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planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Perth, Australia
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planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Hi,

My trip to Nepal is fast approaching and I am now trying to decide whether to do a trek with all costs paid upfront vs hiring a guide and a porter and paying our own food/accommodation etc ourselves on a daily basis. I calculate that the latter option will be cheaper but what are the main disadvantages of using this option?

All thoughts/ opinions greatly appreciated,

Take care!

adelaide
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1. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

it might be cheaper as you suggest but about a dollar a day wont break the bank - hopefully

the worst thing about choosing your accommodation is after walking all day you then have to go all over the place checking the rooms dragging your luggage up and down stairs and everywhere is always up and even if you find a good room you still don't know about the food

I don't do it that way so it hasn't happened to me but I have seen plenty of frazzled people who can't find a good room and also who don't like the restaurant where they stay

if your guide knows what you require then he will be able to choose a place to stay - and you can always say no if you don't like it and he can choose another

try and make life easy for yourself so you can enjoy your holiday

food can be difficult to budget as the agency doesn't know whether you eat 3 servings of the most expensive item or 2 people share the cheapest item on the menu - so if they quote a middle figure they will lose money which makes life hard or you will lose money which wont matter that much as it is a couple of dollars

Perth, Australia
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54 posts
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2. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Thank you for your thoughts. I have had a quote for a 12 day trek to Annapurna Base camp with a guide & porter for $1300 US. My sister will be doing the trek with me so that is a total COST of $2600 US. This price includes permits, airport pick-up & drop off as well as 3 nights hotel accommodation in 3 star hotel in Kathmandu. Cost does not include tips….By my reckoning, this is still a lot more than the option of pay as we go. Therefore, I am wanting to determine what the advantage would be in having an "all costs up front" trek other than the obvious of deciding on which tea house to stay in as you point out. I figure there is something I am not aware of???

adelaide
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3. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

does it include flights to/from Pokhara

adelaide
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4. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

the cost for 2 wouldn't be double the cost for 1

room costs would be shared

cost of porter and guide would be shared

and cost of car

Cumbria
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5. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Personally I always keep my own food and accommodation costs separate and when I hire out trekking staff, always do so on a daily rate as opposed to tying myself into a package.

My main reason for doing this isn’t cost – Its more choice.

I like to choose when, what and where I eat, some days I am hungrier than on other days, so some days I might not want much food, while others I am starving so want more and package deals don’t account for this. Many packages have restrictions on choice from the menu, some include tea / coffee, but this is often just one cup and rarely do packages include drinking water and never washing water or showers.

I also like to choose where I stay, although I do take into consideration any recommendations that my trekking staff give me, I always retain the final say on choice.

My standard advice when hiring out trekking staff is Never to tie yourself into Anything by paying a hefty deposit before you have met your trekking staff to ensure that everything is as it should be and when hiring out “Staff” the secret of a successful trek is to set the ground rules Before setting off and these rules should include

1) Always interview your “Staff” Before you go trekking with them, Preferably get them to give you a walking tour around Kathmandu, Then they are away from the office, will be able to talk freely and you will be in a better position to judge their ability to communicate, character and if you are going to be able to get on well enough with them on your trek.

2)Ask if he has already trekked the route you are going on and how many times

3) Tell them that You Always retain the final say where you will stay and where and when you will eat.

Personally I am Happy to look at places recommended by my “Staff” (As I am aware that some places look after Nepali’s a lot better than others, better accommodation as well as better / cheaper food for them + if they get a little kick-back then as long as I am happy with the standard as well as the price that I am paying this doesn’t bother me)

4) I also mention to them that as long as I am happy with their services then they will get a Good Tip – I think this clears the air and gives your “Staff” that extra incentive to ensure that you are well looked after.

5) The agent that I use provides all his “Staff” with a mobile phone – I also think this is an excellent idea so that if there is a problem then (providing you have a phone Signal) these can be Quickly sorted out.

6) Before I start a trek is to have a rough schedule, then I know approximately how many days I will be trekking for, to this I usually add one buffer day, so If all goes according to plan I am usually back from my trek one day ahead, With this the agent that is use I can claim one days fees back, but in reality, as I have always been happy with my treks, I have never done this, but have ensured that my “Staff” are still paid the extra day.

Another system that the agent I use has is that if you want to extend your trek, if it takes longer than originally anticipated or if for what ever reason you are delayed then you can pay your “Staff” direct. This works well for everyone as the “Staff” in actual fact get more money as there is no agents commission deducted and as the agent has already had his cut he is (Or should be) happy as well.

7) It is also worth making 100% sure that your “Staff” are insured and that the agent is making sure that their clothing is up to the standard for the area / season you are trekking in.

It may sound like a bit of a list – But personally I think it is well worth that little extra effort at the beginning of your trek to help minimise potential unforeseen problems later :-)

Good Luck and Happy Safe Trekking

Rob

My Nepal Blog members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/6ec/

Edited: 20 August 2014, 13:57
Sheffield, United...
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6. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Hi

I can't see any disadvantages to paying for the guide and porter up front and paying for your own food and accommodation as you trek.

The most important advantage is the ability to chose the itinerary including where you stay and sleep. Take your guide's sensible advice of course but it is your trip so why allow the guide to choose the lodges where he gets the best deal. Why not select the village and lodge on your criteria? The dining room has a great view, people you meet on the trail recommend it or you want to stay and dine at the same lodge as people you meet because you want to call it a day or you want to push on to the next village. Choosing from scratch in a village/lodge cluster (they are usually close together) I have a brief look around (bags left outside with the guide), if it's clean, has a squat toilet, a nice welcome and is not a silly price for the room then that's good enough for me (menus are standard with prices set by a committee - mostly). Why would you give these choices up to an all-in package and set itinerary? Going against the guide's choice is not always easy and can be a source of friction on the trek, as can discussions about what food and drink is included.

On a package deal where you pay for food and accomm. (say) then the guide is not usually given the full amount because the agent takes a commission. The guide then has to manage this budget with whatever restrictions there are (one cup of hot drink per meal, one main meal at lunch and dinner, no cold drinks for example - check exactly what is or isn't included and make sure you and the guide have a clear, shared understanding). If you do not use the daily allowance in full, is it carried forward? Perhaps not. It is likely you will need to spend extra and pay and check lodge bills - why not do it for the whole bill? Inter-acting with the lodge keepers is part of the experience.

AS for the package quote, it does seem high. The cost ff the trek for two breaks down something like this:

ACAP tickets - about $45 (actually 2000 rupees)

TIMS cards - $20

Guide - $25 per day including food, lodge and insurance. $300 for a 12 day trek.

Porter - $15 per day, $180.

Your food and accomm - $25 per day average is a ball-park figure. $600 total.

That's about $1145 for the trek. There are transport costs of course (flying to P, hired car or bus?) and the cost of hotels is unknown. Some agents pass on a discount, some load the hotel's tariff - check which hotel(s) it is and how much it costs. Is Pokhara accomm included? Even without this info, I think there is a lot of scope to negotiate that price down.

scoodly.

Espoo
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7. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

I see zero disadvantages in paying your food & bed as you go, only advantages already mentioned above.

For one person $1300 is high, for two persons $2600 is outrageous, as both guide and porter are shared. It does include hotels, but those are cheap, $25 gets a nice two person room in both Kathmandu and Pokhara.

It is always better to pay everything separately as nobody can stick a big markup in there somewhere.

Perth, Australia
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8. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions……I suppose my biggest concern is when I read that if someone does need evacuating, it can be done so with little issue if one is trekking with a "company". Is it more of an issue if you have hired a guide & porter …..licensed of course…... rather than the package deal?

Sheffield, United...
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9. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Hi

The role of the guide in medical and evacuation support is no different whether paying for a full package or hiring on a daily rate from an agency - you still have agency back up.

The difference is in hiring a guide independently, not through an agent. In this case there is no back up from a company.

scoodly

Espoo
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10. Re: planned trek with upfront costs vs hiring guide & porter

Of course you also need to guarantee the helicopter evacuation payment before the rotor turns.

With an agency you can give them the insurance details and they guarantee the payment to the flight operator, with an independent guide or no guide you might need to pay the rescue flight somehow before they go anywhere.

That said helicopter rescues are widely misused nowadays, maybe around 70% are unnecessary and called either because the guide/agency wants the 15% kickback, or the "victim" is tired of trekking and wants the easy way out, paid by the insurance company.