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EVEREST REGION MAP AND TREKKING ITINERARY
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ORGANIZING A TREKKING IN HIMALAYA
This trip review, coming with lot of photos and useful information, focuses on a trekking tour in Nepal. After a Kathmandu city tour and a flight to Lukla, an extensive trek to Everest region follows during the cold, but crisp and less crowded, Himalayan winter. This Nepal trekking was based on the traditional route via Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche and Lobuche, bound for Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp, before reaching Gokyo lakes, through the funny and spectaculer Chola pass. This is a lodge-based expedition (teahouse), with a Sherpa guide and a porter (three people in total), not requiring any particular ability from the partecipants.
HOW TO ORGANIZE A TREKKING TO NEPAL?
Although there are many tour operators who organize group tours with trekking in the Himalayas, I personally prefer individual tours, as this kind of trip includes several issues for which you might want to be free, without having to stick to decisions taken by a group. For example if you are too tired, or suffer from some altitude sickness, or just want to stop more (or less) in some place, you can change the program for as many times as you wish. In addition, the trekking routes proposed by the agencies are often incomplete, as they want to take even those customers who have little time or very limited budgets, which is particularly harmful because if you get reduced days of acclimatization, you may experience altitude sickness more easily. My personal advice is therefore to email a trekking agency in Nepal with proven reliability, communicating the route that you want to trek and any particular need that you may have. For the tour in the Himalayas presented in this travelogue, I turned to Peak Paldor, a trekking agency based in Kathmandu, who made the whole trip very pleasant and for myself only.
HOW TO GET TO LUKLA AND TO EVEREST REGION?
If you want to start your Everest trek from Lukla airport, as it usually happens for most organized tours, your trekking agency will buy the ticket for your flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and vice versa . The flight takes about forty minutes, is operated with a small turboprop aircraft (generally a Dash-6 Twin Otter) and is subject to weather conditions, as Lukla airport presents some difficulties that prevent any flight in poor visibility or strong winds. You can get to Kathmandu with various airlines: from Europe, the best airline with better schedule and fares is perhaps Qatar Airways, at least at time of this travelogue in 2006. Before and after Lukla flight, it's best to add one or more nights In Kathmandu, either to neutralize possible delays of connecting flights, but and also to visit this spectacular city.
HOW TO PREVENT ALTITUDE SICKNESS?
The greatest challenge of any trekking in the Himalayas, and a trek to within Everest region is not an exception, is given by the extreme altitude that may cause mountain sickness due to the thin air poor in oxygen, and because of the low pressure. So, how to prevent altitude sickness is probably one of the first question that you may have before arranging a trek to Nepal, as this issue depends also on personal predisposition and in some case it may be so severe, that it may require interruption of the trip. If you have never been to extreme altitude and therefore you do not know how your body will react to the thin air, perhaps it might be a good idea to make a "test trip" that is less demanding than a trek (perhaps you could organize an overland trip to Tibet or to Bolivia, but always paying attention to the speed with which you can reach the higher altitudes, even if you are traveling by car). If you are sure that you can manage high altitude in some ways, as your reaction to the thin air is in the average, then it will be sufficient to follow the general rules for the prevention of altitude sickness, which are basically:
The most common symptoms of altitude sickness are a mild headache and a slight fatigue, which can theoretically be considered "normal". Instead, simultaneous presence of strong loss of appetite, nausea , vomiting, dizziness and insomnia, is a condition that requires immediate attention (acute mountain sickness or AMS) because these symptoms, if ignored and if you are particularly susceptible, can progress into pulmonary edema or cerebral edema.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO TREK IN NEPAL? DOES IT REQUIRE PARTICULAR ABILITIES?
If you are reading this trip review, you are probably interested to go to trek in Nepal, but perhaps you are a little bit worried because you are not perfectly fit or you are not used to walk for so many hours in the mountains. Well... there is really no reason to worry! This Everest trek doesn't require technical knowledge, as it consists of just normal walking (trekking) along mountain trails, without climbs requiring ropes or anything like this. Furthermore, you don't need to be an athlete for just trekking in the Himalaya, as the walks are usually limited to no more than 6-8 kilometers distributed over full day, with as many stops as you need to rest and to enjoy the landscape. In any case, having a normal shape and normal legs certainly helps, so, starting from several weeks before the trip, you may wish to do some exercize by just running for a few minutes every day (increasing the time from time to time) or even by just climbing and descending the stairs at home. The major difficulties of a trekking in Nepal are the altitude and the limited facilities, making the trip not a comfortable holiday, but a real expedition requiring an open mind, a good planning and some flexibility. Especially if you are over 40, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor and have a check at your heart.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME FOR A TREKKING IN NEPAL?
I did this Everest trek during the beginning of the winter, from second half of December to the beginning of January. Normally, this period offers crisper sky and less tourists, but it will be much colder than the traditional April/May and October/November months (actually the best season to trek the Himalayas) with night temperatures falling down to -15 centigrades indoor above 4500 meters (a very good sleeping bag is required and is usually offered by the trekking company). Anyway, regardless of the low night temperature, the day is generally pleasant, with temperatures slightly above freezing and no snow on the ground (snowfalls normally begin later, in mid january).
WHERE TO STAY DURING A TREKKING IN NEPAL?
HIMALAYA TREKKING TRIP REVIEW AND PHOTOS DAY BY DAY
|<<-- GO Visit to the Swayambhunath (monkey temple) and Boudanath. Kathmandu is a very interesting city and certainly worth to add one full day before and after any trekking in Nepal.|
|<<-- GO An early morning spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Lukla brings me to the gateway for most trekkings in the Everest region. A short trek to Phakdingma starts just after luggage collection at the small airstrip.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Phakdingma to Namche Bazaar, the Khumbu region's capital, still walking at average altitudes where you can still find trees and larger rivers.|
|<<-- GO Rest day for acclimatization in Namche Bazaar. In order to let the body to acclimatize for higher altitudes, staying two consecutive nights in Namche Bazaar is a good idea.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, arrived just in time for a spectacular sunset over the most famous peaks of the Himalayas.|
|<<-- GO Visit to Tengboche Gomba, where monks live isolated from the rest of the world, in a remote place that can be reached only on foot. A trekking to Pangboche follows soon after.|
|<<-- GO Visit to Pangboche Gomba, one of the oldest monastery of the Hymalayas, before a short trek to Dingboche where I'll go above 4000 meters for the first time.|
|<<-- GO Rest and acclimatization day in Dingboche, with a short hike to Chhkhung. This village was used only in summer for pastures, but now there are also lodges and the place is ideal for acclimatization excursions.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Dingboche to Lobuche, getting close to Everest and to the most famous places, important for the exploration of the region and for the climbs over Everest.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Lobuche to Gorak Shep and climb on Kala Pattar (5550m), for a fantastic view on the Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and onto Khumbu icefall. Overnight in Gorak Shep above 5000 meters.|
|<<-- GO Trekking to Everest Base Camp for a brief day excursion, before going back to Lobuche via Gorak Shep, sleeping again below 5000 meters.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Lobuche to Dhzonglha through the spectacular landscapes of the Himalayas at middle altitudes. This trail is ideal if you would like to visit Gokyo too and the Cho La pass is open.|
|<<-- GO Crossing the funny and spectacular Cho La pass, at 5420m. The Cho La pass not only offers fantastic scenery, but it lets to save one day of trekking moving between Lobuche and Gokyo.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Tarnak to Gokyo, crossing the Ngozumba glacier moraine. A glacier's moraine is a place that looks like another planet and it seems created by a huge bulldozer.|
|<<-- GO Excursion on Gokyo Ri at 5350 meters for another wonderful view onto Everest, Cho Oyu and Ngobumba glacier. Is it best to see the Everest from Kala Pattar or from Gokyo Ri? I will try to answer this question.|
|<<-- GO Excursion to the 4th lake, north of Gokyo. The Gokyo lakes do not have a name, but they are identified by a progressive number from south to north.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Gokyo to Machhermo. I now start to trek back to Lukla airport, but initially from a different way in order to see additional places and villages.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Machhermo to Khumjung. This trail is the only link to the outside world for many small villages in the middle of nothing, like the picturesque Phortse.|
|<<-- GO Rest day in Khumjung, with a visit to the beautiful local Gomba where there is also a yeti's scalp. Khumjung is a very nice village to have a full day tour and to appreciate the interesting life of Sherpa people.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Khumjung to Monju, via Namche Bazaar and back to altitudes below 3000 meters. Going down is always easier, so I stop in Namche Bazaar only for lunch.|
|<<-- GO Trekking from Monju to Lukla, back to the airstrip from where the next day I will fly to Kathmandu. At the lodge in Lukla, I find some comfort that I've completely forgot for the past 20 days.|
|<<-- GO The trekking is now really finished and a short early morning Twin Otter flight, operated by Yeti Airlines, brings me back to Kathmandu where I will have a well deserved shower.|
|<<-- GO Day tour to Kathmandu Valley, exploring Bhaktapur, Patan, Durbar Square and the induist Pashupatunath temple where there is a funeral ceremony.|