From September 1, solo tourists traveling to any trekking destination in Nepal will have to take at least one certified porter or guide with them.
The measure, first announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month, is intended to ensure the safety of tourists as well as to promote jobs for local guides.
Danja Ram Pand, CEO of the Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), told Relaxnews that the measure also seeks to "minimize illegal trekking agencies operated by foreigners."
The announcement follows the disappearance of a number of solo tourists and the murder of a Belgian trekker hiking in Nepal's Langtang National Park earlier this year. Groups of trekkers are already required to use government-registered trekking agencies.
From September 1, solo trekkers will need to allow for an additional fee to hire a certified porter or guide. According to Pand, this fee will be around $10 to $15 per day. Certified porters or guides have completed a six-month training course which includes orientation training as well as emergency procedures to support the travelers. Porters or guides speak several languages including English, Spanish, German, and French, among others. They can be hired through the more than 800 certified trekking agencies listed at http://www.taan.org.np/member_directory.
Nepal and its iconic Himalaya mountains have attracted huge numbers of tourists since the country first opened its borders in the 1950s. Hikers come to experience the relatively easy trails to the famous Everest or Annapurna peaks, among others. The latest report published by the Immigration Office of Nepal shows a total of 719,597 international tourist arrivals to the country in 2011, mainly from neighbors India, China and Sri Lanka, followed by British and Americans. Around 10% of the total number of international tourists came to the country to do trekking