As a solo traveller, trail runner, registered trekking guide, and owner of a trekking company Himalayan Adventure Labs, I’m about as thrilled with the recent rule banning solo trekkers from exploring Nepal as a vegan at a barbecue joint. It’s a real bummer! It’s like telling someone they can only have cake if they share it with a crowd. What’s the point of being adventurous if you can’t do it alone!
Now, don’t get me wrong, safety is important. But simply requiring a registered trekking guide won’t cut the mustard. There are a lot of factors that go into ensuring safety, like the skill set of trekking guides, preparation and managing expectations of foreign trekkers, road conditions, cleanliness and hygiene at accommodation facilities, trail markers, weather forecast service, safety of air transportation among other things. It’s a whole pizza pie of safety, not just a single slice.
And let’s not forget about the risk of rule-bending. It’s been happening in Shivapuri National Park (SNP), where tourists can pay for a nature guide and then proceed to enter the park alone or in a group with the approval of the guides and park officials.
At Himalayan Adventure Labs (HAL), we’re focusing on improving the skill set of Nepali trekking guides. We’ve teamed up with Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Blue Ridge Adventure Medicine, US to organise Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training in Kathmandu on April 2, 2023. We’re putting the “pro” in “preparedness”.
But wait, there’s more! We’re also launching the ‘Himalayan Outdoor Safety Initiative’. It’s a pilot program that uses HAL’s knowledge in organising outdoor activities and existing resources to support freelance trekking guides. Think of it as a “helping hand” for those guides who might need it. This program aims to provide resources to freelance guides, including emergency protocols for trips, Thuraya satellite phones with credit, Garmin InReach satellite trackers with subscription, handheld transceivers, medical insurance for trekking guides, search and rescue coverage, access to a remote medical doctor who specialises in wilderness medicine, and a weather forecast service. These resources will be available for a nominal fee, and the trekking guides will be vetted by the HAL management team before enrolling in the program. We’re like the safety net under the tightrope walker.
So, in conclusion, safety is important, but we need to take a whole pizza pie approach to ensure it. At HAL, we’re committed to improving the skill set of Nepali trekking guides while launching new initiatives to enhance trekker safety. And if you’re a freelance trekking guide and interested in learning more about how HAL is redefining the outdoor experience in Nepal, please write to us at email@example.com. Who knows, we might even share a pizza with you! But you have to bring the cheese.
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