Ecotourism has been promoted to reconcile seemingly conflicting goals of tourism development and nature conservation. Given its importance, how has ecotourism fared in the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) and how resilient was it to the Maoist insurgency in Nepal (1996–2006)? Drawing upon more than 10 months of field research, participant observation, semi-structured surveys and content analysis of 21 annual reports, ecotourism was evaluated by organizing ACA's programmes and activities under the four major emerging themes, namely local capacity building, waste management, education and infrastructure development; the most prominent theme was local capacity building. Annual visitor numbers declined during the insurgency, but ecotourism managed to survive, mainly due to self-organization of local tourism entrepreneurs. Local tourism entrepreneurs facilitated self-organization through capacity building and diversification of livelihoods. In the aftermath of the insurgency, visitor numbers rebounded and ecotourism continued to develop and evolve; ecotourism was thus resilient to the insurgency. Building local capacity, facilitating self-organization and diversifying livelihoods can enhance the resilience of ecotourism, sustaining stability and helping to deal with uncertainty.