All Things Yak on the EBC Track

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Meeting Yaks on the Track

On the Everest Base Camp trek you might see mountain goats, magnificent eagles and other beautiful birds but the yaks were my favourite along the trail.

These hardworking animals are the delivery vans on the EBC trail. There are no roads. Everything goes up and down on the back of a donkey, yak or a porter.

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Yaks between Shomare adn Digboche

The First Rule of the Track – Stand Aside for Yaks

I loved the sound of the yak bells as they approached. Hearing the bells is a signal to find somewhere safe to stand on the mountain side and wait while they pass. The first rule of the track. If you are caught standing on the outside of the path you risk being knocked off the side of the mountain. The baby yak in the video had his own plans about which path he would take.

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The walled sections of grassland above are yak pastures between Shomare and Dingboche. Not only do these wonderful animals carry packs and food up the trail they also provide fuel. The woman was collecting dung from the yak pasture to dry to use for cooking and heat.

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A young girl resting with her basket full of yak dung behind her.

Shop front Everest Base Camp Trail

Yaks, well really the naks which are the females, provide milk which in turn is made into cheese which you probably will find on top of your pizzas on the trek.

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This guy just would not move. I really think he wanted his photo taken. Say Yak Cheese!

Many travel experiences provide possibilities of  interactions with animals, wild ones if you are lucky.

Some animal travel memories of mine are seals on Kangaroo Island when I was a child, monkeys in Bali, passaperos (dog walkers) and their packs of dogs in Buenos Aires, llamas in Argentina and a day spent riding camels in the desert in Rajasthan. But hundreds of dolphins in the mouth of the Gambia River was probably my most magic wildlife experience. It took us totally by surprise and was amazing. Do you have any special memories of animal encounters while you traveled?

Other I things I loved on the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Unbelievably most of the photos and the video show yaks without loads! Which means they were on return journeys. The photos were taken in 2015 when the season was extremely slow after the earthquakes. I’ll have to get a good full load photo next time.

 

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Simple Not Basic

A Post About Food on the EBC Trek Becomes More. Or Is it Less?

There is a difference between basic and simple. Especially when you are traveling.

Recently I posted about accommodation on the EBC trek being basic. A comment from a fellow blogger (thanks Miriam) made me rethink how I had labelled  the accommodation. It is the very fact the Everest Base Camp Trek is basic, makes it so good. Basic can be seen as a negative.  So simple, not basic, is a better word to use. Because it is the simplicity of the EBC trek that makes it so special.

Gorak Shep the end of the Everest Base Camp trek

Walking into Gorak Shep the end of the Everest Base Camp Trek

The simplicity of the accommodation, the simple food, the every day simple routine. The early to bed, early to rise. Get up, get dressed, eat,  leave. Which way to go? Up or down. Maps to consult? No, not really, there is one path. Just like a pilgrimage, you know where you are going and why. The people you meet, the common quest, the simplicity of the destination but the challenge of getting there make it special. A quest so well rewarded.

No phone calls, television, emails and internet access is limited. All put into perspective in the big landscape or simple path you are on. Up or down.

And yes,  simple meals too. This simple meal below in  simple surroundings is one I remember well. A bowl of hot simple potato soup made with the broth and grated potatoes. A well earned bowl of soup after a hard steep walk out of Namche Bazaar and a 600 metre trek down hill to the river to Phunki Tenga.  Three hours plus of a hard work, it was a meal well earned.  A simple meal, simple surroundings the roar of the river, the sound of the yak bells as the yaks pass. Simple stunning beauty all around.

Potato soup at Phunki Tenga at 3250metres EBC Trek trail

So back to the food, yes the food is simple. But it is good. It is organically grown along the track and cooked in a simple kitchen.

Vegetables growing in the Khumbu

Food in a Namche Bazaar lodge

A meal in Namche Bazaar above.

Potato Soup Nepal

This bowl of potato soup was al fresco at Debouche on the trail down. In a stunning landscape. How much simpler and more beautiful can you get?

December 2013

The umbrellas above,  weren’t the norm. The Sherpa stew was.

Vegetables growing on the EBC Trail

Simple, but addictive. Everest Base Camp Trek too simple to say no.

Need more convincing?  25 Reasons to Trek To Everest Base Camp

Trekking to Everest Base Camp ? Are you up to it?

 

Eat, Heat, Recharge and Sleep on the Everest Base Camp Trail

Main trail Lukla to Kala Patthar at Phakding

The Shangrilla Lodge in Phakding in 2015. We stayed here on the first night and the second last nights of Everest Base Camp trek.

Our First Lodge Experience

I remembered the lodge pictured above from our first 2013 trek. We didn’t stay there then. Our flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was delayed about four hours due to fog. We were trekking solo, without a guide or porter and had no accommodation booked.

We arrived in the late afternoon in Phakding and wanted to look at some lodges before we decided on one. Our main focus was getting our own bathroom.

The small villages are generally along the trail going up the hill. Exhausted on that first day of our trek the last thing we wanted was to walk up and down checking out lodges. All I wanted was a shower and bed. We only had the energy to check out two. I remember walking past the Shangrila Lodge (pictured above) lots of young people were listening to music, talking and laughing sitting on the terrace. Party central, I thought. Not for me, I wanted to go to bed and sleep. Early. So we walked on past.

We decided on a lodge at the lower end of the trail. Our room had a western toilet and a shower however there was no hot water left. So we got wet and froze drying off in our room. Lodge rooms have no heating.

I was falling asleep at the table waiting for our food. I was in bed and asleep by 6:30.

Accommodation Along the Everest Base Camp Trail

Upper Phakding Lodge EBC Trek Trail

Lodge in Upper Phakding

Phakding

Sleep – The Bedrooms

  1. Accommodation is basic with the exception of Namche Bazaar where you can pay for more a reasonable room and bathroom. However there are some very expensive hotels in the lower part of the track, see the bottom of the post.
  2. Rooms are very basic. Two beds, a window and not a lot of room.  I did see double beds in some rooms but generally it was single beds.
  3. If you are lucky there may be some sort of window sill or small table for small things you want at hand during the night. Sometimes there are hooks on the wall.
  4. There is no heating in the rooms.
  5. Most rooms don’t have a mirror. There are no power points. Forget the hair dryer.
  6. Mattresses are thin and hard just like hotel beds in South East Asia.
  7. We were always provided with an extra blanket for each bed.

Room With a View

The view from our lodge /hotel in Namche Bazaar. Our hotel in Namche was a lot more upmarket. We had power points in our rooms, electric blankets, chairs etc. Obviously this accommodation was more expensive than the majority of the accommodation.

Lodge in Nepal

Bathrooms

  1. We had western style toilets in all the hotels we stayed in.
  2. I have read blog posts about only having squat toilets but we never stayed in lodges where this was the only option.
  3. Plumbing can be problematic.
  4. The toilet, shower and basin in the lodge in the first photo  was shared by a lot of rooms. We were the only guests on our outbound trek and there were only two guests heading back to Lukla. If we had to share with a lot of guests we may not have stayed there.

Heat – The Dining Room

Lodge in Monjo EBC Trek Nepal

The dining room in Monjo Guest House

The main room of the lodges is the dinning room where there will heat. A dung fueled fire will be the centre of the room and be the sole source of heat.

People sit in the room, chat, read, write up notes, swap stories,  if there is wifi you will access it from here. This is the place where you will meet people coming in the opposite direction and tell you about the weather and conditions ahead. Most lodges will have a small supply of chocolates, chips, bottles water, toilet paper etc you can buy.

You will charge your phones, camera batteries etc in this room, too. This will be charged to your bill.

Monjo Lodge EBC trek Nepal

Monjo Guest House had a second beautiful sunny eating area.

Food

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  1. You must eat where you stay. The owners make their money from the food you eat.
  2. You pre-order food before dinner and for breakfast the next morning.
  3. Avoid meat. I would say don’t eat meat.
  4. Lodges often grow their own vegetables. Eating organically grown veggies on the trail was great.
  5. If you are a tea drinker and take milk rethink that. I drank black tea on the trek.

The Menu

  1. The menus can seem quite large but more than likely you will find things you like and stick with the same food.
  2. Popular meals are Dhal Blat and Sherpa Stew.
  3. Remember to try some apple pie. Apples are grown along the trail.

Neplese food on the EBC trek

Tips

There are no ATMs along the trail. Take enough cash for your entire trek.

Get your rooms ready for bed before you eat your evening meal. The light probably won’t be great and it will be cold in your room. So you will be able to get straight into your sleeping bag.

The Yeti Lodge EBC Trek Nepal

There are limited nice lodges. The Yeti Mountain Home group is one group, very nice but expensive in comparison to other lodges. We didn’t stay in any. If  you wanted to sample the Everest Base Camp trail and maybe climb to Namche Bazaar and check out Khumjung and Khunde, Thame structuring your trek around their accommodation.

Yeti Mountain Lodge Phakding

Monju Guest House EBC Trek Trail Nepal

We enjoyed staying our night in Monju Guest House. The garden setting is a bonus. Most people walk through Monjo but on our first trek, wanting to start off slow we stayed here and then walked to Namche Bazaar the next day ( day 3 of our trek ).

Paradise Lodge Lukla

Paradise Lodge Lukla

Stupa at Khumjung

Two photos of a Stupa in Khumjung taken from different directions and two years apart. Photos taken in December 2013 taken end of September 2015, two earthquakes later.

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There is a beautiful mani wall along the walk in from Namche Bazaar.

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

I assume the cracks are from the second earthquake on May 12 2015. The small boy in the photo has his back pack on and had just come out from the Edmund Hillary School, the biggest school in the Khumjum.

April 25 earthquake magnitude 7.8

May 12 earthquake magnitude 7.3

Two Earthquakes and Two Films – another of my posts

Drying Hair and Potatoes in the Khumbu: Behind the Scenes EBC Trek

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Drying potatoes in the sun in Pangboche Nepal

Pangboche, Everest Base Camp Trail, December 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Earth, Dingboche Ridge-top, Nepal

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A Favourite Day on the Everest Base Camp Trek

Dingboche Ridge-top Everest Base Camp Trek

To celebrate Earth Day April 22

Read about our Acclimatisation Walk to Dingboche Ridge-top probably one of my favourite days on our trek.

Or the walk into Dingboche or the walk out to Lobuche.

Daily Post: Earth Photo Challenge

Things I Liked List

Boxes of ancient papers Khumjung Manastery Nepal

  1. momos
  2. the first day walking to Phakding
  3. walking everyday
  4. talking with Dawa in Lukla
  5. hearing the rush of the river
  6. hearing the yak bells
  7. the vista in Dingboche
  8. the feeling having climbed to the top of Kala Patthar
  9. seeing eagles soaring high above
  10. the boxes of papers in the monastery at Khumjung
  11. the hot shower in Dingboche
  12. hearing the stone masons and the noise of the town above Namche
  13. the donkey trains
  14. sitting at our meals at the end of the day with a sense of achievement
  15. water
  16. black tea
  17. everything yak

with inspiration from this lovely blog  https://listsofthingswelike.com/

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

Dawa Phuti Sherpa Community Leader

Dawa Phuti Sherpa in the Paradise Lodge Lukla

For some time I have planned to write a post about this amazing woman who I met on both our Everest Base Camp treks. Both our treks started out from her  Paradise Lodge in Lukla after breakfast, after our early flight to Lukla. We stayed our last night in Lukla before our morning flights back to Kathmandu at the end of our treks.

This photo was taken after our evening meal in her lodge in October 2015. Due to the two earthquakes that year, it was a quiet night guest wise in the lodge and so she had some time to sit down and talk to me about her work in the Khumbu. The reason I knew to ask about her work in the community was  because on our 2013 trek we found a hotel directory with some information about Dawa and her husband Ang Pasang.

I have taken the information from the directory.

Dawa Phuti Sherpa

  • Born in Khunde
  • First Sherpa woman from the Khumbu region to attend school
  • Served as a nurse in the Khunde Hospital
  • Served as a teacher in the Khumjung School (The Edmund Hilary School)
  • Has been working in the hospitality industry for thirty years
  • Chairperson of the women’s group
  • Board member of the Himalayan Trust Nepal
  • Board member of Pasang Lhamu Nique Hospital Lukla
  •  Recipient of the Friends of Khumbu
  • Recipient of the Peace Ambassador
  • Recipient of the Nava Durga award

Needles to say she is very busy with running the lodge and all the community work she continues to do. What better day than International Women’s Day, to acknowledge Dawa Phuti Sherpa’s wonderful work in the Khumbu both past and present.

Paradise Lodge Dining Room

Inside dining room at Paradise Lodge talking with Dawa

Nava Durga Award in Nepal

Celebrates Womanhood started in 2002 as an annual event to celebrate the vision, inner beauty and power of women. The objective is to honour women in various fields of arts, education, sports, community service, health and industry and to applaud their dedication to their respective fields. Shrijana Singh Yonjan, the mind behind the event says that each award has been named after a goddess and the attribute she signifies. The awards recognise nine different fields of achievement (Nava Durga).

Nav Dugra Maa

Nava Durga Maa

Leaving Lukla Memorial to Pasang Lhamu the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest.

Pasang Lhamu Memorial Gate outside of Lukla

 

The Everest Base Camp Marathon

Everest Base Camp.org Marathon winner 2013

There are two in fact. The official Everest Base Camp Marathon is the Tenzing – Hillary Everest Marathon held annually on 29 May the date of their Everest summit. The biannual one held in November is run by a UK charity organisation and raises money from the event for community projects in Nepal. Both marathons finish in Namche Bazaar. Continue reading

Pop-Up Restaurant at Everest Base Camp Aims for Peak of Fine Dining

Talk about an “extreme foodies wish Luist”. Would love to know what they all ate. If you could do this where would it be ?

CHINDIA ALERT: You'll be living in their world, very soon

Chefs are trekking thousands of feet to prepare fancy food in the cold

Trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal.

The peaks of fine dining just keep getting higher and higher.

A caravan of roving chefs and their 15 guests is currently making its way up the Himalayas toward the base camp at Mount Everest, where, 17,500 feet above sea level and amid the lashing winds and bone-penetrating chill of the Nepalese winter, food will be served.

The One Star House Party, as the project has been dubbed, is preparing 16 more such destination dining experiences, one a month, through 2018, though not all of the destinations are so extreme. Among the chefs involved is James Sharman, a onetime chef de partie at Noma, the influential, soon-to-close restaurant that put Copenhagen on the global culinary map.

The Nepal journey is costing…

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Todd Samson and How Not to Trek in the Himalayas

Todd Samson’s Salute to Sherpas and Climbing Lobuche

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What Todd Samson has been getting up to lately is far from tame. Todd Samson is an Australian Canadian television celebrity is currently in a show called Body Hack.

Each episode looks at a different group of people who are involved in extreme activity and how the body copes with it. Taking it one step further Todd Samson walks in their shoes for some time. The Nepalese episode looked at the life of the Sherpa people who work as porters along the Everest Base Camp Trail. Continue reading

Fashion on the Track

Striding Through Pheriche in the Khumbu

Periche

Here I am walking through Periche looking like the Michelin Man. There are lots of terrible shots of me on the trek with hat hair, up way too close etc. Showers are a rare thing on the track, so is clean hair and there are no mirrors. Complete with the hat and given today is the first Tuesday in November, the day of the nation stopping Melbourne Cup (horse race) I decided on a twist the Fashion on the Track theme. Tongue in cheek of course. However my ensemble does show off some accessories that you shouldn’t leave home for Everest Base Camp without. Continue reading

A Snapshot of the Bridges to EBC

Bridges the Traffic Lights of the Everest Base Camp Trek

via Daily Prompt: Bridge

Small bridge before Gorak Shep going to EBC

The last bridge before Gorak Shep, the last place with lodges before Everest Base Camp. That’s me and our porter guide just ahead. Continue reading

Weather Forecast at EBC

Believe It or Not

Everest Base Camp Trail Weather Pyramid

Italian Weather Pyramid out of Lobuche in the direction of Gorak Shep

The Weather Cam at Everest Base Camp or thereabouts. The Trainer walked there by himself. I decided to stay in the lodge and rest up for the next to big days. Built by the Italians he joked he was in search of a short black coffee …

Dingboche Door Framed View

Lodge in dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Our lodge in Dingboche