Just as I eased into my cold bowl of cereal this morning, I read a quite surprising post from the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal website.
The TAAN have just announced that all tourists will require a Guide or Porter to accompany them on any trek in Nepal from September 2012.
According to the post this stems from a rise in missing or murdered trekkers over recent years, namely the recent murder of a Belgian trekker in the Langtang National Park.
Yes, people trek solo, and on occasion they never return home and I’m sure horrible things happen to these poor soul’s. Even considering the grizzly facts, is it right, or fair to tell people they have to be chaperoned on their trek? For that matter, are they really any safer with a Porter or Guide or is it just giving the tourist a false sense of security?
Most times Guides, and more often Porters will not be trekking side by side with their client. The Porter will run ahead and secure accommodation and sometimes the Guide is ahead of you. How does this increase your safety? I’m sure it would help to put the alert out quickly if you went missing, but unfortunately, if someone wants to rob you a Guide/Porter would just be a deterrent and they can’t protect you every step of the way. This decision was approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the TAAN has welcomed the decision. They have been quoted saying
“The decision will help promote Nepal as a safe destination for tourists at a time when international media are questioning the safety of foreigners in Nepal.”
That’s interesting, I didn’t consider Nepal as unsafe until I read this new rule.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Himalaya, with and without a guide. (with appropriate TIMS permit of course). During this time I met many solo trekkers who described the experience of trekking in solitude as quite spiritual and fulfilling. Being able to go where they wanted, when they wanted was considered quite a personal experience which gave them a unique understanding of not only Nepal and the Nepali people but themselves.
Should All Trekkers Have to be Accompanied by a Porter or Guide?
I am interested to hear what others think about this new rule. Do you think it will be enforced? Is this just a money grab? Does this make you feel safer about trekking in Nepal? Please post your comments below.