Have you ever trekked or considering to in the future? Well, if you have, you’ll agree, and if you haven’t, you’ll soon discover that a great guide is essential. On a trek, a guide becomes your best friend, a guardian, a life coach, a medical expert and someone you seek comfort in. Guides need to get you from point A to B and back to A again. I may be telling you things, you already know about what you would define as a guide.
However, some people may choose to trek without one or pick a guide at a lower cost because it’s more budget-friendly. Speaking from experience, I trekked one of the scariest experiences of my life to date doing the latter. However, before I go off on a discourse, let me share with you first what I think makes a good guide.
What Makes a Good Guide?
- Experience– This, for me, is a no brainer. A guide needs to have experience under their belt—experience in terms of the route, leading people, difficulties and success rates.
- Medically Trained- In case any incident arises, they should have a well-stocked first-aid kit and be highly trained. In case anything happened in a remote region, they could attend to you immediately.
- Enthusiasm- Depending on the level of your trek and how much you ascend, altitude can get to you. In fact, not even altitude, remote areas or just long days on foot. A good guide should be full of enthusiasm to motivate you out of your mental struggle—enthusiasm to carry you along mentally through each day and motivate you to achieve your goal. Enthusiasm makes the difference.
- A Local- In Nepal on your treks, you’ll stay in teahouses. A good guide should be a local or a local to the country to be able to converse with those living in the mountains. Similarly, if anything happened, they can converse easily in their mother tongue.
- Selfless- A guide is leading you to safety and while on the trek should be you before themselves. By no means should a guide be trying to get you to indulge in activities or spend more while trekking.
- Able to improvise- Sometimes, external situations can arise when trekking like weather, health or a pandemic like now! Guides must be able to think on their feet and change plans when required.
Now, Why a good guide is important for trekking in Nepal?
My experience Trekking in Nepal with an Average Guide
During December 2017, I selected a guide for a trek to Everest Base Camp for the following February. I chose a local guide who was referred to me by a friend who previously trekked Annapurna Basecamp. My friend defined this guide as a “middle man” someone who is not associated with any agency and will not charge you absurd amounts of money for your journey.
For this reason, I jumped to the budget-friendly option. I planned to travel to the Philippines after I visited Nepal and would need as much money as possible leftover. I paid around a $1200 for a 15-day trek through Gokyo and Everest Base Camp.
Start of My Trek
Our journeys together began, on a cold offseason in February 2018. Alongside another experienced South American Trekker. We flew from Kathmandu to Lukla, ready to start our journey.
Once we had gathered the flight to Lukla, we all set off. However, because of their ability, they rocketed off into the distance, leaving to plod behind. It was by myself I learnt the caution of being on different sides of the path to donkeys, yaks and many more animals.
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After the first day, when we reached Namche Baazar, my mood was ruined. Basically, my trekking companion and the guide told me all about it, spoiling my surprise. I wanted to take photos; however, they rushed off, moving to the teahouse. It was there I’d spent a day and a half of acclimatisation. I recall my guide taking me to drink at a bar, him smoking a lot.
Following this, a few days had passed with hardly any chatting during the trek. Sometimes my guide would walk way ahead of us so fast, telling us we weren’t fast enough. Likewise, how his mental health was not in the best shape. We had reached Gokyo at -20 degrees. This is where altitude started to affect me; I had palpitations, was sweating and became bed-bound for two days.
Lobuche to Gorakshep
Luckily, I managed to trek after that for a few days. Untill the day I was meant to hit Everest Base Camp. On the way from Lobuche to Gorakshep, my guide started smoking. Then after he had his cigarette, he began to feel faint. By this point, the other girl who I was trekking with was far into the distance. He sat down with no trekkers around in the middle of offseason.
My guide then indicated to me; he felt like he was having a heart attack and was rather dizzy. So I took his rucksack off and sat with him. I calmed him down and gave him some chocolate, so the sugar would go into his bloodstream. I then got his pulse oximeter out and took his pulse. He was, fine; however, he still felt like he was dying.
Due to where I was, it was so remote there was no cell reception. Luckily, by the time I got him to stand up my companion, she hiked back. She placed his rucksack on and helped him back to the teahouse. I was told then and there; he couldn’t go on to basecamp. He was trying to persuade me to descend with him.
Anyhow, I chose against that decision and the next morning he descended himself. He left me stranded. The girl and I decided to trek our own path to base camp and come back. Then she had to move on to summit another peak, which meant I was left in the Lobuche teahouse without a guide. So, I got two helicopters back to Kathmandu.
Everything about that trek for me went wrong and ruined my experience trekking Mount Everest Base Camp. It’s the first time I’ve realised in life sometimes the cheaper option is not the most beneficial. Next time, I’d go in a large group, have everything ticked off on my good guide criteria and handpick my guide to my liking.
Learn From My Mistake! A good guide is important for trekking in Nepal
Sometimes, mistakes are best learnt themselves; however, in this case, I’d instead you learn from my bad experience. If you’re thinking about trekking in Nepal in the foreseeable future. A good guide is important for trekking in Nepal.