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New trekking route to Manang in the offing

- AASH GURUNG, LAMJUNG

Nov 10, 2017-The western Nepali districts of Lamjung and Manang have geared up to build an alternative trekking route from Besishahar to Manang, as huge segments of the original route have been converted into a motorable road.

In the first phase, Sahaji-Khudi trekking route, which stretches from Besisahar to Khudi of Lamjung district, has been opened. The route, built with the support of the Nepal Tourism Board and hotel entrepreneurs of Lamjung and Manang districts, came into operation on Monday. 

Preparations are now being made to open a trekking route from Khudi to Chaymche, the last settlement in Lamjung, within this fiscal year. The trekking route will then be extended to Karte, Dharapaani and Chame via Manang Lake. Stairs will be built on slopes of the trekking route and gabion walls will be erected along stretches that are narrow. 

Purna Bahadur Gurung, secretary of Lamjung-Manang Hotel Entrepreneurs Committee, said the Tourism Board had allocated a budget of Rs2 million for construction of the alternative trekking route in the current fiscal year. Of this amount, Rs1.6 million has been used, according to Gurung.

“The alternative route is being built because domestic and foreign tourists who wish to hike to Manang have to walk on the motorable road, which is dusty,” said Gurung, “To avoid the dust, tourists are taking public vehicles directly to Chame in Manang. This has severely affected livelihood of people who live in the erstwhile trekking route, as they were dependent on tourists for earnings.”

The practice of taking public vehicles directly to Manang has also raised the incidence of altitude sickness among travellers, according to tourism entrepreneur Triple P Gurung. “If people walk to Manang using the alternative trekking route, they will acclimatise properly and become immune to mountain sickness. The new route will also help locals to engage in business activities, which will raise their living standards,” said Gurung.

After Manang was linked by a motorable road, the five-day trek from Besisahar to Chame was shortened to a single-day journey on a vehicle. This rendered many destinations on the way to Manang without any tourist. “This has forced many out of hotel business,” said Teju Gurung, promoter of Hotel Hikers at Marsyangdi Rural Municipality-7. 

Plans are now afoot to build a five-day to seven-day trekking route from Besisahar to Manang. “If we can preserve flora and fauna and promote local culture, tourists will get an urge to prolong their stays along the route,” Teju said, adding, “This will make local economies vibrant.”

Published: 10-11-2017 08:33

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