For many traveling to Nepal and visiting the Base camps on Mt Everest is a trip of a life time and an experience like none other.
Months of meticulous planning goes into the preparation of any trip to the edge of the worlds greatest mountain.
New Zealand based adventure travel company Global Treks n Tours have helped many fulfill the dreams of a life time by guiding travelers to the place where Sir Edmund Hillary began his historical ascent to fame.
This month, another, tour began to the base camp of the world.
Les Russell of Global Treks n Tours talks about the first five days of what many travelers describe as a 'must do' trip.
"Trips like this are planned well in advance! Normally 3-6 months," Russell says.
“There is a lot to take into consideration such as three weeks away from home, saving the pennies, and health and physical training issues which is important when spending any length of time living at high altitude.”
Currently travelers will pay around NZ$3000 for an all inclusive trip leaving from and returning to Kathmandu excluding the cost of return airfares from Auckland.
Russell says, travelers with Global Treks n Tours have the option of finding their own flights to Kathmandu to help save on costs or can have their flights included in their travel package which are currently around $2500.
“I myself usually use Thai Airways as I find them competitive and easy to fly with,” Russell says.
“We usually have a night at Bangkok on the way then board the daily flight, once again with Thai Airways, from Bangkok to Kathmandu for a three and a half hour flight.
“There are daunting idiosyncrasies to any trip to a third world country and Everybody is warned well in advance about the need to carry a few extra passport photos and about US$100 in cash in small bills for the travel experience when entering the country,” Brown says.
“After waiting in long queue’s we finally get our turn at the Immigration counter, but we don’t expect things to happen quickly…. welcome to Nepal!”
“It’s usually, but can change, US$30 for the entry permit. Once we collect our bags/backpacks we head for the exit doors and that’s where the fun begins! We are greeted with hundreds of nationals all wanting to carry our bags for a fee.”
“But they don’t tell you that until after they have carried your bags…and you don’t get a chance to say no! to awaiting taxis, all wanting to take you where you need to go. Its amazing how many people and bags can fit into a little Suzuki! But thankfully we are met at the exit doors by our guides so bypassing the mayhem.”
“The 20 minute drive to our hotel will stay in your memory for ever! Trust me, it’s the most hair-raising experience you will possibly ever have! It’s every driver for himself but there doesn’t seem to be any accidents thank goodness.”
“We arrive at our Hotel a little bewildered and not really sure what’s happening but our guides take good care of us, firstly presenting us with cold drinks, introductions all round and then explain to us what happens from there.
“We get shown to our rooms which are clean and tidy but very basic. The toilets and showers are different to what we are used to but that’s part of traveling We agree to meet in the Hotel Foyer at a prearranged time to take a walk in the Streets and alleys known as Thamel which is the tourist area. Its good to be out using our legs again but its all a bit much to take in…so many little shops selling everything from books to Mountain climbing equipment, the beggars, most of which are only pretending to gullible tourists, the continuous tooting of horns etc.
“We find Internet cafes close to our Hotel as well as Money Exchangers and anything else we may need for the upcoming tour. Our guide explains everything to us as we move around the streets with growing confidence.
“The evening dinner is great with many choices of food and drinks and although we are too hyped up to sleep we retire to our rooms early which is not a good thing as the hard beds and the sounds of the night make it difficult to sleep.”
The next morning its meet and greet with other travelers.
People come from all parts of the globe to do this tramp to Base Camp, Russell says.
“Today we take a guided tour through parts of Kathmandu.
“We visit Kathmandu Dubar Square and Monkey Temple as well as Tibetan Square. There is so much to see and take in. Our guides do a wonderful job! The day is over quickly and the excitement is building because we know tomorrow is the big day!
“After our evening meal we all participate in a meeting with our guides who explain what will be happening the next day. Our Passports and Travel Insurance documents are checked and photocopied. We are to be at the airport at 5.30am.
“Sleep once again does not come easy! Everybody is up earlier than need be, breakfast is over, our travel clothes and anything else that we don’t need on the trip is locked away in the Hotel lock up room, our backpacks ready in the Hotel foya.
“Everybody is on edge with excitement!
“Finally into the mini bus and away we go. We wait around at the airport for 2 hours as we cannot fly until the Lukla airport radios through that it is clear to land. Sometimes the cloud or fog doesn’t clear until after lunch and sometimes not until the next day.
“Finally we get the ‘all clear’ so we climb aboard the shuttle bus that will take us to the waiting plane. It’s a 20 seater turboprop and we have been advised to grab a seat on the left hand side of the plane if possible. It’s not long before those majestic Himalayas are clearly visible above the clouds on the port side. A truly awesome 40 minute flight and the landing strip at Lukla is ummmm no comment!
“Finally out of the plane and the change of temperature is immediately apparent as is the cleaner air. Dozens of people are crammed behind mesh fences. Ten minutes walk and our guides have us at a guest house. We are told to wait for a couple of hours while the guides sort out the Porters and Yak drivers etc so we settle back and relax over a few cups of tea which doesn’t help the bladder.
“Nerves, excitement and lots of tea are not a good combination! At last we are away, we walk through the main street of Lukla then begin to follow the well worn trail. Its hard not to walk to fast as the excitement is too much! We walk through many small villages and see lots of locals going about the normal daily lives. We see kids playing and women tending their gardens. People greet one another with ‘Nameste’ usually the one and only word that Westerners learn to say. The path is good and any uphill sections have stone steps and at 2300m nobody seems affected by the altitude…. yet.
“We actually spend our first night lower than Lukla airport. Tonight we eat a hearty meal and spend our first night in a tent. Everything was done for us and our guides cannot do enough for us. The next morning we are greeted with a hot cup of tea in bed, then hot water to wash with and then breakfast.
“Off we go again on the trail. We have been told today is a big day and to take it easy. We cross numerous long swing bridges, lots of easy walking, villages and mountain views. We are still down in the valley following a roaring river. We come to another swing bridge and then up we go, and up and up and up! Its an 800m climb to the town of Namche for our first acclimatization break and trust me we need the break.
“At 3400m we are all starting to feel the effects of altitude. Namche is the most amazing place! It’s built on a hillside and the views are simply stunning! We all walk the streets and wander through the markets and little shops. Some of us head to the Internet café. Tonight we all sleep well as the last few days and sleepless nights have finally caught up with us!
“Next morning we are greeted with our cups of tea in bed again, oh I could get used to this! We set off again after breakfast for our acclimatization walk. We wander through the town and continue on the path that leads to Base Camp stopping to look at a small museum and a couple of crashed helicopters on the way. Its hard work now but we drink plenty of fluids and the pace is nice and slow.
“We leave the main trail and take a secondary trail up higher again, finally arriving in a nice little valley where we drop into a guest house for hot drinks and food. People are tending their Potato crops and vege gardens and we pass Monks walking by. Eventually we start to follow a trail down hill and we can see Namche way down below us and as you can imagine the views are simple breathtaking!
“Today we see Mt Everest in the distance for the first time. We finally arrive back at our camp in Namche and not too soon as we are all exhausted and just want to lie down on our beds for awhile. After another great meal we retire early to our sleeping bags. Once again the cup of tea awaits us first thing in the morning and today we will walk for 4 hours to Thangboche village where we will spend the night at 3864m. There is a well known Monastery there we visit. I look at the other trampers along the trail and I notice that they also don’t seem as hypoactive as they were two days ago as the awe of Everest is impressed on us on our fifth day in one of the greatest places on earth.”
“My first trip to Nepal was organized for me by Les from Global Treks n Tours. We climbed Island Peak & went to Everest Base Camp and the whole experience was truly awesome but made better by being looked after by a really great team. Les is a wealth of knowledge and has lots of good tips to help you get the most out of the trek. The cook was a superstar and how he makes pizzas with no oven I’ll never know! Thanks for a magical trip and looking forward to getting back up high soon!”
Global Treks n Tours
This is the first installment of a series of stories by Les Russell about the Global Treks n Tours trips to Mt Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
Global Treks n Tours travel to many of the worlds greatest adventure travel destinations including; Nepal, India, Tibet, Bhutan and Ecuador.
To find out more about Global treks n Tours and your experience of a life time visit www.globaltreksntours.com or email Les Russell firstname.lastname@example.org