You would think that after waking at 4:00am, climbing uphill for 200 metres and then walking back down, you would be done for the day. You’d be wrong. It turns out that walking down from Everest Base Camp is one of the longest days along the entire hike. Luckily, it’s a beautiful walk and all down hill.
After walking down from Kala Pattar, you stop at your lodge for lunch in Gorak Shep, and then you get back on the road to head down to Pheriche (4371m) - all before midday!
Above Lobuche, it is very alpine and there isn’t any vegetation in sight, just rocks and dirt. We both noticed that it became greener as we walked back down and it became less alpine, which was nice. We stayed in a nice lodge in Pheriche – this one also had a portrait of Sir Ed hanging in the dining room. I remember that night being one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had.
The next day we got on the road at about 10:00am, which is really late, but we didn’t mind because we were so tired. From Pheriche we headed back into the big smoke of Namche Bazaar. We discovered that when I walk downhill with a 12-14kg pack on, my hips get ridiculously sore so by the time we arrived at Namche, I could hardly walk! We stayed at the Khumbu Lodge in town again for two nights.
Because we stayed in Namche for two nights, it meant we had a rest day and could spend some time looking around the town. There are lots of beautiful craft stores selling artwork, teapots, hats, gloves, key rings – one shop even stocked the brand Icebreaker! It was just as expensive 3500 metres up. We went to an Irish Pub for a drink and a bite to eat. Here’s a tip: don’t eat meat while you’re hiking in the Khumbu Region. I had the Fish & Chips - which was a pretty risky call – and Boy had the Chicken Sandwich in chips. No killing is allowed in the Khumbu Region so almost everything you eat has been hiked in from Lukla Airport. Sometimes it has been in somebody’s pack for three days before it gets to any kind of refrigeration! So, not surprisingly, Boy got food poisoning from dodgy chicken. Oddly, I was fine – perhaps the fish I was given wasn’t really fish?
Thame was a lovely side trip. It took about six hours to walk out there from Namche. On our way out to Thame, we met an elderly gentlemen; he said that he was one of the porters that accompanied Sir Ed on his Mt Everest expedition. We couldn’t believe our luck – how many people have met any of the crew that accompanied Sir Ed on that historic expedition? Once in Thame, we stayed in the Apa Sherpa Lodge. A man named Apa Sherpa owns it – he holds the Guinness World Record for summiting Mt Everest 21 times! I really liked Thame; it was vast, green and had lovely rivers running through the middle of the town.
After staying the night in Thame, we headed back to Namche for the night – this was slow going because Boy was unwell, but we got there in good time.
After our night in Namche, we had our final day back out to Lukla. It took nine or 10 hours because we were walking slowly and it was pouring down with rain. In those last few hours where we were soaked, trudging through dirt and zopke/mule/yak shit, carrying massive packs, I did wonder why I had left life in New Zealand for this, but once we reached the Sagarmantha Park gate, it was all worth it.
We flew out of Lukla the next day back to Kathmandu. Our flight was delayed that morning, but, luckily, we were able to fly out that afternoon.
The hike to Mt Everest Base Camp took 14 days, including a side trip to Thame. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would do but I’m so glad that I did. We met wonderful people along the way; Nepali people are warm and hospitable, the hikers are always down for a chat, and you're exposed to a completely different way of life.
I hope that these posts have inspired of a bit of hiking wanderlust for you! We also hiked the Annapurna Circuit while we were in Nepal, and I will write about this in due course. I'm going to take a break from hiking for now; next week's post is going to reflect on what I've learned since leaving home.
Bye for now,