Many of our volunteers want to go trekking and wonder if they should go trekking alone or with a guide. Here at Volunteer Society Treks Nepal we also organize tours and treks and always advise to go with a guide. Here are the reasons why:
Navigation and knowledge of the trails
You guide knows the route and how far it is to the next village. He also knows how the trail looks like. Is it steep or flat? And that makes a big difference while trekking in Nepal. If you come from a flat country (such as the Netherlands) you will easily miscalculate the distances. Sometimes in a day you trek for only 6 km but you go will up for 1000 meters! Also, while trekking, there can be confusing places with unsigned junctions or areas where new roads have been constructed overtop of trekking routes. Your guide can help with that as he knows the way. It happens a lot that travelers without a guide accidentally take the wrong route and end up trekking two hours the wrong way… only to find out and have to go back again… A guide will take away those worries.
Your guide has the contacts on trail
Your guide knows the hostels on trail. He will know which one has the best rooms and which hostel takes good care of you. He will point out to you which rooms are above the fireplace and therefore the warmest. Your guide will also arrange you extra blankets if needed. If the family of the hostel is making popcorn or has harvested mushrooms he will make sure you get some. He also calls in advance to make a room reservation when its busy. Those little things can make a big difference!
Culture and language
Your guide might not speak the best English, but your guide will learn a bit more every day. And you will learn some Nepali! It’s easy when you are hiking together and sipping tea on the way. You learn how to say hello, how to order a cup of tea and how to say that you are tired or happy. To chat about things that are normal in your culture and compare it to Nepal is always a lot of fun! The hours will go by superfast when you are hiking and chatting away. And to see the guides eyes light up in happiness when he talks about his newly born son or daughter, the village where he is born or tell stories about strange things that happened to him while trekking is something you will remember just as much as the nature or views!
Invest in the local economy
Unemployment is high in Nepal. Many people leave to work in the Gulf Area. One person working as a guide means he can sustain his whole family and stay close to them. After the earthquake, the tourism industry in Nepal is suffering and one of the best things you can do to help Nepal recover is to go visit and spend your money at local businesses, including trekking agencies. With Volunteer Society Nepal, a part of the money you pay also goes to our local projects. In this way you even contribute more to the development of Nepal.
Increased morale, health and happiness
Trekking is not always easy. For example when you are on trail and its raining, or you feel tired and with muscle ache in the morning. Your guide is always there with a smile, helps you with your backpack and shows you points of interest, nice views or tells you a joke. And last but not least: when you feel sick, show signs of altitude sickness or feel cold, he will notice and take care of you. He will change the pace, stop more often, tells you to drink water and maybe arrange a day of rest. He has the experience and he knows what to do, and that makes all the difference.