I'm planning on heading to Nepal in early November and intend to trek the Annapurna Circuit. My question is about how easy it would be to sort out a guide on the ground in Nepal (and whether it would be much cheaper), rather than booking an organized trip over the Internet. I've found a company that seems to be quite good, and the price quote was about $1000, which includes meals, all lodging, guide, transportation, etc.
On the one hand, it would be nice to have the security blanket of knowing that I'll have everything figured out prior to arriving, but if it is easy enough to arrange once I get there and if it will save me some money, I don't mind going that route either. Time won't be much of a factor.
A few additional questions I have, if there is anyone willing to help:
- Will November be incredibly crowded on the AC? Is there a chance of not being able to secure a guide if I just show up without prearrangements?
- What's the situation in Nepal now that the monarchy has stepped aside? Has this made things better or worse in terms of (for lack of a better word) traveler safety?
Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
All the best,
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 16, 2008, at 8:25 PM by john7buck ]
I trekked the APC last December and January. I met a girl on route that booked from overseas and got hammered for $1000's.
I got a guide in Pokhara, which is the best place to actually start the trail. It's about a 4-6 hour bus ride from KTM.
If you have a look at the travel guide here I wrote some things on pokhara that might help you. Also have a look at my blog under nepal as I have a fairly detailed account of the trek written up.
Shameless plugging aside. You can sort all this out in Nepal with no worries, guaranteed. I spent many months there, so have a little insight.
To save you some money I would suggest you do not book anything from Kathmandu either. Do it from Pokhara. It's cheaper and easier that way. There are many many travel agents along the single main road there, called Lakeside.
Alternatively you can book through your hotel, but they will add on a commission.
You can also hire a guide directly, to lower the costs again. They are literally all over the place. Simply asking at a restaurant will have them coming up to you.
Interview at least 3 before choosing. You can do the trek in a leisurely 21 days, or longer, or shorter depending on your requirements so it's important you find the right person to go with you. Your guide can also arrange a porter for you too, which I recommend if you intend to carry anything larger than a day pack with you. You can leave your main backpack in storage in a hotel.
From the friends I had over there right now, there's no problems ongoing over there. When I was there there was lots of fun and games as you might read later. But generally Nepal is about as friendly as it gets.
Feel free to send me a message, I can send you link to the guide I used, I built him a small website thats not finished yet but it might offer you some more help. I can also give you some recommendations on where to stay.
Hope this helps
It will be much cheaper and also very easy to sort it out once you arrive. Pokhara, like outcast said, is the best place to start, where unlike Kathmandu, persistent trekking touts are absent and you can stroll from one agency to another on the Lakeside area before deciding. I did the Annapurna Base Camp trek, and managed to find an excellent guide for the trip who spoke great English and was really friendly and helpful... I still have his email, so drop me a PM if you're interested. Anyways, its very easy to find a guide once you're in Nepal, so no worries about that.
In terms of safety, i was in Nepal 3 days into the new republic, and it is safer than with the insurgency around. But convenience wise, there has been a series of bandas (Strikes) lately that has stopped transport around Nepal over rising fuel prices and the issue of subsidies, so you might have to be a bit more flexible with travel arrangements, but other than that Nepal's a great place to travel - its not likely to affect you once you're in the mountains in any case....
Yep, I was able to just go to Pokhara and actually organise a guide for my 5 day drek leaving the morning after. However, consider that if you want to do it with a group of other trekkers you might want to allow a few days. But either way Pokhara is a beautiful place that could easily keep you occupied for 3 days.
I think a general rule is that you shouldn't be going over $60 US a day including everything, and even that might be on the expensive side.
I also have the email of a nice guide if you want to pm me for it - he's just a young university student but was quite knowledgeable with good English and has been doing it for 5 years or so.
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 17, 2008, at 6:48 AM by Erik85 ]
Instead of prearranging it would be cheaper for you if you arrange on your arrival. Guides shouldn't be a problem for you.
Now there is political calmness is Nepal after ousting the monarchy so you shouldn't worry.
Nov is a busy time so its not unusal to see lot of people everywhere.