03 Mar Namaste to Nepal
- Meeting the group/Cousins – Arriving to Kathmandu, where my cousins Mishalli and Nishma were there waiting for us as they came to trek Everest Base Camp with us. We then met our tour guide from GAdventures and 13 other people who were in our group. First evening we all went out for a MEAT pizza… emphasizing the word MEAT as the journey we was about to embark on was a vegetarian recommendation zone.
- Flight to Lukla – an early morning wake up around 5a.m. we was about to embark on one of the hardest treks of a lifetime. We hopped onto a minibus and seemed to be smuggled through a back gate of the airport to the security counters to catch our flight to Lukla. Lukla is one of the world’s most dangerous runways, where the small plane must have a perfect landing and brake sharply as the sloped runway’s ending heads straight into a mountain. The flight was a small plane, where you can see the pilots in the cockpit and holds around 16 people with dodgy seats. The flight however was one of the best i’ve ever been on, from the window you can see the snow-capped Himalayas and the beauty of Mt. Everest.
- Trekking Days – As the trek began, we would be walking for 6-8 hours per day, starting at around 2840 metres, day by day we were gradually increasing in altitude. You could feel the air feeling thinner with the pace of walking gradually decreasing. From walking along the small paths along the Himalayas, we are obstructed by Yaks and Sherpa’s that we stand on the side to let pass. The Yaks have a mind of their own and are not moving out the way for anyone. Me and this girl nearly fell of the side as this Yak suddenly headed straight towards us. The scenery though.. WOW!! JUST WOW!! I have never seen these wonderful views in my life. Every day is snow-capped mountains, clear blue skies and some days walking through snow. This was one of those moments which you can just stand still and take in the natural wonder. The drops on the sides are in thousands of feet and one wrong step and disaster could strike. A drop down those mountains is a sure way for broken bones and a helicopter ride to the hospital. Some days we would go up a thousand feet and then acclimatise to the air then come back down to prepare us for the journey the next day.
- Freezing Nights – During the evening times, the temperature could plummet between -5 to -10 degrees with a “real-feel” of -20 with the wind chill. In the tea houses we would gather around the burning fire (of which consisted of dried out Yak poo) that was keeping us warm. Crawling into the ice box rooms with our water bottles filled with hot water to keep us warm, slipping into the down sleeping bags with our thermals on (sometimes even a few more layers), with a fleeced hat on and thermal socks, we would rest for the night. Waking up in the morning at 6a.m was the hardest thing to do as flipping up the sleeping bag and suddenly the cold strikes. Quickly layering up with t-shirts, fleeces and jackets to keep the body temperature from falling.
- Hot.. Cold.. Hot.. Cold – Layering up with a thermal long sleeved, then a t-shirt, a fleece and a jacket you are still cold in the mornings start to the trek. But after 20-30 minutes of walking in all the layers, you begin to sweat and as the sun comes out the temperature is like 30 degrees so we had to take off all the layers. 30 minutes later along the ridges of the mountain, you would feel a sudden gust of wind chill and again the layering system comes back out. Within one days trek I think you constantly change around 4 or 5 times, taking off layers and putting them back on.
- Everest Base Camp – The day we are heading to base camp, everyone is feeling the altitude at 5364 metres above sea-level.. some people having harsher headaches than others. The pace is of snail for the final steps to make the camp. This was it.. we could see the camp and the excitement of all the pain, struggle is just ahead of us. Everyone’s soo excited with bursts of energy once we step onto camp, taking some great pictures and a few dances captured on my GoPro at Base Camp, just incredible. We all had chipped in for a few Everest beers to have at Base Camp as a celebration. The whole 13 of us, plus 2 tour guides and 4 Sherpa’s all made it to camp together, which is a great record as not all groups usually make it due to sickness. Even though we was all lacking oxygen, tired and out of breath.. I managed to pull out a skipping rope and we all had a jump. Without a shadow of a doubt this was totally worth the hours upon hours of walking.
- Kalaphatar – After conquering the famous Everest Base Camp, the early morning at 4a.m. after we was going to be trekking to our highest point and to the peak of Kalaphatar. This time not the entire group could make the trip as spending the night and day at high altitude started to take its toll on a few. Me, Nishma and Mishalli forced ourselves to get up and trek, there was not anything in our mind that was going to stop us from at least attempting to make it up to the top for sunrise. Even with Nishma’s bad tummy the entire journey, she still managed to force herself to wake up and attempt the summit. Unfortunately, the altitude took its toll on Veron and he had to miss out on this occasion as his headache and breathing was becoming a little harder. Dragging ourselves up with our small head torches and with the motivation of the Sherpa’s and other group members, after a 2-3 hour hike only upwards, we finally made the top. Stunning views of Mt. Everest at a height of 5545metres in the freezing cold. Nearly everyone’s water bottles were frozen and even if you could have a sip, every gulp was like drinking ice, making you even colder inside.
- Sunset Glow on Mt.Everest – The sunsets are just incredible over the Himalayas, I don’t have many words to describe it, but seeing is believing, so here are the pics from my camera (I doubt many people would believe this is NOT photo shopped and is taken directly without any adjustments on my camera – even i’m amazed still).
- The long trek back – After accomplishing the two main highlights, it was time to trek back at a faster and longer pace to Lukla. It took 4 days to hike back, but these were tiring as it was downhill. After learning that downhill is definitely much harder than trekking up hill. Albeit having more oxygen and no headaches, after 9 days of trekking and you still have to keep walking for kilometres upon end, tiredness and fatigue on the body kicks in.
- Food and dhal bhat – Before we started the trek, we were all told that Dhal Bhat (Lentils and Rice) was going to be our only option to eat for the entire trek. The Sherpa’s and locals have this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The saying goes “Dhal Bhat Power, Twenty-Four Hour”. The group all had this for the first few days, but I think everyone was feeling a tiny bit rough in the tummy with it. Luckily they also had other options such a potatoes with cheese, pasta and pizza. Not really the best tasting food, but it wasn’t Dhal Bhat, so everyone opted for those options. Meat was out the question as the meat is carried for days upon end to reach these small teahouses, so it was a sure fire way to get ill if you went for it.
- Chocolate after Chocolate after Chocolate – Now if anyone knows me, they know I don’t eat much chocolate, I’d always choose fruit over chocolate. However, on this trek, I think I must of eaten a supply of 2 years’ worth of chocolate, from Twix’s to Mars to Snickers. The energy from the vegetarian food just wasn’t cutting it for me so during the day for energy boosts, chocolate was a must!
- Showers – Now this may sound pretty disgusting, but I had two showers in 13 days! Hhhuuhhhh you say!! Well.. there’s only a few opportunities at the tea houses to have a hot shower, which you also pay for, but after 4000metres it is not recommended to have a shower because as soon as you turn that hot tap off, you can get ill due to how cold it is at this altitude. I think everyone was basically in the same boat, so at least everyone smelt bad together. A good spray of Lynx does the trick.
- Flight back to Kathmandu – Climbing back on the small plane, the engines at full pace zooming down the runway, we take off from the small runway. We are told there are cloud issues at Kathmandu, so the pilot diverts the flights and lands in which I can only describe as a random field in the middle of nowhere with a shed. A bumpy landing, and then we sit and wait for clearance to take off again. We all just wanted to get back to a hotel to have a hot shower.
- Meat, Meat, Meat!!! – The day before our Lukla flight back to Kathmandu, a place called Everest Burger… Two full fat meaty burgers.. yuummyy! After being out of meat for around 2 weeks the taste of buffalo burger… Delicious. The evening back in Kathmandu, the group all decided to go for a farewell dinner at a steakhouse.. it wasn’t just me who missed that juicy tender meat.
- Final thoughts – If anyone would ask me would I Trek it again..? My answer would be… TOTALLY!! This has been the best thing i have accomplished. The scenery, the people, the tour guide.. I don’t think the trip could have gone any better. It was not easy, especially with the long days of walking, the vegetarian only food, the freezing cold nights, the same sets of clothes day upon day, only a few showers and headaches. All these things just made it worthwhile in my eyes, through the struggle to eventually reach Everest Base Camp, a once in a lifetime journey.
- Paddle Boat with a view – We hired out a paddle boat big enough for 6 of us to relax on this lake. The view in the backdrop was supposed to be one of the best, with the snow sapped Himalayas reflecting off the lake but unfortunately it was a tiny bit cloudy for us, still a great day out with our new friends.
- Himalayan golf like a Pro – Rated one of the most interesting golf courses to play at, The Himalayan Golf Course, we had to give it a try. Arriving early in the morning covered in fog, we were told to wait and just hit some balls on the driving range. So here we all had a caddie each. The guy at the front desk said to us “would we like a ball boy?”… we was thinking what does a ball boy do in golf?? For 2 quid for the entire 18holes I just said yes sure we’ll take one of those too. So next stop, we’re on the driving range, our caddies and ball boy all run down the driving range. We were a bit sceptical to be driving balls towards these guys. We had 20 balls each and they did not want us to lose any, so the caddies have to stand out a few hundred yards ahead and we are actually all whacking our balls directly at them, once we take a stroke they run and pick it up and wave to say they found it. That’s a bit strange of an experience, but nevertheless we carried on. Then we headed to the first tee.. So the caddies, who all seriously looked like malnourished homeless guys, handed us the club to us. Every shot I went to take, the caddie would just hand me a club and say this is the best one to use from here for you sir. Seemed like they knew more than me, as I would have just picked a club which hopefully would make the distance. After getting to know them, we found out that they were all playing off a handicap of three to our amazement, so they definitely knew which clubs to use. Now as for the ball boy.. his job was to run 200 yards ahead, stand in a good position where he can see where our ball goes. We drive the golf ball and then he gives us straight arm for ball found or a wave to say that’s a goner. Unfortunately for me, i did see him wave quite a few times to me, having to tee-off many more times too. Definitely worth the 2quid. The golf course was very interesting, sometimes you would be tee-ing off from high heights to where the hole is, others you would have rivers flowing around you. The greens have barbed wire around them because there are yaks and cows roaming around on the course. It’s like being in a farm and playing golf.. a great experience.
Chittawan National Park
- Canoeing with Crocs – Four of us carefully stepping on to the smallest canoe type boat, where any shift in weight to the left or right, the boat tipped and felt like it was about to capsize with the wonderful Crocs we have seen along the way. A bit scary due to the nature of the low, easily capsizable canoe but a fantastic journey downstream the river.
- Jungle trekking – Trekked around for a few hours in the national park looking for sightings of animals. We saw lots of birds, monkeys and more crocodiles.
- Jeep safari – on the way back, we took a jeep and we was so lucky to see two One-Horned Rhino’s run straight in-front of our jeep and then into the wildness again. Finally we got to see one of the Big animals, which was impressive. If we were on foot and this thing charged towards us, we wouldn’t have had a clue what to do or where to go.
4. Culture Show – A Nepalese culture dancing show.. the best bit was a guy dressed up as a peacock dancing around doing peacock moves