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Nepal Will Ban Solo Hiking in Its National Parks

Nepal Will Ban Solo Hiking in Its National Parks

Solo hiking will be banned from Nepal’s national parks starting next month, a move that the country’s tourism board said would reduce the risks for the tens of thousands of adventure seekers who travel to the Himalayan country each year.

The decision, announced last week by the Nepal Tourism Board, comes after incidents in which tourists became lost and sometimes died while hiking alone, the board’s director, Mani R. Lamichhane, said on Tuesday.

“There were many cases where tourists have disappeared,” Mr. Lamichhane said. Deadly incidents involving solo trekkers had given some tourists the misperception that Nepal was an unsafe destination, he said.

The decision was reported earlier by The Kathmandu Post, an English-language newspaper in Nepal.

The new rules apply to international tourists of all experience levels on treks in Nepal’s national parks, such as the popular Annapurna Circuit, a 150-mile route that circles the Annapurna mountain range. Trekkers can still embark on solo hikes outside of national parks, such as around the city of Kathmandu.

The new rules broaden a 2017 mandate that banned solo climbing on Nepal’s mountains, including on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains are located at least partly in Nepal, which sits between India and China. Each year, deadly accidents, including ones caused by avalanches, blizzards and high-altitude sickness, are reported on Nepal’s mountains. Mr. Lamichhane did not respond to a request for comment on whether the 2017 ban led to a decrease in fatalities.

In 2019, before the pandemic, more than 400,000 tourists traveled to Nepal’s national parks for mountaineering and trekking, according to government figures; about 46,000 of them went hiking alone, Mr. Lamichhane said. Climbers came primarily from the United States, Britain, China, Germany, India and Japan.

Last year, there were about 22,000 solo trekkers in Nepal, as tourism recovered, even though the number was still down from the years before the pandemic, Mr. Lamichhane said. He added that he hoped the new rule would help create jobs for guides and other workers in the tourism industry.

Some hikers criticized the new rules.

Natalia Lange, 30, an actress from Warsaw, said she had been saving for a year for a monthlong trip to Nepal, including a solo hike to the Everest base camp via a route that would take her past the turquoise glacial lakes in the Gokyo Valley. Now, she is unsure if she has…

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