Are We There Yet?
There were some instances where I would crave to be saved; unfortunately, it’s not one of the places where your boyfriend can come to rescue you. At the same time, the mountain gods are there constantly ensuring that you have learned your life lessons. ‘The struggle is real‘, is a term I would use for this journey. Crying can sometimes be a form of empathy, sometimes, a mechanism for self pity. Mine was definitely the latter. In many instances I wished that I would be sick enough for the medical evacuation helicopters to come rescue me, but unfortunately, in a good way, I did not get sick. I was miserable during the trip, but it wouldn’t have felt rewarding if I needed to be saved.
Should You Do The Trip?
Being an adventurist on my own right, I believe that everyone should get out of their comfort zone and see the world. That being said, I think everyone should do this trip at least once in their life. The training and mental strength you need to even consider this is the first challenge you will have to go through. I remember telling my friends that I will climb Mt. Everest, and would mention to them that it would happen in a year or so. It took me almost 2 years of deep thought before I finally decided to take the plunge.
Our Itinerary From Kathmandu to Mt. Everest Base Camp
We shied away from the traditional tourist route, only because it runs in the family to challenge ourselves a little more and experience more than what the general public would normally do. We did a slightly more advanced trek, we went to 2 out of the 3 Passes. Passes are elevated routes which are higher (around 5,700m) than Mt. Everest Base Camp, so if you are not sure about your health, it is best to stick to the tourist route as much as possible.
March 29 [Day 0]: Exploring Kathmandu
March 30 [Day 1]: The Most Dangerous Airport in the World
Total Distance: Lukla to Monjo (16.4km); 2,800M above sea level Accommodation: Sherpa Lodge
March 31 [Day 2]: Last Chance to Experience Civilization
Total Distance: Monjo to Namche Bazar (6.8km); 3,400m (11,154.86ft) above sea level Accommodation: Khumbu Lodge
April 01 [Day 3]: Yeti Skulls in Khumjung Monastery
Total Distance: Namche Bazar to Kyangjuma (12.8km); 3,790m (12,434.38ft) above sea level Accommodation: Dream Garden Lodge
April 02 [Day 4]: Memory Loss, Altitude Sickness and Volunteer Doctors
Total Distance: Kyangjuma to Dhole (6km); 4,200m (13,779.53ft) above sea level Accommodation: Alpine Cottage Lodge
April 03 [Day 5]: Diamox, a Life Saver
Total Distance: Dhole to Machherma (6km); 4,430m (14,534.12ft) above sea level Accommodation: Tasi Dale Lodge
April 04 [Day 6]: The Emerald Oligotrophic Gokyo Lakes
Total Distance: Machherma to Gokyo (4.36km); 4,700m (15,419.95ft) above sea level Accommodation: Gokyo Resort
April 05 [Day 7]: The Dreadful Gokyo Ri and Ngozumpa Glacier
Total Distance: Gokyo Ri to Dragnag (8.32km); 5,380m (17,650.92ft) above sea level Accommodation: Chola Pass Resort
April 06 [Day 8]: Acclimatization and Rest Day
Total Distance: 0KM; 4,730m (15,518.37ft) above sea level Accommodation: Chola Pass Resort
April 07 [Day 9]: The Cold and Icy Chola Pass
Total Distance: Dragnag to Dzonglha through Cho La Pass (5.94km); 5,420m (17,782.15ft) above sea level Accommodation: Mountain Home Lodge
April 08 [Day 10]: Food Poisoning and American Boy
Total Distance: Dzong La to Gorakshep (8.11km); 5,140m (16,863.52ft) above sea level Accommodation: Himalayan Lodge
April 09 [Day 11]: Mount Everest Base Camp!
Total Distance: Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (8.95km); 5,364m (17,598.46) above sea level Accommodation: Himalayan Lodge
April 10 [Day 12]: The Journey Back
Total Distance: Gorak Shep to Periche(I forgot to record it); 4,240m (13,910.76) above sea level Accommodation: Pumari Lodge
April 11 [Day 13]: First Shower in 11 Days
Total Distance: Periche to Tengboche (9.34km); 3,860m (12,664.04ft) above sea level Accommodation: Tashi Delek Lodge
April 12 [Day 14]: More Yeti Adventures (the Abominable Snowman)
Total Distance: Tengboche to Monjo (14km); 2,835m (9,301.18ft) above sea level Accommodation: Mt. Kailash Lodge
April 13 [Day 15]: So Close Yet So Far
Total Distance: Monjo to Lukla (11.58km); 2,840m (9,317.58ft) above sea level Accommodation: Mera Lodge We rushed our way down because we were hoping to get a flight out today. Unfortunately, we reached Lukla around noon time and all flights for the rest of the day were cancelled. We spent the evening in Lukla.
April 14 [Day 16]: Goodbye and Hope to Never See You Again!
My sister and I took the first flight out of Lukla. Although finishing such an adventure is a good feeling, it felt bitter sweet. I still could not believe it all happened, and in a day’s time, I needed to go back to my normal routine.
How To Trek To Everest Base Camp
Below are some information which can help you when booking your trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp: Agency: BASE CAMP Trekking & Expeditions Tel: (977 1) 44 11 504 / 44 15 573 Fax : 44 12 337 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.basecamptrek.com; www.basecamptrek.com/departs-fixes-nepal Trip cost: USD 1,700 per pax Cost Inclusions:
Flight from Kathmandu – Lukla – Kathmandu
13 days for (1 guide, 1 porter, basic lodges)
4 nights at Kantipur Temple House Hotel
3 meals and 3 drinks per day Breakdown details
My dad’s guide: Kim Gurung : Good and quick in getting things done. Also probably in his 40s. You can request him from the agency and find him on facebook.
Our guide: Tenzi Sherpa : Good and quick in getting things done. 26 years of age. He also does tours himself and you can contact him directly. It might be a bit cheaper. Just ask if they arrange tickets incase you will have changes to your itinerary. His contact details are: Email: email@example.com Lakpatop1sherpa@gmail.com
Guide Day rate (as per agency) = USD $30 Porter Day Rate (maximum of 30kg to carry): USD $15 Hotel we stayed in at Kathmandu: Kantipur Temple House Round-trip flight ticket from Kathmandu to Lukla (check-in bag is maximum 15kg. You just pay a fee if you have extra): USD $324 Suggested time of year: March, April, and October. Though I think early April is good because:
It is going to summer so the weather is more stable and maybe warmer than other months
Not too many tourists yet so you can choose lodges if you want to change lodge
Not too many tourists yet so the trail is not packed with other tourists (can feel congested)
In Kathmandu winter items are on sale so they get even cheaper if you need additional gear
30-day tourist VISA (bring exact as they have no change in the airport) = USD 40
Insurance: Paid USD 122 which covered helicopter MEDEVAC, dental, if you missed your flight due to weather or emergency reasons, as long as you were not in your home country during incidents. Insurance Provider: WorldNomads.com Type: Explorer Plan Tips: Normal tipping rule for porters is USD 5/day. I do not know the rules for the guides but I just made it the same. In fact, I felt the porter deserved more after you see him carry your heavy bags. We tipped USD $100 for the porter and USD $100 for the guide for a 14/day trip. Lodges: Inform your agent/guide if you want a comfortable lodge. Sometimes you are limited by what is available but when there is a more comfortable one, go for it. You deserve it after the tiring trek. Feel free to check out the lodges (especially the toilets) in the area first before deciding on where you will spend the night. Do not just agree to what the guide suggests as their standards may be different to yours. These were my requirements which resulted in the more expensive lodges amounting to USD 30-50/night. So the budget given to your guide to pay for the lodges may come in a bit short so just cover the difference or, before your trip, inform them of your requirements already. Here are some of the standards we asked our guide:
Private toilet. If not private, shared toilet will not require me to exit the lodge.
Private bath. If not private, shared bath will not require me to exit the lodge.
Warm or double glazed windows and walls if possible
Fireplace turned on for sure during dinner time as some lodges don’t if they have few guests
Has electric heating blankets
Has hot shower
Food and drinks: Most common products in stores and lodges are (just check expiry dates as we found some products that were expired 5 years ago!):
Coca Cola Products
San Miguel Beer
Mars, Snickers, and Bounty chocolates
Pringles (Original flavor)
Most menu items are:
Potato dishes (e.g. French fries, boiled potatoe, potato momo)
Bread dishes (e.g. French toast, hamburger, ham and cheese sandwich, chapatti with jam/peanut butter/honey, pancakes)
Curries with rice
Pasta dishes (e.g. Spaghetti bolognaise/cheese and garlic)
Noodles with vegetables/meat
Soups (e.g. garlic soup, cabbage soup, tomato soup)
Other necessities sold in stores and lodges: Approximate exchange rate: USD 100 = NPR 10,000
Wifi: NPR 350 for 100mb
Hot pail of water to shower with: NPR 300 – 500
Electronics Charging: NPR 350 for 1hour
Hot cup of water: NPR 60
What To Prepare for the Trek
Hiking backpack: At least 50L. Make sure it fits your back properly and has a waterproof cover.
Water-resistant duffle bag: For the porter to carry things you won’t want to carry in your backpack.
Thermal tops (x2)
Quick dry t-shirts (x2)
Thermal leggings (x2)
Trousers (x1): Preferably one you can convert into shorts
Thick wool socks (x2)
Thinner wool socks (x2)
Quick dry underwear (x5)
Down jacket (x1)
Full body rain coat/poncho (x1)
Wind breaker jacket (x1)
Warm fleece jacket (x1)
Winter sleeping bag (x1)
Walking sticks (x2)
Indoor shoes or sandals (x1) To use inside the lodges and when you take a bath.
Wet wipes (x10)
Diamox tablets:Helps you acclimatize. Side effects may be a tingly feeling in the fingers and toes, constant urinating, sodas taste less fizzy. Please consult your doctor before taking.
Ibuprofen tablets: Just incase you’ll get a headache due to cold and or elevation. May be helpful to carry some for your guide or porter as well.
Anti-biotics: Just incase you get food poisoning, it might be worth it to have 1 weeks’ worth.
Water purifying tablets: to purify tap water I didn’t bring any of this and was fine drinking tap water. You can also buy bottled water in the stores and lodges.
First Aid Kit: With waterproof bandages
Foot Powder: Or talcum powder in case you want to re-wear your socks for days.
Warm sleeping clothes
Head and Face Gear: Beanie and Balaclava, Tube Scarf Bandana
Solar battery charger
USD 500 pocket money: Just incase you will want to upgrade to a better lodge and/or buy some comforts (e.g. wifi, chocolates, more food and drinks, have a hot shower, charge your gadgets, rent an extra blanket, TIP your guide and porter and the end of the trip). You won’t finish this but just incase.
Toiletries: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, moisturizer, lip gloss, deodorant, body soap, soap for clothes
Sunscreen: I didn’t use any. Using the balaclava and/or tube scarf bandana is better at protecting your face from the strong sun and cold winds than sunscreen.
Travel towel (x1)
Toilet paper (1x)
Duct tape: Incase your shoes, jackets, sleeping bag tear
Gloves: A pair of ski gloves and thin gloves so you can wear them over each other.
Belt: In case you lose weight and your trousers start to fall
Souvenirs: Wish I brought but maybe 2 small gifts from your country you might want to give to your guide and porter at the end of the trip. Many of them have never been out of Nepal
2L Water bottle
Powedered juice with electrolytes sachets enough for trip.
Trail Snacks: Chocolates, mixed nuts, or other snacks you might want to carry to satisfy your cravings and/or if you have special dietary requirements.
Nepal Visa: Bring USD $40 to pay 30-day tourist VISA in Nepal
Hot water bag: I didn’t have any but I think it is a good idea so you can put it in your sleeping bag to warm it up before you get in.
Heat Gel: To rub on areas of your body that can hurt due to the trekking (e.g. muscle pain)
Basic Nepalese Etiquette and Hiking Rules
Keep warm. Do not allow yourself to get cold.
If you have a symptom of altitude sickness, do not panic. You just need to walk to a lower place (not alone, with your guide or someone else), and acclimatize there. When you are OK, then you can continue your trek up. No need to panic and use insurance right away to get MEDEVAC. Anyone can suffer from altitude sickness, even the locals.
Never ascend more than 400m a day.
While walking, always look at where you are stepping. A simple slip can cause serious injuries. If you have to look around to appreciate the view or take photos, stop walking.
Keep hydrated with water. Judge how much you need to drink by the color of your urine. The standard is to drink 4 liters everyday. That might be too much or too little for you. Always listen to what your body wants and needs.
Always pass left of pagodas for good fortune and it’s the Buddhist way.
When Yaks and Mules pass, always stand and wait on the side away from the cliff/drop zone.
If possible, avoid drinking milk or eating meat or bread the higher you go as this won’t really be that fresh. However, listen to what your body wants to eat and/or drink as it is telling you what it needs.
When entering a monastery, remove your shoes, do not wear anything on your head, and don’t take photos unless they allow it.
Before the trek, inform your guide of your conditions and expectations of him and the porter. Do you want a quiet trek and you won’t want your guide to keep chatting to you? Do you want him to be informative? What are your interests? Do you want him to walk within a close distance of you or be way ahead of you so that you won’t be influenced by his pace? How do you want your porter to address you (first name, last name, title)?
Only keep in your backpack your necessities during the trek. For other things such as sleeping bags, extra toiletries, and the like, leave it to the porter to carry.
Make sure your guide and porter are wearing the appropriate clothes for the trek (e.g. jackets to keep them warm, closed shoes). They have to, it’s for their own safety. Their bodies too cannot withstand extremely cold conditions.
Your body will go through changes as you are acclimatizing.
Extreme migraine. I followed doctor’s advice to sleep with head a bit elevated to prevent headaches
Resting heart rate is double (this is normal)
Waking up gasping for air as sometimes the body stopped breathing for awhile during sleep
Wounds inside the nose due to the cold air.
Carry cash as only rare places accept credit cards + they add 5-10% charge on top of the total payable amount with credit card usage.
When shopping you can bargain
Walk at your own pace. Do not get pressured by the faster people. Stop when you’re tired.
Bring a book or anything to entertain you in the lodges if you don’t enjoy talking to other hikers.
Travel in even numbers since lodges have 2 beds per room. This way it makes it cheaper when there are 2 of you paying for the room.
Your guides are like your personal assistants. They take your orders in the lodges, serve your food, and make the payments (we authorized ours and just asked them for a breakdown at the end of the day). Note that guides are only allowed to eat in the lodges after all the guests have finished eating.
Guides and Porters pay for their own food and lodging. That is covered in their fees.
There are allocated bins for waste disposal during the trek. Best you have an extra plastic bag to keep your garbage until you come across these bins.
There are free talks about altitude sickness by volunteer doctors. Ask your guide about them and attend one.
Put an allowance of maybe 1-week to your trek’s schedule to accommodate for potential delays due to weather and/or sickness. Flights to and from Lukla often get delayed due to weather conditions. When you have a ticket, always pick the first flight, and you wait in the airport until your airplane arrives. It may never come and you might have to do the whole process the next day and day after until clearance is provided to the airplanes.
Best to start walks around 7:30AM as the sun is up and the sky is normally clear of clouds. The clouds normally start coming in after lunch and the visibility and temperature drops and/or you can’t see any views.
If weather goes bad and you are in a safe place (e.g. lodge, tent), do not leave. Just stay where you are until the bad weather passes. You make the decision of what your next move will be. Do not listen to advice from radios or cellphones as these people advising are not where you are and do not know your current condition and situation. You are your own captain.
Do not use or wear any cotton material. It doesn’t dry fast.
HAVE FUN! It is not a race. It’s a trip you should do at your own pace. A
Namaste! Feel free to share this guide with others who may be interested. Article by: Natalie Tarin & Jemaville Tarin Lim