An excellent all round holiday. The quite diverse group (both in terms of background and trekking ability) got on extremely well, Shillash our Exodus guide was a true professional and the scenery and weather were excellent. I would recommend this holiday to anyone who has some previous trekking experience and who is in good physical shape.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The most inspirational moment of the trip was reaching Everest Base Camp on Friday 13th March and standing on the glacier. Due to high winds the previous day, the only poor weather day on the holiday, the trip to EBC was postponed until the Friday, however, it was well worth the wait.
A second highlight of the holiday was the flight into and out of Lukla airport in the Biggles-like Sita Airways plane. Lukla is a short take off and landing airport with a rather short runway; the aircraft appear to need every metre of runway that was available (or so it appeared to us at the time!)
- What did you think of your group leader?
- Shillesh was excellent, very calm and professional throughout. He looked after us throughout the holiday, always making sure that everyone had their food, were safe and coping well with the altitude / the trip in general. In the end he needed to make a difficult call about who could go to Base Camp, (which members of the group could safely manage to get to Base Camp and then back down to the lodge in daylight) and who would be unable to go because of fitness issues.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
My advice is as follows:
Do not underestimate this holiday, although it is only a C grade (perhaps undergraded a bit, C / D may be more appropriate), make sure that you are in good shape before you go to give yourself every possible chance of reaching Base Camp. Trekking in the UK does little to prepare you for altitude, consider distance running as a good way to get in shape.
Make sure you budget about £350 for the 13 day trek side of the holiday (this is what our Exodus Leader recommended) as our group found that they spent more than anticipated / suggested in the trip notes. In the lower lodges prices are more reasonable but costs go up in line with the altitude. For example at Lukla a litre of water cost around 100 rupees (just under a £) but at Gorak Shep this was about 250. Mars Bars / Snickers cost 80 rupees in Namche Bazaar but about 150 higher up. You also need to factor in the holiday only includes breakfasts in Kathmandu, so you need to pay for absolutely everything and it all mounts up. For instance showers, battery charging, hot water (either boiled or bottled and you will need about 5L of the stuff) all need to be paid for at tourist prices. In many of the lodges there was a lack of access to water, so you cannot rely on been able to put iodene into your own water.
Take the following items with you:
- A large supply of energy food (either take from the UK or buy in Kathmandu) as this will save quite a lot of money. They are not precious about the weight of your kit bag on the way out (within reason of course) as long as the zip can be fastened on the trek then this appeared to be fine. When you are buying the junk food also stack up on some toilet rolls as this will save money and get you a better class of loo roll!
- Take a buff headscarf with you as this will be needed to cover your mouth; the trek is extremely dusty.
- The group appeared to get through several packets of Strepsils / throat sweets because of the dust, take some supplies.
- Take a duvet jacket, warm hat that covers your ears and a good pair of gloves. You will need to wear the duvet jacket in the evenings as heating is very limited.
- Don't take heaps of clothes, washing facilities are available in at least a couple of places (reasonable prices).
- Bring a headtorch and a good book, there isn't much to do in the evening and the porters tend to want you out of the living areas quite early in the evening so they can go to sleep.
Finally don't put micropause tape / sticky tape in your hand luggage from Kathmandu to Lukla and v.v. as they are considered dangerous and ours were confiscated! Aerosol sprays (even under 100ml in size) are also on the banned list.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Book a single room for the first two nights in Kathmandu, it only costs about £10 per night. I failed to do this and ended up sharing with a lady who had the cold from hell, so no sleep for me for two nights and this was then followed by the lurgy which nearly ruined my holiday. Don't risk it get your own room.
Don't rely on using a hydration pack for the trip to EBC, buy a Sigg / Nalgene bottle as well. The tube of the hydration pack froze on the way to Base Camp and also one night in the lodge it was so cold in the bedroom.
Also remember to take two passport photos for your trekking pass, most of our group appeared to miss the small print on the joining instructions and forgot (me included), not a big thing though as we were able to get our photos taken in Kathmandu.
Finally, go for it!!!!!!!!!!!!