I started this trek with a guide and a porter, only because I had signed up with a group that eded up ot coming, leaving me with all of the benefits of a group trek (price-wise) when actually trekking solo. Going back, I would do so with no guide or porter at all (the reason will reveal themselves across the storyline). If you are comfortable hiking alone/with a friend and are familiar with the mountains, then research and do the trek the same way. The teahouse and locations to sleep along the way are readily available and straightforward to find.
I got up early in morning to fly to Lukla. I hadn’t realized when I flew in that Kathmandu is one of the most dangerous airports in the world to fly in and out of. I get to do it 4 times! Woooooo! The flight was supposed to be at 8:30, but delays and weather caused the flight to get out at 11:15. It was also the last flight of the day, the remainder getting cancelled. One thing to learn leaving Nepal is that alone in a hurry or with deadlines shouldn’t depend one the air travel. The airport gets closed early every single day. Despite all of the clouds ad turbulence, however, the flight was spectacular. The earlier the flight, the more you can see because of the weather problems, so even I only got a filtered version of the beauty to behold.
Day one was simple enough with a 5 km trek to Phakding. It supposedly takes three and a half hours, but I knocked it out in two and a half. My poor porter was running to keep up, but I walk a bit faster when it’s dumping rain. My guide had stayed back to sort out some stuff, so the first part was solo and quiet. I felt pretty bad that I moved so fast compared to the guide ad the porter, so I bought them each a beer at the end of the day. The weather was absolute crap fro the first four days of the trek. It was dumping rain by the end of the hike each day, so waterproof gear is vital.
Everywhere you go along the trek costs money to charge, so I took the first chance I had at charging my phone and GoPro on a secret plug I found in the hallway of the teahouse the first night. The guy from downstairs kept coming up to say hello and has almost found my little stash a few times. WiFi is also RIDICULOUSLY expensive, so I have vowed to not pay for it during the trek. A little disconnect never hurt anyone, right?
The scenery from the start has reminded me a bit of trekking Torres Del Paine. The rivers have the same incredible turquoise color, the mountains are steep and straight up, towering over everything. Hiking, I traversed the mountain and crossed over the rivers on thin, rickety metal bridges that sway as I cross. The washouts from rainy season also bring the steepness to a whole new level. The trails are worn in and easy, however, with obviously heavy amounts of foot traffic. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes or not as the days progress.
My guide insisted that we start day 2 at 8 am, despite my please to start the day early and fresh. I was already waking up at 5 am each day and the clouds were settling in with the rain by 11 am. When he flatly refused, I had to wonder why… I later figured out that the only reason was his love of sleeping in… If you have the option, START EARLY! The trail is completely packed full of hikers after 8:30 am, slow moving, and incredibly frustrating to be caught in. I overcame the pack by skipping the first tea break/rest stop to get some peace and quiet for a while rather than the huge crowds of people and the large groups of porters blasting music over the speakers.
At 11 km for the day, it was a long hike (perhaps the steepest and roughest climb of the trek) with huge changes in altitude. I hiked in to Namche Bazaar at 11,000 feet in elevation. The last push in to Namche was tough, but so far the trekking has been incredibly easy and I have yet to get sore or even tired by the end of each day. The highest bridge of the trek is also on day two, with the drop staggering (above). It makes the view of the valley spectacular even on rainy days!
I stayed for two nights in Namche to have a rest day and acclimate to the elevation. It is also home to the world’s highest Irish pub! I went for the United/City match and earned myself a free t-shirt for calling the score! It’s a fabulous place that is also always warm and inviting.
For my rest day, I hiked all around Namche and to the viewpoint that you can get a glimpse of Everest from. It was rainy and foggy, so I got great views of the mist and everything within a 10 meter radius. Just stunning! 😉
Afterwards, there’s a little place called Liquid Bar that shows movies every day for hikers on rest days. I watched Sherpa and enjoyed the day off with a friend I had met the day before. As so many people are trekking the same route, it’s easy to make friends and hang out with them in the various towns. Early to bed, early to rise, the real fun starts after Namche!
More days coming shortly! But, for now, here’s a glimpse in to the super highway that the Everest Base Camp trek has become.
For a more extensive photo gallery on the trek, you can click HERE.
From the Himalayas,