Last September, in a mad moment, my girlfriend and I decided to book a trip to Everest Base Camp that we’d spotted on the holiday site, Secret Escapes. After all, how hard can it be?
It turns out, quite hard. Base camp is situated in the Khumbu region of the tallest mountain range on Earth, the Himalayas, at an altitude of 5364m. At this altitude, it turns out that the amount of oxygen in the air is around half that of sea level. The temperature overnight drops to around -20 degrees Celsius at the last stop. This was, clearly, going to be quite serious.
So, we decided that there were three things that we needed to do before we headed out. The first was to do some training. The second was to make sure that we had suitable kit. The third was to get suitable travel insurance.
The first item, training, was a bit difficult. Clearly, there’s nothing even close to the same altitude in the UK. With that in mind, the only thing we could do is distance and strength training. So, queue lots of gym work, long Sunday walks and hard cardio sessions. Training, check.
Kit was a bit easier. There are loads of resources on the web about what kit to pack, so I won’t go into too much detail. Suffice it to say that you will need kit for everything from sunny and warm to snow storms and extreme cold. Also, it turns out that showering is difficult and expensive. Pack baby wipes!
So, after all that, we just had to get there! Flights to Kathmandu require a change of plane. We chose to fly with Air India, and hence changed in New Delhi. It turns out that the Indians are really hot on security and checked our luggage, despite us getting off a plane, where our luggage had already been checked. Then they checked it again.
When you get to Kathmandu, the first thing that you have to do is get an entrance visa. There’s a few parts to this. First you need to fill in a disembarkment card. Top tip, take a pen. Afterwards, you join the (massive) queue to use the machines against the wall, where you fill in all of your details again and get a ticket. After this, you need to pay your fee to the cashier, who will give you a receipt. Then, get in another queue for immigration, where you hand your card, ticket and receipt and you will get a rubber stamp in your passport and a cheery welcome.
So, after about two and a half hours of being in the country, we finally got out of the airport and in to the crazy world of Kathmandu, where we met our guide, Gakul, who transported us to the hotel where we would spend the next two nights. But first, a well earned rest.
Come back soon for the rest of our story.