17th September 2021

Female Trekking Guides: Women at High Altitudes in Nepal

Trekking and adventures are very popular in Nepal. Every year, many trekkers trek to their favorite destinations in the Himalayas. And trekking guides are the ones who help tourists reach their favorite trekking destination in the mountains. Most trekking guides in Nepal are male. So, to increase female participation in high-altitude trekking in Nepal, Heaven Himalaya also started hiring female trekking guides. So, those travelers looking for a female guide can book their Nepal treks with Heaven Himalaya.

When we think of trekking guides, we think of extreme physical fitness and being able to walk in high altitudes. Nepal, a male-dominated country where men are said to be stronger than women, it was difficult for women to step outside of their homes. But, the condition has improved these days. Now, you can find many female guides in Nepal following their dream of traveling. Despite being male or female, a determination is integral to any kind of work, whether it is trekking at a high altitude or being a banker. All we need is the hunger to do the work efficiently, the hunger to reach our destination. So, if you are also a focused female guide, we welcome you to the club. 

High Altitude Trekking from a Girl Perspective

Female trekking guides had been contradictory and diverse. I’ve seen some young guys losing breath and not being able to make it, but I’ve also seen other young guys carrying two people’s backpacks and reaching the top. I’ve seen girls traveling solo to the top with no fear and symptoms of sickness, but I’ve also seen some other girls regretting being there. 

We are born in a male dominating country where men are said to be stronger than women. It is the only thing that stops women from stepping outside of their homes. Some girls’ parents won’t agree and some don’t have the gut to face the consequences of their decision during their travel. Not only females but also men face various consequences and hardships during trekking.

In both perspectives, whether we see it from a male or female point of view, determination and the hunger to reach our destination are what we need while going to high altitudes. Because that’s what we came for, that’s why we started for, and that’s where we wanted to be when we started our journey. When we reach the top, it will satisfy our soul because that’s where we realize besides all those hardships and thoughts of giving up, we did it and we completed the purpose of our journey. And life simply is the journey to satisfy our soul to the fullest as possibly as we can.

But yes, female hiking guides in Nepal face many challenges in the trials. But the major problems faced in the hiking trails had mostly become our menstrual cycle. Menstrual cycles might get longer, shorter, and irregular because of high altitude trekking. It is hard to find toilets/bathrooms to change sanitary pads, which need to be changed every 4 to 8hrs. Menstrual hygiene has been the major challenge to face on the trails. Besides, I have seen little of a difference between males and females on the trails.

A Nepali Female Trekking Guide, Jenisha Karki

a female trekking guide in manang

A female guide posing for a photo in Manang

Why are the numbers of female trekking guides very low in Nepal?

Trekking in Nepal started with mountain tourism, with the number of teams who came on expeditions to climb the majestic peaks. Soon after Nepal made its reputation for the adventure seekers, it was commonly referred to as a “trekkers’ paradise”. It induced the Locals to work as guides and porters for the tourists visiting their locality. As a measure of standardization and quality control, the Nepal government started issuing a license to be certified trekking guides by providing them with training classes, defining the criteria of minimum SLC (School Leaving Certificate).

Looking back at history, around 50-55% of trekking guides started their journey as porter guide. Porter is a helper of a baggage carrier for the tourists, hired by them. They don’t require a license like that of a trekking guide to work. And back then, females were considered to be physically weak to do the porter’s job. Also, during that time in Nepal, working as a porter was not safe for females. The nation kept women in shadow back then and now far behind in the field. This has significantly affected the number of female trekking guides, even to this day. 

But now, as the residents of the modernized and revolutionary world, women are marching their way to the world’s highest peak, “Mt. Everest”. And with time, we can also witness the increment in the number of Nepali female guides each year. Women have become entrepreneurs in the tourism industry and most female entrepreneurs entrust other women to work in their offices to encourage women’s empowerment. Few agencies provide only female guides and porters and all-female staff members. We give female porters specific loads according to their ability to make their journey comfortable based on their physical ability.

Compared to males, female trekking guides in Nepal are less in numbers, but it’s not because they aren’t able to do it, but it is because they started doing it late. Besides, according to the increasing demand for female trekking guides, the number of them is also increasing. Women were behind, but not that far that they weren’t able to navigate their way to the top!

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