The trail, first of its kind in Nepal, is 1.24 km long and 6 feet wide with altitude spanning from 1,538m at Khadgau Deurali of Pokhara Lekhnath Metropolitan city to 1568m at Bhume Deurali in Sarangkot. It lies on the North West part of Lake City Pokhara. It is part of 14 km long trekking route in the ridge connecting Sarangkot to Naudanda. As far as difficulty goes, the trail route is graded as fairly moderate. The trail on average takes 45 minutes to complete. Likelihood of trekkers suffering from altitude sickness is minimum but adequate attention has been given to disseminating information on preventing it throughout the trail via sign posts. Health posts are also readily available.
The trail is equipped with basic infrastructure to ensure the safety of trekkers. Accessible washrooms, precautionary signposts, location map, handrails, wheelchair accessibility are accessible features to name the few. In addition, the telephone network is pretty good throughout the trail and restaurants in surrounding area also provides a decent Wi-Fi service. While the accessibility is foundational at the moment, stakeholders have shown a keen interest in improving the quality of accessibility by introducing additional facilities so that the trail can be more attractive in the global arena. Surrounded by sub-tropical evergreen forest and a pleasant atmosphere, trail promises the pristine view of Mount Dhaulagiri (8167m), Annapurna (8091m), Himchuli (6441m), Fishtail (6993m), Manaslu (8156m), Lamjung Himal (6983m) etc. Nepalese People, in general, are very hospitable and welcoming. Trekkers can observe diverse culture, customs and religion as the entire Pokhara/ Sarangkot region exhibit multi-cultural and multi-religion community. The area is mostly populated by Brahmin, Chhetri, Gurung, and Magar.
Standard of trail
New trekking route construction and protection committee, a local committee, in collaboration with Nepal Tourism Board, built the trail with an investment of NPR 1.95 Million. The trail, 6 feet wide and 1.24 km long, was designed by the collective effort of wheelchair users, senior citizens, and slow walkers. It was systematically audited by Great Himalaya Trail certified auditors to ensure international standard. Since the construction involved proper planning by Nepal Tourism Board and direct participation from differently-abled people during designing phase, the trail is meant to leave up to the expectation of end users. Length of the trail is planned to be increased to 4 km in the near future.
Inclusiveness in tourism-Milestone for Nepalese tourism industry
Trail marks the first step toward acknowledging long overdue inclusive tourism which addresses the needs of all kind of tourists regardless of their physical and mental condition in Nepal. Since it is first of its kind in Nepal and has potential to be one of the best in Asia, this trekking trail is a milestone in Nepalese tourism industry. It not only has addressed the demands of differently-abled groups in Nepal but also raised their morale.
Accessibility is required on every step of supply chain catering to the requirement of all kinds of travelers to ensure the experience of complete inclusiveness to all. The construction and operation of this trail are great to start but challenges lie ahead. Stakeholders in travel and tourism sector are expected to work on designing their products and services that are in line with the spirit of responsible and inclusive tourism to attract more of both domestic and international differently-abled travelers.
What first accessible trail of Nepal offers is but the tiny part of majestic beauty Nepal has in store. It is quite clear that with proper accessibility, differently-abled people can indeed conquer other Himalayan region and experience first-hand what it feels like to be in the lap of Himalayas. Authorities and Agencies need to work in tandem to bring in the international best practice to enhance the safety and comfort of the potential travel. In addition awareness program are to be conducted to change people’s attitude towards differently-abled groups. This trail is now fully operational and enjoys the first accessible trail of Nepal.