Too often when people think of trekking in Nepal they think of Into Thin Air, of impossibly tall mountains, and of glacier-strewn ice fields. Too rarely do they realize that hiking into the foothills of the world's tallest mountains is doable for just about anyone.
Conde Nast contributor, Jen Murphy, recently wrote a piece outlining what you need to know about trekking in Nepal after she hiked to Pangboche on the Everest Base Camp trail this past October. She starts off with, "Suprise! You don't need to be an extreme athlete to tackle Nepal!" See what else she had to say below:
Has the country recovered from the April 2015 earthquakes?
In Kathmandu, many buildings and stupas remained in need of repair, and tidy piles of rubble lined the streets, but much of the city was back in action. In Namche Bazaar, a hub for trekkers, tourism was down 60 percent compared with the same period the year before, despite minimal damage. The town’s 50-plus lodges, including ours, were essentially vacant during our visit. Red Cross tents still dotted the village of Khumjung, and hosts at the teahouses were eager to see any foreign visitors at all.
Just how hard is the trekking?
Our itinerary called for four solid days of hiking—from Lukla, the gateway to Everest, northeast to Pangboche—a total of about 21 miles. From there, we’d travel by helicopter to see Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu Glacier, the world’s highest, by air. Though we walked for six hours some days, the pace was leisurely, with frequent stops for cups of masala chiya (a milky black tea common in the mountains) and photos of weathered prayer flags, mani stones (large rocks inscribed with mantras), and distant snowcapped peaks. There were moments when I stepped beyond my comfort zone but most days I felt an unexpected calm coupled with a definite sense of achievement.
Check out this interactive google map that outlines the route to Pangboche including daily mileage and elevation gain/loss
Do you really need a guide?
Virtually every hiker travels with one, and we were no different—though our trip leader was hardly typical: Maya Sherpa was one of the first Nepalese women to summit K2, in 2014. With us were three Sherpas and two porters, who hauled most of our gear. The small pack I carried, stuffed with water and extra layers, weighed less than the purse I typically drag around Manhattan.
How were the lodges along the way? And what about the food?
I went expecting the European hostels of my youth, but most Nepalese lodges are like cozy New England B&Bs—minus the chintz—with hot towels on arrival, electric blankets, and indulgent breakfast spreads of delicious yak cheese and fried Tibetan bread. I even abandoned my morning coffee addiction and embraced masala chiya. For dinner, we feasted on Sherpa stew, a broth with flat wheat-flour noodles, spinach, carrots, and boiled potatoes. Most nights I was in bed by 9 p.m.—and sleeping more soundly than I had in years.
We think 2016 is one of the best years in a long while to visit Nepal - crowds are down, the Nepalese people are excited to welcome visitors back, and the money tourists bring in is going farther than ever before.
Travel with Wildland on a very special 30th anniversary trip - Himalayan Odyssey: Bhutan to Everest - in November to trek the same route Jen outlines above. A team of Wildland employees is also working to give back to Nepal, climbing Mt. Rainier in July to raise the funds to donate solar panels to five schools in rural Nepal that have been rebuilt since the quake. If you want to help, donate here!
Questions? Ask me!
Your friendly Nepal expert,