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Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?

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Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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Hi, I was going to trek in Nepal for this September but postponed the trek to mid October. The reason is having one local authorized guide or porter would be mandatory due to government rules during pandemic (it was not before for any area in Nepal, only was for remote areas, the info was supplied to me by director of Kathmandu agency www.himalayantrekkers.com). I wish to be solo while trekking popular routes -- no in a guided tourist group or etc. What do you know about this new/pandemic requirement ? Where to look for the official government info ?

16 replies to this topic
Pokhara, Nepal
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146 posts
1. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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I will ask my friend in PKR, boss of a trekking agency again. A week or so I asked out of couriosity (I always take a porterguide), he said no, at least for the Annapurna Circuit.

I would be really surprised. But who knows. Should be able to tell you in a few days at the latest,

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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In the Annapurnas, there are TIMS control posts that are very difficult to avoid, like the one in Tatopani. Or maybe they have also closed down ?

Espoo
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3. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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Maybe this is slightly off topic, but I do not fully understand the attitude that hiring guides (and porters) has to be avoided. I have never trekked without at least a porter-guide since 1984, 12 treks so far. This might have something to do with starting at the relatively early date, when having a guide and porter was maybe more the norm, excluding some later day hippies maybe.

For me it is mostly a question of culture and convenience. I have not needed a guide for handholding anymore, maybe just for the first 3+ week AC in -84, but a person who can interpret, reserve lodges, inquire about trail conditions, help in the kitchen, and most importantly, carry my luggage (thus porter-guide on 1-2 person treks) makes the trek easier and me happier.

Then there is cultural aspect also which most younger trekkers seem to miss totally (general cultural blindness, I dare say). Caste Nepal is a society, where everybody wealthy enough to hire a coolie when needed does so, even high altitude climbing Sherpas do it themselves. For me this is part of the trekking, immersion in the local culture, or what is left of it in place like Khumbu or Annapurna Conservation Area. If I want to carry a pack I can go to Lapland (and I have done it and keep doing it, especially now). I see in no shame in employing a local professional, and he feels no shame providing a service for good wage, much more than cargo porters, of whom there are 100 times more in number, earn on average.

For some it is a question of cost, but if a one month trip costs in the neighbourhood of 2000€ and up, having a porter-guide for 400€ for 20 days does not make or break my budget.

I remind again that there is popular misconception that having a (porter-) guide means your solo trip turns into a group trek where guide herds you where he wants to is not true. Customer is the boss, guide is a consultant, helper, interpreter, and might also be a fun companion and teacher if the chemistries match.

This post is for general information only and an idea for possible discussion, and not aimed to any individual posting in this tread.

Edited: 26 August 2021, 19:47
Brussels, Belgium
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4. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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#3 Petrus, to each his own. This is your choice, and it is absolutely fine. Personally I prefer being completely independent when I hike or trek. And I'm convinced young people learn more if they travel and trek by themselves, they learn independance and self confidence.

And no, guides were not the norm, it is the opposite of my experience.Most backpackers and hippies in the 60s, 70s and 80s didn't employ a guide or an agency anywhere, and not in Nepal either, already for the reason they had a minimum of money. All this Nepali trekking business developed later.

For the cultural experience, it is better to quit the touristy treks, go off the beaten track and stay in homestays and basic lodges. Well, that's true whether or not you have a guide. The first lodge I stayed during my first trek in 1983, I was the only foreigner amongst Nepalis and we slept on the straw in a large dormitory (note: those who are interested can read a short account of this trek in French here: https://voyageforum.com/discussion/janvier-1983-premier-trek-nepal-d10111100/ )

Espoo
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5. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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Re #4: You might/must be right about the guided/unguided ratio in the early days, I have middle class bourgeois bias as all our friends and acquaintances used guides and porters at that time. Now guided trekkers are a big majority, much caused by the huge groups of new trekkers mostly form Asia. If we look at unit numbers (unit = people travelling together, or alone) then maybe there are more units hiking without a guide than with one.

You are right about personal choice and reasons behind it, I stated mine. Also it is true that to experience original culture one has to get off the popular routes to areas without roads. It is not difficult even in popular areas, there are hundreds of villages joined by trails just a stone's trow away from the main trekking paths, not necessary to go to far places where often trekking permits are still needed. And a guide.

British Columbia...
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6. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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I agree with both Pierre and Petrus (Ark). Of our 15 treks, they are approximately split 50/50 between 100% "independent" versus some form of assistance by guides and porters.

Indeed, I was going to reply saying something similar to Petrus: Having a guide (or porter-guide) does not mean they dictate/determine where you go or stay. You're the boss. And it certainly it is not like being in a group.

Having said that, it unfortunately doesn't always work that way, as some guides have trouble "understanding" their role. For various reasons, our last two treks we had guide or porter-guide different from our usual friend and guide. In both cases, we had some issues during the trek where we had to have "discussions" regarding the fact that WE (us 2 clients) would determine our schedule, etc (even though all this had been discussed and agreed upon before leaving Kathmandu/Pokhara). It eventually worked out, but added a little stress. This sort of thing was never an issue with our usual guide (who we've known since 2002... but he gets booked up).

So, the advice of ensuring your guide is known, recommended, and "interviewed" is quite important. If you get a good guide (or porter-guide), they add greatly/positively to your trek.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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The last thing I would want on a trek is someone constantly with me. What a nightmare.... I want to stop, take pictures at will and sit in silence here and there for an afternoon, blow off a day if I want and stay an extra night. As a payer of a guide or porter, you're basically dealing with an employee who doesn't speak your language well. It's like management.. ugh. The two times I HAD to use a porter (injured hiker), it was a fiasco, once where the porter walked to the end of the trek in one fell swoop and the poor woman with me had no supplies for 2 days of the hike. Sorry, never again ... That said, we still haven't answered the original question, which is whether we can hike independently. I am planning on doing AC on my own this October and failing that, Helambu/Langtang.

Pokhara, Nepal
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8. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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@ Threadstarter:

No. Not at the moment. He (my contact in PKR) would be as surprised as I would be.

Perhaps someone other than me with contacts could clarify it once and for all.

Pokhara, Nepal
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146 posts
9. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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@ Porterguide-Discussion:

This question is as old as trekking, and I am sure, if one would look for it, one would find many threads here.

I'm fully on the "take a porterguide" side.

Because

1.) I am lazy and feel myself entitled to some luxury after a year of hard work. So carrying 10 kg less is great. I'm not 30 anymore.

2.) It is insanly cheap. For a westerner. For the porterguide your pay means the difference between having enough money to live in Kathmandu for University Studies over the next semester or not. Or to pay his rent. Or to get his children new shoes.

3.) What if I broke my leg? What if something even worse happened? Who speaks the language? Who knows how to get help? Who carries your bag along the lonely path when you are not able to anymore? I saw ppl with a broken leg inin a doko (!) carried by their porter. I myself got so sick I couldn't even care for myself anymore (viral infection) and wished to have been so clever to get myself a porterguide. But it was too late.

4.) I don't like to run by by something others have seen, which had a knowlegeable porterguide with them who showed them this special place five minutes away from the main path.

I respect trekkers who want their freedom. But freedom comes at a price everybody hopes he never has to pay.

London
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10. Re: Is guide/porter mandatory in every region in autumn 2021 ?
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tend to agree with @3.

Its not a nightmare with a porter/guide. I have trekked with Madhav for 7 or so years in Nepal. I pay the union rates, he carries, I dont overload him on weight or distance and he does what I politely Tell him. Unloaded i am faster than him so I spend time looking at what I want when I want and I I cant be **red to go to the next stage that day then we dont do so. Having an interpreter for routes/weather/bus schedules/taxi pick-ups in invaluable

In Ladakh, excepting COVID breaks, i have trekked with Namyal and a horse team for 21 years. I am now slower than the team so I get the same time on my own - except when I get lost and he has to find me...... and as someone who has spent a tentless night at 5000 + meters when that happened, i wouldnt trek alone

but different strokes for different folks

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