Mt. Everest! The name itself is enough for most commoners to miss a heart beat and feel a bit of anxiety in mind. Nothing less than the testing grounds for strong, skilled and immensely powerful mountaineers, who every year flock to the base of this giant,with only one hope. 8850 m.
But these days, the idea of Everest Base Camp trek is not only just a usual arduous trek to reach the battle fields for those seeking the summit, but is also a spectacular destination that connects us to the awe-inspiring wonders of Himalayas without much of an exertion.
Team GGIM is rolling out it’s first EBC trek on 23rd Apr 16 and one of our participants, Saiyami, who is extremely excited for her first ever trek, has some really cool things to share before embarking on her voyage.
She is the one who has been training for EBC far more seriously than those who are preparing for Everest Expedition. She’d climb Parvati steps 10 times!! Damn! All I can say is
Only after trek leader’s request, she decided to quit this quest of climbing parvati and focused on something which could add more colors to her trip.
So, her indefatigable excitement wasn’t over. Having done excellent physical preparations, she decided to work on ‘to-do-list’ during EBC trek, other than trekking. And guess what, after a significant research, she has compiled a huge list, which if one tries to explore 60% out of it, I bet will not only have the enjoyable trek but experience the whole journey with a series of incredibly memorable events.
Here’s what she proposes.
Day 1 & 2– Arrive and prepare in Kathmandu. First thing to look for is tourist attraction in Kathmandu (Well, seriously?? I thought it was meant for trek preparation!)
Most visitors are surprised by the sheer number of temples surrounding the square, and the two adjoining squares, some dating back to the 12th century.The jewels in the crown are the Hanuman Dhoka itself (the complex of royal palaces), the magnificent Taleju Temple (built in 1564 by Mahendra Malla, standing on a 12-stage plinth, and reaching 35 metres in height), and the Kumari Bahal (an intricately carved three-storey structure built in 1757 in which the ‘living godess’, a young girl selected from the Kathmandu valley, still lives).
Other must-sees are the Kasthamandap (aka the ‘Pavillion of wood’, the building after which Kathmandu was named and which, legend has it, was constructed using a single sal tree) and the Maju Deval (a triple-roofed Shiva temple dating from 1690, built by the mother of Bhaktapur’s king Bhupatindra Malla)
Shopping in Kathmandu
Kukri?? Her first choice! Oh dear!! stay away from this girl.
Necklaces of typical Nepali style
If you go to Nepal and miss these singing bowls, then you are missing something really amazing.
2. Boudhanath Stupa
The Boudhanath stupa is one of the holiest and most recognisable sites in Kathmandu.
Assigned UNESCO world heritage status in 1979, Boudhanath (aka the Boudha, Chorten Chempo and Khasa Caityais) has a diameter of 120 metres, making it the largest temple in Nepal.
The stupa is built on an octagonal base, is surrounded by prayer wheels, and has colourful prayer flags draped from its 36-metre central spire.
Boudhanath is rich in symbolism: it has five statues of Dhyani Buddhas, representing the five elements (earth, fire, water, air and ether); nine levels, representing Mount Meru (the mythical peak at the centre of the Buddhist cosmos); and 13 rings from its base to its apex (representing the steps to enlightenment or Nirvana).
Boudhanath is the religious centre of Nepal’s Tibetan/Buddhist community, and is surrounded by around 50 monasteries and shops settling Tibetan artefacts. About 15% of the population are Buddhists.
Look out for Tibetan monks, with shaven heads and maroon robes, and pilgrims spinning prayer wheels and buying yak butter and tsampa (roasted barley flour). Be careful to observe Tibetan custom by walking around the stupa in a clockwise direction.
There has been a stupa on this site since Tibetan king Songsten Gampo converted to Buddhism in around 600 AD.
3. Pashupatinath Temple
Built in 1696 on the orders of King Bhupendra Malla, Pashupatinath is Nepal’s most important Hindu temple. Constructed in the pagoda style of architecture, Pashupatinath stands on the banks of the Bagmati river, has a distinctive gilded rooftop, intricately carved rafters (featuring members of Shiva’s family) and four silver-plated main doors surrounded by statues of deities. Pashupatinath reaches a maximum height of 24 metres, and is presided over by piests called Bhattas and achief priest called Mool Bhatt or Raval. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, though a glimpse of Shiva’s bull, Nandi, can be caught from outside the western entrance. Whilst the ‘ghats’ in front of the temple were reserved for the cremation of royalty, four other ghats to the south of the nearby bridges are in regular use. There is often a cremation in progress, with a shrouded body lifted on top of a log fire with surprisingly little ceremony. Cremations are followed by ritual bathing in the river.
4. Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens, found 18 kms south of Kathmandu in the foothills of Mount Phulchowki, are a site of outstanding beauty.
Opened by King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in 1962, the Botanical Gardens—the only in Nepal—now hold over 500 species of plant in 82 hectares. Highlights include the decorative Coronation Pond, visitor centre (with interesting exhibits on Nepal’s flora), greenhouses, and collections of rhododendrons (Nepal’s national flower), lilies, orchids, cacti and ferns. Spring and autumn are the peak flowering seasons and therefore the best times to visit.
The Godavari Spring, found 200 metres from the Botanical Gardens’ main gate, is also well worth a look. This freshwater spring spouting ice-cold water from the Gadavari river is reputed to have been created when the Buddhist Mystic Padmasambhava struck a rock (in order to demonstrate that the ultimate truth is clear and will fulfill the people’s thirst); unsurprisingly, the Spring is a popular Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site.
Those with more energy will enjoy a hike to the top of Phulchowki (2715 m), the highest hill in the Kathmandu valley, to take in the views and a small Buddhist shrine at the summit.
Day 3 – Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla & trek to Phakding (2610 m)
A short flight journey with a pack of 15 fellow hikers.. across the magnificent mountains..
And then the trek to Phakding.
Day 4 & 5– Namche Bazar (3440 m)
Places to Visit
Sagarmatha National Park Visitor’s Centre, located at the top end of the village off the Tengboche trail (right side of village when looking up). Offers information on the wildlife of the area. There are some interesting photographs.
Museum of Sherpa Life, located above the village off the Tengboche trail. An introduction to Sherpa culture and the fauna and flora of the region
Museum of local medicinal plants and Tibetan herbal medicineat the Healing Centre . Offers an introduction into the world of Tibetan medicine through posters and artifacts. It also has a small gift shop, the profit from which help maintain the clinic up stairs.
Namche Library. A small library with a big heart – good selection of English books, though they cannot be taken off the premises.
Namche Monastery, located off the Thame trail (left side of village when looking up). A small monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It has pleasant courtyard and some traditional frescoes on wall of the main shrine.
What to do?
Namche market. As the name of the village suggests, Namche Bazaar has a market. Every Saturday morning, Sherpas from the surrounding valleys spread out their agricultural products and electronic goods carried from Kathmandu on land above the main path into town. While the goods themselves may not be interesting to tourists, the market itself is certainly worth wandering around and is a good place to get some souvenir shots of “Khumbu life”. Check out the ýak “parking area” above the market – though don’t get too close. Yaks are notoriously ill tempered.
What to Buy?
Handicrafts. The main street into the village is lined with Tibetan run handicraft stalls and stores. Most of the goods are available in Kathmandu, but certain woolen items are made locally. Also, check for anything special that has been carried over from Tibet.
Books. New and second hand books are available at several places, and a store with one of the best selections is located in front of Namche Hotel.
What to Eat?
Namche is really geared for the ravenous tourist, and offers all kinds of delights. Namche’s bakeries are quite famous in Nepal and, considering that the town is a six day walk from the nearest road, they bake up some amazing pastries. None of the bakeries are open during the tourist “off-season” from June until September. All the hotels have dining facilities open to non-residents. Again, during the off-season, not every hotel in Namche remains open.
Herman Helmers Bakery, located on the main street into town, has great apple pie and chocolate cake. The other Bakery items are delicious too.
Namche Bakery, located just down from the main intersection, really excellent, freshly made pizza and delicious Coffee
Traditional Sherpa dishes include:
Rigi kur – potato pancakes, which are delicious eaten straight off the griddle and covered with dzo (female yak) butter and a sauce made of mature cheese and spices called sorma. Due to the effort involved in making rikikul, they are generally not listed on lodge menus. However, most places will oblige if you order well in advance.
Tzen – a heavy pate made from millet and flavored with spices.
“Thukpa” – noodles with soup. Perfect for a cold day.
Additionally, be sure to try the delicious Nak-cheese, that can be bought in most of the stores and costs around 100 Rs per 100g.
What to Drink?
- Coffee blends such as cappuccino and latte are served at the bakeries.
- Tea is available everywhere and is mostly served sweet and with milk. Salty, butter tea is also available, though not as common.
- Herbal teas are made from Khumbu wild flowers and produced locally. They are available at most of the hotels, and tea-bag packets can be purchased at the Tibetan Healing Centre.
- Cafe de’ 8848,namche bazar (behind namche bakery). Cafe de’ 8848 is a new cafe in town.They serve illy coffee and few selection of cake of which chocolate cake and brownies are trekkers favourite. Cafe de’ 8848 has a good selection of food menu.You will find pork chop,bangers and mash, fish & chips,steak sandwich and club sandwich. Everyday they show movie called SHERPAS true heroes on Everest. rs 100-rs 700.
While as you go beyond Namche bazaar, you start entering into more remote regions of higher Himalayas and you better stick to the laws of nature and let your taste buds crave until you achieve what you had come for. My suggestion to our readers is not to eat meat during the trek as its highly likely that you will not get the fresh one. Doing multiple trips to toilet would be a last thing you would ever want on a trek route.
Once you are back from successfully reaching the Everest base camp, then there are plenty of things awaiting for you in your return journey. Here’s a glimpse into some of those.
The dish is believed to be of Nepali origin. Since this dish was initially popular among the Nepalese community of the Kathmandu Valley, one prevalent belief is that traveling Newar merchants brought the recipe and the name momo from Kathmandu, Nepal where it was a traditional delicacy for centuries. They modified the seasonings of the dish with available ingredients, such as water buffalo, and kept the same name
Typical Pahari Meal
Pahari food, is a little known cuisine, that can be traced back to the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. But even in Nepal, you will get it on mostly all the trek routes.
Nepali Style Hot Chicken Chow Mein
Yomari, also called Yamari, is a delicacy of Newar community in Nepal. It consists of an external covering of rice-flour and an inner content of sweet substances such as chaku. The delicacy plays a very important role in Newaa society, and is a key part of the festival of Yomari punhi. According to some, the triangular shape of the yamari is symbolical representation of one half of shadkona, the symbol of Saraswati and wisdom.
Veggies & Eggs
Instant noodles with cabbage, egg and carrot pieces
Millet Beer (On a serious note, we strictly forbid any kind of alcohol during the trek!)
Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup. It originated in the eastern part of Tibet. Amdo Thukpa (especially Thenthuk) is a famous variant among Tibetan.
Dal Bhat Tarkari
Dal Bhat Tarkari is a traditional meal of Nepal that consists of Bhat, Dal, Curry, Saag (green vegetable) and Achar (pickle). Add some Ghyu (butter) for added taste. You can go to any Thakali restaurants to have an authentic dal bhat tarkari.
It is a newari cusine where beaten rice is served along with different varieties of beans, spinach, potato, chwela and traditional liquor Thwon.
Chatānmari is widely eaten as a snack, and has become popular among other cultures too. Many restaurants in Kathmandu serve chatānmari as an appetizer.
Choila is served in almost every restaurant in Kathmandu and is prepared in many households.
Sel Roti is a Nepali traditional bread that is round in shape and sweet in taste which makes you feel yummy. This home-made ring shaped food can be eaten as breakfast or snacks. Mainly cooked during different festivals, it has become a symbol to Nepali festivals like Dashain and Tihar. It is a food for happiness and love. You will simply love it more.
So, having come across such a mouthwatering list of Nepali cuisines, we hope that Saiyami will have a roller coaster ride in Nepal.
We, team GGIM wishes her a wonderful trek and safe return!
Happy Trekking! 🙂