Nepal bans solo walks in nature across the country.. Why?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Five years after banning lone adventurers from climbing Mount Everest, Nepal’s government has expanded restrictions to cover the entire country.

Nepal, home to eight of the tallest mountains in the world, is also known for its beautiful backcountry trails.

So, from now on, travelers who want to walk in remote areas must hire a government-licensed guide or join a group.

And while the trekking industry is one of the biggest money industries in the country, the cost of search and rescue missions for individual hikers who get lost is very high.

“When you are traveling alone, there is no one to rescue you in an emergency,” Mani R. Lamichan, director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told CNN. He continued, “It is okay if they want to walk in the cities (alone), but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not suitable for that.”

“When tourists get lost or are found dead, even the government can’t track them because they have taken long routes,” Lamichan added.

In addition to the challenges caused by the disappearance of rural hikers, Lamichan says unregistered tour guides and unlicensed businesses are also a problem. They don’t pay taxes to the government, and the tourism manager claims they take jobs from the Nepalese.

“In some (earlier) cases, we have encountered a request from the tour association to ban unauthorized itineraries. This has always been a demand of tourism associations,” he said.

Opinions differed within the mountaineering and hiking community about the new decision.

Ian Taylor, owner of a reputable guide company with a long history in Nepal, said the move makes sense because more people are trying difficult climbs in Nepal.

“Things have changed dramatically in the region over the years,” he told CNN.

“I’m used to seeing only experienced hikers and mountaineers in the area, many of them doing it without guides, and they were completely self-sufficient,” he continued.

However, he noted, “Currently, there are much more travelers in the area, and most of them are tourists rather than walkers. They are not self-sufficient and therefore need the help of experienced guides.”

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