Trekking Guides in Nepal
Trekking Guides in Nepal
A handful of Nepal's most popular treks, such as Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit, can be completed without a guide. You won’t, however, be doing yourself any favors. Here are 7 reasons why we recommend a guide for your Nepal trek:
1. Get to Know the People
The best reason to hire a local guide is that you will gain a more authentic perspective of the country. From your arrival at the Kathmandu airport you will spend a lot of time with your guide, and by the end of the journey many people feel that they have gained a Nepalese friend. Everything won’t be perfect, but it’s telling that trekkers often hire the same guide when they return.
2. Familiarity with the Trek
Your guide will almost certainly have already completed the trek, most likely on numerous occasions (guides tend to specialize in one region of Nepal and walk the trails multiple times per year). Maps are helpful but can’t replace first-hand knowledge. Your guide will know the terrain, the time between villages, and the best places to stay when you arrive. An added bonus is that he (I use the pronoun he because there are almost no female guides in Nepal) may know people along the trail, which can lead to prime campsites and better rooms in teahouses.
3. The Language Barrier
You may know a few Nepali phrases but your guide can get the real scoop. For example, when deciding whether to stop for the day or press on to the next village, locals in one village will know how many trekkers have passed through that day, how many campsites or teahouses might be available in the next village, etc. The language barrier in Nepal is significant, especially in the high mountains, and it’s advantageous to have a native speaker available to handle the important communications.
Your guide will have good judgment on a number of issues related to your well-being. Villages at lower elevations tend to be busier, and your guide will keep an eye on you and your belongings. Regarding outdoor safety, your guide will know the routes, conditions, and health concerns, among other things. Hiking in the Himalayas is a serious undertaking and it’s a good idea to have somebody experienced along for the trip.
5. Cultural Insights
Your guide will enlighten you about the cultural significance of the places you pass during the trek. In addition to this information, it’s fascinating to ask about village life, other treks, how Nepal has changed, and so on. Lunch is leisurely and you will have plenty of time to learn more about the country during while waiting for your meal of dal baht.
It’s possible for individuals to get permits through the Nepal Tourism Board, but office hours are erratic and this requires planning and significant hassle in Kathmandu. Your guide will get your permits well beforehand and have them ready upon arrival for a minimal charge (registered guides get slightly cheaper permits than individuals). For those hiring a guide in Kathmandu, this will be one less thing to worry about in preparation for your trek. And some treks, such as Manaslu, actually require and enforce trekking with a guide.
7. It’s Relatively Cheap and Goes to a Great Cause
Relative to the total cost of the trip, hiring a guide is an absolute bargain. The going rate on the Annapurna Circuit is about $15 per day for an experienced guide, and you will save money in the form of unofficial tourist tariffs. Hiring with a guide supports the local economy—many people depend on the trekking industry and work extremely hard for the money.