'Package' vs guide/porter daily rate
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Sep 10, 2012 6:55 AM Last Post By: Petrus
Sep 7, 2012 9:25 PM
'Package' vs guide/porter daily rateI've been in touch with a couple of agents (both recommended to me) in Nepal regarding a Manaslu Circuit/Tsum Valley trek next month for myself and my wife. Both agents have offered us the option of a package including a guide, a porter, transport, food and accommodation and most of the permits. They have also quoted a daily rate for a guide and porter. This second option means that we would have to pay for accommodation and food in the lodges ourselves and also pay for transport and the necessary permits. The package option comes in considerably more expensive in both cases. For example, one agent is quoting around $900 for a porter and guide for 3 weeks while the package option works out at $2300 in total.
I'm inclined to just book the porter and guide and pay the other expenses as they arise. However, this will be our first time trekking at high altitude and I want it to be relatively stress free, especially when it comes to organising accommodation in the evenings. I imagine a good guide will take care of reserving accommodation in any case? If so, is there any real benefit to be had in booking a package?
Sep 7, 2012 11:48 PM
In my opinion Your trip is easier in package insteade of guide porter service because you have to make restricted permit for that area and on that trail some limitation lodges avilable if you are going for package the agent will do every thing before you arrival in kathmandu. If ypou would like Guide and porter service it may west your time to make permit in kathmandu.
Sep 8, 2012 12:14 AM
2We did a package tented trek for 6 people (Manaslu Tsum - 18 days) for 1580/person in November 2009. I guess there was an economy of scale, having six tourists, versus just two - and things in Nepal are now generally more expensive (petrol etc have shot up in price). In addition you go for 21 days, not just 18, like we did. Plus, I have employed the same guide for 10 of my 12 treks, so I usually get a small discount.
You have to remember that the permits (you need about 4 permits all up for Manaslu - Tsum) will probably cost about 3-400 dollars on their own, I think.
By the time you pay 900 for guide and porter, plus another 600-700/person on food and accommodation, plus the permits, plus the transport KTM to the trail heads and return - you arrive at 2000 or even over 2000 dollars anyway.
I suppose if it goes close to 100/person/day (everything included) it might border on the more pricey side. Still, it could be value for money, I don't know. If the company came with good recommendations this is a good sign. What I mean by good recommendations: from someone who trekked with them more than once; not just a first timer who tells you that "they were wonderful" - I place ZERO value on such recommendations, form people who have only trekked once in Nepal. Elitism, I know, but it is true...). There are a number of "Nepal freaks" on this site (Into-Thin-Air, Scoodly, me - very modestly speaking, and a few others) who's recommendations of guides I would trust.
I guess there will be a bit more "padding" in the package price, because your agent/guide has to take responsibility for everything. When you just pay for the guide and porter, you take responsibility for everything else in terms of cost - they don't.
I guess I am not helping you much here, apart from clarifying a few things. The decision is still yours to make.
Sep 8, 2012 4:34 AM
3Thanks yakshaver. It's great to get an informed perspective on it. Perhaps the package isn't such bad value after all. Yeah, the recommendations came from experienced trekkers, including one of the 'Nepal freaks' that you mentioned.
Sep 8, 2012 6:18 AM
4Oh well, is it 2300 dollars per person for a teahouse trek? In that case it's really a lot. I get 25 days package, all permits included, for 1200 euros. You can see my programme elsewhere on this site.
I will go for the 4th time with the same agency and guide, so I trust their services. And I'm not touting here by the way...
Sep 8, 2012 6:24 AM
Sep 8, 2012 6:58 AM
Sep 8, 2012 7:13 AM
Glad the link helped- it's all about making an informed choice and both options are valid.
Be clear about what is included and excluded in the package; how much food (e.g. what a main meal consists of - a big appetite might not be satisfied by what's included) and drinks (particularly water if you choose the boiled option), showers/buckets of water. It might be worth checking with the poster if that budget included a beer or two which is unlikely to be included (where available).
Ultimately, this probably means paying a bill at each lodge anyway - which is a great opportunity to interact with the lodge owner rather than the guide being a go-between.
As for hassle at the KTM end, the agency has to get the TIMS cards anyway and usually get the park permits too - a charge is made of course - $10 seems to be the going rate.
Perhaps ask for confirmation of these costs and the daily rate to make a direct comparison.
Sep 8, 2012 3:26 PM
Sep 8, 2012 4:04 PM
Sep 9, 2012 4:53 AM
10Re packages versus daily rate.
The devil may well be in the detail - ie what precisely is included in the package, and what is not included. Also even if food is included, sometimes there are restrictions on the number of courses, prices, how many hot drinks etc. It very much depends on whether the budget given by the agency to the guide is adequate - my guide told me that guides can be given too small a budget, just to make more money for the agency. I have seen many instances where there has been friction between the guide and client/s on this, and also the choice of lodges.
If it were me, I would go the daily rate route - that way you can spend as much or as little as YOU wish on food, drinks, showers (if it is not too cold), without any hassle. You can also have flexibility over the itinerary, within reason, as with a package, the guide has to make it work and cannot really add days, or deviate much.
With the daily rate, the guide (and porter etc) has no problems if it takes a bit longer, or you want rest days etc - he (or she), is getting paid.
Sep 9, 2012 5:22 AM
11@12 This is perfectly true, but it really depends on the agency. If you have a reliable and good agency, these things don't happen, at least by my experience. Every time I got food & hot drinks as I wanted, lots of flexibility as to the schedule and choice even for lodges and not to forget ... no hassle. Keep in mind that when you pay yourself as on the menu, prices are much more expensive than what the agency/guide pays.
Sep 9, 2012 5:33 AM
The last point is an interesting one; I can imagine the guide of a large group getting discount from the food bill but I can't see what the difference would be between 1 trekker plus guide on a package or a daily rate? How would the lodge owner necessarily know (often guides on a daily rate will actually pay the bill) and what would the benefit be to the lodge owner? In either scenario, group or individual, would any discount always be passed on trekker?
Jep - what hassles are you referring to?
Sep 9, 2012 6:12 AM
13This discussion is really interesting and has made me aware of several factors I hadn't even considered. I'm still leaning towards the package but I'm definitely going to get as much detail as possible on what is and what isn't included before we commit to it. Regarding the lodges, would I be right in saying that as this is the Manaslu trek the choice of lodges would be pretty limited in any case?
Sep 9, 2012 6:22 AM
14In a lot of places the choice of lodges will indeed be limited, but in the larger villages where choice is available then I think it’s nice to be able to decide yourself – For instance, you might want to treat yourself to an occasional more upmarket lodge with things like an inside toilet (Where available) which if you were to get a dose of the runs would be very handy ;-)
Also the question of food – Make sure that you know what is included in the package, often this doesn’t include deserts, often either no drinks or only one cup of tea / coffee is included per meal and sometimes there are restrictions on what you can pick of the menu (No European dishes as an example)
But as I said in my earlier posting – Packages suit some trekkers, so aren’t necessarily all bad ;-)
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