Starting out: Everest Base Camp Trek

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November 1st 2012
Published: March 17th 2013
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Kathmandu 1337m - Lukla 2800m - Phakding 2610m - Benkar 2710m - Monjo 2840m

Time taken:

Lukla - Phakding 1 hours 50 mins

Phakding - Monjo 1 hour 30 mins

An early morning start from sunny Kathmandu airport aboard a tiny plane is followed by a nerve-wracking flight. Turbulance is to be expected in this size of plane flying so close to the mountains, i'm told by those who have flown it before. As the plane leaves the valley over a ridge, the plane shakes and jolts enough to cause a few white knuckles on arm rests. From the small windows of the cramped cabin, the mountains are above and to every side it seems, almost close enough to touch. Small waves of pre-panic give way to exhiliration at the scenery. As the plane tilts forward for descent the tiny airstrip at Lukla can be seen through from the pilot's eye view. A bumpy touchdown later and the nerves seem to disperse with a crisp new chill to the air at Lukla. Bags offloaded, fleeces zipped up and a huge gaggle of guides hang around the exit behind a barbed wire fence ready to do business. I meet with my guide Suriya, a gentle softly spoken Nepali and our porter Azay who is slight and small of frame but seems strong enough and enthusiatic. A gentle undulating trek on rocky stone paths brings us uphill to walk around the many painted and carved Mani stones. After a short climb past these and the start of a village, we come to a bridge across to the second part of through Phakding where we stop for lunch among the mairgolds. The air is cool and fresh but the sun beats down and I am warm in just my t-shirt. This is where i'm told most trekkers stay on the first day but since Suriya gives me the choice, we carry on to Monjo where we will stop for the night. In Monjo we stay at the Summit Lodge, my room is spacious and comfortable with views out over the forest and a waterfall which gives a torrential background sound to the space. The family here own two small acrobatic cats who keep me and the other guests amused whilst we eat soup and rice around the central fire. The lodge owner is keen to talk in English about the upcoming presidential elections in the USA but cannot find any Americans among us. The night is noticeably colder than Kathmandu when I go to my room, as expected, but I am warm at night and sleep well.

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