How it works:
- This is a scam by rogue tour operators who work with rogue private hospitals and helicopter companies to defraud money off insurance companies via expensive helicopter evacuation fees and medical bills.
- It got so bad that in August 2018, international insurers threatened to pull out from insuring trekkers in Nepal.
- However, note that the government has hit back claiming that some of the claims and accusations were not true.
- A rogue tour operator advertises treks at prices below their operating costs.
- If you fall for it, you will be required to sign a form accepting helicopter evacuation as long as you show any signs of intestinal problems, respiratory problems, etc.
- Version 1: you suffer a mild form of the sicknesses as stated above (actually most trekkers will suffer some form of it) and will be forced to evacuate via helicopter to a private hospital in Kathmandu even there is no need to.
- Version 2: steps are taken to ensure that you suffer from one of those sicknesses – e.g. planning an exhausting itinerary, spiking your food or drinks with a laxative such as baking soda, etc.
- Version 3: some trekkers are even bribed to accept the helicopter evacuation.
Places to beware:
- Sagarmatha: Everest base camp route
What to do:
- If a price is too good to be true, it is. Stick to reputable operators/guides who are licensed with TAAN, the Trekking Association of Nepal.
- You can find these on TAAN website and other certification at the local offices of these operators.
- Another alternative is Tourradar (largest multi-days tour platform globally), which has over 250 Mount Everest tours with over 900 reviews for these tours for instance.