How to report a missing trekker
Get help on what to do if you know someone who has gone missing while trekking in Nepal
Before reporting a missing trekker
If you know someone who has gone missing in Nepal here are some recommend steps you should take. However, before you take those steps you should consider the following.
Why do you think someone has gone missing?
It’s easy to think something is wrong if you have not heard from someone trekking overseas. Here are some things to consider:
- A person has not called or emailed in a few days.
- They have made no updates on social media
- They are trekking and mobile reception may not be good.
- Keep in mind that electricity is not always available in the mountains so their phone may be out of charge.
- Internet is very patchy in the mountains
- Maybe they are enjoying the last few days of being “off the grid”
- Check the last trek details they sent you to confirm when they are expected back in a big city (usually Kathmandu or Pokhara). If they are over due then you may want to raise an alarm.
- Contact the trekking agency they went with by telephone to confirm where they are. Insist that they contact the guide who went on the trek with them.
- Contact other people in their social networks to see if they have any further details about the trek or if they’ve heard from the person.
- If nobody has heard anything and the trekker is late back then you should make all immediate efforts to contact the trekking agency they went with. The trekking agency should now go to very good lengths to contact their guide and confirm everything is okay.
- If the trekker did not go with a trekking agency or the trekking agency has not heard from anyone then you need to proceed to the steps below on reporting a missing trekker.
Steps to take when reporting a missing trekker
Gather all the data you have on the missing trekker and write it down
(you may not have all this information, but do try to answer as much as possible).
- Physical description (color of hair, eyes, skin)
- Photographs of the trekker (close up’s of their face along with photos showing all of their body help)
- Trekkers Passport or ID numbers
- Name of trek they were going on
- Name of trekking company they were with (if applicable)
- Date they were departing for the trek
- Date they were meant to be back from the trek
- Name of hotels they were meant to be staying at
- Date of entry into Nepal (what airline, tickets)
- Scheduled data to leave Nepal (what airline, tickets)
- Name of travel insurance company the trekker has a policy with
- Any itinerary the trekker was planning in Nepal
- Names and details of anyone the trekker was with in Nepal (trekking partners, traveling partners)
Report the missing trekkers details to the following organizations yourself (even if the trekking agency is doing the same): In all cases it’s better to contact them by telephone or in person rather than email.
Important Contacts to Report a Missing Trekker in Nepal
Here is a list of embassies in Nepal: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/nepal
Contact the missing trekkers travel insurance company who will advise you on the policy the trekker took with them, offer help and financial support with any search and rescue that may be needed.
What happens next?
There are no formal steps on the process of looking for a missing trekker in Nepal. It’s one of the reasons this website was created. Highlighting this may help the authorities to undertake an official policy on the steps needed.
The following is what usually happens
- Your report is filed with the Nepal Tourist Police, Nepal Tourism Board and TAAN.
- All three organizations are meant to co-ordinate with each other in addressing the situation and in putting together a task force. Details about the trekkers Trekking Permit and TIMS are found and noted (all trekkers should have registered for a permit and a TIMS).
- Based on the missing trekkers trekking itinerary, the number of days they were trekking, last known communication from the missing trekker and any check points they would have signed into along the trek their location is narrowed down.
- Telephone calls are made to permit check points and tea-houses in the immediate areas where the missing trekker may be, based on their last known or predicted location.
- Emails and telephone calls are made to registered trekking agents and guides known to operate in the area the trekker went missing to alert them.
- If funds are available, a search party is assembled in the area the missing trekker went missing. Likewise a helicopter search can be issued, but again it is dependent on available funds.
What else can you do to help?
As the Nepali search begins you can also bring your own efforts in to help alert others about the missing trekker. The more people that know about the missing trekker the greater the chance that someone may keep an eye out or have information crucial to locating them.
- List a missing trekker on MissingTrekker.com
- Post details about the missing trekker online via popular Nepal forums: Lonely Planet’s ThornTree Nepal section, TripAdvisor Nepal forum, TravellersPoint Asia forum.
- Post details on your own social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
- Ask the missing trekkers friends to do the same
- Contact your home countries news and media with details on the missing trekker
- Contact Nepali news and media e.g. Kathmandu Post, Himalayan Times with details on the missing trekker
- Don’t forget to check back on the forums or missingtrekker.com in case someone posted information!
Frequently asked questions on reporting a missing trekker
Who pays for a rescue?
People have in the past used online crowd-sourcing to help fund searches e.g., gofundme.
Why do trekkers go missing in Nepal?
Trekkers don’t go missing that often, however when they do then it usually makes headlines for all the reasons above. Most trekkers who go missing went alone. It is always safer to go with a guide or with someone else should you get into trouble.
Why isn't it compulsory to take a guide if it's safer?
Within the international trekking community the idea of making guides compulsory is frowned upon. Enforcing regulations on outdoor activities like trekking in Nepal could turn many people off and open the flood gates for even more regulations thereby taking the fun out of trekking.
Trekking like many activities has its risks. Anyone taking part in a trek should be aware of these risks and take all the necessary precautions to eliminate such risks.