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As of March 9, 2023, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) made a press release to update the latest trekking rule in Nepal. The board had made several changes in the trekking rules that came into effect from April 1, 2023. Every trekker needs to know about the latest trekking rules in Nepal and follow them.
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The new rule is important for the safety of the trekkers as well as for environmental protection. It also aids in uplifting the local communities while protecting their cultures and traditions. So let us learn about the latest trekking rule in Nepal.
Trekking Rules in Nepal
The new trekking rules aim at the protection of the nature and ecosystem of Nepal. The popularity of Nepal’s trekking routes is widening worldwide. Hence, more and more trekkers from around the world flock to Nepal. Even the isolated routes like Makalu Base Camp Trek, Kanchenjunga Circuit, Upper Dolpo Trek, etc are receiving trekkers looking to explore Nepal.
These new rules will help to keep the serene and untouched nature as it is. It also promotes sustainable tourism. Similarly, it will also play a crucial role in ensuring the trekkers’ safety and reducing accidents during the trek. It can also help protect the trekkers from potential hazards.
The new mandatory trekking rules require trekkers to hire a guide and a TIMS card. Let us look at the details of these two mandatory trekking rules in Nepal.
Hire a Guide
It has become mandatory for all trekkers to hire a licensed guide while trekking in Nepal. The Nepal Tourism Board and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal have jointly agreed on this rule. It main aim behind this is to protect the tourists from potential hazards while also preserving the environment. The guides help to navigate difficult trails while avoiding potential dangers. Similarly, the guides are also trained to provide first aid at the time of emergencies which helps to improve the trekker’s safety.
The new rule update’s motive is also to promote the local culture and traditions of the region. Since the guides have a good understanding and local expertise, they can provide valuable insights into the region’s history and culture. Trekkers can get a more fulfilling experience while trekking with a guide. The new rule also promotes sustainable trekking in Nepal. It seeks to minimize the negative impact of trekking and protecting nature.
The Nepal Tourism Board and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal also seek to create more job opportunities through this latest trekking rule. It helps in employing more guides and porters in the tourism sector which helps in generating more revenue for the country. Trekkers will be fined USD 120 for trekking without a guide.
TIMS Card For Trekking in Nepal
All trekkers are required to obtain the TIMS (Transportation Information Management System) card through government-registered trekking agencies. The TIMS card keeps a record of the trekkers including to ensure their safety. The card keeps a record of the trekkers’ itineraries and emergency contact number which plays a vital role in case of emergencies or natural calamities.
44 trekking routes in Nepal require the trekkers to obtain the TIMS card. It refers to any routes in any region and protected areas of Nepal. TIMS cards can be obtained from trekking agencies or Nepal Tourism Board offices in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. The cost of a TIMS card has increased from Rs.1000 to Rs.2000 for non-SAARC residents since the new announcement. The TIMS card fee for SAARC residents is Rs.1000.
The revenue from the TIMS card is reinvested for the trekking region’s development. It aids in trail maintenance, conservation of the region, waste management, and development of infrastructure and local communities.
Trekking Information to Plan Before Trek in Nepal
Now that we know about the latest trekking rules, you should be clear about the trekking information to plan before trekking in Nepal. These include the following:
Trekkers must trek on designated trekking trails:
Trekking in remote routes of Nepal is an adventurous experience. However, going off the designated trail is illegal and can prove to be dangerous. The trekking routes in Nepal can lead to remote areas where the terrains are rugged. The designated trails are well-defined and ensure the trekkers’ safety. Similarly, it helps to keep the trekkers off the dangerous paths. Staying on designated trails also helps in environment conservation. Hence, trekkers should be responsible and protect this rule for their safety. They should also be respectful of the local customs. For a responsible and safe trekking experience, trekkers must trek on designated trekking trails.
Acclimatize properly before starting a high-altitude trek:
While trekking on higher elevation destinations, acclimatization is crucial. It refers to taking rest days as you gradually ascend to higher elevations. Above 3,000 meters elevation, the oxygen level in the atmosphere begins to get thinner. It results in trekkers experiencing altitude sickness. Acclimatization helps to adjust your body to the altitude and surrounding temperature which minimizes the risk of altitude sickness. The altitude sickness can prove to be fatal if not taken seriously.
Be prepared for all weather conditions:
The weather becomes unpredictable and changes rapidly at higher elevations. So trekkers should be prepared for all weather conditions. While the temperature in lower regions can be warm, it can be cold and even reach sub-zero at higher elevations Hence, proper clothing, footwear, gear, and equipment are important for combating the unpredictable weather. Be prepared for all weather conditions and enjoy your trek responsibly and comfortably. Make sure to check the weather forecast before beginning your trek.
Trekkers need to prepare proper equipment for trekking in Nepal. The temperature can go from warm to sub-zero and there can be occasional showers. To prepare for all weather and climate you should carry a windproof/waterproof jacket, down jacket, insulating layers, trekking pants, long-sleeved shirts, moisture-wicking layers, and socks. Wear comfortable shoes with good ankle support. Similarly, carry rainproof gear and equipment. Carry a backpack with adjustable straps, trekking poles, headlamps, and toiletries. You can consult with your trekking agency if you have any queries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is solo trekking no longer allowed in Nepal?
Solo trekking has been banned in Nepal as of April 1, 2023, for safety as well as to create more employment opportunities. Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has stopped providing TIMS cards for foreigners who are visiting Nepal solo. Solo trekkers can get the card via registered agencies. Solukhumbu region, however, still allows trekkers without a guide.
Is it mandatory to hire a guide?
It has become mandatory to hire a government-licensed guide for all foreign trekkers in Nepal. While many trekkers may be hesitant because of the additional cost, hiring a guide can ensure your safety and also enhance your trekking experience. The only region exempt from this rule is the Everest region. You can hire a guide only if you need one for the Everest region.
Has the guide and porter fee increased since April 1, 2023?
Yes, the guide and porter fee has increased for the peak season due to the ban on solo trekking as of April 1, 2023. Many trekking companies have been found to have doubled the guide and porter fees while adding fees for permits stating a new tax is behind the rise. So, be careful of the scam and make sure you book your treks through reputed and well-established trekking agencies.
Do experienced trekkers and those associated with the trekking/mountaineering associations also need to hire guides?
Yes, the rule applies to all foreigners including those who are associated with the trekking/mountaineering associations. This rule is applied to all g trekking routes that require TIMS cards.
However, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality still allows solo trekking in the Everest region.
Can I hire a guide personally or have to do so through a trekking agency?
The Government of Nepal has made it mandatory to hire a licensed guide through a government-registered trekking agency. Many national and international agencies offer licensed and experienced guides. Make sure you check that the agency is registered and well-reputed.