We chose this trip specifically as we are regular hill walkers and had always wanted to hike in the Everest region of Nepal, but had been put off by tales of smelly, dirty accommodations whilst on trek, which at our age is no longer of appeal.
Thus, it was the luxury trekking lodges themselves that prompted us to book and fulfil a life long desire to see Everest. The lodges did not disappoint us, in fact we were amazed that even the most remote and isolated ones were very good indeed. How they built and service these lodges is a story in itself. Some of them are many days of solid trekking from Lukla Airstrip, where we presumed many of the supplies come in from.
Without exception we enjoyed very good food at each and every one and with surprisingly polite and courteous service too. Be able to dine in a dining room, invariably with incredible mountains towering above us was an experience in itself. But, even more so was the ability to retire each evening to the comforts of bed room with very nice beds and enjoy a peaceful nights sleep. No wriggling around in sleeping bags for us. We made sure we woke early each morning though as opening the curtains and gazing out of our bedroom window to see the Himalayas was pure joy. No ‘roughing it’ on this holiday and we can say without any doubt that a hot shower with the best mountain views in the world is simply sublime. We just wonder how they got the proper western style toilets up here, but they have and whilst these luxury lodges aren’t hotels in the proper sense they are all very comfortable and welcoming, especially after a day of trekking uphill and down in the Himalayas.
As for the trekking, we found it rather straightforward although the hike up to Namche was long enough and we were glad of a rest after that. Getting our first tantalising glimpse of Everest as we huffed and puffed our way up to Namche spurred us on though.
We also chose to book a private trek in order that we could walk at our own pace, stop when we wanted to rest, take photo’s, take refreshments at one of the local cafes along the way and enjoy a leisurely lunch etc. We’d been on group trips before and didn’t like the ‘having to keep up’ peer pressure. Naturally we had our own guide and porters too. Mind you, we only saw the porters in the mornings as once they are loaded they are off like rockets. But, they always had a smile on their faces and were at pains to make it clear that in their opinion they weren’t carrying much, even if we thought they were, especially compared to us with our teeny back packs. We were told by our guide (and we believe it) that the porters carrying our main bags would arrive at our next lodge some 2-3 hours ahead of us. Unbelievable.
As for our guide, Prakash, he was simply wonderful. That he loves Nepal and being a guide was evident. Such boundless enthusiasm and a font of knowledge. Needless to say we all became very good friends and still keep in touch, but Prakash brought the mountains to life with his stories of various expeditions, as well as helping us learn a great deal about life in the Everest region too.
Nothing was too much trouble for Prakash and when he learned that we were curious to see inside local homes, he’d get us invited in for tea and be translator too. It seemed that everyone knew Prakash!
As for the mountains, what can we say? We’d seen lots of photo’s of the peaks in the Everest region, but nothing could prepare us for seeing them in real life. Naturally Everest is the one we wanted to see the most and it was wonderful too see it it as it rises high above Nuptse. We’d thought about trekking all the way to base camp, but as there are no luxury lodges that far up we’d already pre-booked an Everest flight so that we could see it even closer later on and we’re rather glad we did. However, Ama Dablam is the peak that we both fell in love with.
We both felt the altitude a little further up from Namche, but Prakash made sure that we slowed down and drank more. His mantra of “if you aren’t getting up in the night for a pee, then you’re not drinking enough” still rings in my ears and of course he is right too. So, other than feeling a little breathless and a little more sluggish than usual, drinking a lot and walking at a slower pace seems to pay dividends.
Whilst my husband found the flights to and from Lukla exciting, the landing and take off was rather scary for me. Thank goodness they are very short.
But, we did take to the air again and the mountain flight up to Everest was breathtaking. Flying above where we had trekked was fascinating in itself, but seeing Everest from the air and so much closer really does give you a sense of the sheer scale of the Himalayas. We were happy to see our friend Ama Dablam for one last time too.
As for Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu, you were absolutely right. It is more an experience than a hotel. Luxurious yes, but so characterful that it feels like it has it’s own soul. To be perfectly honest, once we arrived back at Dwarika’s we never left the hotel until it was time to go to the airport.
Quite simply, this was by far the best walking holiday we’ve ever been on. That may well be something to do with walking amongst the highest mountains in the world, but we both agreed when we got home that we had unashamedly fell in love with Nepal. The landscape is everything you hoped it would be and even more, but it’s the people within the landscape that makes Nepal what it is. Happy, cheerful, friendly, welcoming, hard working, determined are words that all apply, but they don’t do justice to the people of Nepal. We’ve certainly found that even at our age, our visit to Nepal has changed us and for the better to. Thank you Nepal.