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Mountain Stories – Guides Tell the Tale Themselves; Rajendra Khatri

Mr. Rajendra Khatri, a highly ambitious and enthusiastic personality, is one of the most experienced guides to ever grace the Himalayas of Nepal. Starting his career as a porter in 2008, Rajendra was quick to grab himself the spot of highly demanded trekking guide in Ace the Himalaya. His excellent performance with clients has never been short of appraisal. His passion, energy, a good sense of humor, cheerfulness, and easy going attitude has never failed to impress our clients. Additionally, Rajendra is also a pharmacist and owns a pharmacy in Kathmandu. His medical knowledge and first aid skills have always been an advantage in this sector.

While asked about one trekking destinations he would like to travel in the near future, he responded, “I have been in the industry for more than a decade and have had opportunities to travel to a lot of amazing places. However, I have never been to Kanchenjunga Circuit. As far as I’ve heard, it is considered one of the most difficult trekking trails in Nepal. Therefore, I’d like to look up to it as a new challenge in my career. Also, since Kanchenjunga is the 3rd highest mountain in the world, I’d like to stand face to face with this humongous massif and behold its beauty.”

In this session of Mountain Stories, we caught up with Rajendra Khatri where he shared about his experiences in the Himalayas, his life as a guide of Ace the Himalaya, memories he has collected and the stories he has lived.

What is a normal day like for you on a trek? “A day in the life of a guide.”

Well, a day on a trek depends on a lot of factors. However, in general, my day while on trek starts early at 06:00 am. Almost immediately, I rush to wake up all my clients. After giving them some time to freshen up, I meet them for the breakfast at 07:00 am. Before leaving the hotel at 08:30, I check all the rooms to make sure none of our clients have left things behind.

Once we hit the trails, we take a short toilet break every 30-45 minutes. During the break, I also remind all the clients to drink more fluids. We usually stop at 11:00 am – 12:00 noon for the lunch. During the lunch break, I make sure everyone’s eating a good portion. In the meantime, I also help them refill their water bottles. We start walking again after about an hour and a half. I also stop them if I see anything interesting or if we reach any important destinations and brief them about it. I mostly walk with the slower clients or the ones who are not feeling well. However, I try as much as possible to walk everyone together in a group.

Upon arriving at our destination, the first thing I do is allocate rooms for the clients and check the cleanliness of the rooms. Then, I give them time to rest for about 30 to 45 minutes. After the break, I take the clients for a short walk and explore the nearby surroundings. Upon returning back to the hotel, I order the dinner and meet the clients at the dining hall at 06:30pm – 07:00 pm for the dinner. After the dinner, I separate a little time for daily briefing. Before heading to bed, I always make sure to inform them of my room number just in case of any emergencies at night.

Rajendra Khatri at Annapurna Base Camp
Rajendra Khatri at Annapurna Base Camp with Guests

What is your favorite trekking route?

Everest Base Camp. I assume this is the most common answer when it comes to the favorite trekking route in Nepal, isn’t it? Well, for me, to stand face to face with the highest mountain in the world is an honor. Also, the opportunity to see 15-16 mountains along the way is fantastic. The panoramic view of some of the highest mountains in the world from Kalapathar is simply awe-inspiring. I am also fascinated by the Sherpa cultures and tradition which dominates the Everest region.

What has been the most challenging moment for you as a guide?

A few years ago, when I was doing the Mount Kailash trek in Tibet, the weather started getting really bad. It was my first time in Tibet, I remember. Due to the excessive snowfall, the trails were soon covered under 3-4 feet of snow. With the snow continually falling, the visibility got really poor and the trail marks were almost impossible to see. We struggled through the thick snow that was almost above our waist. Despite all the difficulties, we managed to make it to our destination before dark the same day. Upon reaching our destination, we could barely believe what we had actually accomplished.

So, this was one of those trips that have stayed with me ever since. I’ve traveled all over the country and have experienced countless stories, but this, by far, was one of the most challenging circumstances I have ever encountered as a guide.

What is it like working for Ace?

I have been associated with Ace the Himalayas since its initial days. I first started working here as a porter in 2008. However, I was promoted to a trekking guide in 2009 and have never looked back since then.

As far as my experience, everything about this organization has been satisfactory. I feel honored and proud for having an opportunity to work with such a dedicated team. I have always been treated as a family here. In terms of professional experience, Ace the Himalayas is definitely one of the best trekking companies in Nepal. The company also makes sure to provide high-quality equipment and gears during the trek.

Rajendra Khatri with the Group
Groupie whilst trek

What do you like the most about guiding?

One of the most fascinating things about working as a trekking guide is to meet new people from all over the world. We get to make new friends, to share stories, to learn a new language, and their culture. This has always inspired me to not stop. We also get to live a story together and make tons of memories and friendship throughout the trek.

Since traveling has always been my passion, I also enjoy the opportunity to explore new places. A lot of people also ask me, don’t you get tired of traveling to the same place over and over again? And my response has always been, “Never.” There’s always a new thing to discover, there’s always a new vibe to experience.

What is your most impressive experience as a guide?

Well, my both challenging, as well as impressive experience, has to be Mount Kailash trek in Tibet. The impressive one was on my 2nd time in Tibet. It was while doing the Mount Kailash loop from Darchen. Generally, the loop takes two days to complete. However, since my clients were in rush, they requested me to finish loop on a single day if possible. We started our day from Darchen early at 06:00 am and walked all the way over Mount Kailash and returned back to Darchen at 02:00 am the next morning. It was strenuous yet one of the most memorable and impressive journeys I ever lived.

Did the Earthquake affect your work?

Since the Earthquake struck in Nepal in April of 2015, which happens to be the second best time to visit Nepal. All the bookings for the year were almost immediately canceled. Due to all the cancellation, I had no works for almost 4-5 months. I went back to my village for all these months and help build temporary shelters around the village. However, after about 4-5 months, I was informed that the bookings were growing slowly. I then returned back to work, and the numbers have been growing ever since.

While it did affect me to a certain extent, I have to admit, it did not affect me tremendously.

Rajendra Khatri Rafting
Ready to raft

Tell us about your family and home.

I was born into a middle-class family in Arupokhari, Gorkha. My parents still live back in the village while I reside in Kathmandu with my wife and my 15-year old son. I first traveled to Kathmandu in 2008 to pursue my career in the trekking industry. Apart from trekking, I also own a clinic named Imja Swastha Sewa Kendra in Banasthali, Kathmandu. I look after the clinic while I’m not trekking and while I’m off to the Himalayas, my wife looks after the clinic.

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