Nepal helicopter rescue scam: travellers urged to be cautious Nepal helicopter rescue scam: travellers urged to be cautious

The fraudster’s are purposely making Everest trekkers sick, forcing them to abandon their ascent and pay for a costly helicopter rescue service, an insurance company warns…
14 March 2022

With adventurers returning to the Nepal post-pandemic, travel insurer True Traveller is warning those heading to the mountains about a lucrative scam which has been running for more than five years.

This caution comes after a series of multimillion-dollar scams involving trekkers being forced to ascent, many from consuming spiked food, and therefore requiring helicopter rescue, which comes at a dear price.

The insurance company states foreign climbers are being targeted, and should be wary of Everest Base Camp treks with ‘too good to be true’ prices.


Trekkers have had their food spiked by the scammers (Shutterstock)

“With people returning to international adventure travel post-pandemic, and with the Nepal trekking season imminently upon us, I am concerned about possible injury or even deaths involving scams with unregulated helicopter rescues in Nepal,” said Tim Riley, Managing Director at True Traveller.

“A Nepalese government investigation a few years ago found that many novice trekkers had been taken to altitude too quickly by guides and suffered from Acute Mountain Sickness, or even poisoned so they became dehydrated due to vomiting and diarrhea.

“As a result, a rescue helicopter is called, and the guides receive a financial reward for calling it out. It ruins the trekkers’ holiday, and in extreme cases, can lead to very serious illness or even death.

He continued: “It’s not about the cost of the rescues, but more so the ruined holiday and consequential issues which may affect the holiday-maker for a long period of time. Good quality international trekking companies hardly have any helicopter rescues, but people can be tempted by very cheap treks to Everest Base Camp selling at half the price.”

In 2019, True Traveller organised only 38 helicopter rescues, with most climbers complaining of altitude sickness.

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