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It was January 2014 and temperature was rising at its heights around 44◦C in Melbourne. As planned earlier, there was small get together with my school time mates. We were hanging out with buddies and suddenly one thought came into my mind. Where would be the best place to visit during my holiday break in March-April, somewhere cool with adventure and thrill. Instantly, Steve, one of my bestie said EVERST BASE CAMP, in loud. Actually, he had been there last October and shared his experience with us. He showed some of his photographs on his cell phone and as soon as he showed the wallpaper alike sunrise views over the Himalayas, I whispered I my mind,, It’s Everest Base Camp Trek. This is it!
Yes, first I searched on Google. “Everest base camp trek” Wow, there, I found many travel and trekking experiences along tips, do’s and don’ts. With mixed opinions regarding difficulties, independent or guided trekking, altitude sickness, permits and costs; I was really in dilemma. Immediately asked Steve, and he said he had met a guy named Hary in Nepal who would help me in getting out of this dilemma. I got his email address and sent a mail with my Everest base camp trekking plan. Actually his name was Hari Shrestha, a professional in organizing treks and tours across Himalayan countries. Currently he even runs a trekking company in Nepal named Icicles Adventure Treks and Tours. Of course, I sent queries to several trekking companies in Nepal, researched like hell, but as finally I ensured my trip with Icicles as I felt him genuine and was also recommended by my friend.
It was second week of March. Booked my flight to Kathmandu via Bangkok on Thai Airways. I met a friendly Nepali guy on the plane. He was getting back home during his University break to meet his family after two years. I asked him about Everest trek but he also only had heard about it. Anyway I had a nice company during my long flight from transit Bangkok to Kathmandu.
I landed at Kathmandu valley surrounded by hills on quite small international airport. Visa process was hassle free however I had to wait around two and half hours on queue to get it. As I walked through arrivals hall, I saw my name on Icicles display board. There he was, Hari waiting for me with beautiful marigold garland. I was actually touched by the warm hospitality they had offered to me. Further heading towards my hotel, he gave me short briefing about how my trip was going to be. upon reaching hotel, he helped me check in and I took shower. Flat on my room. I strolled around the Thamel area during evening and had delicious Nepali dinner in one of the restaurants over there. I took a nap early as I was tired of long flight and tomorrow I had to see what Kathmandu has in store for me.
I woke up in the morning for short tour around the capital city. After having a quick meal at hotel, I head towards Swayambhunath stupa with my guide to explore the so called monkey temple. Wow, lots of monkeys around! Getting up to the top of the hill exhibited the bird’s eye views of Kathmandu valley. The stupa, huge prayer wheels, temples, chortens and atmosphere was quite refreshing. Many locals were exercising as I was told it is the hub for nearby morning walkers.
After clicking couple of pictures, we head towards Kathmandu durbar square, an ancient palace built by Malla kings centuries ago. Ticket was required for foreigners which were managed by my guide. Actually, I got wondered by the architectural beauty around the heritage site; especially the temples built in pagoda style. Renovations of these temples were going on so I missed some. But believe me, today I got to know why Kathmandu is called city of temples. I was looking for an appointment with living goddesses Kumari while visiting her artistically built home called ‘Kumari ghar’, but I just got a chance to see her looking down from artistic window. Captured goddesses in a camera! That was an achievement. My guide was very knowledgeable as strolling around Kathmandu durbar square he explained me about the history of ancient kings. The questions like ‘When it was built?’, ‘Who ruled the place?’ was all explained to me.
There were plenty of restaurants around. I preferred the rooftop garden restaurant nearby where I had a lunch and continued day tour towards Pashupatinath temple, the greatest Hindu shrine in the world. The temple itself was artistic built in pagoda style. Roaming around the temple gave me an insight to Hinduism religion. I saw the cremation site on the bank of Bagmati River, on the other side there was greenery, small forested land called “Mrigasthali”. It was around 4 pm. Just after relaxing for an hour and we head towards another world heritage site Boudhanath stupa, which is also known as little Tibet. Huge Boudhanath Stupa was surrounded by prayer wheels and there were lots of monasteries around the surroundings. It was peaceful and sunset along prayer lights made it even more spectacular. After the long day of exploring around Kathmandu valley my guide left me to my hotel and had to prepare for tomorrow’s early morning 6am flight to Lukla. He even helped me in my packing the luggage as only 15 kg (5kg hand carry and 10 kg luggage) was allowed in domestic flight to get rid of hassle, sassle at last moment in airport next day.
I woke up early around 4.30am, had a quick meal and my guide was there at hotel lobby. Around 5 am I packed the luggage on private car and headed towards airport to catch a domestic plane towards Lukla. My guide helped me in arranging boarding pass. I had researched that weather around Lukla changes drastically in no time and the same thing happened. My flight was delayed by half an hour. We had a toast and cup of tea at waiting room. As we were heading towards the plane, my guide told me secretly to grab the left side sit of plane which gives nice views of Himalayas. While flying over the snow capped mountains, I viewed many Himalayas of Everest region. Finally plane landed at Lukla airstrip after 35 minutes. After arriving at Lukla airstrip, we sat on nearby tea shop and discussed about day’s plan regarding local village exploration, trekking and routes. Trekking activity finally started! There was statue of Late Pasang Lhamu Sherpa after crossing Lukla bazaar and known to be first Nepali women to reach top of the world. After trekking for two hours, we arrived at Thadakoshi, had lunch. My guide pointed the view of Thamserku from over there. My trekking continued to today’s destination Phakding at 1 pm. As soon as checked in at guest house, I took a nap for two hours. Guest house in Phakding consists attached bathroom with free hot shower. It was enough for me to stay for night. My guide called me after few hours to go for evening walk which was necessary for proper acclimatization. Strolling around the site for an hour, we had fried potato, egg, and authentic Nepali dal-bhat as dinner. Me and my guide planned for tomorrow’s trek to Namche and fixed wake-up call at 7 am in the morning.
We started our walk soon after having our breakfast in a guest house. My guide told me that today we have to trek uphill and downhill route along crossing numerous suspension bridges over the Dudhkosi River. We stopped at Jorsale to get our Everest permit. I was just enjoying my trek to Everest as all those permits and legal paper works were handled by my trekking guide. It was around 11 am after half and hour of walk, we stopped for our lunch. Ascending further, we crossed very long suspension bridge followed by steep climb through forested land of rhododendron and alpine vegetation. There was one small place named ‘chautara’ to take rest, where I saw the first view of Mt. Everest in my life. We arrived at Namche Bazaar at around 3pm and went straight to take shower and rest for couple of hours so that I can reenergize myself. Guest house had standard room with free hot shower facility. My guide gave briefing about tomorrow’s acclimatization day after having our dinner.
I knew that acclimatization is the important part of this trek as I was not familiar with high altitudes. Today we started our acclimatization walk to Everest view hotel which exhibited the phenomenal views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam, Thamsekru, Kusum Kangaroo and other peaks. I must mention that cup of coffee along chocolate cake at the Everest view hotel was delicious. Yes, I nearly forgot to mention that it is five star hotel and probably at highest altitude five star hotel. The walk is enjoyable towards beautiful village of Khumjung where we had our lunch and embarked for short village exploration. Visited Hillary foundation and traced back our steps to our guest house at Namche Bazaar. After having our dinner around 8 pm my guide briefly explained how tomorrow’s trekking to Tengboche is going to be.
After having our breakfast at guest house in Namche, we continued our two hours of gradual walk of Everest journey exploring the floras and faunas like musk deer, Himalayan Thar and multicolored pheasants along spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam and Thamsekru in front and views of Dudh koshi valley gorge on right side to arrive at Kayangjuma. A cup of tea was served with quick rest followed by approximately half and hour trek to have our lunch at Phunki Thanka. After recharging our tummies, it was steep ascend through forests towards Tengboche. Tengboche was a great place for close up views of Mt Ama Dablam, Mt Nuptse, and Mt Everest, and it has the biggest Buddhist Monastery of the Khumbu region. While entering the Tengboche monastery around 3 pm which was said to be the ancient monastery of this region built centuries ago; there were monks chanting prayers, ceremony and was quite new experience for me. With all the day’s memories, I slept right after having dinner when my guide gave briefing about tomorrow’s trek to Dingboche.
I was tired and slept till 8 in the morning, but it was all ok. Had my poached egg, potato and soup as breakfast and got ready for a day’s trek towards Dingboche. Gradually ascending and descending for couple of hours in the morning we stopped at nearby hotel for a lunch. Walking continuously on a rocky path was tiresome but the amazing mountainous views, stories behind the memorials which was well explained by my guide and the lifestyle of local people keep on inspiring me to move forward. Small settlements seen from quite a distance was coming nearer on every step and my smile was broadening as I knew it was the final destination for the place to take a rest and have a meal. I am kinda loving the food specially soups. I had little trouble in breathing while walking up the hill; that was when my guide helped me. It was due to thin air pressure on high altitude and he requested to take a rest. He took me to the local house just few meters down. I felt relief as I had knowledgeable and friendly guide. I was completely stranger to locals and possibly couldn’t have known what best to do in these situations. After getting my breath back to normal we continued our walk towards a lodge at Dingboche. I drank lots of liquid today to get rid of altitude sickness and believe me I also peed a lot! My guide informed me we will be staying here for a day to properly acclimatize. Well, that relieved me. I must be all fit to trek further after all.
It was called as a rest day at Dingboche which was not completely a rest day. After having my breakfast, me and my guide went for short hike towards Nagarjun hill. Top of the hill exhibits the great views of Himalayan landscape, terrains, and mountainous views namely Mt.Cho-Oyu, Mt.Makalu and Mt.Lhotse as pointed by my guide. Small shrubs and rocky land resembled there was rarely any vegetation. We get back to our guest house and took rest for a while. After having soup, rice and potato curry as lunch, I went for short walk around the place to click pictures of night time. I returned, had dinner and started to caption my pics on free time.
Had quick meal and started my further trekking surrounded by grand Himalayas. Walking for around two hours we stopped at the place called Thukla for lunch. There was only one place for lunch so it was crowded. However, my guide helped me in to get through this. After having our lunch, ascending further we spotted the memorial places in the memory of those guys who had died while summiting Mount Everest. There we took rest, drank plenty of water and after one hour of gradual walk we arrived at Lobuche. At this place I felt tired due to low oxygen level. My guide had good sense of humor as he cracked jokes which helped me focus on other things rather than on tiredness. Finally we get into the guest house, had a cup of tea. Then my guide took me for hiking for around 30 minutes over the small hill which was a part of acclimatizing. From the top, I saw great views of Khumbu glacier, Khumbu icefall, Kalapathhar and mountain views. We spent around an hour there and returned to our guest house for rest and dinner. That night I couldn’t sleep nicely due to high altitude. May be due to strenuous walk, however, I managed to sleep.
My guide had informed me that it would take around 3 hours to arrive at Gorakshep. With similar breakfast we headed towards one hour of gradual walk and steep climb for 15 minutes. We even walked through glacier along great views of Khumbu icefall, Kalapathher and arrived at Gorakshep. After relaxing for few hours we continued our glorious trekking of Everest Base Camp for 2.30 hrs. I was very happy as I finally made it to Everest Base Camp. I just can’t explain how happy I am. My guide insisted me to have some chocolates and energy bars so that I can reenergize. Clicked lots of pictures and we get back to Gorakshep for night stay. I was very much tired today, but the level of happiness was unexplainable. I lost my appetite but somehow I managed to eat something when my guide explained about tomorrow’s early morning hike to Kalapathhar for sunrise view. I set alarm at 4 am and slept instantly.
Alarm Rang!! Yes, it was 4am. I woke up, and without wasting much time me along my guide started hiking towards Kalapathhar with head lamp on. It was still dark until we reached the half way. I could see Mt. Everest in front of my eyes. As we ascended further, the snow capped mountain seemed greater and even more beautiful. I was waiting for sunrise over the snow capped mountains. On arriving at top of the Kalapathhar, the rays of sun hits the White Mountain changing it into golden color. The scene was just magical. We were like on the base of Mt.Pumori and it seemed like I could touch Mt. Everest with my very own hand. From there, I even enjoyed the views of Khumbu glacier and Khumbu icefall. With all the astounding memories, we traced our steps back to Gorakshep around 8am and had breakfast. Then my guide helped me in packing and we were set for Lobuche. On the way down, the memorial place again strike me with sympathic feeling. Prayed for them and arrived at Thukla for Lunch. The Pheriche valley looked beautiful from there. We even visited the local hospital where some people were hospitalized due to altitude sickness. I even attended the altitude sickness awareness organized by doctors that day. And my guide told me that it is organized everyday by the hospital. Finally as soon as getting inside my room at guest house in Pheriche, I took rest for few hours and was ready for day’s dinner. Before sleep I was informed that tomorrow we will be at Namche by the end of the day.
Today, after having an instant meal, the trekking trail was smooth till Deboche followed by one hour climb to Tengboche. We encountered the musk deer on our way. It was kind of cute and looks like cute vampire because of its pair of teeth coming outside its mouth. Again the same kind of rice curry with potato and egg soup lunch at Tengboche. Coming down further about one and half hour descend; we arrived at Phunki Thanka followed by gradual uphill climb and downhill slope for an hour to reach Namche. My guide booked different hotel in Namche this time. It also had attached bathroom and free hot shower. After being refreshed and reenergized by taking hot shower, we went for short exploration around the market. I bought some souvenir for my family. Got back to guesthouse and I was informed that tomorrow would be the last day of this adventurous trekking as we will be at Lukla.
It was toast and peanut butter for breakfast today. Yum! I had my packing ready, and we descended further down crossing several suspension bridges. I saw yaks being used as transportation and I came to know it is the major means of transportation in this region. Upon arrival at Jorsale, had a cup of tea where my guide helped me in checking out from Sagarmatha National Park. He gave a trekking permit as souvenir and as a memory. Trekking further all the way to Dudhkoshi River, we arrived at Phakding. Had lunch, followed by small ascend to Lukla. My guide took me to the local guest house with attached bathroom and hot shower. It was my final moments in Everest region. So, I proposed my guide for celebration. We had lots of fun! We were little bit drunk. Yaa.. It was like small home party. Tomorrow morning I had to catch a flight to Kathmandu so I slept around 10 pm.
As soon as I woke up around 6 am I quickly finished my breakfast and arrived at Lukla airport by 6.45am. My guide was very helpful, he managed my boarding pass for flight which was taking off at 7.30am. He reminded me of sitting at right side of the plane for great Himalayan views. After 35 minutes of scenic mountain flight we landed on capital city Kathmandu. Well, there he was! Hari was there at airport waiting hall for welcoming me. I shared my trekking experience with him. He is really a friendly person. I took rest till late afternoon and was just busy on internet for rest of the day.
I was in no hurry. Slept till late morning, contacted my family and friends back home through free wifi at hotel. It was good wifi speed. I could upload my pics on fb and chat through Skype simultaneously. Rest of the day I strolled around Thamel, had some street food and Hari offered me for cultural dinner. Traditional live Nepali music was there with delicious meal; I had the best final night in Kathmandu.
With all the packing done, I was transferred to international airport on private vehicle arranged by Hari. With final goodbyes and sayonara; I took off from Kathmandu with whole lot of wonderful adventurous moments that I can’t wait to share with my family and mates.