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13 Oct

Trip Report – Everest B.C. 2016

From the moment I first signed up with Namaste Nomad for their Everest Base Camp Trek September 2016 I knew I was in safe hands. As a group we met in Dublin Airport, Terminal 2 where there were bright green matching t-shirts ready for us! This made it pretty easy to spot my fellow companions around the airport, on the plane and during our lay over in Abu Dhabi, which was good as learning 17 new names all at once can be tricky enough as it is!

We arrived to Kathmandu in the evening and Mohan was waiting outside the airport with a smile on his face and a very comfortable group bus. We met some more of his team and were presented with real flower lays for around our neck as well as a traditional Nepalese marking on our foreheads. It was then a quick bus journey to Hotel Moonlight where we would be staying for the next two nights. The hotel is in an excellent location, right next to the main shopping streets and has been done up and excellently refurbished….rain head showers and all!

Day 1:
On our first full day in Kathmandu, we were taken on a inner city tour by an excellent guide and also to a temple that looks out over all of the city. Our guide was extremely helpful and knowledgeable, regarding all aspects of the city, the architecture, the festivals and also traditions and customs of Nepal. As a group we were then free for the rest of the afternoon. However, most of us decided to go with Mohan on a shopping excursion. We were able to pick up anything and everything that would be needed for our trekking trip, all for amazingly good value prices. After we had shopped, and picked up all the snacks that we wanted for our trek, we then had a chance to meet the board of the Western Nepal Development Trust (WNDT). There was a brief meeting and ceremony to thank all those that had fundraised money for this charity. We were then treated to a traditional Nepalese banquet, which included Nepalese performers and dancers and delicious traditional food for the night.

Day 2:

We were up early the next day, back to the airport to get our flight to Lukla. We flew with Tara Air, on two separate flights as each plane had only about 12 seats on it! It was important that each person only had a checked bag of 10kg and hand luggage weighing 5kg. The flight took approximately 40 minutes and had amazing views of the Himalayas around and below us. When we had all arrived to Lukla we were greeted by the rest of the team members and had our first lemon and ginger tea breaks! We then started our trek. It was a pleasant hike through villages and over swing bridges to Phakding and our place for the night ‘Mountain Resort’.

More lemon and ginger tea, warm (ish) shower, a nap, then a delicious dinner and more lemon and ginger tea rounded the day off nicely. Early to bed and early to rise for some morning yoga and stretching. Breakfast chosen the night before, served every morning before starting the day’s hike. All of the lodges we stayed are were very comfortable and had a warm stove in the common dining room/lounge space. Each room had either two or three single beds in them, usually with a private bathroom. Blankets were provided that we could use in conjunction with our own sleeping bags but bring your own toilet paper as this can be limited as you go up the mountains.

Day 3:
It was a hard but enjoyable hike up to Namche. Best advice I could give is to take it slow and steady and enjoy the wonderful views around you. We stayed in the ‘Hill-Ten’ lodge for two nights as Namche is at 3440metres and acclimatisation is needed. This is a busy mountain town and you can find any hiking gear you may have forgotten to buy in Kathmandu, although you will pay triple the price as it all needs to be carried by hand or by Joe (a hybrid of a cow and a yak) up the mountain. As the town is up quite high and in a valley, it can be quite wet and damp here so wrapping up and keeping warm is important during the day and also at night.

Day 4:
Acclimatisation day. We hiked up to 4000metres, which gave us some excellent views of Namche below and the surrounding valley when the cloud and mist cleared briefly. This was a tough hike up as you need to take it slow and it was the highest many of the group had ever been. Back at the lodge, lemon and ginger tea and well needed rest. The afternoon was free to wander around Namche, go to the many café’s (no coffee allowed though, caffeine does not help with altitude!) where most of the cafés had free wifi.

Day 5:
We left Namche and had trekked to Tengboche. Here we got to stay next to a Monastery. We were also woken at 4am by Mohan as the weather had cleared finally and we had our first view of the snow capped Himalayas and of Everest!

Day 6:
We were able to go and witness the monks morning prayer, then we had breakfast and it was off to Dingboche. The weather had improved and the sky was clear to give us excellent views of the mountains around us. This was a very pleasant hike, mostly level while the sun shined bright above.

Day 7:
Another acclimatisation day. As a group we hiked up to 5000metres on the mountain Nangkar Tshang. This was a tough, slow hike for the morning. Back at the lodge in Dingboche we had tea, lunch and rest. There was an opportunity to do laundry then it was time for dinner and off to bed again.

Day 8: We took it slow as there was a lot of height to gain on the way to Lobuche. We passed tombstones and memorials of those that have perished on Everest and the surrounding mountains. Lobuche is located in a valley closely surrounded by mountains so is very damp and cold. Here we had copious amounts of tea and dried our clothes as much as possible. It was early to bed as we had a very early start and a long day in store.

Day 9: Today was base camp day! 4.30am we left Lobuche, head torches at the ready. Tough early morning hike as we had no breakfast, snacks were demolished, and we were glad to arrive in Gorakshep at 7.30am for a much needed breakfast. Then we were off to base camp. It was a 2 and a half hour walk to EBC. We were the only group there and were given tea and a much enjoyed snickers bar to celebrate our achievement. We spent nearly half an hour at base camp and then it was back to Gorakshep to rest and celebrate.

Day 10: Another 4.30am start for those that wanted to summit Kala Patthar, 5600metres. And then 9am was the start of our descent. From here we walked all the way to Eco Lodge in Pangboche.

Day 11: We continued our descent back to the Hill-Ten in Namche.

Day 12: Hiked back down to the Mountain Resort, where it all began, in Phakding.

Day 13: Back to Lukla where we stayed one final night in the Himalya’s. We had a buffet style dinner with the whole group and every team member that had kept us safe the whole trip. It was time to say our thanks and goodbyes as we would be leaving in the morning.

Day 14: Early morning flight from Lukla back to Kathmandu. Back to the hustle and bustle of city life for more shopping, massages or well deserved coffee. Mohan then brought the group for one last group dinner as some of the group had flights to catch the next day.

Day 15: Option of going to the old city, which was devastated during the earthquake in 2015 and is being carefully restored. More relaxation and shopping if desired.

Day 16: Our flight back to Dublin, via Abu Dhabi, did not leave until 9pm that evening so we had a whole day in Kathmandu for last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping.

Tips for the trip- Packing:

  • Pack less. You will need a lot less clothes than you think.
  • Use merino wool socks, pack three or four and rotate them daily. They are antibacterial and will feel fresh every time you put them on.
  • Have 2 sports t-shirts that wick away sweat
  • Thermal base layers are important higher up – leggings and a core layer
  • Kathmandu is warm, 27 degrees Celsius or more at times. Light cool clothes will be desirable. There is an option of leaving a bag behind in the hotel for when you return from the trek.
  • First aid kit – bring all medications you think you may need. If you know anyone else on the trip maybe share a basic first aid kit as it will save on space and weight in your bag.
  • Down jacket – carry in your day pack as it will be needed whenever you stop to keep yourself warm. Even if only stopping for a short water break.

More Tips:

Have an excellent, warm, 4 season sleeping bag. Either bring one if you have one or you can buy these for next to nothing in Kathmandu when you arrive. Good boots are essential. Go hiking before you go on this trip. Go out for a least one long hike (8/9 hours) at home. This will ensure that your hiking boots are comfortable and well worn in. You will be living in these boots for over two weeks.. Your feet need to be ok in them at all times. Hydrate at all times. Need to drink minimum of 4 or 5 litres a day. Camel pack is best to ensure you are drinking at all times. No caffeine, no meat and no dairy. Just don’t do it. You will feel awful if you do. There will be the option of buying wi-fi all the way up to base camp. Understandably some will need to keep in contact with family at home…but if you can, try and go without wifi as much as possible. Enjoy your surroundings and the peace that comes from being in the Himalayas and surrounded by the majestic and beautiful mountains! Showers – all lodges will have cold water showers. Most with the option of buying a hot shower if you really desire it. Wet wipes/baby wipes go a long way while you are trekking though. And every one is in the same boat so don’t worry about it too much! Eat EVERY meal. Altitude can zap your appetite. Even if you don’t feel like eating…just do it. Missing even just one meal can seriously harm you. You will burn so many calories just keeping warm and alert, during the day and at night and that is before you even start to hike. Go SLOW. Walk slowly. And then walk behind someone even slower than you. Then you are guaranteed to take it slow.REST. As much as possible. Take those 3pm naps. Your body needs it. Don’t do anything too strenuous or energetic, especially the higher up you go. Keep warm. Especially your core. Use body warmers, thermal layers and always add an extra layer on top when ever you stop. Your body cant afford to use more calories trying to keep your warm from the inside out. Lemon and ginger, and garlic all help with altitude. Dissolvable Vitamin C taken each morning will re-hydrate you quicker. All meals are thought about and pre planned. LISTEN to the guides and all of the team, they each have so much experience and know everything. Do what they say and eat what they eat.

Ladies: Altitude can bring on your period. Be prepared and bring everything you need from home. This can really tire you so take it super slow and don’t push yourself. Rest even more if possible. Take iron tablets. For altitude sickness Diamox can be taken. For most this is advised. But for others, exercise and proper preparation before the trip can be enough. Remember, this is a physically demanding trip. It is a huge challenge. And will not be easy all of the time. But with preparation it will still be enjoyable. Go hiking as much as possible. If you are a runner this will help hugely with the decreased oxygen at altitude.

Here is my Review for Namaste Nomad after My trek to Everest Base Camp:

“If you are even considering a trek or trip of a lifetime look no further, you have found the best company out there! I was lucky enough to be a part of Namaste Nomad’s trek to Everest Base Camp September 2016 and I cant speak any more highly of it! Mohan is an amazing leader and guide and the team he has around him are so amazing. Although you are part of a group, each person is treated as an individual and taken care of in what ever way they need. Every little thing was taken care of, from the very first email and introduction to anything in between. Before you had even thought of the question you wanted answer, it had already been dealt with and prepared for! After seeing other trekking groups on the way to Base Camp, it was clear how well organised, professional and excellent Namaste Nomad truly is. I will 100% be booking my next trip with Mohan and you should too!!