himalayan Heroes : 2021 and Beyond

Doing my part : Rex puts his body on the line

It was early march when I started getting phone calls from the riders who would be joining me later in the month in Kathmandu. All of us were excited about our upcoming 12 day adventure to find the Stairway to Heaven in the Mustang Valley, Nepal. The questions were all the same “Is the trip still going ahead with the Corona Virus situation?” The answer was “Of course, Nepal doesn’t have any cases of the virus, she’ll be right”.

Holi Festival in Kathmandu
No one in Kathmandu was concerned about Corona Virus during the Holi Festival

We started the adventure, walking the streets of Kathmandu, taking photos of the toilet paper supplies in the local shops to post on social media as it seemed the virus was turning people into panic buyers and hoarders. Being isolated from the madness was great, however the talk around the table each night inevitably turned into a Corona conversation. After a few beers, it turned into a zombie apocalypse conversation but that’s another blog post. 

Watching the sun set at Chitwan National Park
What a great end to the first day on the road.

Sitting on the banks of the Rapti River at Chitwan National Park, enjoying a well earned Gorkha beer while watching the sun set on the backs of crocodiles, we were interrupted by an excited waiter who was shouting “Rhino, Rhino!”. A bull Rhinoceros had decided to walk through the outdoor restaurant we were sitting in. It was a great start to an adventure but once the excitement died down, the conversation circled back to whether we would be able to get out of Nepal.  

A Rhino walking through a restaurant
Lucky we were on the balcony when a Rhino decided to walk through the restaurant

Our intermittent internet access was telling us the virus had taken hold in Australia and was out of control in the UK. With a few days to go, a few of us got word that our return flights had been cancelled. Now we weren’t just scrambling on the Himalayan roads but were now scrambling to find replacement flights. Our wives and partners took the reigns and came to the rescue, speaking to travel agents and scouring skyscanner for any available flight so we could concentrate on getting back to Kathmandu as quick as possible.  

Motorcycles descending a muddy road into a puddle
Coming down a steep, muddy road into a puddle. What could go wrong?

I was able to book a flight (at double the usual cost) with Singapore Airlines who promptly told me that they’d overbooked and I needed to find another flight. “No problems”, I said, “just refund the money and I’ll keep looking”. To which they replied “Sorry, we can’t offer a refund but if you jump through all these hoops, we can offer a credit in 3 weeks”.*  There were 4 seats left out of Kathmandu so I grabbed one at 3 times the usual price and I caught the second last flight out before Nepal went into total lockdown. 

Arriving home to surprisingly no temperature checks at Perth airport it was straight into 14 days self isolation. I used the time to notify all riders who were booked for 2020 that all adventures were postponed until 2021. It was obvious that we were in this for the long haul so I needed to find something to do. I enrolled into a short course at RMIT University (just graduated yeeha!) started looking for work (what the hell is LinkedIn!) and I noticed that non profit organisation Linear Research was looking for volunteers to participate in a Covid19 Vaccine trial

I’m always up for an adventure so thought that I’d step up and see if I could contribute in some way. I went to the screening and was selected as a suitable participant. My first dose was on the 24th June and there were zero side effects. The media were very interested in the vaccine study so I was interviewed by three TV stations about my role and motivations.  Second dose was on the 15th July and again zero side effects. If it all goes well, we might have an idea of its efficacy by the end of 2020. 

Rex and Jayden Rogers the CEO of Linear Research
Rex being interviewed by channels 7, 9 & 10 along with Jayden Rogers, the CEO of Linear Research.

In short, the 3 reasons I decided to get involved are…

  1. The sooner we can find a vaccine, the sooner I can get back to doing what I love which is exploring amazing countries with fantastic characters from around the world. If that means I have to put my body on the line then I’m up for it. 
  2. I learnt early on that when you give, you feel better about yourself. These are incredibly stressful times, especially in tourism where industry leaders have shut down and most of us find ourselves with zero income overnight. It isn’t doing anyones mental health any favours so I know that if I’m helping others (potentially millions of people) then I feel better about myself.
  3. Of course, getting compensated for your time spent in the trial is a nice bonus. 
Snowfall in Tatopani
We planned to go over those mountains but the weather in the Mustang Valley had other ideas

I can’t wait to get back out there on a motorcycle to explore the Mongolian Steppes with Kate Peck, the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan and riding through Tibet on BMW’s with friends. Having a cup of hot chai while at Mt Everest Base Camp is going to be an amazing reward in 2021. 

Riders crossing a suspension bridge in Nepal
The best part about crossing a suspension bridge is being able to turn around and do it again.

Keeping looking to the future and I hope to ride with you soon.

Rex Havoc

*As of 30th July (17 weeks later) Singapore Airlines still have not responded to a request for a refund or credit for a future flight. 

If you’re going to plan a motorcycle tour in Asia you should definitely plan your ride through the Himalayas in India. The Himalayan mountain landscapes are stunning, the people are warm and friendly, and the culture is rich and worth exploring.

 

At Himalayan Heroes, our curated tours allow you to experience the best of India from the open road with fellow adventurers. Our tours are often a mix of open road exploration, camping under the stars, spending time with locals soaking up the local culture, overnight stays in monasteries, and nonstop camaraderie.

 

Whether you choose to indulge your inner-daredevil and join us for the adrenaline-fuelled Cliffhanger Tour or decide to join us at the Top Of The World for a 14-day Himalayan adventure that traverses Pin Valley National Park and many other treasures, you’re guaranteed a good time.

 

You could also opt to explore the untouched Middle Land between Tibet and India. This adventure has a bit of everything. You get to see old and new Delhi and we head to the Taj Mahal before flying to the mountains and experience the majestic Himalayas on the quintessential Indian motorcycle – Royal Enfield. We’ll stay in a 12th-century monastery and camp under the stars as we make our way through scenic landscapes and cultural centers. It’s truly a one of a kind adventure.

 

And then there’s our flagship tour – the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a bucket list experience like no other. Join us as we attempt to ride to the top of Khardungla, the world’s highest road dressed in our finest tweed…or Maharaja suits!

 

On these rides the bond and camaraderie is unmistakable as men from across the globe spend two glorious weeks together conquering a bucket list ride while feeling comfortable enough to share freely and get to know each other on this epic life-changing adventure. You don’t want to miss it.

With four different ways to enjoy India with Himalayan Heroes, the only question remaining is which adventure will you choose? Because each motorcycle tour offers something different and unique for everyone.

India’s people, culture, and open roads are calling. Will you answer?

There’s something about the magic of the open road; seeing an unfamiliar place for the first time and experiencing it in an authentic way. A Himalayan motorcycle tour is without a doubt one of the most unique and thrilling ways to experience Asia and the Himalayas. And here’s why it so magical.

 

1 – Make friends

The friends you make on a Himalayan motorcycle adventure are friends that last a lifetime. Traversing these roads together cause you to let down your guard and forge genuine connections with amazing people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.

 

2 – Step off the beaten path

Sure you could go to your 50th resort and spend your days lounging on the beach or by the pool barely getting to know the culture of the place you’re visiting. But wouldn’t it be much better to have an authentic experience in a lesser-traveled location?

 

3 – Explore different cultures

Our Himalayan motorcycle tours are typically organized around the local culture, ensuring that you get a taste of the culture and really have an opportunity to engage with the locals so you can learn more about them.

 

4 – Feel inspired

Once you tackle the Himalayas on a motorcycle you will leave the adventure feeling like you can do anything. And you will be right. It’s an empowering experience that we encourage you to take with you when you leave.

 

5 – Many great travel stories

Most great travel adventures are filled with stories you take with you and a Himalayan motorcycle adventure is no different. You’ll have many tales to tell once you get home. 

 

6 – Be at one with nature

When you face the open road on a motorcycle it’s just you and nature. Snow-capped mountains, roaring streams, expansive meadows, and unexpected glimpses of local wildlife. And that’s a beautiful thing to experience. 

 

7 – Learn about bike repairs

These motorcycle adventures generally go on for days. And while we have trained motorcycle repairmen on each tour, you will find yourself picking up a tip or two and learning more about the machine you’re riding on. When you get home, you’ll know more than the average rider. Those tips may just come in handy.

 

8 – Because you’ve been dreaming about it

You know you want to. Every time you think about going on a motorcycle adventure through the Himalayas your heart skips a few beats and you get excited. That feeling is enough of a reason to go. Getting to strike it off your bucket list and forever knowing ‘I did that’ is priceless.

 

So the only question remaining is when are we seeing you?