Can you trek in Nepal without a guide?

A very controversial topic and one that I spent much time going over before my most recent Three Passes trek in Nepal. Can you trek in Nepal without a guide? I’m here to offer my experiences and discuss the recent changes (March 2023) that could change trekking in Nepal forever.

Most of the answer has to do with your own personal circumstances and will be different for everyone.

If you’re looking for the answer, it’s no.

But I’ll cover both sides of the discussion and then you can make the decision that is best for you, and your situation.

March 2023 Update: Can you trek in Nepal without a Guide?

A fairly major speculation has been taking place since March 3rd, 2023.

The Nepalese government has supposedly passed an act on changing the way trekking is done independently in Nepal.

From April 1st, 2023, every independent trekker will need to be accompanied by a guide.

This is purely speculation as of right now (March 4th) as to whether or not this will be implemented or not.

But I truly believe that this could drastically change trekking in Nepal, and not for all good, either.

I’ll report back when this is made official. Right now, it’s purely speculation and hasn’t been the first time that they’ve tried to implement something similar.

Some of the speculation:

Nepal Bans Solo Trekkers from April 1st

Benefits of having a Guide

For some, having a guide is a safety net in the Himalayas. Rightly so, it’s their home ground and they know it like the back of their hand.

Hiring a guide is supporting the local economy, putting money directly into the guide’s pocket, and helping him support his family.

You’re more likely to get treated better at Teahouses. At least you’ll get special treatment as the guide will likely have relationships with where ever you stay. Not saying this is not true for hiking independently, but it may enhance your teahouse experience somewhat.

Knowing exactly which route to take, covering itinerary, and taking care of everything on the trail. Having a guide to tell you when to rest, when to push, when to stop etc. That can be super helpful if you’re inexperienced or just want to hand the responsibility over to someone else.

If you get into trouble, having a guide is going to be a great asset as they’ll be able to safely assist you, or call for further assistance, should you need it. As previously mentioned, it’s a safety net in the mountains if you feel like you need it.

Cost of Hiring a Guide

One of the things you’d have to consider the most when potentially hiring the guide is making sure it is within your budget. Now that’s totally dependent on you.

Here’s a rough estimate to give you some idea of what you should expect to pay for a guide, and or a porter should you use their services.

Guide: $20-$30 per day of trekking.
Porter: $15-$20 per day of trekking.

You will also be expected to tip once the trek is complete. This is usually a day/two days’ pay on top of their daily rate.

For context. My recent trek over the Three Passes would have cost me around $500 for a guide and $400 for a porter. Adding nearly $1000 to my full costs.

You can see the cost of my entire trip here:

Nepal Three Passes Costs Guide

Benefits of trekking independently

To answer the question, ‘Can you hike in Nepal without a guide?’ – as of now, the answer is yes.

If you’re someone who is independent, experienced, and fancies a real challenge, then choosing to go without a guide could be right up your street.

Provided you’re willing to do enough research, plan in advance, and have the navigation skills required in the mountains, then going without a guide is certainly an option for your trek in Nepal.

Hiking solo means you’re on your own terms. You can rest whenever you’d like, stay wherever you’d like, extend or shorten the trip however you see fit, and generally not be on anyone else’s clock.

There’s an obvious safety implication when trekking solo. However, when you’re on the trail there’s a strong likelihood that you’re never actually going to be alone. Other trekkers, or hikers, will likely be doing the same route as you, so it can be nice to tag along with others on the same itinerary.

Personally, on bigger, harder days during the Three Passes, I hiked with trekkers that were doing the same route that day. It meant that if trouble did arise, there were enough of us to be able to do something about it.

If you are trekking solo, ensure you’re taking your time, acclimitising properly and taking every precaution you can to ensure full safety on the trail.

Why I chose to hike independently

For me, trekking the Three Passes solo was always going to be the case.

I yearned for a sense of adventure and a personal challenge. Especially after a really tough time mentally over the past couple of years. Wanting to prove to myself that I could do hard things. Using a guide would have taken away from that accomplishment.

If you’re looking to undertake the Three Passes solo then here are some guides for you from my recent trek.

Full Itinerary breakdown for the Three Passes

Full costs breakdown for 18 days in Nepal

Ultimate packing list for Trekking in Nepal

Will the new law deter you?

I would love to have some healthy debate and conversation about the new speculated laws being enforced.

Would trekking with a guide put you off coming to Nepal?

Would trekking with a guide be out of your budget if you’re a budget traveller?

Or prehaps you’re full in support of this and think it is a good move from the Nepalese government?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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6 Replies to “Can you trek in Nepal without a guide?”

  1. Hi Lou

    Thank you for opening up this interesting topic of discussion.
    I’m an experienced trekker, traveler, rock climber and mountaineer. So I feel comfortable going on an unguided trek, especially as most popular treks (eg. Three passes trek, annapurna circuit) are on well traveled paths and from tea house to tea house.
    A guide is just an extra cost, and some unwanted company in my case. I hope this decision gets overturned soon!

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Pieter.

      Thanks for the comment. I think for the most part, the rule hasn’t actually come in to place, and there are still a lot of grey areas when it comes to trekking solo. That being said, paying into the economy, and helping someone feed their family is a nice thing to do but for some, it takes away the pupose of their adventure and travel.

      Pros and cons for sure and both sides of the argument have valid opinions.

      Travel well,

  2. I am absolutely put off. I have completed the Annapurna circuit and the Helambu/Gosaikunda trek. I was looking at taking my lady fo the first time, and now a guide is required! These are well travelled treks, not only is a guide not needed, it adds a significant expense to the trek. I will be looking elsewhere now. If you want a guide, then the option has always been available, this should not be mandatory.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sulli.

  3. Hey all,

    I am intending to run the GHT with a friend. It feels difficult to figure out how to insert this idea of going with a guide into a 40 day running mission. Does anyone have any idea how we might go about this? Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

    1. No thoughts or ideas on this, Meg. Sorry! Good luck with the trail.

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