The do's and dont's of the Nepal base camp trek. A blow by blow account of a trip well worth making if your thinking about going!
6th September 2003 (day 1): Flew into Lukla Biggles style. The flight was eventful with bags of rice down the centre of the plane and some excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Most people move on from Lukla on their first day, however I would be spending more time that I had planned in Lukla on my return journey.
Lukla Airport is nothing more than a tiny airstrip, that is frequently used as a football field between flight. The clouds have a tendancy to sweep in....putting a swift end to all inbound and outbound flights.
For my first day we had a gentle 2 and a half hour hike to the Kalapather Lodge in Phakding (a small sherpa village on the trail to Namche Bazzar).
7th September 2003: We started early to make the trip to Namche Bazzar. This is a tough days walking. Our walk involved crossing (and re-crossing) the Dudh Koshi River in several places as we made our way to the foot of a large plateaux. Atop the plateaux sits the Sherpa village of Namche Bazzar, the last sizable village on the trail to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Got some excellent views of Thamserku on the way up, a taste of what was to come.
Along the way you cross into Sagarmatha National Park and pay a small fee. The route is lined with beautiful waterfalls, and before you know it you've climbed almost 1000m from Phakding! As our weary legs carried us into Namche at 3:30, we were greeted by a Yak!
8th September 2003: If your walking to Mt Everest base camp you will no doubt spend 2-3 days acclimatizing. The town of Namche Bazzar is the perfect spot for such a stop as its the last decent size town on the trail. You can usually check email here, however when I was there their had been some trouble with the Maoist Rebels blowing up phone exchanges!
While at Namche its a good idea to go on a few short hikes, as this further helps you acclimatize. I met a patrol from the Nepalese Army while out on one of these treks, very friendly bunch!
9th September 2003: On the trail to Tengboche! We had an early start at 6:30 for what would be another tough day on the trail. Not long outside of Tengboche we caught our first view of Everest! It was in clear view until we decended into Phuki Tenga for a bite to eat. We then climbed after lunch to Tengboche.
Along the way I snapped this picture of my ever smiling guide Bikash (in stark comparison to me). Hes now running his own trekking company called www.highspirittrekking.com. Bikash is an excelent guide and if you are lucky enough to get him as a guide your in safe hands!
10th September 2003: The village of Tengboche. Around 3900m. We spent a day here before setting off again for Periche. A Sweedish girl asked the local monks could we sit in on their prayers. The monks were polite and even let us take some pictures during their morning prayer. There were monks of all ages. It seems young boys spend their whole lives living and praying in the monasteries.
The picture in the inset is what Bikash called the "Foothills". I guess in an area with so many 8000m peaks, its kind of OK to refer to 5000m peaks as hills! From Tengboche we would be climbing almost 1000m to Periche, and another planned day of rest.
11 + 12th September 2003: If there was one point of the trek that I found difficult, it was the trip up to Pheriche. Having left Tengboche you rise quite a bit to Pheriche. The altitude is 4400+m so its tough going. The fact I was sick with a bad case of the "ballymuns" did not help either ;)
Having reached Pheriche we took a much needed day of rest, as this is the last settlement before the walk up to base camp. There is a local clinic you can pop into to be tested for altitude sickness etc. If you get into trouble it is usually here you will end up! Not much else here apart from a few scattered Sherpa Lodges and a few Yaks kicking about the place. We took a short day hike while here to once again help with the altitude. It was here that Bikash "slipped me some pills". He gave me Diamox tablets to help with the altitude. They did make a difference...however the side effects are terrible. you have to go to the toilet every hour or so in the middle of the night!!!!
more to come!
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