Nepal’s government has recently introduced a nationwide ban on solo trekkers, requiring individuals exploring its remote landscapes to hire a licensed guide or join a group. This decision follows a five-year ban on foreign mountaineers attempting to scale Mount Everest without official escorts. Effective April 1, the policy aims to address the challenges of conducting search-and-rescue missions for lost or stranded solo hikers, which pose a significant financial burden on the tourism-dependent nation.
While Nepal’s diverse landscapes and preserved culture attract global adventurers, the government highlights the inadequate infrastructure in remote mountains and the risks associated with solo travel in such areas. Unlicensed guides and tour companies have also become a concern, operating without government registration or authorization and competing with legitimate local businesses.
Ian Taylor, owner of an established trekking company in Nepal, supports the new regulations, citing the changing landscape of tourism in the region. He acknowledges the increased number of tourists attempting challenging climbs and expeditions, emphasizing the need for experienced guides to ensure safety.
Despite potential disappointment among solo adventurers, the Nepali government asserts that the ban is a practical measure, considering resource limitations for individual visa applicant vetting. The move aims to strike a balance between preserving access to the mountains and addressing the evolving challenges of modern tourism in Nepal.