GUIDES, PORTERS: SOME TREKKING HINTS
It is best NOT to trek alone. For one thing, if you have an accident no one will be there to get help.
Before setting off with brand-new trekking partners, do make sure you get along well! Trekking can put a strain on the best of relationships, let alone new ones!
We recommend that you consider hiring a porter or guide. We post a list of KEEP member agencies.
- In Nepal it is culturally acceptable to use a porter and/or guide. It is a normal business relationship.
- Hiring a porter contributes to local economies. Unemployment is very high in Nepal.
- Hiring anyone off the street is risky. If you use a trekking company (e.g. from the KEEP member-list), check that they have used the person before. If you wish to hire porter or guide at the start of the trek or along the way, do this through a reputable local trekking company.
- A porter will help with the carrying; the ups and downs of the Himalayas can be hard on the knees. He can also help with language difficulties, route finding [if he has done the trek before], as well as providing information about Nepali culture. And, importantly, he will be there in case of an emergency.(Note that guides do guiding, not carrying – the latter is what porters do, an important distinction.)
- Do make sure the porter/guide has insurance. Trekking companies should have a blanket policy covering all staff, but not all do. Individual trekkers can get insurance for their porters.
- Do take your porter/guide for a tea or a meal before you go. Find out about him and get an idea if you will get along. Remember you will be spending the next few weeks together.
- If your porter has done a good job you should give a tip [porter wages are low]. If you do, make sure you tell him it is because he did a good job. Do try to make sure your porter receives a fair wage.
- Do make sure the porter is healthy and equipped for the trek, especially if you are trekking at altitude. If you need to buy him kit, maybe you can present it to him at the end as a tip. Always make it clear whether things are a loan or a gift!
Trekking with Nepal’s can have many rewards – it is their country, after all. It provides much-needed income. The money involved in hiring a porter is minimal to you but can mean a lot to a poor family. Getting
To know your porter can also give you better insights into the life and people of Nepal.
If trekking at altitude or when snow may be encountered make sure porter has access to sunglasses to prevent snow blindness; shoes, socks and gloves to prevent frostbite and general warm clothing e.g. jumper/fleece and windproof jacket. Porters will be experiencing the same weather as you. They are strong, but they are human!