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Everest: A Trekker's Guide: Base Camp, Kala Patthar and other trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet

Everest: A Trekker's Guide: Base Camp, Kala Patthar and other trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet

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Everest: A Trekker's Guide: Base Camp, Kala Patthar and other trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet

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15 нояб. 2018 г.


Everest has an eternal appeal for mountain lovers and the classic trek to Everest Base Camp is high on the bucket-list of many trekkers. Fully researched after the devastating earthquake of 2015, this guidebook covers the most popular route in the Khumbu Valley, from Lukla via Namche Bazaar and Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, the best viewpoint for Everest. It also describes the classic route from Jiri to Lukla taken by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, as well as a trek north to Gokyo with its spectacular lakes and the peak of Gokyo Ri. Finally, the Three Passes Trek, also starting in Namche, links the region's major passes and valleys.

The guidebook includes suggestions for side trips and time spent in Namche Bazaar, Pangboche, Dingboche and Gokyo, as well as two treks approaching Everest from Tibet - Tingri to Rongbuk Everest Base Camp and from Kharta to the Kangshung Face.

The guidebook is packed with essential advice on trekking in the Himalayas, including planning and preparation, trekking formalities, health and acclimatisation, as well as notes on culture and the fascinating history of the region, making this a complete guide to exploring the area.
15 нояб. 2018 г.

Об авторе

A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drove Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, guiding, photography and lecturing. Spending several months every year in various high-mountain regions researching guidebooks made him The Man with the World's Best Job. Kev enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone from the 1970s, producing 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds. 'A Walk in the Clouds' is a collection of autobiographical short stories recording 50 years of mountain travel and adventures. He was also the contributing editor of the collaborative guide 'Trekking in the Himalaya' and Cicerone's celebratory anniversary compilation 'Fifty Years of Adventure'. A frequent contributor to outdoor magazines, Kev also wrote and illustrated brochures for national tourist authorities and travel companies. When not away in the mountains, Kev lived with his wife in a small cottage among what he called 'the Kentish Alps', with unrestricted walking country on the doorstep. But he also travelled throughout Britain during the winter months to share his love of the places he wrote about through a series of lectures. Sadly, Kev passed away in 2021. He will be remembered fondly by all who knew him and by many more he inspired through his writing and talks.

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Everest - Kev Reynolds


I have a deep love for the Everest Region and take every opportunity to trek there with much enthusiasm. However, perhaps to the surprise of some travellers to Nepal for whom Everest is the obvious magnet, the famous Khumbu to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp was not originally my first choice for trekking in the Himalayas. Having completed the Annapurna Circuit off-season some years before, and after following less frequented routes in the Karakoram of Pakistan and trekking in the rarely visited mountains of Iran, as well as repeatedly visiting remote parts of Ladakh, I didn’t feel that the busy routes of Nepal would suit me. In addition I was concerned about possible delays in the flight to Lukla, and walking from Jiri seemed too much of an investment of my time.

How wrong I was! First there is the magnificent scenery: Everest never fails to excite me, with every change of the light from sunrise to sunset, from every viewpoint and every angle. And as if Everest wasn’t enough in itself, there is a feast of views from and onto this dramatic concentration of splendid mountains, which in my opinion are unrivalled in their beauty. The grandeur of these mountain faces, of which Lhotse South Face is perhaps the best example; the sea of peaks as seen from various high points like Chukhung Ri or Gokyo Ri; famous summits (including four eight-thousanders) as well as lesser-known but extremely beautiful mountains; the splendour of Ama Dablam, Pumori and countless others – it is impossible to imagine any keen trekker being disappointed by this.

Secondly, the Sherpa – the people of the Khumbu region – add immeasurably to the experience of a trek. They are warm people, and they lend their traditions – hospitality being chief among them – to the fortune of travellers. Trekking is much about getting to know the locals and their culture, by interacting with them. This is true even here, in a region now visited by many.

As for my reservations about flying to Lukla, it is in fact far more straighforward than I had expected. Delays do happen, but they can be largely avoided by travelling clear of the summer monsoon season; and besides, a well-planned trek would not be spoiled by a delay. And for those who do not want to take that flight, Lukla can be reached from Jiri by way of a very enjoyable trek – which could be shortened by starting in Phaplu.

I’ll never forget the ‘Yes’ I received by email from Jonathan Williams of Cicerone in response to my Trekking in Ladakh book proposal. Much has changed since that time. I left my GIS job behind and have been working as a tour leader for over seven years now. Not only has this given me regular opportunities to visit my beloved Himalayas, but it has also taken me to the Everest Region, where I led a group on my very first visit. Since then I have trekked above Lukla on eight occasions, as well as completing a trek in the lower parts of the region. On a group’s departure I will often stay behind in the country to do a solo trek – which is how the research for this book was gathered. I have visited the region at least once each year since 2014, and I trekked and researched all the routes described in this edition after the devastating 2015 earthquake, which I witnessed in Kathmandu.

My aim in this book is to provide a complete guide to the fascinating, exceptional Everest Region. It is intended to help the trekker both in their preparations and along the way, to enrich the experience.

A journey does not start with your passport being checked at the border, nor does it end on your return home. It begins with an idea, followed by much research and planning. And afterwards, when you are back home, you will tell people your stories and perhaps show them your photos. You will return to these places and adventures in your imagination. As such, the actual trip is often the shortest part of the experience. It is therefore important to appreciate the entire process: enjoy the preparations, savour every moment of the trip itself, and take pleasure in the memory of it for the rest of your life.

Radek Kucharski

Warsaw, January 2018


For many, the highest mountain on Earth is reason enough to visit Nepal. Mount Everest, synonymous with epic adventure and heroism, is every bit as spectacular as might be imagined, and a trek to its base will fulfil many a lifetime ambition. But while it is an obvious attraction, Everest is by no means the only thing a trip to the region will be remembered for. From extraordinary landscapes and wildlife to a rich culture and diverse people – there is much in the region to offer the keen traveller.

One of the first views of Everest on the trek above Namche Bazaar – rising here above the Nuptse-Lhotse ridge (Trek 3, Section 1A)

One of the first things any visitor to Nepal will be struck by is the warmth of its people. Incoming travellers, when dealing with border formalities, are met with offers of help and a genuine smile. This smile, the deep-rooted joy of the Nepalese, is something that will be remembered long after leaving the country, and for many it is the reason for revisiting.

Another of Nepal’s major draws is its diversity – both geographical and cultural. From the fertile plains of the Terai along the Indian border in the south, to the Great Himalaya Range with the highest peak on Earth, there’s a wide variety of landscapes and environments. With a total area of 147,181km2 (twice the size of Ireland), the country is inhabited by about 29 million people (a little less than half the population of Italy or the UK) belonging to over 100 different castes and ethnic groups. Nepali – similar to Hindi, and derived from Sanskrit – is the official language, but there are over 100 different languages in use. The vast majority of Nepalis (over 81%) are Hindu, and about 9% are Buddhist; in many places – especially in the Kathmandu Valley – these two religions mix harmoniously, with Buddhists respecting Hindu rituals and vice versa. Islam, Christianity and Kirat (Kiratism) are each followed by at least 1% of the total population, and other religions also have followers in Nepal.

People sitting on the stairs of Nayatapola Temple in Bhaktapur during a pre-election rally in 2013

A kingdom since its foundation as a unified country 250 years ago, Nepal became a republic in 2008. This followed a massacre in the royal palace in 2001 when the king and much of his family were killed, and a long period of instability during which the Maoist insurgency demanded both the abolition of the monarchy and a new constitution. Today Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with about 25% of the population living below the poverty line. Most work in agriculture, with some produce being exported, but the economy is largely dependent on imports of basic goods including fuel and fertilisers. Many Nepalis work abroad, mainly in the Gulf countries. Tourism is an expanding industry.

Western tourists and a Tibetan monk at the foot of Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu

On 25 April 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by a number of significant aftershocks over subsequent months. About 9000 people were killed and more than 22,000 injured. Around 600,000 houses were destroyed and something like 950 hospitals and clinics were damaged. A large number of heritage monuments in Kathmandu were also either destroyed or damaged. It is estimated that 700,000 people were driven into poverty, but with international aid and the resilience of the local Nepalis, the country is being restored. Much of the infrastructure has been rebuilt, some of the monuments have already been renovated, and other works are in progress. Nepal is recovering, and from a visitor’s point of view, tourist-related infrastructure and services are back to normal. Open for business once more, the country needs visitors, not only for the income they bring to thousands of local people, but also for the show of solidarity which gives strength and confidence.

Useful information

Time zone: GMT +5hr 45min

Date and calendar: officially, the Hindu calendar Bikram Sambat (Vikram Samvat) is used, with the new year usually falling in April. (For more on this go to www.ashesh.com.np/nepali-calendar)

Currency: Nepalese rupee (NPR). Rates at time of printing are are: £1=143/145NPR, €1=130/131NPR, $1=111/113NPR. For current exchange rates, check the central bank of Nepal website – Nepal Rastra Bank, www.nrb.org.np. There are many exchange kiosks in Kathmandu; most hotels will happily change currencies, and exchange is possible at the airport. Namche Bazaar has a few exchange kiosks where the rate is slightly lower. ATMs accepting Visa and MasterCard are widely available in Thamel and other places in Kathmandu (a fee may be taken in addition to your bank’s commission). There is an ATM in Namche Bazaar.

Working hours and public holidays: Saturday is when most offices are closed (normal business hours are 10am–5pm). Restaurants and most private shops are open daily, and a few shops close on Saturdays. There are many public holidays, usually related to religious festivals celebrated in accordance with the lunar calendar. For details see https://publicholidays.asia/nepal or www.timeanddate.com/holidays/nepal

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Sockets of type D and M (British, three-pin round) are mainly in use; a two-pin plug (type C) used widely in Europe will fit in most cases (use Scotch Tape if loose).

Mobile phone service: widely available. Main networks: NTC (www.ntc.net.np), NCELL (www.ncell.axiata.com).

Internet: wi-fi internet is available at hotels in Kathmandu and in lodges along the main trekking routes.

Visa arrangements

Foreign tourists visiting Nepal need a visa to enter the country. Apart from citizens of some African and Middle-Eastern countries, these may be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu airport or at one of the land crossing points. Citizens of China and SAARC countries (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) can obtain a tourist visa without charge, but all others need to pay a fee depending on the visa’s duration: $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days and $100 for 90 days. The fee is paid at the entry point, preferably in US dollars – it is best to have the exact amount. You will need to complete an application form which can be done online at http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np (forms are also available at the point of entry), and you must attach a passport photograph.

Tourist visas can be extended, but a limit of 150 days spent in the country in one year applies. Extensions are arranged at the Department of Immigration, located at Kalikasthan, Dillibazar, Kathmandu and take about two hours to complete if you arrive early (the office opens at 10.30am Sunday–Friday and 11am on Saturdays and public holidays). You will first need to complete an online form which can be found at the website mentioned above. Along with your passport and confirmation of a completed application (which is provided online once the form has been filled in), you will need to take photocopies of your current visa and the main page of your passport. A 15-day extension is the shortest available at a cost of $30, with an additional fee of $2 added for each day beyond the first 15. As there is a significant difference in the cost of a visa for 30 or 90 days, should you plan to visit for, say, 45 days it is worth buying a 30-day visa on arrival and extending it. Extensions can be added at any time during the visa’s period of validation – even on the day following your arrival in the country. But if you apply for an extension after the visa has expired, a fine will be added to the normal fee.

When planning your trip, check the Department of Immigration website – www.nepalimmigration.gov.np – for any regulation updates.

Getting there and travelling around

Based in Kathmandu, Tribhuvan International Airport (abbreviated as TIA or KTM) is the country’s only international airport (www.tiairport.com.np) and it has daily connections with a number of destinations, mostly in Asia. These include China and India – with a few Indian airlines operating the routes – as well as a few major connection hubs in the Gulf countries, which make a convenient air route for tourists from Europe. Istanbul is currently the only European airport with direct flights to Kathmandu, with Turkish Airlines operating the route.

Kathmandu airport

When leaving Nepal by air, make a point of reaching Kathmandu’s airport three hours before your scheduled departure time, and at least one-and-a-half hours before a domestic flight. Unless your flight is very early in the morning, consider the city’s traffic and allow about an hour for the journey between Thamel and the airport.

Of the few crossing points along the border with India, that at Belahiya near Siddharthanagar (Bhairahawa) – known as Sonauli (Sunauli) on the Indian side – might be of particular interest to tourists on their way into or out of Nepal. On the Nepali side, the Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini (https://whc.unesco.org) is about 20km from the crossing, and it is a half-day’s bus journey from there to Sauraha – the gateway to the Chitwan National Park (www.chitwannationalpark.gov.np – also UNESCO-listed). On the Indian side of the border, Gorakhpur is the nearest main city on the Indian rail network.

In Nepal there is little more than 50km of railways, so the only real choice for travellers within the country is between air and road transport. Around 30 domestic airports operate regular flights. Most of these are located in the mountains and require exceptional skills from the pilot – for many travellers a flight here breeds as much excitement as anxiety. Mountain airports are weather dependent so delays should be taken into account. Lukla is the best example of this. Besides Lukla, travellers to the Everest Region could also consider Phaplu airport. A few airports near the Indian border, including that in Bhairawa (Siddharthanagar), might also be useful. See trek prologues for detailed information about accessing treks by air.

Nepal has no motorways. Mountain roads are narrow, usually very rough and winding, and a journey by either bus or car may be considered challenging and an adventure in itself. Those who sit in the front and watch the road can be stressed, while many travellers become dizzy and sick – if you tend to suffer motion sickness, have relevant medicines handy. Don’t expect buses to travel more than 20–25km/hr (12–15mph) on average. In a hired car you may stop less frequently and travel a bit quicker, but do not expect the driver to go fast. Have a bottle of drinking water with you, and if you’re on a bus, expect it to stop on the way for meals and a couple of tea-breaks. Traffic is busy on many roads and vehicles are often stuck for a long time – particularly lengthy traffic jams are frequently experienced when approaching the Kathmandu Valley from the west.

Taxis are the regular choice for travelling around the Kathmandu Valley. Cycle-rickshaws can take you between Thamel and Durbar Square if you’d rather not walk. In both cases, negotiate the rate before the trip. Buses and private vans serve as public transport. Each has a conductor who can inform you about the route. Arriving at the airport, arrange with your hotel to be picked up or use the prepaid taxi service – to limit hassle and fraud, pay at a booth in front of the airport before the journey and give the receipt to your driver. Alternatively, walk for 500m out of the airport area to the main road, where you can catch a taxi at a better rate.

Kathmandu Valley

Inhabited by about 3 million people (the total population of Kathmandu, Patan (Lalitpur) and Bhaktapur), polluted, chaotic and heavily damaged by the 2015 earthquake, the Kathmandu Valley is a fascinating place where modernity mixes with deeply rooted and lively traditions. Anybody arriving in the region prior to a trek will inevitably spend time here getting organised, but it is worth taking the opportunity to stay awhile in Kathmandu and soak up the experience if you have the chance – either before or after your trek.

Typical architecture of the Kathmandu Valley

Where to stay, eat, shop and be entertained

Thamel is the main visitor hotspot of Kathmandu, where tourist-related services are concentrated. This is where most travellers stay, as hotels and guesthouses are located here as well as restaurants, pubs and clubs. Travel and trekking agencies have their offices here too. There are outdoor equipment shops where you can buy last-minute items before the trek, and souvenir shops to visit on your return. Don’t miss the many excellent bookshops; everyone has their own favourite. To find accommodation to suit your needs check www.tripadvisor.com, www.booking.com or simply make your way to the small square known as Narsingh Chowk (or Thamel Chowk) which is the central point of Thamel, and search around. To choose a restaurant, you can do the same. As well as Nepalese kitchens you can find Japanese and Korean, Middle-Eastern, and several Western restaurants. Try Newari food, as Newars are the indigenous people of the valley who have their own unique customs and traditions. To search for a pub, walk around in the evening and listen to the various bands playing – live music is what the Thamel pubs are famous for!

Of course, Thamel is not the only part of Kathmandu where accommodation and restaurants can be found. Alternatives include:

Freak Street, to the south of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square: Thamel might be good for pre-trek arrangements and to share a glass or two with friends after the trek, but the area around Freak Street is closer to the colourful daily rituals of the Kathmandu people. Once the main tourist hub during the hippy invasion when marijuana and hashish were legally available (not any more!), it still has a number of budget guesthouses that are popular among backpackers – mostly those who are on longer trips. If you stay in the area, try lemon paneer at the simple local restaurant of Hamro Lumbini Tandoori Bhojanalaya.

The area north of Thamel, about 10 minutes away, has recently become a popular place to stay at hostels or homestays where prices are competitive.

Boudhanath (Boudha, Bodnath) is an ancient stupa located north of the airport. It is the largest monument of its kind in the country. Venerated by Buddhists, it became the main centre for refugees from Tibet after the Chinese occupation of their country. It is a very lively place with many restaurants and cafés favoured by tourists. A few budget guesthouses and lodges can also be found here.

Bhaktapur is one of the three cities of the valley, situated east of Kathmandu, roughly a 45-minute drive away when traffic allows. Cleaner, smaller and much quieter than Kathmandu, with many interesting historical sights, it is a perfect place to spend time observing a more relaxed way of life. There is a good choice of guesthouses here.

Although much destroyed during the 2015 earthquake, Boudha Stupa was rebuilt and then reopened in autumn 2016


The Kathmandu Valley was once filled with a lake. Legend has it that Manjushri – the boddhisatwa of wisdom – raised his sword to cut a gorge in the hills south of the valley, to let the waters drain and uncover fertile land for the people. Geological studies confirm that a lake did indeed dry up some 200,000 years ago.

It is widely believed that some monuments in the valley relate to the Indian emperor Ashoka, who lived in the third century BC and is known as a promoter of Buddhism, although there is no strong evidence of that distant history. Much more is known about the period of the Licchavi dynasty starting in the fourth or fifth century when cross-Himalayan trade flourished throughout the Valley. However, it is the time of the Malla dynasty, which began in the 10th century and reached its peak between the 15th and 18th centuries, when many of the monuments seen today were built. During that time there were three independent principalities in the Valley – Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur – each ruled by a separate king belonging to the same family. Trade was the basis of their prosperity and the kings competed in the architecture of their Durbar Squares – the urban centre of each town, with a palace and numerous temples. Art thrived and it was the Newars – the indigenous people of the valley – who were the craftsmen. In 1769 Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of Gorkha – a region in the mid-west of Nepal – conquered the Kathmandu Valley, united the country and established the capital in Kathmandu itself.

Seven monuments in the Kathmandu Valley were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 (https://whc.unesco.org – see ‘The List’). They include the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur with their palaces and temples, as well as four religious centres. You must pay a fee when entering each area, be it a temple complex or an historical part of the town (visitors from SAARC countries and Chinese citizens pay lower rates. For more details and possible updates, check the ‘Plan your trip’ section of www.welcomenepal.com). Tickets are generally valid for one day, but for Durbars an extension may be possible at the site office of each town – you will need your passport along with a photograph to get a pass that will be valid until your visa expires.

Kathmandu Durbar Square (entry fee: 1000NPR) suffered much destruction during the 2015 earthquake. Two large temples, whose stairs used to be lively gathering places, were totally destroyed. Kasthamandap, said to be the oldest building, was put to the ground. The Royal Palace complex, often called Hanuman Dhoka after the name of the main gate guarded by a statue of Hanuman, was badly affected. At the time of writing a few courtyards are open, and renovation works are in progress. However, there are still a large number of pagoda-style temples to be seen in Durbar Square, and the place continues to be very lively. The Kumari, the famous living goddess of the Valley, still lives here and is occasionally seen in her palace, Kumari Bahal.

Patan (Lalitpur) is just across a bridge on the Bagmati river to the south of Kathmandu proper. It is a very pleasant town with its own Durbar Square (entry fee: 1000NPR), palace, numerous temples and beautifully decorated wells. Four large monuments known as Ashoka Stupas are located around the town marking the four cardinal directions, and are believed to date from the time of the great Indian emperor. Both the Kumbheshwor (Kumbheshar) Temple and the Golden Temple (50NPR) are particularly lively, interesting places located out of Durbar, visited by many worshippers. And the Royal Palace houses an excellent museum of Nepali art (Patan Museum; ticket included in Durbar Square entry fee) displayed in a way which helps visitors to recognise the statues of various deities.

Hindu temple rituals, Patan

Bhaktapur (1500NPR) is a town of interesting squares, marvellous architecture, ponds, wells, and alleyways as well as Newars, who are often seen here in their traditional dress. After a trek, it is an excellent place for a lazy day spent on short walks, a little sightseeing and watching the local life as well as shopping and dining.

Swayambhunath (200NPR) is a stupa located on a hill, a 45-minute walk from Thamel. Surrounded by a number of temples – sadly many of them damaged in the 2015 earthquake – overlooking the valley, the site gives a chance to gaze not only across the entire city but also at the snow-capped Himalayan peaks of the Langtang Himal. Watch out for rhesus macaque monkeys which reside here and steal everything eatable from visitors. They gave the place its nickname: the Monkey Temple. It is a good place for a morning’s exercise before a trek.

Although the Swayambhunath stupa survived the earthquake, many of the monuments surrounding it were badly affected or completely damaged

Boudhanath (Boudha, Bodnath) stupa (400NPR) is located NE of central Kathmandu, on the ancient route to Tibet. Traders coming to the valley used to stop at the stupa to offer prayers. Today, many Tibetan refugees have settled here, as a result of which it has become an important centre of Tibetan Buddhism. Surrounded by a number of Buddhist temples and monasteries, as well as cafés, restaurants, souvenir and devotional shops, the traffic-free zone is a nice place to spend an afternoon. Kora – a circumambulation of a venerated place – is one of the main rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, and many devotees make theirs around the Boudha stupa, particularly in the late afternoon. Largely damaged

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