Trekking culture suffers consequences of unmanaged motorways in Annapurna

Published On: March 21, 2023 05:15 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 21: The Annapurna Conservation Area, which has earned international recognition for adventure trekking, is seeing a lesser number of trekkers these days, thanks to the consequences brought about by unmanaged motorways.

As the locals complained, the increased traffic has led to sound pollution and dust pollution, posing the risk of further damage to the natural beauty of the area.

Almost all settlements in the region now have access to motorways. Although development activities have made it easier for tourists to travel and access the area, it is not cost free in terms of environmental aspects, natural beauty of the area and the public health, they said. It has also brought negative consequences to the trekking business, said tourism entrepreneurs.  

Consequently, people, who used to feel the inhalation of fresh air while walking, are now compelled to wear a facemask to avoid dust pollution. 

The construction of motor roads rampantly from Lamjung to Manang and from Myagdi to Muktinath has put the trekking route at a risk of extinction, said the visiting tourists. Human encroachment upon the natural beauty of the region is also another matter for concern.  

Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) western region former President Deepak Raj Adhikari said motor roads have been constructed by damaging structures for the trekking route. 

Short and long trekking trails  in Ghodepani, Pun Hill, Nagi and Khopa in Myagdi, Jomsom, Upper Mustang, Annapurna Base Camp, Mardi Peak, and Ghandruk-Ghodepani in Mustang have been 'largely destroyed' due to the construction of motorways.   

Trekking is one of the major attractions of Nepal's tourism industry. But entrepreneurs are worried about seeing the trekking route getting damaged and losing its charms with the availability of unplanned and unmanaged transport facilities.

Subarna KC who runs a hotel at Dana said trekking tourists were shortening their trips claiming trekking experiences were no more entertaining as in the past. Rampant construction of roadways causes encroachment upon the existing trekking routes. 

But, no substantive efforts have been made so far to protect the trekking routes, said the local people. Trees were cut down during the expansion of roadways, causing the degradation of natural features of the area. According to tourism entrepreneurs, 80 percent of trekking tourists have started shortening their trips compared to the past.  They expect the Nepal Tourism Board and the TAAN to work together to restore the trekking business, and its charm and essence.

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