Nepal is a popular destination for hiking and trekking enthusiasts, as it offers some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the world, including Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Independent hikers heading to Nepal may need to rethink their plans after the country announced plans to impose a blanket ban on all foreign nationals attempting to trek without a guide in the Himalayan country from next month. nepal trekking

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The ban applies to all foreign individuals and groups visiting the country to hike without local guidance, collectively known as Free Independent Trekkers (FITs), and will come into force on 1 April, but it’s no joking matter. According to local sources, the measure has been taken because of the number of visitors who go missing in the beautiful but brutally unforgiving and technical terrain of the mountainous kingdom.

“This decision has been made for the tourists’ benefit,” the director of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Maniraj Lamichhane told Indian news agency ANI. “While going on solo treks, tourists often get lost and might face insecurities. In order to mitigate that we have come to the decision to put a ban on solo treks. Starting from April 1, guides are mandatory for adventure tourism.”

Trekking Agencies Association welcomes Nepal’s ban on a solo hiking

The Everest flanks already have a prohibition on solo hiking and climbing, but this new decision effectively extends that ban to all of Nepal’s mountainous regions, and it will have a significant impact on many people. Up to 50,000 visitors hiked in Nepal without a guide or porter in 2019, per NTB statistics, after obtaining a route pass and a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card. A TIMS permit without a guide will essentially no longer be available to foreigners under the new legislation, including FITs. Tourists would need to use a hiking organization, according to Lamichhane.

The Kathmandu Post reports that the NTB has also raised the price it charges trekkers, though it’s still quite low. The cost of a TIMS card or a trekking permit for hikers coming from third-world nations other than South Asia has doubled from Rs1,000 (US$7.50) to Rs2,000 (US$15) per person.

Since 2012 the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal has lobbied the country’s government to implement a one-trekker, one-guide system, and such a directive was about to come into force in 2015, until the scheme fell apart in the wake of the earthquake that caused tragedy across the region. But as of late, the government has asserted that it is supporting the plan and listening to the industry’s concerns.

There have been a variety of responses to the new decision. Some have criticized the removal of the freedom to travel the nation, accused the Nepalese government of being greedy, and claimed it will have a negative effect on tourism. Others, however, contend that it will make the nation better for tourists, many of whom are ill-equipped to handle the challenges presented by the high-altitude Himalayan trails.

Nilhari Bastola, head of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told the Kathmandu Post that “about 10 to 15 trekkers go missing every year, mostly FITs,” and that this is a serious problem. The danger is not just to the tourists who become lost, but also to the emergency services that incur the great expense and take large risks to rescue them.

New regulations to create jobs and better safety measures for foreign hikers in Nepal

The new measure will boost employment in Nepal, according to Bastola’s explanation. Before Covid, Nepal welcomed 1.19 million international visitors a year, of whom over 300,000 were trekkers, mostly traveling to the Everest and Annapurna regions. However, 2023 projections are still 40% below current levels. The NTB reports that while FITs received more than 46,000 TIMS credentials in 2019, that number fell to 19,415 in 2022. Due to a lack of chances at home, approximately 1 million young people leave Nepal every year. Many of them end up working in appalling conditions in nations like Qatar.

Nilhari Bastola, president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told the Kathmandu Post, “We have calculated that approximately 40,000 Nepalis will get new employment if the regulation is enforced. Bastola claims that the standard daily rate for a guide is between $25 and $50 USD, with higher rates of $100 or $200 USD per day on more difficult and hazardous paths.

Nepal Tours & Trips nepal trekking

There’s no shortage of Nepal trekking adventures (here all the trekking companies). Visit the Sherpa villages on your way to the famous Everest Base Camp, or ride an elephant through Chitwan National Park, home to the bengal tiger and the Indian rhinoceros. A visit to fascinating Kathmandu is not to be missed. If you want to visit also India, check here the best trekking companies in India or to Everest Base Camp.

Final words nepal trekking

It’s important to note that the decision to impose a ban on foreign nationals attempting to trek without a guide in Nepal is primarily intended to ensure the safety and security of hikers in the region. While it may have a negative impact on some independent hikers, it is ultimately aimed at reducing the number of incidents of missing hikers and making the country a safer and more attractive destination for tourists. The ban will also have a significant impact on the local economy by creating new employment opportunities for Nepalis working in the tourism industry. Finally, it’s worth noting that the cost of a TIMS card or trekking permit for hikers coming from third-world nations other than South Asia has doubled, but the cost is still relatively low.



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