Day One: Kathmandu to Phakding
So day one of the Everest Base Camp Trek starts very early in Kathmandu. You quickly learn that the best weather of the day in the Himalayas is first thing eg 5 or 6am. For lukla you want to be on the first flight out of Kathmandu as anything can happen with weather and many delays. This is also when it is an excellent time to be travelling with an organised tour as they have a lot of clout in terms of seats on airlines!
Flying to Lukla
We got on the first flight out – flying from Kathmandu to Lukla a 14 seater – and headed to the world’s scariest airport Lukla! The flight is quite spectacular – I had read to sit up the front on the left side as you enter from the back of the plane. There were then 2 seats next to me. I had a great seat for most of the flight – but the seat next to me eg the middle seat of the first row had the best view of the runway and lukla airport! It is a very short runway and then straight into a mountain! I really enjoyed the flight but I am not a fearful flyer. It would be tough if you were.
Upon arrival we then got a coffee at a nearby lodge and waited for all of our bags to arrive. Our bags came across 3 different flights. And then it was time to start the Everest Base Camp Trek!
Lukla and the beginning of the trek
We walked through the rather small town of lukla – the streets are full with people as well as “joeys” which is the name for the horses. Yaks don’t operate under 3000m – too warm for them with all that underbelly of hair – so the joeys take care of carrying bags etc at the lower levels.
We had a beautiful first day for walking – clear skies. Unlike Kilimanjaro which is entirely a national park and has no one living in it – there is always something going on with the base camp trek. Villages, people, joeys, yaks, monasteries. The first day is a half day of walking and it was a pretty relaxed session – a bit of up and down but not much.
We got into our first tea house Sunrise Lodge & Restaurant quite early – about 4pm. We found our rooms and put in our dinner orders. The rooms are basic as promised! Twin beds – each bed has a fitted sheet, a pillow with a pillow case and a duvet of sorts. I only used my sleeping bag as a base the first couple of nights as I would have been too hot in it. That and I hate sleeping bags as you really can’t move much in them but that’s what keeps you warm!
I wasn’t looking for a shower option at this tea house as I had had one that morning. This was probably the only time on the Everest Base Camp Trek I really sat outside and read my book on the trip. Dinner was fine – I was able to have a glass of wine with my vegetarian Momos so I was happy!
Day Two: Phakding to Namche Bazaar
We were up at 7am for an 8am exit from Phakding. This was one of the toughest days of the Everest Base Camp trek in terms of physical exercise – 16km of rather relentless up and down – particularly the last two hours. It is however quite a stunning walk. There are quite a few firsts on day two – first suspension bridge, first entry into the official Sagarmatha national park and first view of Everest weather permitting! We saw a hint of Everest which was very exciting!
Namche Bazaar is the London of the Everest Base Camp Trek! It is a busy and bustling village with lots of shops and restaurants. I was very excited to find lots of Illy coffee signs and takeaway coffees! It wasn’t bad either. Some treks have 2 nights here for acclimatisation but we were only one night. We got in to Namche by about 4pm which gave time to have a quick wander. This is the last good place to pick up chocolate, biscuits, pharmacy items, gear for the trek etc etc.
This was probably the best tea house of the Everest Base Camp trek – The Green Tara Hotel. We even had our own ensuite – albeit the shower only had cold water! There were two excellent hot showers on a different floor. Most excitingly the owner had a hair dryer that he allowed us to use free of charge! The owner here was very friendly and the tea house had a great feel. It was also very very clean.
Day Three: Namche to Khumjungne
Namche to Khumjungne of the most stunning days of the Everest Base Camp Trek. We had earnt our views after a very steep trek out of Namche. Our morning coffee stop was the best of the trip – the Everest View Hotel! On the way there we got amazing views of Mount Everest – the scenery was just jaw dropping.
The Everest View Hotel itself is lovely. There is a massive terrace that allows everyone to enjoy their coffee with what must be one of the best views in the world.
We then had a lovely trek down to Kunde where we visited the Edmund Hilary Hospital and learnt about how emergency medicine works on the mountain and what had happened during the earthquake. It was amazing what can be accomplished at such altitude. We also visited a local school which is also funded by the Edmund Hilary organisation.
We then visited a monastery in Khumjumg which was quite picturesque. It calims to have the only Yeti skull in the world! Of course a fee is involved to see such an amazing icon! It appeared to be kept in a rather non museum like box in a cupboard. Two members of our group agreed to pay and the rest of us were told in no uncertain terms to pay up or head out of the monastery!
Our tea house for night three was Amadablam View Lodge. This was nothing particularly exciting but it was decent and clean which is all that was needed and again I was able to have a hot shower which was exciting. This marked my first consumption of Sherpa stew which became my signature dinner meal of the trip. I always went vegetarian – which tended to mean carrot and potato rather than anything green!
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Click here for the rest of my posts on the Everest Base Camp Trek – I cover everything from what to pack to the real story on the food to my itinerary and what I would have done differently
Also published on Medium.