How I got to Everest Base Camp with no training, guide, porter or planning... & on a budget! Part 1
It all started in a small village in south west Wales as a conversation in the local pub with mates. Soon enough it became a reality.
Back in 2015 I went on my first solo backpacking trip to south India. There I met a guy called Sam, who had a true sense for adventure. His trips inspired me. He told me how he was going to travel up through India to Nepal and Hike to EBC (Everest base camp). This interested me, a lot! and I hadn’t done much adventure travel before.
After India I went home with full intent of someday reaching EBC. I didn’t do much travelling between India and EBC. I basically spent a lot of time talking about it with friends and saving until one day i finally booked some flights. I even managed to convince a friend to join me.
Here is a list of steps I took to get me on my incredible journey to the heart of the Himalayas.
Before I start I would like to briefly cover costs now.
Rough estimates as of November 2017;
International budget return flights from the UK to Kathmandu roughly – £400
Travel Visa – £45
Domestic flights Kathmandu to Lukla – USD$315
Daily budget for 12 day trekking – USD$40 per day
3-4 days each side of trek in Kathmandu – USD$40 per day including accom
Trekking permits and national park passes – USD$40
Comfortable total roughly = £1200
Budget total roughly = £900/1000
Step 1 – Booking
It was only a matter of checking out some flights on skyscanner and choosing the cheapest one. Mine was roughly £270 one way from the UK as I was travelling on after.
I booked roughly 4 months in advance to give me plenty of time.
Step 2 – checking visas and recommended vaccines
For travellers from the UK I would highly recommend the .GOV website. I wouldn’t travel to a new country without looking at it first. It has everything you need to know from vaccines to current relations.
My visa as a UK citizen cost around £54. I filled out the form from the Nepal embassy website and posted it off along with my passport and postal order. A week later I had my passport with the approved visa sticker inside.
Step 3 – waiting and researching
Google searches often came up with package deals and high price tags. I didn’t want this, not only because of the price but because I wanted to accomplish everything by my own means. Luckily before leaving a good mate of mine decided to join me on the trek, this made everything a lot easier! It didn’t take long for us to find out about the notorious flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Again a lot of online info led us to believe that we could get it cheaper after we arrive.
As well as the internal flights we discovered we needed trekking permits and national park passes which we could obtain from an office in Kathmandu.
Step 4 – Arriving In Kathmandu
I remember walking out of the international airport in Kathmandu in a minor jet lagged panic to find a way to my hostel. Now luckily for me i was expecting this after my trip to India. I had unwelcoming amount of helpfulness from all the drivers to whom I kept my guard up. Eventually I realised I was being a bit of a dick and found the driver from a hostel I had pre booked.
Firstly I would like to point out that when I travel I always stay in hostels. It is the best way to meet new people and settle into a place. You can get very useful information from other travellers here and meet lifelong friends.
We booked into the ‘Sparkling Turtle Backpackers Hostel’ and the very first day we head out with our checklist. The hostel organised our internal flights for roughly $310 USD each which included a taxi to and from the hostel and airport. They also gave us the address for the office to get our permits and passes. These cost roughly $40 USD per person and make great souvenirs.
Step 5 – The flight to Lukla
One for the bucket list! You know you’re on an adventure when you’re about to board a propeller plane flying to one of the most dangerous airports in the world! But don’t let this put you off, some of the airline companies that fly are also on the world's most dangerous airlines list. This notoriety comes from the landing strip being located on the edge of a cliff. The runway for the airport is sloped due to its short length. Planes arriving land uphill to help slow down, and planes leave downhill need to gain as much speed as possible before taking off to avoid dropping off the cliff. Needless to say it's an arse clenching experience. Especially when one of the airlines is called Tara Air, which I found pretty amusing.
Our plane, and pretty much all the planes that operate this route, have a grand total of 15 seats. That includes the 2 pilots and a seat at the back for the air hostess. Yes that's right. A half an hour, rough and ready flight, for 13 people has an official air hostess. She hunches her way down the short isle giving out hard boiled mints and cotton buds to help blank out the insane whine of the props. I remember being sat on the strip about to take off from Kathmandu while the engines warmed up. I thought the engine was going to explode there and then because of the mental amount of sound the engines were making. There was a few points during the flights there and back when i thought
‘this is it….. this is how i’m going to die’
Unfortunately it’s late and i’m drunk so this will be a 2 part post!
Stay tuned for the 2nd half!