Trekking guide in Nepal: 8 reasons why you need to hire one
Do I need a trekking guide? Or can I trek solo in Nepal? Probably this question has crossed your mind while searching for the best treks in Nepal. Whether you are preparing for the Everest base camp trek or a less known adventure trek in Nepal, guided treks have great advantages compared to a solo trek. In this article I’ll share 8 advantages of hiring a trekking guide in Nepal.
1. They manage expectations
A trek in the Nepali Himalaya can take anything from a few days to a few weeks, but many factors can impact the duration drastically. If you are traveling on a tight schedule this can quickly turn into a problem. A private trekking guide will help you make informed decisions about your trek’s itinerary based on your fitness level, weather, snow-conditions and available tea-houses along the trek. A good thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes the itineraries you find online, or maybe even booked online, are in reality not feasible within the specified amount of time. Make sure to discuss this with your guide on your first day, as you might find out they do not agree with what the trekking agency promised you and can save you from a lot of stress.
2. They provide service, where you didn’t even know you needed it.
On guided treks, both private or in a group, your guide will take care of your everyday needs. While on the surface it might seem your experience is very close to that of a solo trekker, the truth is that the locals always will help guides first, faster and better. This means when you hire a guide you might get that last room, pay and leave before all those other trekkers, or get a small discount on your beer. (Buying a beer for your guide, porter and/or tea-house owner does help here, and make sure to tip regardless). They are all small things that happen in the background, but they quickly add up to your trekking experience.
3. They help you bridge the language barrier
In Nepal a total of 123 languages are being spoken as mother tongue. Nepali, Nepal’s national language, is spoken by 44% of the population. However when you enter the more rural areas of Nepal you will quickly encounter any of the other 122 languages spoken, excluding local dialects. Along the treks you will find barely any locals who speak English, communicating with them can therefore be challenging. This is where your guide comes into the picture. Your guide will translate the menu for you, order your food and drinks, help you with specific wishes or requests, check the bill and much more. The locals definitely appreciate it when you try your hand at some local words and phrases, so make sure to ask your guide for a quick introduction to the local language.
4. They have the local knowhow
If you hire a guide for a trek in Nepal there’s a big chance that this person will be from the area you will be going to. (Worth checking) This gives you an enormous advantage compared to solo trekkers as your guide will be able to inform you about local viewpoints, food, traditions, history, culture and way more. On remote treks the conditions are always changing as well: a bridge may be broken, a path can be vanished by a landslide or a tea-house might be closed. Your local guide will know what to check, with who, before you start hiking for the day. This can save you a lot of headaches, unsafe situations, and maybe a few hours of trekking on that one day that your legs feel like they can collapse at any time.
5. They keep an eye on your safety
A licensed guide in Nepal will have at least a basic understanding of trekking, mountaineering, rescue techniques, flora and fauna, risk-assessment, insurance and first aid practices. A good guide will tell you when to turn around (if needed), surprise you with a personal stock of Muscle heat gel (Thank you Sudi!), teach you how to survive a donkey traffic jam and much more. It’s just a great relief to have someone more experienced and knowledgeable who knows which actions to take when shit hits the fan and get you in and out of the Himalaya safely. In my experience this already starts before you leave Kathmandu as they’ll check all the gear that you brought, and make sure there’s nothing essential missing from your list. Not sure what to bring? Check out my ultimate packing list for a trek in Nepal, which I’ve written based on my first hand experience in Nepal and tips and tricks by my guide Sudi.
6. They can take photos of you
Are you traveling alone and done with just having selfies in your camera roll? My guide Sudi was eager to help me get decent pictures of myself during the Tsum Valley trek and even pointed me towards some “secret” photo spots in the area.
7. They become lifelong friends
Traveling solo can be a lonely experience and having a trekking guide can make your trek a lot more fun. Next to that it is also your chance to learn everything there is to learn about local culture and life from someone who has experienced it first hand. During your long days in the outdoors you will have plenty of time to share stories and get to know each other. I still have regular contact on social media with my guide Sudi.
8. They provide you access to permitted areas
My personal favourite and biggest reason to hire a trekking guide in Nepal is the fact that they allow you to visit certain permitted areas. For some of the hidden gems of Nepal, like the adventurous Tsum Valley trek, you are obliged to hire a guide. Without a guide you will simply not be able to enter the area as you will be noticed soon enough at one of the villages or checkpoints. Therefore this is the greatest tip I can give you when you are planning to do a guided trek in Nepal: choose a trek where a guide is obliged. You will meet way less tourists, connect more with the locals, enjoy the Himalaya in peace and feel like you're on the greatest adventure of your life (Which you are!).
Things I wish I had known before
Having a guide while I was doing the Manaslu Circuit and Tsum Valley trek has greatly enhanced my experience during those three weeks. My guide Sudi did a great job and made sure we were safe at all times. Of course there were also some things I wish I had known before embarking on a guided trek as well. So before you book a trek make sure to read up about the 5 things I wish I had known before booking a trek.