Tourism was my hobby. Traveling to different places was part of my life. My background is in Health Care and Hospital Management. I worked for several, not for profit organizations. So my profession was to work in the not for profit organization and travel was my hobby but now Tourism has become my profession, and in my leisure time, I do the social work. Whatever money I earn, a certain percent of that money goes to the people who are disadvantaged and to marginalized families.
How did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?
One of the roles of my job was to create and design the recreational activities. While I was building the leisure activities I thought; in Nepal there are lots of opportunities in the tourism sector. I wanted to connect Health Tourism and Social Work. My principle focus is economic development through the tourism.
What does a typical day look like for you?
During the season, it would be busy, entirely focused on operating the groups. In the morning at 5 am I wake up and do some exercise and get fresh. Then I have breakfast and go to the office. Get organized for the group operations; check the timetable and planning schedule, check the condition of the vehicle, hotel, guides and entire service quality. Communicate with the guest, pick them up from the hotel & take them for the sightseeing. Once we finish the sightseeing drop them back to the hotel. Then back to the office and get prepared for the next day. Make sure everything is in order. Check the hotel condition. Planning for the next day and back to home. During the off-season I stay in the office and do the marketing and office work. Planning for the trade fair and exhibitions for the promotion of the packages and activities.
Have you got a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?
Obviously, there would be the certain way of guiding and well-managed information but we have to understand the need and expectation of the guest and deliver what they want and how much information do they want. For example, some people might be interested in culture, art, and architecture. I find out what they want and what is their limitation. And deliver the information accordingly.
I see and meet people from different backgrounds and nationalities. After the sightseeing when I see the smiles on their faces and get positive feedback that is the best moment, and these are the actual inspiration to do the job more effectively. On top of that, whatever I earn money, a certain percent goes to the community to change the people’s life who are suffering from disease and presenting in crisis. And we see the happy faces after solving the problems and bring change in their life. Just to let you know, I am involved in the Rotary Club and a few other, not for profit organizations.
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on a tour or trip?
As a guide when I was doing the Everest Basecamp via Tokyo Lake Trek. That was my first time as a guide, and I had 4 Trekkers with me. All of them were doing the first time trekking. One of the members was 70 years old. I was worryied about him, whether he would be able to complete the trek or not, fortunately, he was able to cross the Chola pass (5420m), which is one of the toughest passes in the Everest region. He did that and another one Kalapatthar (5550m), which is the best view point. He reached there safely and completed the entire trek. That one is my unforgettable memory in my life, and that was my first group in my guiding career.
Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?
Being a guide, we have to face several ups and downs. One of the downsides is, sometimes we put in all of our effort and the trekkers put in all of their effort, but because of their health condition they can not complete the trek and become sick with altitude sickness and can not complete the trip, at that time I really feel very bad because they come here from away and spend so much money and couldn’t complete the trip.
To become a tour guide, you should have a sound ability to identify the needs and interest of the guest. And to make the plan according to the situation. On top of that, you should have sound knowledge of geography, population, anthropological aspects, historical aspects, economic and religious aspects, art and architecture, iconography, natural beauty and vegetation, wildlife and much more. Similarly, the skill of the delivering the knowledge based on the guest’s need is equally important.
As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain what the benefits of hiring a guide are?
Hiring a guide will make things easier. First of all, they will have sound knowledge of geography, history culture, nature. The guide makes the complex things easier and convenient. Guides will have the ability to integrate the different services and just make the things easier.
Without giving away your secrets, tell us the types of things about your area/activity that only a guide would know.
First of all, the ability to know and understand the need and expectations of the guest and respond them accordingly. The guide will have the knowledge of local culture, tradition, and nature and present these things in an appropriate way. Guides are the mediator or facilitator who makes things easy and comfortable. There is nothing magic. The guide will have several alternative options according to the need and interest of the guest. Just to give an analogy: you can cook yourself at home, but some time, you go out of the home and eat at the restaurant. They will have the menu, and you can choose whatever you like among the several alternative options.
And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?
Tips for the travelers before booking are: Try to contact the guide directly to identify their skills and knowledge regarding the trip, so that you can assess the ability and communication skills of the guide. Clarify the cost of the services beforehand and read carefully what is included and what is excluded, check if there is the extra cost and how much is it. Clearly mention your needs, interests and physical strengths that will help guide to anticipate the idea and make a clear plan of how to operate with the guest. Try to go for something different and something unique that might be the memory of a lifetime. When you pick the activity make sure you do not miss ‘the must see things, ‘ and at the same time, you try to do the non-commercial and typical things where many tourists haven’t been before, and you be the first.