16 days, 98 footpath bridges crossed, 948+ donkeys and yaks/naks and infinite Himalayan mountain ranges…
It was my friends Callum’s birthday on March 7th. The whole reason we were here in Nepal. We met in Hoi An, Vietnam late 2018 and he had the idea of doing EBC (Everest Base Camp) for his birthday. When I got wind of the idea (drunk over a few beers) I couldn’t of counted myself in quicker.
I arrived in Kathmandu averagely prepared for the trek. I knew what had to be done (climb a mountain) but had no gear. Luckily for me, Thamel (a neighbourhood in Kathmandu) is a thriving area full of all the equipment you could ever need. As a beginner hiker the challenge was to obtain the optimal amount of gear that I could fit in my bag, and also be prepared for the any inevitable situations that may occur.
Nepal’s tourism industry makes up for the majority of income for the local population in Kathmandu. For some context, in 2012 there was 598,204 foreign tourists who visited that year. The government of Nepal has also recently declared Visit Nepal 2020 with the aim of bringing in two million tourists by 2020. The below table shows the stats of how it continues to grow:
We spent a few days in Kathmandu speaking with tourists/locals who had experience or personally done EBC or other similar treks (Annapurna Circuit, etc), we researched the best stores and prices for each individual bit of kit. Because myself and Callum have been travelling for some time, the idea of doing this on a budget was appealing, although attempting a trek of such stature it was also important we didn’t skip corners and get equipment which would break, not be warm enough, rip etc.
We managed to find a store which would let us rent a used sleeping bag and used down jacket. The truth was, we were returning to countries where we wouldn’t need such weather proof gear in the foreseeable future, so renting was this equipment was perfect for us.
Find below our finalised equipment and items we took with us. Backpack weight was 13.5kg, I could have slimmed mine down a tad as I had a few miscellaneous items I didn’t use…
All prices in nepalese rupee (npr)*
- Yak woolen hat – 350 Rs
- Yak socks – 350 Rs (crucial for night time!)
- Gloves – gifted to me from a nice french guy from the hostel
- Sunglasses – also gifted as above
- 4x hiking sock – 150 each Rs
- Light zipper trousers – 500 Rs (become shorts when unzipped)
- 2x thermals – 2000 Rs (top and bottoms)
- Wind and rain proof trousers – 1500 Rs (shell layer)
- Wind and rain proof jacket – 1500 Rs (shell layer)
- Snood – 100 Rs
- 2x carabiner – 100 Rs
- Trekking shoes – 150 Rs per day rented
- Down jacket – 50 Rs per day rented
- Sleeping bag – 50 Rs per day rented
- Water bottle – 1000 Rs (can get much cheaper, but I wanted a good quality one for the future!)
- Poles – free, as we borrowed these from the nice folk at our hostel at WanderThirst
Total purchased: 8000 Rs
Total rented: 4250 Rs
Medicinal / Toiletries / Other
- Tang – 4 packs for 300 Rs (Flavoured water to neutralise the purification tablets, makes it taste nicer!)
- Diamox – 200 Rs (altitude sickness tablets, didn’t end up using this)
- Hand sanitiser – 100 Rs
- Baby wipes ( 2 packs 150 Rs each)
- Paracetamol / ibuprofen – 200 Rs
- Water purification tablets – 300 for 100 Rs
- Snacks – 1200 Rs (8 packs of one biscuit, 4 packs of cookies and 1 pack of digestives, nuts and trial mix. You will NEED these!)
- Tea – 300 Rs for 3 packs, ginger, black and green (ginger is great for altitude sickness!)
Other travel expenses
- Bus to Phaplu – 1500
- Permits x 2 – 5000
- Flight back to Kathmandu from Lukla – $170 usd
Now when most normal people ascend upon a mountain some 5300+ meters above sea level it would be a sensible idea to get two things: insurance and a local guide, locally known as a sherpa.
We had neither.
Our insurance didn’t cover us above 3000 meters and it was automatically nullified due to us not having and using an official trekking company. As much as paying for a sherpa wouldn’t break our bank too much and it would help the local industry we were on a tight budget and also enjoyed the idea of adventure and doing things ‘our own way’, experiencing things first hand and not having a strict day to day itinerary planned for us. I would have also felt bad letting someone luggage part of my 13kg rucksack for 16 days.
Day to day itinerary
We budgeted for around 2000 Rs per day, although some days you would spend more, and other days you would spend less. This typically depends on how far up the mountain you are. Prices inflate based on how high you are, naturally the only way resources and supplies get up are via transportation. Transportation is very limited in the Himalayas, no cars, lorries, bikes – everything is shifted through Yaks/Donkeys or people. This means everything you eat is painstakingly carried up the mountains to the various lodges and tea houses you find yourself eating and sleeping at.
Day 1 bus to Phaplu
- 13 hour bus ride from Katmandu to Phaplu, very bumpy ride with great scenery.
- Arrived at lodge, 200 Rs per person for room
- Food 500 (breakfast and dinner) – curry and porridge, 2 coffees
Day 2 Phaplu to Kharikhola
- Breakfast at Phaplu, porridge for 250 Rs
- The day started with a small trek towards Nunthala. Shortly after we hitchhiked a local Jeep which took us as far as the road could go before it was filled with rocks and we couldn’t pass. This gave us extra time in the day to carry on further. From there we began trekking again to Kharikhola.
- We had lunch at sunshine lodge, dhal bat for 450 and coffee for 80.
- We made it to Kharikhola at about 7pm and it was completely dark and we were all exhausted, I had cramp for most of the end part of the trek. This was an extremely long day!
- We stayed in a lodge in Kharikhola, the room was 100 per person and I had a mixed noddle dish which was 450. The portion sizes were enormous so we had the left overs for breakfast. Total cost 550
Day 3 Nunthala to half way between Serke and Puiya
- Mostly uphill – very taxing
- Breakfast was left overs from the guest house last night, portion size would feed a small army
- We arrived in Khurta for Lunch. I had Sherpa stew for 450. Delicious potatoes based stew with veg and a thick type of noodle
- We made it to our guest house as it was getting dark. It was a quiet guest house in between Puiya village and Serka. Stay at guest house 150 per person. Dinner mixed macaroni and cheese 550. 30 for hot water. 200 for full charge of electronics
- This was another long day with a lot of uphill at the beginning of the day, but mostly down and flat towards the end.
Day 4 Random lodge to Phakding
- We started the day having porridge from our guest house. It was literally a woman and her daughter the only other people there. Very rural! Food was delicious and they were very welcoming. First place where they charged for charging electronics.
- Breakfast was oat porridge and cost 300
- Lunch time came around 2pm. We found a little guest house in Cheplung where we had our lunch – the guest house was very welcoming and had fruit tea for us on arrival. I ordered the infamous dhal bat and the portion size was huge! I even apologized for leaving a bit of rice.
Day 5 – Phakding to Namche Bazaar
- 7:30 wake up
- Muesli and warm milk for breakfast at 320
- First day we have woken up and there’s been no clear skies. Very cloudy and cold, approximately -2 degrees. Had to put on thermals for the first time.
- 7 hour 30 minute walk to Namche today.
- Weather turned on us about half way through and started to snow. Nothing too heavy but the paths started to become a little unclear.
- Had lunch in a lodge just before Namche – 450 for a very large portion of Dahl bat. Had a two cups of coffee for 80
- Met an English couple as we arrived in Namche Bazaar, they suggested we stay at their lodge as it was cheap and beds and food were a good standard.
Day 6 – Namche, acclimatisation day
- Spent most of the day roaming around Namche between coffee shops and bakeries
- breakfast was beans, eggs and toast 650
- Lunch was a fresh loaf of bread (350) from the bakery and some trekkers soup (70) which I picked up in Kathmandu. This happily fed the three of us!
- Dinner was spaghetti at Moonlight View lodge (600)
- Watched Everest movies in liquid bar. Had two hot waters and used our own
Day 7 – Namche to Tengboche
- Breakfast at Moonlight view lodge was two eggs and two rounds of toast costing 550,
- Total bill at Moonlight lodge was 2800 for two days with two breakfast and two dinners. Including 200 for accommodation (100 each night)
- The trek was about 4 hours long. We
- Lunch at a lodge between Namche and Tengboche. Lunch was an egg and cheese sandwich with a side portion of fried potatoes, we ordered a pot of hot water and used our black tea bags.
- After a steep 600 meter climb at the end of the trek we arrived at Tengboche guest house. Accommodation is free based on eating dinner and breakfast there.
Day 8 – Tengboche to Shomare
- breakfast was porridge with cinnamon and raisins, 450
- Lunch was Sherpa stew in Pangboche, 400
- Dinner was 935, pizza, dhal bhat and macaroni and cheese.
Day 9 – Shomare to Dingboche
- breakfast was porridge for 450
- Easy walk to Dingboche, a gradual up hill walk approximately 1.5 hours and a 250 meter incline.
- We arrived at Dingboche around midday, checked in to the Himalayan Culture Home Lodge and Restaurant. Our rooms were 500 between
- We weren’t quite hungry as we arrived so we went across the road and took refuge in a cafe, had some tea and played chess.
- We had lunch at our lodge, we had cheese and potato flavored Momos with a side portion of chips. We shared these between two of us. It was 550.
- Dinner at the lodge was Dhal Bhat for 600. A medium pot of lemon tea between four people at 700
Day 10 – Dingboche acclimatisation day
- Had a nice lie in today; woke up at 9am. Had breakfast which was hash brown with cheese and egg at 590.
- Menu prices increasing as we get higher
- First time we’ve not had signal on our phones in Dingboche
- This home stay again, providing wholesome portions
- Lunch was fired potatoes with egg and veg at 540 in the lodge
- Just after 10am we set off on our acclimatization walk. It was a high peak view looking over Dingboche and the various other peaks such as Ama Dam Blam. We reached the peak after a slow 2.5 hour ascent upwards. The high peak was around 5000 meters.
- Managed to do laundry at the lodge too. It was 500
Day 11 – Dingboche to Lobuche
- breakfast at the lodge was hash brown cheese and egg, 590
- Total bill was 4958 for the two days.
- Lunch was a cheese toastie half way between Dingboche and Lobuche. 600
- Fairly easy walk to begin with, steep incline towards the end.
- Arrived at Oxygen Altitude guest house, fully brick which meant it was nice and warm!
- I had some minor altitude sickness so went and rested. Didn’t have dinner as no appetite.
- New sleeping method, sleeping bag as duvet and blanket on top. Very warm!
Day 12 Lobuche to Gorakshep then EBC
- Woke up nice and fresh with no signs of AMS
- Breakfast at the lodge was porridge with honey! A very filing start to the day
- The trek from Lobuche to Gorakshep was around 1.5 hours on maps me. Took us just over 2 with regular breaks. Approx 300 meter incline
- We arrived at Gorakshep and checked in to our new lodge “Budha lodge”
- Had lunch which was fried potatoes, veg and cheese at 600
- Dinner was BYOS (Bring your own soup) and I ordered some side portion of bread.
- After lunch we headed to EBC – approx a 2 hour walk from Gorakshep. 250 meter incline
- First time we had to pay for cold water (everything was frozen here)
- Had signal for the first time briefly, lost it in the evening. Damn the clouds?
Day 13 Gorak Shep to Dingboche
- Terrible nights sleep. Passed on Kalapatar. Headache etc
- breakfast was porridge and oats 550
- Lunch was Veg curry and chapati between Lobuche and Dingboche for 600. Tasty!! Just after the big steel down
- Arrived in Dingboche at Himalayan lodge same place as last time. Had spaghetti for 600.
- Callum and Jakob turned up at 8pm!!
Day 14 – Dingboche to Namche
- best nights sleep in a long time.
- Headache slowly going same with teeth pain
- Breakfast was porridge oats and honey. 450
- Lunch was fried potatoes and veg/cheese in Tengboche for 600
- Arrived in Namche Bazaar and checked in to moonlight lodge again.
- Put down our bags and headed to Nak Cafe where we watched football and charged our electronics.
- Had food in the cafe, Chicken burger for 550.
Day 15 – Namche rest day
- breakfast was soup at the bakery – 350 / 3 bread
- Lunch pizza at nak cafe 600
- Dinner veg soup at lodge – 320
Day 16 – Namche to Lukla
- breakfast at lodge eggs beans toast, 650
- Bill at lodge 1250
- Lunch at Phakding – momos, fried rice, 700
Day 17 – Lukla to Kathmandu
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