Lack of infrastructure keeps trekkers away from once-popular trails

Published On: June 22, 2017 01:00 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, June 22: Until two years ago, Machhapuchhre Model Trek in Kaski district was a popular route for trekkers looking for camping trek. But the route, which offers the closest possible view of Mt Machhapuchhre, now wears a deserted look, as only a few trekkers walk this route. This is because the route does not have even basic infrastructure.

Shelter houses for trekkers, which were damaged due to the 2015 earthquakes, have not been rebuilt it. The absence of shelter houses can cause a serious problem for trekkers during snowfall or rainfall as the route lies in the complete wilderness with no house and shed along the trail, tourism entrepreneurs say.

Deepak Adhikari, the chairperson of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) Western Regional Association (WRA) Pokhara, said that they fear the trail would be forgotten in due course of time if destroyed infrastructure is not rebuilt immediately. 

The route, which would receive some 300 foreign trekkers annually in the past, is getting only some groups these days. 

The Machhapuchhre Model Trek begins from Lahachowk/Ghachowk of Kaski district and goes through places like Hilekhakra, Khumaidanda and Korchan to Karuwa. Korchan (4,000 meters) is the highest point of the trek.

“This is the shortest trekking route that reaches to the foothills of mountains from Pokhara,” added Adhikari. “Trekkers are in complete wilderness for five days.”

About half a dozen trekking routes in or around the Annapurna region are seeing the fate of Machhapuchhre Model Trek. 

Though restoration work takes only around Rs 1.5 million to Rs 5 million per route, the government is least concerned to repair the sheds, tourism entrepreneurs say.

Another trekking route that begins from Birethanti of Kaski and goes through Deupur of Parbat, Nagi of Myagdi before entering the Annapurna Region is also in a sorry state.

Though the route passes through human settlements, it lacks signposts. Also, the trails are in immediate need of upgrading. Another trekking route that begins from Tadapani near Ghandruk and goes through Dobato, Bayali, Hidden Lake before meeting the popular Annapurna Base Camp trail at Chhomrong is also a dilapidated state. 

Adhikari has said that Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has restricted others to build infrastructure in this trail. “This camping trek can be completed in seven days.

Earlier, locals had taken initiative to build shelter for trekkers. But it could not move ahead due to ACAP's objection,” he added.

Stating that most of the trails in the Annapurna Region are shortening due to construction of roads, Adhikari said focus now should be on exploring and developing new trails. “Or else, trekking will die,” he added.

Former president of TAAN WRA Pokhara, Som Bahadur Thapa, said that Machhapuchhre Model Trek is a living example to show lack of infrastructure can destroy a vibrant trail.

“Private sector cannot make huge investment to build infrastructure in these trails as rate of return is very low as their business is of seasonal nature,” he added.

He further added that even infrastructure built by TAAN WRA are in a sorry state. “A huge amount of money is lying idle in the Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS). The government raises money from tourism but doesn't invest to build necessary infrastructure,” he added.

Senior Officer of Nepal Tourism Board's Regional Office in Pokhara, Surya Thapaliya, admitted that the board has not made much investment in trekking routes. “We are not the responsible authority to build infrastructure,” he added.

Leave A Comment