After ten years of consideration, Nepal has decided to outlaw solitary hiking, effective April 1, 2023. The outdoor community has mixed feelings about the decision.

Why would the government do that? the safety of trekkers and tourists in Nepal’s isolated areas, as well as the additional objective of creating more employment for residents. The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) stated in a release that the new measure “will generate jobs for employees in the tourist industry of Nepal in addition to safety.” Originally, a path pass and a Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) badge were all that was required to set out on one’s own. TIMS cards will no longer be provided to trekkers who are not joined by a guide, according to the NTB, and those who intend to walk alone with a guide (as opposed to joining a bigger party) must pay the increased fee of $15 USD for their TIMS card.

With the controversial disappearance of a hiker from Belgium in 2012, talk of this new mandate first gained traction, and it has since picked up steam. Nearly a dozen hikers are reported missing in the nation each year, and there is an entire website devoted to missing trekkers in the mountain kingdom. The action is intended to reduce expenses connected with emergency attempts as well as, ideally, increase pedestrian safety. Mani R. Lamichhane, head of the NTB, claims that even the government is unable to locate visitors who go missing or are discovered deceased.

Many people are hopeful that this requirement will increase the availability of certified guides and laborers who are familiar with Nepal’s beautiful but dangerous terrain, thus increasing job possibilities. This will create close to 40,000 employment in Nepal and deter unlicensed hiking activities, according to Niraj Shrestha of Kathmandu-based Snow Cat Travel, a trekking company. The cost of a guide in Nepal can range from $20 to $50 USD per day on more common routes to up to $100 to $200 USD per day on more specialized journeys, such as those in Mustang or Dolpo, close to the Chinese border, where infrastructure is constrained, security is a greater concern, and permits are more difficult to obtain.

How the ruling will be implemented across the nation is rife with uncertainty because, in spite of this “national” prohibition, some areas have preeminent local authority. For instance, the town determines the requirements and costs for hiking in the Himalayas area. It is also uncertain whether the new regulation will include day walks around the city and paths near popular tourism destinations like Pokhra as “trekking.” Locals are excluded from the regulation, based on their acquaintance with the topography and culture, but sources on the ground like Shrestha question why it still applies to outsiders who reside in Nepal and know it well. This ruling will apply to routes like the renowned Annapurna circle.

Although it is intended to increase safety, some female trekkers are wary of the idea of traveling alone with a stranger in the woods. The trail racing specialist and high-altitude mountain guide behind Nepal Trail Series, Preeti Khattri, 32, hopes the ban is lenient. There are many locations near Kathmandu that are ideal for solitary treks, and other areas offer reasonably simple multi-day excursions, according to Khattri. “I hope that this is not a total prohibition and some accommodations are made, particularly so women can travel and appreciate one of the best mountain locations for them,” the letter reads. “While it is essential to be with an experienced guide in challenging territory.

Of course, solitary walkers aren’t the only ones who experience disappointment. Nearly 46,000 hikers climbed alone in Nepal in 2019 just before the shutdown. This figure reflects the proportion of tourists that Nepal might lose to nearby countries like India, where such restrictions are not in force.

After all, not all trekkers who go it alone are inexperienced or looking to save money. Many people enjoy going at their own speed through the mountains, savoring the isolation and feeling of independence it offers. According to writer and ardent Himalayan trekker Michael Benanav, “I hope they can find some middle ground between hikers’ safety and their freedom to appreciate the mountains. “Having a guide could be beneficial, but based on the path and the hiker’s experience, not definitely.

For the time being, travelers to the Himalayas who are compelled to follow the new law may find chance in engaging a guide who encourages links with not only the mountains but also the people and culture that make the Himalayas what they are.

Excellent aides to hire for your journey in Nepal
Everest Luxury Lodges trek and the Forbidden Kingdom Mustang trail are just two of the custom programs that Snow Cat Travel offers, with prices starting at $2,200 USD per person for about 10 days. A special highlight of Snow Cat Travel frequently includes stays along the route at their painstakingly restored rural homes, a treat for heritage lovers.

The cost is based on the experience, with prices per hike or activity averaging $20 to $30 USD. Community Homestays curates hiking programs with a focus on homestays and distinctive cultural experiences, such as learning to write the ancient Newari script with bamboo or taking a cooking class with your Tharu tribe host.

With an entry-level 10-day trip costing $1,095 USD per person, Chhewang Lama of Responsible Treks focuses in his native country, the isolated Dolpo area, which is famous for its resident snow leopards.

Anticipate a blend of cultural sites and meditation workshops, all under the guidance of a trail running coach, as Preeti Khattri arranges high-altitude trekking and camping for women through Nepal Trail Series in addition to managing athlete training and trail running events (Check their calendar for upcoming offerings and prices, which vary.)

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