Posted in 15th Aug, 2019
In April 2013 I went to Nepal with a group of family and friends and we walked the Annapurna Villages Lodge Trek with Keep Walking Nepal. We had a fantastic experience with this company and the Sherpas and the Porters made the experience enjoyable. The scenery, the food in fact all aspects of the trek were positive. I found myself looking at other trek options on my return. After the earthquake, I knew that I would return.
In April 2016 I was once again headed for Nepal. The people Ang, who was my main contact with Keep Walking Nepal could not do enough to ensure that I was able to trek once again in this amazing country. I signed up for a trek to Gokyo Lakes. I was the only tourist on this trek with Keep Walking Nepal and I found this personalized tour incredibly enjoyable. I met a lot of people on the trek and I found that there were always others wanting to discuss their day and a range of other topics. So I would encourage anyone thinking about trekking “alone” to give it a go.
My Sherpa was Chepal and Bikram was the porter. They both looked after me and monitored me in relation to how I was coping with the altitude. Gokyo lakes are 4,790meteres and if you go to Gokyo Ri you end up at 5,357 meters. I had helpful tips along the way about diet which includes taking Diamox and eating garlic soup.
The flight into Lukla on a small plane is one I will never forget. The scenery on the way was dramatic and very beautiful. The runway is very short and very steep. Definitely a bucket list experience. There were a lot of high fives when the plane landed. We then began day 1 of a 15-day walk. I was really lucky that Chepal like myself was keen to take photos so we stopped for what was a lot of photo opportunities. This also allowed me time to catch my breath and have a drink. The higher the altitude the more I stopped. I found myself going WOW a lot and I would do a 360 turn and the views in all direction were just as amazing. I really needed to pinch oneself to confirm I was there.
We walked from Lukla to Monjo where we stayed the night. A great deal of care is taken to ensure that you acclimatize along the way so some days are shorter than others, the aim is to climb no more than 500 meters a day. The next day we entered the Sagamartha National Park and walked initially along the river to Namche Bazaar crossing several bridges the photo is of the highest one of all. This is the last bridge before the steep climb into Namche. In the photo below you can see the old and new bridge suspended above the river. We took the higher one.
We had our first view of Everest from the trek on the way to Namche Bazaar.
Namche Bazaar is the Sherpa capital. I really enjoyed our time here. Two days on the way there and one on our return.
The next 3 days we trekked through Phortse Tenga, Dole and Machermo. Each location had magnificent views. It was becoming colder as we climbed. We were extremely lucky with the weather as the days were clear and we were offered the most stunning views of the Himalayan mountains.
We spent 2 days in Goyko Lakes. By this time the vegetation was nearly nonexistent. The walk-in offered a different feel from what we had so far. I know that I keep using descriptive language however, this was totally stunning. Below are my two companions, Chepal on the left and Bikram on the right.
It started snowing on the first day we were there so I spent the afternoon with a book in front of the yak poo fire. Fantastic. We were joined by a large group of people from the British military.
I woke up in the morning and opened the curtains to the white mountains which were dramatic in their beauty. I looked down and realized that everything was white. Coming from South Australia where we never see snow it was a real treat. I could not get outside quick enough with the camera. I should also mention that my face washer was frozen in my room. Was it cold – very.
I decided not to walk all of Goyko Ri as I was concerned with slipping and needing to be helicoptered out with snow on the ground. We did walk about a third up as condition became a little better.
We were lucky in that although it snowed again in the afternoon the next morning the trek out conditions were good.
We walked back from Goyko to Dole then to Phortse Village. What a nice evening that was, we were the only ones in the lodge so we were joined around the fire by the lovely young women who looked after us there. Before dinner, we were able to go for a walk and come across the national bird and a musk deer.
The next stop was to Tengboche. It was very overcast when we arrived and you could not see too far in front, this became worse as the day went on. Tengboche is home to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Each morning on the trek you are bought a cup of tea and a bowl of water for a wash. This morning Chepal could not get to the window quick enough to open the curtains to a view of Everest.
Our next stop was Namche, then Phakding then Lukla. From there we headed back to Kathmandu.
Would I recommend this trek – absolutely. Be prepared to ensure that you are as fit as you can be. There are not too many places in Australia that we can even begin altitude training. We can train for strength and endurance. This trek is not for a person who wants 5-star accommodation however the beds are great at the end of a day. You also need to be prepared to share the trek with herds of donkeys we had up to 40 at once. I loved the yaks and dzopko. You will come across a lot of mani walls which you always keep to the left of.
The experience of the Himalayas and viewing Everest is something I will never forget. I am so glad I have been there. Will I return? I get the feeling that once you have been to Nepal there is always a pull to return. So many people I met on my journey had been there numerous times.