You’ll be staying at various tea houses along the way that are very basic in accommodation to say the least. Here are some tips and descriptions so you can plan accordingly. It may sound a bit rough but you’ll be soon getting into the swing of things.
Beds are made for shorter people so if you are taller then 6 foot expect to have some over hang.
Bedding provided is often just a sheet to cover the mattress and a pillow so make sure your sleep wear and sleeping bags are accurate
The only place they heat is the main dining area, so this becomes the place to hang out play cards etc. Be ready for the temperature difference when you leave this area.
There is no heating in the rooms at all with little to no insulation so the outside temperatures are the same or very close to the room temperatures.
The walls between the rooms are very thin so noise passes straight through them
The showers (if there are any) and the bathrooms are communal and often there is only one for the whole group.
The sink for washing hands and brushing teeth etc is sometimes outside.
The do not clean the facilities very often, so bring lots of wet wipes and hand sanitiser.
The staff are very friendly and will get you anything very quickly and always with a smile.
Even though it says “WiFi Available” you may not have internet access or it maybe very slow. Check with the staff and they will tell you first. Use the trip to have a technology detox.
They have central points for charging cameras, phones etc and charge around 100 – 200 rupees per hour. They do not have power points in the rooms. This is to conserve energy. I brought small USB battery packs to recharge. they are also handy on the trail in case of an emergency and can recharge your camera or phone several times per charge.
We start the morning early to grab the first flight out of Kathmandu Airport. The domestic airport is something out of this world and those of us who travel frequently found ourselves quite amused by some of the processes or lack there of in the airport.
Everyone is told there is a strict 15kg limit for the total for bags and we pack accordingly. On arival at the airport even the airline staff comment on the inaccuracy of the scales and most everyone ends up over. Not to stress though, the penalty for being over is 100 rupees (about $1USD) per kilo, if only we had known the night before.
The security check is basically a quick pat down by the airport guards and we are on our way.
The plane is a small plane especially built for this type of trip. Much is reported about the planes and the airport at Lukla. However we found the trip itself is pretty uneventful and smooth. I found it amusing that we were flying at about 13,000ft or 4000m and we would soon be trekking through the mountains far above the height we were now flying at.
For most of us this is our first view of the Himalayas and the views are breath taking.
We have breakfast and some tea and notice immediately the difference in temperature between Kathmandu and the mountains. While we are enjoying the views and a hot breakfast our porters are packing the Yows and taking our bags to the our first hotel.
We are told to we are now starting and the everyone gets their gear ready. We head off excitedly, none of us really knowing what to expect.
Quickly we learn that we the trails are shared by many yows, trekkers and locals. Until the group gets used to this it causes a few people to worry about how to avoid the yows, but after a few days this becomes almost second nature. Yows are pretty docile and will wait or move to the side to avoid you, most of the time. Tehy do have a mind of their own sometimes and wil often stop and go off the track to eat the local vegetation. You will constantly hear the herders yelling them them to keep moving and get back on the track.
All day we find ourselves looking at massive green valleys with multiple streams from the snow melting from the peaks now high above us. The landscapes unraveling in front of us at each turn of the trail are fantastic.
The entry into Everest National Park
Tea is a popular drink along the trail at the various stops. A small pot of tea is actually a large thermos so you can share with your group. The lemon teas are actually quite sweet and probably made from powdered lemon mix.
There are multiple suspension bridges built along the trail. For those like myself a bit nervous of heights this pose a bit of a challenge especially as they tend to bounce and move a bit as the group moves across them.
Keep an eye out as you hike along the trail and it is amazing some of the creatures that you may see. This colourful moth was sitting on the ground behind the trail.
Prayer Stones are stacked at multiple places along the trail to Everest Base Camp
Along the trail there are a few things out of the ordinary. This house built into a stone cliff face caught my attention.
We arrive at our lodge for the night at about 3 pm, this was to be the fairly regular schedule for the entire trip. Once we arrived we had the option of hiking up to Thaktul Monastery. This is a short hike that is steep in places and a good example of the smaller regional monasteries that dot the landscape.
This is the day that you hear the most is the trek into Namche Bazaa. It is infamous for it’s long consistent steep inclines uphill. There is another reason that I became aware of quickly into the day and that is the number of very high suspension bridges that you need to cross throughout the day. Not being that fond of heights myself, this was a bit of a challenge. Just keep the head up and keep moving across the bridge.
The path to Namche is very well traveled so you’l continually come across locals, other tourists and then the continual traffice of yaks and porters. Along the way you’ll discover many traditional huts as well as the many new buildings that are being built to accommodate the ever increasing and booming tourist trade.
Many of the locals also put their wares out for sale along the path to drum up some trade from the tourists traveling past. Really who could resist a Nepalese yak bell.
Road sign advertising – Nepalese style
There are many large prayer wheels along the trails. These are often protected by a small wooden shelter that is covered with very detailed and colourful artwork dedicated to buddha. REmember alwasy goodluck to pass to the left and give them a good spin, clockwise of course.
The trail before lunch is pretty steady heading uphill coming across again magnificent views and sights that you need to take a minute to stop and really soak in.
The locals seem to have a strange sense of humour sometimes and it comes through in the signs they put up around the place like the sign below. Seems our walk is much slower then the locals, so depends on a lot…
There are huge efforts to educate the local children and establish formal schools. The children embrace this and love to practice their English with tourists along the trail. They often shout “chocolate” hoping to get chocolate from passing hikers. It is much appreciated to give crayons , stickers, colouring books and pencils to the children.
In the afternoon you start the climb into Namche Bazaar. The best advice the guides give is bsatari bsatari, or steady, steady. This is the first real challenge of the trek and deserves it reputation to some extent. It is a great detox sweat and we felt all the good western living be sweated out as continued the climb up hill
There are always amazing feats of human endurance you hear of through out the year however this one seems to have slipped past the medias attention. The event I am referring to is the ultra marathon (60km) run through the mountains in the region. This year it was won in a time of 7 hrs and 24 minutes by Pemba Sherpa.
As you enter the Beyul Khumbu park which is considered a sacred area of the Sherpa’s there is a great sign with 5 rules of the park which are also good rules to live your life by.
Finally we arrived into Namche Bazaar adn suddenly the group had a new lease of energy and a great sense of accomplishment for the day. It was no ultra marathon however it was a tough challenge that we had all conquered.
Namche is a great town with numerous little stores with locals selling a numerous range of items from souvenirs to trekking gear to general groceries. There are also a number of restaurants, coffee shops and bars to check out as well. So even though you may feel a little wary from the day it is well worth a walk around the town, browse the numerous stores and stock up on any supplies you may need.