EBC trek 31 March

We had breakfast at 06:30 and then twiddled our thumbs until 08:30 waiting for a phone call to confirm we were actually on a flight today. Then it was a five minute walk to Lukla airport, check-in and sit around waiting for our flight to show up.

As the morning crept by loads of Tara Air and Sita Air flights came and went. Agni Air flights were conspicuous by their absence. I watched about five loads of the more affluent tourists arriving by helicopter (I heard the going rate is US$800 one way from Kathmandu to Lukla compared to about US$120 by plane) and took lots of photos of the planes and choppers.

It was cold in the departure hall at Lukla and rather warmer outside on the apron. We waited outside for most of the time except when chased back inside by the blue fatigues clad, gun-toting Nepali police officers. The cloud cover built up as the morning progressed and I worried that we might not get out today. Agni Air seemed to be operating only one plane and by 10:30 had flown only two return flights. Tara Air had flown almost a dozen in that time, and Sita Air about half a dozen. The moral of the story seems to be book with Tara Air or Sita Air if you have the choice.

Eventually at about 11:30 a different Agni Air plane turned up. Our plane at last! It wasn’t full, and for the return flight there were only four passengers. They can’t have made any money on that particular flight.

Kathmandu was hot and sunny and the traffic back to the hotel seemed a lot heavier than on my previous taxi rides. The first thing I did back at the hotel was take a long, hot, steamy, hot, very welcome, hot, much needed, hot, refreshing, hot shower. Having not showered in over a week (squat toilets I can cope with, freezing cold showers in cold mountain air I’ll just pass on) there wasn’t really much doubt about what would happen first.

Hints and tips if you’re thinking of doing a similar trek

  • Hire any bulky gear like down jacket and sleeping bag in Kathmandu.
  • Don’t bother with a (silk) sleeping bag liner;  the damn things are hard to get into, hard to get out off and get all tangled up in the night. I gave up using mine after two nights. Just sleep in your clothes.
  • One change of clothes is all you need.
  • You will smell, so will everyone else. Don’t worry about it. Even after a week I wasn’t that smelly.
  • You can do laundry any afternoon if you really want to. Stuff might be dry the next day, or just frozen. Best to do it in the morning on rest days. That way it has all day to dry in the sunshine.
  • One pair of boots, one pair of flip flops/sandals are all you need.
  • Make sure you have plenty of slack days in your itinerary. Flight delays are possible at either end of your trek and bad weather is always possible in the mountains. For a nominal two week trek I suggest allowing three weeks.
  • Bring hand gel and travel wipes, you can buy toilet rolls everywhere.
  • Get some diamox before you leave home, or in Kathmandu, or possibly from your guide.
  • Get fit and get some training in before you arrive.
  • Have fun.

Your mileage may vary.

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