Who here is guilty of sitting on an idea? Thinking…“hmm I really want to, but should I? Shouldn’t I?” We all do it, there’s no shame in it. I’m not writing this post to tell you to get up and get going (although you totally should…this trip is awesome!), I’m writing it simply to share with you the key bits of information that I feel will help you have a successful trek to Everest Base Camp, ie. to get your butt out there already! What you do with the information is up to you (do it!)
I didn’t want to bombard you with a million tips, facts, do’s and don’ts about how to do your trek, for the most part you’re just making it up and figuring it out as you go along (trust me no amount of reading and researching will prepare you for how it feels to be there!) Which is why I just chose these 5 basic of tips that I feel if you follow, or if you are aware of, then you’ll be able to make this venture happen even if you think you can’t!…
TIP No.1: First and Foremost… Book your flight! Don’t second guess it, don’t question it…just do it! You can think of all the if’s, but’s and what’s after. Obviously make sure you’re able to take the time off work first…I don’t want to be responsible for anyone losing their job now! Or just screw it…Quit! (you didn’t hear that from me! haha). Sometimes you just need to know that flight is booked and you are going, no talking yourself out of it!
TIP No.2: Don’t be freaking out about how fit you need to be/get in order to do this! Seriously guys…if you haven’t been able to destroy yourself at the gym 5 times a week to mold that body into perfect shape before you set off, I’m here to tell you… it’s okay. I trained simply by walking around the country village I live in. I would try and include as many hills as I could, but this is England folks…the hills ain’t that big! When I arrived into Nepal I couldn’t stop reading up on all the training people would do for their treks, and I started panicking! In the end I banned myself from reading anymore. Obviously don’t take the Michael and do nothing or just sit around and eat crap all day long, but ya know….just relax and enjoy the process. The strongest part of the body you’ll need is a strong mind. The belief that you have the ability to do this. If you feel you have this and you know your body is capable, that’s it. You got this 😉
TIP No.3: Costs! Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to cost you your next years salary! I’m not here to tell you what you can and what you can’t afford, but let me just tell you the costs based on what I paid (in 2016), then you can do with that what you will (remember folks it’s all about prioratising):
- Flight: London to Kathmandu return flight from £350 upwards depending on the time of year and how in advance you book. I only booked a one-way flight, but if I assume you want a return this is the price you’re looking from. As a general rule it is cheaper to book well in advance (which also coincides with Tip Number 1). You can find cheap flights with Skyscanner or Netflights, these are my favourites to use.
- Visa: You’ll have three options to choose from on arrival into Nepal; 15 day entry US$25 • 30 day entry US$40 • 90 day entry US$100
- Accommodation in Kathmandu: To stay in the centre of Thamel really you’re looking at anything from 400NPR (approx US$4) for a shared dorm room, up to NPR1200 (approx US$12) for a private room. A good hostel, and a hostel I’ve stayed in a few times is 327Thamel and I paid 500NPR for a dorm. You can of course stay in hotels usually from around US$25, still not a bad price right. If you fancy something a little different and personal then why not try an AirBnB. For my first few nights in Kathmandu I had booked to stay in an AirBnB just outside of Thamel. The landlord I chose to stay with was also (and still is) the owner of his own trekking company, Adventure Glacier Treks and Expeditions, and was able to help me with supplying a guide for my trek. I paid 1200NPR per night for a private room, ensuite and wifi, in a beautiful location.
- Guide: The average cost for a guide is US$25 per day. You can opt to have a porter as well (around US$17 per day) but if you’re happy to pack light and carry your own bag then you won’t need one. Obviously as I mentioned above I was able to arrange my guide before I arrived into Nepal, but if you haven’t been able to do that…worry not! There are more than enough options to chose from once you arrive into Thamel.
- TIMS and Permits: Independent TIMS Card US$20 • Gaurishankar National Park Permit US$20 (only needed when hiking in from Jiri) • Sagamartha National Park Permit US$30.
- Daily Costs: A general rule with the guest houses and tea houses you’ll be staying in is that they don’t charge you for your room as long as you agree to eat all your meals with them, something that you’ll tend to do anyway. If they do charge you’re looking at between 100NPR to 300NPR. Based on an average day of breakfast, lunch and dinner (with tea with each meal), juice stops, water, toilet paper, occasional chocolate bar… you’re looking at an average of US$15 per day between Jiri and Phakding, and an average of around US$25 per day between Phakding and Gorak Shep.
- Bus to Jiri: Don’t expect to pay more that 700NPR to 800NPR.
- Internal flights: For a one-way flight from Lukla to Kathmandu (and vice versa) you’ll pay approximately US$160 per person. You’ll also have to pay the flight fee for your guide, don’t worry though…this is half the price of your flight, approximately US$65.
- Tips for guide: Of course this is a tip, so technically you can pay whatever you like. But an average is around US$80 total. You can pay more or you can pay less depending on what you feel is right.
* Approximate exchange rates (exchange rate can vary from day to day):
US$1 = 106NPR • GBP£1 = 132NPR • GBP£1 = US$1.24
TIP No.4: GET YOURSELF A GOOD PAIR OF HIKING BOOTS!!! (Not hiking shoes… Boots! There are a lot of steep downhills and a lot of loose rocks throughout this trek guys so you need to have good ankle support!) This one really is a no brainer guys, the last thing you want is to scrimp on a crappy pair of boots and be dealing with blisters and bad ankles your entire journey…that’s zero fun! You don’t have to go out there and buy the pimp daddy of all boots, the Bugatti’s of the hiking boot world! But ya know…you’ll want to invest in your feet for this adventure, trust me. I got a pair of The North Face Women’s Verbera Hiker II Boots, and they have been amazing! I didn’t get one blister and they were so comfy the entire time. I’ve worn them in water, mud, rocks, sand and snow. I’ve worn them in mountains, deserts, muddy fields and floods. I wear them whenever I go for any walk, and still today over a year on they are serving me brilliantly! They also do them in half sizes as well.
TIP No.5: Keep a good psychology and have fun! One of the things I think we all fear the most when deciding to do something like this is whether or not we can actually do it. Sometimes, and I’m guilty of doing this too, we talk ourselves out of or into something before it’s actually happened, or hasn’t happened! Why do we do that?? Human nature maybe, fear, the unknown. All plausible excuses, but really that’s all they are…excuses. If you have a good head on your shoulders and a positive outlook, if you stay aware of your body and your abilities, you can totally do this. It’s true what they say ya know, positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity. Sometimes when we are constantly worrying that we are going to get sick or are going to fail, our anxieties will attach themselves on to any twinge or red flag in sight. If we’re too busy having a good time and enjoying our challenges and fighting to stay strong, hopefully those twinges and red flags will go by completely unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong, things can happen; altitude sickness is a real thing, it can hit anyone at any time and if you get it you absolutely should NOT ignore it. You can slip and hurt yourself, of course. But just go with the attitude of if it happens it happens and we’ll deal with it then. What I’m saying is don’t go looking for it.
This is an experience that will stay with you forever. Sometimes, when you’re on a particularly tough trail you’ll be thinking dear god please just end. The thing to remember is that it does end…you’ll be back home living your life again before you know it. So whilst you can, whilst you’re in some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes found on this planet….lose yourself in it and make the absolute most of your time 😉