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By Jude Limburn Turner
The challenge of conquering the highest peak in the world is a common childhood dream. But only an elite and determined few actually carry that dream through to fruition to plant a flag atop the majestic Mt Everest. It takes more than just a yearning for adventure to summit a mountain as tough as Everest. Many months, if not years, of training and preparation are behind a successful climb of the mighty mountain. But for the rest of us mere mortals who perhaps do not have the time or physical attributes to aim for the top, there is another way to experience the exhilaration of success amidst the breath-taking scenery of the Himalaya – trekking to Everest Base Camp. A trek to Everest Base Camp is definitely not the wimp’s way out; you will still need to be in pretty good physical condition to undertake the adventure, but it is a more accessible goal than attempting a summit; and one that is far more likely to be achieved.
There are two Everest Base Camps each on opposite sides of the mountain, and by nature of the mountain’s geography the two camps sit in different countries; the south in Nepal and the north in Tibet. The classic, and most famous, Everest Base Camp trek takes you through Nepal and deep into the heart of the country’s fascinating culture. You’ll start off in the buzzing, vibrant capital, Kathmandu, and with so much to see and experience in the city you may be reluctant to leave. Your flight to Lukla, from where your trek really begins, will afford you the opportunity of some spectacular views over the Himalaya and whet your appetite for what is to come.
There are various options for which route you take for your Everest Base camp trek, but if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy a truly authentic Nepalese experience, head off the beaten path and into Sherpa country. Taking around two weeks to reach camp, you will stay in tea houses along the route giving you a taste of what life for these delightfully engaging and generous people is really like. The Sherpa families will welcome you with what has to be the world’s best hospitality, and their simple, yet satisfying existence is an eye-opener to many a western traveller. The slow yet steady pace of the route through the Sherpa country will provide the all-important acclimatisation required and reduce the risk of any health related problems.
Spend a day or two in Namche Bazaar; at nearly 3,500 metres above sea level it is the last village on the trek before Everest Base Camp. It is not only a good place to stock up on supplies but also a fascinating destination in its own right. The atmosphere is thick with history and almost feels like something out of a film. People from every nation on Earth seem to congregate in the hotels and cafes on their way to or from Everest Base Camp. But Namche is also a working village and the locals, and seemingly countless yaks, go about their daily life with the ever-ready Nepalese smile on their faces. Namche is a genuine ‘global’ village.
When you reach Everest Base Camp, sitting quietly in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain, it only serves to magnify the scale of the majestic mountain. Sit back, take a deep breath and ask yourself – could you? Maybe next year…
About the Author: Jude Limburn Turner is the Marketing Manager for Mountain Kingdoms, an adventure tour company who have run the classic trek to
Everest Base Camp
for over 20 years. They now offer treks and tours worldwide, including destinations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Central and South East Asia.