An Astronomical adventure, phenomenal photographic playground and a climax of culture- hiking to the heights of Mount Everest Base Camp is understandably one of the world’s most famous treks.
Towering over the rest of the world, Mount Everest is a hikers’ paradise. While conquering the peak of this monster is a little beyond most travelers’ capabilities (not to mention budgets), the minimum 8 day trek to Everest Base Camp is greatly more accessible while still remaining endlessly rewarding.
Flying into Lukla, the adventure begins. Considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world, Tenzing Hillary Airport is nestled right in the heart of the Himalayas. Flying over head the runway appears minuscule, in reality it is a mere 480 meters long, angled upwards to prevent your plane crashing into the mountain wall at one end and a steep drop off into a valley at the other. Needless to say it’s a terrifying flight, particularly if you have decided to Google the fatality rates the night before take off, which I do not suggest doing! Assuming you do land safely, your first day of trekking through the Himalayas begins.
Bubbling creeks rush next to the hiking trail as sunlight forces its way through gaps in the pine forest and mountains tower over you from every direction. If you finally catch your breath from hiking through the highest mountain range in the world, the beauty of the Himalayas is bound to snatch it right back from you, particularly when the clouds offer you your first momentous view of Mount Everest.
Sherpas and their yaks (only found in the Himalayas) race past you with an ease that seems almost alien. Friendly villages welcome you with a plate of steaming momos to refuel for the huge days spent walking and local dogs become loyal friends, following your trail for days as you cross numerous suspension bridges and clamber slowly uphill until you find yourself looking down onto the clouds and helicopters also headed for Base Camp.
Usually not one for cliches, I try and avoid overused travel slogans (#wanderlust) however this trek is truly about the journey and not the destination. Take your time and take it all in- the beautiful scenery soon disappears as the altitude dictates what can survive in such harsh conditions and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by barren plains.
The pleasure in arriving at Everest Base Camp is largely symbolic, it is as close to the top of the world as many of us can hope to reach but visually uneventful. If you can force yourself up what is often considered the hardest stretch of the Base Camp trek, Kala Patthar, your reward will be a 360 degree view of the Himalayas with Mount Everest at the forefront, the true treat of the trek.
The road back down becomes easier and easier as oxygen creeps its way back into the atmosphere. You’ll soon find yourself breezing past weary travelers headed upwards, who struggle to gasp out a friendly hello as they adjust to the altitude you have already contended with. The biggest challenge for you now is getting on a plane back to Kathmandu from Lukla, with frequently cancelled flights the only thing standing between yourself and a well earned hot shower.
Having traipsed around each corner of the globe, Nicolle believes travel is accessible to everyone and aims to inspire others by debunking myths about budget, solo travel and fear mongering. An up and coming writer, Nicolle is a regular contributor to Global Hobo and has collaborated with companies worldwide.