When planning a trekking holiday one of the big questions is whether or not to hire a guide and porter to help make your trip a success. My personal experience on this matter comes from two treks in the Mt Everest region of the Himalayas, Nepal.
Reasons why people may be reluctant to hire help:
For a lot of people the expense of having a guide is a deterrent, this is fair enough for those who are on a very tight budget. It can also be difficult finding an appropriate guide, one who is experienced, speaks english well and who is not going to try and charge you too much above the norm. For some people they just want to go it alone and get that sense of achievement of not needing a guide. That’s understandable, some people like to be independent and might feel having a guide along could take away from the picturesque views, isolation and experience of the holiday.
Positives of hiring a guide and porter: if you hire a guide you are supporting the locals. Most guides cost about $30 a day and porters are $15 a day plus tip. The average daily income in Nepal is something close to $2 (AUD) so this is a decent income for the locals. I also believe that travelling with a Nepalese people will improve your trip significantly. My guide had reasonably good english and he taught me a few Nepalese words so I was able to interact with the locals who didn’t speak english and I loved being about to do that. The guides also know the names of all the big impressive mountains which can be interesting. Additionally, as not many of the locals speak good english having an english speaking guide along is a major help. The positive of hiring a porter is you don’t have to carry a heavy bag yourself! I know this sounds a bit mean paying someone $10 a day to carry your bag but its not as bad as it seems- the locals are very strong, whilst I was walking along carrying nothing but a camera and struggling up the hills the porter was flying up the hills and finishing most of the day’s walks at least an hour quicker than me without breaking a sweat.
Personally I would hire a guide if going to Nepal and probably a porter as well. To make sure I got a good guide I would book through one of the larger trekking agencies in Nepal one which had lots of reviews so I know what I’m getting in to. That is the more expensive way of hiring a guide- it is also possible to hire a guide at the start of the trek, when you arrive in the region. This seems like a good option to me as you have the chance to meet the person face to face and determine if you want to share your trekking experience with them.