Trip Intro: Nepal – Everest Base Camp Trek
Last year I had one of the best trips ever whilst travelling through Sri Lanka. It felt so good being outdoors, walking through mountains and tea plantations. This year I have something else planned. It was my dad’s dream to visit the Himalayan mountains in Nepal. As I got bitten by the same travel bug, I couldn’t resist booking an Everest base camp trek. I love seeking adventure and pushing my physical limits and this trip will do just that. I’m so excited to go! The past months and weeks I have been preparing myself and my gear for this trip.
How did I book this trip to Nepal?
When I first started looking for information about trips to Mount Everest base camps I was able to find a lot of information from tour operators in Belgium and the Netherlands. But the pricing… Some of the rates were just ridiculous! I don’t mind spending quite a bit of money when booking a vacation. But it would have cost me an arm and a leg!
So Google to the rescue and that’s how I ended up on the site of Bookmundi.com. They have an online platform on which hundreds if not thousands of local tour operators are connected. As soon as I put “Everest” in their search box, I was able to find lots of Nepalese tour organisations. I picked Himalayan Leisure Inc based on the number of reviews that were posted and the feedback that was in those reviews.
Without much hesitation, I booked a trip with them. After receiving the booking confirmation I got in touch with Upendra, the man running the organisation. What a guy! He replied quickly to any questions I send to him. He didn’t even make a fuss when I needed to change the dates of my trip. A couple of weeks prior to the trip I received a long e-mail with a detailed description about travelling to Nepal, visa information, what kind of gear would be required, weather expectations and so on.
How do I get there?
Originally I had booked an award ticket on Lufthansa which would have taken me from Brussels to Frankfurt to New Delhi to Kathmandu. This itinerary required me to apply for a visa for India. For some reason, my request got denied. Sh*t! Now what?!
I was glad I was able to cancel the tickets without any hassle. But that meant I needed to look for an alternative routing to get to Nepal. As you might know, I’m an avid collector of air miles and hotel points. Having on a large number of miles with several airlines, I started searching. I ended up booking with Qatar Airways in business class. They will fly me from Nice (France) to Doha and then to Kathmandu (KTM).
The journey home is also booked with Qatar Airways but not with miles. I was able to get a relatively cheap one-way business class ticket from KTM to Doha to Amsterdam. The only downside is that I will need to take a train to get me back to Antwerp where I reside.
What did the trip itself cost?
I will be open and honest about this and provide you with screenshots of my bookings. Both for the actual hiking trip and for the flights that I have booked. This way you will get an idea of what the total cost of travel will be. These costs exclude the cost of any gear that I have purchased for this trip. That is a whole different story.
Anyway, if we look at the cost of the trip itself, then I refer to the trek it set me back 1364 Euro. The trip is 15 days and includes a certified mountain guide, a porter and a tour around the city of Kathmandu. The rest of the details of what is included in this price you can find below.
How much did I pay for my flights?
As for airfare, well, of course, you can fly in economy class but over the past couple of years, I have been spoiled by flying in both business and first class. Saving up tons of air miles enables me to travel in luxury. I used these miles to book flights and pay a small amount of money in taxes.
The cost of the flights can be split up into three segments. My positioning flight from Brussels (BRU) via London (LHR) to Nice (NCE) is the first. I could have booked a direct flight from BRU to NCE but I tend to be loyal to British Airways. Why? Because of the perks I get for being a BA Gold member and these 2 flights get me additional tier points. These tier points are required for re-qualification of my elite status with the airline.
I paid 300,33 Euro for a one-way business class ticket from BRU via LHR to NCE. The second segment of the trip will see me going from NCE to Doha (DOH) and then to Kathmandu (KTM). I booked these 2 flights on Qatar Airways in business class using 75.000 Avios (British Airways air miles) and paying an additional 256,43 Euro in taxes.
The third and final segment is my oneway ticket from KTM via DOH to Amsterdam (AMS). I booked this in business class on Qatar Airways and paid 839,22 Euro for it. The nice thing about this third segment is that I will earn miles and qualifying points for my elite status with British Airways.
If we then make a total sum of all the costs for flights, we come to a total of 1395,98 Euro. Yes, that’s a substantial amount of money and most likely the average person would be able to book 2 roundtrip tickets in economy class with it. But what do I get in return for it? Well 6 flights in business class, so that averages 232,66 Euro per flight. Not too bad right?
What does the itinerary look like?
One thing is for sure, it will be a demanding schedule. But I’m up for it! The planning was made by the people at Himalayan Leisure Inc. Day 14 will be a good one as that is my birthday. I planned on staying an extra day in Kathmandu as I didn’t want to be on an airplane. Instead, I have invited my guide and Upendra for dinner.
Below you can read my day by day itinerary for the two-week trip:
- D1: Arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel, welcome dinner and packing;
- D2: Flight to Lukla (2840 m) and trekking to Phakding (2610 m);
- D3: Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (3440 m);
- D4: Resting day in Namche Bazaar for altitude acclimatisation;
- D5: Trek to the monastery of Tengboche (3860 m);
- D6: Trek to Dingboche (4410 m);
- D7: Resting day in Dingboche;
- D8: Trek to Lobuche (4910 m);
- D9: Trek to Gorakshep and Everest Base Camp (5364 m);
- D10: Trek to Kalapatthar (5545 m) and trek down to Pangboche (3985 m);
- D11: Trek to Namche Bazaar (3440 m);
- D12: Trek to Lukla (2840 m);
- D13: Flight to Kathmandu and transfer to hotel;
- D14: Resting day;
- D15: Depart from Nepal.
I’m flying to Nepal on April 14th and will be back home on May 1st.
What gear am I taking?
Well, where to start? Yes I know that’s answering a question with another question but a trip like this requires quite some gear. Let me start by telling you the two things I don’t need to take myself. These are a sleeping bag and a down jacket as these will be provided by the tour operator. They would also provide a duffel bag, but I have one myself which I will be taking.
I seem to have so much stuff that I want or need to take with me. As always I like to prepare for any kind of trip. It could be that I have a mild case of OCD. I created a spreadsheet which has a description of every item, the weight and in which bag it will go during the trip.
It feels like it’s so much stuff, but as I said before I’m restricted to 15 kilos in total. This weight includes the weight of the backpack and duffel bag. So my scales will be working overtime before the trip. I will need to make a selection of things that I need and the things that would be nice to have during the trip. I will write an additional post about all the gear that I will be using.
Can we follow you on your Everest base camp trek?
That will all depend on connectivity. I will have my personal 3G/4G hotspot with me, but I don’t know when or if I will have any signal up there. I know there will be some wifi available but I won’t be taking my laptop with me. Why? Because it’s too heavy to carry around in my gear. So you might see some pictures getting posted on Instagram, but any kind of diary posts on my blog will only be uploaded after the trip.
Knowing myself I will probably take a lot of pictures and I’m also taking my GoPro camera with me on this trip. The only thing I need to figure out is how many SD cards to take with me. I already have a bunch of them with various storage capacity. But I know from experience that video footage will take up a lot of storage. Anyway, that’s something for me to worry and bust my brain about.
I hope to keep track of every day of the trip by means of a journal and post these afterwards on this blog. The entire trip and experience should create some great stories, so please have some patience.
I finished packing this weekend. Another side of the trip is the physical aspect. This will by no means be an easy stroll up a mountain. The past couple of months I have been training a lot. I have been doing a lot of cardio training, running distances up to 10 km and doing long walks that vary between 15 and 20 km. The only thing that I’m unable to train for is the altitude. The highest point of the Everest base camp trek will be Kalapatthar, which is at 5545 meters.
At this altitude, there is 50 % less oxygen than at sea level. That’s why it’s so important to have resting days during the hike to acclimatize. I will see how it goes, at the moment I’m feeling great. I finished my last training session yesterday. The coming week will be resting only, no more running or walking.
Friday afternoon I’m off from work and I’ll head over to my mom as she lives close to the airport. We’ll have a nice dinner before I head out to the Himalaya. I will also try to reassure her as she is so worried because I’m going to Everest. I’ll be in good hands mom!