Solo hikes will no longer be allowed in Nepal under a new nationwide ban.
The Central Asian country has implemented the ban as more inexperienced hikers are making their way to the mountainous country and the cost of search-and-rescue missions cut into the lucrative tourism industry, according to CNN.
“When you are traveling solo, in case of emergencies there is no one to help you,” Mani R. Lamichhane, director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told the network. “It is fine if they are traveling in the cities, but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not adequate.”
He added that “when tourists go missing or they are found dead, even the government cannot track them because they have taken remote routes.”
The ban includes Nepal’s rural countryside, which is popular for trekking expeditions. The country is best known for having some of the world’s tallest mountains, but the government banned solo expeditions on those peaks five years ago.
“You used to see only experienced hikers and climbers in the region, many of them traveling without guides, and they were completely self-sufficient,” Ian Taylor, a trekking company owner and operator in Nepal, told CNN.
“However, now, there are far greater numbers of people traveling in the region and more of them are tourists, not trekkers,” he added. “They are not self-sufficient in the outdoors and therefore need the assistance of experienced guides.”
The ban takes effect April 1.
Around 50,000 tourists trekked without a guide or a porter in Nepal in 2019, according to The Economic Times. A total of 400,000 tourists visited the country that same year.