Things You Should Know about Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Things you might not know about Kathmandu, trekking to EBC and Nepal in general.

If someone says that they are trekking to Everest Base Camp it doesn’t mean they have to sleep in a tent or are intending to climb Mount Everest.

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

Accommodation is simple on the trail there is not a lot of up market accommodation.

There are no roads into Lukla the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek. Generally  people fly into Lukla and start trekking from there. The nearest road is at Jiri and you can walk from there. The airport was built in 1964. People still walk in from Jiri. Jennifer from Jennifer’s Journeys did it.

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Some villages along the track have wifi but it doesn’t always work. Great places for wifi are Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and maybe Pangboche and Lobuche. It is a combination of the location but also the lodge.

The early part of the trail is not that remote and you will see children going to school along the trail.

Children running home from school EBC trek trail Nepal

You need to research the season and the months you are traveling well. There advantages for the different seasons.

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December – cold but beautiful dry sunny days

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Late September two years later. Warmer days when the cloud lifts.

Going there you are helping the local economy.

Stick to vegetables on the trail. Refrigeration is not brilliant.

Neplese food on the EBC trek

It is not normal walking and Diamox is key. Make sure you have it an I would tend to follow the trekking guides’ recommendation, as in experienced guides who lead treks on a regular basis. A slow trek is key to getting there without be sick. Altitude headaches can be really horrible. I’ve heard and read. We didn’t have any.

There is a thing called a Go Girl. Apparently female rock climbers use them to urinate. Practice is advised.

Kathmandu has lots of places to see including Durbar Square where you can see lots of pigeons.

Durbar Square and pigeons Kathmandu

Having a massage after a trek is a very good idea. I didn’t do this and I felt really sore and stiff a few weeks later, back home in Australia. I felt like my body was seizing up. Next time I will have a massage.

The lower part of Nepal is quite tropical almost and you can even go on a jungle safari. We went to Chitwan. Buses are very scary and the journeys are incredibly slow.

You can fly into Lukla for a day and take flights up over Everest.

You don’t have to go to EBC you can take a shorter trek and just go as far as Tengboche. There are other side treks you could go and not go to EBC.

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 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.
  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 room ready for bed before you eat your evening meal. The light probably won’t be great in your room and it will be cold. So you will want to jump into your sleeping bag really quickly.

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

 

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

Our Diamox Experience

Don’t Leave Home For Everest Base Camp Without Diamox

Everyone has different advice about Diamox. This post is how we managed the altitude and the Diamox.

Advice – Diamox is your Friend

People following our trek to Everest Base Camp know the Trainer was also the researcher extraordinaire. I found printed information he had and have linked the sites at the end. Trekking companies often have information too.

Advice from your Doctor

Visit your doctor for advice. A doctor at the clinic we visit had been to Base Camp three times. His advised us to not take the Diamox too early and only if we needed it. He reasoned taking it too early didn’t allow any reserve to fall back on. He suggested if we had problems to take the Diamox, descend, sleep lower and come back up. Time permitting this is a good plan.

Advice before Leaving Kathmandu

The company who organised our porter, Lukla flights and TIMS cards brought our tickets to our hotel. We had met Doma who manages the business in Kathmandu in 2013. This time her husband accompanied her. Lhakpa is usually out  with a group trekking somewhere. His advice was to definitely start taking half a Diamox twice daily at Dingboche (4,000 metres) if we weren’t already taking it.

So what did we do?

The Trainer smokes but he is very fit. He started taking half a Diamox twice a day in Namche Bazaar. I had decided to take our doctor’s advice but changed my mind to take Lhakpa’s advice with his experience of many treks. So what did I do? Altitude can affect your sleep. You momentarily stop breathing and then your body wakes you. A bit scary and annoying. The trainer with his husband hat on suggested taking the Diamox purely to sleep better. I started taking half a tablet twice daily in Phortse (I think) two nights before Dingboche and slept much better. The trade off is Diamox makes you wee more . So read all the info, get medical advice, guide’s advice then do what feels right at the time, all things considered.

The Altitude Rule – the Key Factor

The golden rule is not to sleep more than 300 metres higher each day. Sticking to the rule the Trainer planned a sixteen days trek which meant staying in Dughlia. Not the most beautiful place and with only two lodges. Most treks stop for lunch here and then continue on to Lobuche.

We  experienced no headaches. Our itinerary was a slow trek. The night we factored in Khumjung gave us an extra day to acclimatise at a slightly higher altitude after our two nights in Namche Bazaar.

Bistari, bistari – slowly, slowly our porter used to say. And we did go slowly and rested regularly. It is not a race. We took time to savour the amazing views. We kept hydrated and didn’t drink alcohol on the trek, not counting my Mohito in Namche on the way back.

Acclimatisation days are important for day walks to a higher altitude. Then you sleep at the same altitude a second night.

Useful Links

Indiana University Health Center – Diamox 

The Travel Doctor – Altitude or Mountain Sickness

Interested in reading my packing list?

Read about our acclimatisation day in Namche Bazaar or
our acclimatisation day in Dingboche which was a big walk.