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Guides vs. Porters

The what? The who? We need how many of what-now?

If you're not sure of the difference between porters, guides and those in between, trying to work out who you need on your team for a trek can be tricky. We know this, so to make life easier for you we've written the following guide.

There's also a handy quick reference table at the end of the page, so you can come back any time and remind yourself without having to read the whole article.

Jump to quick reference Find my trekking Guide or Porter



icon_guideThey're there to show you the way, to point out the famous mountains, landmarks and of course, dangers. They're there to keep you safe, to fascinate you with tales of local lore and wild adventurers. They're there to make sure you get good food and a clean bed in every village and to make sure you have the best possible experience on your trek.

- They're not there to carry your stuff.

A good guide can sometimes be hard to find (which is one of the reasons we started our guide finding service), but when you find one they'll usually be happy to help you find porters (most of whom speak little or no English or other languages, so unless you know some Nepali, this can be very difficult), sort out park passes and permits, get you into the mountains and work as a general manager for your porters and other staff each day, where you may otherwise struggle. Some of these additional services may come with a small fee to cover your guide's time and travel costs to the various booking offices and government departments. Your guide is essentially your mountain concierge and having one is likely to make your trip more pleasurable in every way.

It's important also to treat your guide with respect and acknowledge the experience and wisdom they possess. The best guide-trekker relationships are always those that begin with mutual respect and blossom into friendship, trust and laughter. That is in fact the very foundation from which this company came into being.

For safety, fun, local knowledge and to support the country that inspires such awe for all of us, we'd always recommend trekking with a guide.



icon_porterPorters are literally the backbone of the trekking world. Everything you see in the mountains that nature didn't put there – a porter did. For trekkers, the trail can be hard, the air thin, and the gear REALLY heavy. Porters, especially Sherpas and other mountain peoples, are accustomed to the altitude and thin air (many even have different physical characteristics from you and I - special adaptations to cope) and spend their lives carrying loads in the mountains. For you, heavy pack of gear might make a tough day unbearable – a good porter won't have too much difficulty. If you ask them, porters will carry immense loads, much more than could be considered reasonable – it's up to you to exercise discretion and care. We suggest not asking any single porter to carry more than 18kg – a safe weight they can manage with comfort. A porter will typically carry the gear of two people when teahouse trekking in Nepal, or one person or less when on a camping trek.

Porters aren't there to guide you, most don't even speak English, they're just there to make sure everything you need is where you need it, when you need it. They're also not there to look out for your safety – in fact, porters are often so keen to get the job done that you need to look out for their safety and well-being. Especially on a DIY trek, as their employer, you have a genuine responsibility for their health and safety.



icon_porter_guideNot as common as either specific porters or guides, though some guides will operate as porter guides when times are tough. Porter guides will speak some English, offer you some trail guidance and carry some of your gear. They provide a balanced service, when you don't need the full blown services of a dedicated porter and guide. You could expect a porter-guide to carry around 10kg for you on top of their own gear and help make sure you stay on the trail you're supposed to be on.


Quick Reference Porter / Guide Comparison

Of course, this won't be accurate in all cases, but for planning purpooses this is what you may expect from each member of your team:


Speak English / Bilingual

Carry Your Gear

Pre-trek help
(e.g. permits, flights)

Help on the Trail
(e.g. directions, beds)

Max trekkers per staff member

Approx. daily cost











No Some










Find my trekking Guide or Porter


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