Have had quite a few people ask about how to go about doing a trek in the Himalayas, so here’s what we did – for those interested.
Choose a company
Almost everyone sensible uses a company to arrange guides, porters and accommodation. On a personal recommendation we used Himalayan Encounters, and they were excellent. I can recommend them without reservation.
The cost was around US1,500 each and this covered:
- Three nights accommodation in Kathmandu
- Flights between Kathmandu and Lukla
- 16 nights accommodation in tea houses on the trek
- A guide and two assistant guides (for a party of five)
- A porter per two people (they can carry up to 30 kgs) so three porters
Our guides were top class. They were incredibly safety focused, and were very helpful to me when I got altitude sickness. They were also informative and a lot of fun. I recall at one stage I had to take a leak on the way back from Everest Base Camp, so went behind a large rock. They yelled out that it was a holy rock, just to freak me out (it wasn’t). Lots of fun chatting to them in the evenings also and playing card games etc.
The company covers the internal airfares. We travelled Malaysia Airlines (booked before they lost a plane) to and from Kathmandu. They lost or delayed my luggage both times, and their planes are old and tired. The service was pretty average. I would not use them again.
- Food tends to cost around US$25 a day per person, but we actually ended up around $30 a day. Prices increase the higher you go, but very reasonable for three meals a day.
- If you want hot showers, electricity, wireless Internet then the cost is around $3 for a shower, $2 an hour for electricity and wireless ranges from $5 flat rate to $12 an hour near the very top.
- Tips for the porters and guides. We tipped a pretty significant amount because the service was so good. Lonely Planet has some general guidelines.
It takes around 12 days to go to Everest Base Camp and back if you go directly up and down. If you can spare the extra five days, I highly highly recommend the 17 day route via Goyko and the Cho La Pass. It is harder, but the views are even more spectacular – and you get to do a loop, rather than up and down the same way.
I joke that our biggest achievement was none of us got Travelers’ Diarrhea. Nepal has the highest prevalence of this in the world. If you’re trekking up to eight hours a day, you really don’t want this.
We were religious with disinfecting our hands constantly. We used water purification drops or tables on all our water – even for teeth cleaning. We did not eat meat above Namche.
I did get altitude sickness. The rest of the party didn’t. You won’t know if you do, or not, until you get there. Make sure you have a spare day in the schedule, and once above 3,000 metres don’t climb more than 500 metres a day (or technically don’t sleep more than 500 metres higher than the night before).
Generally need to immunise for Hep A, Hep B, Polio, Tetanus, Diptheria and Typhoid. Malaria not a high risk trekking. Rabies is more a risk in Kathmandu than trekking.
Some general issues, taken from Lonely Planet guide:
- Monkeys are holy, but also aggressive and have rabies. Avoid, but do not kill!
- If a bear attacks, lie face down in the ground
- Do not give money or food to beggars, but you can donate to schools or monasteries
- Purify water with iodine – do not buy bottled water. Drink 2l to 4l a day
- Do not wear leather (shoes or belt) inside Hindu temples and wear long trousers in all temples, and no photos in most temples
- Always pass on the left of religious objects, not to the right
- Ask people before taking photos of them
- PDAs are frowned upon
- Don’t point soles of feet at people
- Do not touch children on the head
- Give or receive money with your right hand and touch left hand to elbow as show of respect
- Lukla Airport has been rated the most dangerous airport in the world – seven crashes since 2004 with 36 fatalities
- Nighttime temperatures can be as low as -20 degrees
- Never get between a yak and the ledge as they may knock you over!
- Power surges common so voltage guard with spike suppressor recommended
- Nepali culture uncomfortable with the display of the female leg
- Viagra every 12 hours can help prevent altitude sickness!
I’ve included my gear list below after the break, for those interested.
If you don’t plan to tramp or trek a lot, then it will be far cheaper to buy most of your gear in Kathmandu or hire it in Namche. They have absolutely everything and it is exponentially cheaper.
But if you want top quality gear that you can keep using for other treks and tramps, then you end up spending a lot of money at Macpac, Kathmandu, Bivouvac and Mountain Designs.
The one thing you must have in advance are your boots, as you do not want to try out new boots on a 17 day trek.
Base – Merino x 2
Boots – Tramping
Glasses – Sun
Hat – Balaclava
Hat – Sun
Hat – Warm
Jacket – Down
Jacket – Light (Rain and Wind proof)
Shirt – Merino 140
Shirt – Merino 195 x 2
Shirt – Merino 320
Shirts – T-Shirts x 2
Singlet – Thermal
Socks – Heavy x3
Socks – Light x2
Sweater – Fleece
Trousers – Over
Underwear – Longjohns
Bag – Canvas 100l
Credit Cards x 2
Pack – Daypack 30l
Passport – plus photocopy
Photos – passport x 4 (visa, trek visa x 2, sim card)
Sleeping Bag (suitable for -20 degrees)
Sleeping Bag Thermal Liner
Walking Sticks x 2
Water Bottle x 2
Waterproof Bag for Sleeping Bag
Waterproof Liner for Canvas Bag
Waterproof Pack Cover
Waterproof Pack Liner
Battery for Torch
Cord – camera charging
Cord – external batteries charging
Cord – iPhone charging
Cord – Laptop charging
iPhone external batteries x 2
Plug – double
Plug Adaptor – Type C
Plug Adaptor – Type D
Power Surge Protector
Anti Chafe Cream
Anti-altitude sickness – Diamox- 125 mg tablets x 36
Antibacterical cream – Mupirocin (Bactroban) cream
Antibiotic – Ciprofloxacin 500mg tablets x 12
Antibiotic – Zithromax x 3
Antidiarrhea – Loperamide/Immodium x 20
Antiinflammatory – Ibuprofen 200mg tablets x 20
Antiseptic – Povidone/Iodine 15 mls
Pain Relief – Panadol x 10
Rehydration – Gastrolyte
Strepsils x 6
Toilet Paper x 4
Water Purification – Aquamira
Food (for snacks while trekking)
Dried Apricots 400 gms
Beef Jerky x 4
Chocolate Bars (small) x 12
One Square Meal Bites x 16
Raisin packets x 12