Trekking agencies doubt Annapurna report


An association of trekking agencies in Nepal on Friday criticised an assessment report that found trails around Mount Annapurna safe for hikers following April’s devastating earthquake.

Kit Miyamoto of the California-based engineering firm Miyamoto International said on Thursday that the only hazards were found at three spots and appeared to predate the quake. It said that only about three per cent of the accommodations on the 200-kilometre route were damaged by April 25 quake.

The quake, coupled with another in May, killed 8,898 people.

Nepal’s government, hoping that visitors will return in September when tourist season begins, welcomed the assessment. However, mountaineering and trekking operators said the study was done in haste, covering a huge area and without consulting anyone in the business.

“The assessment should have been more detailed taking longer time, because it covers such an important safety issue,” said Keshav Pandey of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal.

Pandey said the study should have coordinated with the trekking operators who have good knowledge and experience of the area.

The trail around Mount Annapurna gets about 115,000 foreign trekkers — some 60 per cent of all hikers who travel to Nepal every year. A favourable safety report makes it easier for visitors to get travel insurance — a major concern for people planning their trip to Nepal.