My Nepal Earthquake Experience

Nepal Earthquake Kathmandu Building
One of the many collapsed buildings in downtown Kathmandu

I don’t know what it feels like to wake up in the morning and have your entire life turned upside down. I don’t know what it feels like to loose your job, community, and home over night.

I don’t know what it feels to have your entire family taken from you in an instant.

Unfortunately however, I do know what it looks like now, and it’s the most devastating thing I’ve ever seen…

I’m writing this post from back in Kathmandu, where the journey began over a month and a half ago.

What was supposed to be an amazing three months in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, has now been overshadowed by the massive earthquakes that brought this region to its knees.

After an awesomely successful trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Clint and I were in the midst of a week exploring the Buddhist monasteries and beautiful countryside of Bhutan.

Everything was going perfectly until our third day in the Kingdom when the first earthquake hit.

While we were eating lunch in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu, our fourth floor restaurant began to sway.

Clint and I looked at each other to confirm what was happening, and then asked the waitress if she felt it as well. As soon as she stopped and set her drink tray down, she felt the movement and bolted towards the exit yelling “earthquake.”

Clint, myself, and the entire staff followed suit.

The scare lasted only a few minutes before we walked back inside; joking about how quickly we’d all dispersed. We had no idea of its severity. We had only felt an aftershock that was hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.

Over the next few days, the gut-wrenching news rolled in as we reached out to local friends and fellow trekkers to ensure they were safe back in Nepal.

Many of the villages and trails we had hiked through in the Everest region were now completely destroyed.

It was impossible to grasp that everything we had just experienced is now changed or gone forever.

It wasn’t until we returned to Nepal a few days later that the reality of the disaster really sunk in…

Nepal Earthquake Kathmandu Temples
Destroyed Temples in downtown Kathmandu (that we just visited a week before).

Aid workers and supplies filled the Kathmandu airport, the customary chaotic street traffic was gone, and open spaces were turned into campsites for those who lost their homes or had a fear of returning home.

We reunited with our Active Adventures team who had already begun planning relief efforts for the villages of the company’s local guides and porters.

Nepal Earthquake Kathmandu Planning
Some of the Active Adventures team making a plan for purchasing supplies.

The shocking truth only got worse as they filled us in with the details from ground level…

The Nepali countryside was hit so much worse than what we could see in the city. Small villages and towns are completely flattened and millions of people were affected.

Charities and volunteers have been flooding into the country; however, political roadblocks have made it difficult for their supplies and aid to actually reach those in need.

Every dollar coming into the country for support is to be reported to the Prime Minister first, and then the government is (supposed) to distribute it to the people. Some have said that the current Nepali administration will wait until election time to actually delegate resources and funds (to entice voters).

Meanwhile, hundreds of foreign backpackers, hippies, and trekkers rushed to leave the country.

The Chinese government actually had local representatives go to all the hotels in Kathmandu to round-up Chinese citizens and send them home.

The only thing stopping me from getting overwhelmed by the tragedy was the concentration on immediate relief.

A long-time Active Adventures guide named Dan (from New Zealand) originally started Active Hearts Himalaya with local Nepali guides to fund and facilitate a new library within the village.

The name of the village where many of the Active guides are from is called Gogane, and it’s located about 60 miles north of Kathmandu.

The library was scheduled to open one week after the earthquake hit, but the entire village was destroyed.

Now, all of the funds and resources that were meant for the library project are being channeled towards the village’s immediate survival.

Thanks to an incredibly supportive network, Active Hearts has been able to raise over $59,000 in the past few weeks to help the village and surrounding communities survive.

Once a plan was in place, Dan, myself and our small team of Active guides and international friends spent the following days running around Kathmandu sourcing and purchasing supplies. The focus was on, and will continue to be on, emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical assistance.

Nepal Earthquake Kathmandu Shopping
The boys searching for tarps to purchase for the village.
Nepal Earthquake Kathmandu Shopping
The girls buying food supplies for our first village trip.

After we purchased supplies and packed two jeeps with as much cargo as they could carry, we set out to make the four-hour journey to Gogane…

Nepal Earthquake Active Hearts Team
The Active Hearts team ready to make the first Village delivery

See photos from our first trip to Gogane


Donate to Active Hearts Himalaya Nepal Earthquake Relief – 100% of the funds go directly to the people of the village.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


  1. Hi Gareth,

    Your story is really moving. Thank you for sharing.

    I am a survivor of the two recent big earthquakes in Nepal. I am back in US, and still trying to process things right.

    Feeling a need to do something, I have created a website to share these disaster stories. I have been collecting stories and posting on the site, along with my own experience.

    There is a slow road to recovery and healing and by sharing these stories, we can really help victims heal. This will also help people across the globe know much more stories behinds the headlines.

    I would request you to please share your story in our website. With your story, we hope to encourage more people to share and talk about this, so this to keep the awareness much longer than the news cycle.

    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank you

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