We have seen a big response to our last blog post about the new trekking rule in Nepal that states trekkers must now be escorted by at least a guide or a porter who is registered. The new trekking rule was issued by TAAN (Trekking Agents Association of Nepal), but it is unclear who is enforcing the rule. According to their own report on their meeting with Tourism Secretary Yagya Prasad Gautam, TAAN is asking for “Supported treks to be mandatory.” So, it begs the question, is the new rule actually enforceable and by whom?
Usually the Army check post soldiers check your TIMS card and identification at the National Parks. They write down your name to verify you have passed that check point and you are now on government property. So, it is likely that without a porter or guide, you will get turned back. They are very serious about this, and we have seen it in other strictly controlled areas like Nagarjun Forest where our Hardcore Nepal Rock Climbing Team takes tourist groups. So, if you are trekking, as far as we know, you will have to have a licensed guide or agency get your TIMS permit.
We will keep you posted on this blog if the rule changes, but as of now, as far as all of us in the Nepal Trekking world know, you must take a guide or porter on trek after September 1, 2012.
If you were hoping to find yourself alone on a trek in Nepal, it may not happen this year. And based on the recent disappearance of trekkers in Langtang and Solukhumbu regions, it is not a good idea to be completely alone, but understandably, some have come to experience the Himalaya on their own, maybe on a spiritual or personal quest… so “ke garne?” What to do? Well, plan your trek as you would have, but become comfortable with using a porter/guide and carry your own pack if you like.
Check back before you go on your trek. Things are in flux in Nepal as the nation develops. The new trekking rule was in response to foreign media reports that Nepal is unsafe (not exactly true; not less safe than any other destination in the world), so it is likely that the rule could change again in the near future. For example, they may not allow someone to trek absolutely alone, but perhaps in small groups.
Where to find a porter? First, agreeing to pay/work with someone who approaches you on the street is NOT a good idea no matter how friendly he/she seems. If you go through an organization or agency then there is accountability for your guide or porter. I understand, you WANTED to go solo, so going through a trekking agency is not what you feel comfortable with, so here are a couple options where you can find some entirely freelance porters or guides:
As always, feel free to contact us for any trekking advice. We love to help you love your stay in Nepal. You need not trek with us, we are always happy to help visitors. firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM TAAN Website News
A delegation of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) led by President Mahendra Singh Thapa on August 19 paid a courtesy call on newly appointed tourism secretary Yagya Prasad Gautam.
The delegation also handed over a 29-point memorandum to secretary Gautam that draws the attention of the government on different problems facing the tourism industry, particularly the trekking sector.
Thapa, on behalf of TAAN, congratulated secretary Gautam on being appointed secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and expressed best wishes for his successful tenure. Among others, TAAN asked the government to immediately address technical problems seen in garbage deposits. Similarly, the delegation asked secretary Gautam to do the needful in making support staff compulsory for independent trekkers to ensure their safety. Saying that international media has been portraying Nepal as an unsafe destination, the association also asked the government to counter such negative publicities and enhance Nepal’s destination image in international arena.
Responding to TAAN’s demands, secretary Gautam has said he has authorized the Tourism Industry Division to address technical difficulties in garbage deposits collection and management. He also asked TAAN to take the initiative in installing sign posts on major trekking routes so that it will be easier for trekkers. Gautam also asked TAAN to focus on quality tourism rather than quantity. Along with President Thapa, general secretary Mohan Lamsal, treasurer Anjan Kumar Thapa, TAAN CEO Gangasagar Pant and staffers Machhindra Acharya and Raju Chitrakar were also present in the meeting.