March 22, 2023: The Annapurna region, known for its thrilling trekking experience worldwide, is currently experiencing a lack of the usual hustle and bustle on its trekking trails. Due to the increase in distance covered by motor vehicles, the number of trekkers on these trails has decreased.
The excitement of the trekking experience that used to be accompanied by the lush green forests and chirping birds amidst the rugged terrain of Churachandpur and Ghandruk is slowly fading away. The number of hikers carrying backpacks on their shoulders has also decreased, with many opting for mule rides to carry their loads.
Almost all the villages inside the Annapurna Conservation Area have now been connected by road networks, which has increased the number of vehicles and human activity in the area. The expansion of road networks along the trekking routes has also increased the hustle and bustle, especially during peak season. The road networks have made it mandatory for trekkers to wear masks while trekking due to the increased traffic.
The existence of the trekking routes is in jeopardy after the construction of motorable roads from Lamjung to Manang and from Myagdi to Muktinath. Tourists visiting this region have also been criticized for causing harm to the natural beauty of the area.
According to the former Eastern Regional President of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, Dipak Raj Adhikari, the construction of a motorable road after the bulldozing of the pedestrian route by the Jomsom-Sindhuli Dozer has led to a crisis in trekking tours in the Annapurna region. Indra Singh Sherchan, a tourism entrepreneur who donated to the road construction, admits that the newly built roads, including the long and short-distance routes in places like Ghodepani, Poonhil, Nagi, Khopa, Mustang, Upper Mustang, Annapurna Base Camp, Mardi Himal, and Ghandruk
These roads have caused noise and air pollution, leading to a decrease in the number of tourists, and have lowered the attraction and quality of the popular trekking routes of Nepal, which were considered to be major tourist destinations. Hotel entrepreneur Suvarna Kesi says that the construction of such roads, which reduce the time taken by tourists to travel on these routes, has also caused problems for those who rely on trekking for their livelihoods.
The bright Gyamdan, who has been working as a trekking guide for the past 16 years, believes that the creation of new roads around existing trekking routes considered the foundation for trekking tourism, is necessary to preserve the region’s tourism. He has been working as a guide in the Annapurna region and the Mustang area, and he feels that the existing roads must be considered a base for expanding trekking tourism and for the conservation of the tourism industry in the region.