The high Himalayas: where ice meets sky, and the walking is the hardest you’ll ever do. It might sound unattainable, but if you want to go on an adventure holiday like no other, a trek to Everest base camp merits serious consideration. Its amazing photographic opportunities will also ensure it’s a trip you’ll be able to relive over and over again.
Am I Fit Enough?
Of course, the trek to Everest base camp is challenging, and requires a satisfactory level of fitness. However, given sufficient time and preparation, most people can train for it. Coping with the altitude is another matter. Your body’s response to it is not something you can train for, or predict. The mantra “trek high, sleep low” is a good one. So, too, is drinking plenty of water: a minimum of 4 litres a day. Although bottled water is available on the trail, the environmental implications of so much discarded plastic are profound. Consequently, many trekkers prefer to drink the safe, boiled water provided by their expedition leaders, or to treat cold water with chlorine dioxide.
What Will I See?
Mount Everest is the trip’s thrilling highlight, but this is a trek that will imprint its countless incomparable views onto your memory as well as your camera.
Clustered on the slope of an arch-shaped mountain, the ancient trading post of Namche Bazaar is the last stopping point for expeditions to Everest. As well as being the place to buy last minute expedition supplies, there’s also a pub, internet café, and several restaurants. If your thoughts are already with the encircling mountains, you may want to visit the park headquarters, where there is a fascinating collection of memorabilia from past Himalayan expeditions. There’s also a traditional Sherpa bazaar, and the opportunity to try the local specialities of yak butter and cheese.
Considered by some as the gateway to Mount Everest, Thyangboche Monastery, set amid the Sagarmatha National Park, is both a fascinating place to visit and a photographer’s dream location. The sunrises and sunsets are sublime, making no two views of the panorama ever the same. In season, the rhododendrons are bright and vivid, and, for the quiet and patient observer, there is the chance to spot Himalayan tahr and musk ox.
Translating as “Black Rock”, this 5545 metre Kala Pattar on the way to Everest base camp offers superb views of Everest and its surrounding mountains. Ascending it is a not to be missed opportunity. This is partly because of the amazing photographic opportunities, and partly because it is one of the highest points in Nepal it is possible to reach with no previous mountaineering experience. That’s not to say it isn’t a tough walk: it is. However, following proper acclimatisation, and taking it slowly and easily, it is attainable for most people. Beginning at Gorak Shep, the original Everest base camp, you’ll begin the walk with a short descent to “The Beach”, an ancient lake bed. The path then ascends via steep switchbacks. It levels off over the eastern side of Kala Pattar, before steepening again as you approach the rock-strewn summit ridge. Brightly-coloured prayer flags mark the summit proper, providing yet another awesome photographic opportunity.
If you’re looking to go on an adventure holiday, or seek out some photographs of Everest. Imagine what it’s like to be there, with the wind cold on your cheeks, the sun warm on your back, prayer flags rippling in ice-edged air, and mountains stretching to the encircling horizons. It is there. It is waiting, if you’ll only put on your walking boots, pick up your camera, and come.