“We had seen a whole mountain range, little by little, the lesser to the greater until, incredibly higher in the sky than imagination had ventured to dream, the top of Everest itself appeared.” -George Mallory
” Someday is actually a synonym for never ”
I write this seated on the third flight of the day as I head back home. I am eagerly looking forward to home food and water and at room temperature. The morning flight from Lukla is considered among one of the most dangerous flight routes. As I sat in the flight I was aware of the fact that just 10 days back one flight had crashed on this route. I sat, closed my eyes and contemplated on the beauty of the airport. At an altitude of 2840m , a short patch of inclined concrete as runway this was one of the most beautiful airports I had ever been to.
People go to the mountains for clean air , to be healed , I think it is the view that heals. Imagine a real hard climb at the end of the day when you are wishing for it to get over and then the clouds come and meet you on the trail. These small things of beauty just keep you moving.
The numerous hanging bridges that one crosses on the trail are strewn with prayer flags which make their colorful fluttering noise. You reach the middle of the bridge, hold the wire and look down the flowing water hundreds of meters below. The bridge vibrates, the cool air blows at your face and you move on. The monasteries, the villages , the cafes , the kids , the yaks, the food , the tourists everything made it a more colorful trip .
5535m , Kalapathar top , 7 am , I was at the highest point in the trail all alone. I had a dog for company and no human around for 20 minutes. I had come here to takeaway an image of the mountain in my mind, the mountain the summit of which can deliver you from the pain of ambition.
I had my adventures and misadventures but I made it. Life in mountains is amazingly beautiful and exceedingly difficult. I return back with the idea of being there yet again, somewhere higher than this time.
Number of Days: 14
Budget: 45000 INR ( Inclusive of flights from Ranchi to Delhi, Delhi to Kathmandu,Kathmandu to Lukla and return .
When: June 2017
Before we begin with the day to day itinerary, these tips will really really be useful:
- Keep one day in reserve for flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and back.I booked my tickets online with Tara Air . While returning from Lukla to Kathmandu , it is important that you report one day prior at Lukla airport and confirm that you would be boarding the flight next day.
- Carry cash as there may be no electricity at times. 2 points where I used cards on the way were at Namchee Bazaar and at Hotel Himalayan at Tengboche. In worst case you could always borrow money at Namchee and deposit your credit card and collect it while returning. Ideally 3000 Nepalese Rupee per day per person is a safe bet.
- WIFI is available at almost all the points on payment of 600 Nepalese Rupee for 200 MB.
- If like me you going solo with no porter, no guide, the first trick is to pack light. Keep raincoat and one pair of clothes to change at the end of each day of trek
- There are signposts on the way which will direct you to the EBC trail. But still keep a map and keep looking for red flags which are ever present on the EBC.
- Please keep a one liter capacity Thermos flask
- Acclimatization is the key, please read on high altitude sickness before indulging in this trek
- You have to get a TIMS card for this trek at the Nepal tourism Board office.It will cost you 600 Nepalese for Indian Nationals.On the way you have to again pay 1695 Nepalese to enter the National park area
- Accomodation will cost you 100-200 Nepalese except for Loubuche where you have to pay a fixed amount of 500 Nepalese .
- Remain hydrated
Day 1 : Delhi – Kathmandu
I had booked a hotel at the airport gate so that next morning i could be at walking distance of the airport to board a flight to Lukla. Rented a taxi and went to collect the TIMS card. It took about half an hour to get the card. Pashupati nath temple is very close to Airport and I really wanted to see it and it was worth it. No trip to Kathmandu is complete without walking in the Thame area. I spent a good half day roaming around in Thamel. If it is a clear day, the view both from Delhi to Kathmandu and Kathmandu to Lukla is breathtaking.
Day 2 : Lukla(2860m)-Phakding(2610 m)- 8 km – 3 hours
Simple easy day of trek. Too much of travel in the past few days, it was very important to call it a day early. Stayed at Snow Land Hotel. Most part of the trek is descending.
Day 3 : Phakding(2610 m)- Namchee Bazaar(3440m)- 7 hours-11km
Namchee Bazaar will be the high point of the trip, you can find everything here right from grocery,ATM,Coffe shops,Souvenir shops,Helipad,winter wear shops,snooker table etc.The trail crosses through a lot of villages, do stop at small cafes in the evening for a plateful of delicious momos. The trail also has a lot of hanging bridges and the last one before Namchee Bazaar is the biggest among all. The hike from this bridge to Namchee is all uphill and really tough. I stayed at Namaste Lodge, the room had a real nice view
Day 4: Namchee -Acclimatization Day
Spend time roaming around the market, sip a coffee at Namchee Bakery and use the free Wifi there, take a hike to Everest Hotel and back, walk to the army camp and enjoy the view from there, walk to a nearby school and enjoy football, shop, enjoy a game of snooker, sip some beer.
Day 5: Namchee(3440m)- Tengboche(3870m)- 10km-6 hours
Tengboche was one of the most beautiful places in the trek. I would recommend you to stay at the Himalayan Hotel and use your credit card here. The trail goes up and down and again the last stretch from the river bottom to Tengboche was uphill and tough. You get a view of Ama Dablam on the way. Overall a very scenic day of hiking. I always spend good time on the way , sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the scenery. Experience the Tengboche Monastery(Trivia: Destroyed 2 times: one in earthquake and once in fire)
Day 6 : Tengboche(3870m) to Dingboche (4360m)-11km – 5 hours
The trail to Dingboche is very scenic and physically less demanding.You may get your first view of Everest if you are lucky. I stayed at Moonlight Cafe. It had all rooms named after mountains. Dingboche will be the point from where you will find no vegetation and dearth of Oxygen.
Day 7: Dingboche: Acclimatization day
Roam around the village, go for a 3pm movie screening at Himalayan Cafe. You can easily trek to a point 300m high by just following the prayer flags. Spend sometime at this height and come back.There is a 360 degree view of snow capped peaks, wait for the mountains to reveal themselves.
Day 8: Dingboche(4360 m)- Lobuche(4940m) -12km- 5 hours
Easy and scenic trail. A small part from the river to the top ( memorial of people who lost their lives on the Everest ) is difficult. Enjoy the trail and reflect on the fact that climbing Everest successfully depends on a lot of factors. I stayed at Oxgen hotel and this was the costliest place in the trail.
Day 9 : Lobuche(4940m)- Gorakshep(5170m)-EBC(5364m)-Gorakshep(5170m) – 16 km – 8 hours
This is the day, I felt great and excited too. It took me about 3 hours from Lobuche to Gorakshep. I rented a place at Buddha Lodge, kept my luggage and started for the EBC. I had read so much about Khumbu glacier area, finally saw it. The trail goes up and down and can be categorized as average in difficulty.I got a small glimpse of the Everest. Finally made it to EBC, it was a great feeling, I felt overwhelmed.
Day 10: Gorakshep(5170m)-Kalapathar(5545m)-Pheriche(4320m)- 18km
You need to wake up early and start for Kalapathar,if lucky you can see a fabulous sunrise view of Everest. The trail distance is less but all steep.I know of a few people on the trail who could not climb up to Kalapathar. I made it in about 2 hours and the view was spectacular. I clicked few pictures and carried the view of Everest in my mind, someday a little more higher. The walk from Gorakshep to Pheriche is long but all downhill.Make sure you stay at the Himalayan Guest house.
Day 11: Pheriche to Pangboche- 5 hours- 14 km
Day 12: Pangboche to Namchee- 5 hours – 13km
Day 13: Namchee – Lukla- 8 hours- 19km
Day 14: Lukla-Kathmandu- Delhi- Ranchi