After my trip to Antarctica last year i was looking for a suitable trip to follow up with, after a bit of searching i narrowed down my choice to either Climbing Kilimanjaro or heading to Everest Base Camp. I ultimately chose Base Camp as the chance to see the tallest mountain in the world and to see a bit more of Asia was too tempting.
I did a lot of searching on Google and there were numerous options for going to Base Camp but i found the best value option was a local nepalese company called Thamel Travel, they had good reviews on TripAdvisor. The cost was very reasonable, there were UK based companies which were a safer bet but after exchanging a number of emails with the owner of the company Balram I was confident that it was a good choice. The cost was $1,030 for a 14 day tour and this was for a private guide and it included all food and accommodation as well as airport pick up and drop off.
The next step after booking the trip was to get ready for the trek by buying some proper trekking gear. I was travelling in September which is just at the end of the wet season and before the winter but it was important to have a mix between warm clothes, waterproofs and hiking gear such as good boots. Another challenge for buying gear was that you have a limited amount of weight(kg) that you are allowed to bring. It is possible to hire a porter who can carry up to around 30kg but there are practical issues as you are required to get an internal flight to Lukla and on that flight you can only check in 10kg and carry on 5kg (anything above that involves a surcharge). Thus I aimed to have a maximum weight of 15kg for all my gear, this is harder than you might think. I have listed below my pack list and suggestions as
This is perhaps one of the most important bits of gear to have, as you are doing around 100 km of trekking. I did not actually own any hiking boots so i did some research to find suitable boots and bought the Adidas Terrex AX2 GORE-TEX boots and I have to say they were fantastic for the trip, never had an issue with my feet and they were super comfortable, great cushioning and waterproof. I did make sure to break them in a couple of months before the trek buy going up Arthurs seat several times. The only other footwear i had was a pair of light sandals for walking about in the tea houses.
I brought a warm waterproof coat along (fleece coat from Antarctica) and lighter Pakka waterproof jacket from mountain warehouse as my main outer layers. I also brought a couple of long sleeve Superdry Merino wool tops and three fleece tops of different weights, as you trek you get warmer so being able to remove layers as you go is important. I found one of the merino tops was ideal for sleeping in, as the tea rooms can be cold at night as there is pretty much no insolation.
I brought 5 t-shirts including a couple which I was prepared to leave behind (as you go along the trek shedding some weight can be useful). My best purchase was an under armour Heatgear Compression short sleeve top which was perfect for trekking in, it adjusted to temperature and conditions well and i wish i had bought more than one. I should also note at one point i was actually weight my T-shirts to see which ones were the lightest (the aforementioned weight restrictions demand it!)
I brought one pair of light Pakka waterproof trousers, a pair of hard shell trousers (fleece lined), one pair of merino wool long johns (again ideal for sleeping in), one pair of joggers and a pair of trekking pants (which had zip off legs) and a pair of jeans (which i left in the hotel storage). The best purchase was my trekking trousers from mountain warehouse, I wore these everyday on the trek (yes they were like cardboard by the end!) the legs came off to turn them into shorts on the warmer days which came in handy on a couple of occasions.
I brought 3 pairs of merino wool trekking socks which I switched between on the trek, wearing them between the 12 days and then 8 pairs of standard socks. I also bought 3 pairs of sports boxers 8 pairs of boxers, I would say you tend to re-ware everything while trekking so dont think you need a fresh change of clothes each day, keep weight to a minimum and dont worry about being dirty as everyone is in the same boat.
There were a few other items, warm gloves, a snood (very handy), beanie hat, sunglasses, baseball cap. As there was going to be limited power available on the trek I bought an Anker PowerCore 20100 to charge my sports watch and iPad. It was more than enough for my needs and was not too heavy for my pack. The water on trek needs to be purified and thus you can either get a filter or tablets, I bought both but the tablets were the best option were OASIS Water Purification tablets. I also brought a water bottle although it was not needs as I ended up reusing the 2lt bottles of water that you can buy on the trek. Another purchase was shower wipes as the only place were you can get a shower is at Namche so wipes are the only way to keep clean. I also brought an iPad with some books for reading at the tearooms (is is good to have a book as there is quite a bit of down time as you tend to arrive at 1-2pm and there no mod cons). I also bought a head torch as you need it for trekking to kala patter in the dark. Also bring some toilet roll as there is none in the majority of toilets on the trek and it is pretty expensive to buy it.
Another important purchase is your backpack, I bought one from amazon which turned out to be ideal. It had a water bladder but I never actually used that, it was a 30l in size and was a good size for the trek. I had another larger pack which carried by 10kg load taken by my guide/porter.
I did not buy a sleeping bag as Thamel travel supplied me with one, that was fine but i forgot to factor it into my weight calculations and ended up having to shep 1kg of stuff in my hotel. It might be worthwhile bringing your own if have a warm lightweight option.
This was something I did put some thought into, one of the first things people usually look at is altitude sickness tablets which can be gotten from a doctor. These are supposed to prevent altitude sickness symptoms/issues, I admit I did try to get some of these but was unable to procure them. I managed on the trek fine (relatively speaking) without them by keeping hydrated and taking the advice of my guide. A few other basic items I bought were plasters, mole skin pads for blisters (never used), ibuprofen, paracetamol, imodium (never used), cough drops, Echinacea, rehydration tablets, hand sanitiser (used often), small scissors.
There are no ATM’s on the trail so you have to bring the appropriate amount of cash with you, its not easy to budget but I found that around £10 per day was fine. The only real things to buy are snacks/water.
The snacks can be expensive on the trail, I brought 12 energy bars, some chocolate bars and harry bo! I found that the nutri-grain bars were good for an energy boost when on the trek. I did buy the occasional mars bar and coke along the way too though.
One other prep point to mention is that travel insurance is important to have, if you get into difficulty then you might have to get rescued by helicopter and this can be expensive. Since the altitude is over 5,000m you require specialised insurance, I went for Virgin Gold annual cover which cost £80, it ticked all the boxes and was one of the best pried I could find.
Editors Note: This trip took place between 8th – 21st September 2017