Trekking Costs And Tour Operators
One of the key benefits of trekking in Nepal is that there are a number of options available in terms of how you want to organize your trek.
Generally though, there are three ways to trek in Nepal:
- Join an organized trekking group
- Acquire the services of a guide and /or a porter to assist you with your trek
- Trek independently (see separate section below)
The option you choose will usually be dictated by the difficulty of the trek, your experience and available budget.
Organized treks are best suited for trekkers looking to do long or challenging routes, or for those who are unfamiliar with Nepal / trekking in general and want the comfort of being part of an organised tour where your safety, comfort and trekking experience are in the reliable hands of a respectable operator.
Organized guided treks come in many shapes and forms, but all need to be managed by tour agencies that are registered with the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). Please note: if an agency, hotel or anyone else offers you a guided trek and they are not TAAN registered, then they are operating illegally and you should not acquire their services.
Organized treks cover all administrative requirements and costs like land transportation, trekking / climbing permits, taxes, porter insurance and National Park fees. Group treks generally consist of guides, porters and cooks who carry all required supplies (camping materials, your gear, food and cooking supplies) on the trail. You are only required to carry light essentials in a small daypack. On camping routes, tents and food are assembled and prepared for you at each campsite and the general organization and operation of the trek is often overseen by a Chief Guide called a Sirdar.
Three types of tour agents / operators dominate the market.
- Firstly, there are local tour agents that run their own operations or outsource to local operators in the region. You will see many of these local agencies in the trekking and climbing hubs of Kathmandu and Pokhara.
- Secondly, there are international tour agents that outsource to local tour agents / operators.
- And finally, there are international tour companies that own and operate on-the-ground operations in Nepal.
The first group tend to be the cheapest out of the three but can often be hit and miss in terms of quality. If you decide to go with a local agent in Nepal make sure you shop around a bit, compare itineraries and check to see what is included and not included in the trek. Ask around for recommendations and most importantly, make sure that the agent is TAAN registered.
The second group are generally reliable as they have long-term and established relationships with local operators who have great track records. Obviously they tend to be more expensive as they mark-up their prices for international trekkers who are looking for that extra surety in quality and safety.
The final group are a rare breed. They tend to specialise in the most technically challenging trekking routes / climbs. These operators can design bespoke programmes for trekkers and hold full control of your trekking experience from beginning to end. The service often comes at a premium, however, because they have their own on-the-ground operations, they’re actually often quite price competitive for popular and uncomplicated treks – like Everest Base Camp.