At an early age of 13, Sarki Sherpa packed his bags and moved from his village Okhaldhunga to Lukla to work as a tour guide. Much to his dismay he initially had to make do as a porter to gain some experience prior beginning to work as a tour guide.
Nevertheless, beginning his journey from the grassroots level and dedicating himself in the field for 18 years, Sarki now is a mountain leader and secretary of Trekking Guide Association of Nepal (TGAN). Having travelled to as many as nine countries and a myriad places across Nepal, Sarki has been an active explorer as a mountain leader.
My City’s Sonam Lama caught up with Sarki to talk about his experiences and setbacks throughout his journey.
How has your journey in the field of tourism been?
Reflecting back, I recall bitter-sweet experiences that have shaped my life. Initially driven by the motivation that I got from my relatives and friends who were making a good life being a tour guide, I decided to join them and headed in search of work that would earn me a better living.
There were times when I thought of giving up after as a lot of struggle came my way, but moving on seemed a better option. The struggle from being a young shepherd boy to turning into a mountain leader has been a life changing experience for me.
What were the challenges that you witnessed?
From the time I decided to leave Okhaldhunga, every phase of my life was filled with challenges. Since I didn’t have any prior work experience and qualification, I initially worked as a porter and a kitchen cook for several years. It was only after taking courses and gaining some years of experience that I began working as a tour guide.
After 18 years of tackling with the obstacles and being dedicated to the field of tourism, I am able to work as a Trekking guide, while also providing training to beginners. From earning a daily remuneration of Rs 150 as a porter to returning home with calloused hands and ached back, I have witnessed all highs and lows in my work.
Has the scope of tourism changed in Nepal over the decades?
The scope of tourism has certainly improved in Nepal over the decades. Our country is rich in culture and has diverse historical values, so tourism is definitely thriving. As long as the field keeps developing, it also ensures a strong national economy.
As compared to the time when I had started working as a tour guide, the sector now has invited better facilities for the tourists. The guides are trained and acquainted with the knowledge which they would deliver to the tourists. Many organizations have been collaborating to provide proper training and leadership skills to the beginners in the field, which has helped enhance the tourism sector. However, there are many things that need to be done for tourism to thrive.
In your opinion, what measures can be adopted to enhance tourism in Nepal?
As a tour guide, a proper learning and understanding of history and culture, weather forecast, map navigation, first aid and usage of Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC) to fight altitude sickness are very crucial.
Every profession has its own risks to be dealt with. Keeping that in consideration, I believe certain authoritative bodies or the government should take the responsibility to safeguard the social security of tour guides. Since tour guides play a major role to represent our country in the world, a proper budget that is allocated every year for tourism sector should be properly utilized to provide ample training, leadership and communicational skills to tour guides and rest of the workers affiliated to the tourism sector.
Any word of advice to readers?
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