Part 1

Kathmandu – Lukla (2860m)  – Phakding (2640m) – Namche (3440m) –  Everest View Hotel (3880m) – Dole (4200m) – Machharmo (4470m)

Flying to Lukla ;Trekking to Phakding (2640m) Namche (3440m) and Everest View Hotel (3880m) ; Hiking day 1 to 3 (7th November,2016 to 9th November, 2016)

If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail – Heraclitus

*Photo taken in Machherma (4470m), Khumjung, Nepal

This is the day that we started our trip to Everest Base Camp. Five of us were picked up by our Guide Dil, from the hotel to the domestic airport. Dil told us that there are weight limits of 15kg for each person and most of us unluckily exceeded the weight limit! Fortunately, these flight attendant did not stop us from boarding.

The flight took us around 40-50 minutes to reach Lukla town (2860m) from Kathmandu. It was a small aeroplane which carries around 15-20 passengers. The aeroplane is so compact that we can watch the Pilot operates the aeroplane from our seats. Lukla airport (which is also known as Tenzing Hillary Airport) is a small airport located in Lukla Town rated as one of most dangerous airports in the world. Despite these scary and nerve-racking stories that I have heard from, we landed safely anyway.

*You can observe how the pilot manages the aeroplane from your seat.

*You know there will be serious aircraft noise when the air-stewardess is giving out cotton balls

*Lukla airport (also known as Tenzing Hillary Airport) (Credited to the photographer Alex Ng)

We had our first hiking breakfast in Lukla and filled in a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) Registration Card given by our guide.

Shortly, we get ourselves ready and started our first day of hiking towards EBC. Our group consists of five hikers including me myself, on top of that, we have one guide, one assistance guide and three porters joining us across the whole trip.

*Registration card for trekker that needed to be filled up

*First hiking breakfast in Lukla, tasted good. ( It doesn’t taste good after having it continuously for three days)

The first day of hiking was undemanding. There was no big steep climb along the route, mainly small up and down hills (Our guide called it as the “Nepali Flat”). We came across a lot of tea houses, lodges, small farms, and few hanging bridges;  and what we did was mainly walking along the rivers.

*Our route on our first day of hiking

Also, we passed through plenty of prayer rocks (which is known as Mani stone, it is a group of stone plates, rocks or pebbles with mantra inscribed) and prayer wheels along the whole hiking route.

These Mani should be walk through from the left side (clockwise direction), and prayer wheel should spins in a direction of clockwise according to Dil. This is how earth and the universe revolve, referring to Buddhist teaching. Locals believe by doing so will bring us good luck.

*Mani Stone photo taken before Phakding (Credited to photographer Alex)

*We need to cross a few hanging bridge before we reached Namche. (Credited to the photographer Alex)

My thumb was stung by some unknown creature when I was taking picture of my friend besides one of these hanging bridges. It was a very short sharp pain (similar with bee sting but lighter pain) and caused serious irritation on my skin. I thought it was some kind of high mountain bee but it turned out to be a type of stinging plant as told by Dil.

*The innocent looking stinging plant that stung me. (Mum’s advice is always right, don’t simply touch this and that!)

We reached our destination, Phakding (2640m) (Yes, we were actually descended to a lower altitude) around 3 – 4 hours. The first day was quite a good warm up and a great jump start for our trip.

We settled down and got some rest before our dinner. Dil briefed us on tomorrow schedule before we catch a good night rest (his usual routine before the next day of hiking). He shared with us a lot of useful and handy information such as terrain, temperature, gear to be carried with and etc especially in relation to our destination tomorrow (Namche 3440m).

Dil also taught us how to prevent AMS which by taking our time and walk slowly, drink more water, rest well, eat well and taking half of the pill of Diamox each morning and evening (250mg of Acetazolamide). We have been told that It is best to take it 1-3 days before our hiking trip in high altitude.

*Dining room of our lodge, usually contains of a heater (fuelled by timber/ or yak’s dried dump)

We departed from Phakding around 8:00am after our breakfast. The trail led us to cross several hanging bridges, easy up hills and we reached Sagarmatha National Park entrance. (Sagarmath is Nepalese name of Mt Everest). We took a break here while waiting for our guide to register with the local authority.

*Entrance of Sagarmatha National Park.

We continued our way to Namche after the registration. The trail was quite occupied, filling with tourists, porters, and various animals. Their transportation of resources depend on either porters or mainly animals i.e. donkeys, cows and yaks. We were told that porters in Khumbu are actually stronger than these animals. I am really amazed by their strength of carrying more than 50kg weights on their back and still able to walk faster than an average hiker!

*Porter carrying massive weights, just another typical strong porter here.

*Local Logistic

We arrived at the famous “Hillary Suspension Bridge” after few hours of hiking. This is the bridge that featured in the “Everest” film in 2015. The view from the bridge is really beautiful and we were lucky that we got to see some mountain goats wandering on the opposite of the river.

*The famous Hillary Suspension Bridge.

We continued to hike towards some uphills. The dry sandy trail took us about 1 hour to reach the first view point of Everest. Beware of the public toilet here because one of them is free entry but the other charges for using it.

*First glimpse of Mt Everest! Sorry for poor quality zoom in.

*Make sure you entered the correct toilet if you would not like to pay extra:P

Finally, we arrived at the Namche village (3440m) after around 5 – 6 hours hiking today. I was very tired due to trekking through up hills today. I think my body was yet to adapt to the high altitude. I was fortunate enough to have a hot shower upon our arrival (Normally lodge will run out of hot water during late afternoon due to limited solar power).

*Prayer rocks and prayer wheels in Namche. You can watch this scene in the “Everest” movie!

We will be staying in Namche for two nights before we proceed to the next station Dole. Dil  advised that we must not consume meat after Namche to avoid any food poisoning because meat in higher altitude is not fresh due to transportation and storage issues.

Besides, Namche will be the last village that we have our own toilet and electricity port in the room. We will have to use public toilets and pay to charge our electronic devices after Namche (basically we need to pay for almost everything). I then realised and concluded that Namche is a paradise with good facilities (despite these facilities is still poor compare to modern hotels) after a few days of staying in higher lodges.

*The beautiful Namche village

*Our room in Namche. This actually summarized how these room look like around here. You will have some wall hooker and a table if you are lucky.

We took the second day in Namche to do acclimatization and some shopping. The trip to Everest View Hotel took us around 2-3 hours. There were a lot of helicopters flying on us when we were hiking which I assumed that these helis were probably meant for rescue missions.

*Before we started our hike to Everest View Hotel with prayer wheels behind us.

*View of Namche during our way to Everest View Hotel (Credited to the photographer Alex)

We had a tea break at the Everest View Hotel and enjoyed the beautiful view of Mt Everest there. After 30 minutes, we went back to Namche. In the evening, we chilled and relaxed in a cafe named “Sherpa Barista” and enjoyed their free Wi-Fi. I would say the Wi-Fi wasn’t up to my expectation and standard but what do we expect from a free Wi-Fi in an altitude of 3440m?

*Amazing view of Mt Everest (On the left, you can catch the view of Mt Everast which is the lowest ice mountain in the picture)

*On the way back to Namche (Credited to the Photographer Alex Ng)

Trekking to Dole (4040m) and Machharmo (4470m); Hiking day 4 to 5 (10th November, 2016 to 11th November, 2016)

Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence. Be confidence, but not overconfidence.

*Photo taken in Machharmo (4470m)

As usual, we had our breakfast at 7.00am and started our hiking to Dole (4200m) at 8.00am. After around 30-40 minutes we left Namche, we came across a beautiful trail along the mountain side and there was a lady and man asking for donation.

I have read in some blogs earlier about this old man building and maintaining part of the trail after Namche towards the Everest Base Camp. The trail is really well maintained and they are still building the trail towards to Everest Base Camp, do show some supports by giving some donation to them.

*Donation information board

*Highway toll (Donation Box) with our super guide Dil chilling at the back.

*Kesas highway toward EBC! (Credited to the photographer Alex)

*Chilling and resting

We took a total of 5 – 6 hours to reach Dole (4040m). Most of the hikes around this few days are still easy and undemanding until we head to Dzungla via CHOLA PASS (this was the hardest part so I have capitalize).

My stomach was feeling funny and my head was feeling really not comfortable when I was in Dole. I was unsure why but probably because it was first night after 4000m or it might due to the small and compact dining room in the lodge. This was one of the hardest nights for me but luckily things did not go worse after that.

*The small village Dole

*You will see this phase in every toilet here. (Imagine doing big business with a basket of USED AND “FILLING” TISSUES PAPER next to you)

Time spending in Dole was nothing much interesting. We took 4 – 5 hours hike to Machharmo (4470m) on the second day.

*Yak: “Hiker taking picture of me, must act cool” (While we were on our way to Machharmo)

*Just me relaxing and enjoying the superb view.

*Reaching Machharmo valley! (Credited to the photographer Alex)

Machharmo is one of my favourite valleys so far, surrounded by mountains thus offering magnificence view. I went out of my lodge to take some night lapse photos. It was really freezing out there but I was too excited to play with my action camera (resulted very sleepy on the second day).

*Star Wars feeling view in Machharmo. Personally, I really like this valley.

*Night view in Machharmo. This is the best I could do as a first timer in taking night lapse picture.

At this altitude, it is common to pay up to 350rp (around RM14) for a litre of bottle water or hot water, 350-400rp (around RM14-RM16) to charge your electronic device for one hour. I started to filter my own drinking water (add water purify pill after filter for double security) a lot to save my money.

*Daily activity, filtering drinking water.

Time in Machharmo was really pleasant compare to Dole. I was really excited as the day after we will be reaching at the famous world highest fresh water lake, Gokyo Lake!

Please go to EVEREST BASE CAMP VIA GOKYO PART TWO to continue your reading!