Plan Your Nepalese Trek with a Flexible Itinerary

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Starting Out On A Trek

Trekking Poles – Don’t Leave Home Without Them

A good friend walked part of the Camino a few years ago. I remember word for word his comment about trekking poles. I must admit they do help but it does look like you have an affectation.

The Trainer (my husband) put it more succinctly. You look like a wanker. He said to me. Lots of wankers on this trail then. I replied to him and took off down the trail. With my trekking poles.

I am a big fan of trekking poles and wouldn’t leave home without them. For this trek it helped us with some very tricky parts of the trail where it was quite dangerous getting down onto the Ngozumpa Glacier. But I am getting ahead of myself.

If you watch the video you will see at a certain point I start to trip and right myself. The reason this happened was because I was trying to watch exactly where the porter guide was stepping and trying to step on the same steps he did while I was watching where I was stepping too. I learnt by watching the porter they always find the easier way to follow a path. They find the steps that have the lower rise etc. You watch a Nepalese person walk the path and see what I mean.

The Number of Days on a Trek and the Amount the Altitude Increases Each Night is Critical

The Trainer designed our trek to sleep no more than approximately 300 metres higher each night. Every 1,000 metres you should have an acclimatisation day. Climb higher on the second acclimatisation day on a day walk but sleep at the same altitude for two nights. Of course there is an anomaly with this, on the lower part of trek when you are starting out. It kicks in around Namche Bazaar.

You will read different advice and opinions about how much altitude you can safely increase daily. Ascending no more than 300 metres in a day at the altitude of Namche Bazaar and above seems to be the critical altitude. With 300 metres altitude increase is conservative and safe and you are less likely to experience altitude headaches. That’s what we went with after extensive research. You should go up slow but you can come back down quite fast with longer walk days if you are up for it.

Unfortunately trekkers being “time poor” or wanting cheaper options keeps the trekking market offering shorter treks. A trek shorter then 14 days can make the trek more dangerous for you and increase your risk of getting altitude sickness.

You hear many stories of trekking groups having members of the groups turn back or being medevacked out in helicopters. Certainly there are helicopters going up and down the valley all the times.

Many trekking companies sell treks to Everest Base Camp that are 10 and 12 days some are really only 8 days because they start counting your “trek package” starting from your arrival in Kathmandu and your sightseeing day there.

Our Flexible itinerary to Gokyo and over Cho LA PASS

  • Day 1 Kathmandu – Lukla (2860m) to Phakding (2640) / Benkar/ Monjo (2820m)  (stayed at Monjo)
  • Day 2 Phakding / Benkar/ Monjo – Namche Bazaar (3440m) 
  • Day 3 Namche Bazaar and acclimatisation walk (3440m) 
  • Day 4 Namche Bazaar to Thame (we went to Khumjung due to my cough) (3780m)
  • Day 5 Thame to Khumjung or Mongla (we went Khumjung 3780m – Mongla) (3975m) At this point our trek broke off from the main Everest Base Camp trail. We could see the trail to Tengboche below us on some parts of this track.
  • Day 6 Mongla to Dole (4090m)
  • Day 7 Dole to Macchermo (4410m)
  • Day 8 Macchermo to Gokyo (4750m) Climb Gokyo Ri (4470m)
  • Day 9 Acclimatisation Gokyo & trek to Fifth Lake (we climbed to Gokyo Ri instead)  (4470m)
  • Day 10 Gokyo to Dragnag across Ngozumpa glacier. (4650m)
  • Day 11 Dragnag to Dzonglha (4843m) over Cho La Pass (5420m) could go to Dughla(4620m) (Dughla what was he thinking!)
  • Day 12 Dzongla/ Dughla to Pangboche/Debouche/Tengboche (we did Dzongla – Pangboche) (3930m)
  • Day 13 Pangboche/Debouche /Tengboche to Namche (3440m)  
  • Day 14 Namche to Phakding / or Lukla (we chose the slower option.)   (2640)
  • Day 15 Phakding to Lukla (2860m)
  • Day 16 Fly Lukla to Kathmandu (1400m)

Start Your Acclimatisation in Kathmandu   

We had arrived at Kathmandu and had two nights there before we left. This is a very good idea in case your plane is delayed and more importantly as Kathmandu is at 1,400 metres or 4,600 feet you start your acclimatisation here especially if you are usually live at sea level.

TIP – Be careful where you buy your SIM card. If you end up in a back street, walk back to the main street and buy the card there.

Getting on Flight to Lukla at the Domestic Airport in Kathmandu

At Kathmandu airport on our departure morning, the guy processing our luggage asked us to please put my trekking poles inside our luggage. It caused a moment of tension. Highlighting another difference between us. My patience and the Trainer’s lack of it. Getting my poles which are big and sturdy type rather than a lighter version into an already full duffel bag was going to be a challenge. I thought the bag was going to end up ripped apart stuffing the poles in, but we managed. The Trainer’s hatred of my sticks clearly showing.

We were quickly processed through security and sat down with our packed breakfast the hotel had arranged for us. We had no sooner eaten it than we were called to the gate, on the bus for a short wait there and on the plane in record time. This is not always case as the weather must be clear at Lukla to fly out. Sometimes there are no flights out on a given day because of the weather and sometimes this can be the case for days. I have read one blog post where there were no flights to certain region for two weeks one year.

We have always been lucky on our three treks that we flew out on the scheduled day and have three times been in the first four planes out to Lukla as a group. In some ways I guess it may be because Our “group” is only the two of us, so it means we can fit on the plane with a larger group of trekkers. Our first flight in November 2013 we did have to wait for about four hours for fog to lift for the planes to leave. For our second trek in at the end of September 2015 we very nearly missed our plane because of the bus driver arranged by the cheap hotel we stayed in had slept in and seemed to be in no hurry to get to our hotel when we he was woken by the call from the hotel reception. He had his breakfast and took his time getting to the hotel. Fortunately, our Kathmandu contact was waiting at the airport and had everyone waiting on stand by at the critical points waiting to process us and shove us through. It was very nearly a disaster. Not something I wanted to repeat and why we will always be careful about taxi arrangements to the airport and where we stay for future treks.

Flying into Tensing Hilary Airport Lukla

We set out after a short wait, the all clear had come from Lukla. Presumably someone phones Kathmandu with the conditions at the Tensing Hilary Airport. After boarding the fourteen-seater plane (that’s my counting) you are in the air in no time. The flight attendant in traditional dress hands out boiled sweets and cotton wool balls for your ears before take-off.

Beautiful landscape
Above the clouds flying to Lukla

We flew above a thick blanket cloud all the way with the large mountains popping their peaks out through the clouds. I had my eye on my watch thinking it must clear soon. I felt us starting to descend but still there was no break in the cloud. I was getting a little worried. At the last minutes there was a hole in clouds and the short Lukla runway was visible. In a minute we are on the ground engine turned off and being directed off the twin engine plane and into the small building to wait for our luggage. Although an old hand now at flying in and out of Lukla it is still good to be back on the ground. We later found out that the four planes that arrive in our group are the only planes to fly that day. And for another four or five days after.

Meeting Our Porter Guide and Our Traditional Start at the Paradise Lodge

Our Porter Guide, Dilip and the two of us found each other among the huddle of Nepalese men, probably all porters, waiting outside the small building where the luggage is distributed. We waited while they unloaded and started throwing backpacks and duffel bags into the middle space behind the counter. Our bags were not there. We were told they were on one of the planes still to land. That was first. Fortunately, they did arrive on the next flight. Lost baggage takes on a whole new meaning if you are about to trek off up a mountain.

The three of us headed off past the departure building where presumably the only people to leave would have been those luckiest to be on the first group of four flights out.

We walked the short distance to the Paradise Lodge. For our three treks we have always started the morning here and stayed here the last night of our trek before flying out. The owners know our Kathmandu contacts who book our flights and organise our porter for us. We’d already eaten breakfast this time it was a brief stop to have tea/coffee, use the toilet and organise our packs. We booked our return accommodation and left our air tickets for safe keeping with the owner and in case changes needed to be made to our tickets. They would do this for us. This had happened on our first trek because we turned back before Everest Base Camp and needed to fly out earlier than our scheduled flight.

Yaks on the Base Camp trek walking back to Lukla
Our first yaks for the day of the trek! September 2018

Trekking with a Porter Guide is Enjoyable and Safe Option for Your Trek

I should point out we trekked independently on our three treks in Nepal. By independently I mean not with a group trekking company. For our first trek my husband didn’t want to take a porter. It wasn’t about the cost, he was worried we would get stuck with someone we didn’t like. In a way this decision cost us not getting to Base Camp on our first trek, but that’s another story, see the link at the bottom if you are interested. On our second trek I insisted we take a porter guide and he was great. For our third trek it was no brainer.

Every Trek Is Different

Leaving Lukla and Setting the Scene

On our first trek in 2013 it did feel odd starting out from Lukla. With my trekking poles and my orange pack on with 5.5 kilos of weight. I felt like I didn’t belong just because it was such a new experience. That feeling soon changes. Give it a couple of hours. Of course, I was also worried about a list of things for trekking to EBC.Very worried. But once you are there, you just get on with on it.

Blue skies, mountains, mani stones and trekking poles what more does a girl need. Me with my orange pack used on our first trek in November 2013

For our second trek in 2015 the year of the earthquakes I was very emotional on arrival in Lukla. We had almost cancelled our trek and, I was not sure what damage to expect to see and was nervous about aftershocks and potential landslides on the lower part of the track.  I got teary when I saw the owner of the Paradise Lodge Dawa and as we left she zipped up my fleece and patted me on the shoulders and said we’ll see you in two weeks. The only thing that really proved problematic on this trek was the stupid purple day pack which was not comfortable and gave me shoulder pain. I should have bought a new one. Bad decision not to. Our best decision was hiring a porter guide. Unlike the first trek when we should have.

Ghat on the Main Trail Lukla to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp
Day One of the Main Trail Lukla to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp

On our last trek in 2018 I was feeling happy about the trek up to a point. That point being Cho La Pass. Play a bit of dramatic piano music here. I was most unhappy about the Trainer’s persistence in his plan to cross over Cho La Pass. Where clearly, I was going to die. It was on my worry list. Cho La Lou he was calling me. Queen of the High Pass. And I wasn’t keen about crossing the glacier either. With the Pass put out of mind until we got to that part if the trail, we trekked out of Lukla with our lovely porter guide Dilip on the most perfect day.

Pasaing Lhamu Memorial outside of Lukla Nepal
Popular photo spot for trekkers leaving and returning to Lukla

Day One to Phakding / Benkar / Monjo

We were on the track in record time at 8:00 with the plan to stay the night in Phakding, Benkar or Monjo. It was a seriously glorious day. Blue sky and no clouds and the slightest breeze. It was a perfect washing type day and the fringes on the stupas and different prayer flags fluttered and the cosmos flowers waved slightly in the breeze.

One of the important factors to how far you trek on the first day will be what time your flight lands in Lukla

The Lower Trail to Monjo including Phakding

I really enjoy this part of the Main Everest Base Camp trail. All the small villages, settlements and lots of lodges along the trail. A variety of types of bridges to cross and the milky, fast flowing noisy rivers below. The odd water wheel too. Plots of vegetables and gardens, trees and flowers.  

People walking and working along the track. School children, shop keepers in their shops, Buddhists monks, people carrying baskets of dung, people drying vegetables, older women going about their business. Porters carrying all types of loads from food to building materials. New lodges being built along the track. Donkeys, yaks, lots of dogs sitting in the sun. There are stupas, mani stones (keep on the left-hand side) and prayer wheels to turn and sometimes monasteries on the hillside to watch out for. Last but least are the donkeys, yaks and horses (watch out for them) and the dogs sitting in sun at their lodge watching the parade go by. Which includes us, all the trekkers.

What I haven’t said was this experience wasn’t quite the same feeling on the first-time trek. No two treks are the same I have decided. I was totally mentally prepared for the day because I had done it before. But in 2013 it was my first time. The description of the day’s walk from Lukla to Phakding was a short 4 hour downhill walk. What you will discover is you must go up a lot to go down. Up, down, down, up, up, up, down, down, up, down. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it and it felt like we were never going to get there. And of course, we didn’t have a porter guide to ask. But that was the first trek and the one I just described was our third trek when I was totally blissed out and knew exactly what to expect. Being mentally prepared is everything.

I could do this part of the trek and never tire of it. It was so familiar to me after the fifth time (counting in and out) that it feels like home away from home. I was so full of it this time around with such a beautiful day that I felt like bursting into song. The earworm stuck in my head was not climb every mountain but oh what a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma. Go figure it was probably the corn growing along the track at one point that put that song in my head.

Oh what a beautiful morning oh what a beautiful day… when the corn is as high as a

We happily walked up and down the hills to Phakding and had lunch at a lodge Dilip recommended. It had table and chairs outside which meant we could sit in the sun. The menu doesn’t really vary from lodge to lodge, so it doesn’t make a lot of difference. And if there were other people there at least we knew the kitchen was in action already.

Making Good Time on the Trail to Phakding

We had arrived so early in Lukla (8:00am) and made good time to Phakding (12:00) We had taken our time and not rushed, had lots of rest stops and taken photos along the way and we were feeling good, so we decided we would just keep going.   Of course, we checked in with Dilip our porter guide to see if he agreed and he did, so we headed out for Monjo and stayed there the night.

Prayer wheel at the monastery at Cheplung
Prayer wheel the monastery at Cheplung

Beautiful One Day Breathtaking the Next

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Superlatives

Above Pheriche, EBC Trek, Nepal

From the moment you walk out of Lukla to trek to Everest Base Camp the views are beautiful. The higher you go the more amazing the views, higher again the views become breathtaking panoramas. Continue reading

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 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

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

Donkey Central at Phakding – Chuk Chuk – Video

Donkeys on the trail to EBC

Keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. CHUK!

Rule Number Two: Give Way to the donkeys too.

I posted this video on Facebook on our first trek in November December 2013. It was taken on my iphone and shows the number of donkeys on the trail and why you don’t want to be on the bridge at the same time as donkey herd. Continue reading

Recharging in Nepal

Resting Spots Along the Trail to Everest Base Camp

A post about the porters on my Everest Base Camp Trek blog is long overdue. The Daily Post Daily Prompt Recharge has given me a perfect launching point.

Trekking through the Khumbu you see resting points for porters to unload, rest and recharge. These resting spots are at a height so the porters can easily unload and reload onto their backs without having to lift their load from the ground. Porters loads at a resting point on the EBC TrekThe photo shows the typical oversized baskets called a doko used by porters. The T-shaped wooden walking stick at the bottom left of the screen is called a tokma. Continue reading

What, No Mirror ?

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Yes I agree this is not a brilliant photo. But it is the only one from our Everest Base Camp trek with a reflection. And there were no mirrors either and I could have done with one of those. The EBC Trek equals bad hair days. I’m not sure which is better long hair or short.

Photos of reflections in water are rare on the EBC trek . The rivers are running too fast Continue reading

Keeping Watch in Khumjung

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Eyes peeping out from the yellow fringe seem sad against the grey cloudy backdrop. Despite being badly cracked from the 2015 earthquake, the stupa still stands sentinel at the end of the main path into Khumjung and watching over the Sir Edmund Hillary School.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eyes/

Our Porter Guide

He met us at the baggage collection at Lukla airport. After a cup of tea and sorting our packs at the Paradise Lodge we were ready. He tied our bags together with his ropes, positioned the load on his head and led us out of Lukla, stopping every now and then to check we were following.

Consulting the map

Consulting the map

At first from his lack of response to our questions and attempts at conversation I thought he had limited English. But as he tuned in to our accents and we started to get to know each other, he spoke more.

On the second day he seemed a bit more relaxed and he started to teach us some Nepalese words. Jum jum, let’s go and appropriately on the hard climb to Namche Bazaar bistari bistari, slowly slowly. Jokingly he taught us quickly quickly. When we climbed to Khumjung the thick cloud forced my focus to my feet and the spider webs covered in dewdrops, he told me the words for spider and spider webs too.

Alpine flower Solukhumbu

Dew on spider webs

Familiar with the trail, he pointed out things I would never have seen without him. He pointed out birds and bee hives hanging in the crevices of rocks on the other side of the river. Sometimes he sang his Nepali songs. We watched fascinated by his animated conversations with others along the track and picked up his sense of humour and friendly nature.

At the end of the day when I wrote in my small diary, he reminded me of the things we had seen on the trail. He spelt out the Nepalese words I had learnt during the day and I helped him with some new English words in our guide books.

In Dingboche, surrounded by magnificent mountains he taught me their names. He helped while I practiced naming them in order, like a child reciting their abc, learning the Himalayan range spread before me.

Many times we waited together for donkeys and yaks to pass. Once I was caught in a tight spot and I turned away when I shouldn’t have. Fortunately Basanta was watching. I turned around in time to see him pushing a donkey away from me. If he hadn’t of done this the donkey’s side load would have pushed me over the small wall.

He pulled me up the huge black boulders to reach the top of Kala Pattar. Took photos of us together and celebrated with us at Everest Base Camp.

At Everest Base Camp

He called me Louise, sometimes jokingly Mom and sometimes Didi – Big Sister.

Sometimes he led. Sometimes he followed. And sometimes we walked side by side.

Khumjung Village Everest Base Camp Trek

Porters climbing up to the bridge to Namche Bazaar

Dingboche to Dughla Everest Base Camp Trek

On the last day, walking back to Lukla a woman coming the other way silently pointed at the porter right behind me as if she thought I needed to move aside and let him pass. Yes I know, I thought, he is my porter and he has been close by for sixteen days. He has carried our load making our trek to Base Camp easier. He guided, pointed things out and watched out for us. He was our companion, Nepalese friend and shared his country with us. Thank you Basanta.

The porter guide and me

Saying goodbye at the Paradise Lodge in Lukla

Travel Makes Us Modest

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Travel makes us modest,
you see what a tiny place
you occupy in the world.

Gustave Flaubert

Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridgetop

Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridge-Top

I could not agree more Gustave.

Naming Mountains Above Dingboche

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The Video

One reason why you should take a guide or porter guide with you…

…they teach you all the names of mountains ! But there are lots more reasons…

See the post about The Porter

Exploring Monjo

Exploring Monjo

 

Our lodge in Monjo had an outside area with tables in the sun and an orchard out the back, growing apples of course.

Monjo Guest House EBC Trek

A relaxing place to sit in the sun at the Monjo Guest House

As it was an easy walk to Monjo and after a hot shower we went for a short walk through the village to take some photos.

View of Kumbila Peak Monjo

View of Kumbila Peak from Monjo

Prayer Stones in Nepal

Om Mani Padme Hum Prayer stones

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House