Kathmandu: Everest Base Camp Trek
Get There: You’ll have your pre-departure meeting at the Kathmandu hotel the tour kicks off from (for a hobo this will be one of the nicer establishments you’ve been in).
In 2013, I set myself the fairly daunting goal of hiking to Everest Base Camp and, faced with the idea of doing the trek alone and no doubt succumbing to self entertainment in the form of “the song that never ends” roaring through my head on repeat, I decided to jump on a G Adventures tour.
I nervously arrived in Kathmandu fresh from Beijing, very aware of the effect that one of the more polluted cities in the world would have on my lungs (on top of my smoking habit I had failed to kick after months in Europe). Suffice to say, I was very under prepared, given that prior to the trek I considered a hike to be a walk to the train station, had never been exposed to altitude and had brought a cute Urban Outfitters backpack for my 12-day trek.
I turned up to our first group meeting shamelessly sizing up the group I would no doubt be struggling to keep up with. Naturally, there were a heap of Canadians to whom hiking is like breathing and a few of your marathon runners and triathletes. I was absolutely bricking it and feeling entirely in over my head.
Lucky enough, the tour was fantastic. The guides set an amazingly achievable pace to ensure everyone was comfortable and altitude symptoms were kept at bay. At no point did I feel uncomfortable or pressured to push beyond my means.
I’m generally fairly anti tours, believing half the experience lies in finding your own friends, your own way around and interacting with locals; however, in this instance, having a guide not only was vital for maintaining a safe pace to avoid altitude sickness but also provided a wealth of cultural knowledge. Having a group of new people walking with us allowed us to spend the hours trekking getting to know one another and gaining a greater insight to where each other came from.
Being on such a well-organised tour was worth its weight in rupee when were stuck in Lukla on the way back to Kathmandu. Unfortunately being one of the most dangerous airports in the world means conditions have to be perfect for flying. Needless to say, approaching monsoon season, conditions were less than clear and showed no signs of improvement. Our flight was cancelled and we went to the back of a long line of people waiting to get out. The guides were fantastic in orchestrating each of us out, squeezing us onto planes and organising helicopters so that we made our various flights, meaning they themselves had to stay back for two weeks and eventually trek down.
G Adventures took care of absolutely everything, ensured I felt safe and comfortable and kept things running as smoothly as they could for all of us. I would highly recommend going through them or a similarly well-organised company.