In October 2018, aged 16, I was lucky enough to travel to Nepal with my mum and dad and do the trek to Everest Base camp. Here are some reflections on my trip.
Before the Trip
In the weeks building up to our trip to Nepal I had so many questions running around inside my head. These ranged from queries about what the food would be like right up to more detailed questions about the trek and the route itself. For example, some of my questions were:
- What kind of food do they eat? Is it like rice and noodles or do they eat food similar to us?
- Will I get altitude sickness and what will it be like?
- What will we see? Is there any wildlife or are we going too high up to see them?
- Where will we sleep? Is it tents or do we actually get to sleep in a building?
- How far will we have to walk each day?
I wasn’t worried about the trip; I was just curious to know what it would be like before we set off. In fact, before we went to Nepal, I was extremely excited. I love travelling because you get to see new places and experience how other cultures live, and Nepal is no exception to that. As it would be my first time visiting the country, I was eager to get on my way to find out what the people and the places were like.
During the Trip
My first sight of Nepal was of the tops of massive snow-capped mountains from the aeroplane window.
I had just woken up to be told that we were going to be arriving in Kathmandu shortly and then I looked out of the window at the view. Originally as I looked down all I could see was a layer of fog covering up everything below the plane, then when I looked up and out, I caught a glimpse of the mountains. My first reaction was “Oh my God” which I said aloud because what I saw can only be described as breath-taking. The entire horizon was lined by ginormous snowy mountain tops like something out of a fairy tale story. From that moment I was even more excited to get on the plane to Lukla so that the real adventure could start.
The first night in Nepal was spent in a rather nice hotel in Kathmandu. After an afternoon exploring and a meal out with our local guides, we settled down for an early night so that we would be ready for the next day of travelling.
Our flight to Lukla was meant to be late morning but after arriving at the airport we were told that it was delayed until 12:30, not a major issue, we would just have to wait. However, when it got to that time, we discovered that the flight was actually cancelled altogether. So, we then had to rethink our plan with one of three new options.
- Go by helicopter. This option would be the quickest but with only one helicopter available and a large gathering of people hoping to use it, this option soon became less likely to work.
- Wait until the next day, but this would likely result in another cancelled flight. Or…
- Drive 5 hours to Manthali and get a plane from a small air strip there.
We chose option 3 and so set off on a 5-hour ride in a minivan through the fields and little villages of Nepal. It was a great way to experience a bit more of the country, stopping of at a roadside place for something to eat on the way. The next day we flew out of Manthali on a tiny little plane to land in Lukla before finally starting our trek to Everest Base Camp.
The first day walking was short and steady with a nice place to stay in the evening.
The second day was when the walking really started with 6-7 hours of trekking. The sun shined all day which made the up hills seems less traumatic and the views we got were amazing. This day was the start of having to cross wobbly bridges above the rivers below. We crossed 5 on that second day and mum really did not enjoy them. Especially not when there were Mules and Yaks coming across the other way at the same time. We stayed in a hotel that night and I am convinced that there was some sort of creature behind the curtain that was going to jump out at me in the night… very scary!
On day 3 we got our first glimpse of Everest as we walked from Namche Bazaar to Deboche. It was another sunny day with a mix of both ups and downs along the way. We visited a monastery on top of a big hill in a small village called Tengboche in the afternoon. This is where we watched the monks performing their holy dances. It was a really cool experience. When we arrived at the next place to stay, I was delighted because I finally got to have a hot shower and wash my hair! 😊 I also ate a delicious Mars Pie, a mars bar wrapped in pastry and deep fried – perfection!
The next morning, I had an amazing chocolate pancake to eat before walking from Deboche to Dingboche. It was quite a long way, but the terrain was pretty easy, and it brought us some fantastic views and big birds to see. One of my favourite moments of the day was when we went through a small village to be met by a group of little children running and laughing. They all shouted “Namaste” to us as they shot past.
Each night we played cards and we taught Ram, our guide, how to play. He is now very good at Uno. While playing he told us a legend that, in the 7th century a Lama hopped over from Tibet into Nepal and where his feet landed the ground became flat so that is where all of the Boche’s are.
Day 5 was an acclimatization day, so we walked up to above 5000m on a hill just behind where we were staying (Nangkartshang Peak 5083m). From the top we got some awesome views of the mountains around us: Everest, Lohtse, Island Peak (Imja Tse), Pumori and Ama Dablam. On the way down we also saw 3 baby yaks which were adorable. After the walk we had the afternoon to rest and relax.
We had a long day after that going from Dingboche to Lobuche. On the way we crossed a dodgy bridge to get to Thukla where there was the worst toilet on the whole trip. It was a metal shack with a wooden floor and hole in the ground – doesn’t sound too bad, until I mention that the floor was absolutely covered in poo, yuck! After a very quick exit of the toilet we continued on up a steep hill to Thukla Pass. This is a memorial ground for all the people who have died on Everest and its surrounding mountains. It came as a very real reminder of just how insignificant we are within the mountains and that no matter what, the mountains will always have the last laugh!
That night, as often happens when travelling, mum and dad both appeared to need the toilet more than normal, so the phrase “Oh nein, ich habe durchfall!” which translates to “Oh no, I have diarrhoea!” was used fairly frequently. A short-lived amusing episode and a good reminder of the importance of good hygiene.
Day 7 was the day that we walked from Lobuche to Gorak Shep and then on to Everest Base Camp. As we walked closer and closer to Everest Base Camp the emotions of actually making it began to show. Although I didn’t cry when we finally made it, the achievement of actually being there after so long of just imagining it was amazing.
On day 8, we got up at 5am, then set out to climb up Kala Patthar (5640m) so that we could watch the sunrise. I was absolutely freezing but the views were definitely worth it as I managed to summit my first Himalayan peak. Once we got down, we ate breakfast and then set off walking the 6 hours to get to Upper Pangboche. It was a long and tiring day, so we had an early night ready for the next day.
The views that we got on the trail from Upper Pangboche to Namche Bazaar where spectacular as we walked across the mountain sides. It was such a beautiful place and we managed to see lots of different wildlife such as the massive Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture) an impressive bird of prey. The stunning views and glorious weather continued onto day 10 as well with a boiling hot day. We finally made it back to Lukla on Day 10 in hopes of a relaxing hot shower which were immediately crushed as we discovered that the only water available in our hotel room was freezing cold! A good night’s sleep was gladly had before we were due to fly out to Kathmandu the next morning.
Unfortunately, due to a corrupt system in the airport we did not manage to fly out of Lukla as planned. We ended up waiting all day at the airport for nothing to happen so had to spend another night in Lukla in a hotel that seriously needed some TLC. There was nothing we could do about it though, except patiently wait.
After the Trip
Now, over a year after returning home from Nepal there are so many memories that have stayed with me. Some good, some not so good but none that are bad because overall the trip was amazing.
Probably one of my fondest memories of the trip is also one of my least favourite parts. The day that we woke up early at 5am in order to summit Kala Patthar, a 5640m mountain. The sun was not yet rising when we set off, so the air was chilly, and we were all wrapped up nice and snug. However, as we climbed higher, I became really cold and my feet were freezing. My thinking, though, was if I get to the summit fast then I can get down again and warm up, so that’s exactly what I did. I put my head down and kept on up the mountain. When we finally reached the summit, we took a few quick pictures and I put on an extra layer. If I’m honest, the way down was worse than up. My toes were pushing into the front of my boots which made my freezing feet so painful that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. But what could I do? I had to keep moving to stay warm, so I gritted my teeth and ignored my throbbing feet to be able to get down. In the moment, this day was awful, and I really wasn’t happy. But now, looking back on it, I couldn’t be prouder of myself. I made it to the top of my first 5000+m mountain in the freezing cold darkness on a Himalayan morning.
Nepal is a brilliant place and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit it at such a young age. I hope that the future will bring me more chances to explore a wider area of the country and to give me more memories that can be treasured. I would highly recommend Nepal as a destination for people to visit as it offers many different views and activities for everyone to enjoy.