So you have figured the summit is probably not your thing, but you fancy yourself adventurous enough to give Everest Base Camp a go. Here are 5 things that will make your trip more affordable, adventurous and enjoyable.
1. Plan to trek during wintertime.
We know this defies common sense but hear me out. Going in December, January and February will mean two things. The first being that it will be absolutely freezing, but there are many positives to going at a time with low foot traffic. The beauty of the Himalayas is best experienced when you have the place to yourself. During the peak times the tracks can be congested with more people, noise and filth.
2. Don’t book through a tour company from home.
I did this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you really are throwing your money away. The reality is you are paying a Western travel company a fortune who then books a guide for you, the same guide you could have booked yourself upon arrival in Kathmandu for a fraction of the price. When you first arrive in Nepal (usually via Kathmandu airport) head straight to Thamel and spend a few days seeking a guide and trek date for your Everest Base Camp adventure. Once you have the date locked in explore Nepal with the spare time you have before returning to Kathmandu to start your trek. Booking locally will save you over $1000 AUD.
3. Buying trekking gear in Kathmandu.
I’m not telling you to leave your favourite hiking boots at home but certainly don’t stress if you don’t have any gear. A couple of days in Kathmandu in the Thamel area will sort you out. I picked up 2 x thermal tops and bottoms, gloves, drink bottle, goggles, face buff, beanie, basic jacket and socks for just over $200. I then rented a heavy duty sleeping bag and snow jacket for $2 per day for each item. Not having to buy trekking gear will come as a relief to travellers not wanting to lug snow gear through other countries before you arrive in Nepal.
4. How to deal with the conditions.
If you’re an active, healthy and fit person you will complete the trek. However, if sports and exercise generally makes you scream on the inside you’d want to do a bit of training. Winter treks are glorious, but the chill is a factor. You will sleep in cabins on the way up, but temperatures at midnight get as low as -25C. At night the guide will boil your drinking water for purification, make sure you pop the bottle in your sleeping bag to help keep warm and prevent your water bottle turning into a block of ice by morning. Sensible acclimatisation and taking advice from your guide will put you in the best position to avoid altitude sickness. (Although challenging the Sherpas to a high altitude Soccer or Volleyball game may not be wise) One last thing on conditions, wear your face buff. You may look a bit ridiculous but you wouldn’t want to develop a nasty cough would you? Worst case scenario is that you’ll get pulmonary edema, and that ain’t good.
5. Prices increase with altitude.
Trekking for up to 6 hours per day can take it out of you especially when increasing altitude. Snacks and fluids are the thing that gets you through, but they do have a habit of escalating in price with the altitude. A Mars Bar that cost 80 rupees in Kathmandu may cost 120 in Namche Bazaar, (3440m) and an outrageous 300 rupees in Gorak Shep! (5164m) It is a bit of a running joke with the Sherpas to how the snack prices go up, but it is worth buying extras before your trek at ‘Kathmandu prices’. Showering is about $5 AUD per wash, and if the pipes are frozen it will be more like a warm bucket splash. Battery charging can be as high as $5-6 AUD per charge, which adds up when trekking for 14 days. Keep your batteries warm to avoid losing charge, you wouldn’t be the first to miss out on photos of Base Camp (5364m) and Kalar Patthar (5550m) because your camera is flat….
You’ve got a few tips, now go and enjoy one of the best trekking adventures in the world. Please ask any questions in the comments section below.
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