Retiring from his position at the Service late last year, Paul Connelly had set himself a goal to achieve with his newfound time: improve his fitness and health and see a bit of the world along the way. Taking up a challenge – whether personal, professional or for a charity – was not alien to him and so he compiled his own personal bucket list to keep him occupied. The first point to tick off was to trek to Everest Base Camp and see the wonders of the mountains in this area of the Himalayas. And with that goal in mind, Paul’s Everest Base Camp review starts…
I was daunted by the number of companies that were keen to take you trekking and all had slightly different ways of achieving the goal of getting to Everest Base Camp at 5336M above sea level as safely as possible. After a good bit of research, I decided to go with World Expeditions. They seemed to have everything I was looking for: a good reputation, a fair and ethical policy for looking after the porters and Sherpas, provided all of our food, and were sensitive to the environment that we would be travelling through. So, I booked via their London office and was a regular voice on the phone asking all sorts of questions in an effort to be as prepared as possible. I have to say I was delighted at the support and advice I received prior to the trip, which filled me with great hope for the actual trek itself.
I was daunted by the number of companies that were keen to take you trekking.
I opted to go late March, early April as I was hoping to see the teams prepare to make the summit of Everest, which is usually achieved from May each year. After three flights, I arrived safely in Kathmandu where I later that evening met my group, another 8 people, all under the watchful eye of Binod Llama our head guide and his team comprising of porters, Sherpas and cooks who would be with us every step of the way. We all got to know each other on a day of sightseeing in Kathmandu before we left the next morning on the first flight out to Lukla.
Paul taking in the views on his Everest Base Camp trek
Below I like to share my Everest Base Camp reviews on specific topics:
After the briefest of safety demonstrations and a lump of cotton wool for our ears, we were off on a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Soon we were greeted with the most magnificent views of the Himalayan mountain range as we weaved in and out of the many mountain valleys that encountered. One of our team is a commercial pilot and kept drawing our attention to the almost constant stream of alarms from the cockpit which apparently indicated how close we were flying to the mountains.
In the Himalayas, the weather is a constantly changing phenomenon and en-route clouds had covered Lukla airport meaning that we could no longer land there. Instead we ended up in a military base and were surrounded by the Nepalese Army who were taking part in their morning fitness drills. After a 2.5-hour delay, Lukla was a welcome site to see on the side of the mountain. Shortly after a brief stop for lunch consisting of spiced potatoes, cabbage and carrots with some mango tea we were finally off to our first destination of Ghatt at 2600M. The sites and views were already amazing with us all looking at each other and saying WOW just about every time we rounded a corner and saw the view ahead.
Private Eco Camps
Each day, we were wakened around 5.30am by our Sherpas with the customary mug of hot, black tea and a bowl of washing water, always with a smile on their face and always happy to help.
One of the things we quick found out was that when it was sunny, it meant nice and warm temperatures on the trails during the day. However, the minute the sun goes down it very quickly turns freezing cold. Fortunately, the sleeping bags that were provided by World Expeditions were great for the climate and on that first night in the mountains, I had one of the best sleeps I have had in ages.
For this time of year, we had an unusual cold night, which required us to stay overnight in one of the teahouses along the trail. The stay made us all glad that we opted for the tent option for our stay and we are all of the same opinion that, given the option, we would rather use a tent.
The mantra here is to 'hike high, sleep low.'
Rest (or rather, Acclimatisation) Days
The mantra on our Everest Base Camp trip is to 'hike high, sleep low'. This meant that on one of our first days, lunch was followed by an acclimatisation walk up for a few hundred meters.
We had two more rest and acclimatisation days on the trip. The first included a 2-hour walk up to a hotel at 3880m and as it was a clear day we were greeted with the most amazing views of Everest, Ama Dablam and the surrounding mountains, which is a sight that is hard to beat. Watching the clouds sweep off of the summit of the world’s highest point is amazing and something I will remember forever. On day 4 of the trek I definitely feel I am higher as I am beginning to feel lightheaded and food does not offer the same appeal as it did previously.
On day 7 there is a second rest and acclimatisation day at Dingboche. As we have learned by now, rest doesn't actually mean resting as we still have to climb higher up to 4600m and rest up there for an hour or so before heading back to camp. After lunch, we did get some rest on a stunning day with the most amazing mountain views and the cleanest, if not thinnest air I have ever breathed in.
The area that we walk through on the Everest Base Camp trek, has extremely fertile land so it is well populated with farmers growing their own vegetables. Meat is scarce so our diet would be made up of mainly vegetables, rice and pulses but we were well fed throughout the trip, even though it did get harder to eat the higher that we climbed.
We were well fed throughout the trip, even though it did get harder to eat the higher that we climbed.
Our food, despite the altitude on the later part of our trek, remains fantastic and is prepared each day for us by our 2 ‘kitchen boys.’ Our Sherpas Binod and Sorran are constantly monitoring us for signs of Acute Mountain Sickness and make sure we don't eat anything we shouldn’t.
The Support Team
At night in the dining hall conversation often turns to how everyone is feeling and it is clear further on in the trip that a number of our group are beginning to suffer. Everyone in our group, except me, is now taking Diamox which is an over the counter medicine used by many to help with symptoms of altitude.
Our porter team, who lug the majority of our bags up the mountains for us, are a friendly bunch of guys who are among the hardest working people I have ever seen and are also among the strongest people I have ever seen.
As a round up, the trip was amazing, over the course of 2 weeks I lost a stone in weight, gained new friends from around the world and got a thirst for going on more adventures. It only goes to show that retirement doesn't mean that we are at the end of things but for me, hopefully I am just at the start.
Paul was on the Everest Base Camp & Kala Pattar trip in March 2017. To learn more about this trip, please see the itinerary and download the trip notes for this trekking holiday in Nepal.
Other treks that take in Everest Base Camp with World Expeditions are:
Like to read more Everest Base Camp reviews from previous World Expeditions travellers? Read the stories and feedback from Peter, Jake, and Gavin.