Beginning in September, the age of solo trekking in Nepal effectively comes to an end. The country’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced recently that travelers visiting the Himalayan country will be required to hire support staff of either a porter or a guide. The policy shift won’t affect groups of hikers, however, as they were already required to travel with a government approved trekking agency.
This move comes in the wake of the brutal murder of a Belgian trekker who was hiking solo in Nepal’s Langtang National Park earlier this year. Government officials believe that by requiring all hikers to have support staff with them at all times there will be a level of supervision and accountability in place that isn’t there now. It should also ensure travelers remain safe while in remote areas of the country while also providing more jobs for local porters and guides.
Hiring a guide or porter shouldn’t have a significant impact on travel budgets for solo trekkers who are often experienced travelers looking to visit the Himalaya on the cheap. The government of Nepal estimates it will mean an increase of about $10 per day, which they believe will have no impact on the number of tourists who visit the country.
A solo trek in Nepal has been a popular escape for adventure travelers for decades and it is a shame that it will no longer be an option. On the other hand, if it keeps visitors safe and employs more of the local guides then it is hard to argue against this move.