KHATMUNDO: Five years after banning solo adventurers from climbing Mount Everest,
Nepal’s government has extended the restriction to the whole country.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s tallest mountains, but it is also known for its
beautiful rural trekking regions. From now on, travelers who hope to trek in remote
regions must hire a government-licensed guide or join a group.
While the trekking industry is one of the country’s biggest moneymakers, the cost of
search and rescue missions for solo hikers who get lost is significant.
“When you are traveling solo, in case of emergencies there is no one to help you,” Mani
R. Lamichhane, Director of the Nepal Tourism Board, tells . “It is fine if they are traveling
in the cities, but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not adequate.”
Lamicchane adds: “When tourists go missing or they are found dead, even the
government cannot track them because they have taken remote routes.”
In addition to the challenges caused when hikers go missing in rural areas, Lamichhane
says that unlicensed tour guides and companies are also an issue. These companies
who do not register with the government do not pay taxes and, the tourism director
alleges, take jobs away from Nepalis.
“There have been some cases where the trekking association has been requesting us
to stop these unauthorized trekking operations. This has been a demand from tourism
associations for a long time,” he says.
Those in the climbing and trekking community have mixed opinions on the new ruling.