Hotels in Annapurna circuit trekking route shut; Tilicho Lake area quiet
MANANG: Most of the hotels in Annapurna circuit trekking route have lost businesses and have shut operations since no international tourists have visited the region due to coronavirus pandemic.
Untamed grasses now 'adorn' the courtyards of the hotels while the buildings and backyards have been left unkempt as there is no immediate possibility of arrival of tourists.
"We have incurred huge business losses due to coronavirus pandemic," owner of Boong Waterfall Restaurant at Chyamche along the Annapurna circuit trekking route, Nisha Tamang said. "However, we have opened the restaurant as a very few domestic tourists visit the place," Tamang said.
The 21-day Annapurna circuit trek that starts from Lamjung district headquarters Besisahar to Kaski district via Manang and Myagdi districts has now been reduced to a week's tour.
Manang based Hotel Yeti's manager Binod Gurung said the hospitality services have been halted in the district since the locals decided not to allow any tourists in the village.
Manang has been declared a coronavirus-free district. The police post stationed on the border of Lamjung and Manang has been maintaining a strict vigilance on the movement along the districts.
Newcomers are allowed entry only after fulfilling formalities and requirements.
Ghandruk village that lies along the Annapurna circuit in Kaski has also closed doors to the tourists until further notice.
Likewise, all the hotels along the trail that leads from Manang to Khangsar, Shrikharka, Tilicho Base Camp and lake Tilicho have been closed. The operators of hotels, restaurants among other businesses have migrated to lower altitude areas.
Furthermore, it has been reported that the trails that pose the risk of dry landslides have not been cleared yet.
Manager of a hotel based in Shrikharka, Kanchha Gurung shared that each hotel served more than 200 tourists in one day during this time of the year. Gurung lamented that there was neither any job nor any source of income due to the current health crisis.
Tilicho Lake is about two or three-days trekking from Manang while it takes one day for the return trip.
Since there are no tourists, the surroundings of the lake have remained quiet even during peak tourist season.
As this is the trekking season, the weather has remained calm with clear skies for better view of the mountains. The highest Thorong La pass (5,416 metres) is also located on the trail to Tilicho Lake (4,919 m).
Although it is said that the trekking routes are open for tourists, it has been learnt that neither has the Annapurna Conservation Area Project issued entry to tourists, nor have the Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) Western Regional Association Pokhara issued Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS) card to tourists.
As per the latest tourism protocol set by the government of Nepal, foreigners with negative PCR reports issued within 72 hours would be allowed to enter the country.