A Travellerspoint blog

Every breath you take

Nankartshang Peak - 5050m

sunny 23 °C

We have two nights in Dingboche before we move on and today was an aclimatisation walk to prepare for the harder days ahead. The objective for the morning was to scale the Nankartshang Peak, at 5050m the highest I've ever been outside of a plane. We started our steep decent early taking it slowly, slowly with Mr Pemba in the lead. As we gained height the air became thinner and thinner and rest breaks more frequent to get our breath back.

At about 5000m two of the party had to turn back due to breathlessness and I must admit I nearly did as well. But with perseverence and a stop to take in gulps of air every 10m or so the objective was at last achieved. The views were spectacular and won't be done jsutice to by any photographs. After about 20 mins we started to desend and as we got lower and lower the breathing started to get a lot easier. Lunch of a celebratory egg and chips followed by a hot shower and we are ready for whatever tomorrow has to bring. This afternoon is chill out time and we are making the best use of it. I think I might just have a nap.

Posted by DJBen 02:42 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Yak attack!

Above the tree line

sunny 24 °C

As we start to get to higher altitudes we are starting to see Yaks trains rather than Dzos. It makes a welcome relief to stop for a minute or two while the beasts troop by many carrying supplies to Everest Base Camp for the summit expeditions. We've now got a system to make sure we are not caught unawares (Yaks wait for no one). The first person to see Yaks approaching shouts "Yak Attack" and we all jump of the path or make way as best as possible. We've been warned they can be quite agressive if provoked.

Descending from Thyanboche we saw our first Musk deer a female. Poaching is quite a problem here and the deer aren't that shy so it increases the risk for them. We then follwed the river valley up to Pangboche for a quick drinks break. We've been told that the 'Che' in place names refers to the fact that the area used to be used for farming, Che evidently means Yak Dunk!

Further on we stopped at Somare for lunch before our final march to Dingboche with of course a climb right at the end. We were joined jsut after Somare by three children between the ages of 6 and 10 who were walking home from school. They lived in Dingboche and went to school in Pangboche a journey of at least two hours. They were full of laughter and kept doing handstands, sliding down stones and playing hide and seek. When we stopped they stopped, although they wouldn't let us take their photographs. Eventually when we got Dingboche a bit of bribery my Mr Pemba (a chocolate eclaire each) enabled us to get a photo to remember their hi jinks. What western children would walk 2 hrs to and from school every day unaccompanied at that age. They definately brigtened up our day and it was great to see children enjoying life so much without the need for computer games, television and other trappings of our material world.

Posted by DJBen 02:28 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Sting in the tale

Namche to Thyangboche

sunny 23 °C

What i've realised so clearly and already mentioned is nothing is flat hear. You can look on a map and expect a fairly straight forward days trek until you actually expeirence the reality of the geography. For example Namche is at 3450m, Thyanboche is 3850m so a nice gradual climb for the day could be expected. Think again! We started with an imeadiate steep ascent of 400m because Sallis told us that the 'High Route' was much better for us. We passed Namche airstrip, home of helicoptors and the occasional small charter plane. Half an hour further on we reached the Everest Hotel were for an in flated price we were allower to sit on the patio and enjoy the views of Everest and Ama Dablam.

A quick decent through some woods took us on to Khunjung to visit the school founded by Sir Edmund Hillary, it was lovely to learn about the school and see soem of the children's paintings. We were particularly taken with the various Yeti drawings.

Sallis has advised us to wear buffs over our nose and mouth due to the dry air and dust. Most of us have taken him up on this advice and it has clearly made a difference. The path from Khunjung was particularly dusty as we had a long decent down to the river crossing at Phunki Tenga here we had a welcome lunch (Egg and Chips pure luxery!). We were entertained by the owners two year old son who kepy waving at us and the running away to hide behind his dad. We did evntually coax him out to have his picture taken.

OK now for the sting in the tale, Phunki Tenga is 600m below Thyangboche our final destination for the day (So in total we would ascend 1000m) It took us jsut over 2 hours to slog up through the trees before we reached Thyangboche Monastry for a quick tour and photo opportunity before decending to our tea house for a welcome hot drink. This is the first lodge with an outside squat toilet so I'm hoping I don't have to make too many visits in the night. Its definately a lot colder up here and the difference between day temperatures in the sun and night temperatures is quite extreme.

After dinner Mr Pemba told us about the time he saw a Yeti in 1976, he was very convincing but I'm probably still a sceptic. Who knows though we might see one tomorrow.

Posted by DJBen 02:09 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

The so called rest day!!!!!

A day around Namche Bazaar

sunny 16 °C

OK, I suppose it was a rest day really, but it didn't start like one. We were woken with black tea at 6.30 am, breakfast at 7.00 and then a 7.30 climb up countless steps to 'Everest View' and the National Park Museum for our first site of Everest. (see picture) A leisurely look around the museum followed by a quick visit to the Sherpa cultural centre and then a circular walk around the top of Namche for a view from the Helicopter pad. As an added extra we witnessed one of the few Helicopter flights of the day taking a man with a broken leg (as a result of a paragliding accident) back to Kathmandu.

Back for lunch and then a bimble around the shops getting a few more essentials for when we are out in the wilds, toilet paper, headache tablets and Haribo sour sweets. So that might be it for some time, not sure how much internet will be available over the next 2 weeks. Sallis says the day tomorrow is quite tough all the way to Thyangboche probably another 8 hours walking and another steep climb at the end, oh joy! But in reality we will be above the tree line and the views are likely to become more and more spectacular it should be great.

Posted by DJBen 05:15 Archived in Nepal Tagged everest nepal bazaar namche Comments (0)

A long long day

Phakding to Namche Bazaar

sunny 19 °C

A wake up call with black tea at 7.30 am sees us packed and ready for the first tough trekking day. An 8 hour hike including an 800m height gain would see us arriving in our destination of Namche Bazaar, the main town of the sherpas.

It started similar to the last day, up and down over rope bridges without making any height gain, a lunch stop at the Mount Kailash Lodge for our lunch stop of ‘Sherpa Soup’ and lemon tea. Soon after the entrance to the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park heralded a steep drop to the river’s edge before we started to climb steeply. Sallis had warned us about the last rope bridge of the day with a mere 300 m drop below it. But saying it is one thing, walking across it was another. I can’t say I’m looking forward to going back that way in three week’s time. What made it worse was we had a ‘Dzo Jam’ (A dzo is a cross between a Yak and a cow). There was a whole party of the things crossing the bridge and creating a traffic jam the other side. We just had to wait for what seemed an eternity gazing into the abyss and wondering how strong steel cables really were. After the ‘simple’ task of crossing the bridge (without trying to look through the grid at the drop below) the real climb began. We still had 650 m of steep zig-zags to negotiate. We were accompanied for most of the way by to young girls carrying bags twice the size of themselves on their backs with only a strap across the forehead to take the load. I struggle with a small back pack so you have got to admire the local people and what they do to make a simple living.

The climb plodded on step by step with precipitous drops to the side until we reached a police post just before Namche. A final few steps saw us turning the corner for our first site of the bustling town, gift shops, internet cafes and all. We’ve got a ‘rest day’ tomorrow allegedly, although we still have to do an acclimatisation walk in the morning. However a hot shower, hot meal and a good night’s sleep should see right.

Posted by DJBen 00:17 Archived in Nepal Tagged everest nepal bazaar namche kumbu Comments (0)

Lukla Landings

The first trekking day Lukla to Phakding

sunny 22 °C

For the last few weeks before the holiday a few of my friends have been showing me U tube videos and quoting statistics about Lukla Airport. Yes I know it's one of the most dangerous airports in the world but I didn't need reminding every day of the fact before I am going to land there. Most treks to the Everest region start from Lukla, so we found ourselves at 10 am at Kathmandu airport for the Tara Airlines flight to Lukla. The planes take 16 people with an open cockpit so we could see the pilots reading their newspapers while we waited on the taxi strip for another plane to take off. Clearly they weren't worried about the flight so why should we? 45 minutes later after a hazy view of the Everest range we were on our final approach to Lukla. One of our party Viv, was hiding behind her backpack but in no time at all it was all over. A quick nose dive and the tarmac reared up in front of us and touch down. We were then quickly dismissed from the plane it was loaded with more passengers and turned round within 10 mins. Beats Ryan Air anytime and you are given a free sweet on the flight. If you are interested just search for Lukla airport on U-tube.

So on to the trek.

We were told the first day was a gentle down hill hop to Phakding were we would stay the night in a tea house/lodge. The problem in this region is down doesn't mean down. Down means down a bit, up a bit, down a bit more over a chain bridge, up a bit more the other side and so on. The scenery from the start is breathtaking walking along the Dudh Kosi (Milk River valley) passing many small villages on route with a long stop for lunch were Veggie Noodle soup was devoured with relish. Four hours later we find ourselves at the Sherpa Farmhouse Lodge were we were treated to black tea before our evening meal. From the menu Yak Steak just had to be tried which tasted a bit like a cross between beef and liver and was very welcome after 4 hours of walking.

So to bed but tomorrow is the first tough day 8 hours walking to Namche Bazaar main town of the Sherpas including about 800m of ascent. I just hope we don't have to go up, then down, then up, then down, etc as we went today.

Posted by DJBen 04:44 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Temples and more temples

Sightseeing in Kathmandu

sunny 24 °C

First full day in Kathmandu and starting to come back down to earth. After the initial sensory explosion you quickly become adjusted to the chaotic nature of life here. The day started with our early morning briefing for the start of the trek tomorrow. Photos and passport for entering Everest national park, instructions on packing and weight limit (12kg) followed by an overview of the route and an introduction to AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). I decided that I had most of the symptoms just listening to it! 9 o’clock flight to Lukla and then we start for real.

So what to do with the day we had?

We took an easy option and went on a guided tour of three of the temples in Kathmandu. First a mad half hour through the streets where everything and anything can be expected. My favourite was a bike riding down the middle of a dual carriageway towards us, but that only just beat the guy who decided to turn left from the right hand lane by just closing his eyes and going for it. Instead of mirror, signal, manoeuvre, its manoeuvre and keep your hand on the horn until people either stop of get out of the way. Surprisingly though we saw no accidents, it seems that everyone has a sixth sense to understand when an overloaded bus is going to deviate from its path for no apparent reason.

The first point of call was Swayambhu World Heritage Site, commonly known as the monkey temple. Perched on a hill overlooking the valley this is said to be one of the holiest sites in Nepal with both Hindu and Buddhist temples. Instead of pickpockets you are warned against the monkeys who will take any food and also have an interest in unattended bags. There are hundreds of prayer wheels with devotees revolving them clockwise as they pray. You are also meant to walk around the ‘Stupa’ in a clockwise direction.

Our second temple Boudhanath is the focal point for Tibetan Buddism in Nepal and is the largest Stupa in South East Asia, with kindly monks and no monkeys. A roof garden restaurant was a good place to unwind with noodle soup and a plate of chips as we watched the worshippers make their way round clockwise, always clockwise.

The final destination Pashupatinath is the largest Hindu temple in Nepal and probably the most fascinating. Although we weren’t allowed inside the actual temple we could walk around outside taking pictures for 100 rupees a time of the Sadhus, the Hindu wandering monks with their rainbow coloured faces. The site that gives the biggest pause for thought however was the open cremations carried out by the holy Bagmati river. As in all places life has a cycle and in Kathmandu you see if all in front of you in a visibility that can be quite challenging to a western eye.

The evening saw us getting last minute essentials and changing our money to Rupees for the whole of the trek. The slight problem is that £400 (which will pay for all meals for 21 days ) = 50,000 Nepali Rupees. Add to this that the highest value note we have is 500 you can easily work out that that’s a lot of paper money to carry around. I think I better check that weight limit for the flight one last time.

Posted by DJBen 09:55 Archived in Nepal Tagged temple nepal sadhu kathmandu hindu budha Comments (0)

First thoughts

Arriving in Kathmandu

overcast 21 °C

After what seems like several days travelling we’ve arrived in Kathmandu. Our guide Sallas met us at the airport and our bus driver who we presume was training for the Australian Grand Prix got us to the hotel in no time at all. Everything seems a bit disorganised (in a nice way) and takes time to sort. It took four men at one desk for example to sort our Visas. It just seemed that each was checking what the one before them had done. The Hotel Royal Singhi is fine enough although perhaps not the 4 stars it boasts. We’ve met the other people on the trek and they all are much younger and look much fitter than me! Tonight we are going for a meal with Sallas and then crash out before a full-on day in Kathmandu tomorrow.

Posted by DJBen 04:54 Archived in Nepal Tagged cities nepal kathmandu Comments (0)

High Passes of Everest

Introduction

With a month to go excitement and a fair amount of panic is setting in. Last minute inoculations, purchase of those things you always forget like, Jungle Formula bug spray, (for Chitwan), hand wash, environmentally friendly shower gel and shampoo (not that I need it), spare batteries for the camera, etc. Going to miss my wife and family that is for sure, and a bit concerned about reactions to altitude, tummy bugs etc. But still a great Adventure the highs will surely make it all worthwhile.

Three high passes, five summits plus Everest Base Camp followed by 3 days in Chitwan National Park

According to Exodus Holidays this is the ultimate Everest trek.

The trek itself starts in the Khumbu Valley, home of the Sherpas, and then acclimatising before following the trail taken by many of the great Everest climbers to Dingboche. Ascending Nangkartshang Peak. and Chukkung Ri for views of some of the biggest mountains in the world.

The first 'High Pass' is the Kongma La, with close up views of Nuptse, and then on to Lobuje, an ascent of Kala Pattar for the classic view of the south face of Everest. Then over the Cho La pass and on to the quieter Gokyo Valley with glacial lakes and an ascent of Gokyo Ri. The final pass is the Renzo La which will take us into the Thame Valley and the final leg of the circular trek back to Lukla.

Most of the walking above 3600m with the highest mountain 'Chukkung Ri' at 5546m.

The visit to Chitwan will be active but more relaxing with an opportunity to see some wildlife. It's unlikely that we will encounter a tiger but sounds like there is more of a chance of seeing the Indian rhino, monkeys, and crocodiles. the Elephant safari in particular sounds like fun.

Posted by DJBen 03:50 Comments (2)

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