In my last bolg post you read about the top 10 things to do in Namche on your acclimation day. In this blog post I take you on an acclimation day in and around Namche. If you are interested in how I got to Namche, you can read about Day 1 and Day 2 by following the links. Pinterest users are invited and welcome to pin these pictures to their boards. Facebook kinda sucks. If you use Facebook please don’t post this article on your FB page. Hold on to your butts because you are about to loose your stuffing!
Day 3: Namche acclimation hike to Everest View Point
Day 3 is one of the most important days of the trek. It sets the pace for the rest of the journey and identifies how your body will respond to high altitudes. You can check out my post on training for high altitude to get a jump start on Namche. Be warned though, acclimation day is a little difficult. Not only was I tired and sore from the hike the day before but I was also trying to make new blood cells and an improved cardiovascular system.
We left the hotel at 8:00 and began the slow hike to 13,000 feet. From the hotel it is only an additional 1,700 feet but it is an uphill climb. Proceeding forward isn’t exciting and truthfully relatively boring except for the view of the holy mountain Khumbi Yul Lha, but if you turn around, wow, you have amazing views of Kongde Ri, and Namche. While I was hiking a military helicopter was practicing landing at the base east of Namche. It provided for some rather cool photos.
There is an abandoned airport at the top of the hill above Namche. Planes no longer land on it but, it is still used by helicopters and it was getting its use today. Above the airport is another hotel that you must circumnavigate counter clockwise to rejoin the trail. Once you round the back of the hotel, watch out! The sky opens up and exposes the Himalayas with unadulterated pride. My jaw dropped, as it tends to when things of this grandeur are exposed to me.
Everest, 3 Yaks, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam
The view was so amazing, it stopped me in my tracks. In one vantage point, you can see Mt. Kusum, Thamserku, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Everest, Nuptse, and Tabuche. We continued to walk along the ridge and I saw a relatively fast paced Danphe or Himalayan Monal run into the bushes. My guide looked at the bird with an odd sort of contempt and puzzled for a few minutes as to why I would chase it into the bushes to take its picture. I couldn’t get a good shot, but I did get this landscape with a yak in it.
We reached Everest View Point Japanese Hotel a short distance later. It has absolutely stunning views of the mountains. Everest Viewpoint Hotel’s website is a bit misleading though. The view definitely does not look like how it is pictured. In actuality, the mountains do not appear to be that close. In fact, they appear quite a bit further away. They are still amazing non-the less. After 10 min of taking photos and enjoying life, we decided to go to Kumjung village.
From left to right: Cholatse, Taboche, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam
Kumjung is a relatively peaceful village nestled in a valley between mountains. The landscape is primarily dominated by potato and millet farms with houses and a rather aesthetic monastery scattered throughout the area. We stopped for lunch before going to the monastery. The prayer wheels around the building are a bit much, I got dizzy spinning all of them. I didn’t go inside because I felt dirty from walking. My guide later told me that there is not much to see in there and it’s not worth the money.
Khumjung through the trees
From the monastery we walked through the village. Zig zagging between houses, we followed the path to the south west side of the village. We passed a school and found a soccer ball on the side of the path. Without hesitation my guide challenges me to a game. I of course have to accept, and we proceeded to have a Nepali showdown. It was him, David Beckham, against me, the great Ronaldinho!
Khumjung Monastery, Thamserku, and Kangtega
We square off taking postures on the side of the trail, preparing for great feats of stamina, endurance, and cunning. Beckham has the ball. He feints right then feints right again but going portside. I’m ready though and block him with an agility attack similar to a cartwheel. He is distracted by my foot covers and I snatch the ball. I bring it around my back like I’m salsa dancing and bank it off the wall to pass it to myself while I juke Beckham in the foreground. GOAL!!! And the yaks go wild.
I actually lost the game due to failure to participate. I instead opted to keep trekking back to Namche. From Tengboche we hiked up a flight of stairs and over, and around a small hill. We then passed through a slightly splendid rhododendron grove and came to the top of the mountain overlooking Namche. The views were great from the starboard side (for anyone still following my nautical humor) of the mountain. The sky was a bit hazy though.
We descended on to Namche like awkwardly shaped boulders, rolling fast then slow and fast again. The trail was loaded with yak and cow hybrids that we had to be careful of. The hybrids can become aggressive. My guide said the yaks are worse. The cows are pretty docile. As I gradually entered Namche, I felt terrific. I still felt tired, but it was like the distress of the altitude was gone and my body adjusted to prolonged fatigue.
I felt like Owen Wilson singing Beck’s song Wow. But not because I’m Owen Wilson or because I’m singing Wow, but because it is being pulled from me, how the wind takes the prayers from a prayer flag to heaven. I felt good when I reached the hotel. By the time we made it back to the hotel, more guests had shown up. Most were in the same condition I was in when I first arrived. It also felt good to share my experience with them and encourage them to keep going.
If you are trekking in the Khumbu region, chances are you will stop in Namche. Namche (11,286 ft) is the 2nd resting point in the Everest Base Camp Trek, and the 1st acclimation point. This crescent shaped village is the subject of many art galleries. In its own respect it has become iconic for its location, landscape, and surroundings. The Bhote Koshi river separates the village from Kongde Ri (20,298 ft) to the south. The Dudh Koshi river separates it from Thamserku (21,679 ft) on its east side.
Apart from its natural beauty and beautiful surroundings, Namche has many attractions. Namche has many world class hotels and lodges, a stupa, a monastery, a few museums, some wonderful bakeries, many stores housing a lot of overpriced supplies, internet cafes, and a rather attractive aqueduct that acts as source of hydro power to spin prayer wheels. The aqua-duct is a rather new addition to the district. It was purchased with money brought in by trekkers.
In my last blog post, you traveled with me as I hiked to Namche Bazaar. You can access the article here. Or you can jump ahead to Day 3 to acclimate with me at Everest View Point. If you only want to read 10 Facts and Information about Namche Bazaar, Great. This article can be read independently of my other posts. Kick back, relax, and without further delay, Namche Bazaar!
1. How to Reach Namche Bazaar
You have a few travel options to reach Namche. The most utilized and most expensive is a direct flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (about $200), then trek to Phakding to spend the night. The following day, you can trek along the Dudh Koshi river to Namche. Another option is to take a helicopter from Lukla to Namche (This could be pretty expensive, about $2,000 for a private charter). This option is not recommended because it does not allow your body a chance to acclimate to the elevation. The third option is to take a bus from Kathmandu’s Ratna Park to Shivalaya ( about $6). Then from Shivlaya, you can trek to Namche. The bus trip takes 12 to 14 hours.
It’s fairly simple on the map, but in practice there are many areas to get lost on the way to Namche.
How to get to the Bazaar
Once you cross the Namche bridge and check in at the police check point you are in Namche. Keep going into Namche until you see the stupa and aqueduct. Just after the stupa you can make a left off the main path to go deeper into the city. Near the stupa you can make left and go into the open field. The field is Namche Bazaar. On the Saturday vendors come from Kathmandu and sell their products. Tibetan, and Sherpa people also sell their goods here. It can be pretty expensive though.
2. Namche Bazaar Airport/ Syangboche Airport
Namche Bazaar does not have an airport; However, Namche has 3. There are 2 helicopter landing pads in Namche. One of them is reserved for military and police the other is reserved for the hospital. There is an out of date airstrip that has been converted to pasture land and has become a hotel construction site. At this air strip helicopters land and drop off supplies and passengers. During my last visit, there was a hotel being built on the air strip. This hotel was designed to replicate Everest Base Camp. In a few years, we will see how close they came.
The airstrip is not licensed for commercial operations. The majority of the air traffic it receives is from the military. Short takeoff and landing (STOL) planes do occasionally land there, but there are no facilities like run way lights or an air traffic controller to guide them. And as you can imagine there are no routine services. The only time the runway gets mowed is when the cows and yaks eat the grass along the dirt strip.
3. Namche Bazaar Trek
The Namche Bazaar trek takes visitors on a slow paced leisurely walk to Namche with a tour of the market on Saturday. The trek takes advantage of the many rest areas along the trail. however, it is ultimately up to you for how fast you want to trek, where you want to stay, and how long you want to stay there. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure’s Namche Bazaar Trek itinerary is as follows:
Day 1: Arrive in Lukla and check into a hotel. 9,107 ft, 1 hr plane ride
Day 2: Walk to Nurning and stay in a guest house. 8,176 ft, 1.5 hr walk
Day 3: Walk to Phakding and stay in a tea house. 8,563 ft, 1.5 hr walk
Day 4: Walk to Monjo and stay in a tea house. 9,301 ft, 3 hrs walk
Day 5: Walk to Namche and check into a hotel. 11,286 ft, 3 hrs walk
Day 6: Visit Namche Bazaar, go shopping, and go see Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku
Day 7 Walk to Monjo and stay in a tea house. 9,301 ft, 2 hrs walk
Day 8: Walk to Phakding and stay in a tea house. 8,563 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 9: Walk to Nurning and stay in a guest house. 8,176 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 10: Arrive in Lukla and check into a hotel. 9,107 ft, 1 hr walk
Day 11: Fly to Kathmandu to conclude your trip to Namche.
4. Namche Bazaar Height
Namche rests at an elevation of 11,286 feet above sea level. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) or altitude sickness generally occurs at an elevation of 8,000 feet or greater. Once you ascend above about 9,000 feet you should take a “rest day” every 3,000 feet to acclimate. And once you ascend above 10,000 feet you should not ascend more than 1,500 feet in a day. Namche is positioned at the perfect elevation to allow trekkers to acclimate. Here is an article about how to prepare for this trek.
During your acclimation day you should advance to higher altitudes to prime your body for future altitude gains. Just above Namche there is a view point at Hotel Everest View (13,000 feet). From the balcony you have phenomenal views of Tabuche, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, and my personal favorite, Ama Dablam. Then from here you can visit Khumjung (12,401 feet), which has a pretty cool monastery you can see. Then you can make your way back to Namche.
5. Hotels in Namche and Best Places to Stay
A side note before I get to the best places to stay: During the busy season, rooms fill up fast! If you are an independent traveler, you may be asked to share a room or change hotels. Do not worry though. Most hotels give preference to trekkers with a guide. And now without further ado:
Panorama Lodge and Restaurant ($40/ night)
Himalayan Lodge ($5/ night)
Yeti Mountain Home Namche ($20/ night)
Namche Hilltop Lodge and Restaurant ($5/ night)
Sherpa Village Hotel ($5/ night)
Most trekking companies, Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure included, pay for your rooms while you are trekking. Depending on the package you purchase, they may also pay for your food too. The room rates are more expensive for independent travelers. Also the rates are more expensive during peak season, October.
6. Namche Bazaar Clothing
There are a few outlet stores in Namche. When I was there, I saw a Sherpa Adventure Gear store, and a North Face store. I also saw a REI store (or at least they called themselves REI), and yes, I know REI is not an outlet. The stores are seasonal though. You may not get service in the winter or summer.
In regards to clothing you need when you travel to Namche:
Trekking pants (quantity 1)
Trekking shorts (quantity 1)
Socks if you where them (quantity 10). I like to have a clean pair of socks each day.
Trekking shoes or trekking flip flops (I have seen people trek in flip flops) (quantity 1)
Sweat pants (quantity 1)
Tank top (quantity 1)
T-shirt (quantity 2)
Long sleeve shirt (quantity 1)
Sweat shirt (quantity 1)
Beanie hat or cap (quantity 1)
Under wear (quantity 2)
That’s about it. The trick is to layer your cloths so that you do not get too hot or too cold. Yes, you can only shed so many layers before you are naked, and not recommended. You want to buy your clothing before you go on your trek, that way you wont be naked, and flapping in the breeze.
7. Map of Namche and Namche Bazaar
8. Administrative Center
Namche is the unofficial district capitol of Solukhumbu. It is also the administrative center for the Khumbu region. Lonely Planet ranked Khumbu as the 6th best area in the world to visit. Coming into Namche you will encounter a trekking check point and a little further up the road an army station. The Sagarmatha National Park headquarters as well as Rastriya Banijya Bank (government bank) are in Namche. One fun fact, former president Jimi Carter, his wife, and a former California senator visited Namche in Oct 1985.
The Sagarmatha National Park Visitor’s Center has a tremendous amount of information stored within its archives. It also showcases a lot of pictures of the local fauna. The visitors center is located in the north east quadrant of Namche. It is accessible from the Tengboche trail leading out of the village.
9. Weather and Climate
Namche has cool wet summers and relatively cold and dry winters. You can expect year to year variation in temperatures and precipitation levels. Warmer winters and warmer summers have been more frequently observed within the past 10 years.
10. Sherpa Museum
This is exactly what it sounds like. It is a museum that honors Sherpa people and culture. The museum showcases Sherpa artifacts and highlights famous Sherpa people who have summited Everest. The star of the show is Tenzing Norgay, who is recorded as the first Sherpa person to Summit Everest with Edmund Hillary. There is a reconstructed Sherpa house inside the museum, which can provide a glimpse into the living conditions of the area. The museum charges $2.5 entrance fee.
In this Everest Base Camp and Kalla Patthar Day 2 post I talk about what you are likely to encounter on your second day of trekking to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar. If you did not read Day 1, you can find it on the other side of this link. Or you can skip ahead to day 3 here. This post describes the journey from Phakding to Namche. I hope you like pictures, because this post has a lot of them. If you are on Pinterest feel free to pin as many as you want. You can purchase this trekking package here. Kick back, relax, and get out your pins.
Day 2: Phakding to Namche
I started the day with a bowl of tsampa porridge.It’s a delicious mixture of corn flower and oats.The corn used in this very tasty concoction was silage corn, better suited for ruminant animals, but it was still good.After a few minutes of banter with the hotel owner, an elderly woman who is sharp as a whip and equally friendly and engaging, we set off to Namche Bazaar.
We set off at a brisk pace enjoying the early morning views of Thamserku and bits of Kusum Kangkaru.After 2 hours of an extremely joyous hike we arrived in Monjo, the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park.The entrance comes just after a resurrected hallway filled with depictions of spiritual stories and lavish artwork.The ticket counter is on the left-hand side.After showing the receipt of the entrance fee and paying for an entrance permit (3,390 NPR), we were granted entrance to the park.
About a half hour later we entered Jorsalle.Jorsalle is the last village before Namche to have lunch.I ate the garlic soup.It is exactly what it sounds like, delicious.A bunch of sliced garlic and a flavored broth cube served in about 3 cups of hot water.My guide ordered fried rice with egg.It is pretty much a stir fry with a sliced egg patty on top.It looked good and the proportion filled the plate.
After Lunch, the Long Walk to Namche
After indulging in lunch, we set out for Namche.We continued to follow the Dudh Koshi river north.The path led us along hill sides and around stupas and pagodas, mani walls and prayer wheels.We passed through beautiful forests and mountain villages.As we continued the views of Kusum Khangkaru faded while Thamserku became more pronounced, but still mostly hidden by pine, rhododendron and birch forests.Kongde begins to dominate the skyline, like a present waiting to be opened.
Following the Dudh Koshi river we eventually reached the tributary of the Bhote Koshi river.Just above the tributary is the Namche bridge.From here the hike got a little difficult.As we began the ascent to Namche, eventually climbing over 2,724 ft to 11,286 ft. We dodged yak trains and battled with fatigue.I must admit, I’m not in the best shape, but I’m also not in the wort shape.This section of the trek was tough. If you want to read about how to prepare for the trek, you can access the post here.
The combination of the reduced oxygen content of the air and the physical exertion required to reach Namche is quite taxing.The mantra of the trek became “go slowly”And the greeting between trekkers became “your almost there.” It was said in an attempt to encourage each other to persevere.I received a lot of encouragement along the way from people who thought I looked like I could use it.Thank you to them, because I needed it. Here is a trekking etiquette guide.
Before reaching Namche, we came to a rest area where a little girl and an older woman were selling oranges.The girl asked me if I wanted to buy an orange.I answered in Nepali and the conversation proceeded as follows:
Girl: “Would you like to buy an orange?”
Me: “How much for a kilo?”
Girl: giggles, “no kilo. One only.”
Me: “well, how much for 1 orange?”
Me: “How much for 2 oranges?”
Me: “How much for 3 oranges?”
Girl: nervously looks around to see if anyone else is hearing my absurdity, then smiles and giggles out a reply “$3!”
Me: not wanting to take the joke any further and in a reluctant tone “ok, I’ll take 2 oranges.How much is that again?”
I buy the oranges then sit down to enjoy them.Just as I was finishing the first orange a Spanish couple comes by.
Girl: in English “Would you like to buy an orange?”
Man: “No thanks”
Me: “They are really sweet and refreshing!”
Man: goes to the girl and examines the oranges.“how much for 1 orange?”
Man: “How much for 2 oranges”
Girl: eyes open wide turns to her friend and says, “he is asking the same questions!”
Everyone starts laughing except for the Spanish couple
Man: “I will take 1 orange.”
As I was getting up to put on my pack, my guide pointed out that I could see Everest from the rest area.we walked a few feet to a thin patch of forest and looked north.Through the trees we could see Lhotse, Everest, and Nuptse.It wasn’t a spectacular view, those come later in the trek, but it was nice.There it was, the most famous mountain in the world.It is like seeing a celebrity you like.I took a couple of pictures then we set off.
Upon reaching Namche bazaar I was exhausted, sweaty, smelly, tired, and happy.I would have to rank this type of happiness lower on my top ten list of reasons to be happy, but at least it made the top ten list.Coming into Namche, the first things I saw were tea houses.I didn’t think much of Namche until I entered the heart of the village.At the bottom center of the village is a giant pagoda and a fountain that shoots water 15 feet into the air.It reminded me of a Yellowstone geyser.
The fountain is actually the end of an elaborate aqueduct.The duct directs the water to spin prayer wheels.There is a set of about 6 (sorry I didn’t count), 6-foot-tall prayer wheels.The whole system was very impressive, but I remember being a little disappointed by the contrast of the project to the community.It was still beautiful, non-the less.
We walked for an additional 10 minutes through the bazaar.Namche reminded me of the Maze Runner.After each turn I looked back and it was like the buildings shifted.It was an odd sensation.We reached the guest house without getting lost or attacked by giant spiders or whatever kind of animal was in the maze.There are cows and yaks in Namche so I guess the analogy still holds true.Near the top of Namche, we came to Sherpa Village Hotel.
Namche Bazaar hotel
I was amazed by how similar Sherpa Village Hotel was to Namaste Lodge Restaurant and Bar.It turns out that nearly every single guest house is exactly the same.You can have some variation in size but the styles are all the same.Sherpa Village is probably a little bit nicer than Namaste Lodge, being that the walls are not vinyl in Sherpa Village.The rooms were the same comfortable double beds, thin walls, window, no power outlets, toilets down the hall, and the sink outside the bathroom.
The thin walls are something that takes getting used to.I could hear EVERYTHING my neighbor was doing.Woman had some wicked farts.It was kind of funny except when I was trying to sleep.And speaking of sleep, the dogs in Namche bark a lot at night time.It is like they save all of their barks specifically for the weary traveler trying to catch a few zees.If you are sensitive to noise while you sleep, invest in a good pair of ear plugs.
Some of the food served at the Sherpa Village Hotel is a bit bland.The french fries are good, however they need seasoning.The sauces I found, on and off the trek, were all watered down imitations.Yes, even the ketchup was watered down.It reminded me of tomato flavored sugar water.Though I’m being a bit over dramatic with my sauce exaggerations, they remain unappetizing.Be prepared for meals where the only spice that tastes good is hunger.
The food and climate
Dal Bhat is one good meal that is prepared well most of the time.It also happens to be one of the only meals where you can have free refills.The one thing I liked about the meals on the trek was the down time afterward.Everyone would sit around a yak dung fed stove and chat.It reminded me of home.I was particularly happy when I could understand gossip being spoken about the other trekkers by the guides.FYI the guides talk a lot about each other’s clients.
The nights in Namche are warm and do not require a sleeping bag.The blanket provided by most guest houses was sufficient to stay comfortable throughout the night.The beds can be a little stained or maybe dirty, but they smelled clean.I always used a sleeping bag for this reason.If you use a pillow, I do not, I recommend bringing your own or bringing your own pillow case.The pillows are hard and do not have covers on them.
If you forget to bring your pillow case or need any supply’s, Namche is the last large, urban style place where you can find these obscure luxury items (I’m actually not sure about the pillow case but you can buy socks.Those are kind of like pillow cases but more like feet sleeves).Be prepared to be overcharged for your feet sleeves.One pair of mixed fabric socks will sell for upwards of $12-$15.If the sales people are aggressive you can always start speaking an imaginary language and walk away.I use “na-n-a na-na boo boo?” a lot.
Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. Did you know, it is the 3rd most visited area in the country. More people visit Chitwan National Park, and Annapurna Conservation Area. More than 50,000 people visit this national park each year. The majority of the visitors come between September and December. For a comprehensive breakdown of the best time to go, what to bring, where to stay and other facts you can read my blog post Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar by following this link. You can also learn how to prepare for this trek by reading How to prepare for Everest Base Camp. In Day 1 we start trekking in Lukla and end in Phakding. You can skip ahead to day 2 Namche Bazaar here.
The following post describes the first day on a trek to Everest Base Camp and arriving in Phakding. Kick back, relax, and enjoy Day 1 on the trail to the tallest mountain in the world.
Flying into Kathmandu
Flying into Kathmandu can be a religious experience. I mean that in both the heavenly and devilish sense. It is important to keep an open mind when you visit a foreign country because it will make your trip more enjoyable. I will give examples and be as entertaining and as knowledgeable as possible. You can also read my post on what to expect before arrival.
Kathmandu is what dreams are made out of. I’m not talking about the plastic dreams you can buy in a Hollywood circus for $20 a pop, only to be disappointed by the time you get off the ride. I am talking the real deal, bonified substance, a hearty overhaul of the body and mind. For the record, I am passionately at odds with Kathmandu, but I absolutely love it. I love it for its freedom and will avoid it at all costs because of its pollution. More on this later.
My first impression of Kathmandu was like a “bland spaghetti dinner.” I felt indifferent. I entered the airport, applied for a visa, payed for the visa then I was sent on my way. Upon exiting the airport, I had an immediately strong negative opinion. I was assaulted by a cacophony of taxi drivers, and hotel managers yelling at me to come to their hotel and ride in their taxi. It was nuts.
Behind the scenes
What most people don’t see when arriving in the airport for the first time are the staff members barbecuing their lunch on the tarmac. It is almost reminiscent of a 1970’s Viet Nam war movie, where everyone does whatever they want with little consequence. This is exactly what happens when you step off the airport grounds. Traffic laws, forget about it! Toilets, who needs them? Trash… smash. No, that is not an Incredible Hulk quote, but a rare attempt to rap. It is incredible in its own way.
Although I would like to see the Incredible Hulk fight pollution, the only animals I saw were crows, monkeys and cows roaming the streets freely. One cow was caught in a low hanging telephone or power line, another eating garbage piled into the street. The monkeys had sprite bottles and plastic cups, like they were going on a picnic. The crows were singing away, without a care in the world. It was really quite adorable how seamlessly synchronized the chaos was. The freedom is beautiful.
About 15 minutes after arriving in Kathmandu I was at my hotel and had a cough, presumably from the dust and garbage fires, but who really knows. Fortunately, my hotel was very clean and well kept. I stayed at the Sukeyasu Hotel, owned by Mr. Ghanshyam Paudel and managed by Mrs. Pabitra Khanal. The thing I liked the most about the hotel was the hot water showers. Finding a hotel in Nepal with a decent shower can be extremely challenging to near impossible.
Kathmandu Hotel to the airport
The hotel is conveniently located on ring road and has a private car, which the hotel staff are pleased to use to provide guests with rides around Kathmandu and to and from the airport. This saved me from the price gauging taxi drivers offering $20 rides at a discount. The food is also very tasty and the rooms are relatively inexpensive at $15 per night. There are nicer hotels in Kathmandu, but this one met my requirements. I spent two nights at the hotel before I departed on the flight to Lukla.
Lukla gets a bad rap for having the most dangerous airport in the world, but at least there aren’t people barbecuing on the tarmac… probably because its too short. The airport runway is 1,729 ft long at an elevation of 9,334 ft. The only thing that scared me in relation to the airport, was the flight to the airport. Are you ready for a long tangent? If not skip ahead to “Totally rad dude” starts trekking.
Kathmandu to Tenzing-Hillary Airport Lukla
I arrive at the domestic departure wing of the Kathmandu airport 1 hour and 10 minutes before my flight at 4:50 AM. The airport is scheduled to open at 5:00 AM. So, I’m waiting outside, excited as a butterfly in a patch of wildflowers, for the airport to open. 5:00 rolls around, and nothing. I start to think the airport is closed because of the thick net of pollution called air, in Kathmandu, is trapping all the visibility and plane operators can’t fly through it.
Wondering what to do, I peak through the window and see people. Ok good sign. So why aren’t they opening the airport doors? Tea! They were having their morning tea. I forgot about tea time. It is something that I will never forgive the British for inventing. Their doors opened 5 min late and a uniformed man came out instructing us to form two lines. Great, I’m back in grade school. I just know this is going to end with me in detention with one of those pink slips of paper pined to my shirt.
The uniformed man asked us to put our packs through the x-ray machine and step through the metal detector. I let out a mild sigh of relief thinking I could do that. The metal detector beeped instructing the attendant to wave me over with the wand. After a couple beeps of the wand and the attendant groping at my pockets I was set free in the airport. I wondered around looking for my airline ticket counter then finally gave up and asked for directions. By this time, I have about 20 min to check my bag and find the gate.
A slippery looking poop and a long wait
I was instructed to go through the hall and it would be on my left. As I’m walking through the hall I see something on the ground that seemed out of place. I approached cautiously like a lion hunting a wildebeest, but with much less intensity and quite a bit more hesitation exactly like a human man walking down a hall. I came to find a slippery looking poop lying smack dab in the center of the hallway. I’m not making any assumptions of what made the poop, but I didn’t see any 4-legged animals around.
I find the ticket counter on the left-hand side of the hall. A sign reads no nunchucks. Holy wow! how many ninjas live in this country, or pass through these gates? You couldn’t imagine the terror. I have to watch my back. I checked my bags with the staff and received my boarding pass. After some hustle, I found my departure gate with 15 minutes to spare. I sat down and thought, I’m safe, I’m on time, everything’s good. Six O’clock arrives and nothing. So, I asked the gate attendant if she and the rest of the staff have had their tea.
She giggled and shyly looked away. I don’t get it, I really don’t. So, I sat back down. Two hours pass and the airport is inundated by Asians. As I become aware of my surroundings, I remember the sign, and laugh to myself. My neighbor looked at me concerned and I said “no nunchucks.” This only confounded the situation and worried my neighbor more. I smoothed it over by following up with “I wanna rock!” and hoping the reference would be associated with Twisted Sister and not the greeting of those in the Northeastern Atlantic states.
The Plane Arrives
I continued to wait for another couple of hours for the flight to Lukla. I must have missed the announcement because the shy girl attending the gate was now talking to me, telling me the bus was waiting for me. It felt kinda nice to be waited on but I hurried out the door to catch the bus. But instead of immediately zooming off to the airplane we waited in the bus for another half hour. (I should have known). We reached the airplane at the end of the tarmac at around 12:00. I sat in the back of the plane with the stewardess.
My mind drifted to boats and comparing boats to planes and how some planes are also boats. This led me to the question of whether or not nautical names are the same for aeronautical vehicles. To lead up to the question, I asked “what is the name for left” in Nepali. (It is “baiya,” pronounced by-ya.) The stewardess did not know the word for left. I then asked her if she was Nepali and spoke Nepali. She answered “Yes” to both questions.
I found out later that the names for left and right are the same for both nautical and aeronautical vehicles. Port and starboard are left and right respectively. At this point in time, we have been flying for about 15 to 20 minutes. I could see the Himalayas on the port side of the plane, so I changed seats. I snapped a few photos out of the window not expecting them to turn out well. Then, without warning, weightlessness. Thankfully I had my seat belt on.
The plane dropped 30 feet and passengers were lifted out of their seats. I thought oxygen masks were going to drop from the top of the plane but realized they can’t if the plane is falling faster than or equal to the velocity of the air mask’s fall. Maybe I’m wrong? If any physicists are reading leave me a comment with “physics rocks” or “geo-physics rocks.” Thank you to anyone laughing at my science jokes. I also thought that this sudden loss of altitude would disrupt the load balance of cargo in the middle of the plane.
What happened next, I couldn’t believe. We arrived in Lukla. The plane touched down and we gently drifted to the passenger unloading zone. My guide was waiting for me when I arrived. He had a sign that read “totally rad dude.” I use that name at airports to confuse the paparazzi. We began to trek to Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar after a brief chat.
“Totally rad dude” starts trekking to Phakding
We walked around the airport and through the city to enter the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality. This is a buffer zone before entering the Sagarmatha National Park. The entrance fee costs 2,000 rupees or $20. Directly after paying the entrance fee there is a police check point that inspects the receipts. Then in about 20 more yards, we were in a beautiful rhododendron conifer and birch forest.
The trail was sleek and cobbled with river rocks. We had excellent views of the Dudh Kosi River and beautifully cultivated farm land. On parts of the trail we could see Mt. Kusum Kanguru, which reminded me of the internal structure of a leaf. On other parts of the trail, we had to dodge cattle and mules as they lumbered past with heavy packs. We hiked down and up rolling hills but ultimately settled 820 feet lower in elevation than Lukla.
The hike to Phakding from Lukla took about 3 hours. Phakding, at 8,563 feet in elevation, is a small village with quite a few tea houses and a surprising number of pool halls. And as I would find out later, one really delicious tongba beverage house. I stayed at Namaste Lodge Restaurant and Bar. The rooms are small with two beds and a shared western style toilet down the hall. The walls were wood patterned vinyl but the floors and hand rails were real wood.
The entire lodge had a very comfortable feel about it. It is one of those places where you just feel good when you walk inside. The rooms do not have charging outlets, but you can get a full battery charge for $2. The soft mattress and blankets are more than enough to keep you comfortable at night. Throw away any used toilet paper, because the toilets cannot accept paper. The bathrooms do not have sinks, but there is a sink and mirror by the entrance and outside.
Nepal is an amazing country for many different reasons. Some of the most obvious reasons are its colossal mountains, adventurous jungle safaris, and ancient religious sites. Nepal is also extremely culturally rich, bolstering more cultural diversity than the USA. Though it is not winning any culinary accolades, its samosas are divine. If you are planning a trip to Nepal to experience the grandeur of Mt. Everest, or to see the endangered 1 horned rhinoceros, but don’t know what to expect, keep reading! Consider it a part of your trip preparation. You can skip ahead to day 1 of trekking to Everest Base Camp too.
Kick back, kick your feet up, relax, and kick it while I reveal the ins and outs of what to expect before coming to Nepal.
I am quite particular when it comes to my food. I am not so particular though, that I won’t try new foods. In fact, I’ll try most things once. However, I am not as brave as Andrew Zimmerman. If something is just downright nasty, I won’t eat it. I have tried a lot of great foods in Nepal. Chicken pakora, pumpkin pickle, and samosas are on that list. I have also been severely disappointed by many other foods. I’ve found that it’s better to be a vegetarian, and stick to the traditional dishes, then it is to eat the “American food”, “German bakery products”, or most meat dishes.
Does anybody want some undercooked wheat flower and water? This doughy concoction is called a pancake in Nepal, and it is gross! Do not expect a fluffy stack of deliciousness smothered in syrup. Do not expect butter or maple syrup as condiments either. I don’t think maple syrup exists in Nepal, and gee is the closest thing you can get to butter in most places. If you are lucky you can get a side of honey or jam. My advice is stay away from the pancakes and avoid the disappointment.
One “pancake” costs about $2.
My first meat experience in Nepal involved a water buffalo meat momo. My friend had been telling me about how good the momos were. When I finial agreed to sit down with him, and try the now infamous momo, I was disappointed and disgusted. My first bite into the steamed dumpling resulted in its immediate and involuntary expulsion back onto the plate. Inside the momo was a thick piece of buffalo hide with the hair. My friend still swears by momos and eats them every chance he gets.
You can find a plate of buff momos for 0.15 cents in Kathmandu. Chicken and veg momos are also available for about 0.10 cents.
Coming out of my buff momo catastrophe, my adopted Nepali family asked me if I wanted to eat chicken with them. I reluctantly agreed and jokingly included a clause to only eat it if all the feathers were removed. Little did I know, I should have included bone, cartilage, and fat in the clause. It seemed like the only things that were removed were the innards and most of the feathers. I still got a small piece of a feather in the fried chicken my family made.
I’ll just start off by saying I don’t like goat meat. It has too strong of a flavor for my liking. I especially don’t like it when it is turned into jerky. During the holy days of Dashain, goats and other animals are sacrificed in Nepal. The left-over goat meat is hung up to dry. As its drying, all sorts of animals have access to it. My biggest problems with it were the flies. I’ve seen strips of goat meat that seemed to move autonomously. I will talk more about flies in the “Leftovers” section.
Road side vendors
You can see all types of road side food vendors in Nepal. They range in shape from “hot dog” carts to brick and mortar restaurants. Almost all of them have some sort of display, which shows off their “food.” Most of the time the displayed food is not covered. Just like the dried goat meat, it is open to flies, dirt and dust from the road, and people touching, and coughing on the food.
In addition to the above mentioned hygienic conditions of the roadside food vendors, there is one more issue that exacerbates the condition. Any food that is not sold or eaten the day it was made, is kept and sold in the following days. This increases the likelihood of someone picking their nose then touching the displayed food. Believe me, a lot of people pick their nose. I had to bold it to emphasize the amount and frequency of nose picking and food touching.
Flies and OD
Nepal is developing exponentially. One of the development goals is to stop people from openly defecating. Though this goal has almost been achieved, it is not fully realized. In addition to human feces being present, there is also an abundant amount of cow paddies laying around. Most of the bowel movements are visited by flies. Guess where the flies go after they land on the poops. You got it, straight to the road side food stalls, and goat meat.
Bars all over the world tend to overcharge for alcoholic beverages. Nepal is no exception. Be cautious of mixed drinks. I once saw a bartender watering down his liquor supply. At a different location, I ordered an Irish car bomb and got a Guinness shot. I started drinking wine after a few disappointing nights out and was again disappointed by some spoiled bottles. After a while, I just stopped drinking. My wallet and liver have been happier since then.
A beer can cost between $3 to $8. Mixed drinks tend to range between $5 and $12. A bottle of wine can be $10 to $20.
Eating with hands
Traditionally people eat with their right hand in Nepal. The tradition is kept alive in the houses of the natives. However, in most of the tourist destinations, like on trekking trails, Kathmandu, and Pokhara you will be given utensils with your food. However, most of the road side stands will not. These places cater to domestic patrons. The food is also served with the right hand. Be cautious of anyone serving you food with their left hand.
Most hotels and tourist attractions cater to foreigners. As such, a lot of western style, sit down and flush, toilets have been installed in these locations. The traditional style toilet is called a charpi. It is a squat toilet like a porcelain covered hole in the ground. If you happen to be in a desperate situation and only have a charpi for relief, do not worry. It is better to go in the hole than to go in your pants. Most places have a bucket of water for cleanup in place of toilet paper. To “clean up” use your right hand to pour the water over your butt while wiping with your left hand. Then wash your hands afterward and hope nobody sees you have a wet butt. If you use the toilet paper, dispose of it in a waste bin. The septic systems cannot accept the paper.
Some public toilets are for hire. I’ve seen two public toilets charge people for use. The cost was 0.60 cents.
According to Wikipedia’s page on the most polluted cities by concentration of particulate matter (in air) Nepal ranks as the 263 rd most polluted city out of about 3000 areas in 103 countries. The majority of the 262 positions on the list are occupied by India and China, which border Nepal on the south and north. It’s like sitting on a plane next to 2 smokers. I’m not blaming India and China for the pollution problems in Nepal. I am just informing you of the trends of the 2 countries that most frequently and abundantly visit the country. The pollution issue extends past Nepali citizens, who are also at fault, to a lack of government provided facilities.
The air in Kathmandu in 2013 had a small particulate matter concentration of 49 ppm. Its large particulate matter concentration was 88 ppm. The air pollution is so bad that it is difficult to see the moon at night time. I have had many experiences were street dust would fly into my mouth while talking with people. If you see people talking then spit mid-sentence, it is because of street dust.
On clear days though Kathmandu is beautiful.
The government of Nepal does not provide a solid waste disposal and collection service. The citizens must pay for private unregulated companies to collect and dispose of their garbage. Some of the companies will dispose of the garbage on the street. Others dispose of it properly. I found one company that will even recycle the garbage, but it costs a premium that a lot of Nepali people are not willing to pay. Some Nepali people will dump their garbage directly onto the street. A lot of times, small piles are burned for heat in the winter.
A lot of people litter in Nepal. Most of this pollution goes directly into the waterways. The litter that is not directly thrown in the water ways gets taken there by the monsoon rains. In addition, there are companies that contribute to point source pollution by directly disposing of their waste products in the water. This includes detergents, dies, and byproducts from manufacturing.
There are 3 types of public transportation in Nepal. Busses, minivans (micros), and public jeeps are all communally available for hire. When traveling on a bus, be warned, if you hear someone say “plastic” in a frantic or queasy tone, vomit will soon follow. Also, be careful of walking too close to busses. It is possible to get hit by vomit bombs or throw up from people who didn’t get the plastic bag on time. The busses and micros can be severely overcrowded at times. the severity might extend to somebody sitting on your lap or passengers riding on the top of the bus, which is a practice long since outlawed. The public jeeps are better in terms of crowding but are more expensive.
The cost of public transportation depends on the distance traveled and the price of fuel. A ticket for a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara will cost about $25.
The conditions of the hotels in Nepal range from very nice 5-star lodging to the grimmest no star cow shed. I have been in all types of “hotels”, but have only stayed in 2, and 3-star accommodations. A decent hotel will have a clean bed and a connected bathroom. A great hotel has hot water showers at all hours of the day and night. Most hotels have semi clean or stained sheets, and cold to lukewarm or tepid showers. The hotels in the big cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara, have solid cement walls that are extremely efficient at cooling. Hotels on treks, tea houses, have extremely thin walls. You can hear your neighbor think through the walls.
Hotels will generally cost between $10 to $80 per night.
Associated costs is a term I use in place of price gouging. The associated costs are generally exploitative, and unethical.
There are a few associated costs for everything in Nepal. For the most part though, they are all associated with being a foreigner or a native. As a foreigner you can expect to pay 2 to 3 times more than a native. In addition to the inflated prices, you are required to pay a 13% VAT (value added tax) which is supposed to go to the workers as a tip, but usually goes to the business owner. In some cities like Kathmandu, there is also a cheaper cost on goods for Kathmandu residents.
For the most part, the political climate is stable in Nepal. There are occasional shut downs (bandas) of educational, business, and transportation institutions. The bandas usually occur after an election or during and elected officials term. Bandas are a form of protest and can become violent if enough people support the banda. If a banda or protest is happening, it is better to not get involved.
There is not a lot of street crime in Nepal unless you count the associated costs as stealing. However, there is a lot of political corruption and bribes to government officials. There are also some very seedy areas in the major cities. These areas are associated with prostitution and muggings. But muggings are not that common. I have also heard of people being stabbed in night clubs, but that too is not common.
An even less common occurrence are kidnappings of foreigners. I’ve only heard of one in 5 years, and it was by a mentally challenged man. He kidnapped a solo trekker.
It’s kind of difficult to talk about Nepal without talking about the weather. Since it is such an important aspect of planning you trip, I thought it would be best to cover it, because it can throw you some curve balls. The best weather conditions occur in late September through early December.
The monsoon rains are not that bad. In fact, they are quite nice if you are indoors. If you are at a restaurant or wine bar overlooking a lake you can have a wonderful hygge experience with the monsoon season. Be warned though, the temperatures can be uncomfortably hot, and humid when it is not raining.
The winters are quite pleasant in Nepal. They can be cold but if you are prepared with layers of warm clothes or with your favorite person, they are not that bad. The weather can be cloudy, especially during morning in the city. This often delays air traffic. The weather can also be as clear as an unmuddied lake. Like a crystal. In general, you have more clear days than cloudy ones in the winter.
The spring season, February through April, has the second-best weather in Nepal. February is dryer and colder, while April is warmer and wetter. You can expect late afternoon to early evening rain. After the rain the conditions are foggy, but the following day the sky is generally clear. You can manage in a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt.
More people come to Nepal from late September through November than all other seasons. The Fall season tends to have the best weather. It is not to cold or hot. It doesn’t rain that much. And the views are great. Though most of the days are nice, be prepared for unexpected weather or heavy fog. Some of your views may also be blocked by clouds. However, this is not common.
The Ultimate Guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest is the most famous mountain in the world. You can go to any country and say “Mt. Everest” and somebody will know what you’re are talking about regardless of the language spoken. But it is a little strange that not everyone who knows about Everest, knows where it is located. The highest mountain in the world is located in Nepal and is referred to as Sagarmatha in Nepali language. The ultimate guide to trekking to Everest Base Camp contains only the most pertinent information about your trip to “the camp”.
The Ultimate Guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Did you know that you can’t see Mt. Everest from Everest Base Camp? You can have much grander views of the Himalayas from Kala Patthar. In this blog post I will share with you all the secrets, tips, and hints (no tricks though, just hard work) about traveling to Nepal and scaling the grandest mountain in the world. If you’re still unsure, you can skip ahead to see how to prepare for Everest Base Camp or what to expect before coming to Nepal.
When to Go
For the best weather conditions, you want to go in late spring. Most people attempting to summit Everest go in May. For those of you south of the equator that would be late fall early winter. The exact months are March, April, May. Be careful though, because June marks the beginning of the monsoon season and you do not want to be involved in that mess. As you can imagine the best weather conditions attract the largest crowds, so be prepared.
The Fall season, September, October, and November, has historically been the second busiest season to trek the Everest Base Camp trail. However, recently, people trying to get away from the herds of the primary season have migrated to fall season. The fall conditions are, in my opinion, just as good if not better than the spring conditions. So, it is up to you and your availability on when visit.
Winter can be a little cold and hazy, but for the most part it is also a great time to start your Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar trek. In the winter season, you can take advantage of discounted rates and your choice of lodges. Be prepared for freak snow storms. Fortunately, though you don’t need much cold weather gear. I did the majority of the trek in jeans and a light long sleeve and a t-shirt.
My advice, don’t go in the summer. There are some exceptions to that though. If you also want to go to Gokyo Lakes or to the more remote areas, this might be a good time to go. The summer months June, July, and August receive a massive amount of rain fall. They are hot and humid and you can’t hardly cool down. You are also at a greater risk of being injured by a land slide, and getting in a car accident. Upper Mustang, or Tibet are better destinations for the summer
Kangtega at this vantage point looks like Maneki-neko. May it bring you good luck on your trek.
Elevation gain and loss on the trail
Elevation of different locations along the Everest Base Camp Trail
Starting at an elevation of 4,593 ft in Kathmandu you fly to Lukla at an elevation 9,317 ft. This is a gain of 4,724 ft. From Lukla you trek to Phakding at an elevation of 8,563 ft. This is a loss of 754 ft. From Pakding you trek to Namche at 11,286. This is a gain of 2,723 ft. In Namche you go on a day hike to Kumjung at an elevation of 12,401 ft, then back to Namche. After acclimating in Namche, you travel to Tengboche at 12,663 ft. This is a gain of 1,377 ft. Then you trek to Dingboche at 14,468 ft. This is an elevation gain of 1,805 ft. In Dingboche you acclimate by going on a day hike to Nangkartshang at an elevation of 16,676 ft, then back down to Dingboche. The following day you trek to Lobuche at 16,305 for an elevation gain of 1,837 ft. From Lobuche you trek to Gorakshep at 16,863 ft. This is an elevation gain of 558 ft. In Gorakshep you can immediately go to EBC at 17,598 ft then back to Gorakshep. After Everest Base Camp you hike up to Kala Patthar at 18,208 ft then back down to Gorakshep, then to Thukla at 15,157 ft. From Thukla you descend 2,494 ft to Tengboche. Then you descend an additional 1,377 ft to Namche. You lose an additional 2,723 ft going to Phakding. And finally, you gain 754 ft going back to Lukla.
It is 40.39 miles from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. This distance includes the slope or vertical distance also traveled. The actual distance from Lukla to base camp can be a little different depending on the trail you take. Though this can seem like an unobtainable goal, it is actually quite achievable especially spread over 10 days. On average, you are trekking only 4 miles each day on your way to base camp. You will probably hike further returning to Luka. The return trek averages 10 miles each day.
You might be thinking “4 miles on flat land is a lot different than 4 miles up hill in thin air.” You are right. This is what makes the trek challenging. I wouldn’t say it is difficult though. Let me explain. Our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt to change. In bright light our pupils constrict, and in dark they dilate. At high altitudes our bodies make more blood cells to compensate for less oxygen in the air. Our bodies also develop better circulation the more we exercise.
As we are slowly progressing along the trail, our bodies are slowly adapting to the changing environment. This is something you do not want to rush. The slower you go the easier it is to get there. Porters are also a wonderful resource to make your trek easier. Porters will happily carry your bag. The reduced stress on your body has been shown to reduce effects associated with altitude sickness. A guide can also help make your trek easier by setting the pace.
Length of Time
Trekking to Base Camp, and Kala Patthar and back should take 12 or more days. It took me 14 days to complete the trek. If you go faster than 12 days you risk having altitude sickness, over exertion, dehydration, and wrecking yourself. Remember, the slower you go the easier it is on your body. On an average 13-day trek, 2 days are used to acclimate. It is important to have one or two reserve days in case you feel like resting an extra day or in case of inclement weather.
Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar Trek Itinerary
Day 01: Meet guide in Kathmandu and be chauffeured to hotel and check in. Enjoy free time.
Day 02: Fly to Lukla and trek to Phakding. -04 hrs
Day 03: Trek to Namche Bazaar. -06 hrs
Day 04: acclimate to climate at Namche Bazaar and excursion. -5 hrs
Day 05: Trek to Thyangboche. -06 hrs
Day 06: Trek to Dingboche. -07 hrs
Day 07: Acclimate to climate at Dingboche and excursion. -4 hrs
Day 08: Trek to Lobuche. -05 hrs
Day 09: Trek to Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp then return to Gorakshep. -06 hrs
Day 10: Trek to Kalapathar and Pheriche. -05 hrs
Day 11: Trek to Thyangboche. -05 hrs
Day 12: Trek to Monjo. -06 hrs
Day 13: Trek to Lukla. -04 hrs
Day 14: Fly to Kathmandu and check into hotels
Day 15: Free day in Kathmandu with sightseeing tour
Day 16: end of trek
You probably have one pending question left, “How much does this trek cost?” That is a tough question to answer. It honestly depends. Are you going to hire a guide and porter? How much food do you eat in a day? How long will you be trekking for? Will you be doing the standard Lukla to EBC or a variation like Lukla to Gokyo Lake with a visit to Base Camp. The lowest possible price you can do the trek for is $53.90.
You might be thinking “That’s a bargain, I’ll take two at that price!” I appreciate your enthusiasm, but let me get into the details. The only things the quoted price gives you is access into the Sagarmatha National Park. You will have to walk to Lukla from Kathmandu (about 12 days) to begin your trek. In addition, you will have to bring all your food and camping gear with you. If you’re into it, go for it. It would be a great experience.
If you feel like splurging on a plane ticket to and from Lukla, it will cost about $400 to $500. The price depends on the airline and date. If you want to hire a guide (highly recommended), it can cost $20 to $25 per day. It depends on the guide and if you are trekking in or out of season. You can also get special deals if you are going in a group. You can hire a porter for $15 to $20 per day but it also depends on the porter and how much you want them to carry. Food is also a major cost while trekking.
Our Everest Base Camp Trek costs $2,590. It includes all expenses. Transportation, food, lodging, entrance fees, passes, guide, porter, and a bonus tour of Kathmandu.
Cost of food on the EBC trail
I took the average prices of the menu items at each place I ate at. I then plotted the prices on the graph above. This trend line gives an idea of how much you are likely to spend on food as you increase in elevation. Prices may be slightly skewed due to my low sample size. The sample size is 1 from each area.
Although there is some variation in food costs along the trail, expect to pay more for a plate of lentils and rice at Gorakshep than in Phakding. I stayed at a relatively expensive location in Lukla. Other trekkers that I met at the lodge also noticed how much more expensive Lukla was compared to the other locations on the trek. In general, try to budget for $15 for food each day. This does not include alcoholic, or artificially sweetened beverages. It does include hot drinking water though.
Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure
You can book your Everest Base Camp and Kalla Patthar adventure through our website. We offer an all-inclusive package as well as discounted packages starting $512 and ranging to $2,590. Our most popular package includes a guide, porter, food, lodging, all fees, hotel and lodge accommodations, round trip airfare, transportation in Kathmandu, and a Kathmandu World Heritage Site Tour. You may book directly on our website or by contacting Ganga Regmi at +9779867706662 or by email at email@example.com
Even if you book your trek through another company please feel free to stop by our Pokhara office to get information about the trek, trail conditions, weather reports, trail maps, or just to say hi. We wish you a very safe and fun adventure.
Please let me know if you would like me to include any other information in The Ultimate Guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp.
In my last blog post you learned how to prepare for Everest Base Camp by Climbing Mt. Whitney. If you did not read it yet, you can access it by clicking or tapping on this link. In this blog post I will give you some statistics and explain the importance of preparation. Kick back, pull up your socks, and relax while I entertain you with wit, information, and terrible science jokes. If you already know about Everest Base Camp Preparation and you want to skip ahead to what to expect before coming to , Nepal you can find that article here.
“Aint nobody got time for that!” Yes, Sweet Dee, you are right. Altitude sickness can ruin your trek. Fortunately, there are ways to ascend into the highest reaches of our atmosphere without getting sick. The first things you should be aware of when ascending in altitude are your bodies warning signs of altitude sickness.
The most acute form of altitude sickness is called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). According to Web Md, common symptoms of AMS include dizziness, head ache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and muscle pain. When I get AM sick, my fingers swell up. This is not a common sign. The only way I found out was by going above 8,000 ft. Your body may respond differently. For example, a friend of mine has chronic flatulence at about 12,000 ft. I don’t hike with her anymore.
There are more than 200,000 cases of altitude sickness the US per year.
The second most severe type of altitude sickness is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). It is a condition like pneumonia. Fluid fills up some space in the lungs making it hard to breath. Common signs of HAPE include shortness of breath, coughing up blood or frothy saliva, and fever. If you see these signs descend immediately.
I saw this onetime on my trek to Everest Base Camp. A young gentleman had a severe headache, and cough when he arrived in the lodge I was in. I was in the common room waiting for some hot water when he came in and asked if there was a doctor available. He showed the staff his blue hands. I thought to myself this guy has Ebola. As I was hastily retreating from a potential epidemic a staff member said it was altitude sickness.
Less than 1% of people rapidly exposed to high elevations are diagnosed with HAPE
The most severe form of altitude sickness is High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). This is the least common form of altitude sickness. It occurs when there is a build up of fluid in the brain. Yikes, brain juice!!!
Are you ready for a terrible science joke? It has nothing to do wit
What do chemists call trees?
Identifying how your body responds to high elevations is the first step in preventing altitude sickness.
Having the right gear can make or break your trip. You must also know how much gear you need to take. The optimal pack is lightweight and contains all your essential items. This would be the most important aspect of this post if safety wasn’t first.
Having a packed bag that is light weight and contains only your essential items may seem a like an easy task to create. It is complicated. Most people achieve this goal through experience and knowledge. Luckily for you, I have both. For the most part, keep it simple. Don’t over weigh your bag with gear you will not use.
Try packing everything you think you will need on a trek to Everest Base Camp. Then go on a day hike. You will know by the end of the day what gear is essential. The essential items I had in my bag were 3 long sleeve shirts (hoody, sweater, and plain), trekking poles, water bottle, 12 pairs of socks, and pajamas. Everything else can be provided by the tea houses along the trail. I also had a sleeping bag, a coat, and snowboarding pants, all of which were not needed.
If you find that you have more essential items than I did, you can hire a porter to carry your bag. This has 3 benefits. The first is that you can cram in as much “essential” gear as possible. The second is that is supports the local people. And the third is that it helps prevent altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be exacerbated by over exertion.
For no reason at all… terrible science joke coming…
Q:Who was the first electricity detective?
Physical Fitness Preparation
You don’t have to be exceptionally fit to do the Everest Base Camp trek. I saw many unfit people on the trail and it was inspiring. If you walk slowly, you will not have a problem. The issue with fitness is directly related to altitude sickness. Can you see the pattern forming?
Anything you can do to improve your cardio vascular system will greatly enhance your body’s ability to process oxygen.
I like water aerobics and day hikes.
About 4,000 people die each year from drowning in the United States
A little bit of physical preparation before your trip can save you a lot of joint and muscle pain along the way. No matter your condition you start the trek in, you will be in great shape by the end. I lost 30 pounds at the end of my journey.
You can find most kinds of food on the trail. Be warned, the food shown on the menu is not what will be served to you. I found most of the food on the menu to be terrible. I encourage you to experiment though. You will not be disappointed if you eat lentils and rice with vegetables.
After a few months only eating lentils and rice, I start to get olfactory hallucinations. It is the weirdest thing. Be prepared for that if you are not mixing up your diet. You might want to prepare your digestive system for the food. This sounds weird but it helps you normalize when you are on the trail.
One science fact before I depart…
What is the one thing faster than the speed of light?
How You Can Prepare for Everest Base Camp by Hiking Mt. Whitney
So, you’re interested in trekking to Everest Base Camp, but you don’t know if you got what it takes. Well friend, you’ve come to the right place. I will tell you exactly how you can prepare for Everest Base Camp. Try climbing Mt. Whitney first!
In this article you will find out that how your body responds to high altitude (+12,000 ft), what gear you will want to take with you, what gear not to take with you, and how to have an amazing time in the process. Kick up your feet, relax, and enjoy the read as I get into the details.
Everest Base Camp, the foot of the highest summit in the world, is one of the most popular destinations in Nepal. According to Nepal’s tourism board, it received 27,794 foreign visitors in 2015, placing it third in popularity behind Chitwan and Annapurna conservation areas. Though Everest Base Camp is the third most popular destination in Nepal it ranks first in trekking injuries.
An independent company, Himalayan Rescue Association, stated they rescued almost 100 people in 2017. Other independent companies reported similar numbers during the 2017 trekking season. There is not a common data base to accurately measure the total number of recused trekkers. However, based on the number of companies working in the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural municipality, you can estimate 375 people/ year.
To start, I’ve listed data you might want to be aware of in order to best prepare for your trekking adventure.
25% of deaths on Everest were due to altitude sickness from 1984 to 1987
35% of deaths were caused by illnesses such as heart attack, or diabetes
30% of deaths on Everest were the result of trauma
10% from exposure due to getting lost
It is important to note the above study identified a total of 40 trekking deaths out of 275,950 trekkers from 1984-1987
19 people died in 1996
6 people died in 2012
To date (2018) about 200 people have died attempting to reach the roof top of the world
KNOWING RISKS IS IMPORTANT:
While this may seem bad, trekking is still safer than driving! So, you might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with preparing for Everest?” The short answer is (can I quote myself?), “it allows us to identify the risks and prepare for them.”
AMS – altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness
HACE – high altitude cerebral edema,water accumulation in the brain.
HAPE – high altitude pulmonary edema, water accumulation in the lungs.
HACE and HAPE are both severe reactions to high altitudes. Fortunately, they are preventable.
Sprains- twisted or rolled ancles
Exposure- Temperatures severely drop at night. Hire a guide to stay on the right track or to find you if you get lost.
Most doctors agree that the onset of altitude sickness can occur at around 8,000 ft. The life-threatening conditions of HACE and HAPE tend to occur around 12,000 ft if the person has not properly acclimated. Acclimation should consist of limiting altitude gain to 1,300 ft per day after exceeding 8,000 ft in elevation. Ascending higher than 1,300 ft is OK as long as it is followed by a decent to a proper altitude.
Everest Base Camp is at an elevation of about 17,600 ft and exceeds the elevation of most mountain peaks in Europe by over 1,000 ft. The Trek starts from Lukla (9,383 ft) and should take 7 or more days to reach base camp in order to acclimate properly. Be very cautious of tour groups that offer Everest packages lasting shorter than 10 days. These packages do not allow sufficient time to acclimate. In addition to exceeding elevation gain thresholds, it is important to not overexert yourself. Overexertion can exacerbate AMS. Hire a porter! They are happy to work for you, and your experience will be more enjoyable.
It is also important to avoid alcohol and maintain adequate hydration while trekking. Dehydration can also induce AMS or make its symptoms more severe. Apart from these, it is important to be in good physical health. An upper respiratory tract infection can predispose you to AMS. In short, anything that limits your bodies’ ability to absorb oxygen should be abstained from while trekking to Everest Base Camp.
How You Can Prepare for Everest Base Camp
I am a huge proponent of knowing your body and equipment. Before you go scaling the worlds tallest mountain, take some time to monitor your fitness, check your gear, plan your trip, and prepare for the adventure.
Ok, so how do you prepare for your trek? There are several ways to prepare for Everest Base Camp:
Do cardio workouts/ aerobics
Go on walks
Go camping at high elevations
Do a low elevation trek, like Poon Hill, in Nepal
The primary objective is to improve your body’s efficiency in metabolizing oxygen. I.E. condition a healthy vascular, and respiratory system (physical). The second objective is to become knowledgeable of how your body responds to these adverse conditions. I would recommend practicing these activities in a controlled environment where you can monitor yourself and be able to receive help if the needed.
For example, to prepare for my trek to Everest Base Camp I climbed Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in California and the contiguous US. I did not engage in any cardio workouts to prepare as I walk (a lot) for work, and for my day to day comings and goings. My trek to Whitney was primarily to see how my body responds to elevation, and to see how well conditioned I am for Everest Base Camp. Mt. Whitney has an elevation of 14,505 ft, which puts it just under 3,000 ft Everest Base Camp’s elevation. The Whitney trek was ideal for me, because the furthest point from the trail head is only 11 miles. Help is easily accessible.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of a hike to Mt. Whitney.
There are plenty of resources for people to hike Whitney. Here is a link to a few of the resources. Joking aside, the hiking guy is pretty good. In addition to using his knowledge to prepare for my trek, I used several other resources. The USDA Forest Service’s website provided road conditions and permit information. Because my trip was in December, my permit was free.
The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center provided avalanche warnings and weather conditions. During my trip, small avalanches were possible. Also, no avalanches were forecasted below 9,500 ft. The weather conditions at the bottom of Whitney were forecasted to have a high of 68o F and a low of 30o F, while at the top of Whitney experienced a high of 30o F and a low of -8o F.
I made sure to pack a lot of warm clothes that I could wear in layers.
I packed snowboarding pants, down coat, wool sweater, long sleeve shirt, long johns (top, and bottom), a tee shirt, beanie, two pairs of socks, a bag of oranges, and gloves. Not pictured are my sunglasses, which I intended to wear but totally forgot, camera gear, and one gallon of water. I did not need the snowboarding pants and down jacket, but everything else I used as I layered up and down. My pack weighed about 50 lbs.
My goal for this trip was to see if I could physically make it to 12,000 ft, and to feel how my body responds to a sudden altitude adjustment. If I could also summit Mt. Whitney, I would consider it a bonus.
I left my hotel 3 hours too early (at 3:00 am) thinking I would get a head start on the sun rise. It took 30 min to get to Whitney portal then another 2 ½ hours to find the trail head (I couldn’t find it in the dark). I forgot my headlamp.
About 15 min into the hike I started layering down and taking pictures. The granite cliffs are overwhelming! It was difficult to capture their feeling, but I tried anyway. I spent about 10 mins just taking pictures each time I stopped. I knew I couldn’t keep stopping for pictures, so I stopped taking photos. I particularly like this one:
About 5 hours and 11,500 ft later, I lost the path at Trail Side Meadow. I followed the footsteps to the left. Before I caught my mistake, I realized I was out of time and had completed my goal! I didn’t feel sick, or have a headache. However, I did feel tired and sluggish, but that was probably due to the trail and the weight of my pack. I unfortunately did not get the bonus of summiting Whitney. That will come another time.
The hike down to the trail head took about 3 hours as I was greeted by friendly faces, and wagging tails that were all too happy to jump on me. (as a side note: if you are a dog owner and take your dog with you on your hike, please do not let it jump on people. It doesn’t matter how cute you think your dog is, it is rude and unpleasant. Would you let your kids run up to strangers and lick their hands? I hope not!)
So, you may be thinking, “Your Mt. Whitney trip was only one day. How does that help with a trek that can take longer than 2 weeks?”
That’s a perfectly valid point. Mt. Whitney can be done in two days, but that is still a far cry from the 16 days it might take for a trip to Everest Base Camp and back. My suggestion is to see how you feel after your hike. If you feel fine, go on another hike. It doesn’t have to be the same trail or even in the same area.
I felt great after Whitney. I was a little sore on my shoulders from my backpack straps and my legs were a little sore, but otherwise I was good (I am still going to hire a porter). Because I didn’t want to go too hard on my body, I took the following day for rest. Afterwards I went on other hikes (I dropped my bag weight for my other hikes). I hiked to Marble Falls in Sequoia, which took about 5 hours round trip. Since I felt fine after that hike, I went on another one. See where I am going with this? The idea is to condition your body. It can be done in whatever way you think is best.
Side note regarding porters: Guides and porters are primarily seasonally employed. The rest of the year most of them will not earn any income and will fall back on being subsistence farmers. Porters particularly earn less and are vulnerable to market conditions. You can show your support for the local communities by hiring a porter. Believe me, they appreciate it! Americans are expected to give a tip. Please only tip if you feel the service is worthy of it. A normal tip range is 8% to 13%.
#4 CALORIES MATTER
For those of us that are interested in tracking how many calories we burn, MyFitnessPal has a good calorie burning calculator. While on the Mt. Whitney trail, I burned 4,858 calories. This calculator does not account for all aspects of catabolism such as age, gender, and weight, but it comes really close to one that does.
My trek to Everest Base Camp and back would burn about 43,162 calories. I found this total by calculating the expected time it would take round trip, which is about 79 hours or 4,740 minutes. For comparison, a 6,000-minute aerobic gym exercise would burn about 25,061 calories, and an equal length chest workout would burn 11,567 calories. In terms of calories burned, a day hike to Mt. Whitney is about 15.8 times less strenuous than the climb to Everest Base Camp and back.
The information above can be used to help you condition and plan calorie needs for your trip. If you can burn 43,000 calories in 13 days with two of those days reserved for rest (acclimation days), you should not have a problem with the Everest Base Camp trek. Averaged out during your training, it would entail 3 days of burning 3,300 calories each day, a day of rest, then 3 more days of burning 3,300 calories each day, then a second rest day, and finally 4 days of burning 3,300 calories per day.
This brings me to an interesting point about diet and calorie consumption. The national dish and staple crops of Nepal are lentils and rice. Partaking in the local cuisine is all part of the experience, but it can be a shock to the system (energy deficiencies and GI issues alike) if you’re not prepared. You can find a small assortment of foods when you are on your trek, such as potatoes, pizza, noodles, and rice dishes. Be prepared for the unexpected though, the food will not taste like what you are used to. I like to stick to Nepal’s staples. In one cup of rice and one cup of lentils, you are looking at 206 and 230 calories respectively.
It is wise to prepare your body to this diet before you begin your trek. Starting about 2 weeks before, begin to prepare meals with lentils and rice. You can switch it up by adding different spices, but I would always prepare them the same way. I have only seen Nepali people cook their lentils and rice by boiling them.
How ever you decide to prepare for your Himalayan adventure, make sure you are familiar with your gear, know how your body responds to high altitude, take a trekking partner (or at least a guide or porter), and familiarize yourself with the diet. Once you are in Nepal, we (Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure) will do everything it can to make sure your trip is fun and safe. If you decide to use another trekking agency, that is ok too. You are welcome to stop by our office in Pokhara to get the latest news on trail conditions, weather reports, and insider information.
Thank you for visiting and welcome to Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure’s blog. Please kick up your feet and relax while I introduce myself, this blog, and the about us page.
Are you passionate about traveling? Do you love south Asia? Are you the type of person who is fascinated by exotic cultures or the outdoors? If your answer was “Yes!” to any of these questions, then you have come to the right place for information and entertainment about all subjects related to Nepal, Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) aka Xizang Autonomous Region, Tibet or Xizang for short, and Bhutan.
My name is Craig Wayne Cole. I’m not quite a digital nomad but almost. Before I get into all that, let me take a few steps back and give you some landscape (background).
We all remember our first time out of the country and I am no exception. Like many of us wayward wanderers, our first time out really grabs us by the boo boos and says “Hey! There is a whole world out there. Explore it!”
That’s what I was doing when I ran out of money. Traveling is not cheap and if you are on a budget it is almost prohibitive. If you stick around I will give you some pretty good insights on how to travel around south Asia inexpensively.
I found out that I could travel and explore the world and get paid for it, if I joined the Peace Corps. So, I did.
Pro tip 01: If you can get someone else to pay for your expenses, do it.
The Peace Corps stationed me in Nepal. It was a phenomenal experience. I met and made friends with a lot of amazing people. One of these people put me on a trajectory that led me to typing this blog post.
His name is Ganga Regmi. Ganga and I were hanging out one day and I asked him if he was happy with his work. To make a long story short we started Upper Himalayan treks and Adventure a year later.
Now, my expeditions are primarily focused in Nepal. My experiences range from trekking up to Everest Base camp and Kala Patthar to going on a safari through the low laying jungles of Chitwan National park to see the one horned rhinoceros.
Ya, I got it covered north to south, no big deal. I’m only joking of course. As you will see there is so much more to Nepal than Everest and Chitwan National Park.
Stay tuned to find out more.
Here are 5 fun facts about Nepal:
The Nepali flag is the only national flag in the world that is not quadrilateral in shape
Namaste is the standard greeting in Nepal. It can mean Hello, and Good Bye, but now it is mostly used to greet foreigners.
The time zone of Nepal is based on Mt. Everest, and is 45 minutes off the Coordinated Universal Time.
Hinduism and Buddhism are the two primary religions but are generally considered the same in the country.
Cows are sacred in Nepal and roam the streets and country side freely.