Foreigners are no longer solo trek without a guide in Nepal

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the country’s national tourism promotion body, which includes trekking and mountaineering associations, on Thursday 2 March 2023, decided to make a guide compulsory for solo or free independent trekkers (FITs) from April 1, due to increasing safety concerns.

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

FITs are trekkers who plan their own trips and prefer to travel alone. The concept of FIT tourism includes trekkers booking without a tour operator. Many independent trekkers 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.

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

With this decision, the TIMS permit will no longer be issued to tourists without a guide. They will have to trek via a trekking company.

For trekkers from third countries, other than South Asia, the fee for TIMS card or the trekking permit has been hiked to Rs 2,000, from Rs1,000 per person. It used to cost Rs 2,000 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 the NTB, around 50,000 tourists trekked without a guide or a porter in Nepal in 2019. These tourists trekked by obtaining a route permit and a TIMS permit from NTB.

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. The issue was under discussion for quite a long time to ensure the safety of the trekkers. The ministry has no objection to it.

Taking guides means they will brief trekkers on the high altitude sickness and other issues that are related to natural disasters.

Since the issue of imposing compulsory guide rules was conceptualized, some tourists had complained about the restrictions on their freedom, while some others felt that the compulsory provision would make trekking safer.

By Asian Hiking Team

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