Growing up in a small town surrounded by water, forest and wildlife in between three different countries probably explains my craving for travelling the world and building a meaningful career in travel photography. I love everything about travel, photography and writing.
What Inspired me to Visit Nepal
Going back to 2011 and 2012, I first decided to travel to Nepal because I was living in India at the time. I was just another backpacker exploring the crazy side of Nepal, except that I had a good perspective from the Indian and Asian culture, as I lived for almost two years in New Delhi, India.
I had absolutely no experience in the mountains. Trekking for many days on end was something that I could never picture myself doing, just like most Brazilian people. So I was just travelling around Nepal and having fun.
One day I met another traveller who had just come back from the Everest Base Camp Trek. “This is the most dangerous and exciting airport in the world” – he said, while showing me the video he made on his little camera shot from the tiny window of the airplane.
There was no smartphone back then so I couldn’t google it (and I have a horrible memory). But as a good adventurous soul, I guess that stuck in my mind for a long time. It was Lukla Airport that he was talking about. I got to know that place six years later when I finally decided to go in 2018.
Why Nepal is an Incredible Country
Nepal is an amazing destination that offers different kinds of experiences for different types of travellers. One the one hand you have the crazy city of Kathmandu that seems to be tailor-made for backpackers.
If you backpack around Nepal you have buddhist monasteries and hindu temples all over, and a vivid and mixed culture together with some messy roads and crazy traffic. You also have amazing nature and wildlife.
On the other hand you have people who go there just for treks. It’s easy to see the difference if you look around and see very focused travellers studying their trekking routes, buying and renting what they need for it.
It’s possible to balance both backpacking and trekking. However, in my opinion you should focus your energy on one of them, especially if you intend on doing a long trek such as Everest Base Camp Trek.
Two Awesome Adventures at Everest Base Camp Trek
I have completed the Everest Base Camp Trek twice now. Yes, that’s how much I love it! I had two very different experiences but both of them took me 16 days to finish – considering three days is for acclimatization and rest.
For me, 16 days was the perfect amount of time. However, I was lucky with the weather. I suggest adding a few extra days to your itinerary just in case you get stuck waiting for your flight departure to and from Lukla Airport.
My first experience was in April, 2018 with a great friend of mine. If you do that, please make sure it’s a good friend who really likes this kind of adventure! There is a lot of intimacy that you share together and, believe me, you don’t want to be with someone in a bad mood.
We decided to study the path and didn’t hire a guide. However, we hired one person that the Nepali agencies call a “porter guide”. These folks help you carry extra bags and are responsible for arranging your lodges along the way. Not a proper guide as they usually don’t speak English.
Let’s say a porter guide is a mix between a porter and a guide. Important detail here: please be conscious about your belongings so you don’t carry unnecessary weight even if you have a porter. Your porter is a human being and these people work in extremely hard conditions, so be kind 🙂
To start the trek you have two options: you can either get a small flight to Lukla, a village in the middle of the Himalayas, or you can take a bus to the closest village and walk around six extra days in total. Most people (like me) take the flight. I would say it’s part of the adventure.
The Everest Base Camp Trek literally starts on the way out of Lukla Airport. Even though you are going up in altitude, you do a lot of “ups and downs” every day and the landscapes change a lot of the time. This is amazing because it keeps surprising you and it just gets better and better.
There are many villages to discover along the way. Each village has some type of lodge accommodation that is normally very simple but quality enough to enjoy a good night’s sleep and rest. I suggest researching the route properly and deciding on your itinerary accordingly.
Second Experience at Everest Base Camp Trek
The second time was in November, 2019 on a group expedition. A few years ago I decided to utilize my travel experiences and organize my own expeditions around the world exploring exotic places. So after my first experience doing the trek, I felt this desire to take a group with me.
I prefer to trek during this season as it’s less crowded and the weather is great. Of course, being responsible for a group changed the whole picture. We completed the trek in the most comfortable and secure way.
We hired an amazing local guide and a few porters to help us carry our belongings. We trekked an alternative route with a few different villages from my first trek. I love both solo and group experiences, but if you don’t have much experience, I recommend hiring a guide to accompany you.
Here is a video (sorry, it’s in Portuguese) of the amazing experience we had:
Favourite Memories of Nepal
I guess almost all of my favorite memories from Everest Base Camp Trek are the ones I shared with the local people I met along the way. I remember one moment in particular when I was walking the whole day side by side with an old smiling lady who didn’t speak a word of English.
At some point on the trek, I offered her some snacks and we both just started to laugh out loud for a few magical minutes for absolutely no reason at all. It’s amazing how everyone smiles in the same language!
Regarding the experience of the trek itself, by far my favourite moment was the ascent to Kala Patthar during sunset and coming down under the starry sky. Kala Patthar is one optional part of the Everest Base Camp Trek that only a few adventurous trekkers choose to undertake.
This mountain is close to the base camp and from here you can enjoy the best view of Everest and the surrounding mountains. It’s the most difficult part of the traditional trek which is why not everyone does it. The landscape is simply mind-blowing. Definitely worth the effort!
Important Tips for your Trek
I don’t exercise often and didn’t do any special training before the trek. However, I am accustomed to outdoor activities and treks because of my travels. I’m also used to high altitude. So I know how to handle it. I didn’t face any sickness, although it can happen even if you are used to altitude.
It’s important to understand that each body has a completely different way of acclimatizing. Every time you trek up and down, in terms of altitude, it’s a whole new acclimatization. It doesn’t really matter if you are fit or not.
In fact, I saw many people in great shape being rescued because they couldn’t handle the altitude. You should be careful and attentive even if you consider yourself fit and healthy. Here are some important tips:
- Drink at least four liters of water every day, including water, tea, soup, etc., anything liquid to keep your body hydrated. You can easily buy some purification pills anywhere in Kathmandu and don’t have to buy water at all during the trek. That’s a great way to save some money and also to help keep the garbage away from the mountains.
- Bring some snacks with you such as dried fruits, nuts and chocolate
- Don’t drink alcohol and eat vegetarian food, as it’s easier to digest
- Respect the acclimatization break during the trek
- Take your time and listen to your body if you feel you need to slow down. There is no rush in the mountains. Remember you are doing the Everest Base Camp Trek to enjoy it so keep that in mind.
- Read before the trek, study the route and learn about altitude
- Keep your mind in a good mood and be positive
- Never underestimate any high altitude symptoms, even if it just seems to be a simple headache. Remember your body usually tells you when to walk slowly or when to take a break. Listen to your body.
- Prepare before the trek by doing some hikes in the outdoors
Preparing the Body and Mind
It might sound weird, but in my opinion, a good mind and psychological preparation is much more important than physical preparation for the Everest Base Camp Trek. Of course, it helps if you are in good physical shape but it’s more important to know your body and limits.
It’s normal to be anxious and nervous before the trek starts. I guess I was just focused on preparing my mind for what was coming. I really believe in the power of the mind. Being prepared mentally for any hard moment makes everything a lot easier to handle during the trek.
As I didn’t face any problem with altitude sickness, for me the hardest challenge of the trek was the poor infrastructure. That’s something you should be aware of and prepare yourself for because you won’t have any comfort or luxury during the trek. But again, that’s part of the adventure.
Final Thoughts on Everest Base Camp Trek
It’s impossible not to get emotional when you arrive at Everest Base Camp – that’s your main goal after all. I took some time when I got there to listen to my thoughts and be thankful. I also spent quite a while just watching people coming and going. It’s really amazing to observe their reactions.
In the end, the Everest Base Camp is just a landmark and a final destination. Remember what makes this experience so special is the journey. Enjoy every moment without thinking about how many days you have to go – that will make the experience much more special!