What are Restricted Areas in Nepal?
Nepal is a breathtaking wonderland interlaced with abundant natural beauty and cultural diversity. From towering Himalayan ranges to sprawling national parks and diverse human settlements, Nepal is a country that one must visit more than once to experience its splendor truly.
Though certain areas are restricted, foreign nationals are welcome to explore any part of Nepal. Previously, Nepal had barred entry to these areas for foreign nationals until October 1991. However, now these areas are accessible to foreign nationals with a Special Permit. Many travelers often ask why certain regions of Nepal are restricted. The answer is quite simple - it is for the safety and security of the trekkers. These restricted areas are usually located in high-altitude zones bordering Tibet, where human settlements are scarce, and trails are not frequently traversed. Hence, it is considered a risky zone for individual travelers. Another possible reason for these restrictions is to prevent any illicit activities by travelers who may attempt to enter remote parts of Nepal, bordering Tibet and controlled by China. Trekking in restricted areas is still possible, but with strict provisions requiring travelers to go through authorized trekking agencies in Nepal.
Nepal's restricted trekking areas are divided into Protected Areas and Conservation Areas. Protected Areas are habitats of rare wild species, many of which are endangered. Building any infrastructure, accessing resources, and even staying for extended periods are prohibited to ensure the preservation of these vital ecosystems. On the other hand, conservation areas are often sites of religious and cultural importance and are managed to conserve heritage.
Nestled in the remote northwestern region of Nepal lies a place of utmost importance - the Annapurna Conservation Area. This precious space is a sanctuary for diverse wildlife, most notably the endangered snow leopards, red pandas, and musk deer. The ACA has proudly served as a safeguard for vulnerable and threatened species, a guardian of precious habitats, and a facilitator of sustainable resource utilization for over a decade. To preserve this fragile ecosystem, trekking within the ACA is strictly prohibited. Nepal is also home to other invaluable protected areas, including the Shey Phoksundo National Park, Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, Makalu Barun National Park, and Rara National Park.
On the other hand, Conservation Areas in Nepal are restricted trekking areas that manage to conserve cultural heritage. These areas are often populated by local villages and are sites of spiritual significance for the local communities. Some examples of restricted trekking areas classed as Conservation Areas in Nepal include the Upper Mustang, Manaslu, and Dolpo regions.
The Upper Mustang region is particularly important to Nepal's heritage and is deemed a restricted trekking area as its landscape is so ancient. This area is home to some of the most scenic villages in the country and is often referred to as "lesser Tibet" for its resemblance to a traditional Tibetan landscape. The Manaslu region is known for its spectacular mountain views, rich cultural heritage, and Shey Phoksundo National Park. In addition, the Dolpo region is home to many of the oldest monasteries in the area and is known for its ancient Buddhist culture.
As a result of the sensitive state of these regions, exploring the restricted trekking zones in Nepal is completely disallowed. Regional groups enforce the rules, and if tourists are found in the vicinity, they will face immediate penalties. These guidelines are in place to conserve the region's natural environment and cultural legacy. Those planning to trek in Nepal must honor the limitations imposed by the Nepalese government.
Who Needs Restricted Areas Permit?
Restricted areas are those of a country where access is limited under the rule of law because of safety concerns, political or religious reasons, or simply to protect the environment. In Nepal, Restricted Area Permits are issued by the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu to regulate entry into certain parts of Nepal. It is important to note that anyone wishing to visit one of these areas must have appropriate documentation with them to gain access.
Foreign nationals wishing to visit special restricted areas must apply for a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from the Department of Immigration. The RAP is valid for 16 days from the date of issuance, and the permit holder is allowed to stay inside the area for up to 24 hours. The permit holder can visit the area according to the conditions specified in the permit and is advised not to take any photographs that can harm governmental interests or affect the religious or cultural sensitivities of the inhabitants.
Nepalese citizens need to possess a valid citizenship certificate issued by the District Administration Office or a valid identity card issued by the government to enter the specified restricted areas. For Nepalese citizens, there is a restriction on the number of times they can visit the restricted areas. They may not visit more than twice a year, which should be within the same calendar year.
Local Nepalese residing in the restricted area may enter the area without any restrictions. They may not stay there overnight or perform any activity that will harm regional peace and stability.
Individuals who violate the permit conditions or break the provisions of the area will be punished with up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to Nepalese Rupees three thousand.
Where to get Restricted Area Permits (RAP) in Nepal?
The ability to visit restricted areas within Nepal is a valuable privilege. With a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), travelers can explore classic tourist spots and more adventurous locations. As such, obtaining a RAP is an essential part of the travel planning process for many tourists visiting the region.
In Nepal, RAPs are issued by the Department of Immigration (DOI). The DOI is the Nepali government body responsible for implementing laws and regulations concerning the acquisition of foreign visas and the entry of foreigners into the country. Those interested in obtaining a RAP should visit DOI's website to find the forms and information required for the application. Applications must be submitted online or through the entry permit counters at Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Once the application has been submitted, the applicant must wait for their RAP approval by the Ministry of Home Affairs. This process can take a few days, so it is important to plan when applying. If a person is successful, the authorized RAP will enable them to enter and enjoy restricted areas in Nepal.
The DOI also issues Special Area Permits (SAP) in specific circumstances. This type of permit is required for visits to places such as the Upper Mustang and some districts of the Mt. Kailash region. In addition to the basic RAP documents, SAP applications must include a letter of recommendation from the Regional Administration Office and a suitable health certificate.
Acquiring Restricted Area Trekking Permits is an exclusive privilege granted solely by the Department of Immigration, which is accessible only through certified trekking organizations such as Discover Altitude, acknowledged and authorized by the state of Nepal. Even though the RAP Trekking Fees fluctuate according to the designated area, duration of the trek, and climatic conditions, the key requirement for procuring the RAP permits mandates that a minimum of two trekkers are part of the adventure.
How to Apply for Permits Through Online?
Before anything else, identify the precise permit category that corresponds to your intended destination. This could either be a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), Special Area Management Permit (SAMP), or a Protected Area Permit (PAP). Once you've established your required permit, you may proceed with the application process.
The application process begins with creating an account on the official website of the Department of Immigration (DOI) in Nepal. Upon successful account creation, many permits await your selection to set the ball rolling. The application procedure is uncomplicated, requiring you to furnish detailed personal information, including your appellation, passport number, visa number, and other related details. Additionally, the application should scrupulously document specific information concerning the intended stay, travel destinations, and requests related to the permit. Leave no stone unturned in capturing every intricate detail that the permit necessitates.
Submit your application for a trek through the digital application forms. The application must include a comprehensive list of all the individuals embarking on the journey and a passport copy for each individual. You must provide a detailed trekking itinerary for the particular restricted area and a copy of your valid visa for Nepal that covers the duration of your trek. Additionally, you must obtain guarantee letters from your trekking agency and sign a binding agreement with them. The trekking agency must also provide the following:
- Their tax clearance certificate.
- Insurance documents for both foreign nationals and Nepali staff.
- Their government tourism license.
In addition, the trekking agency must have a Nepal Rastra Bank license to exchange foreign currency and a Certificate of Permanent Account Number (PAN). Lastly, the voucher for your bank payment for your Restricted Area Permit fees must also be provided.
Tips of Do's and Don't for Trekkers in Restricted Areas Nepal
Trekking is becoming increasingly popular among adventurous travellers seeking to explore the great outdoors. However, trekking in restricted areas of Nepal brings unique responsibilities and considerations, making it essential for all trekkers to know the relevant dos and don'ts.
On the 'Do' side of the equation, trekkers in Nepal's restricted areas must be aware of and adhere to local laws and regulations. To ensure the safety and legal compliance of all trekkers, verifying any relevant visas, permits, or other paperwork before embarking on the trek is critical.
The first and foremost rule for trekkers in restricted regions is to show the utmost respect toward the local culture, traditions, and customs. Additionally, when trekking, respect the environment and cultural and traditional norms. Basic items such as food, supplies, and cooking fuel should be carefully selected, and any waste should be disposed of safely and by local regulations. Furthermore, purchasing supplies and equipment locally is advisable, helping to re-invest in the local economy.
As a safety precaution, individual trekkers are not allowed to enter restricted areas. Instead, they must form a group of at least two trekkers. Carrying a Restricted Areas Permit (RIP) while trekking in restricted regions is mandatory. Likewise, trekkers must be accompanied by a registered trekking guide and Porter to ensure safety and guidance. The trekkers and their accompanying Nepali staff must have accidental travel insurance for any unforeseen incidents. Trekking routes in restricted areas are pre-determined, and trekkers must adhere to the specific route disclosed while obtaining a Restricted Areas Permit. Any change in route is not permissible. Lastly, trekkers must obey the instructions authorized officers to give in restricted areas to ensure the safety of all involved.
On the 'Don't' side of the equation, it is important to be aware that some activities are not allowed or discouraged in Nepal's restricted areas. For example, trekking, rock climbing, or mountain biking are not allowed in and around protected areas. Additionally, when visiting the local villages, it is essential to be respectful and courteous to avoid accidental cultural faux pas or unintentional insults.
All restricted area Permits With Costs
Upper Mustang RAP:-
Nestled in the heart of Nepal lies the elusive region of Upper Mustang, beckoning the adventurous soul to its pristine beauty. With its mystic charm and enchanting allure, it has become a coveted entry in the bucket list of globetrotters. A dedicated permit is required to embark on the journey to the Kingdom of Lo, with the restricted area starting from Kagbeni and the official checkpoint for your RAPs. To experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, the Upper Mustang restricted area permit costs USD 500 per person for the first 10 days. For every additional day spent in this enchanting realm, an extra 50 USD per person is charged, making it an exclusive and priceless experience.
Humla Rural Municipality RAP:-
The Simikot Limi Valley Trek is calling for the necessary Humla Rural Municipality RAP. This particular district may not be in the limelight, but it has undoubtedly caught the attention of trekking enthusiasts over time. With a resemblance to the magnificent alpine highlands of Switzerland and Italy, the Limi Valley region is breathtaking. The Humla RAP is your gateway to exploring and experiencing all that the Simikot, Changkheli, and Namkha Rural Municipalities have to offer. The permit fee for the Humla RAP is USD 50 per person for the first 7 days, with an additional USD 10 per day for any further extension.
Lower Dolpo RAP:-
The Dolpo region, located in the vast district of Dolpa, boasts a rare and well-maintained collection of cultural customs and rural ways of life in Nepal's mid-western area. It comprises two exclusive zones, the first being the Lower Dolpo, which primarily encompasses the lower precincts of the Dolpa district. For those seeking adventure in the Upper Dolpo Trek, a RAP (Restricted Area Permit) is mandatory and costs USD 20 for an initial week, with an added USD 5 per day for longer periods, exclusively for the Lower Dolpo region.
Manaslu Conservation Area RAP:-
The Manaslu region is a natural and cultural treasure trove, beckoning adventurers from far and wide. However, it boasts two highly coveted restricted areas, the first of which is the Manaslu CA. This elusive region commences from Jagat and spans over five days on the regular circuit, culminating in Samagaon. For those seeking to explore the Manaslu region, the cost of the Manaslu RAP varies according to the season. From September to November, the initial week will cost USD 100, followed by USD 15 per day for any extra days. From December to August, the fee is USD 75 for the first week and USD 10 per day for additional days.
Upper Dolpo RAP:-
Upper Dolpo, a mystical land in the Himalayas of Nepal, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored by the intrepid traveler. With a rich history and breathtaking natural vistas, this off-the-beaten-path destination is a trekking paradise like no other. Those seeking adventure and excitement will find themselves in awe of the stunning beauty of Upper Dolpo. A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to embark on this journey. The cost for the first 10 days is USD 500 per person, with an additional fee of USD 50 per day for any extra time spent in this magical land. Many consider Upper Dolpo and its multiple passes to be one of the best-value destinations in the world for off-the-beaten-track trekking.
Solukhumbu RAP for Rural Municipality:-
Solukhumbu RAP is necessary for the Makalu Barun NP trek and Great Himalayan Trail. Bhotikhola and Makalu rural municipalities are included in this restricted area, which offers an excellent mix of nature and culture, distinct from the usual Everest Base Camp regions. The permit fee for the Solukhumbu District RAP is USD 20 per person for the first 4 weeks and USD 25 per week for any additional time.
Manang Nar Phu region RAP:-
The mystical Nar Phu region offers an unparalleled adventure for those seeking a break from the mundane Annapurna Region. Embracing the road less traveled, the trail unfolds a magical experience in the quaint hamlets of Nar and Phu, steeped in ancient history and rich culture. This trek is often touted as the well-preserved counterpart of Upper Dolpo in Western Nepal. To get entry into this wonderland, the cost of Manang Nar Phu RAP varies with the changing travel seasons. From September to November, the initial seven days come at USD 100, with an added USD 15 for every subsequent day. For the remaining months - December to August - the first week is priced at USD 75, and USD 10 is charged for every additional day beyond the eighth day.
Taplejung Rural Municipality RAP:-
Attention all travelers, the Taplejung Rural Municipality RAP is necessary for anyone traversing through Phantanglung, Mikwakhola, and Sirijunga rural municipalities. The initial fee for the first four weeks will be a mere USD 20 per week, while subsequent weeks will require a fee of USD 25 per week. Don't let the lack of this required permit halt your travels - make sure to obtain the Taplejung Rural Municipality RAP before embarking on your journey.
Rasuwa Gosaikunda RAP:-
The Rasuwa Gosaikunda RAP is a special permit required for those embarking on the Gosainkunda Lake trek and the Langtang Gosainkunda Helambu Trek. This permit serves a dual purpose by incorporating religious pilgrimage and trekking elements into the destination. Gosainkunda Lake is a revered site for both Hindus and Buddhists, which makes the permit slightly different from others on the list. The region is also famous for the Tamang Heritage trail, which is an exhilarating experience for trekkers in Nepal. A restricted area permit is necessary to obtain access to the Rasuwa Gosainkunda region, which costs USD 20 per person per week.
Gorkha Tsum Valley RAP:-
The Tsum Valley is a treasure trove of ancient villages frozen in time, free from Western culture and modernization influences. The Nepalese Government has prioritized preserving this region's traditional lifestyle, customs, culture, and monuments. A permit is required to explore the villages of Sirdibas, Lokpa, Chumling, Nile, Chekampar, and Chule, along with the Chumnubri rural municipality. The Gorkha Tsum Valley RAP has varying costs depending on the time of year you plan to visit. From September to November, the permit costs USD 40 for the first 7 days and USD 7 per day for additional time. From December to August, the cost is USD 30 for the first week and USD 7 per day for any extra time. Besides the Tsum Valley, there are five more restricted areas in Nepal that travelers often seek for a unique experience. Each of these areas encompasses the rural municipalities of different regions in Nepal, and the cost of permits varies depending on the location and time of year.
Makalu region Restricted Area Permits, Sankhuwasabha District:-
Travelers seeking to reach the Makalu Base Camp or Barun Valley treks will require the necessary Makalu region Restricted Area Permits, which are exclusively granted for the Sankhuwasabha District. This area boasts a stunning location, nestled amidst the Everest and Kanchenjunga massifs, promising unforgettable experiences for all who venture within its borders. Encompassing the Kimathanka, Chepuwa, Hatiya, and Pawakhola villages, this region also presents fantastic opportunities for avid wildlife photographers. Obtaining the RAP for the Makalu region of Sankhuwasabha district requires a fee of USD 10 per person for the initial 4 weeks, with an additional USD 20 charge per week for any extended periods.
Dolakha Rural Municipality RAP:-
Dolakha Rural Municipality RAP is a mandatory document for those who wish to explore the stunning GauriSankhar and Bighu rural municipalities and embark on the magnificent Ruby Valley trek. The cost of acquiring this document is a reasonable USD 20 per person per week. Remember, the Dolakha Rural Municipality RAP is not just a mere formality but a crucial step in ensuring a safe and hassle-free adventure in this breathtaking region.
You need this RAP to make your way to Saipal Rural Municipality. Experience the culture, customs, and people at an incredibly low cost - just USD 90 for the first 7 days per person, and then a mere USD 15 per day starting from the second week. Live largely and have a blast while exploring one of the most mystical and magical places in Bajhang.
The gateway to the Api Nampa Trek awaits - a wilderness of high peaks, fast-flowing rivers, and unspoiled beauty. All that stands between you and the start of your journey is a permit from Darchula RAP, your ticket to accessing this wild world. It won't cost you an arm and a leg either - for the first seven days, the cost is just 90 US dollars per person, with an additional 15 US dollars every day after that.
Mugu Rural Municipality RAP:-
Mugumakarmarong Rural Municipality is the perfect destination for any explorer looking for a unique and local experience. With its vibrant culture, rich traditions, and stunning natural beauty, it's no wonder why so many adventurers are looking to explore this hidden gem of Nepal. For an affordable price of USD 100 for the first seven days and USD 15 per day starting from the second week, you can dive into the rich local history and explore the diverse landscape of this captivating locale. From navigating its lush jungles and soaring mountains to discovering its hidden cultural gems, embark on the journey of a lifetime and explore the wonders of Mugumakarmarong Rural Municipality today.