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No more solo treks. Guides mandatory from April 1

Mar 07, 2023

No more solo treks. Guides mandatory from April 1

Some say the rule would restrict trekkers, particularly those coming to Nepal for adventure in the mountains.

Come April 1, solo or free independent trekkers have to mandatorily hire a guide or a porter before setting off to Nepal’s mountains.

Nepal Tourism Board, the country’s national tourism promotion body, which includes trekking and mountaineering associations, on Thursday, decided to make a guide mandatory for solo or free independent trekkers (FITs) due to increasing safety concerns.

Some experts, however, said the move is a restriction on the free movement of trekkers, particularly for those coming to Nepal to experience adventure. It could be counter-productive for the country’s ailing tourism industry, they added.

FITs are travellers who plan their own trips and prefer to travel alone.

The concept of FIT tourism includes travellers booking without a tour operator.

Many independent travellers are very price-conscious. In Nepal’s context, the numbers in this segment are growing rapidly since Nepal’s mountains are connected to the internet nowadays.

Nepal Tourism Board has been mandated to issue the trekkers information management systems (TIMS) cards before they start trekking.

“Therefore, the board reserves the right to make a guide mandatory for solo trekkers,” said Mani Raj Lamichhane, the board’s spokesperson.

Thirteen other travel and tourism-related organisations have signed the minutes for the upkeep of legal records that such a decision was taken at a board meeting on Sunday.

“The decision, however, will not be applicable to Nepali trekkers,” said Lamichhane.

The tourism board has also increased the fee charged to trekkers.

For trekkers from third countries, other than South Asia, the fee for TIMS card or the trekking permit has been hiked to Rs2,000, from Rs1,000 per person. It used to cost Rs2,000 for the FITs. The new fee too would come into effect from April 1.

Similarly, for South Asian trekkers, the fee for group trekkers is Rs300 and Rs600 for FITs. Now, both will have to pay Rs1,000.

According to Nepal Tourism Board, it issued more than 46,000 TIMS cards for FITs in 2019.The Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021 affected the trekking sector. In 2022, according to the board, there were 19,415 FITs.Nepal’s private travel and tourism bodies, particularly the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, has been lobbying for a one-trekker, one-guide system, since 2012.The apex body of the country’s trekking agencies had announced that solo trekkers would have to take along a guide from September 1, 2012, as per government orders. However, it was forced to backtrack after the Tourism Ministry said it had not issued any such directive.In 2012, when the news circulated, the Nepal Tourism Board, including a large section of the travel and trade industry, received a flurry of inquiries.

Tourists like Niel Smit from Africa had said people who appreciate nature the most are often those who cannot afford a guide. “Imposing this rule would take away the possibility for many hikers to experience your beautiful mountains. Furthermore, true adventurers will no longer be able to explore your country with their own freedom.”

Again, in 2014, the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal lobbied to implement the one-trekker, one-guide system. The government then assured to implement the system by the beginning of 2015. But due to the earthquake, the plan fell apart.

However, the government, this time, has taken kindly to the industry’s proposal.

“The decision to enforce mandatory guide for trekkers falls under Nepal Tourism Board’s jurisdiction,” said Rajendra Kumar KC, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry. “The issue was under discussion for quite a long time to ensure the safety of the trekkers.”

“The ministry has no objection to it,” KC added.

The tourism secretary chairs the Nepal Tourism Board’s boardroom.


Nepal’s private traven and tourism bodies have been lobbying for a one-trekker, one-guide system, since 2012.

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