Hunt on for trekking routes

KATHMANDU : Annapurna Area Conservation Project (ACAP) will soon open new trekking routes to promote new places and offer tourists disturbance-free trails. Spurred into action by the frequent enquiries from trekkers to promote eco-tourism routes, ACAP along with related bodies is trying to come up with alternative trekking routes.

ACAP administrative officer Rajendra Joshi said, “We are trying to promote eco-tourism and for this we have been going through a number of plans about new places and possible trekking routes. We have come up with 2-3 new trekking routes and are studying the feasibility and bio diversity. As soon as the routes get confirmed, we hope to have a huge increase in the number of trekkers on the new routes being surveyed now,” said Joshi.

“Along with survey and identification of new trekking routes, we too need support in terms of the trekking routes’ promotion and fulfillment of basic criteria of the recognized places,” added Joshi. According to Joshi, there have been innumerable complaints by tourists regarding the trekking routes being overcrowded due to development of motorways on trekking routes. “Some tourists comne with the idea of trekking for 20-22 days while others want only 8-9 days. So, sometimes the motorways help in easy access,” Joshi said.

Peak season for tourist arrivals are September, October, November, April and March months. Going by the tourist arrival data since 2007, steady growth has been observed in arrivals.

The total number of trekkers visiting Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) and Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA) increased in April. According to data provided by the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the number of trekkers visiting ACA and MCA has increased compared to last year. Total tourist arrival during first four months of 2009 was 24373 while for the MCA total tourist arrival was 408.

In April 2009, a total of 9451 trekkers visited ACA, of which the total number of foreigners was 8,753 and those from SAARC countries 698 while total number of trekkers visiting MCA was 216.

In 2007, total number of trekkers in ACA was 60,237 which increased to 68,542 in 2008 while in MCA total number of trekkers in 2007 was 1046 and 1417 in 2008.