'I regret not having trekked to Everest Base Camp earlier'
Everest Base Camp Photograph: (WION)
Solo trekking is an experience in itself. Once a year, I pack my bags and leave for the mountains to unwind from the daily hustle. While trekking, you can afford to be distant from the world and yet socialise with those on similar journeys. I have been lucky to do a couple of treks before embarking on my journey to the Everest Base Camp. Some trails I trekked before was Valley of Flowers, Roopkund and Deoriatal Chandrashila Peak trek.
I did the Everest Base Camp Trek in March, 2016, and these are some solo trekking tips:
- Start early
It is always advisable to start early as the sun becomes too harsh after 10 am in the morning. And it stays strong till 4 pm. Have a good breakfast and carry around 1.5 to 2 litres of water with you. I trekked with chisopani (tap water) with Ayush (chlorine solution) available in Kathmandu. I did not buy bottled water and used Tang (fruit-flavoured drink) to make the water taste good. But if you want to drink bottled water, it is easily available.
Valley near the Mount Everest (WION)
- Download GPS Trail app
Do not worry of getting lost on the trail. There is always enough people to guide you back even if you take the wrong trail. Download GPS trail apps like Alpine quest (Paid) or Mapinr (Free) that will guide you in your trek and load Google Earth files uploaded by people online in kmz or kml format to be safe.
- Carry extra cash
Keep at least 25% extra Nepali cash from Kathmandu than you estimated for the trip. Many times, flights from and to Lukla get cancelled which could mean going back to Kathmandu by taxi or back to your hotel in Lukla for extra day(s). There could also be a delay due to weather or altitude issues. Average daily expense in the town is around 1500 to 2000 NPR, so carry cash accordingly.
- What to eat
Nepal’s most popular local dish is Dal Bhat and the best part is that you are offered ‘unlimited’ servings by almost all eateries. Like me, you could also try their spaghetti, pizza, pasta, macaroni, chow mein etc. Since I am from India, dal rice and vegetables is our staple food as well so I tried the others. Mix up your lunch and dinner so you don’t get bored of eating same food.
Swayambhunath, an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley (WION)
- Budget stay
As a solo trekker, you can get a room for as low as 100 NPR per day. The fact that I can speak in Hindi might have had an influence, but it’s possible for a solo trekker otherwise also. There are places like Lobuche or Gorakshep where you might have to shell 200 or 300 NPR per day but there are enough lodges in every town. People are friendly, so negotiating is a possibility.
A taxi from Thamel to airport is 400 to 500 NPR if you negotiate well. I have seen people paying 800 to 1000 NPR.
- Health precautions
I never used any medicine on this trip. Drink 3 to 4 litres of water, eat well and listen to your body to keep away from altitude sickness. If you start getting a headache or body pain, stop as soon as possible and stay in the nearest town possible. You don’t have to go by a strict route.
Your backpack weight should be 12 kgs or less. Every item you carry has weight. My initial bacpack weight was 16 kgs at the airport and I knew it was too much. So once I landed in Lukla, I went to the teahouse, explained to them that I will stay here on the way back and left around 4 kgs of clothes and other things which I didn’t need. It was the best decision on the trip.
Carry chocolate bars for instant energy. Snickers, mars bars and nuts work best in this case. I carried 20 snicker bars (1 bar per day usage on the trip ) and 1kg of mixed nuts. Snickers on the trek can cost 200 NPR or even more. You should also carry essentials like earplugs for a good night's sleep, a book or kindle if you like to read in your alone time and some extra socks.
Pangboche village in Solukhumbu District, Nepal at an altitude of 13,074 feet (WION)
- Look around
You cannot afford to miss out on anything while trekking. Stop to take photos from phone or digital cameras. The entire journey had something to offer and I wanted to capture it all. I carried my DSLR and just 1 lens which was enough. A second lens will add to the weight so it’s your call.
I didn’t plan on this trip in advance and so was not in the best shape. I trained for exactly 40 days on the treadmill. It included:
Day 1: Running 5 kms in 30 minutes time with some breaks in between.
Day 2: Walking at an incline of 7 to 12 with a backpack of 10 kgs for 1 hour with 2 breaks of 5 minutes in between. I did this for 40 days alternating with 4 sundays as breaks.
Note: I would do weight training on alternate days for half an hour.
Smile and talk to as many people as possible. Be nice to everyone as it always helps if you are a solo traveler. I met some amazing people and forged awesome friendships with them, which will stay with me for a lifetime.
I wasn’t very fit and so took my own time to go about the trip. I saw kids as young as 8 and people in their 70’s on this trek. The point is, you can do it with a little passion for trekking and mountains, of course.
The trail: Kathmandu- Lukla – Phakding – Namche – Tengboche – Pangboche – Dingboche – Tukla – Lobuche – Gorakshep (EBC & Kalapathar) – Tukla – Monjo – Lukla- Kathmandu
What I carried:
1 fleece jacket, 1 half sleeve and 1 long sleeve polyester t shirt, 1 waterproof jacket, 1 down jacket (50%), one 2 season sleeping bag, 4 underwears, medicine bag, deodorant, 2 trekking poles (which I gave away in Lukla to the porter association office), 1 waterproof pant, 1 fleece pant, lot of snickers and nuts, 2 – 3 packets of Tang, 1 book, 1 writing pad and pen, 1 bag cover.
My backpack is Osprey Farpoint 70 and it’s super amazing for treks. All my trekking gear was purchased in Delhi from Decathlon. My shoes are Quechua Forclaz 500.