One of the more popular items on bucket lists for hikers or climbers is reaching Mount Everest Base Camp. For me, it was an opportunity to spend time with my dad who is an avid trekker. In the past 5 years, my dad has been trekking different hike routes throughout Nepal, and he suggested I experience a trip to Base Camp at least once in my life. Indeed, it was an unforgettable and painful experience, but I was happy I persevered the whole way through – with intense discomfort. If there is a life changing trip that you should experience, Mt. Everest Base Camp is definitely it. You are pushed to go out of your comfort zone for almost 2 weeks, and if unlucky, 3 weeks to at least one month. We were blessed to get the best weather (minimal rain, no snow storm and the sun was shining brightly), and we were able to go through the phases of mountain sickness with ease. We still got sick, but to a minimal extent. I felt like the angels were on our side on this trip and I am grateful for having one of my life changing experiences with the best possible weather and health (with my nose and fingers still intact).
Are We There Yet?
There were some instances where I would crave to be saved; unfortunately, it’s not one of the places where your boyfriend can come to rescue you. At the same time, the mountain gods are there constantly ensuring that you have learned your life lessons. ‘The struggle is real‘, is a term I would use for this journey. Crying can sometimes be a form of empathy, sometimes, a mechanism for self pity. Mine was definitely the latter. In many instances I wished that I would be sick enough for the medical evacuation helicopters to come rescue me, but unfortunately, in a good way, I did not get sick. I was miserable during the trip, but it wouldn’t have felt rewarding if I needed to be saved.
Nepal is still underdeveloped; even the most beautiful and most expensive lodges are poorly insulated so you are constantly in physical discomfort from the cold until you get inside your sleeping bag. You meet other hikers along the way who share the same sentiments, so mentally it becomes more difficult to always think of the bright side. You start to reminisce the comforts of home, and how spoiled and advantageous your life is, and you wouldn’t have appreciated it as much until after this trip.
On my first day back home, I remember standing outside my balcony, watching the sun set, and telling myself that it was a beautiful experience. I was not freezing, I was not fatigued, I was not in pain. I was just there, completely present, comfortable and enjoying the heat of the sun on my skin.
Should You Do The Trip?
Being an adventurist on my own right, I believe that everyone should get out of their comfort zone and see the world. That being said, I think everyone should do this trip at least once in their life. The training and mental strength you need to even consider this is the first challenge you will have to go through. I remember telling my friends that I will climb Mt. Everest, and would mention to them that it would happen in a year or so. It took me almost 2 years of deep thought before I finally decided to take the plunge.
The second part of the challenge is training. I started out walking up 34 floors in our condominium’s fire exit. I would also skip the driving and walk from work to home, finishing at least 8km everyday. I started progressing from there, finishing with at least 100 floors with a 16kg backpack.
One of the pain points is in your shoulders; if your body is not used to carrying so much weight it can cause tension in the trapezius muscles (upper back muscles in layman’s terms) and can lead to unnecessary pain. So getting used to your backpack is important.
The third undeniable challenge is the cold. When the day is finally over, you’re tired, your sweat has dried on your skin, you’re finally rested in a shelter but it sometimes stenches of unbathed hikers mixed with burning cow dung and the scents of your meal being cooked in the kitchen, you start to feel the displeasures through your senses.
The fourth challenge is the lack of oxygen, which is the main cause of mountain sickness. Despite taking the right amount of time to acclimatize, your body may still experience side effects due to the lack of oxygen. I got the usual nausea and vomiting sensations for many nights and would lose my appetite when trying to eat in the evening. I’ve never been pregnant in my life, but I am sure it is the same sensations as a pregnant woman would feel when they are going through morning sickness. My sister got the 6AM migraines in the center of her forehead and her face bloated at one point. The closest creature you could compare her with was a bulldog. We unfortunately were not able to capture that moment as we were concerned that we needed to hike back a few mountains so she coould re-acclimatize at lower altitudes, but luckily, after a few breathing exercises and meditation, she was able to adjust back to normal.
Our Itinerary From Kathmandu to Mt. Everest Base Camp
We shied away from the traditional tourist route, only because it runs in the family to challenge ourselves a little more and experience more than what the general public would normally do. We did a slightly more advanced trek, we went to 2 out of the 3 Passes. Passes are elevated routes which are higher (around 5,700m) than Mt. Everest Base Camp, so if you are not sure about your health, it is best to stick to the tourist route as much as possible.
March 29 [Day 0]: Exploring Kathmandu
I arrived in Kathmandu and toured the city by myself. I had to acclimatize myself as I arrived directly from Bagan, Myanmar where I travelled solo. It was summer in Myanmar so the temperatures were in the high 30’s, so I needed to get my body conditioned to the cold weather of Nepal.
March 30 [Day 1]: The Most Dangerous Airport in the World
Total Distance: Lukla to Monjo (16.4km); 2,800M above sea level
Accommodation: Sherpa Lodge
At 5AM, we took the first flight from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport. Lukla Airport is known to be the most dangerous airport in the world as it is a small portion of a mountain cliff which can be easily missed by pilots when it suddenly gets foggy. The beauty of the journey begins there. Your aircraft ascends above the clouds and you see yourself flying over the different Himalayan mountains, and just before you land, you see even larger mountain ranges, around 3 times higher than the level you are flying in front of you. My senses started to tingle as I wasn’t sure at that point if I was physically ready to climb through the highest mountains in the world.
If you’re not willing to take the risk of flying to the most dangerous airport in the world, you can start the hike from the bottom of the mountain, but it can account for an extra week of hiking.
During our first day of hiking, we got drenched from the rain, it was freezing, and the showers were outside so I decided to skip the first day of showering and cleaned myself with wet wipes.
March 31 [Day 2]: Last Chance to Experience Civilization
Total Distance: Monjo to Namche Bazar (6.8km); 3,400m (11,154.86ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Khumbu Lodge
This was quite a steep and dusty climb to Namche Bazar, and you get the first peek of Mt. Everest from this portion of the trek. You would expect to get a great view of Mt. Everest throughout the trek as it stands at 8,848m tall, but you will only be getting glimpse of it for most of the trip as there are other peaks towering the view. Namche is one of the last places where you can experience civilization: there are coffee shops, restaurants, art shops and is also one of the last places you can buy decent gear before the long trip.
April 01 [Day 3]: Yeti Skulls in Khumjung Monastery
Total Distance: Namche Bazar to Kyangjuma (12.8km); 3,790m (12,434.38ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Dream Garden Lodge
I woke up to the sound of helicopters taking the first casualties of the day. There was an average of 6-8 rescues per day, and according to the Sherpa’s, it is mostly due to reckless and uneducated acts by hikers. We had to stay in Kyangjuma as this was the first day we had to acclimatize. From Kyangjuma, we walked to Khumjung and visited the monastery which had a yeti skull. The yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman is a gorilla like creature which is believed to be only a part of folklore, but skulls protected in the monasteries are believed to have come from these creatures.
April 02 [Day 4]: Memory Loss, Altitude Sickness and Volunteer Doctors
Total Distance: Kyangjuma to Dhole (6km); 4,200m (13,779.53ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Alpine Cottage Lodge
This was the first time we reached above 4,000m, and the first time I started experiencing memory loss (due to the lack of oxygen going to my brain). It was also the beginning of the surreal landscapes, landscapes I could’ve only imagined to have seen in the movies. We passed by frozen waterfalls, leafless trees which looked like it was part of a set in a horror film, and it was very foggy and cold.
Dhole has volunteer doctor’s where you can refill your First Aid Kit, and at the same time, join in their 3PM lectures to learn more about survival in the mountains. You can also get your vitals checked.
At this altitude, I started to experience altitude sickness: nausea and vomiting sensations. It happened around dinner time so I forced myself to go to bed after eating dry dinner of chapati and Pringles. I could not take the smell or textures of any other food.
April 03 [Day 5]: Diamox, a Life Saver
Total Distance: Dhole to Machherma (6km); 4,430m (14,534.12ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Tasi Dale Lodge
I woke up to my sister looking like a bulldog. She was experiencing AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). She did a breathing exercise and meditated and luckily, it went away. We were lucky that we were still in Dhole so we were able to consult with the volunteer doctors on site. She had to start taking Diamox tablets so her body would absorb oxygen better. We started the trek a little later than normal due to my sister’s minor health incident, but we still made it to Machherma for the evening. To learn more about AMS, visit my blog post about Mountain Sickness here.
This part of the trek is the most barren, everything is dry and there’s nothing much to see aside from miles of brown rocky mountains.
April 04 [Day 6]: The Emerald Oligotrophic Gokyo Lakes
Total Distance: Machherma to Gokyo (4.36km); 4,700m (15,419.95ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Gokyo Resort
Today was a short hike – we trekked to Gokyo, and passed the three famous Gokyo lakes which is one of the more memorable sights of the trip. The lakes have an emerald blue color. Despite being a short hike of 4 hours, I felt quite fatigued because the air was a lot thinner compared to previous days.
April 05 [Day 7]: The Dreadful Gokyo Ri and Ngozumpa Glacier
Total Distance: Gokyo Ri to Dragnag (8.32km); 5,380m (17,650.92ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Chola Pass Resort
We woke up at 4AM to start our trek up to Gokyo Ri, which means Gokyo Hill. Where else in the world can you find a hill at 5,380m above sea level?? We started the hike when it was pitch dark, and this was the stage of the trip where my reality felt distorted. I was very slow at ascending, I couldn’t breath, and the lactic acid buildup in my legs would not go away. I could not understand what was going on. When I took a photo of myself, my face, especially my lips, was bloated. Everything felt like it wasn’t right. My bag just kept getting heavier after every step. I cried 3 times. I didn’t understand why my body was failing me. I was palpitating and needed to take a break every 5 meters. We were the first ones to ascend and I was the last hiker to reach the top. It was not that steep but the lack of oxygen affected my physical abilities severely. I finally made it to the top of the hill after 4 hours, and it was not a very steep 2.5km hike.
Gokyo Ri gives the most beautiful sight in the Khumbu region, you get a 360 view of the highest mountains in the world and also a sight of the largest glacier in the whole Himalayas, the Ngozumpa Glacier.
When we got back to the lodge, we rested for a short while, grabbed breakfast and made our way to Tarnak. For lack of a better word, the journey to Tarnak was beautiful. This is a section where landslides is quite prevalent, and aside from the lose rocks falling around, this part of the trip made me feel like a hobbit in Lord of the Rings – on the journey to Middle Earth. It looked almost like the part where Gollum pretended that Bilbo Baggins ate all the magic bread.
April 06 [Day 8]: Acclimatization and Rest Day
Total Distance: 0KM; 4,730m (15,518.37ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Chola Pass Resort
This was the first day of the journey where we were able to get a complete rest day. This is the last stop before we go higher than Mount Everest Base camp, so we needed to replenish our energy, especially from the daunting trip to Gokyo Ri. The sun was out and we were able to do our laundry. It snowed in the afternoon and we were able to see newly born yaks grazing outside the lodge. We had a social horse constantly peeking inside the lodge which made the rest day quite enjoyable.
April 07 [Day 9]: The Cold and Icy Chola Pass
Total Distance: Dragnag to Dzonglha through Cho La Pass (5.94km); 5,420m (17,782.15ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Mountain Home Lodge
We woke up at 4:20AM and started hiking while it was pitch black as we were going to go through one of the major Passes named Cho La Pass. This is the first area where we had to walk on ice, so it was quite challenging sliding around. We did not have crampons on, just our normal hiking boots and walking sticks.
I had 2 pairs of heated shoe soles, and they really helped during this day. My face (especially my nose) could not be felt and the balaclava started icing from my breathing. Despite wearing 2 gloves on each hand, my fingers were unmaneuverable until the sun came out and warmed us a little.
April 08 [Day 10]: Food Poisoning and American Boy
Total Distance: Dzong La to Gorakshep (8.11km); 5,140m (16,863.52ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Himalayan Lodge
My body felt extremely fatigued on this day, I was probably exhausted from going through Chola Pass. We stopped for lunch at Lobuche (4,910M) and I ended up getting food poisoning. This part of the trek had several ascending and descending hills. It was slightly treacherous but we made it to Gorakshep, the town closest to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It was very dirty and the rooms were very cramped and dusty. You can almost hear your neighboring hiker’s snore.
In the lodge, we met an interesting American guy from San Diego, and because we were all affected by the lack of oxygen to our brains, we had the silliest and funniest conversations. I had to end the night early because of my stomach pains and I did not want to miss my trek to Mt. Everest Base camp which was planned for the following day.
April 09 [Day 11]: Mount Everest Base Camp!
Total Distance: Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (8.95km); 5,364m (17,598.46) above sea level
Accommodation: Himalayan Lodge
Today we climbed to Mt. Everest Base Camp! It was an exciting moment for us because this was the turning point of the the whole trip – from getting to the destination to finally making our way down. It took us around 3hours from our lodge to Base Camp; it could have been shorter, but our guide led us to a shortcut which did not exist anymore due to the massive earthquake that caused a landslide to block the path.
Mt. Everest Base Camp was a bit underwhelming, there were only a few expeditionists set-up ready to take their journey to the peak. Meeting them was such an amazing experience because you don’t know what their journey to the top of Mt. Everest would be like – if they will make it, or if they will not. The risk is always there when hiking at extreme altitudes.
I overheard an Australian man speaking to his wife over the satellite phone saying, “This place is extreme! But it is what it is!”. I don’t know if I will ever allow any of my loved ones to take the risk of journeying to the top. I watched the Everest movie a few days before I left for this trip and it did not have a pleasant ending.
In the afternoon, my sister and dad did Khalapatha (5,550m). I stayed in the lodge because of my stomach pains.
April 10 [Day 12]: The Journey Back
Total Distance: Gorak Shep to Periche(I forgot to record it); 4,240m (13,910.76) above sea level
Accommodation: Pumari Lodge
Walking away from Everest Base Camp felt good. It’s the feeling of finally achieving your goal and making your way back from it. Everything behind me has now become a memorable experience. The hike to Periche was fascinating as it was very flat with water streams and mostly soft grass beneath your feet. I was surrounded by the towering mountains, but the trek itself was easy. Baby yaks surrounded the grasslands around you; I think I took too many videos and photos of them. We reached the lodge in Periche quite early and we were finally able to wash our bodies again (not a proper full shower).
April 11 [Day 13]: First Shower in 11 Days
Total Distance: Periche to Tengboche (9.34km); 3,860m (12,664.04ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Tashi Delek Lodge
Today was another downhill hike! We made a detour to Pangboche Monastery to see a replica of the yeti hand. It looked more like an alien than that of a gorilla; the phalanges and thumb had 3 bones (2 joints) instead of one. The trip today was very dusty which caused my black hiking trousers and blue boots to almost look white.
When we arrived at Tengboche, we saw the biggest hotel lodge and temple we’ve seen in a while. Today was also the first day we were allowed to wash our hair in 11 days!! The view from the hotel lodge was great, I ended up playing with a baby yak (can they still be called calf?) all afternoon.
April 12 [Day 14]: More Yeti Adventures (the Abominable Snowman)
Total Distance: Tengboche to Monjo (14km); 2,835m (9,301.18ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Mt. Kailash Lodge
We’re almost there!! My sister and dad were really keen in seeing the yeti skull so we made another detour to Khumjung Monastery. We were able to take some photos of the yeti skull. We made our way back to Namche Bazar and found the best coffee shop we’ve had in days! Of course, at this point, everything that reminds you of your daily life becomes the best thing ever. Amazingly, there was also free Internet so we ended up chilling in the coffee shop for an hour or so just to catch up with family and friends.
In the lodge in Monjo, we had a good conversation with a Belgian girl who was doing the Base Camp trek alone. We informed her of all the horrors that she was going to endure. Ended the evening warm in our bed after taking a nice hot shower.
April 13 [Day 15]: So Close Yet So Far
Total Distance: Monjo to Lukla (11.58km); 2,840m (9,317.58ft) above sea level
Accommodation: Mera Lodge
We rushed our way down because we were hoping to get a flight out today. Unfortunately, we reached Lukla around noon time and all flights for the rest of the day were cancelled. We spent the evening in Lukla.
April 14 [Day 16]: Goodbye and Hope to Never See You Again!
My sister and I took the first flight out of Lukla. Although finishing such an adventure is a good feeling, it felt bitter sweet. I still could not believe it all happened, and in a day’s time, I needed to go back to my normal routine.
How To Trek To Everest Base Camp
Below are some information which can help you when booking your trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp:
Agency: BASE CAMP Trekking & Expeditions
Tel: (977 1) 44 11 504 / 44 15 573 Fax : 44 12 337
URL: www.basecamptrek.com; www.basecamptrek.com/departs-fixes-nepal
Trip cost: USD 1,700 per pax
- Flight from Kathmandu – Lukla – Kathmandu
- 13 days for (1 guide, 1 porter, basic lodges)
- 4 nights at Kantipur Temple House Hotel
- 3 meals and 3 drinks per day Breakdown details
- My dad’s guide: Kim Gurung : Good and quick in getting things done. Also probably in his 40s. You can request him from the agency and find him on facebook.
- Our guide: Tenzi Sherpa : Good and quick in getting things done. 26 years of age. He also does tours himself and you can contact him directly. It might be a bit cheaper. Just ask if they arrange tickets incase you will have changes to your itinerary. His contact details are: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lakpatop1sherpa@gmail.com
Guide Day rate (as per agency) = USD $30
Porter Day Rate (maximum of 30kg to carry): USD $15
Hotel we stayed in at Kathmandu: Kantipur Temple House
Round-trip flight ticket from Kathmandu to Lukla (check-in bag is maximum 15kg. You just pay a fee if you have extra): USD $324
Suggested time of year: March, April, and October. Though I think early April is good because:
- It is going to summer so the weather is more stable and maybe warmer than other months
- Not too many tourists yet so you can choose lodges if you want to change lodge
- Not too many tourists yet so the trail is not packed with other tourists (can feel congested)
- In Kathmandu winter items are on sale so they get even cheaper if you need additional gear
- 30-day tourist VISA (bring exact as they have no change in the airport) = USD 40
Insurance: Paid USD 122 which covered helicopter MEDEVAC, dental, if you missed your flight due to weather or emergency reasons, as long as you were not in your home country during incidents.
Insurance Provider: WorldNomads.com
Type: Explorer Plan
Tips: Normal tipping rule for porters is USD 5/day. I do not know the rules for the guides but I just made it the same. In fact, I felt the porter deserved more after you see him carry your heavy bags. We tipped USD $100 for the porter and USD $100 for the guide for a 14/day trip.
Lodges: Inform your agent/guide if you want a comfortable lodge. Sometimes you are limited by what is available but when there is a more comfortable one, go for it. You deserve it after the tiring trek. Feel free to check out the lodges (especially the toilets) in the area first before deciding on where you will spend the night. Do not just agree to what the guide suggests as their standards may be different to yours. These were my requirements which resulted in the more expensive lodges amounting to USD 30-50/night. So the budget given to your guide to pay for the lodges may come in a bit short so just cover the difference or, before your trip, inform them of your requirements already. Here are some of the standards we asked our guide:
- Private toilet. If not private, shared toilet will not require me to exit the lodge.
- Private bath. If not private, shared bath will not require me to exit the lodge.
- Warm or double glazed windows and walls if possible
- Fireplace turned on for sure during dinner time as some lodges don’t if they have few guests
- Has electric heating blankets
- Has hot shower
Food and drinks: Most common products in stores and lodges are (just check expiry dates as we found some products that were expired 5 years ago!):
- Coca Cola Products
- Bottled water
- San Miguel Beer
- Mars, Snickers, and Bounty chocolates
- Pringles (Original flavor)
Most menu items are:
- Potato dishes (e.g. French fries, boiled potatoe, potato momo)
- Bread dishes (e.g. French toast, hamburger, ham and cheese sandwich, chapatti with jam/peanut butter/honey, pancakes)
- Curries with rice
- Pasta dishes (e.g. Spaghetti bolognaise/cheese and garlic)
- Hot tea/coffee/milk/chocolate
- Hot/Cold Juice
- Apple Pie
- Rice Pudding
- Noodles with vegetables/meat
- Soups (e.g. garlic soup, cabbage soup, tomato soup)
Other necessities sold in stores and lodges:
Approximate exchange rate: USD 100 = NPR 10,000
- Toilet paper
- Wifi: NPR 350 for 100mb
- Hot pail of water to shower with: NPR 300 – 500
- Electronics Charging: NPR 350 for 1hour
- Hot cup of water: NPR 60
What To Prepare for the Trek
- Trekking shoes
- Hiking backpack: At least 50L. Make sure it fits your back properly and has a waterproof cover.
- Water-resistant duffle bag: For the porter to carry things you won’t want to carry in your backpack.
- Thermal tops (x2)
- Quick dry t-shirts (x2)
- Thermal leggings (x2)
- Trousers (x1): Preferably one you can convert into shorts
- Thick wool socks (x2)
- Thinner wool socks (x2)
- Quick dry underwear (x5)
- Down jacket (x1)
- Full body rain coat/poncho (x1)
- Wind breaker jacket (x1)
- Warm fleece jacket (x1)
- Winter sleeping bag (x1)
- Walking sticks (x2)
- Indoor shoes or sandals (x1) To use inside the lodges and when you take a bath.
- Wet wipes (x10)
- Diamox tablets:Helps you acclimatize. Side effects may be a tingly feeling in the fingers and toes, constant urinating, sodas taste less fizzy. Please consult your doctor before taking.
- Ibuprofen tablets: Just incase you’ll get a headache due to cold and or elevation. May be helpful to carry some for your guide or porter as well.
- Anti-biotics: Just incase you get food poisoning, it might be worth it to have 1 weeks’ worth.
- Water purifying tablets: to purify tap water I didn’t bring any of this and was fine drinking tap water. You can also buy bottled water in the stores and lodges.
- First Aid Kit: With waterproof bandages
- Foot Powder: Or talcum powder in case you want to re-wear your socks for days.
- Warm sleeping clothes
- Head and Face Gear: Beanie and Balaclava, Tube Scarf Bandana
- Gators (x1)
- Polarized sunglasses
- Solar battery charger
- USD 500 pocket money: Just incase you will want to upgrade to a better lodge and/or buy some comforts (e.g. wifi, chocolates, more food and drinks, have a hot shower, charge your gadgets, rent an extra blanket, TIP your guide and porter and the end of the trip). You won’t finish this but just incase.
- Toiletries: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, moisturizer, lip gloss, deodorant, body soap, soap for clothes
- Sunscreen: I didn’t use any. Using the balaclava and/or tube scarf bandana is better at protecting your face from the strong sun and cold winds than sunscreen.
- Travel towel (x1)
- Toilet paper (1x)
- Duct tape: Incase your shoes, jackets, sleeping bag tear
- Gloves: A pair of ski gloves and thin gloves so you can wear them over each other.
- Belt: In case you lose weight and your trousers start to fall
- Souvenirs: Wish I brought but maybe 2 small gifts from your country you might want to give to your guide and porter at the end of the trip. Many of them have never been out of Nepal
- 2L Water bottle
- Powedered juice with electrolytes sachets enough for trip.
- Trail Snacks: Chocolates, mixed nuts, or other snacks you might want to carry to satisfy your cravings and/or if you have special dietary requirements.
- Nepal Visa: Bring USD $40 to pay 30-day tourist VISA in Nepal
- Hot water bag: I didn’t have any but I think it is a good idea so you can put it in your sleeping bag to warm it up before you get in.
- Heat Gel: To rub on areas of your body that can hurt due to the trekking (e.g. muscle pain)
- Head lamp
Basic Nepalese Etiquette and Hiking Rules
- Keep warm. Do not allow yourself to get cold.
- If you have a symptom of altitude sickness, do not panic. You just need to walk to a lower place (not alone, with your guide or someone else), and acclimatize there. When you are OK, then you can continue your trek up. No need to panic and use insurance right away to get MEDEVAC. Anyone can suffer from altitude sickness, even the locals.
- Never ascend more than 400m a day.
- While walking, always look at where you are stepping. A simple slip can cause serious injuries. If you have to look around to appreciate the view or take photos, stop walking.
- Keep hydrated with water. Judge how much you need to drink by the color of your urine. The standard is to drink 4 liters everyday. That might be too much or too little for you. Always listen to what your body wants and needs.
- Always pass left of pagodas for good fortune and it’s the Buddhist way.
- When Yaks and Mules pass, always stand and wait on the side away from the cliff/drop zone.
- If possible, avoid drinking milk or eating meat or bread the higher you go as this won’t really be that fresh. However, listen to what your body wants to eat and/or drink as it is telling you what it needs.
- When entering a monastery, remove your shoes, do not wear anything on your head, and don’t take photos unless they allow it.
- Before the trek, inform your guide of your conditions and expectations of him and the porter. Do you want a quiet trek and you won’t want your guide to keep chatting to you? Do you want him to be informative? What are your interests? Do you want him to walk within a close distance of you or be way ahead of you so that you won’t be influenced by his pace? How do you want your porter to address you (first name, last name, title)?
- Only keep in your backpack your necessities during the trek. For other things such as sleeping bags, extra toiletries, and the like, leave it to the porter to carry.
- Make sure your guide and porter are wearing the appropriate clothes for the trek (e.g. jackets to keep them warm, closed shoes). They have to, it’s for their own safety. Their bodies too cannot withstand extremely cold conditions.
- Your body will go through changes as you are acclimatizing.
- Extreme migraine. I followed doctor’s advice to sleep with head a bit elevated to prevent headaches
- Vivid dreams
- Resting heart rate is double (this is normal)
- Waking up gasping for air as sometimes the body stopped breathing for awhile during sleep
- Wounds inside the nose due to the cold air.
- Bloated face
- Carry cash as only rare places accept credit cards + they add 5-10% charge on top of the total payable amount with credit card usage.
- When shopping you can bargain
- Walk at your own pace. Do not get pressured by the faster people. Stop when you’re tired.
- Bring a book or anything to entertain you in the lodges if you don’t enjoy talking to other hikers.
- Travel in even numbers since lodges have 2 beds per room. This way it makes it cheaper when there are 2 of you paying for the room.
- Your guides are like your personal assistants. They take your orders in the lodges, serve your food, and make the payments (we authorized ours and just asked them for a breakdown at the end of the day). Note that guides are only allowed to eat in the lodges after all the guests have finished eating.
- Guides and Porters pay for their own food and lodging. That is covered in their fees.
- There are allocated bins for waste disposal during the trek. Best you have an extra plastic bag to keep your garbage until you come across these bins.
- There are free talks about altitude sickness by volunteer doctors. Ask your guide about them and attend one.
- Put an allowance of maybe 1-week to your trek’s schedule to accommodate for potential delays due to weather and/or sickness. Flights to and from Lukla often get delayed due to weather conditions. When you have a ticket, always pick the first flight, and you wait in the airport until your airplane arrives. It may never come and you might have to do the whole process the next day and day after until clearance is provided to the airplanes.
- Best to start walks around 7:30AM as the sun is up and the sky is normally clear of clouds. The clouds normally start coming in after lunch and the visibility and temperature drops and/or you can’t see any views.
- If weather goes bad and you are in a safe place (e.g. lodge, tent), do not leave. Just stay where you are until the bad weather passes. You make the decision of what your next move will be. Do not listen to advice from radios or cellphones as these people advising are not where you are and do not know your current condition and situation. You are your own captain.
- Do not use or wear any cotton material. It doesn’t dry fast.
- HAVE FUN! It is not a race. It’s a trip you should do at your own pace. A
Namaste! Feel free to share this guide with others who may be interested.
Article by: Natalie Tarin & Jemaville Tarin Lim