Give yourself plenty of spare days just in case.
I travelled from Australia with my wife and three children ages 17,30 and 32. After a fabulous time in Kathmandu celebrating my 60th birthday we took the usual exciting flight to Lukla. For our trip we hired two porters through a trekking company in Kathmandu, Namaste Adventures, but effectively trekked as independent Trekkers. All the arrangements we made re internal flights and porters worked perfectly, except for the weather, but more about that later.
Once landed in Lukla we picked up our porters and after determining which packing style they wished to carry, packs or duffles, ( they chose packs), we set of for Phakding. We stayed in a typical lodge there and set the scene for the rest of our trip eating simple meals and going to bed early.
The next day was to be the hardest day of the trek for many reasons. It started out ok but the further we got and the higher altitude the slower one of my sons got. After a very long day and with me carrying three day packs by the end we eventually all got to Namche Bazaar. My son and daughter both struggled with the altitude gain and the hard slog up to Namche and it didn’t take long the next morning to make the decision to split the group.
The following day, with one son and daughter st.ill in bed and being minded by my wife, the other son and I trekked to Tengboche. On arrival we looked longingly at a fancy lodge, (more like a hotel), but settled for a simple lodge. Our porter spoke no English and us no Nepali but we managed to get our messages across, sometimes after our porter made a phone call to clarify my message with his boss. The only weird thing that happened all trek occurred at Tengboche. When I went to bed I put my watch on the little table between the beds and in the morning it was nowhere to be seen. I searched and searched but couldn’t find it. The window had wire on it and we were in the room all night with the door barred from the inside so its absence was a puzzle. I did get up to pee in the night and finally assumed that I did something weird with it then.
The next day is a great walk up the valley with just the hint of mountains poking through the clouds. We rounded a bend and by magic a hole appeared in the clouds for us to see Ama Dablan. After a few minutes the clouds closed up again. We weren’t to see the mountains clearly until the second half of the trek.
Up early and away not long after dawn was the best plan for us. We went to bed early each night so after a good nights sleep an early start was best. Pre-ordering breakfast was the best also as the lodges were pretty full most days. A Long days walking later we arrived in Dingboche. Some lodges were already full but we found a grimy, dim older style lodge where it appeared that we were the only Trekkers. I worried about that but only until we had tea which was superb. Some other Trekkers did eventually join us that night for tea.
I love meeting people from all over the world while in Nepal. All there for the same thing and all willing to share their stories. It is one of the reasons I keep coming back.
The next day was a rest and acclimatisation day. My son and I went for a little climb up behind the town and had a little bouldering session, but when an awkward fall caused a slight ankle strain, we decided the altitude was making us dumb for even considering that it was a good idea to risk our trek.
The next day we left early as usual and made the trek to Lobuche. This day was cold and looked like snow. The air was a little clearer and we could finally see the wonderful mountains surrounding us. After an anxious time trying to find our porter and our bags in Lobuche we settled in for another night. In Dinboche On the first night I had had a bad night suffering from Cheyne-Stokes breathing. My rapid breathing after not breathing kept waking me up. The second night my body had acclimatised and I slept well. I remember having some of this on a previous high altitude trek twenty years ago but this time it was much worse. At Lobuche I again had a difficult night with little if any sleep. This caused a change of plans.
We had planned to go the Gorak Shep that day and dump our packs, go to base camp and then return and sleep at Gorak Shep. We instead left early for Lobuche, went to base camp and then returned to GOrak Shep for lunch and back to Lobuche. It was a big day but that night I slept like a baby.
Up and away early without a real plan for the day except down. We were keen to get back to the rest of the family who had done a side trek to Thame while we went to base camp. My daughter acclimatised after a couple of days in Namche and my son acclimatised a little, enough to trek, albeit slowly, to Thame and back to Namche.
We were walking quickly and eventually made it to Thengboche by 2pm. We could have kept going to Namche but our porter had had enough by then. We decided to celebrate our achievements and stayed in the fancy lodge. We drank beer and had chicken burgers for tea. The beds were comfortable and the views from our window of Ama Dablan and Everest superb. It cost nearly 4 times what we had been paying but we splurged while we were there.
The next day it was a difficult walk to Namche. My legs were quite sore from the day before so in the end I was glad we hadn’t pushed on the day before. Back in Namche and a reunion with the rest of the family.
On the track the next day with the plan to go slowly and see how our family went. We got to Monjo early but decided that was far enough. We settled in with beers and popcorn at the local snooker hall. Lots of beer later we stumbled into bed.
My son was recovering remarkably well as we dropped altitude and when we left the following day was strong agin and powered off ahead of me. After a family discussion we decided to push on to Lukla and see if we could fly out early.
In to Lukla by 1.30 pm but the clouds had already rolled up the valley setting the scene for what we were to see for the next three days. When I had previously flown out of Lukla I had never had a delay. The weather was clear and the planes rolled in as expected. This trip was different! There was already a backlog of Trekkers trying to fly out, some who had already been waiting days. Each morning the weather looked hopeful and each day only a couple of planes made it in before the cloud ruined any chance of a flight. By the third day we were sick of Lukla, sick of the lodge, sick of being dirty and more than ready for the bright lights of Kathmandu with sight seeing to complete, purchases to be madeand lots of recovery momos to eat washed down by Everest beer. My wife and I made the expensive but holiday saving decision to hire a helicopter to escape Lukla. We didn’t want the family trip of a lifetime to be spoiled by(according to the weather forecast) getting stuck in Lukla for another week and missing finishing our holiday in Kathmandu, missing our flights back to Australia, being late back to work etc and etc. after a thrilling flight back to civilisation Nepali style we finished our holiday exactly as planned.
The Everest base camp trek is still a wonderful trek that I recommend to all. It is difficult trekking given the altitude but when the sun comes out it is a wonderful place. We had a fabulous family holiday. Next year the Annapurna Circuit.
- Backpack, Down Jacket, Headlamp, Hiking Boots, Hiking Poles, Sleeping Bag, Sunglasses
We hired porters for $20 per day.