So I googled and found plenty of information about the treks and the scenery but little information about the facilities. So here it goes, my little 2 cents worth of tips and information about the Everest treks from Lukla to Tengboche (3,900m) to add on to Stuart wonderful pictures and description of our day to day trekking. Bear in mind that we were there in mid March so it was much colder.
Our organizer told us it is a easy walk in the park and there is not much training needed. Stuart and I did not believe him. I am a lady of “so so” fitness who only started exercising when I retired 5 years ago. 2x a week at home – 30 min on the cross trainer and 1 hour of yoga. From mid January onwards, I exercised 2x a week at home – 50 mins on the cross trainer covering 5.8 km each time and 1 hour of stretching and yoga plus once a week of 2 hours walking on the jungle treks in Bukit kiara covering about 4 km each time. I trekked with my 2 trekking sticks which are a life saver when trekking in Nepal. So I had 2 months of training and I could feel myself getting fitter.
List of things to bring
Our organizer told us our luggage are to be carried by the porter and is restricted to 25 kilos in total for 2 of us. My girlfriend Karen lend me a big rucksack and I prepared a list of things to bring for our 7 days trekking .
- dry fit T-shirts (or less as you don’t really need to change every day) ,
- 2 pairs of dry fit pants,
- 1 woolly jumper (very important as it is extremely cold)
- my timberland wind/rain proof jacket with hood and 1 pair of RM5 daisho rain pants. If you do not have a rain proof jacket just buy the disposable RM5 raincoat from Daisho or Guardian.
- a warm scarf for your neck, a woolly beanie hat (or a nepalese beanie < RM10 in Kathmandu),
- a pair sunglasses and a good hat (I brought my Korean super visor),
- a waist pouch to put your cash and passport (remember to put these important stuff in a waterproof ziplock bag), 2 energy bar/chocolate, your camera and mobile phone, tissues, wet ones and hand sanitizer. Better to have side pockets in pouch for small bottles of water,
- Water bottles
- 3 or 4 pairs of warm thick socks and your very well tested water proof trekking boots (not so old one as the glue may split). If you have new shoes , remember to break in the shoes at least 1 month before your trip.
- Disposable underwear and for ladies your change of bra.
- Your very trusted 2 trekking sticks that can save your life if you practise using it the correct way.
Night wear /use
- 2 thermal long sleeve tops and 1 pair of thermal long pants, can get from Uniglo.
- 1 pair of thick pyjama (lounge) pants also from uniglo and another woolly cardigan
- a pair of really thick woolly socks that you can wear with a pair of light casual shoes (we brought the RM5 Daisho rubber slippers that can double up as slippers in the bathroom as the bathroom/toilet floors are very dirty).
- Pillow case and very importantly a sleeping bag, (thickness depending on the time of the year you go). If you are fussy like me, a single bedsheet. Your sleeping bag is very important as it can keep you clean and warm so you can sleep in the freezing temperature room as there is no heating.
- A torch.
- A quick dry towel (just in case you get a chance to have hot showers which is rare)
- A small thermos to fill hot water.
- Lots of wet wipes (those that remove makeup and sunblock on your face) and those for your body and intimate parts as you have little chance to get hot water (some of the places water is heated by solar panel so it is weather dependent)
- Toilet paper (not provided for in most lodges)
- Tissue paper
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer (life saver as you may not get water to wash your hands after using the toilet)
- Toiletries – small bottle of face cleanser and toner (if you get hot water ),lots of moisturizers, small bottle of shampoo and conditioner (just in case you get a chance of wash your hair), shower gel, lots of body cream, lip gloss / sun protection
- Lots of high UV 50+++ sunblock for your face and neck.
- A nail clipper or nail polisher just in case your toe nails gives you problems with the shoes.
- Medicines that may save your life – high altitude tables (diamox), ciprofloxin antibiodics (for flu, inflamed bites, or in my case serious diarrhoea), immodium, allergy pills, cold decongestant pills, charcoal pills, panadols, plaster, muscle ache oilments, rehydration salts (oralite), antiseptic cream and maybe a small first aid bag.
- Comfort food (like sambal/chilli/noodles) or drinks (chocolate/milo/nestum), some biscuits , energy bars and chocolate .
- Your vitamins and supplements ( lots of people catch colds so I had 1000mg of vitamin C a day).
- If you have space bring some sweets for the local children and they will love you.
- A plastic tumbler and water disinfection tablet. Soak tablet in tumbler for clean water to rinse your mouth when you get into the lodge.
- Organise all your clothing (day and night), medicine, and supplies in individual ziplock bags and press out all the air so that it is tight and easy to pack. Bring an extra plastic bag for dirty /wet clothing. You can get these vacuum plastic bags at Daisho at RM5 per pack.
- Don’t need to bring change of clothing every day as you may not need it since it is so cold. I did not bring any makeup as it is too cold to bother with it. But sunblock is very important. Your wet wipes are a must so don’t forget to bring lots. Do not need to wear any earrings or jewellery as it is too much trouble and no one cares how you look.
- Food – Don’t need to bring tin food unless you are fussy as most of the time the food served is quite edible. Fried noodles with vegetables and chicken, fried rice, curry chicken , dhal,delicious little momo chicken dumplings , some good lodges even served eggs (cooked any style) with sausages, American, continental or local breakfast. Most main course cost about 300 to 400 rupees (28 rupees to RM1), coffee and tea about 100 to 200 rupees and hot water about 20 to 30 rupees.
- If you are like us who do not quite enjoy group tours, then go for private trekking with your own guide and porter and book directly in the internet with the reputable trekking companies in Nepal and they can arrange for more comfortable accommodation for you .
- Remember to use 2 trekking sticks as it gives you stability and can save you from slipping or falling plus it helps you to drag yourself up steep slopes. Buy your trekking sticks here in KL so you can practice using them.
- When I reached Lukla on the return trek, I was silly enough to let my guard down and eat red meat – I had a buffalo steak. DON’T as I had bad stomach ache after that and in Kathmandu I had Korean bbq meat wrapped in raw lettuce which add on to my sufferings. I ended up having diarrhoea for 3 days.
- Drink bottled waters. Cost 20 rupees (RM 0.7 ) in Lukla but 200 rupees ( RM 7) in Tengboche.
- Shopping – You can buy most of your trekking stuffs in Kathmandu. North star dry fit pants and shirts at 1200 rupees each (RM43), Columbian socks at RM9, backpacks etc, etc. For the ladies buy pashmina shawls 1st grade fine pashmina is around RM230, 2nd grade pashmina at RM93. 100% cashmere cardigan RM 140 plus plenty of semi precious stones jewellery.
- Do it while you are young or when your children are all grown up (like us) when they do not need you anymore. As it can be a dangerous trip since you will be in one of the most dangerous airport in the world (Lukla) plus the treks are tough and can be treacherous at some points. Remember to buy TRAVEL INSURANCE that includes Nepal trekking. We bought ours directly from Axa at 25% rebate.
- Do not hesitate or be embarrassed to take plenty of stops throughout the walk to drink water and have a pieces of chocolate or energy bar or reward yourself with a cup of ginger tea at the teahouse after 2 hours of trekking. Do not rush as it is important to take it slowly. At the last stretch to Tengboche I had to stop after every 25 steps to breathe as the air was so thin and that stretch was so steep. This went on and on for 3 hours. Some turn up with pale white face and grey bluish lips. So do not be embarrassed as the locals stop to rest too. It is not because you are not fit but it is the high altitude.
- If you have bad headaches in the middle of the night it is symptom of altitude sickness. Most people easily recovered from it after a night rest. Stuart and I had it in Namche (3500m) and mine went on till the next morning when I had to take a diamox pill to stop it. So do not keep quiet if you do not feel well as it is important that you take care of yourself throughout the treks.
- It is important to have a good Sherpa (porter) or guide who is there to hold your hands when you need him. My very trusted porter, Gunkarei, was always walking 2 steps behind me and would be there to hold on to me when I slipped. He would be there when I need my jumper and water and to show me the safe path to go. Towards the end of my trekking, I became quite attached to my very faithful and trusted Sherpa who saved me from falling twice.
Accommodation and Toilet Facilities
Most of the lodges (except for Tengboche) have attached bathroom and western style toilets which are reasonably clean, not smelly but not absolutely hotel clean. Most of them do not provide toilet paper or toiletries. Not all of them have hot water as most of the lodges use solar heater so availability and temperature of hot water is weather dependent. If you pay more you can get gas heated water (guaranteed hot). There is no heating in the room, the walls and windows are mainly thin so it can be miserably cold. The lodges provide 2 single beds with mattress and a pillow and a blanket (if you insist they will provide 2 blankets). So be prepared for the cold.
Phakding – attached bathroom with no hot water and no water towards evening.
Monjo – attached bathroom, normal room 600 rupees but we paid an extra 200 rupees ( RM7) per room for gas heated water, however limited to only 5 rooms.
Namche Bazaar – attached bathroom with queen sized bed and heated blanket. We paid an extra US15 per room as our organizer has only a budget of US20 which is for a normal room with no hot water.
Tengboche – common toilet with no bathroom and sink shared by 10 rooms so no hot water at all and very basic room. No shower and didnt brush our teeth that morning!!!
Toilet Facilites along the treks.
There are some public toilets along the treks but very basic wooden hut with wooden planks and a hole in the middle. Not horribly smelly (like in China) but bearable. Not a lovely sight though. Or if you stop at a tea house for drinks, you can try to ask to use their toilet which will have a squat or western toilet and most of them are not smelly but bearably clean. Or like me twice in the treks I had to go behind the bushes (make sure you don’t fall over the cliff).
The view along the way is spectacular. The experience is challenging and it is a real endurance test to your mind and your body. As one climber we met said “It’s good for the body and soul” when your mind is focussed just on the walk and the scenery. We climbed steep slopes, walk through slippery rocks, cross suspension bridges over deep ravines and rivers but it is not too frightening as your mind is focused on just crossing and not the danger below. The food is not bad, quite edible and you eat to give you the energy. The accommodation is bearable if you are prepared and do not mind a few nights without shower so it is very important to bring lots of wet wipes and warm clothing.
If you give yourself 2 months of training and your body is reasonably fit it is not impossible as you will be surprised what your body can do even if you are in your mid 50’s like us. My girlfriend went wild with the shopping in Kathmandu for pashmina, trekking gears and semi-precious stones, so be sure to bring extra cash.
All in all it is tough but totally bearable and doable and when you see Mt Everest it makes the whole trip all worth while. How many people in the world have faced the mightiest, most majestic and tallest mountain in the world, Mt Everest in person. It may be from far but we did it in person and we were physically there.
That was my adventure of a life time.