I’m starting to wind down my posts on my Everest Base Camp trip over at Gadling. Last week I finished up the stories on the actual trek itself, and the next few will cover some logistical stuff such as gear and preparation for the trip. Today’s story takes a look at the pros and cons of going independently vs. hiring a guide.
As I say in that story, if you’ve never made a trek like this one before, than you should hire a guide, period! But if you have any kind of experience backpacking, the answer isn’t so simple, and there are a lot of reasons why you could go either way in your choice. I know that many of the readers of Gadling have never gone on any kind of backpacking trip, but conversely, the audience here at the Adventure Blog has a great deal of experience in the outdoors and in adventure travel.
With that in mind, I can tell you that trekking independently in Nepal is very easy. There is a good infrastructure in place, with well marked and easy to follow trails, and villages pop-up along those trails at regular intervals, which means that you’re never too far away from a place to rest, get some food, water, and so on. It really does make it a simple affair for the experienced backpacker. If you do choose to go independently, it can save you a lot of money as well, plus you’ll have the added advantage of going at your own pace, stopping when and where you want, and so on.
On the other hand, there are a number of great reasons to hire a guide as well. For starters, they’ll usually bring porters along with them, which means you won’t have to carry your own pack, and can go a bit lighter on the trail. Guides will also often have worked out places to stay ahead of time, ensuring that you’ll have a room in a teahouse for the night. If you go independently, that isn’t always the case, especially during the high season. Furthermore, traveling with a guide may earn you a discount on some of the rooms and food that you’ll be consuming along the way.
I go into all of this in a bit more detail in the Gadling story, but suffice as to say, you’ll always have options when traveling in Nepal. I personally elected to go with a guide as it made the logistics of the trip a lot easier to manage while traveling with a constrained schedule. It was nice to know that I had a room waiting for me at the end of the day, as well as someone taking care of flights in and out of Lukla, which isn’t a difficult thing to manage, but can still eat up your time when priority to travel is given to guided groups.
No matter which way you choose to go though, the experience is one that you’ll certainly remember. The bottom line is that trekking in the Himalaya is a fantastic event, and you’ll gain the benefits of the physical challenge, amazing scenery, and wonderful culture no matter which option you choose.
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