Monday, October 6, 2014

EBC: Just before the beginning

I wouldn't want to bore you with post on flight from BLR to KTM or the day we spent in Kathmandu. I would like to, however, share a few bits of information. 

Kathmandu doesn't have lot to offer in terms of sightseeing plus its a very crowded, dusty and dirty city. So don't feel bad if you can't accommodate Kathmandu sightseeing in your agenda.

We stayed at a basic hotel in Kathmandu - the idea was not to stay in a five star when just next day we would be sleeping in lodges and sharing bathrooms/toilets. I chose Hotel Encounter, in Thamel area, based on trip advisor. It has air-conditioned rooms, free wifi and free breakfast was included in the rate...cost was about INR 2,200 per day for single room and INR 3,000 for double room. As I said already, its a basic hotel but (in my opinion) it served our purpose well.

We tried our hand at some shopping for gear like trekking poles, hats, gloves, water bottles but almost everything was as or more expensive compared to Decathlon. Unless you want (fake) Northface branded stuff, you are better off buying from Decathlon. Alternatively you can look for deals on outlet of 

Our guides and porters use the gear of known brands made locally in Nepal (and hence fake) but the quality of the gear is good because the gear lasts them atleast one trekking season which sometime means 15-20 treks in a season. My guide was wearing trekking boots that cost him around INR 2,000 and he had already completed 10+ treks in same. So you can buy the stuff from Kathmandu but don't expect it to be cheaper or original.

Our guide told us to stay away from alcohol till we almost finish the trek and are back in Namche and I believe it served us well. Overall (except when we reached 17000 ft) we did pretty well in terms of our ability to use the available oxygen!

Last but not the least, ensure you take first flight out to/from Lukla (6:15 am) because weather turns bad mid morning itself. We learnt this lesson first day when our first flight was grounded due to equipment trouble, second one (an hour later) couldn't land due to bad weather in Lukla. This also implies that you instruct the hotel to hold your rooms in Kathmandu till check out time because if you can't reach Lukla you need to stay the night in Kathmandu and try again next day. Once you land  in Lukla, call the hotel and release the rooms.

On the subject of calling, we took N-cell SIM cards and they were a waste. Please buy NTC SIM cards as those have better connectivity (except in Lobuche where nothing works)

Guess this sums up pre-trek instructions, watch this space for more as the trek unfolds in next few posts!

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