By Elijah Odhiambo
Nepal government has banned solo trekking in remote regions in the country, five years after prohibiting solo adventurers from climbing Mount Everest.
Eight of the world’s tallest mountains are found in Nepal, this has made the country well-known for its stunning rural trekking areas around the mountains. However, moving forward, tourists who want to walk in distant and remote areas must either work with a government-approved guide or travel in a group.
According to Nepal’s Director of Tourism Board, Mani R. Lamichhane, the cost of search and rescue operations for lone hikers who get lost is substantial, despite the fact that trekking is one of the nation’s largest revenue generators for the country.
“When you are traveling solo, in case of emergencies there is no one to help you,” Mani R. Lamichhane said during an interview with CNN.
He noted that the infrastructure in the remote mountains is not good enough for solo trekking and encouraged the nature lovers to travel in the cities instead.
“It is fine if they are traveling in the cities, but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not adequate,” he said.
Lamicchane added “When tourists go missing or they are found dead, even the government cannot track them because they have taken remote routes.”
Lamichhane claims that unauthorized tour operators are another problem, in addition to the difficulties brought on when hikers vanish in remote regions. The tourist director claims that these unregistered businesses steal jobs from people of Nepali descent and do not pay taxes.
“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 said.
Ian Taylor, owner of a well-regarded guiding company with a long history in Nepal, speaking to CNN, said that the move makes sense as more and more people attempt difficult climbs in Nepal.
“Things have drastically changed in the region over the years, you used to see only experienced hikers and climbers in the region, many of them traveling without guides, and they were completely self-sufficient. However, now, there are far greater numbers of people traveling in the region and more of them are tourists, not trekkers. They are not self-sufficient in the outdoors and therefore need the assistance of experienced guides,” Taylor said.