Everest Base camp trek 2016

everest_base_camp_via_gokyo_trekking_map

I went to Nepal in 2007 with the intention of trying the Everest base camp trek. Mainly due to the circumstances of the weather that year the flights to Lukla were rained off. I’ve been to Nepal several times since, but on each occasion there was some reason or another why the base camp trek remained an unfulfilled ambition. However, this year 2016, that ambition was realised.

Lukla, is the start of the Everest base camp trek. Lukla itself is at an elevation of 2,860 m. It has what is described as the ‘most dangerous’ airport in the world. The runway is only 527 m long and as the planes come in and out of Lukla airport it is easy to see how it gets its reputation.

We arrived at Lukla airport, flying in on Tara Airlines, on the 14th May 2016. We were meant to be flying the day before, but considering this was Friday the 13th – the day after seemed like a better option.

We set out on the trek going through the initial check posts and then got into our stride. The trek to base camp is a 12 day round trip; coming down obviously taking less time than getting up. We decided that we were not going to try for base camp itself, but only to Kalla Pathar, which is one stop before Base Camp. Kalla Pathar, is at an altitude of 5550 meters, and the place from where almost all of the iconic shots of Everest have been taken.

So we headed off towards Namche Bazaar, with a climb that is reckoned to be the hardest part of the trek. Namche is at 3,440 metres (11,286 ft) at its lowest point. In the burning heat of the sun we climbed and climbed this winding route which seemed never-ending. And finally in pouring rain, exhausted and already suffering from altitude sickness, I arrived at Namche.

There was an acclimatisation day here, where I got my first sight of Everest, then we continued the trek the next day.

The altitude as we got higher and higher, became more of a problem for me. Hari, my friend and guide on this trek, seemed entirely unaffected by the altitude and the exertion, but then he is a very experienced guide and has been at the trekking game a long time. He never seemed out of breath and nor once did he break a sweat. While the sweat poured off me and walking and even talking was very difficult.

We made it through Tyengboche, where there is a large and famous Buddhist Monastery. With another siting of Mount Everest in the clear light of the early morning – the day after we arrived.

We pressed on, but by now the altitude was taking its toll. In the end we made it to “Lobuche”. This sits at an altitude of 4930 meters (and which is 16,175 feet). But I was suffering severely from altitude sickness by this time, with an upset stomach, headache and double blindness; which is having double vision and being out of focus at the same time. Altitude sickness is a serious business and cannot be taken lightly. We were going to stay at this altitude in one of the Lodges – but Hari advised that we needed to start heading down immediately. It was a great disappointment to me and somewhat reluctantly, I took his advice and we set off down the mountain. We did pretty well on the way back down, making good time, getting back to Tyengboche in one stage, and Namche Bazaar the next day. We didn’t need the rest days on the way down and on the following day we were back at Lukla ready for the flight home. I was on the whole and particularly in retrospect pleased with my performance. Having finally seen Mount Everest for myself – I was satisfied and we returned to Kathmandu the next day.

Kathmandu Streets

“Kathmandu is alive, vibrant, magical a living city. I have never know a more colourfully textured, rich and aromatic place. To give it it’s due, Kathmandu is a very busy place. Everybody seems either constantly on the move, or quite conversely – sitting through the heat of the midday sun. It is a peaceful city despite its, diversity and noise. Eagles fly silently above the city heights, dogs scrap for left overs in the streets, and kids run a muck. The pollution in Kathmandu can be unbearable, but which does not detract from my love of it in the least.”

 

The Many Faces of Nepal

A night at the Reggae Bar!!

The band of the night was called “Strings”. The party took place at the Reggae Bar, Thamel, Kathmandu. 04/05/2016 Reggae Cafe Bar – Facebook Kool Kathmandu….

My ♥ belongs to Kathmandu

Cool Kathmandu…,

Kool Kathmandu…..

The Road to Lumbini

We took a road trip to Lumbini, setting off at dusk leaving Kathmandu to huge traffic jams which held us up for three hours or more. We arrived in Lumbini, at around four in the morning. after quite a scary taxi ride in heavy rain covering the two hundred kilometers from Kathmandu. We then had a long wait till six o’clock which is when they opened the gates.

There is a serenity that pervades Lumbini, a tangible and almost supernatural sense of peace that still exists at this the birth place of Gautama Buddha. This is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 563 BCE; she is said to have first rested by the People tree in the grounds of the castle, then bathed in the waters of Puskarini or Holy Pond where she took her ritual bath before giving birth.

We walked round the gardens, early in the morning as the sun rose above the Stupas of the Buddhist countries of the world. The eternal flame burnt away at this world heritage site. We left mid-morning to start the long journey home back to Kathmandu. With several more hold ups on the way.

Kathmandu 2013

Kathmandu is a diverse city with all its noise and pollution, its poverty and its culture. The most striking thing about Kathmandu is its abundance of life, people carving out an existence under sometimes difficult circumstances. In Kathmandu for instance there is a load shedding system on the power. Electricity is off for fourteen hours in any one specific area then comes back on for only six on a circulatory system. Also in the winter water because of the frozen reserves in the mountains, is at a scarcity and then tap water not even drinkable when available. Despite this Kathmandu is rich in myriad ways, not rich in the sense that the people have very much (in the way of money or possessions), they have very little. What I find in Kathmandu is that people because they have so little are in fact noticeably happier – there is still a sense of community, everybody shares what they do have and mostly everybody smiles – there is a level of happiness we could only aspire to in the west.

Rider on the road
Rider on the road
Rush hour
Rush hour
Light on the street, Thamel
Light on the street, Thamel
Homeless
Homeless
Local teams battle it out on a Saturday
Local teams battle it out on a Satruday
Saturday afternoon Volleyball
Saturday afternoon Volleyball
Street magician
Street magician
A street vender
A street vender
Wild dogs on the streets of Kathmandu
Wild dogs on the streets of Kathmandu
The Indian slums of Kathamndu
Indian slums
Military zone
Military zone
Tundikhel park, Kathmandu
Tundikhel park, Kathmandu
Tundikhel, Kathmandu
Tundikhel, Kathmandu
Tundikhel Park
Tundikhel Park