Nepal Will Ban Solo Hiking in Its National Parks

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The move, which the country’s tourism committee said would amended safety, follows an earlier prohibition connected climbing unsocial successful Nepal’s mountains.

A solo hiker is silhouetted against a mountain.
Hiking unsocial successful Nepal’s nationalist parks volition beryllium banned starting adjacent month.Credit...Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto, via Getty Images

Jenny Gross

March 8, 2023, 9:06 a.m. ET

Solo hiking volition beryllium banned from Nepal’s nationalist parks starting adjacent month, a determination that the country’s tourism committee said would trim the risks for the tens of thousands of escapade seekers who question to the Himalayan state each year.

The decision, announced past week by the Nepal Tourism Board, comes aft incidents successful which tourists became mislaid and sometimes died portion hiking alone, the board’s director, Mani R. Lamichhane, said connected Tuesday.

“There were galore cases wherever tourists person disappeared,” Mr. Lamichhane said. Deadly incidents involving solo trekkers had fixed immoderate tourists the misperception that Nepal was an unsafe destination, helium said.

The determination was reported earlier by The Kathmandu Post, an English-language paper successful Nepal.

The caller rules use to planetary tourists of each acquisition levels connected treks successful Nepal’s nationalist parks, specified arsenic the fashionable Annapurna Circuit, a 150-mile way that circles the Annapurna upland range. Trekkers tin inactive embark connected solo hikes extracurricular of nationalist parks, specified arsenic astir the metropolis of Kathmandu.

The caller rules broaden a 2017 mandate that banned solo climbing connected Nepal’s mountains, including connected Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains are located astatine slightest partially successful Nepal, which sits betwixt India and China. Each year, deadly accidents, including ones caused by avalanches, blizzards and high-altitude sickness, are reported connected Nepal’s mountains. Mr. Lamichhane did not respond to a petition for remark connected whether the 2017 prohibition led to a alteration successful fatalities.

In 2019, earlier the pandemic, much than 400,000 tourists traveled to Nepal’s nationalist parks for mountaineering and trekking, according to authorities figures; astir 46,000 of them went hiking alone, Mr. Lamichhane said. Climbers came chiefly from the United States, Britain, China, Germany, India and Japan.

Last year, determination were astir 22,000 solo trekkers successful Nepal, arsenic tourism recovered, adjacent though the fig was inactive down from the years earlier the pandemic, Mr. Lamichhane said. He added that helium hoped the caller regularisation would assistance make jobs for guides and different workers successful the tourism industry.

Some hikers criticized the caller rules.

Natalia Lange, 30, an histrion from Warsaw, said she had been redeeming for a twelvemonth for a monthlong travel to Nepal, including a solo hike to the Everest basal campy via a way that would instrumentality her past the turquoise glacial lakes successful the Gokyo Valley. Now, she is unsure if she has capable wealth to spell up with the trip, she said.

“I’m an precocious trekker,” Ms. Lange said. “I don’t request a nanny.”

She said she was frustrated that the tourism committee announced the changes conscionable weeks earlier they were scheduled to travel into effect.


Natalia Lange hiking connected the Mediterranean land of Corsica. She had been readying a trek successful Nepal.Credit...Natalia Lange

“Many radical already person trips planned and budgets tightened and simply cannot spend the other cost,” she said. Ms. Lange besides questioned the selective quality of the rules, which bash not use to citizens of Nepal, fixed that they look immoderate of the aforesaid risks arsenic planetary visitors.

Another hiker, Amit Kumar, a bundle technologist successful Sydney, Australia, said helium was unclear astir what the caller rules would mean for an upcoming 11-day trek to Everest basal campy that helium had planned to embark connected alone.

Mr. Kumar, an experienced trekker from India, said helium was somewhat introverted and preferred to acquisition treks either by himself oregon with chap hikers if they happened to link on the way.

“I was excited due to the fact that I was going solo and bask being solo, taking everything astatine my ain pace,” Mr. Kumar, 38, said. “When you spell done a company, past you person to beryllium with different people. If you similar them oregon if you don’t similar them you person to beryllium according to their schedules, you person to beryllium portion of that group.”

He said helium was unclear whether helium needed to prosecute a guide, since the caller rules would travel into effect portion helium was successful the mediate of his trek.

Tour companies, however, welcomed the caller rule. Udaya Subedi, the proprietor of Happy Treks Nepal, a circuit organizer successful the metropolis of Pokhara, said the regularisation would assistance guarantee the information of trekkers.

Mr. Subedi, who goes by the nickname Mr. Happy, said a South Korean pistillate who died successful January portion solo trekking connected Mount Annapurna, perchance from altitude sickness, whitethorn person survived had she been with different hiker, who could person led her to safety. “Many incidents person happened similar that,” helium said.

The expanding risks from planetary warming and much unpredictable weather, including flash floods, was different crushed trekkers volition beryllium safer with licensed guides who are alert of risks, Mr. Lamichhane said. Nepal said past twelvemonth that it was moving the tract of the Mount Everest basal camp, which is presently situated connected a thinning glacier.

While the caller rules volition marque trekking much expensive, Rupak Parajuli, the co-founder of Mount Mania Treks and Expedition successful Kathmandu, said that the terms of a porter is conscionable $20 per time and a usher conscionable $25 per time for immoderate of the circuit and basal campy routes. “This volition assistance to stress much information for the travelers,” helium said.

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