new Nepal trekking regulations?

I’ve just arrived Kathmandu.

Officials in Nepal say they plan to introduce tougher controls of the trekking industry, a week after a devastating Himalayan storm.

In future, all trekkers will be required to register before setting out on the Annapurna circuit, they told reporters.

Only properly trained and accredited guides will be able to lead treks. …

BBC – Nepal plans to tighten rules on trekkers and guides

This news report, like many I’ve seen in the mainstream media, are not accurate. Click over to wikipedia for ongoing updates and an a more objective overview of the tragedy.

Not clear in the media is that all Annapurna trekkers already must register to get their ACAP permit. All Guides are trained and certified.

My best guess is that independent trekking will still be allowed in 2015. The director general of the Department of Tourism, Tulasi Gautam, has to say something.

This for example:

… In future, all trekkers must register at check posts when they enter and leave the popular trail (Annapurna), officials said. …

On Annapurna, Everest, Manaslu, etc., you already check in with multiple checkpoints. It’s been that way for decades.

related – Picturing the Blizzard That Caused Nepal’s Worst-Ever Mountaineering Disaster:

blizzardI’ll be careful. Don’t worry.

Greater Patagonian Trail

UPDATE: I’ve heard via the interwebs that the trekker who authored the site below did not actually complete the entire thing.

It’s not an established route. Don’t assume that you can simply follow the instructions on the wiki. It’s not that simple. Don’t put yourself in danger.

Also, there are other long distance Andean treks that have been completed.

___ original post from Sept 8, 2014:

This first long distance trail in South America leads right through the heart of the legendary Patagonian Andes. It’s a stunningly beautiful and diverse trail that crosses volcanic fields, idyllic Andean valleys, snow covered mountain ranges, lush green forests and deep blue lakes and rivers. …

The complete trail can be hiked in one summer season and requires approx. 90 to 120 days

The generally recommended trekking direction is southbound …

MAP Greater Patagonia

The Greater Patagonian trail is not an official trail that is set up and managed by a government agency. Is simply a compilation of horse trails, minor roads and some cross country sections …

A packraft is recommended for sections 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. …

The trail is mostly unmarked, partly not visible and only smaller fractions are documented with maps. Therefore a GPS is essential for navigation. In addition an electronic topographical map is recommended. …

section 1

section 1

section 2

section 2

section 6

River Crossings are possibly the greatest hazard

wikiexplora – Greater Patagonian Trail

I’m considering a trip to Patagonia starting January 2015. Certainly I’ll do a section of the GPT, if I can. :-)

climbing Fanispan in a day

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

“the Roof of Indochina”


  • map Fansipan3,143 meters (10,312ft), Fanispan is the highest mountain in Indochina
  • northwest region of Vietnam, near the Chinese border
  • 9km southwest of Sapa (Sa Pa), a gorgeous hill station developed by the French
  • pine forests, bamboo thickets and jungle

Oct 20, 2014


Breakfast at the fantastic Unique Hotel starts 7am. Since I was leaving at 5am, the cook awoke early and put together a takeaway breakfast for me. :-)

I arrived at Sapa O’Chau travel agency at 5:10am for the 5:30 rendezvous. Guide and driver were there already, so we departed instantly.

By 5:30am we were marching briskly up the trail. In the dark.

“Silver”, my guide, spotted a wounded bird near the Ranger Station. Knowing that some dog would dispatch him in the morning, he carried the bird along with us until finding a safer place in the forest.


We started early because I opted to climb Fanispan in one day US$95, rather than the normal US$180 2-day itinerary.


Silver quickly decided I was strong enough to make it. I hoped he was right.

The trek is wet. And muddy. At the bottom you are often walking in creek beds and runoff streams.


Happily for me, it had been very dry of late. My feet did not get wet over the entire day!

The best sections are ridge walks with misty valley vistas far below.



Surprisingly, long sections of the ridge are protected with concrete railings. They are well built and seem to be enduring the climate very well.


I asked my guide about poisonous snakes. He laughed, saying the snakes this high are very wary. People don’t see them. But in his village, Kat Kat, there are many, many.


Just around the next corner we came across that one, bludgeoned to death. Silver was sorry to tell me that his people eat large snakes and kill small ones.

You’ll only see goats and buffalo on this trek. For anything more exotic check the restaurants of Sapa. Some Asians are happiest eating the most endangered species. :-(

porcupine Sapa

Almost everyone climbs Fanispan with a guide. But I did talk to one guy from Hanoi who did it alone. In a day. Much faster than me. Parts of the trail are marked with collapsed signposts and fading red markers.


It would be easier to follow the trash, however. Only western tourists and guides pack out what they pack in. I’ve always found indigenous peoples to be the very worst litterbugs.

This day we were first to arrive at Camp 1 – 1,500m (4,920 ft). You can buy snacks and drinks here. The guard dog was chained.



Up and up. Into the clouds. Fanispan’s summit is usually clouded over.



Multiday hikers normally stay at Camp 2 – 2,800m (9,190 ft). Either in fairly dirty buildings or in much cleaner tents carried by porters.


We had a meal here on the way up. And on the way down.



Though I set out my alcohol gel, my guide didn’t use it. Other cooks I saw were equally unsanitary.

Camp 2 is atrociously trashed. The main reason I chose to do a one day climb was to avoid staying here. :-(

If you feel I’m exaggerating, click over to a photo of the toilet.

This is a tough trek. There are dozens of sections where you really need to scramble. Many inexperienced hikers must turn back.

Here’s one essential handhold.


Though in a hurry, we got stopped high up for 30min because a work crew was blasting rock.



Turns out a cable car is being built. It will open September 2015 or sooner. There must have been 200 workers living atop this high mountain.




I took perverse pleasure in seeing this mess, but I’m not going to recommend Fanispan to others. The cable car will further degrade the hiking experience.

We did finally stand on the summit, the highest spot in Indochina.


I assumed it would be quick down. But we didn’t get back to the Hoàng Liên National Park Ranger Station until 5pm.

That was 11.5hrs up and down. Including 2 half hour stops for food.

I was awarded a certificate and medal. :-)


I could barely walk that evening. But seemed to be completely recovered next morning. :-)

See my high resolution photos from this adventure on flickr.

See our old information page – Fansipan, Vietnam – not recommended


Simien Traverse, Ethiopia

I’m hoping to do the famed Simien Traverse in November. It’s the best hike in Ethiopia, one of the best in the world.


Click PLAY or watch a some highlights from a 2014 trek on YouTube. It looks spectacular. Scenery and wildlife. Especially the Gelada Baboons.

I’m using the most recent Lonely Planet Ethiopia to start my research.

I plan to fly Addis Ababa to Gondor, buying my ticket when I get to Ethiopia. Spend at least one night in Gondor, acclimatizing, before traveling about 2hrs north to Debark.


The Simien Park Hotel in Debark is reputed to have hot water showers. One night there while I organize my adventure at the National Park Office.

I’m hoping to either join a group headed up or to hire the minimum for a solo trek. That’s one ‘Scout’ (armed park ranger) and one English speaking guide.

No mules. No cook.

The most popular route is 4-5 days to Geech or Chenek and back. I’ll not summit Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia.

Leave a comment if you’ve done this trek.