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13 July, 2014

EBC Trek Day 1: Lukla to Phakding

Lukla Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
Last April, I decided to accomplish another bucket list item, the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek (also known as the EBC trek). As I mentioned before, I'm not sure why I'm so in challenges lately, but I just need to get that feeling of achievement ... I just need to feel alive. Feeling the same? Then I can definitely recommend the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. Besides an incredible feeling of accomplishment, this trek offers stunning Himalaya views ... a close view at the world's highest peaks ... 



Mount Everest Base Camp Trek 

15th of April 2014: Day 1: Lukla to Phakding



Kathmandu - Lukla, the flight

Flight from Kathmandu to Luka EBC Trek
Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
Our adventure started very early in the morning of 15th of April 2014 when we were picked up by our guide - Janzing Sherpa - to catch our flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. I was a bit nervous cause the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla - located in a mountain valley at an altitude of 2,800m (9,200ft) - is known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world. This airport can only be used by helicopters or small airplanes. The Tenzing-Hillary airport has a very small uphill runway that ends in a huge rock wall. No option here to abort landing and try again, the pilot must get it right from the first time.  


The pilot on the plane to Lukla EBC Trek
Pilot on the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
We had an early start as we had one of the first flights of the day flying out. There are often delays in the flights from Kathmandu to Lukla or the other way around cause from the moment the weather is not perfect in both locations, they will not fly out. You get fixed flight numbers (flights 1 till 5 are the best options as the chance of your flight being cancelled or delayed due to bad weather increases the later you go). It turned out to be a good thing that we were that early cause surprisingly we started boarding about half an hour early. 



A flight taking off on Tenzing-Hillary Airport EBC Trek
A plane taking off on Lukla Airport
It was a very small plane that only carries about 12 to 15 passengers, there's also a maximum weight for your luggage. I took a seat right behind the pilot on the left side of the plane as I heard you have incredible views of the Himalayas during the flight from the left side of the plane. The flight was very short - only about 30 minutes - and the views were indeed incredible. There was a nervous atmosphere during the flight cause everybody was anxious for the landing, luckily we did not have much turbulence during the flight and landed safely in Lukla. Relieved cheers and claps were the pilot's reward for a very smooth touchdown. 



Lukla 2,800m (9,200ft) - Phakding 2,610m (8,560ft)
about 2,5 to 3 hours

Start of EBC Trek in Lukla
Start of the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
Once we got out of the airport, fresh mountain air and the sun greeted us. We also met our porter there; all together we went for tea in the Yeti Mountain Home in Lukla. There we got to know our guide - Janzing Sherpa - a bit better and he explained us a lot about the Sherpa culture and the Himalayas. We also learned that the Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side is so commercialized that you can get there by jeep. That takes quite a lot of the charm away, here on the Nepalese side everybody has to hike 6 to 10 days (depending upon your pace) to get to Base Camp, which makes it - according to me - more adventurous. 


Mani stones in the Phakding area EBC trek
Mani Stones in the Phakding Area
After tea, we started our trek. I couldn't believe I was finally going to start the same path as so many of my heroes took. Yes also the ones climbing to the Roof of the World have to take the same path to get there. The first part of the hike was mainly downhill; we passed several Mani stones, prayer wheels and flapping prayer flags. 




Hike from Lukla to Phakding EBC Trek
Hike from Lukla to Phakding
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, this time of the year the rhododendron and magnolia trees are blooming so that added even more to the beauty we experienced. We descended steeply to the Tharo Kosi River (also called the milk river), crossed the first of many bridges during our trek and ascended a bit till Phakding. 



Yeti Mountain Home Phakding
Yeti Mountain Home Phakding Bedroom
We had a delicious lunch in the Yeti Mountain Home in Phakding. After lunch we did an acclimatization hike to a Monastery. It was a very steep climb and I definitely felt my lack of preparation here. Nevertheless I made it up there. After a short visit to the Monastery, we hiked back down to the Yeti Mountain Home in Phakding. I wanted a bit of luxury on my EBC Trek and this was definitely a very good start; a private bedroom including bathroom and western style toilet, an amazing view ... we had happy hour around the fire with some other trekkers after which we enjoyed a delicious 3 course dinner. 


                                                                                 Read EBC Day 2 => 



Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog




46 comments:

  1. I hold your adventures in such high esteem. Oh to be 25 years younger and attempt half of the stuff you have. How high was base camp? 15K or more???
    Mike

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    1. Hi Mike, base camp is 17,598 ft, we also went from there to the top of Kala Pattar which is even higher.

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  2. Incredible! I'd love to do this someday. Can't wait to read more!

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  3. Hey, I recognize that first photo :) . I like the way the plane is heading downhill as it is taking off...not many options for bailing out are there?
    Frank (bbqboy)

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    Replies
    1. There sure aren't but our flight turned out to be quite smoothly :)

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  4. Wow, great to see a post from our long lost friend! :) This is terrific, Freya, and that bedroom is amazing. I echo what Frank said on the the plane taking off! OMG! We hope all is well with you! :)

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    1. All well Mike, thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. No tents or eating crappy food has a great deal of appeal. I did a 31 day Manaslu trek and it was beautiful but tough.
    The photo of the plane taking off is great; I hear about that airport but I haven't actually seen a photo quite like that.

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    1. wow not sure whether I could do that and for sure not for 31 days

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  6. Sounds like an exhilarating hike at EBC and love your idea to treat yourself to a little luxury. Smart woman!

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  7. Freya, a photo of a cockpit view is on my list for a while... Love yours!!
    Great story and photo coverage!

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  8. That has to be some of the best hiking in the world. I'm surprised at how nice the accommodations can be in such a remote area.

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    1. The Yeti Mountain Homes are amazing

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  9. WOW! I've always dreamed about it! And hopefully one day I'll follow your steps. THX for this post!

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    1. I'm sure you will love it Agata

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  10. Absolutely stunning post Freya. The photography is brilliant and the narration thrilling. All the best to you and cheers :)

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  11. What an adventure and so glad you had glorious weather too!! I bet the plane ride was one of the best experiences of your life!!

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    1. haha not sure about that one but it was an experience for sure

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  12. What an incredible experience, Freya - your photos are spectacular! I love that you were able to add some luxury to such an adventurous trip!

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    1. not sure whether I could have done it without the luxury

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  13. @onewhohikes15 July, 2014

    great post. my first thought was, "I have flown on flights like this in Alaska." But when I saw the picture of the plane taking off downhill, I thought, "Wow!" Great adventure :)

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  14. That flight is quite the adventure in itself. Look forward to reading more about your trek.

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  15. So beautiful. I really envy you! Amazing nature and mountains. That must have been an adventure! Some day I need to do it, Kathmandu is also my dream.

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  16. The EBC trek is definitely in my bucket list. Hope someday I can afford it :)

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    Replies
    1. There are many budget options as well when doing the EBC trek

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  17. HI Freya, I'm so excited to read your EBC adventure. It great that you went for a chanllenge you were craving for. It seemed like you were in for a great start. The view is breathtaking as expected and your accommodation is just lovely. I'd like to do this kind of luxury trek myself if I do EBC. I've hike to the Everent Base Camp but from the Tibet side and I'd like to trek the Nepal side someday. Look forward to the rest of your EBC post.

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    1. Hi Marisol it is a very beautiful trek and the accommodation was great

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  18. Braaaaave - I've heard so much about this flight. It's nice to read a story about one that went smoothly!!

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    1. haha I'm really happy that it went that smoothly :)

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  19. What a great experience, Freya and I'm glad you got to take on this challenge. These first day pictures are beautiful. I can't even begin to imagine your feelings as you started this trip. Looking forward to the rest of the trip.

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    1. Thanks Mary, it was an amazing trip

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  20. What an exciting adventure. I think Everest Base Camp is on my teen's bucket list as we were not able to visit it during our trip to Tibet last year. We had so much trouble handling the altitude in Tibet. Was that a problem for you on the hike or did the slow pace allow you to gradually adjust?

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    1. I think the slow pace indeed helps a lot, we also took a few acclimatization days.

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  21. You've mentioned your lack of preparation in another post as well, Freya. How do you prepare for the hike? Do they give any tips? I trained for about a year before I ran a marathon and still didn't feel like I was up to snuff the day of.

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    1. To prepare for this hike the most important think is to hike a lot and preferably in mountains. They also recommend you to do at least a 2 to 3 day hike before starting this trek.

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  22. Hi frets! If we can manage three-day hikes, do you think a couple of 50-something's like us will be able to handle this trek?

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    1. Hi Linda, yes I think so. We were able to do it so ... :-)

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Freya - Holiday Nomad