Q: I hope you enjoyed the Everest Experience mountain flight. How was it?
Meghan: We loved it! Working for Intrepid Travel, we send thousands of people to Nepal every year and so many of them do the Everest Experience mountain flight. We recommend the flight to everybody and being able to do the flight with my parents was like a dream. It felt like you had to pinch yourself to realize you are looking at Everest because it is so famous! You learn about Everest while growing up, and to see the entire Himalayan range unfold before my eyes was incredible!
Meghan’s Father: It was fantastic, we were lucky to have a beautiful day withclear views.
Meghan’s Mother: It was amazing, Like Meghan said, it’s a dream come true. It’s a lifetime experience that we never thought we could ever see in person.
Q:You've traveled to more than 55 countries, what did you find special about Nepal?
I think Nepal is my 60th country. One thing that is under advertised about Nepal are its lush jungles. One of the reasons I was planning this trip was to go to Bardia to see the tigers. A colleague had shared a WWF article about how Nepal has been working hard to double its tiger population since 2010 - which is amazing! We flew to Nepalgunj with Buddha Air and drove to Bardia National Park where we actually saw a Royal Bengal Tiger! It was a hot day, and the tiger came out from the long grass and took a dip in the river to cool off. We watched the tiger for 45 minutes, and then saw another great mammal, the One Horned Rhino. I don’t think most people actually realize that there’s so much more to Nepal than its majestic Himalayas. To actually see these animals was simply unbelievable and a highlight of my visit to Nepal. The huge strides the country has taken in the preservation and conservation of its tiger population is great for tourism. I am already designing a new trip for Nepal that will include a visit toBardia to see the tigers for 2020/21.
Q: How many places of Nepal have you visited so far?
No surprise, we’ve been to Kathmandu, and then we flew to Nepalgunj to visit Bardia. From there, we drove to Lumbini which was a cool drive through villages of rural Nepal. Then we flew from Bhairahawa to Pokhara. From Pokhara, we did a 5 days trek to Sikleswith an all-female trekking crew! After enjoying a beautiful day in Pokhara we flew back to Kathmandu. We concluded our Nepal trip with a flight over Everest. I think Bardia National Park was my favourite. Being within such close proximity to tigers and rhinos was truly unbelievable! It was one of the best days of my life! We saw other animalslike deer’s and crocodiles, and rare birds like the Great Hornbills with their distinctive giant beaks. I love nature, and Bardia is a destination that is off the tourist track. It was really special and felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
Q: Travelling solo or travelling with friends and family? Which do you prefer?
I feel it is much better with friends and family - because when I’m travelling solo, I always wished there was someone to share the experiences with. You can share photos with them, but actually sharing experiences together is a whole other level! My parents flew in from Canada and I flew from Melbourne, Australia so it was like we kind of met in the middle in Kathmandu.
Yes, 100% I feel Nepal is a safe country for solo female travel.
Q: Do you feel Nepal is a safe country for solo female travel? Why? Why not?
Yes, 100% I feel Nepal is a safe country for solo female travel. Of course, travelers to any destination need to take some precautions to insure their safety, unfortunately more so for females, however I have travelled to many countries, and Nepal, for me,feels incredibly safe,more so than some first world countries even.In Nepal, the people are so accommodating, to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable. The kind people we’ve met have bent over backwards to make our travel safe and enjoyable, to a level we are just not used to. This trip has completely spoiled me.When I return to Australia, I will be wondering where my driver is, and why no one is checking in withme to ask if I am doing okay.(Laughing jokingly)
Q: What suggestions do you recommend for Nepal’s tourism?
Proper waste management along the trekking trails would make a huge impact for Nepal. We picked up plastic during our trek, and I think there is a huge issue with plastic waste not only in Nepal, but around the world.It is bad for the environment and on a purely aesthetic note, seeing plastic rubbish everywhere tarnishes the perfect views. Creating awareness with young children at school regarding ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ and campaigns around environmental conservation are crucial.
Q: Have you tried the food in Nepal? Which dishes were your favorite?
Yes, I'm vegetarian and I love Momos and Dal Bhat. I expected Dal Bhat to be bland, but it was delicious! The combination of the vegetable curry, chutney and a warm bowl of dal was perfect. Now I understand the phrase, ‘Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour!’ We aregoing to try making some local dishes ourselves in cooking class this afternoon, and I am hopeful that I will be able to make momos for my friends and boyfriend when I return home.
Q: Did you learn any Nepali words/phrases?
Yes, I did. Dhanyabad, Namaste, Thik Cha (Okay?) and La jam jam (Let’s go) are a few phrases that I will try to use in Australia too!
Q: What is your overall impression of Buddha Air?
Buddha Air was fantastic! The little hard candies they give out during the flights felt like flying during the 50s, which was a sweet experience (pun intended). Being able to go into the cockpit during the Everest Experience was a delightful surprise. We were able to meet the pilots and take pictures of Everest from the cockpit, which was unbelievable.
Q: Any questions to for us?
Meghan: (Laughing jokingly) Can you cancel my flight for tomorrow so I can’t leave? I love the name Buddha Air! I know there are plans for Buddha Air to go international which is excellent news! I will be recommending the airline to others as well.
Meghan’s Father: Buddha Air is very conscious about safety and organized flights. Nepal's geographical location and fluctuating climate meant we didn’t always take off on time, but we knew our safety was the number one priority. Being a retired pilot, I could appreciate that the pilots of Buddha Air are quite skilled. Flying around the hilly and mountainous terrain of Nepal would be challenging and requires skills and confidence.
Meghan’s Mother: From the ground staff to the flight attendants who serve thousands of passengers from early mornings to late evenings, I was impressed with their professionalism and helpful nature.
Meghan Verbeek is the Destination Manager for Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan for Intrepid Group, in Melbourne. Growing up in Calgary, Canada, she used to go camping hiking in the Rocky Mountains. It is no surprise that she would enjoy the adventure travel industry. She has spent many years backpacking around the globe and eventually travelled to Nepal in 2019.