Tag Archives: nepal top hikes

Everest Base Camp – how to do it independently

Contrary to what many websites suggest, the Everest Base Camp trek is a very straight-forward trek and, as such, even for a moderately experienced solo hiker, neither guide nor porter is necessary.

What documents/permits need to be arranged in advance: TIMS (get it on the spot in Kathmandu), National Park Fee (in Kathmandu or on the trail).

Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest Base Camp Trek – starting the ascent to Namche Bazaar

Getting there: The trek starts in Lukla (plane from Kathmandu). It is also possible to walk in from Jiri (12 hours bus-ride from Kathmandu and an additional 5-6 days hike).

The trail: Is like a highway. Up and down valleys bordered by 6000+ meters high mountains. On the standard route to Everest Base Camp I would say it is impossible to get lost. If crossing the three high passes more care may be needed.

Everest Base Camp Trek
                                                Namche Bazaar

The backpack: Pack light, though remember temperatures may drop to minus 10 degrees or more and snow may be encountered at any times: Down jacket, shell jacket and pants, sturdy hiking boots. Consider a four-season down sleeping bag. Consider hiking poles. A backpack with all this equipment need not weigh more than 7 kg.

The teahouses: Are widely distributed. They all serve food and beverages and sell snacks. The accommodation is basic, blankets will be provided, however heating is only available in the dining room. The last teahouses before Everest Base Camp, mainly in Gorak Shep may be full, in which case accommodation will be in the dining room.

Everest Base Camp Trek
                                    Chhukung Valley

Electricity: Sporadically available after Namche Bazaar. I brought solar panels. Note that when temperatures are below zero, the iPhone looses battery power rapidly.

The altitude: Altitude sickness is the major danger. The recommendations from the Himalayan Rescue Association is a maximal daily ascent of 3-400 meters after 3000 meters. As it takes only 1,5 hours to ascend 300 meter and many people are impatient, I saw many guided tours ascend too rapidly with their parties. I saw helicopter evacuations every day. Some recommend intake of Diamox for prevention, however this is, in my opinion, not an alternative to ascending slowly.

The weather: May shift at any time. Above 4500 meter it gets very cold, especially when the sun is not out. Pack accordingly.

Everest Base Camp
I met this porter on the way up to Tengboche. The weight of these two cylinders is 80 kg. I tried but could not even lift them up.

The Most Memorable Moment:
Hiking up the Kongma La Pass at 5535 meter I was surprised by a heavy snowstorm, a genuine whiteout, at about 5400 meter, just below the summit. As I could see nothing I had to turn back down the valley, the track being obliterated I had to find my way down scrambling off-track for 6 hours until I reached Dingboche:

Everest Base Camp Trek
                             On the way to Kongma La Pass
Everest Base Camp
                             Same as above, one hour later

The highlights:

  • Generally, the really spectacular scenery opens up above the tree-limit around Pheriche and the most spectacular scenery was around Chhukung and Kongma La pass.
  • Watching the porters carry impossible loads on their backs and still walking past me.
  • Everest Base Camp itself. Walking around the camp thinking about the history. When I was there the camp was empty as expeditions had been abandoned after an ice avalanche  caused the death of 16  nepalese a couple of weeks earlier.

Itinerary (as walked in April 2014):

I planned to hike over The Three Passes, however after I was forced  to descend the Kongma La Pass by a snowstorm, I walked the ordinary route up via Pheriche and back.

Lukla-Benkar-Namche Bazaar-Tengboche-Pangboche-Dingboche-Chhukung-Kongma La (return)-Dingboche-Dughla-Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp-Pheriche-Namche Bazaar-Lukla.

Everest Base Camp
                                                 Everest Base Camp

Click for photogallery of the hike to Everest Base Camp in April 2014

Annapurna Base Camp trek: 5 highlights

What: Hike to Annapurna Base Camp. Independently, no guide, no porter.

Why: I initially planned to hike the Annapurna Circuit, but I arrived the day after the catastrophic snow-storm and the Annapurna Circuit above Chame was closed. So I decided on the Annapurna Base Camp instead.

When: October 2014

How: Independently, no guide, no porter. 7 kg backpack.

Annapurna Base Camp hike, close to Phedi
                 Annapurna Base Camp hike, close to Phedi

The Itinerary:
Kathmandu-Pokhara (flight)-Phedi (taxi).
Phedi-Deorali-Taglung-Bamboo-Deorali-Annapurna Base Camp-Doban-Chiule-Ghorepani-Poon Hill-Tatopani.

Guidebook: I used the Annapurna Section of the Lonely Planet Trekking in the Himalaya as en e-chapter on my iPhone.

Highlights:

  • The endless steps down from Chhomrong.
  • The occasional monkey spotted in the rain forest below Bamboo.
  • The walk between Machhapuchhare Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp.
  • The view of the South Face and Glacier of Annapurna from Annapurna Base Camp.
  • The many villages on the way, the life and the teahouses.

    Annapurna Base Camp: Sheep
                                   Annapurna Base Camp: Sheep

I remember:

  • How I kept wearing my ultra-light Patagonia Down Jacket even when snow turned to rain and subsequently burned several holes in it trying to dry it in the Doban teahouse dining room.
  • Tea-houses were full-full all the way up from Ghandruk to Annapurna Basecamp – best scenario was getting a place in the dining room to sleep.
  • It was speculated that the disaster briefly closing the Annapurna Circuit led to an overflow of people on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. I certainly was one of them.
  • How I met many ill-prepared people who panicked as it began to snow near Machhapuchhare Base Camp.
  • From watching the porters I learned the invaluable lesson of how to slow down and find the exact pace where I can go on for hours.

Annapurna Circuit – the 13 highlights

I walked the entire Annapurna Circuit in October 2015: Independently, no guide, no porter, walking the 250 km from Besi Sahar to Naya Pul in 21 days. Below the itinerary and links to further posts on the individual stages:

From Besi Sahar to Chame (day 1-5)
Odar village home stay (day 4)
Chame to Manang (day 6-7)
Manang and around (day 8-10)
The 100 rupee monk (day 8)
Tilicho Lake (day 11-12)
Over the Thorung La Pass: Letdar (day 13)-Thorung Pedi (day 14)-Thorung La-Muktinakth (day 15)
From Muktinath to Jomsom (day 15)
Kagbeni (day 15)
Marpha (day 16 and 17)
From Jomsom to Naya Pul: Ghasa (day 18)-Tatopani (day 19)-Chitre (day 20)-Birethanti (day 21)-Naya Pul and a taxi to Pokhara (day 22)

Tilicho Lake
                                                  Tilicho Lake

The highlights of the Annapurna Circuit:

Online information sources on the Annapurna Circuit:

Bemytravelmuse (from Bhulbule to Jomsom)
Backpacker´s guide to the Annapurna Circuit
Wikitravel´s guide to the Annapurna Circuit
NATT alternative trails avoiding the roads

Kagbeni, a medieval mud village

Kagbeni
Kagbeni

The century old village of Kagbeni is the gateway between Lower and Upper Mustang and as far North it is possible to go on the Annapurna Circuit without a permit. Atmospheric, with mud houses clinging onto each other, the main income is trade to and from Tibet as well as cattle.

Kagbeni
Kagbeni

The absolute limit to where one is allowed to go without a permit is the village of Tiri, about an hours walk north of Kagbeni. In 2014 a major road construction project was ongoing almost cutting the village, which may otherwise have been atmospheric, in half.

Cattle near Kagbeni
Cattle near Kagbeni

The complete photogallery of Kagbeni is available on flickr.
This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015

From Muktinath to Jomsom

This high country bordering Higher Mustang is one of the highlights of the Annapurna Circuit.

Muktinath is the most important pilgim site in the Nepal Himalaya for both hindus and buddists.  Muktinath itself may not be so interesting, despite a 7eleven Nepalese style and colourful buildings. The major attraction here is rather observing the myriads of pilgrims, many from India pilgrims paying homage at the temples, gasping in the thin air, carrying huge amounts of luggage.

Muktinath
                                                   Muktinath

The walk down to Jomsom via the medieval mud village Kagbeni passing traditional  villages such as Jhong on the northern side of the river is another highlight of the Annapurna Circuit.

Jhong
                                                      Jhong

The complete photogallery of this area is available on flickr.
This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015.