I wrote about this over at Gadling a few days back but thought it was definitely worth mentioning here as well. Nepal has taken the unprecedented move to require all trekkers to hire a guide or porter when trekking inside the country. The decision was announced on the 23rd of July and the new restrictions will go into effect beginning in September.
Solo trekking in Nepal has been a staple of adventure travel for decades and for years it has been a safe country to hike in. But a rise in the number of assaults on the trail and the brutal murder of a Belgian trekker this past June, has spurred the Nepalese government to react. Starting on September 1st, all trekkers will be required to hire a guide or porter to accompany them at all times on the local hiking trails. This was already a requirement for those traveling in groups.
The move isn’t expected to have a major impact on Nepal’s tourism trade. It is estimated that the cost of a porter or guide will increase the cost of the trip by about $10/day but its value in safety and security goes well beyond that. It is unfortunate that independent travel will no longer be allowed, but it is of the utmost concern for the country that it remains safe for visitors.
When I was in Nepal a few years ago I was traveling as part of a group, so guides and porters were already a requirement. But there were still plenty of trekkers that I encountered who were either there alone or with just a few friends. Those travelers took their time, set their own route and pace and seemed to really be comfortable with the atmosphere. That won’t be the case now however and if you’ve always dreamed of making an independent hike in the Himalaya, you’d better get there soon.
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