When you’re organising your trek to Everest Base Camp, there’s so much information out there that it can be quite overwhelming! I’ve received a few questions about how to choose which way is best for you and how to go about finding a trekking company, so I thought I’d put together a post and give you guys the benefits of my research.
You have 3 basic options for your trek:
Book a fully inclusive trek with one of the many trekking companies available: Being a not very experienced trekker, and not being at all familiar with Nepal, this is the option I chose. There are a myriad of different options to choose from, and literally thousands of companies to sort through. I decided to trek with a local Nepalese company rather than an international one, as not only does this cut the costs by quite a bit, but it also means that the money you’re spending is going directly to locals.
Hire an independent guide and porter or porter/guide: Rather than going for a fully inclusive package, you can simply hire staff, and pay for any accommodation, meals, etc along the way as you go. This does give you more control over the speed of your trek, where you stay, etc. A guide is valuable if you’re interested in the Nepalese culture and other details of the area, where as a porter will simply carry your bags. A porter/guide generally will speak only limited English, but will still assist you with booking accommodation on the trek and also will carry your bags.
Go it alone: This means carrying all of your own clothing and equipment, finding accommodation along the way yourselves, and navigating your own way. I personally would not choose this option unless you’re a very experienced trekker with experience at high altitudes. I feel like there’s just too much risk in terms of altitude sickness, especially if you’re not experienced in dealing with it. Additionally, it does mean that you’re also not contributing as much to the local community – just by hiring a porter it means that you’ve given someone local a job! Please also note that the Nepalese Government has been considering making it compulsory to trek with a guide to help increase the safety of trekkers, so make sure you double check the latest information before you decide to choose this option.
Selecting a trekking company
If you’ve decided to go for a fully inclusive trek like I did, here’s how I made my choice. Bear in mind that I love travel planning, and usually spend ages researching! I came up with a list of things that were traditionally included in the treks, and created a spreadsheet. Then I started googling companies! Each company who’s website I visited, I filled in my spreadsheet with their website address, the trek price (if it was listed), and what the inclusions on the trek were. This helped me to compare all of the different options in a snapshot.
The first step to narrowing down my huge list (I think I had about 50 companies listed to start off with!), was to make sure that all of the companies on the list were registered with the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). You can check the list of all registered companies here – there are currently well over 1000 companies listed! Bear in mind that if you’re considering using an international company, they will not be listed.
Next I looked at price. Realistically, all of the accommodation and meals are pretty similar on the trek no matter how much you pay (there’s not much in the way of luxury!), so I didn’t really see the point in paying a premium price. This ruled out a lot of the international companies, and any that it didn’t I still filtered out as I preferred to support a local business.
I was still left with around 25 companies, so I started looking at what each trek included and eliminating companies based on this. I knew that I didn’t want to buy and take over a sleeping bag with me, so I ruled out companies that didn’t include sleeping bag hire in the cost, and same goes for a duffel bag for the porter to take our trekking gear (our normal backpacks will be stored in the hotel in Kathmandu with all of the rest of our luggage that we don’t need on the trek).
I did one final wash of the data, just by looking at all of the remaining websites and decided if I liked what they said, and their customer testimonials. I also had a few that I had seen blog write-ups on that I held in quite high regard also.
This left me with a list of around 8 companies, so I fired off emails to each of them. I was amazed when less than 30 minutes later, I started getting Facebook friend requests, Skype phone calls and numerous emails. The company I ended up choosing was the first to call me, and what really swung everything in their favour was the awesome voicemail message I got from them – it really put a smile on my face. I had also read a blog of someone who had trekked with them previously who had spoken quite highly of them as well, so they were already near the top of my list. Stay tuned after my trek, and I’ll have a full review of how our trek was with them!
Header photo credit:
Everest Base Camp, Nepal. by Rick McCharles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.