Nepal is a bucket list destination for hikers and treks from all over the world. With very diverse geography, including eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains on Earth. If you are getting ready for trekking at Nepal, this is a complete and very detailed guide that will help you know everything about how to hire a porter in Nepal.
It was real! I was going to go Trekking in Nepal and I needed to decide how to hire a Porter in Nepal!!!
Trekking in Nepal has been for so long on my bucket list destination. I had dreamed about this moment, and this was too good to be true. It was so amazing to do, but also, so different than anything else I have done. It is natural to have your mind spinning while you prepare for something so big, right?
While planning my trip to Nepal, I had a million things going on in my mind and many questions I needed answers for.
What trek to choose? How cold will it be? Am I going to accomplish my trekking goal, or am I going to feel the effects of the altitude? Should I hire a guide? Should I hire a porter in Nepal for my trek or carry my load myself?
I chose to trek the Annapurna Base Camp and I did my homework to try to understand more about how to prepare for high altitude hiking and also, learn about the culture in Nepal.
But the big question, “should or should not hire a porter in Nepal“, was in the back of my mind. As someone who’s constantly trying to support ethical traveling, it didn’t sound very ethical to pay someone to carry all my belongings up the mountains.
Now, you are about to find out all I have learned, and all you need to know about hiring a Porter in Nepal.
- Anyway, What is a Porter?
- Porters are not Guides
- Porters are not Sherpas
- Should you Hire a Porter in Nepal?
- How to Find a Porter in Nepal for your Trekking?
- The Positive Side of Hiring a Porter in Nepal
- Can I Hike without Hiring a Porter in Nepal?
- A Porter is Not a Superhuman
- Ethical travel guideline to hire a porter in the Himalayas
- Don't Abuse Your Porters
- Hire a Female Porter in Nepal
- Make Sure your Porter is Being Treated Well
- How We Can help to Improve a Porter's Life
- Travel Insurance for your trip
- Hiring a Porter in Nepal Conclusion
READ NEXT: How to Plan a Trip to Nepal: Ultimate Guide
Anyway, What is a Porter?
Before we jump in about hiring a Porter in Nepal, let’s do a quick overview first.
If you are not familiar with a porter, let’s take a break to understand them better. They are Nepali people who live in the rural villages of the Himalayas and carry loads of gear for trekkers, climbers, hotels, and lodges.
Porters can work 5 to 10 hours a day and carry weight from 10 kg to 100 kg using a namlo, which is a strap that rests on the front of their heads and around their load. Or they carry a doko which is a type of bamboo basket.
READ NEXT: Ultimate Travel Guide to Pokhara, Nepal
Trekking porter Nepal typically carries 2 full backpacks at the same time, your backpack, plus their own. If they use your pack, you will notice that they are not going to use the waist strap and carry all the weight on their shoulders and/or head.
Porters are not Guides
But sometimes you can find a porter guide. This is usually a porter who has been on a number of treks, speaks some English, and aspires to graduate to the guide role. It’s not that easy to find a porter guide, especially in the peak season.
Porters are not Sherpas
Porters are not Sherpas, a Sherpa is an ethnic group from the northeastern Himalayan mountains. They are respected for their adaptation to high altitudes and are often hired to assist expeditions to Himalayan summits, including Mt. Everest.
READ NEXT: How to Plan a Trip to Nepal: Ultimate Guide
When you hire a porter in Nepal, they will do so much more than just carry a load for you. Your porter makes sure you ahve the best experience possible! This is what makes a porter in Nepal as valuable as well-worn comfortable pair of hiking shoes on a long trek.
Should you Hire a Porter in Nepal?
As I shared before, it sounded very selfish to hire a porter for my trekking in Nepal. I started to do some research online and talked to my tour operator prior to my trip so I could better educate myself. Surprisingly I learned that the answer was YES.
IT IS ethical to hire a porter in Nepal for the following reasons:
- The money they earn while trekking is essential to the cash-starved local economies of rural Nepal.
- They need this job. It helps them provide for their families.
- By paying a porter, you are empowering the local people and valuing the Nepali culture.
- And last but not least, for your own cultural interaction. A porter will give you a unique view of life in the Himalayas.
If you are booking your trek through a tour operator, make sure you do your research to make sure they do it ethically and treat the porters well. They should follow the International Porter Protection Group’s list of guidelines for ethical trekking
How to Find a Porter in Nepal for your Trekking?
It depends on where you decide to go trekking in Nepal.
But bottom you can hire a porter in Nepal at the starting point of your trek, where you can find porters and guides waiting for clients.
Or you can hire your guide through a local tour company prior to your trip. Just make sure you find an ethical business that treats the Porters with respect.
I have trekked and hired a tour guide through Epic Adventures Nepal, prior to my trip. My guide made arrangements with Porter in Nepal.
I just love and support Epic Adventures because of their engagement in social work and they distribute 20% of their profits to charity. They promote and support sustainable tourism in underdeveloped regions and have provided many job opportunities to the locals and even encouraged the local businesses to prosper.
!!DISCOUNT-ALERT!! Book your trek with Epic Adventures through my blog, and get an exclusive 10% discount when you request a quote under the promo code PPP10.
READ NEXT: 22 Things to do in Pokhara, Nepal
The Positive Side of Hiring a Porter in Nepal
One thing that I would love to share is the relationship that I saw among the trekkers and their porters.
It made me so happy to see that relationship develop over the course of trekking in Nepal. At the end of a long and tiring day, everyone would hang out together at the lodges (or tea houses) and have black tea together, while playing games or having conversations.
It was an amazing atmosphere where everyone would laugh and smile at each other and relate stories from the day.
Trekkers would teach their porters how to say a new word or a phrase in English or how to play a Western game. Porters would teach the hikers a Nepali song or how to dance.
It was humble to see, and it made me believe that the porters who work in the tourism industry are treated well and with respect. They enjoy what they do and benefit from interaction with foreigners. I saw relationships develop based on mutual respect.
I cannot count the number of times Niraj, my porter, gave me words of encouragement or motivation during the hard task of trekking in Nepal.
My porter was an endless fountain of smiles and positivity, that added so muh to my trekking in Nepal experience! Niraj (my porter) made my experiences so much better than it would have been otherwhise.
Can I Hike without Hiring a Porter in Nepal?
Can you do it without them? Yes. Is it the same enjoyable experience? No.
Porters are the eyes and ears of you and your guide. The porters will keep an eye on you and monitor how you are doing. The porter knows how far you are going that day.
They know how many steps you have left to climb or descend each day. They will slow you down so you don’t burn out too early or motivate you to keep climbing to the next rest point.
Porters will make sure you are staying hydrated and make sure you don’t forget anything after each stop.
A porter will “race” ahead (with full loads on their back) to the tea house where you will have lunch and make sure everything is ready for your arrival. They will arrive at the tea house where you will spend the night and make sure you have a bed and food.
The porter will check your room before you leave in the morning to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind. Your porter will place an order for food for you and make sure you have refills of boiled water.
The average price you will pay for a porter will depend on the trek route that you choose – but it can vary from 10-20 USD per day. While a guide can range from 20-30 USD per day.
A Porter is Not a Superhuman
As an athlete, I was amazed by the strength and energy level of porter Nepal. After some research, I found some scientific studies on porters to find out how they can carry so much weight, sometimes heavier than their own body weight.
Recent studies reported that they didn’t find anything particularly special about how porters walk. They simply go, and they keep going.
According to the studies, they found out that the porter’s muscles were slightly more efficient at turning oxygen into work. However, there was nothing unusual about their gait or energy use.
The Nepalese porters adapt over a lifetime of carrying loads, often beginning in childhood, and they do daily physical work. Basically, they train their bodies to do this amazing type of work the way an athlete trains to perform well in their sport.
Ethical travel guideline to hire a porter in the Himalayas
Don’t Abuse Your Porters
Remember what I said before? Porters are not superhumans. They also feel tired, feel the effect of the altitude, and need proper rest to do their heavy work.
Keep those things in mind, and be respectful of the amount of weight you are carrying with you, make sure to bring with you only what is necessary.
The limit of weight a porter can carry is up to 30 Kg, and if you hire a guide-porter, then they can carry a maximum of 15kg.
PRO-TIP: My husband and I left the majority of our belongings at the hotel in Pokhara, where we started our adventure in the Himalayas. We combined our “essentials” into one load of 10 kg. Even our guide said we were taking too little with us, but let me tell you, it was enough, even during winter. While our porter carried the large backpack with our belongings, including 2 sleeping bags, we had our daypacks with water, snacks, camera, video gear, my laptop, and layers of clothes that we would take off and carry with us.
Hire a Female Porter in Nepal
I found it amazing when I saw some female porters in Nepal, during my trekking. Normally they are hired by other female travelers. They are not very common to find, but they are amazing at what they do. You can look at the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, a women-owned company, and also, they train and empower female guides and porters in Nepal.
Make Sure your Porter is Being Treated Well
Observe if the porters are having their meals, have a place to rest at the lodges (or tea houses), have proper clothes and shoes for the hike.
Sometimes they have to pay for their own lodging and food, and it can be very expensive, so make sure they do not skip their meals.
Trekking companies have the main responsibility to improve the working condition and to create a sustainable future for Nepali trekking porters. Make sure your trek agency is treating the porters well.
PRO-TIP: Make sure the tour agency that you hired follows the 5 guidelines for Ethical Traveling – This guideline covers important issues like insurance, equipment, healthcare, shelter, and loading. Also, on top of the daily wage, make sure you tip them at the end of the trek. This will be a bonus that will help them and their family tremendously.
How We Can help to Improve a Porter’s Life
They are amazing people and take outstanding care of you, and they will also want to practice their English with you. If at the end of the hike you have any trekking gear that is unwanted equipment, clothes, or shoes, please consider donating.
I even had the chance to visit my Porter’s Family when I visited the Rural Villages in Nepal, and I was honored with their blessings in my life. What an amazing experience!
PRO-TIP: At the end of our hike, I met my porter Nepal Niraj in the city and took him to a shop to buy him some hiking shoes, and I cannot forget his smile of pure joy and appreciation. You can also sponsor the education of your porter. Niraj wants to be fluent in English because he wants to become a tour guide. I felt thrilled to be part of his dream, and I am very proud of him. He is studying English in Pokhara. If you would like to help Niraj improve his English and to help provide for his family, please contact me.
If you have plenty – more than enough, and someone else has nothing, then you should do something about it.Edmund Hillary was born on July 20, 1919, in Auckland, New Zealand, and took up mountain climbing. In 1953, he and Tibetan climber Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary also cultivated resources for the people of Nepal. He died on January 11, 2008.
Travel Insurance for your trip
I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance.
World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers.
Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!
Hiring a Porter in Nepal Conclusion
I hope you have found all you need about hiring a Porter in Nepal. Since I am so concerned about ethical and responsible traveling, I wanted to make sure that I would do my research and understand I was doing the right thing.
Also, trekking in Nepal is not an easy task. At the same time, it is a bucket list of many adventure travelers, it is very demanding and it needs some planning, for a safe and fun experience.
Make sure you hire a Porter from an ethical business, that respects and treats well their Porters. I recommend hiring a Porter from Epic Adventure, as they provide and support the local business in Nepal.
Book your trek with Epic Adventures through my blog, and get an exclusive 10% discount when you request a quote with the promo code PPP10.
If you are traveling to Nepal, you may also enjoy these articles:
- How to go on an authentic Homestay in a Rural Area in Nepal
- 30 Things you Must Know Before you Travel to Nepal
- Nepal Travel Guide: How to Plan a Perfect Trip to Nepal
- 22 Things to do in Pokhara, a complete travel guide
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