It’s an undeniable fact that trekking sums up a huge chunk of the tourism industry in Nepal. Nepal is a mountainous country, full of verdant hills, lofty mountains, and spectacular viewpoints offering a unique experience for trekkers. Every year, several visitors venture to these areas to spend their holidays and make unforgettable memories.
Besides being an excellent rendezvous point, Nepal is best for budget travelers. The expenses related to transportation, food, accommodation, and other are comparatively cheap in Nepal. Furthermore, the crime rate and other things that may affect the trekker’s journey are almost none. This unique perk makes Nepal an excellent choice to visit for solo and group trekkers.
But a sudden law passed by Nepal Tourism Board made a change in course of long-reigning trekking history. This has been a topic of discussion in the Tourism industry. The decision has faced a few rifts from the local municipality of Khumbu region and several other critics.
Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has released its reasons concerning the safety of trekkers in the tough landscape. It’s high time that trekkers know about the change in the guidelines.
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What is the new guideline regarding solo trekking?
On March 3, Nepal Tourism Board, responsible for overviewing the country’s tourism industry announced its long-awaited decision. It stated that from April 1, 2023, solo trekking was banned in Nepal’s national parks and conservation areas. Trekkers can only obtain a TIMS card through a registered traveling agency in Nepal.
It’s already April 5, and solo trekking has been a thing of the past in Nepal. The board has shared its sentiments saying that the decision involves intense discussion and consultation with the country’s various tourism stakeholders.
What’s the reason for Nepal Tourism Board to implement such guidelines?
In the past, climbing and trekking were mainly ventured by experienced trekkers. They were self-sufficient and didn’t have much trouble roaming in the hills. But in recent years, most of the people who venture are normal tourists.
Given the limitation of the Nepali government to track every single tourist, conducting a rescue mission takes a huge toll on resources. The trekking region comprises far and remote areas where means of transportation are minimal. This has led to late search missions and a large number of visitors getting lost.
Likewise, such cases of missing and deaths aren’t healthy for Nepal’s recovering Tourism industry. The successive missing and death cases have led to a ruthless impression of Nepal’s tourism industry. Following all those incidents the NTB came to finalize the new law to ban trekking without any official guide.
How solo trekking used to be?
Solo trekkers used to plan their destination based on their thorough research and choice of place. After that, they would obtain a route permit and TIMS card by paying appropriate fees themselves without seeking help from travel agencies.
They often believe that they can find help and guidance from local people rather than paying money to agencies. But most of the locals and natives aren’t that good at communicating in English.
Only trained guides are the ones who can communicate well and have the proper knowledge regarding trekking routes.
Alarming deaths and missing cases
Nepal was solo trekkers’ heaven then, why would the government abruptly ban it? Well, contrary to the adventurous side of solo trekking, some bad news surfaced. Several death and missing cases were released.
The threat and strain that high altitude and rugged roads pose is a thing to be anxious about. Many cases of solo trekkers losing their way on confusing trek routes are prominent. It is because the terrain of such areas makes it so that the tea houses are dispersed.
Only the right routes among several beaten track lead to tea houses of trekker destinations. Altitude sickness, cardiac issues, hypothermia, and avalanche are some of the causes of death while solo trekking.
Official Travel Update from Nepal Tourism Board - NTB
What are the difficulties of solo trekking?
On paper, traveling the mountainous region at its own pace while enjoying the scenery seems fun and adventurous. But solo trekkers who get missing had one thing in common which is a lack of information about the road and tea houses.
The off-beaten roads on trekking trails are often misleading if you aren’t well aware and have already been to the place a few times. Due to the fact that tea houses are scarce solo trekkers get lost.
Similarly, solo trekking needs rigorous planning and information-gathering skills which in some cases isn’t absolute thanks to various unpredictable factors. Likewise, the roads to these areas are often affected by weather and construction.
Similarly, another important factor is altitude sickness which makes any trekker’s journey troublesome. While trekking trekkers are constantly ascending to higher altitudes and it puts a strain on our bodies. Due to these several trekkers suffer altitude sickness and without any proper help they found themselves in difficult situations.
Also, the fact that medical facilities can’t be accessed is another huge problem for solo trekkers.
Does the banned affect Nepal's tourism industry?
Nepal’s tourism industry is still recovering from the COVID pandemic. Slowly and gradually the tourism industry is getting its peace. But still, the unemployment rate of the guide is an issue. Every year, the guides who have obtained licenses by giving the license exam are sitting without any actual work.
According to the statistic around 46,000 were solo trekkers out of 171,000 trekkers in the fiscal year 2019-20. This number shows huge employment prospects for the entire unemployed guides. The ban will surely open more doors of opportunity for upcoming guides. Likewise, the trekkers can enjoy their company and seek help from them.
How to hire guides and porters?
There are several trusted travel agencies in Nepal that will make all the arrangements for a guide and porter. You won’t have to shed sweat, rigorously researching an unknown country.
Similarly, you won’t have to worry about a middleman taking your money since you can directly visit websites and contact the trekking agencies directly. The companies are discreet and helpful in providing you with quality service.
Himalayan Scenery Treks & Expedition is a company with around 2 decades long history in trekking and expedition. The company has cemented its legacy by hindering services to its clients. The company will provide you with the best experience to enjoy the serene and tranquil mountainous region of Nepal.
Considering the increasing amount of missing cases and death in trekking reasons, it was inevitable that NTB and TAAN would make effort to avoid such incidents. This new ruling is similar to the solo climbing ban in Nepal’s mountains since 2017. This was to reduce the number of accidents in the mountains.
Similarly, the current banning also has a similar objective where NTB wants to make the trekking trail easier and safer for trekkers. Not only that but having a guide through a registered traveling agency takes your experience to a whole new level.