Technically there is no need whatsoever to hire guide on the Jomsom Trek. The trail follows a mule path which is a well worn trade route to the temple at Muktinath. Getting lost is quite simply impossible.
The Jomsom Trek is also affectionately known as â€œthe apple pie trailâ€, a quaint tag which refers to the fact that each stage ends at a mountain village.
These villages have grown to cater to tourist tastes and demands, meaning apple pie, comfortable beds and hot showers await you at the end of each days walking.
All of which makes Jomsom one of the easiest and most luxurious treks you can ever hope to undertake.
So why bother with a guide or a porter?
Well for one thing thereâ€™s the local economy. Employing a guide means you are providing someone with a wage, and a relatively good wage at that.
All along the route you will encounter porters carrying improbable loads from village to village, so carrying your bags is pretty light work in comparison. Some unscrupulous tour operators do load their porters to the hilt however, and you often see men almost buckling under the unbelievable weight of some tourist baggage.
Quite what is in these bags is anyoneâ€™s guess. The Jomsom trail, as I said, caters so well to your creature comforts that excessive baggage is simply unnecessary. A change of clothes, a rain coat, a sleeping sheet (or bag) a towel, some toiletries, a book, a camera, a first aid kit and your sorted. Anything else is not necessary.
Trust me. Put it back. Leave it at home. Whatever you do donâ€™t bring it with you and force some porter to carry things you donâ€™t need.
Between the five of us we managed to pull together a communal bag that weighed 15 kilos, and some of that weight was still probably useless.
But I digress. The benefits of a guide….
Well having a guide also means that you have someone to accompany you on the trail who can deal with any negotiations at the local guest houses, can act as a translator and can generally provide you with insights and information into the local culture and environment.
You may even learn a few words of Nepali on the way and, if youâ€™re lucky, can get in on some mean card games in the evening in the guest houses (but more on that later).
And, if your guide happens to be Laxman Pun, well, then you really are in luck.
Laxman had approached us within twenty minutes of our arrival in Pokhara, asking us if we needed a guide. Quiet spoken and relaxed, we took a shine to him instinctively, his gentle manner putting us at ease.
Here was someone we all knew we could relax with, someone whose presence wouldnâ€™t be intrusive – which was important, given that weâ€™d be spending twelve days in his company.
So if you find yourself in Pokhara looking for a guide then head to the Tranquility Lodge and ask for Laxman Pun. If youâ€™re in luck heâ€™ll be available.
And if you do find yourself enjoying his company then please say hello to him from me !