Solo Trekking Banned in Nepal? Can You Still Go Solo ?
On March 2 2023, the Nepal Tourism Board, the country’s tourism promotional body, and 13 travel trekking organizations and trade unions decided that beginning 2023 April 1, individual backpackers would not be allowed to trek the slopes of Nepal’s Himalayas without a guide.
The rule in the Everest region is, however, different.
“In the Everest area, solo trekkers are allowed,” said Mohan Prasad Chapagain, chief administrative officer of the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality, under whose jurisdiction the Everest region falls.
“The trekkers, however, have to follow our rules.”
According to Chapagain, the rural municipality issues a separate “Trek Card” to trekkers that costs Rs 2,000 per individual.
“We monitor trekkers at four checkpoints through this card.”
Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality has been collecting trek card fees from foreign trekkers since October 2017, exercising the powers granted by the federal law.
And since January 2008, all foreign trekkers visiting Nepal are required to obtain the trekkers information management system (TIMS) card, jointly issued by the Nepal Tourism Board and the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal.
Chapagain, however, said the trekkers visiting the Khumbu or Everest regions do not need to bring the TIMS cards, which he says are “illegal”.
As per the Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement Act 2017, a local government may levy and recover tax and non-tax revenues in accordance with the local law. “The tax raised by the Nepal Tourism Board and non-governmental organizations like the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal is illegal as per the law.”
“So, the tax or royalty collected through the TIMS cards is naturally illegal.”
Why Banned Solo Trekking ?
Traveling alone can be risky for a variety of reasons, especially if basic safety measures are not implemented. The following are some dangers connected to hiking alone:
Navigating is the entire responsibility of solo hikers and can be challenging, especially in uncharted territory. Sometimes the terrain might be hazardous or unstable, which makes navigating more difficult.
Medical emergencies: If a solo hiker gets hurt or ill, they might not be able to get access to immediate medical care. It could be challenging to swiftly find medical care in some isolated regions.
Wildlife encounters: Individual hikers may be more at risk of coming into contact with wildlife, especially if they are camping alone. This is especially valid where there are larger predators like bears or big cats.
Criminal activity: In some areas, solo trekkers may be at increased risk of criminal activity, including theft and assault. This is particularly true in areas with a high crime rate or a history of civil unrest.
Weather conditions: Weather conditions can change quickly in mountainous areas, and solo trekkers may be more vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as snowstorms or flash floods.
According to the Nepal Tourism Board, in 2019, more than 51,000 tourists came to Nepal for solo trekking. As the number of tourists coming to Nepal for solo trekking has been increasing, the rule requiring mandatory guides has become a cause for concern for tourists who want to visit Nepal.
The President of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nielhari Bastola, has explained that this rule has been put in place to address the possible risks of accidents, rescue problems, and theft during solo trekking. He said, “We have to focus on the safety, rescue, and management of tourists.”
This rule has been implemented with that in mind. The Nepal Tourism Board will distribute a single type of TIMS card to all tourists, along with the travel information management system, to make it easier for tourists to travel around Nepal without any difficulties.
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