Do you need a guide for Gokyo Ri trek in Nepal?
Most trekking routes in Nepal are fairly easy to follow (there actually isn’t that many roads once you are on the trek and if you are not sure, you can always ask locals or other trekkers which way to go. But what I noticed while hiking back from Gokyo Ri is that some junctions were not that well indicated and I wouldn’t have known where to go if the guide hadn’t told us (also I did not bring a map). During our trek, on a rainy and foggy day, we met a guy walking in front of us on the way down on his own. Twice, our guide had to yell at him and tell him he was walking on the wrong path and the guy turned around to follow us. A guide can for sure be useful to avoid walking an extra hour in the wrong direction… especially when it rains!
But the guide is not just here to show you directions, as you can see in the list below. He is also your safety and security, if everything doesn’t go as planned… and believe me nothing really goes as planned in Nepal!!!
A trekking guide in Nepal costs around $20-30USD a day (+ tips about 15% – 1 extra day per week of trek). And good thing is… having a guide does not mean walking in a tour with 10 other persons! You can have your own personal guide, or a guide for 2 persons like we did with my partner.
To become guides, Nepalese have to be porters for a minimum of 2 years and pass a test that checks both their level of English and their knowledge of the tracks. So no need to worry about having a guide that cannot understand you… as long as you speak English! 😉
Other reasons why you need a guide
- Itinerary – ensuring your head in the right direction
- Navigation – Know at what time best to leave in the morning
- The guide knows the area (tea breaks on the way, or next place to buy toilet paper hehe…). The days when we felt more tired, our guide was helpful to indicate when the next tea houses were so we could stop for tea breaks on the way. It was also useful to know how we were tracking with time, or to know depending on the difficulty of the trek on the day at what time to leave in the morning.
- Organisation – no need to look for places to stop for lunch
- Logistic and trouble with planes in Lukla – Because of weather conditions, our plane back to Kathmandu got cancelled. Instead of waiting at the airport for a plane our guide who knew a few people working at the airport was able to get a call when the conditions got better and the planes started to fly again so we could get on the next flight leaving. That was really useful.
- The guide will know which tea house is safe for the food (and will advise what to eat)
- Helps you find a porter (if you didn’t go through an agency)
- Can help if you get sick and can help organize rescue if needed. Establishes contact with your travel insurance and takes care of rescue if you have a serious accident. The night prior to our ascent to Gokyo Ri summit, my partner got sick during the night and vomited several times. As we couldn’t delay our trek – our return plane from Kathmandu was already booked – we stuck to the plan and hiked to the summit the next day. Our guide was really accommodating and helped carry my partners day bag as we climbed.
- Altitude sickness – The guide makes sure you get properly acclimatized to be able to complete the trek safely. In order to get acclimatized it is always good to follow the advice of the guide, as some days you will get the feeling that you can do more, and when reaching the next tea house just 50 meters higher, you might start having a headache.
- Help translate to locals who do not speak English (e.g. order food at the tea houses)
- Help the local Nepalese economy by offering work.
- Learn about the culture – guide can provide useful explanations. For example did you know that in altitude they do not use wood in the tea houses to do fires? Nop… they use yak poo!
- Take the right photo… not easy when you see a bunch of mountains to know which one is the famous Everest… even less where the best viewpoint is on the way up when you are so focused 99% of the time on your feet. Always good to know when to take the best pictures right? After all, don’t we all climb there to at least get one photo of the Everest?!
- Keep your moral up! My partner kept asking our guide how much more time we had to walk when he was tired! 😉
- Adapt your itinerary (if you are sick one day, or walk slowly or simply need some rest) – the guide can help adapt the trip based on your needs.
Note: as mentioned with the costing at the top, a tip is usually required at the end of the trek (consider between 5 and 10$ a day at the end of your trip). I was a bit upset about this cost when I first learned about it as I hadn’t plan this in my budget. But all things considered, I was really grateful for the help the porter brought us, so we gave the tip with a big thanks.
Do you need a porter for Gokyo Ri trek in Nepal?
Do I really need a porter?
First thing first… it mainly depends on your fitness level and the level of difficulty you want!
Some people do very well without porters. To be honest I do not like the principle to use porters. Without a porter you will of course need more time to finish the trek, but it is not impossible do it by your own. It is important to have a good training that you start at least 3 months in advance (especially since carrying a bag of 10 kgs extra on your back can change a lot). On the first day of our trek, I tried to be kind with the porter and only emptied a couple of things from my bag for him to carry and kept the rest with me. I am not going to lie, hiking uphill – especially in stairs – with the bag was harder than expected and the next day I gave him almost the entirety of my bag…
Same as for the guide, hiring a porter is well seen in Nepal as it helps the local economy.
A porter in Nepal costs around $15-20USD a day (+ tips about 15% – 1 extra day per week of trek)
Note: a tip is usually required at the end of the trek. 😉 When you will see what the porter carries for you and how much 10 or 20$ represents for him, you will soon forget about this ridiculous amount of money…
When we did the Gokyo Ri trek, we had a porter for 2 and only had to carry our day packs (about 4 kgs each including water, warm and waterproof clothes in case and our cameras), the rest of our belongings being stored in a duffel bag the porter carried for us.
Don’t be mean…
As you will see on the track when you go there, it is not rare to see porters even carry several bags for their clients, for some of them with weight up to 40 kgs. Not sure what some people bring up there but don’t be mean guys… no need to bring your hairdryer up there… you won’t have any power plug to connect it to anyway!!!
Some porters will give you the option to either transfer your belongings to a large duffle bag they will provide (can easily fit 20kgs of clothes) – we had 1 for both of us – or if you want to use your own trekking bag they can also carry that for you (some group of 2 people gave their 2 backpacks to the guides and kept their day packs with them during the day) – their porters had ropes and necessary material to tie both bags together and be able to carry both on their back.
One thing I saw in the mountains… some people did not have backpack and brought their rolling luggage with wheels and asked the porter to carry these bags instead of the duffel bag… gasp. These are definitely not easy bags to bring in the mountain and must have been horrible for the porter to carry… even though he accepted with a smile. Please be kind and do NOT do that…
Where do I find a guide and/or a porter for the Gokyo Ri trek?
Guide and porter for Gokyo Ri trek
Easier and cheaper way would be… if you know someone who knows someone… who knows a guide! 🙂 Many people have done those treks, so if you want to go for the cheap option, check around you.
Other option is to go with an agency, but same here, to avoid crazy pricing, pick a Nepali agency directly.
What the agency can help you with:
- Logistic – no need to worry about booking planes between Kathmandu and Lukla
- No need to worry about booking accommodation and worry about availability of tea houses during your trek.
- Helps you find a guide and porter
- Answer all your questions about the trek and what to pack
With the Nepalese agency we picked (Thamel Travel and Tours – info@
Hope this article made you want to travel!