So, You Wanna Hike to Base Camp, Mount Everest?
Boom! This is how you’re going to do it, mmkay? Firstly, woot! YOU’RE IN? YOU’RE IN! Excellent! Because for reals, I can not express enough how wonderful and great of an experience it was and how I really think you should do it.
But I know, I know, you’ve got questions first… but do not fret, my pretties, I am here to help.
Here some questions I’m sure (re: from comments/emails) you’re asking, complete with random photos to try lure you in to save, and then, well… do it! :)
Wait, What was the first step you took?
Researched! The Internet is a brilliant place folks (obvs, you found me living in it, didn’t ya?) and it should be put to good use. A quick Google of “Base Camp Tours” will lead you to a huge number of tour companies who offer guided tours. Some are better than others, but then some are cheaper and/or more expensive than others. So… research! research! research!
The other option is private tours. I’m not sure if they’re found online, or not (probs are), but in Kathmandu there are advertisements for “private sherpas (guides) and porters (locals who carry your goods)” everywhere, and I heard they were really good too.
What Tour Guide Company Did you go with?
I went with Geckos Adventures Grassroots: Everest Base Camp tour. Would I recommend them? Absolutely. But, they were good for me, and maybe they won’t be for you (so again, research!). Why were they good for me? Because their tour moved at a decent pace, but still gave me the adequate number of rest days. If you’re festively-plump, fashionably-chubby or haven’t-moved-your-bum-from-your-computer-in-years you may want to choose a tour that’s a little longer in the number of days, y’know, to take it easy. My tour was 16 days total, which I thought was perfect.
Sadly I *think* Geckos is an Australian based company, which operates in Canada, Europe, Oz and New Zealand not the United States, in which case I would recommend GAP Adventures Base Camp Tour. As their group moved simultaneously with ours, and the people seemed pretty cool too. (Note: I only went with Geckos over Gap because it was cheaper, but I see now Gap is cheaper)
So… tell us the dirty deets, how much did it set you back?
US$1,145. Well, somewhat, that was the price of my tour.
But, it was SO worth it. I promise and then cross my heart and hope to die. This, of course, was not including my flights to Nepal, which weren’t too bad, but obviously it’ll depend where you’d be flying from (I flew Heathrow in London to Nepal for $798 ).
So, what did that US$1,145 get me? It got me a guide, three actually, who were WONDERFUL. Start (Kathmandu) to finish (Kathmandu) they took care of me. They were super organized, and I never felt like ohmygod-I-am-in-the-mountains-and-don’t-know-what-to-do.
While hiking they always had a guide at the front, middle, and back, and the back guide went at the slowest person’s pace. Generally, like my Mt. Everest video says, I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. It also got me 7 wonderful porters (people who carried my (and the group’s) stuff up).
Yes friends, it’s true, I did NOT carry my pack up, and nor will you if you do it. My pack weighed 7kg (15 pounds) and was carried up by a porter. I just carried my day pack up, which included water, my camera, and random stuff. (Note: 99.9% of people who go to Base Camp and/or summit Everest use porters, including professionals. Without Porters, it wouldn’t be possible. (Side note: The porters are INCREDIBLE. The porters who carry hikers’ packs are restricted to 30kg (66 pounds) each, whereas porters who carry items between little towns carry up to 120kg (264 pounds)!!! It’s crazy. There were times when I was huffing and puffing, as it was so steep, and then a porter in crocs, carrying 50+kg and TEXTING would go past me.)
It also got me me a wooden bed each night to lay my pretty head on. Accommodation was the bare essentials (roof, wooden bed), but I rather enjoyed the whole cabin-wilderness thing.
Other costs. Food. It was not included. Know that. I skipped that little detail and somewhat got screwed. Food in Nepal is cheap. Very cheap. Except when you’re 5,000 meters in the air, and a porter has carried everything you’re eating to that spot (remember, no roads), then food in Nepal is expensive, very expensive. Equipment. Do not forget about the equipment. Hiking to BC is VERY nontechnical, but still, you need to get hiking shaz for it. Then there is tipping. People (your sherpas and porters) don’t get paid that well, which means tipping is a huge part of their salary. Take tipping into consideration, because the recommended US$1.50/day adds up over 16 days with 10 people to tip. Electricity. You’ll want to charge your cameras and they charge you per hour. Also, the higher up you go, the more it gets (for everything, esp. water and electricity), as they run off solar power. Quite a few places once the power is out, it’s done for the night. Other. Lip balm when your lips are burning and other things your silly ass forgot such as winter gloves.
- Tour: $1,145
- Flights: $798
- Equipment: $600
- Food/Tipping/Cash/Other: $600 (I didn’t keep detailed records, but this is the amount of cash I withdrew in Nepal)
- TOTAL: $3,143 roughly as this is CND mixed with US (ps. working this out now, it’s way more than I thought it was, but still, I swear it’s worth it)
Equipment?!? Gah! I don’t know technical stuff!!?! Help!
Oh Lordy, I had no idea about this one either. Really, you just need yourself, a GREAT pair of hiking boots (don’t. be. cheap.), and an excellent sleeping bag. Worst case scenario, you have to buy something there. EVERYTHING is sold in Kathmandu, everything, AND, it’s way cheaper. If I did it again I’d buy all my stuff there (exception: hiking boots <— they gotta be worked in before hand) in the days leading up to it, to save money.
You can check out my KILLER (if-I-do-say-so-myself) packing guide here for some of the clothing things I took, but truthfully, I wasn’t prepared (due to the fact I was doing such a big trip and didn’t have the room in my main pack), but if you’re heading to Nepal just to trek, it’s all about LAYERS people. And scarfs. And hats. And mitts. And torches. And rain jackets.
However, don’t worry about this, if you join a tour group they’ll have a detailed list for you, just make sure you actually listen to their list, unlike me, who was all like, “oh… flashlight, eh? meh, that’s too heavy to bring, pshh, besides I won’t need it.” FALSE LIZ FALSE.
But what if I’m too tubby and/or unfit?
So, here’s a little interesting fact for you, person on the other side of my computer, I hiked to Base Camp Everest while I was technically considered “overweight,” so know this, it’s doable. YOU CAN DO IT!
But, I know what you’re thinking, “but you ran a marathon 2 weeks before,” which is true, but I still could have done it had I not. Promise.
Actually, the more unfit you are, the higher a success rate you’ll have at not getting knocked in the face with altitude sickness. Fat/Tubby/Chubby/Unfit folks move SLOWER than fit/fast/gym-bunnies, and, when it comes to altitude, the slower the better. So WIN-WIN-WIN for people who like food.
Now, realistically, if you’ve been sitting at your computer for the last 4 years, and haven’t moved much at all, you’ll need to train or dance, or dance and train. But? Do it. It’s worth it. Moderate walks are adequate training. There was one day where we hiked for 8 hours. That’s a lot of hiking, but again, they allow a lot of time for the distance, so even if you’re last solider, no worries!
Stairs are good too for training, I did no training, however, as I figured the running would be sufficient, and it was. And, because I don’t want to get sued for this, of course, “see your doctor to confirm you can do it.”
And… no, I did nothing to train for altitude.
Am I too old?
Pssh. No. Promise. There was a guy in my group who was 54, he was in super-duper-great-shape, so I won’t use him as my example, but instead the other “old people tour groups” I saw. The two groups I recommended above are for 20-something to mid-30 something people. BUT BUT BUT, there are LOTS AND LOTS of older-retired-living-the-high-life groups who will take YOU to Everest’s Base Camp.
I thought they were all so incredible too. We’re talking 70+ years here folks. I’m sure they trained with walking and stairs too, but still, if they can do it, you can too!
I may actually do it again at some point with my mom. If I do it then, I’ll make sure to do a 20+ day tour for her (she is 60), just to acclimatize better and be able to move slower.
It’s a bitch, I won’t deny that, and something that occurs on an individual basis. Every person, every situation, is different. You can get altitude medication, which I took, but really you have to take a chance and hope for the best. The best cure is water-water-water - we were drinking about 4 liters of water a day. When I dropped it to 2 I got a migraine. I think it’s worth the risk though… but again, every case is different. Respective climbers will get it, and amateurs like me, won’t.
Let’s talk toilets and showers, shall we?
Oh me, oh my! If you were to ask any person on the tour they’d without a doubt say I had the biggest issues with the wonderful “toilets” (if we can even call them that). So I purposefully did NOT research this before I went, as I knew I’d be terrified if I did. But, now looking back on it, what did I expect? I was up in the Himalayas! sacrifices of pretty, white, porcelain toilets had to be made. Am I right? Or am I right? Most of the toilets were shed-type situations that were holes (squatters baby!), which terrified me, but eventually, I was forced (when my bladder was about to pop) to get used to it. Seriously (and yes, this is TMI) the first day I managed to pee in one, my group sang and danced for me as it was such a big deal.
And then there was the showers, or, lack there of. Firstly, I am not the needs-to-shower-everyday-type-of-gal, and actually, my hair does well when it’s dirty (stop looking at me differently, yo), so it didn’t bother me that much, especially as every morning we got warm “washing water” in a bowl for our faces, and I took copious amounts of sanitary towelette things, which worked their powers. You can buy showers, however, and on day 6 I did… because a lady can only go so long being smelly. However, the guys I was with had a competition who could go the longest without showering. Yes, it was disgusting and gross and they all did the full 16 days.
But please, don’t let these two points stop you from going. Minor details people, minor details.
So… where ya get your super COOL sunglasses and/or super COOL hat?
People asked this, I swear! So…
Sunglasses = Claire’s. I know, I know, but really, they are awesome and cheap and awesome, and by the end of the trip everyone and their mother was looking the other way when I took my usual “reflection” photos. But whatever, the embarrassment was sooooo worth it.
My hat, which I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE, I sadly can’t tell you where, as my dear mom knitted it for me. I love it and have it in several colours. :)
More questions? Ask in the comments and god (ie. me, lover-of-all-things-food,-yet-runs-marathons-and-goes-to-BC ) will answer! :)