Nepal to ban solo trekkers

Solo backpackers trekking in the Himalayas will have to hire a guide from September

Trekking in the Himalayas is an extremely popular gaptivity. There's nothing quite like walking on your own with nothing but you and your surroundings to keep you company. However, things are about to change as Nepal plans to introduce a ban on solo trekking.

The Nepalese government plans to introduce a new law in September stating that all tourists trekking in the country must have at least one government-approved guide.

Before, it was always suggested that you hire a guide or porter, but it's never been compulsory for independent backpackers and travellers.

The move by the Nepalese government comes about after a couple of recent assaults on hikers in the Himalayas.

Mohan Lamsal, general secretary of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), said: "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."

The new requirement will cost backpackers and travellers US$10 (about £6.50) per day, which, TAAN Treasurer Anjan Thapa told IBT, is "a very nominal amount" that "won't affect tourist arrivals."

The situation is not dissimilar in neighbouring Bhutan, where independent travel is forbidden by the government and all travellers must book through a tour company. That country is looking to expand despite the requirement, which adds another step into the trip planning process.

Do you think this is just another restriction on solo backpackers or do you think it's an important safety measure? Jump onto the messageboards and discuss it!

If you're heading to Nepal on your gap year then head on over to our Nepal country section for more advice and information.