Nepal Will Ban Solo Hiking in Its National Parks


Solo climbing will probably be banned from Nepal’s nationwide parks beginning subsequent month, a transfer that the nation’s tourism board stated would cut back the dangers for the tens of 1000’s of journey seekers who journey to the Himalayan nation every year.

The choice, introduced final week by the Nepal Tourism Board, comes after incidents wherein vacationers turned misplaced and typically died whereas climbing alone, the board’s director, Mani R. Lamichhane, stated on Tuesday.

“There have been many instances the place vacationers have disappeared,” Mr. Lamichhane stated. Lethal incidents involving solo trekkers had given some vacationers the misperception that Nepal was an unsafe vacation spot, he stated.

The choice was reported earlier by The Kathmandu Post, an English-language newspaper in Nepal.

The brand new guidelines apply to worldwide vacationers of all expertise ranges on treks in Nepal’s nationwide parks, resembling the favored Annapurna Circuit, a 150-mile route that circles the Annapurna mountain vary. Trekkers can nonetheless embark on solo hikes outdoors of nationwide parks, resembling across the metropolis of Kathmandu.

The brand new guidelines broaden a 2017 mandate that banned solo climbing on Nepal’s mountains, including on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains are positioned at the least partly in Nepal, which sits between India and China. Annually, lethal accidents, together with ones brought on by avalanches, blizzards and high-altitude illness, are reported on Nepal’s mountains. Mr. Lamichhane didn’t reply to a request for touch upon whether or not the 2017 ban led to a lower in fatalities.

In 2019, earlier than the pandemic, greater than 400,000 vacationers traveled to Nepal’s nationwide parks for mountaineering and trekking, in line with authorities figures; about 46,000 of them went climbing alone, Mr. Lamichhane stated. Climbers got here primarily from america, Britain, China, Germany, India and Japan.

Final 12 months, there have been about 22,000 solo trekkers in Nepal, as tourism recovered, although the quantity was nonetheless down from the years earlier than the pandemic, Mr. Lamichhane stated. He added that he hoped the brand new rule would assist create jobs for guides and different staff within the tourism trade.

Some hikers criticized the brand new guidelines.

Natalia Lange, 30, an actress from Warsaw, stated she had been saving for a 12 months for a monthlong journey to Nepal, together with a solo hike to the Everest base camp through a route that will take her previous the turquoise glacial lakes within the Gokyo Valley. Now, she is uncertain if she has sufficient cash to go forward with the journey, she stated.

“I’m a sophisticated trekker,” Ms. Lange stated. “I don’t want a nanny.”

She stated she was pissed off that the tourism board introduced the modifications simply weeks earlier than they have been scheduled to come back into impact.

“Many individuals have already got journeys deliberate and budgets tightened and easily can not afford the additional value,” she stated. Ms. Lange additionally questioned the selective nature of the principles, which don’t apply to residents of Nepal, provided that they face a few of the similar dangers as worldwide guests.

One other hiker, Amit Kumar, a software program engineer in Sydney, Australia, stated he was unclear about what the brand new guidelines would imply for an upcoming 11-day trek to Everest base camp that he had deliberate to embark on alone.

Mr. Kumar, an skilled trekker from India, stated he was considerably introverted and most popular to expertise treks both by himself or with fellow hikers in the event that they occurred to attach alongside the way in which.

“I used to be excited as a result of I used to be going solo and luxuriate in being solo, taking all the pieces at my very own tempo,” Mr. Kumar, 38, stated. “Whenever you undergo an organization, then you must be with different individuals. In the event you like them or if you happen to don’t like them you must be in line with their schedules, you must be a part of that group.”

He stated he was unclear whether or not he wanted to rent a information, because the new guidelines would come into impact whereas he was in the midst of his trek.

Tour firms, nevertheless, welcomed the brand new rule. Udaya Subedi, the proprietor of Comfortable Treks Nepal, a tour organizer within the metropolis of Pokhara, stated the rule would assist guarantee the security of trekkers.

Mr. Subedi, who goes by the nickname Mr. Comfortable, stated a South Korean woman who died in January while solo trekking on Mount Annapurna, probably from altitude illness, could have survived had she been with one other hiker, who may have led her to security. “Many incidents have occurred like that,” he stated.

The growing dangers from world warming and extra unpredictable climate, together with flash floods, was one more reason trekkers will probably be safer with licensed guides who’re conscious of dangers, Mr. Lamichhane stated. Nepal stated final 12 months that it was moving the site of the Mount Everest base camp, which is presently located on a thinning glacier.

Whereas the brand new guidelines will make trekking dearer, Rupak Parajuli, the co-founder of Mount Mania Treks and Expedition in Kathmandu, stated that the worth of a porter is simply $20 per day and a information simply $25 per day for a few of the circuit and base camp routes. “This may assist to emphasise extra safety for the vacationers,” he stated.

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