If Everest Base Camp isn’t already on your bucket list – I highly recommend popping it on there now. The journey is filled with breathtaking nature, inspires comradeship and will provide the biggest sense of achievement after an intense physical challenge. What more could you want?!
We chose a 15 day tour with Intrepid as we had limited time, and I haven’t had any experience with multi day hikes or altitude! We tagged on a few days in Kathmandu before and after our tour to give ourselves a buffer if things were delayed, and also for some relaxing and pamper time before we came home.
You can access the full Intrepid tour itinerary on the link above but here is a brief overview of what we got up to and also some cool things we did in Kathmandu.
Monday 8th April
Departed Brisbane in the am and arrived in Kathmandu in the evening. Checked into Hotel Marshyangdi. The hotel is in Thamel which is a cool little tourist nook – lots of delicious places to eat, shop, party and pamper.
Day in Kathmandu:
Breakfast at Black Olive Garden (right next door to the hotel) – you can get a good cup of coffee here.
We decided to walk to everywhere and this gave us a great view of the city and avoided the awful traffic!
– Garden of Dreams
– Basantapur Durbar Square. This square was recently affected by the earthquakes so lots of the temples are being rebuilt. We had a quick walk around then found a cool little rooftop bar called Old Durbar House and had some food and a few Everest beers.
– Monkey temple
Kathmandu. We enjoyed the breakfast so much we decide to go back to Black Olive haha.
– Pashupatinath Temple
– Briefing with our Intrepid leader
– Dinner with the Intrepid crew at the hotel
The Nepalese government decided to close all flights to Lukla from Kathmandu airport so we had to drive 5 hours to Ramechhap. Lukla is listed as the most dangerous airport in the world (google the runway OMG) but after an epic plane ride we arrived safely and hiked to Phakding 2610m.
Hiked to Namche Bazarr (3440m). This was probably my favourite village on the trek. It’s huge and has lots of cool cafes and even an Irish Pub! It’s perched on the side of a mountain and looks a little bit like a third world Positano.
Namche Bazarr acclimatisation day. We only hiked around 3 hours in a round trip – going higher and then sleeping the night back where we started. With most of the afternoon free we got to explore the cool town and opted to chow down on a delicious burger at Sherpa Barista Bakery, a banana cake at Namche Bakery Cafe and stock up on snacks etc from the many shops.
Hiked to Phortse Gaon 3810m. We got a tiny bit of rain on the hike but nothing too bad and spent a freezing night in a cute little teahouse. This is a sleepy village – not much to do but beautiful scenery. The view of the mountains was stunning.
Hiked to DingBoche 4410m. There are a few bakeries and places to play pool here. The bakery as you enter the village does movie screenings which you can watch for free if you purchase a coffee or beverage. I spent big ($7) and had an amazing hot shower and washed my hair – luxury!
Another acclimatisation day in Dingboche. Rob got gastro here so we had an awful night managing his vomiting and stomach issues. Somehow he managed to continue trekking the next morning- hats off to him!
We woke up to snow and the hike to Lobche 4900m was absolutely breathtaking.
Base camp day! This was a huge day and probably the hardest for me. I was getting bad altitude headaches but we made it and got to see Base Camp set up. It’s only actually ‘Base Camp’ on summiting months so if you are trekking at other times of the year you might not see all the tents etc. We spent the night at Gorap Shep 5364m feeling a little worse for wear.
Coming back down was surprisingly challenging as it’s not actually all down hill! We spent the night at Pheriche.
Spent the night at Tengboche. There is a temple here and sometimes you can see the monks perform ceremonies.
Stayed the night at Monjo. I had a few glasses of local red to celebrate. hehe.
Arrived back in Lukla ready for our early flight.
Tuesday 23rd – Friday 26th
Another crazy flight out of Lukla and the long 5 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu. Checked into Dalai-La Boutique Hotel.
Here are some of the things we did and places we ate at:
– Morning yoga in our hotel
– Massage and yoga at Mandala Studio Yoga and Spa
– Boogie and shots at Gothic Dance Club with our Intrepid crew
– Dinners at K-Too and Tummo Cafe
– Lunch at Chick’n Falafel Mandala street
– Walk the streets for some gift shopping
Amenities and food on the trek
Don’t expect to be living in luxury but to be honest the amenities were better than I expected. We stayed in private dorm style rooms and shared a toilet with a floor of people. The toilets are either drop style or normal but you have to ‘flush’ by pouring a bucket of water into it and you put your paper in a rubbish bin as the plumbing is obviously not amazing. It’s a little stinky but not unbearable.
We were always sooooooo hungry as it’s cold and you are active for most of the day. You will eat lots of carbs – toast, noodles, rice etc and I chose to eat vego for most of it to avoid getting sick. We were definitely craving fresh fruit, yoghurt and avocado by the end but found most of the food tasty.
How I trained for the trek
To be honest my training was minimal. I was attending classes at Orange Theory Ascot once a week to get in some cardio but other then that I stuck to my pilates resistance bands workouts. The glute strength definitely helped on the way up and honestly it wasn’t until the last 2 days climbing that I found it challenging mainly because of the altitude. I got a killer headache at Basecamp that lasted most of the evening but was lucky not to suffer from any gastro or sever altitude sickness. The way down was surprisingly challenging as well – probably because I was worn out and had in my head that it would be all down hill but there are some steep climbs on the way back too as you pass through the valleys. Some people on our tour had trained on a stair master in their local gym and said that had really helped. I would also suggest not planning anything immediately before or after this particular trip – you want to be in tip top health before and should be prepared that you might have a cold, cough, sore throat or upset tummy for a few days on your return. Here is how Intrepid suggests you train for the trek.
Dymox (altitude sickness drug which we started taking in Kathmandu and stopped about half way down).
Water purifying tablets 100 pack
Bandaids and bandages
Toilet papers at least 2 rolls and you can buy more when you get there
Tooothbrush and toothpaste
Travel body wash
2 in 1 shampoo and cond. You can pay for quick hot showers. I paid for 1 on our aclumitisatuon day as you have a fair bit of spare time and it makes the world of difference to wash your hair and feel fresh!
Panty liners (this saves you from needing heaps of undies).
Moisturiser body and face
A good lip balm
Wet wipes (at least 2 packets as you will use these for showering)
Sunscreen suitable for face and body
We bought Pringle’s and biscuits and other bits and bobs on the way as needed.
We also took sachets of coffee. You can obviously buy coffee but it’s cheaper to buy hot water and add your own coffee.
Clothing is all about the layers. The first few days I was walking in shorts and on the last few days I had my big puffer jacket on!
2 bras or crop tops. Light and breathable
Thermals 2 bottoms and 2 long sleeve tops (I got mine from Uniqlo and honestly lived in the long sleeve tops)
2 Pair of trekking pants which can zip to shorts if needed
2 pairs of gym tights
Boots (I bought boots not shoes and honestly thanked myself for the extra ankle support. Don’t skimp on good shoes)
3-4 pairs good, warm, hiking socks
Polar fleece jumper
Water proof jacket with hood
Clothes for at night around the tea houses – tracksuit pants, jumper, socks, comfortable shoes.
Scarf or neck warmer
Water proof cover for daypack
Water bottle at least 1 Litre
If you are going on a tour they will usually give you a specific bag to put all your stuff in for the porters to carry so you don’t have to worry about a big backpack if you don’t have one.
Portable charger (you can pay for charging but it gets expensive. I think we got 8 charges for our phones off our little portable charger)
iPhone and iPhone charger with adapter
I didn’t take a big camera and was happy with all the shots off my iPhone
You have a fair bit of down time in the tea houses and on your acclimatisation days so it’s good to have some things to amuse you like books and a pack of cards
I took my Vivra to keep my passport and money safe
Money – Nepalese rupee
Poles – I personally didn’t take or use these but there are a lot of them used on the track. It’s completely up to you if you think you would like the extra support.
What I wish I took
Nuts/Beef jerky or other source of protein. I ate mostly vego and really felt like I was lacking protein by the end
Soothers for my sore throat
More clean clothes for the tea houses at night
Don’t stress if you forget anything – you can buy most stuff in Kathmandu and there are shops, ATMs and pharmacies in some of the bigger villages. The great thing about being on a tour is that you are with a bunch of people so we were borrowing off people as needed and obviously did the same in return. We all got by just fine!
They recommend $50 Australian a day for food and drinks and a little bit more for showers, charging, wifi etc. We bought proper coffees in some of the bakeries in the bigger towns and also had pots of lemon, ginger, honey tea each night (delicious!). You will need money to tip your guides and porters at end and things get more expensive the higher you go which is understandable as the porters have to hike everything up.
Here is an approx breakdown of what I spent on an average day in rupees
Breakfast: porridge 400 and coffee 120
Lunch: soup or fried rice 600
Dinner: Curry and rice 750 big pot of tea to share 750
Snacks: Pringle’s or biscuits 500
Note – they add a 10% service tax and 13% VAT in places.
It was an absolutely incredible experience. There were definitely some discomforts but it’s what is to be expected in a third world county. The scenery is breathtaking and I loved having down time to read, play cards and hang out with some beautiful people. It really is a once in a life time experience and I highly recommend!