Alright, you have read the entries of our daily experiences and impressions from our Himalaya trip and that got you asking yourself:”Self, how about we do that, too?” And then self answers back:”I wonder how they booked all this.” Today’s entry will expand a little on the Thank You and props I gave to our guide, porter and the agency we booked with.
We booked local. This mean, we chose to book the entire trip through a Nepali agency (Alpine Exodus) in Kathmandu. Here was our train of thought. There are tons of agencies everywhere in the world who offer trips to anywhere in the Himalayas. But how do they do it? They link themselves into the value chain and take probably a significant chunk of the profits, while outsourcing the organization to ….you guessed it, a local agency on Nepal.
This means that if you book through a European or American or other agency that is located in a country with flush potential clients (Japan, Singapore, China come to mind):
- You will likely pay more, that booking with a local, reputable agency.
- The local agency, that the outside agency sub-contracted with will see fewer proceeds
- Your main contact sits likely a few time zones away and decision-making in case of an emergency is likely delayed because the two agents need to discuss how to handle whatever situation came up.
Let me address the two main concerns you may have.
- The language barrier: Our agent speaks perfect English and even a few words of German. We did all inquiries, request and agreements prior to the trip in English via email and there was never any issue, that could be traced back to a “lost in translation” problem. In fact, Krishna was always super prompt in his replies and very concise.
- The culture difference: That is something that occurred to me later, after someone actually asked me, why I trust “these people”. Well, the trust problem is I think not limited to Nepalis, but to anyone you have never met in person or with who you have not established a relation, yet. Besides, you will have a guide and one or two porters, this is a great opportunity to simply be trusting and leave the worries behind – it’s your vacation.
Finally a word or hiring a guide and a porter or not. I was glad we hired a guide and a porter. Having a guide is great. You can ask questions about where you are right now (as in what is the name of this mountain and how high is it? Has it been summited, yet? Have you summited it? How long does it take to go up there? Is it difficult – would I be able to make it? Is it a technical climb? Are here tea houses or is it all tent? et., etc., etc.), about life in the area? In short you have someone who provides you direct access to a different culture and why would you not want to experience that, since you already made the trip to Nepal. SO, I recommend a guide.
That leaves the porter. For me it was a matter of male pride, to carry my backpack (with all the excess nonsense I thought was desperately necessary before the trip), so that I could gage my fitness level for the challenges that lay ahead. Barbra had a porter, who carried the bulk of her stuff. This made it easy for her and because she did not have a lot, we did not excessively tax our porter. A good porter serves though a third purpose. The second being, to be a second opinion on the questions you ask your guide. The third is a vain reason, but if you don’t overload your porter, he will speed a head to the teahouse and get you a nice room…may be even the nicest available. Because the rooms in the tea houses go on a first come first serve basis in general. Thus, I recommend go with at least one porter and don’t overload the guy with shit you really won’t need.
Alright. That’s that.
Stay sharp and go visit this beautiful country with its majestic and magnificent mountains, valleys, wildlife and flowers. It’ll blow your mind in a healthy way.
P.S.: The agenacy we went with is called:
Mr. Krishna Dahal / Alpine Exodus
P.O.Box 24119, Bhagawoti Street
Thamel-29, Kathmandu, Nepal