Nepal restricts solo trekking

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peter303
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Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by peter303 »

Nepal wont give permits to solo hikers in its national parks.
Too many hikers go missing they say, about 400 missing of 400,000 trekkers in 2019.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/08/worl ... g-ban.html

"Nepal Will Ban Solo Hiking in Its National Parks"
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by Scott P »

That article is behind a paywall, but it sounds like the Everest area is excluded.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by seano »

Scott P wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 10:19 am That article is behind a paywall, but it sounds like the Everest area is excluded.
It shows up fine if you turn off Javascript (which is true for a lot of the web...). No exception is mentioned for the Everest region, and solo climbing was apparently banned in 2017.

This seems like the shakedown version of developing world BS, requiring local guides, instead of the weird nanny-state version found in Chile, where you need to register and/or seek permission for absolutely everything. It just confirms what I already suspected, that Nepal is not a place I would enjoy.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by XterraRob »

Scott P wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 10:19 am That article is behind a paywall, but it sounds like the Everest area is excluded.
For all your anti-paywall needs (yes it's safe): https://12ft.io/
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by Scott P »

seano wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 11:40 am No exception is mentioned for the Everest region, and solo climbing was apparently banned in 2017.
I heard it from Jaime McGinnis and he would know a lot more than the news articles (I used his books/info when I go to Nepal-he's definitely an expert).

Here's what he says (this has a lot of useful info):

>>>Let’s unpack this “ban on individual trekkers in Nepal” news. There is a lot to this issue – unmentioned, it does NOT apply to Everest region trekkers - and not all is as it seems.
First, what exactly is the change? This will be a change of rules by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) who are supposed to be encouraging trekkers, NOT BANNING THEM. To go trekking in some areas, you need a TIMS permit – a “Trekkers Information Management System” permit. There are two types of TIMS, one for Foreign Individual Travellers (FITs) and the other is for people trekking with through a licensed trekking agency, they are slightly different colours. The NTB might stop issuing the TIMS permit for FITs. No other rules are being changed, nor can they be changed.
Already, trekking as individuals is restricted in most of the trekking regions, eg Upper Mustang, Dolpo, Kanchenjunga, Manaslu and more obscure places as you also need a “restricted area permit” that only a trekking agency can get for you. Strangely enough, despite in theory being worried about your safety, TIMS permits are not required for many of those regions. Are these restrictions being changed? No. They require parliament to change them and that isn’t going to happen.

Will the change really happen? Several times in the past, this stopping of FIT TIMS has been threatened, and never enacted. What will happen this time? There is a 80-20 chance it is not pushed through. NTB might chicken out (they should, in my opinion) with lots of pushback, and it could be the scare headlines are enough to satisfy the trekking companies. After all, NTB could easily be blamed for reducing trekker numbers. Is there advice about this on NTB's website - no, and they cover TIMS on it.

Why not the Everest region, why is no TIMS needed there? The local government there, sick of the corruption of central government and the trekking agencies, doesn’t recognize the TIMS system and instead collects their own equivalent fee (near Lukla) where the money stays locally. That is right, you will still be able to trek in the Everest region without a TIMS and therefore not be subject to this “ban”. What’s more, as the region is more or less at capacity, locals in general do not want more guides up there as they give lots of free services to them as the guides are not paid enough; rather, the locals of the Khumbu told me years ago that they preferred more trekkers and less staff, although of course respected the wishes of the trekkers themselves.

That leaves the Annapurna and Langtang regions as the two areas that could be affected. Many individual trekkers (who don’t cancel their trip) will hunt around the budget agencies in Thamel for a TIMS permit “with service charge” and perhaps to “share” a guide to enter the region at the check post (defeating the safety need, of course). Then, at the trailhead, will the rules actually be enforced? That is not even sure. You must pay the national park or conservation area fees, and need to show a restricted area permit if in one (and I have been taken to the district office for not having one) but TIMS is not in law (as far as I know – friends, please correct me if this is wrong).

So, must you trek with a guide for safety? Well, the trekking companies say so, but in truth, it is messy and simply a counterproductive system, and corruption in all aspects is the real problem. A handful of trekkers have gone missing in a dozen years and it is doubtful that trekking with a guide would have saved all of them, and TIMS definitely did not help one bit. On the other hand, agencies have killed several dozen porters by incompetence in a similar timeframe. Arguably, in a fair world, the agencies should be hit with tighter restrictions.

Strangely enough, if climbing Everest, you do need to book through an agency but you do NOT need to climb with a guide. And your safety in the Khumbu Icefall is in the hands of the dedicated Icefall Doctors who do a great job (other than making a mistake that killed 16) but are not qualified. AND you don’t need a TIMS permit either!

And the TIMS system, why am I so hard on it? In theory, this is a register of trekkers so that if there is a problem, eg a huge dump of snow from an ex-cyclone, they will be able to assist in locating trekkers. It utterly failed the test a few years ago with police and trekking companies using their own records.

The reality is the TIMS system was instigated by the trekking companies via TAAN (the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal) for their own selfish purposes. Several decades ago, as individual trekkers became more common, they pushed the NTB to set up TIMS to collect money for various causes: their own pockets (make non-existent new trails), to cover rescues in emergency situations (some OK, some shady) and a slice to NTB for expenses (who also get BIG amounts of departure taxes in their coffers), so everyone was happy (except the trekkers, being hit with a new fee). It must be stressed, under the guise of safety, inarguably the actual aim of the trekking companies was only ever to force more trekkers to book with them. And this policy now is a continuation of this.
You will note that the Department of Tourism (DoT) is silent, and not backing this move. While DoT and the Department of Immigration rake in money under the table using many methods, ultimately, no-one has yet been able to publicly justify the policy of banning individual trekkers and push through the necessary changes to parliament. A Bhutan-style system of high fees per day has been discussed but the reality is if tourism numbers are halved, even if they spend double, there are MANY, MANY more losers than winners.

All the trekking rules and regulations (and expedition regulations) are in dire need of a sensible overhaul, but this is just another case of third world bureaucratic blundering and corruption, and the reason Nepal is such a GDP-poor country with barely a hope. (But Nepal is a FANTASTIC country to trek in!)<<<

Jaimie at least thinks there is only a 20% of it going through.

It just confirms what I already suspected, that Nepal is not a place I would enjoy.
As of right now, it's my favorite place I have ever been and want to get back as soon as I can. I have always gone unguided, but hired porters the second time to help out the local economy (which is always a good idea-I wish I did so on the first trip). You might enjoy it more than you expect.

Right now a porter guide $25 a day and hopefully that will be the only requirement. If it is, it won't be that bad. Usually if you have a porter-guide they just carry your pack and show you the trail if you need them too (of course if you can navigate, they don't need to). You can basically ask to go anywhere you want rather than have a fixed itinerary by joining something like a Western guiding service. It's not the same as a guided trip you book from home.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by seano »

Scott P wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 1:36 pm You might enjoy it more than you expect.

Right now a porter guide $25 a day and hopefully that will be the only requirement. If it is, it won't be that bad. Usually if you have a porter-guide they just carry your pack and show you the trail if you need them too (of course if you can navigate, they don't need to).
I'm just coming back from three months bike-mountaineering (well, mostly cycling and hiking) in Chile and Argentina, and I was put off by Chile's extensive regulation, private property, and nickel-and-diming fees. A version of that with more corruption doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but maybe I've just been burned too recently.

As for helping the local economy, I wish I had brought more gear that I was willing to sell or give away instead of taking back. Argentina has huge import duties, so foreign mountaineering gear and sports equipment is out of reach for far too many people. There are home-grown companies for some things, like tents and down items, but not for many others. Selling or giving away your crampons and axe instead of flying them home could make a real difference in the right person's life.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by dan0rama »

seano wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 11:40 am
This seems like the shakedown version of developing world BS ... where you need to register and/or seek permission for absolutely everything. It just confirms what I already suspected, that Nepal is not a place I would enjoy.
You mean like RMNP's timed entry reservations, the lottery system for Mt Whitney & Rainier, the ripoff parking fees to climb Quandary, the red tape for Bells, the exorbitant fees to climb certain 13ers/14ers in private properties? Yes, total developing world BS that you find in most developed countries.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by Scott P »

seano wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 2:40 pmI'm just coming back from three months bike-mountaineering (well, mostly cycling and hiking) in Chile and Argentina, and I was put off by Chile's extensive regulation, private property, and nickel-and-diming fees. A version of that with more corruption doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but maybe I've just been burned too recently.
I know what you mean and we're going to Chile and Argentina this year too and am finding that out. In some areas, Argentina sounds worse than Chile. On Lanin one of my friends wasn't given permission to climb because they didn't like his pants and people are being turned away if they don't have radios. Guides are mandatory on several mountains.

Philippines is worse. I was surprised by the red tape there.

Unless things change or unless you are climbing an 8000 meter peak or going to a restricted area, Nepal restrictions aren't as bad as they sounds. You can basically take two passport photos and just pay a guest house to help with a permit (a TIMS permit currently cost $7.62-$15.24) and you're good to go in the non-restricted areas. If they do end up making guide restrictions, hopefully just taking a porter guide will do. As mentioned, they will only tell you which way to go if you want them to. Otherwise you can choose where to stay, which side trips to take, which peaks to climb, how long to go a day, etc.

PS, where did you end up going in Chile and Argentina? I'd be really interested to here about your trip.
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by seano »

Scott P wrote: Wed Mar 08, 2023 2:57 pmI know what you mean and we're going to Chile and Argentina this year too and am finding that out. In some areas, Argentina sounds worse than Chile. On Lanin one of my friends wasn't given permission to climb because they didn't like his pants and people are being turned away if they don't have radios...

PS, where did you end up going in Chile and Argentina? I'd be really interested to here about your trip.
Lanin is a weird outlier -- I poached it last time, and got a solid scolding from the Argentine guardaparques for not having a radio or proper footwear. I've heard from several people that you can hike it from the Chilean side with no restrictions. I ran into no restrictions on any other peak in Argentina, though they do screw foreigners on the entry fees to many of their parks (5500 ARS/day).

I ended up going from Santiago to Ushuaia, with too few peaks along the way, the most interesting probably being Volcan Michinmahuida, Cerro Solo, and a failure on Cerro Castillo. I'm behind on writing about it, but the map is up to date: https://drdirtbag.com/andes-by-bike/ .
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Re: Nepal restricts solo trekking

Post by thebeave7 »

I'm not a fan of this possible role change. Spent 6 weeks over there several years ago, all solo, in the Annapurna and Langtang regions and wouldn't have felt safer with a guide, many of them were less qualified than I was.

My biggest issue with this is most larger and commercial guiding services only use very specific lodging and amenities in many of those areas, leaving the smaller guest houses and individual businesses out of luck. This is mostly where I stayed and was grateful for those experiences and to meet those people. I'm all for them trying to bolster tourism for their people, but I don't think this is gonna work for all but a handful.

And this is far different than the permitting systems in the US. Nepal already had those permitting systems in place (that's apples to apples) and they were equally as challenging to navigate. But I'm all for permits to track use, support management and the people involved.

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