Published: October 21st 2008October 21st 2008
After Namche Bazaar, the altitude quickly starts to tell on those who aren't properly acclimatised. From Namche (at 3500 metres) I went to:
- Deboche (3800m)
- Dingboche (4400m), where I had an acclimatisation day to climb Nagartshang (5083m),
- then to Gorak Shep (5100 m)
It's also on this part of the trek that the big mountain scenery starts - with views of Ama Dablam, Everest and Lhotse all just an hour's walk out of Namche.
The walk from Namche to Dingboche I had in fact done before (albeit in the reverse direction) in 2000. The only thing that seems to have changed is the prices. Tourist inflation in Nepal has to be seen to be believed - the place is no longer a budget destination, but is actually starting to get quite expensive.
Now you would expect it to be expensive for several reasons. One of the bona-fide reasons is that all food has to be carried in from Jiri by porters.
Now, a quick word on these porters. They are absolutely incredible. They are tiny little people, seemingly never more than 5 foot tall, and haven't got an ounce of fat
with the great hulk of Lhotse behind
on them. And they carry on average 70 kilos (but sometimes up to 120 kilos) for hours every day over some really difficult terrain. And they only get paid about 500 rupees (or four quid) a day.
But do some basic maths - a bottle of water costs 10 rupees in Jiri. I often saw porters carrying 6 boxes of 12 bottles, or 72 bottles of water. It takes 8 days for porters to reach Gorak Shep, for which the porters receive 500 rupees a day, or 4000 rupees in total, or 56 rupees per bottle. So, a fair price for water in Gorak Shep is maybe 10 rupees (normal price) + 56 rupees (porter costs) + 20 rupees (additional profit for living in such a God-forsaken place) = 86 rupees. Yet the guesthouses actually charge 240 rupees.
The real problem, it seems to me, is the members of the big trekking groups who don't know the real price of things, and therefore think nothing of paying 3 (or more) times the going price. Even allowing for the cost of the porterage.
It's the same old story of the rich tourists driving inflation for everyone else. One
of the many reasons why the big trekking parties really get on my nerves :)
There are more photos below