Solo Trekking To Be Banned In Nepal?
Nepal Government seems set to introduce compulsory guides from September onwards.
Posted: 2 August 2012
There are reports from two reputable sources - Lindsay Griffin via the BMC and KE Adventure Travel - that the Nepalese Government looks set to prevent visitors from trekking alone in any part of the country from this September.
The new policy has yet to be endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism, but would mean that solo travellers - FITs (Free Independent Trekkers) - would have to be accompanied by at least one local support staff, either a porter or guide. Though whether this also means 'independent trekkers' plural isn't 100% clear.
According to Griffin, writing on the BMC web site, the policy is a response to a number of incidents including one murder and an unsolved disappearance of solo trekkers and a general increase in crime rates and muggings in some areas of Nepal including the tail end of the popular Annapurna Circuit trek.
The policy is about protecting Nepal's vital tourism industry as well as prompted by concerns for the safety of individual trekkers themselves.
Meanwhile, leading trekking operator, KE Adventure Travel, says that its sources in Nepal also suggest that 'Under the terms of the new policy 'Free Individual Trekkers' will also have to pay an additional fee of US $10 per day', though a report on the Great Himalaya Trail web site seems to imply that the $10 figure is actually just an estimate of what using support staff will cost per day rather than an additional fee.
One of the great joys of Nepal has always been that it's entirely possible to trek alone, particularly if you use tea houses on the popular trails like Everest Base Camp and Annapurna and it seems a shame that this could stop. It's also not entirely clear from the reports we've read whether the restrictions apply solely to individual solo trekkers or also to small groups of independent trekkers.
We suspect the details will become clearer, but if you're planning an independent trip to Nepal, it's definitely something you should be aware of. Watch this space.
Discuss this story
I actually don't think it's that cut and dried to be fair. I think you need to bear in mind that the Nepalese government is very aware that the tourist economy is absolutely crucial and worries over trekking safety could potentially have a negative impact on visitor numbers. I think it's probably fair to say that it's a combination of genuine concern over trekkers' safety combined with a not unreasonable desire to channel more money into the local tourist economy via porters, guides and agencies.
So I think it's a bit of both.
Having trekked both Everest BC and Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary on my own and never felt threatened even when I was stopped at gunpoint by Maoist insurgents - which sounds odd - I find it a shame, but equally given that at least one trekker has been murdered and another vanished completely, I think you do have to give the safety concerns some credence.
Posted: 03/08/2012 at 11:19
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I have never trekked there so it is hard for me to say anything from personal experience on this topic. However, If you talk about safety, well people get eaten by bears in the US and in Canada, people get kidnapped in South America, yet you dont have a law saying you have to be accompanied by a shot gun carrying ranger, nor are you banned from back packing in Columbia. You are adviced about the objective hassards thats it. This is why I think it is just to cash in.
It is understandable that they want to make more money on it but do you think that this might actually deter soloist to go there? Its not going to increase tourism thats for sure. Presummably one of the attracting factors to Nepal is the wide open spaces which we struggle to find in our native countries. I think they are shooting themselves in the foot.
I hate being told what I can and can't do
Posted: 03/08/2012 at 13:59