What to look for in a trekking guide in Nepal?
So, you’ve decided you want to do a trekking in the Nepali mountains? Excellent decision! The Himalaya and Annapurna mountain range have so much to offer in both nature and culture! But safety should always come first. That’s why we recommend travelers to hike with an experienced guide. But finding the right one can be a real challenge! Here are our tips on what to look for in a trekking guide in Nepal.
First off, every traveler is different. Which guide suits you best really depends on a number of things, like the amount of time you have in Nepal for instance, but also your budget and your prior hiking experience. These tips give you a general idea on what to look for in a trekking guide in Nepal, but it ultimately depends on your preferences and your budget.
1. Book a guide in advance
While you might be tempted to book your trekking guide for Nepal in Thamel or Pokhara, it is a smarter idea to decide on a company you want to go on a trekking with before you arrive in Nepal. Sure, just walking into one of the many trekking agencies in the busy Kathmandu streets might save you a few dollars, but do you really know where you’re booking? Picking a guide in advance saves you a lot of trouble and bad decisions because you can easily do your research beforehand and make sure your trekking itinerary is EXACTLY like you want it to be.
Another reason to book your trekking guide for Nepal in advance is that it can give you peace of mind and you don’t have to make decisions on the spot. There are a lot of people who will do whatever it takes to get you as their customer. This already starts at the airport, where they try to get you towards their agency. If you manage to shake those guys off, there are plenty more waiting in Thamel … If you’re already set on a guide and a trekking agency once you arrive in Nepal, you can walk straight past those annoying people at the airport and easily blow them off in Thamel as well.
2. All-inclusive vs. ‘just’ a guide
Some trekking guides in Nepal seem very expensive at first and that might scare you away. Which is a shame! There’re a lot of different service levels offered by Nepali trekking agencies. Some offer ‘guide only’, while others have the option to provide the entire package including all meals and even plane- or bustickets or a car to get to the starting point of your trekking. As you might have guessed, the second option will cost more but also gives you a very clear idea of your trekking expenses. In contrary to the ‘guide only’ option, where you’ll have to sort a lot of things out yourself.
Don’t worry that an ‘All-inclusive’ deal will make you end up with all sorts of things you don’t want. A good guide or trekking agency gives you the opportunity to customize your trip. It is your holiday after all and it should be exactly like you want it to be (within reason, of course ;)).
So look for flexibility when choosing a trekking guide in Nepal. Don’t go for that agency that only offers you complete packages if that’s not what you want. Make sure you can pick whatever options you do want and make them come up with a custom price. If they don’t want to do that? Move along!
3. Check out reviews on the trekking agencies that seem a good fit
It never ceases to amaze us how many terrible trekking organizations still get plenty of customers. Most trekking agencies in Nepal have reviews up on TripAdvisor or Facebook. Do a little research before you decide and check those out! This can save you a lot of bad experiences later on. But do keep in mind: you might be bothered by things other people aren’t and the things you are ok with, might not suit another trekker. So don’t get bogged down in the details.
4. Can you meet your trekking guide in Nepal?
If you book your trip while you’re already in Nepal, ask if you can meet your guide and get to know him or her a little beforehand. If you’re booking in advance, this might be a bit harder. But you can tell a lot about an organization in the way they communicate with you. Do they sound friendly in their emails? Are they responding fast to your questions? Or do they even offer to meet you in person?
5. Are they legit?
In Nepal, there is an organization named TAAN. This is the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, which is the umbrella organization for trekking agencies in Nepal. If a guide says he’s a member of TAAN, always check if this is actually true. You can easily do so on the TAAN website.
Do I need a porter too?
Sometimes, we recommend having not only a guide but a porter too. Especially if you’re not an experienced hiker and/or don’t know the Nepali mountains. It can make a huge difference if you’re walking with a small daypack or a big 12 kg backpack. The decision if you want a porter is ultimately yours, of course, but a good guide or trekking company will give you advice on the matter.
Hopefully, our tips help you in deciding on a trekking guide for your trip to Nepal. If you have any questions, just send us an email!