Do I need a guide?
There is no easy answer to this question on most trekkers lips but we can offer the following advice:
While it is possible to go trekking by yourself on some of the classic routes many of them are at high altitude and can be dangerous for inexperienced trekkers. The following should be taken into consideration:
- It is much harder to walk (particularly with a pack) at high altitude and even if you are an experienced trekker at low altitude this will make your journey significantly harder. Employing a porter/guide or both will make your journey less physically demanding.
- Employing porters and guides helps to create employment within Nepal and supports the entire community.
- There are virtually NO signposted trails in Nepal. Even on the busiest trekking routes there are virtually no signs and many local village tracks all over the place so if you don’t take a guide you run the risk of getting lost or sidetracked. This can have serious consequences if you get lost in remote or high altitude areas. A guide will know the route to take even if there has been heavy snowfall and also the shortest route or bypass if there has been an event like a landslide.
- The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable; a guide will have knowledge about the weather and local conditions.
- A guide will make sure that your health and safety is his number 1 priority. It is easy and common to get sick at altitude and be quite unaware of the cause. A guide will monitor your health to make sure that if you are suffering from AMS or any other condition that you get treatment before it is too late. They will also be able to arrange medical evacuation for you very quickly in the event of problems. (In the case of solo trekkers arranging medical assistance can be quite lengthy and difficult on your own).
- A guide will be able to advise you on the best food to eat for acclimatization and local availability to reduce your chances of having digestive or health problems.
- A guide provide you with company and also tell you the local sights, take you to monasteries etc, talk to the locals and interpret for you and perhaps even tell you many of the local history, legends and interesting information about the area in which you are trekking.
- If you arrange a guide with a trekking agency before leaving Kathmandu you will be able to negotiate a great price. If you change your mind and try to hire a guide half way through your trek it is likely that you will be paying a much higher price.
- Some treks are in restricted zones where it is not possible to get a permit unless you arrange it through a registered trekking agency and employ a guide.
Tips for guides and porters
It is customary to tip guides and porters if you are happy with the service that they provide. Wages in Nepal are very low so often guides and porters rely on tips as their primary source of income.
How much should I tip?
Guide salaries are higher than that of porters and their job is less physically demanding. For that reason we recommend tipping more for porters.
For a 2 week trip we would recommend tipping 200USD (20,000rs) per porter and 150USD (15,000) per guide. This cost can be divided between your group and given at the end of the trip.