Nepal is one of the best destinations in the world for trekking and the journey to Everest Base Camp is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is a walk that takes around fifteen days if flying into Lukla and reaches a height of 5545m at Kala Patar. Here are some of the highlights of this classic route towards the world’s highest mountain along a trail that has seen many famous mountaineers go before.
Arriving in Lukla
Many trekkers fly into Lukla which is also known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport and among the most dangerous in the world. Arriving onto the tiny airstrip surrounded by mountains and being ushered to the outskirts of the field whilst other planes come in behind you and bags are strapped to waiting yaks is all part of the adventure that is about to unfold.
Walking through Villages
From Lukla the trail climbs to Phadking through Sherpa villages, where crops are grown and there are lots of smiling children. The air is thinner as people being to acclimatise to a very different environment. This is the Dudh Khosi Valley and the river sweeps down from the Himalayas past the fields of maize and small wooden houses. Porters are seen everywhere with loads from backpacks to food and piles of wood, all having to be manhandled up the trail.
The Trail to Namche Bazar
From Phadking the Everest Base Camp Trail winds up through tree lined paths towards Namche Bazar. This is the last sizeable village before heading to Base Camp. It is also one of the steeper hikes in the trek and the first challenging climb in altitude. Taking your time on this section of the route is essential. Many people stop for a rest day in Namche Bazar, visiting the colourful market and eating in the tea houses.
Namche Bazar to Tengboche
The trail from Namche to Tengboche is a long stretch but very interesting as the first views of Everest are glimpsed from the Shyangboche Airstrip. There are some wonderful vistas from the Everest View Hotel, built for those who like to enjoy the scenery without the trekking. Khumjung is the next settlement with lots of small villages and prayer wheels, before the trail continues upwards to Tengboche. At Tengboche there is the famous gompa set against a spectacular background of Ama Dablam, Everest and the other Himalayan peaks. Viewing this scene at night is very special against a starry sky with no artificial light.
Tengboche to Pheriche
From Tengboche the altitude kicks in and the trail becomes a lot less inhabited and harder. There are carved Mani stones en route, and trekkers will notice the lack of vegetation. At Pheriche there is a small hospital specialising in altitude sickness and it is very interesting to listen to the talks that the staff give from time to time. Many people stay an additional day in the Pheriche area to acclimatise further. There are shorter walks in the area such as the route to Dingboche which also has magnificent views of the Himalayan ranges.
Pheriche to Lobuje
There are more views and long walks upwards from Pheriche to Phalang Karpo and on to Duglha at 4620 metres. Many people stay overnight at Duglha to help with acclimatisation as the air is distinctly thinner. After Duglha the trail ascends directly up the Khumbu Glacier and on the terminal moraine. There is a memorial around an hour up this section of the trail dedicated to those who have died during the ascent of Everest and serves as a timely reminder that this is not a trek for the faint hearted. Knowing how to recognise the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness is very important as it can strike anyone at any time. Finally the summer village at Lobuje is a popular place to stay overnight before continuing further.
Lobuje to Gorak Shep
The hard and tough terrain in this region begins to bite as the thin air combines with colder temperatures, wind and more walking to reach the end of the trail. Walking on the moraine to Gorak Shep takes around two hours and many people continue to Kala Patar where there are the finest views of Everest. Base camp itself does not have these views. For many people this is the destination of their dreams and a chance to be where relatively few people have visited. The photos taken, it is time to descend after this magnificent journey in the Himalayas. After the peace of the Himalayan peaks and the Khumbu Valley the chaos of Kathmandu is a culture shock to many but a great city to chill out in following the trek.
There are many wonderful views and sights along a famous trek to Everest Base Camp. Among the most treasured memories is the first sighting of Everest just outside Namche Bazar. There are the friends made on a challenging trek as well. Those who start as strangers have to work as a team, encouraging each other over the difficult bits, and often become friends for life. Being welcomed by the Sherpas who work so hard to support trekkers see these spectacular mountains is a privilege and their way of life will be an eye opener to many people. The hospitality and welcome is quite unique in this part of the world. Meeting a Sherpa who had ascended Everest twice was one of the highlights of my trek.
Being able to live your dreams and go to a place like Everest Base Camp is the chance of a lifetime and something worth doing. By carefully preparing and training for the trek, the experience will be all the more enjoyable.