Himalaya Trekking to Base Camp Day One: Kathmandu to Phakding
So day one of Himalaya Trekking to base camp starts very early in Kathmandu. You quickly learn that the best weather of the day in the Himalayas is first thing eg 5 or 6 am. 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 on 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 of 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 of 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 Everest 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 4 pm. 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!
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day Two: Phakding to Namche Bazaar
We were up at 7 am for an 8 am 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 the 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 acclimatization but we were only one night. We got into Namche by about 4 pm 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.
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp 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 learned 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 claims 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!
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day 4: Kyanjuma to Tengboche 3867m
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 4 is blessedly more of a half day as the altitude kicks up. It begins with a descending walk and then moves into a climb through the forest. We arrived in Tengboche around lunchtime. This was one of my favourite places we visited on the trek. The town has a lovely feel to it and it was one of the best tea houses in terms of food and it definitely won for the best coffee on the trek!
In the afternoon we visited Tengboche Monastery, again a highlight of the trip. Every person who has climbed Everest has visited this monastery to be blessed from Sir Edmund Hilary onwards. We went to the afternoon prayer ceremony and it was packed! It was humbling and a bit awesome to be sitting where every Everest climber has sat.
The monks wander in and out of the ceremony, bringing some food, having a laugh and a chat and then picking up on the chanting. It is a very enjoyable hour and I highly recommend going!
Himalaya Trekking Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche 4350m
The Everest Base Camp Trek Day 5 has some spectacular walking and a lot of up and down! Well every day on the trek has a lot of up and down but I did seem to feel it more on Day 5 – and it added to get some great views!
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day 6: Acclimatisation Day Dingboche 4350m
This is where I really started to feel the altitude. We did a decent sized acclimatization climb to the Nangkartshang Peak which is 5100m. It was tough work! The physical strain became very clear and the headaches were starting to get stronger. I also noticed at this point my appetite was quite shot and I was getting dependent on chocolate – and even that was an effort!
However, we were rewarded with some spectacular view which always helps.
Getting down was almost more of a challenge than getting up! This was one of our first descents. I do prefer an ascent to a descent in general. I always think I must have gone toppling down a mountain in a previous life!
Night 2 at the Dingboche tea house started to wear a bit thin – especially as it became very cold in the late afternoon with snow! They did offer clothes washing at this tea house but it was too cold to do so as they need to be able to hang the clothes outside to dry.
This was quite a big tea house though so there were a couple of communal warm areas. They also still had a good range of snacks and of course ginger, honey and lemon tea to help make the afternoon and evening go faster.
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day Seven:
The morning was one of if not the most stunning scenery of the Everest Base Camp Trek. It is hard climbing to start off with out of Dingboche but once you have ascended you are rewarded with absolutely spectacular 360 views. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
It is then some seriously high walking to the first-morning tea stop. I began to feel very weird and unwell at this point. I made it to the rest stop but it wasn’t easy and I was quite disoriented. Anyway, I continued on and we made it to the very basic tea house in Lobuche. This was a difficult night as you are at just over 4900m so sleeping is tough and the need to urinate and the thirst frequent.
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day Eight:
So this is the big day. An early start and some serious walking to get to Gorak Shep for lunchtime. I was feeling very lousy but I won’t bore you with all of those details! It is tough to eat at this point and everyone is feeling the altitude.
It is then a flat walk followed by some tough walking mostly due to the altitude to get to Everest Base camp. Weather at base camp can be very mixed. Visibility was not great when we arrived but we were very lucky and the sun came out after we had been there for about 30 minutes.
We spent one hour at base camp which was sufficient time. You, of course, need to get your photo taken with the rock formations and prayer flags and there is quite a queue! And you need to get a group shot done here.
The views of the Khumbu icefall are fantastic. I had always wanted to see this as I have watched so many Everest movies and read so many Everest books! It appears to be pure ice and I have no idea how anyone climbs it!
No one ventures that far once you get to base camp as everyone is feeling the altitude. I felt dreadful but forced myself to go and take photos etc as heck I had made it now!
You don’t see climbers etc as the tents are scattered over quite a large area. It is most powerful to stay near where the rocks and prayer flags are as it allows you to get a good view over base camp. Otherwise to be honest it would be a cold camping ground with some stunning mountains around it!
The trek back was tough – about 2 hours. The last hour is pretty flat thank goodness. I collapsed into bed as soon as we got back at 5 pm. It was another up at 2am with a vice-like headache/loo issue evening as well which was not fun at 5100m. Definitely the worst night of the trip.
Himalaya Trekking Base Camp Day Nine:
Day Nine gives you the option of getting up at 330am and ascending Kala Pattar. Of course, before the trip, I had been confident that I would want to do this. On the trip, I would have rather stuck long hot needles into my eyes than do this! About half of our group went and half didn’t. Their photos were great but all said it was very tough.
This was a tough day as the Everest Base Camp Trek is 90% up and down whether you are going up or down so it is hard trekking. We ended the day in Pheriche. This is where I ended up my trek as I felt so absolutely dreadful and was not recovering from altitude sickness as I should have been at that point. There was a doctor in Pheriche who agreed that I needed to head down and I got a helicopter out the next morning.
The rest of the group then had three days of trekking ahead of them and three more nights of tea houses before returning to Kathmandu. I spent those three days in bed sick as a dog so I definitely felt that I had made the right decision to head down sooner rather than later!
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