Despite a mandatory requirement to hire a guide for treks in Nepal, foreign tourists visiting the Everest region this spring season will not be required to do so, according to the local authorities. Issuing a notice, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality has stated that trekking guides are not compulsory for solo trekkers in the Everest area. Trekkers can make a solo journey in the Phading trail by simply obtaining a trek card from the permit office and showing it at the checkpoint.
The trek card costs Rs 2,000, in addition to the entry fee for Sagarmatha National Park (SNP). Manoj Kumar, information officer at SNP, said that the national park has already welcomed solo travellers, and that the park has not received any official notice regarding entry restrictions for solo travellers who have not hired a trekking guide.”We have heard that the federal government has introduced a mandatory provision requiring solo travellers to hire a guide.
However, in the case of the Everest region, the local government is managing the process of issuing trek cards and has decided to give permission to solo trekkers without a guide,” he said.A trek card is the permit issued by the local government or authorities that includes information about the trekker, such as name, nationality, and trekking route, and is used to keep track of trekkers in the Everest region.
To enhance the safety and organise the trekking sector, as well as create more job opportunities within the country, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) had recently decided to halt issuing Free Individual Trekker (FIT) cards with effect from April 1. This meant that foreign tourists visiting Nepal would be required to trek with a guide through a trekking company, and would have to get insurance prior to embarking on the trek.
The NTB’s decision is based on Section 7 of the Nepal Tourism Act 1996 and Section 10 ‘A’ of the Trekking Information Management System Operation (First Amendment) Guidelines, 2010. This decision was taken due to unfortunate incidents where individual trekkers, who had purchased the Tourist Information Management System (TIMS) card, died or sustained injuries while trekking.According to Dhananjay Regmi, CEO of NTB, the local governments should follow the instructions issued by the federal government.”Disobeying the instructions of the federal government can result in solo trekkers having to cancel their entire trip,” he warned.
The Everest region trek is a popular trekking route that offers trekkers stunning views of snowcapped mountains including the Mt Everest, glaciers, and traditional Sherpa villages. Trekkers are required to obtain permits for SNP and the local government’s trek card, which allows them to enter and trek in the designated areas.As many as 30,077 trekkers have visited the SNP during the eight months (mid-July to mid-March) of the current fiscal year, according to the data provided by the SNP.Meanwhile, the SNP has collected over Rs 71.07 million in revenue from the distribution and sale of forest resources, tourism activities, fines, and others, during the review period.