Encountering Maoists

This is part of a summary of the current situation in Nepal written by stilltrekkin for the Lonely Planet’s ThornTree forum:

  • Annapurna area – most common locations
    a. East side of Circuit between BesiSahar and Chame
    b. Between Dhampus, Pothana, Tolka, Landruk and Ghandruk
    c. Vicinity of Ghorepani/Poon Hill and Shikha
    d. The route between Baglung, Beni and Tatopani
    “Tourist Tax” collected in these areas varies between 1000 to 2000 rupees per person (approximately US$ 14 to $28) occasionally 100 rupees per day for each day for the duration of your ACAP permit.

  • Everest area
    a. Trekkers starting at Jiri, most commonly encounter Maoists between Jumbesi, Ringmo and KhariKhola in the Solu region
    b. The route from Phaphlu north to Lukla, also passes through Ringmo and Kharikhola and there have been contacts in this area
    c. There have been no encounters above Lukla and into Sagarmatha National Park
    i. Tax amounts reported vary from 1000 to 2000 rupees per person

  • Arun Valley, Makalu/Barun National Park and Kanchenjunga
    a. North and West of Tumlingtar – “donations” requested have been between US $ 50 and $100 per group member. There have been physical threats made on several occasions –there was a report of one trekker being injured when refusing to pay.
    b. The route northwest from Tumlingtar to Kanchenjunga is not safe for solo trekkers or small unaccompanied groups.
    c. The exit south of Kanchenjunga to Taplejung airport is also Maoist controlled territory.

  • Ganesh Himal – to Larkya Pass, Lower & Upper Dolpa, Simikot to Hilsa (Tibet Border)all recommended for organized group travel only. Be prepared to budget for Maoist “donations” from US$75 to $120 per group member. Nepali Guides and Cooks have also been forced to make cash donations as high as 5000 to 7000 rupees in the area north of Simikot.
    5. The vast majority of these reports mention the Maoists have been “non-threatening” and polite but they were made acutely aware that the request for funds was not negotiable.
    6. “Official” receipts are issued for all fees collected. Be aware that this receipt is good only for the District in which it is issued. So, for example, if you are trekking the Annapurna Circuit starting at BesiSahar and make a donation to a Maoist group in say, Bahundanda, that receipt will likely not be honoured by another Maoist Group in Ghoripani which is in Kaski District on the west side of the Circuit.
    7. It is recommended if you are trekking with an organized group, that you let the Guide do the talking with the Maoists – stay in the background and do not escalate the situation in any way. Do be aware that you are personally responsible for the payment – it is not an expense covered by your trek package.
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