Nepal is known as the land of high mountains. Eight out of the ten highest mountains are here in Nepal. Today, tourists and trekkers from all over the world come to visit our nation. Our arts, cultures, traditions, and festivals attract thousands of tourists worldwide. Especially, adventure sports like trekking, rafting, paragliding, Ziplines and bungee jumping, among others, are gaining popularity among tourists.
Before the 1950s, Nepal was not open to tourists. Back then, there was only the British Embassy, and officials working in the embassy were about the only foreigners visiting this country. The Rana regime believed that foreigners could harm their rein and influence the citizens for a rebellion. That is why they made sure that only a few selected ones could enter this country.
Despite being centuries old, Nepal was unknown to the outer world for a long time. However, some European Mountain Climbers knew that this country possessed some of the highest mountains in the world. Some surveyors even managed to discover and identify some mountains located here in the mid-19th century. Moreover, Mount Everest was given that name in 1865, after Sir George Everest, a British Surveyor General of India.
Commencement of hiring trekking guide in Nepal
In 1921, an expedition team led by the British climbers Charles Howard-Bury and George Mallory set off to explore the Everest region. During this time, only the capital city had vehicle-worthy roads, and the rest of the country was inaccessible. The literacy was a mere one percent, and only a few people could understand the English language. Moreover, the maps did not include many geographical locations, as many regions were unexplored or unrecorded. Also, as foreigners rarely visited it, there were no professional tour or trekking guides. However, the expedition team managed to take a few Sherpas as unofficial guides. Unfortunately, the expedition transformed into a tragic event as George Mallory lost his life while exploring the Everest region. What’s more tragic is that his body was never found.
In the late 1940s and early 50s, many trekking groups came for climbing mountains. French national Maurice Herzog successfully ascended Annapurna on June 3, 1950. It was the first recorded climbing of an over-8000-meter summit. Nepalese Guides continuously aided his expedition team. After his ascent, Nepal’s mountains were known all over the world. Many did not realize that a country called Nepal existed.
Moreover, Edmund Hillary completed the ascent of the highest mountain, Everest, in 1953, where Nepali Guide Tenzing Norgay Sherpa accompanied him. This further helped in the widespread popularity of Nepal and its mountains.
In the 1960s, not only potential climbers but foreigners with the intent of exploring other parts of the nation began to visit Nepal. Nepalese society became more open to visitors. Besides, the international airport in the country’s capital also helped in bringing in more foreigners.
The tourists wanted to explore the country outside the Kathmandu valley. However, other places were neither well-equipped with facilities of food and lodging for tourists, nor were they well-accessible by road. Tourists had to walk long distances with the aid of guides and porters to reach other parts of the nation. The guides showed them the way and taught them about the culture and traditions here. Staying at camps, the groups carried food by themselves during their trip.
Gradually, popular tourist destinations across the country became accessible by road. Tourists did not need to carry their food, and lodging provisions as a lot of hotels and lodges were built there. Most foreigners wanted to trek near the Himalayan mountains without necessarily climbing them. They sought to explore the regions with the intent of knowing the lifestyle, culture, and traditions of the inhabitants.
Trekking guide as a profession
Trekking agencies began to establish in Kathmandu and other major cities. These agencies provided guides and porters as well as managed the itinerary of the trip to the aspiring trekkers.
Trekking guide in Nepal has several obligations, which include safely guiding the trekkers, organizing their food and accommodation, and teaching them about the significance of sites and traditions of the local community. The hotels and lodges have helped the guides in managing the food and accommodation of the tourists. However, some adventurous trekkers still venture in roads less-travelled and sleep in camps with the help of guides and porters.
In the beginning, the ability to speak English and familiarity with the trail was enough to qualify a person to be a tourist guide. But now, aspiring guides need to undergo a training program and have a sound mental and physical health to be a certified guide. Trekking in a 5000-meter altitude can be quite dangerous. Apart from physical injuries, many tourists succumb to altitude sickness. It is the obligation of guides to minimize any chances of injury and illness. They always carry first aid and other medicines for use in emergencies. Trekking in the Himalayas may entail walking along with thick snow and traversing narrow roads. That is why its crucial that trekkers need to be accompanied by qualified guides.
Writer: Yagya Adhikari , Translate by: Rabin Lamsal