Nepal To Ban Solo Trekkers Throughout the Country (Yes, That Includes the Annapurna Circuit)

The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has announced that solo trekkers will soon be banned throughout the country. According to the new provision, anyone wishing to trek in the mountains of Nepal must hire a licensed guide or join a group expedition starting April 1.

Nepal previously banned solo expeditions on Mount Everest but has now expanded the rule to the entire country.

Solo travelers are still free to visit Nepal’s urban areas and beaches alone. However, anyone wishing to trek in the country’s rural and mountainous regions—including popular hikes like the Annapurna Circuit—can no longer do so without hiring a guide.

Ian Taylor of Ian Taylor Trekking, a guide company active in Nepal, told CNN the country has experienced an uptick in the number of inexperienced, underprepared trekkers in recent years. “When people are in the mountains that do not have the correct training, preparation or experience, they need assistance,” said Taylor.

When things go wrong in remote, mountainous regions with limited infrastructure, search and rescue operations can be difficult and costly.

The NTB said in a press release that it hopes the new requirement will mitigate the need for search and rescue by ensuring that all visitors have immediate access to skilled assistance should trouble arise.

According to the statement, the move will also crack down on unlicensed guiding companies operating in Nepal. “In addition to safety, the new provision will create employment for workers in the tourism sector of Nepal and discourage unauthorized trekking operations in the country.”

Trekkers must have a Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card to hike within the country. This permit isn’t new, but what is new is that trekkers must obtain the card through a licensed guiding outfit registered with the Government of Nepal. (In the past, solo trekkers could obtain one for themselves for a higher fee).

Under the new structure, the TIMS card costs NPR 1000 for citizens of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries and NPR 2000 for all others.

According to the Board’s written statement, “NTB is positive that this step paves way (sic) for sustainable, responsible and eco-friendly tourism in the Himalayan region of Nepal.”

Featured image: A section of Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit. Photo via Sara Leibold.

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Comments 3

  • Geared Up : Mar 17th

    Bullshit. 1. Nepal is a landlocked country. Beach seems like a real stretch of the term. 2. There has been a real severe decline in trekkers there not an up tick. 3. Independent trekking was not previously banned on EBC. 4. All tims check stations were shutdown for 2022. It was just a scam by the govt to make money. 5. There is very little safety issues. This is just a money grab by the govt and guides. It’s very disappointing. Hopefully people boycott them until they reverse it.

  • Safarihiker : Mar 26th

    Yeah this is really sad. And really silly.
    Just got back from my 3rd visit to Nepal (first one 15 years ago), hiked the Langtang Trek and Gosainkende back to Kathmandu.
    No issues, no trouble, easy navigation and fantastic views of Everest and Annapurna up at 4000 metres.
    The government has been cranking up the price of permits and ‘foreigner fees’ consistently for years which is their prerogative fair enough, whatever, but outright banning independent walking on the superhighway trails around Annapurna and up to Everest Base Camp, etc will just cause the hundreds of teahouse owners financial hardship and chase the average hiker away to less restrictive mountain areas of the planet.
    Just because you have a guide pushing you up a hill doesn’t necessarily mean you are safer; think back to the Annapurna Circuit incident on the Thalong Pass years ago during a snowstorm when dozens unfortunately died. Both foreign trekkers and guides.
    I don’t need or want a guide. Glad I’ve done my 3 stints in the Nepalese Himalaya.


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