Always dreamed of hiking Nepal’s highest peaks? Now you can’t do it alone.
“When you are traveling alone, there is no one to help you in an emergency,” said Mini R Lamichhane, director of the Nepal Tourism Board. told CNN. “If they are traveling in cities, it is fine, but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not adequate.”
He added that when tourists go missing or are found dead, even the government cannot trace them because they have taken remote routes.
He said that this decision has been taken for the benefit of tourists. told Indian news agency ANI.
The Nepal Tourism Board announced its decision earlier this month, and the ban will take effect from April 1.
The board said it took the decision to prevent tourists without enough experience from getting into accidents or going missing on hikes.
In January 2018, Nepal’s government banned foreigners from climbing the country’s mountains, including Mount Everest, without a guide, but the country’s Supreme Court overturned the ban two months later. The new ban does not apply to Mount Everest. A local government official told The Kathmandu Post said this week that the new rules issued by Nepal’s tourism board will not apply to Everest.
Around a dozen trekkers go missing in Nepalese territory every year, local guides say. Even when they are found, officials say rescuing them is prohibitively expensive and sometimes impossible in remote areas.
As travel has become more affordable and mountaineering has grown in popularity around the world, countries like Nepal – which has parts of at least eight of the world’s 10 highest mountains within its borders. overrun. This led to previously unimaginable scenarios such as Traffic jams on Mount Everest That can be dangerous for tired climbers, forcing them to spend more time at higher altitudes and depriving them of oxygen.
In 2019, about 300,000 trekkers traveled to Nepal, pre-pandemic figures from the government show. According to the Nepal Tourism Board, about 46,000 hiked alone told The New York Times. Many of these travelers prefer to hike alone to save money or because they appreciate the freedom of exploring off-the-beaten paths. But ground conditions can be dangerous with altitude and changing temperatures, and officials say it’s easy to get lost or trapped.
It is unclear how many foreign trekkers go missing in Nepal each year and why. Local guides and law enforcement agencies report figures ranging from five to 15 per year.
Some experts Weak safety standards play a role, they say. Travel writer David Weiss, who runs the website. MissingTrekker.comwhich tracks and collects individual reports of missing hikers in Nepal, wrote that “the overall quality of trekking safety in Nepal has declined.”
Chandra Kishore Shah, an inspector with Nepal’s tourist police, said five to six foreign trekkers go missing every year – many traveling alone on foolproof routes. “Unprepared trekkers, who don’t have guides, die of altitude sickness,” he said.
After a few years, files on these missing persons are closed, Shah said, adding that the force is currently looking for five missing trackers from South Korea, India, Israel, Jordan and Malaysia. He said the Malaysian trekker had been missing since 2015, and tourist police were still looking for him “at the request of the family”. Four others went missing last year, mainly in the Everest and Annapurna regions, the country’s most popular trekking destinations.
Nilhari Bastola, President of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told According to the Kathmandu Post, 10 to 15 hikers go missing in Nepal each year, and most are “independent trekkers,” a designation given to foreigners who venture into off-limits areas designated by authorities without a tour group or guide. have obtained permission to track
Under the new rules, FITs must hire a licensed guide to trek inside Nepal’s 12 national parks, including some of the country’s most popular trails, such as the 145-mile Annapurna Circuit.
In January, a South Korean woman in her 50s who was hiking alone was found dead on Mount Annapurna. According to Citing a representative of the World Federation of Overseas Korean Traders Association to The Korea Times, the outlet said the woman may have died soon after of a heart attack caused by altitude sickness.
The US State Department advises Americans to never travel alone to Nepal. According to American Embassy In Kathmandu, injured hikers in remote areas may require helicopter rescue — a service that can cost between $3,000 and $10,000.
Many tour operators welcomed the board’s decision, calling it a win for tourist safety and the Nepali economy. But some expressed concern that the extra cost would discourage tourists from visiting Nepal at a time when the economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is one of the poorest countries in the world, and tourism accounts for approx. 7 percent of its GDPAccording to the World Bank.
Bastula told According to the Kathmandu Post, a ban on solo hiking will prevent accidents and could create 40,000 new jobs for Nepalis. He said the ban “will not have a significant impact on a trekker’s budget,” as hiring a guide costs an average of $25 to $50 per day for treks of standard intensity.
“One-tracker, one-guide policy … will create jobs. This is good for Nepal’s economy,” Bastula said.