nickdrums99United Kingdom Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Wow! This was such a good trek, and to begin at the end, I would absolutely recommend Ramkrishna and Himalayan Scenery Treks 100%. The pre-arrival arrangements were good - Ram would email back very quickly on any queries. Once in KTM, the hotel for our nights there was very comfortable - about 3* I would say. The HST preferred hotel (Access Nepal) was full, so we were overflowed into the Highlander next door - I checked the rooms in both and felt the Highlander was nicer. The arrangements to travel to and from Lukla were extremely well organised - the team have very good contacts - on both flights we were on one of the very earliest flights of the day, which is a huge advantage as this is the best flying weather, and avoids long delays or getting stuck - one of the many advantages of having a proper guide on the ground with you. Speaking of guides, we had two for our party of 9. Narayan was the lead guide, and is fantastic. His English is great, he is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the trek, and also very patient with any members of the party who are slower, struggling or unwell. Our second guide Govinda was much quieter, but became a constant companion on the trek, and also a tireless waiter in all of the lodges we stayed in. On lodges, it feels as though HST tend to go for the better ones, which is a bonus. The food was always pretty good (especially considering the altitude!), and the rooms reasonable. However, be prepared for some very bad toilets in the highest spots. In particular, the lodge in Pheriche was great - including a king size bed and en suite bathroom. Ok there was no toilet seat, but this is at 4,400m!The pace of the trek was also excellent (our actual days walking, including the first day's walk from Lukla to Phakding, was 11), with the all-important rest / acclimatisation days allowed for in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche. This is a very high trek with the peak being around 24 hours spent at over 5,000m, so the likelihood of some altitude symptoms is higher, and the rest days really help. We were offered the option by HST to go all-inclusive on the food. However, as you are really just eating for calories, we found that we were only spending around $5 per meal, so $20 per day per person would be plenty, and allows for a couple of hot drinks as well. My partner and I both had pretty nasty headaches over 4,000m, so be prepared for that. Which reminds me of some absolute essentials to take while it is fresh in the mind. These were all on the packing list, but I'm highlighting the important ones. - Diamox to help combat altitude sickness.- Strong painkillers - e.g. Paracetamol and Codeine combination - walking with a thumping headache is not fun. - Think about hydration - it's critical to avoid getting sick - we used cheap chlorine tablets and had no ill effects at all, but a couple of tips to avoid your drink tasting like a swimming pool: 1) add the tablets to the tap water the night before - the chlorine flavour dissipates; 2) take something to flavour the water - either rehydration sachets or super-concentrated squash - in the UK Robinson's do small squeezy bottles which are only about 5cm across which are perfect. - Now you have your drinkable water, a CamelBak in your day pack just makes it so much easier to keep drinking. - At least one walking pole - we both found one to be plenty. - As much medicine as you can find! It's very easy to get sick up there, so lots of remedies for coughs, sore throats, congestion etc. - Stacks of baby wipes. Even as low as Namche, showering is not for the faint hearted - lukewarm water and a very cold environment! A quick freshen up with wet wipes is a good way to stay at least acceptably clean. - Lots of hand sanitiser to stay healthy. On a related note - we are both definite carnivores, but remained veggie for the duration, and had no tummy troubles at all. - Long thermal underwear - above Namche you will never take it off!- Solar panels. I wished I had one of these, as there is no free charging of anything once you reach Lukla. Also rather pleasing to be able to charge your phone from the sun rather than having to pay!- Ear plugs: the lodge rooms are generally partitioned with single sheets of plywood, so noise transmission is very high. Add barking dogs from dusk until dawn, and you'll be glad of some sound insulation. On the don't bother list, I would say:- Camp towel - if you don't shower, you won't need it - and they are expensive!- Spare clothes - as above, if you are sacrificing hygiene a bit, all those spare T shirts and so on will go unused - after a while it's too cold to get changed anyway. - Big camera: when you are gasping for oxygen, taking a quick snap on your phone is quite enough hassle, never mind messing about with an SLR.Hope these thoughts are useful. As I said at the top, there are so many companies offering trekking in Nepal, so it's hard to choose. Our experience with Ramkrishna, Narayan and Govinda was excellent, and unforgettable. Thank you guys - I wholeheartedly recommend you!P.S. Make yourself get up for the dawn hike up Kala Patthar. It is exhausting, but the views of Everest, including the South Col, are definitely worth it.