Elephant Baths and Jeep Safaris

After our little adventure getting very close to nature, we had no time to catch our breath. Next stop was the elephant breeding centre to play with some baby elephants. If you know me well, then you know that I’m a bit animal mad. Particularly when it comes to baby animals, especially large baby animals such as elephants. I’ve only seen them a couple of times in my life but every time is as good as the next. There’s something so adorable about a clumsy, leathery goofball who just looks like a naughty child. I may be a little obsessed but baby elephants just make my heart melt.

We arrived at the breeding centre at about 10am. The elephants get let out in the jungle from 10:30-4:30pm so we’d arrived just in time. Unfortunately the elephants were all chained up minus one of the babies, but our guide said it was for our protection mainly, as well as monitoring the elephants. Because there was only a waist high fence between up and the elephants, if they were running loose and got mad at too many people milling around, it could become a bit chaotic. It was sad to see them chained up but the Chitwan National Park is one of the only places in the world that has successfully rehabilitated these beautiful giants to a substantial population number, so I guess they are doing the right thing. The majority of funding for the breeding centre comes from tourism, so without visitors, this centre would cease to exist and the elephant population would probably decrease. So while some people see the captivity of elephants cruel, it’s actually beneficial for both Nepal and the elephants. Of the 20+ elephants here, none of them are used for work purposes. They are solely here just to breed and look after their little ones.

The one baby elephant who was loose was the biggest ratbag ever. He marched over to the four of us and tried to grab out water bottles out of our hands with his trunk and sniffed us all over. He was just five months old but had the attitude of a teenager, for an elephant he raced around quite quickly and was a bit rough when he played. It was beautiful to watch the interaction between the mother and babies and I could have happily stayed there all day!

They say you have to give up things for love. I happily gave up my water for this guy! 😀

We had to move on though, it was time for an ‘elephant shower’ and lunch. I quickly dropped my things off at the Safari Club and headed down to the river where some of the elephants were having a bath. This was a bit of a touristy gimmick, but one I was quite happy to oblige in. While people get quite worked up about riding elephants, I wasn’t so worried after seeing the treatment of these beautiful creatures. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve ridden horses my entire life and have lived on a farm but I don’t see the treatment of these animals that cruel. Yes, I realise in some countries, elephants are treated cruelly and that’s unacceptable but from what I saw here in Nepal, these elephants actually looked happy. Elephant training isn’t that different from breaking in a horse. Of course, the size and strength brings on some differences but it’s not always that pleasant to break a horse in. I mean, we’ve tied up horses for hours to get them to behave, which from an outsider who has never witnessed this before might consider this cruel. But our horses are given so much love that this discipline is usually overshadowed. In a way, it’s the same for elephant trainers. They will usually only have one elephant for life and its their main source of income so while there is strong discipline used by the trainer, there would be a huge amount of care put into the animal. The trainer needs the elephant as much as the elephant needs the trainer so it is all relevant. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, the people that get really worked up about elephant training are people who haven’t been exposed to other forms of animal treatment. Anyway that’s enough of an essay. I love animals and it’s my personal choice to interact with the elephants this way.  I’m still not entirely sold on elephant safaris, but this was a natural experience that I was going to be a part of. Elephants love the water, they spend quite a bit of time bathing themselves in the river and I was merely there to be a proverbial fly on the elephants back. 

I walked up the wooden platform to get onto the elephants back and we waded into the river. This was the very river we had canoed down this morning so I was very aware that there were crocodiles swimming around me. I just hoped I wasnt going to become a snack! The elephant was about belly-deep in the water and proceeded to start splashing me with river water using his trunk. It was quite funny and a great way to cool down. I think the elephant and the trainer got more enjoyment out of it than me! This went on for about five minutes and then the elephant kneeled down and started to roll over! I was thrown into the river, where I hastily exited because of the aforementioned crocodiles!

Is it just me or is this elephant grinning?
Apparently I needed a bath, not just a shower!

It was a quick experience but a lovely one. I got one more cuddle from the elephant (well actually it was mainly me cuddling him!) before I had to head back for lunch. A quick lunch break and then we were back out in the jungle for a jeep safari. It was here that we might get the chance of seeing the elusive tiger or leopard. I didn’t have high hopes but with the amount of rhinos we’d seen in the wild, it may just happen!

We canoed across the river to where the jeeps were and got comfy. It was going to be about five hours of driving around the jungle so I was glad I had a good seat. The safari was quite good, we saw more rhinos – even another baby one! There were plenty of monkeys and deer, who actually coincide together and look out for each other. We also saw a few monitor lizards, crocodiles and different kinds of birds. Unfortunately no tigers or leopards but I’ seen that many wild rhinos, I wasnt disappointed! 


Look at that face!!!

After the safari we had a drink on the riverbank to watch the sunset before heading back to the Safari Club for dinner. I was heading back to Kathmandu tomorrow at 6am, so I went to bed early knackered from my massive day! 


The following morning it was raining when I woke up, must be time to go! The bus ride back to Kathmandu was bloody awful. It took 14 hours this time, with only two spots. I definitely have had enough of buses in Nepal! We got into Kathmandu around 10:30pm and I headed straight to my hostel to pass out! Tomorrow I fly to Chiang Mai to see the north of Thailand. Nepal has been a fabulous experience and I’m definitely keen to return to do more hiking, but no more buses!!

J. X

The Day I Got Chased By A Rhino

“Don’t make eye contact, don’t look, don’t look! Okay run, RUN!”

The three of us bolted, following the zig-zag pattern that our guide was doing to throw them off course. My camera bag bounced against my hip as I ran, my heart raced and the sweat started to drip down my face. The branches on the ground crunched as we trod on them heavily, being completely silent wasn’t an issue anymore – getting out alive was. 

How I’d found myself running away from a rampant female rhinoceros, I’m still trying to work out but here I was in the Chitwan National Park in south-west Nepal trying to outrun a pissed off mother rhino whose bath was rudely interrupted by humans. 

This morning when I’d left the Safari Club Lodge where I was staying, I was under the impression that we would be going for a lovely canoe ride down the river, followed by a short walk through a part of the national park to hopefully see some animals. I had assumed that the short walk was just a way of making it back to the lodge and they’d called it a jungle walk to make it seem more exciting. However, this is Nepal and after three weeks of being in this crazy, chaotic country that a short walk actually means two hours of trawling through dense grasslands in search of animals.

The canoe ride was indeed very lovely. There were two guys from the Czech Republic – who were also staying at the Safari Club – who had come along with me. Before we even got into the canoe our guide spotted two rhinos further down the river. One was cooling off in the river and the other was on the banks out of sight, sussing out whether he should invade the other rhinos territory. It was my first time seeing a rhinoceros in the wild and it was quite exciting to be up close to such an exotic animal. Little did I know I was about to get a whole lot closer.




There were over 600 rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park, the largest population in Nepal. They are some of the most protected animals in the park and years of poaching culling numbers dramatically. However since the 1970’s, many conservation laws have been put in place to protect the species. This has been very successful, with rhino population numbers higher than they’re been in years. The past three years the park has had zero poaching attempts, a number that they’re very proud of.

When I first decided to go to Chitwan I hadn’t expected to see any of the exciting animal in the wild, like rhinos, tigers or elephants. I thought it would be a glorified trip to the jungle where the most exciting thing you’ll see is a monkey or deer. So to see a rhino straight away, I was stoked!

As the canoe ride went on, we floated past locals fishing on their wooden rafts. Everyone seemed to know each other and yelled out conversations as they passed. Rain started to sprinkle on us and I was annoyed that I forgot my rain coat. A rookie error in monsoon season. We passed an elephant having a bath and a snack and a few diffferent varieties of birds. After about an hour, we pulled up to the sandy bank and climbed out, ready for saunter through the jungle.

Cruising down the river

Like I said earlier, I thought this would be a quick stroll through some of the jungle before heading on to the elephant breeding centre and the tour guide wanted to make the day’s program sound more exciting. However, I was wrong and we were actually going to stalking around the jungle for about two hours! Before we started, our guide gave us the lowdown on how to act if an animal turns on you. As he went on about running in a zigzag pattern and climbing trees for rhinos and standing still and making eye contact with tigers I had a little laugh to myself. These guides sure have been taught well on how to wind up tourists! He was so sincere in his monologue I almost believed him but thought that there would be no way they’d let us out in the wild with potentially deadly animals. Now you’d think for someone who’s done some pretty wild things in her travels, such as letting off explosives in a silver mine in Bolivia and hiking the illegal Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii that I would be a little less naive about safety regulations around the world (or more, the lack of) But no, having come from Australia where everyone is wrapped up in cotton wool and treated like a baby I still believed that everything will always be sunshine and dandy and danger would never come my way. 

I was going to be proven wrong, yet again..

After the safety briefing we hiked in a single file silently through the jungle. The humidity was even worse under the canopy of the jungle and my shirt clung to my sweaty back instantly. We walked for about fifteen minutes, treading carefully on the grassy plain below us, the only sound being the crunch of twigs breaking beneath our feet. I was already bored of the walk when my guide stopped suddenly and turned his head to listen. 

‘This way… Rhino” he whispered, indicating that we follow him behind a huge shrubby bush. As he pushed the bush away there was a small lagoon filled with lilyponds a few metres away. At first I couldn’t tell what he was pointing to but then I saw the dark grey blob amongst the bright green reeds. A rhino was bathing just 10 or so metres from us! Completely oblivious to his audience, the rhino looked so content as he wallowed in the reedy water. One of the guys inched closer and trod on some broken branches. The rhino turned his head towards us and looked us directly in the eye. We stood still waiting to see what would happen but the rhino just turned back around and continued his bath. He wasnt camera shy. We watched for a little longer before moving on deeper into the jungle.

What chu lookin’ at???
Nothing to see here folks…

Excited that this dull jungle walk was more than what I was expecting, I picked up my pace and kept my eyes peeled for anymore animals. Another 10 minutes passed with nothing and then we spotted some monkeys and deer going about their day. The deer with the excellent hearing ran off just as we got got but the monkeys weren’t afraid being so high up. We walked further and my hopes were slowly disappearing again. 

Oh deer.. they spotted us

Just as I was about to give up on expecting any more animals, our guide made a sign to be quiet and follow him. We tiptoed behind him and he pointed out a muddy water hole to our left. We walked past the waterhole to the hide behind a couple of trees. Just 20 metres away was a mother rhino and her baby having a bath in the muddy water. The baby rhino was quite possibly the cutest and ugliest thing I’d ever seen! We watched for a few minutes before trying to edge closer for a better look. As the branches crunched underneath our feet, the overprotective mother looked our way with her little ears pricked in attention. We halted abruptly and waited for our guides next move. Paused a moment, I got the chance to take a quick photo before the mother rhino turned towards us and started moving. 

Right before she started to run towards us

“Okay, go, GO!’ Our guide said and he took off – there was no protecting hotel guests here! We followed hastily, trying to run in a zigzag and not lose our guide. I didn’t dare look behind me but kept an eye out for any trees that might be climb-able. I wondered if my travel insurance would cover being trampled by a rhino. Even though it was only a handful of seconds, it felt like we were running for an eternity. Finally our guide launched into some bushes and waved us to get behind him. We squatted, panting for breath hoping that the rhino had been thrown off course. Thankfully we’d made so much noise running like idiots through the jungle that she was too startled to chase and ran off in a different direction. We stayed squatting for a minute to catch our breath.

“She gone, we are safe” our guide said. The three of us looked back at him bewildered. What happened to the mundane jungle walk!? We all looked at each other and burst into nervous laughter, talk about dodging a big, grey leathery bullet! Continuing on, I kept very close to our guide as we made a quick exit out of the jungle. That was enough cardio for the morning! We reached the edge of the dense jungle and walked down the beaten 4WD path until we reached the elephant breeding centre, sweaty and muddy. So much for an easy jungle walk!

J. X

Heading to Chitwan National Park

After a day in Kathmandu, I said goodbye to C and made my way to Chitwan National Park. After another deeeelightful bus journey that was supposed to take five hours but took nine, I finally made it to my destination. It was hot, humid and nowhere as busy as Kathmandu! I liked it already.

Chitwan National Park is a World Heritage Site that covers about 900 square kilometres. This massive space of land is home to many wild animals such as leopards, tigers, rhinoceros and elephants. Years ago it was the stomping ground of poachers and animal numbers diminished rapidly, however the Nepalese government stepped in to stop the poachers and rehabilitate animal population. They’ve had much success, with nearly three years of zero poaching, population of animals re-establishing and animal conservation becoming the most important priority. 

I was only spending about two days in Chitwan but had a jam-packed program to see as much as I could! Once I arrived to accommodation – The Safari Club – and dropped off my belongings, I was taken on a river walk with my guide for the trip. The humidity was insane and outside my cool room, the sweat covered my skin instantly. We walked through the small town of Sauraha, which is one of the main tourist towns in Chitwan and made it to the riverbanks of the National Park. Beyond the river, grassy plains stretched out until the eye could see. My guide pointed out crocodiles in the river and explained by the different breeds here in Nepal. They weren’t the massive chompers that we have in Australia but they would still happily take a snap at you, given the opportunity!

We walked further down the river when my guide ran into one of his friends, they chattered in Nepalese and then told me there’s a rhino bathing just down the river. We quickly walked down the path until we saw the huge animal submerged in the river, looking a lot cooler than we felt! This was the first time I’d seen a rhino in the wild and I was just a tad excited. It had been less than an hour in Chitwan and I’d already spotted a rhino, I couldn’t imagine what else was to come!

We passed an elephant rehabilitation centre on our walk
This rhino had the right idea! Would have loved to jump in to cool down!

We walked further down the river to see if there were any more animals about but unfortunately the rhino was the only one out to play today. Heading back to the where the town meets the river, we stopped for a drink to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy so the sunset wasn’t in full swing but it was still lovely to be surrounded by nature instead of the smoggy city. After sunset we headed back to the Safari Club where I had dinner and a quick shower before going to a cultural dance. It was a bit touristy, full of loud Chinese tourists and their flashing cameras but still nice to watch. It was about 9:30pm by the time that finished so I headed straight to bed after that Because i had an early start in the morning!

J. X

Tiny sunset in Chitwan today

My guide and I – excuse the sweaty face!

EBC Trek – BASE CAMP DAY!!!!

Today is the day! The big one! The one we have all been waiting for – BASE CAMP DAY!

It was a little bittersweet to be honest, we’d come so far not just physically but mentally and now the whole reason was that we were here was finally upon us. I kind of wanted it to not to happen so I could keep hanging out with this great bunch of people in this beautiful landscape, but I also kind of wanted a shower and something to eat other than rice and Dal Bat.

We woke up for a 5am brekkie and 5:30am departure. Everyone was quiet this morning, mainly because of the early start. It was a 3 hour hike to Gorak Shep, where we would stop for food and to drop off any belongings we didn’t need to take to Base Camp and then hike on for another two hours to Base Camp. We were leaving so early because we would potentially also be hiking to Kala Patthar to watch the sunset, pending on the weather. If I could knock out these three hikes today, I think I may just be Superwoman.

The hike to Gorak Shep wasn’t too difficult in regards to the trail – it was ‘Nepali Flat’ for the most part – but the early morning chill and the thin air made for a very silent hike. Our lead guide Dawa asked us to stick together for this stretch because landslides in the past have made the path difficult to find. This proved painful and annoying for the majority of the group who walked at around the same pace and had to wait for the few slowest hikers. It was good for the increasing altitude though, giving our bodies time to adjust. We were just eager to get to Gorak Shep so the waiting was kind of driving us mad!

The hike to Gorak Shep – like walking on the moon!
One of the many rescue choppers we saw over the last week

Our surroundings had completely morphed into a moon-like landscape, with absolutely no vegetation and millions of grey and white pebbles at our feet. It was a sparse and lonely area, with the only thing around us being yaks and a few other hikers. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone, the desolate landscape was kind of spooky. If you took a wrong turn, you could disappear into the mountains forever.

The final climb into Gorak Shep was up and down and across small glacial rivers. There seemed to be no specific path, Krishna, who was leading the way, just seemed to know where Gorak Shep was and went in that general vicinity. We had collected a small herd of dogs from Lobuche who followed us to Gorak Shep and become quite loyal to us. I think one of the boys was feeding them beef jerky though!

Finally we reached Gorak Shep and put our stuff away at our lodge. This tiny village did not look appealing in the slightest. Like a bunch of containers had just been dropped from the sky, this little town was the starting point for those climbing the summit. Personally I wouldn’t want to stay here any longer than we were, between the high altitude and the lack of hygienic facilities, Gorak Shep definitely wasn’t one of my favourite villages.

The Buddha Lodge – our accommodation in Gorak Shep

We had a ‘second breakfast’ (fuel for hiking) before setting out for Base Camp. The mood was hard to pick. We were all exhausted from the altitude and the past week of hiking, yet excited to finally get there. Some of the front runners of the entire trip had worn themselves out and were now struggling severely. The Super Six appeared to be in good spirits, we’d been taking it nice and easy the whole way and watchful of each other. I was glad to be apart of our little group. I’d developed a headache not long after arriving at Gorak Shep but after popping a Panadol and guzzling more water, it seemed to have resided for now.

We were at 5,100m above level and had to climb to about 5,300m. The final stretch to Base Camp wasn’t too difficult. I keep saying this but honestly now that I’ve done it, the pain I felt at the time seemed insignificant to how I felt being surrounded by the stunning landscape. I was so blown away by the mountains that it erased all my memory of hard hiking. It was hard, I wont lie, but it wasn’t impossible and definitely a mind over matter situation. We reached the top of the final climb before Base Camp and could see the colourful prayer flags swaying in the wind. Only minutes away from our destination, I had a new wave of energy.

Base Camp bound
So many glacial ponds along the way

Walking carefully amongst the pebbly floor, I rushed to Base Camp where the faster people in our group already were. Now I’m going to be completely honest here. . . Base Camp was a bit underwhelming. I feel like such a bad person for saying this but honestly, had I known beforehand that we’d walked this entire way – about 70km or so – for a rock covered in prayer flags, I probably wouldn’t have made the effort. I understand the significance of it all and wouldn’t take it back for a second but to be greeted by an icy rock covered in flags was a little, well … disappointing. 

Ze German’s and their celebratory cigars!
The Super Six! We made it!
BASE CAMP! Looking more excited than I felt haha

In saying this, we were there in low season so the place was quite bare. Apparently in high season Base Camp is buzzing with hikers attempting the summit, with their tents sprouted all over the rocky terrain. Thankfully i wasn’t the only one with the same feeling. Most of the group were a bit dismayed by the actual Base Camp. But to achieve this end point with this group of people was definitely something I don’t regret!

I walked past Base Camp and suddenly wasn’t so disappointed. In front of me stood the infamous Khumbu icefall, the first real challenge of making it to Summit. I was in awe of this glacial creation. It felt like I’d been transported to Antarctica. With two others B and G, we made our way down to the Icefall to have an explore. The ice sculptures glowed white and turquoise and there as a rushing stream with bitterly cold, glacial water. Whatever disappointment I felt about Base Camp evaporated and I was so excited to be amongst this incredible glacier. Not wanting to leave I raced around taking as many photos as I could, touching the ice – terrified it might melt in front of me but eager to explore deeper. 


Unfortunately the afternoon had brought with it heavy clouds and our hopes of hiking to Kala Patthar washed away in the glacial stream. It looks like we were waking up early for the sunrise! There was a positive though, we now weren’t in a rush to get back to Gorak Shep because there was nothing to do for the afternoon. Taking this opportunity to spend more time exploring the icefall and enjoy being at the base of the highest mountain in the world, we didnt start the hike back to Gorak Shep for another couple of hours.

Back at Gorak Shep by 4pm-ish, we had a couple of hours until dinner and then those of us braving Kala Patthar were off to bed. It was much warmer in the dining area than our rooms so most of us sat in around the large tables, comparing photos and energy levels. Dinner was a bit quiet, we were all bloody knackered. I downed by tomato soup (straight from a tin – yummo! :/ ) and headed to bed. There were only five of us attempting Kala Patthar tomorrow morning as the rest of the group bowed out – either struck down by altitude sickness or just plain exhausted. However Dawa and Krishna promised us the clearest view of Everest yet and I couldn’t pass that opportunity! I was in bed at 7:30pm with my alarm set for 3:50am. Sunrise here we come!

J. X

EBC Trek – Dingboche to Lobuche

After a relaxing day yesterday we were ready and firing to go to Lobuche. It had been a long afternoon yesterday and most of us were just eager to get even further into the trek. We left Dingboche around 8am and headed off the same direction as yesterday – up.

Once we climbed a little we walked into a huge valley which appeared to be a massive wind tunnel. The fierce gales of wind were enough to blow you into Tibet. We settled into single file and hiked in silence with our heads down, suddenly wishing we were back in the cosy lodge in Dingboche. The views around us were simply stunning (I didn’t want the day to come where I became blasé about these mountains) but the vicious winds meant keeping my head down and pushing onwards. We hiked this way for about two hours and by the time we were out of the windy valley I was exhausted. We crossed a very hairy looking bridge and had a break in a small village wedged into the mountain, safely out of the wind.

                        

It’s called fashuuuuuun darling. Look it up
Beginning the hike towards Lobuche
Finally out of the wind. Only uphill to go now..

Staying here for an hour, Krishna allowed us to go on while he waited for the final members of the group to arrive. The six of us who had been sticking together the whole time (the Super Six, thank you very much!) marched off ready to tackle the next part of the trail – a brutal uphill climb to Chukla Lare where there is a memorial for all those who never made it off the mountain. The uphill stretch was tough as per usual but once it was done, the beautiful views took my mind off my aching legs. it was another perfect, clear day and the mountains around us looked spectacular!

Once we reached the top  at Chukla Lare, we took a break to pay our respects to those who have died attempting to climb Mt Everest. Here lay stone memorials and prayer flags recognising the fallen. It was a sobering moment – here we were thinking we were doing something brave and heroic hiking to Base Camp – yet these unbelievable humans had gone even further and reached (or almost reached) the roof of the world. Reading the headstones, the fact that these people once stood where I stood really hit home. One headstone in particular stuck out to me of a young woman climber. I’m not sure whether it was because it was the only headstone for a woman I could see, or the fact that she had actually summitted Everest and had passed away on the way back down but it stayed on my mind for the rest of the day. I’d come into this trek with not much knowledge about the mountain, other than it was the highest in the world and to learn so many people had lost their lives was extremely sad. There is so much respect to be had to these trekkers and their dedication to climbing. They devote their whole life to trekking and it return the mightiest of mountains takes their dedication away. It made me realise not only how hard trekking and climbing actually can be and it doesn’t matter how passionate you are about it, the mountains always have the last say.

An hour uphill – we’re at the top!

We stayed there for awhile before deciding to head on to Lobuche. We walked again in single file, immersed in our own thoughts. I think I wasn’t the only one affected by the memorial. The last stretch to Lobuche was not a good time. While it was only ‘Nepali Flat’ (small hills) I couldn’t find the energy to keep walking. It was hard because Lobuche was nowhere in sight and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Every step was a battle and I felt like I was hungover (except 10x worse) Was this the beginning of altitude sickness? I hoped not, but slowly made my way to Lobuche along with the others.

 We’d long left the green, forest coated mountains and were now amongst the monochromatic colours of wind-blown rocks and ice. Like we’d stepped on another planet, the hundreds of thousands of stones had made for an ankle-breaking walk but provided a more dramatic and unique view than what we’d been seeing for the past few days. It was definitely starting to feel like we were high in the Himalayas.

After about two hours we came around a corner and finally, finally Lobuche came into sight! At 4930m above sea level I’d never been happier to see a small dingy village! We found our lodge and ordered lunch straight away. My mood was turned around instantly when i discovered they had peanut butter on the menu! I ordered vegetable soup and peanut butter on toast. The other two Aussie girls went crazy for the peanut butter as well, much to the confusion of the Brits and the Germans! Feeling a tonne better after eating, I was more positive about the rest of the hike.

It was another early night for the group. Tomorrow we had an early start to hike to Gorak Shep and then on to BASE CAMP! Now the fun begins!

J. X

EBC Trek – Dingboche 

Our time in Dingboche was mainly to acclimatise so we had an extra day here relax and find some extra red blood cells to keep us oxgenated up higher! There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Dingboche so we spent most of our time reading, washing clothes or playing UNO. The morning after we first arrived however we had to go on an acclimatisation hike, which was definitely a highlight of they stay.

Dingboche – 4410m in altitude

We left about 8am and pretty much walked out the front door of the lodge and up the huge hill that stood outside. It took about an hour to reach the view point and we climbed up to about 4,700m in altitude. It wasn’t a super hard hike, just hard to breathe from the thin air. Every couple of steps required a break and gasping for air was becoming the norm. But slowly and steadily we made it up. The view point was definitely worth the walk! As it was still quite early in the morning, the sky was clear and the mountain range around us stood magnificently in front of us. Lhotse and Nuptse were the show-offs yet again, their dramatic peaks stood boldly against the blue sky. Everest sat behind in their shadow, leaving us wanting more. I guessed she thought we had to work harder for a proper view, not just hike up a hill. We still had two days until Base Camp so perhaps she was holding out until then.

Note – not my hiking stick (I’m not that pro!)
Mt Everest hiding to the very left
The only thing getting my through the day’s hikes!
Stunning peaks!

Behind us stood Ama Dablam, Taweche, Cholatste and Island Peak were just some of the peaks that stood around us. With 360 degrees of mountains around us, it wasn’t hard to believe that some of these peaks haven’t been named yet – there were just so many! We stayed at the view point for about two hours, taking in the thin air and letting our bodies adjust to the higher altitude. It was already starting to affect some of the others in the group who reported lethargy, headaches and dizziness. Thankfully I wasn’t feeling too bad, but I felt for the others who were feeling sick. 4,700m high and in the middle of nowhere wasn’t the ideal place to not be feeling 100%. 


We hiked down around 10:30am and had lunch not long after. I even treated myself to a hot shower for $6AUD because it had been six days without one. While it wasn’t the greatest shower, it felt incredible to have clean hair! Especially after using talcum powder for six days to dry out the greasiness! Ahhhh the hikers life! The rest of the day was spent relaxing and basically waiting for tomorrow to come. We only had 18km until Base Camp and anticipation was starting to building!

Tomorrow we leave for Lobuche and climb about 600m higher! Joy!

J. X

EBC Trek – Tengboche to Dingboche

Wow, today was the most incredible day! For many reasons!

Firstly, before breakfast I had a little wander around the village. The early morning had brought on clear skies and revealed what we had missed out on yesterday when we arrived. It turns out we had been surrounded by more mountains the whole time! Knowing this yesterday would have made the hike up to Tengboche so much easier! I wandered around, enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning and making friends with some of the village animals. After awhile I headed back inside to join everyone for breakfast.

Our accommodation in Tengboche – check out the mountains!
Forever making new animal friends
 

Secondly, at breakfast I actually had a real coffee! They had an big, fancy coffee machine (god knows how it got here!) and were pouring out delicious coffee all day. I lashed out and ordered a mocha and was stoked that it actually tasted like at home! It cost about $5 but the caffeine hit was more than worth it!

We began the hike to Dingboche and I’m not sure whether it was the caffeine or the stunning view but I felt particularly good today. The first hour of the hike was lovely, through lush green forests along a flowing river. The water in the river almost glowed an aquamarine colour. It was quite warm still and the temptation to jump in for a swim was still there.

Leaving Tengboche

As we hiked through small villages, past porters of all ages carrying loads of all weights, it was again lovely to just hike in silence and enjoy the view. There was a short uphill stint before reaching the village where we were having a break. Again, we were sat here for ages waiting for the final members of the group to arrive. As we were a diverse group, we all had different walking styles. Some people had raced ahead and had been at the meeting spot for an hour whereas the slower members of the group were still good hour or two behind us. Krishna gave us the go-ahead to keep walking but like yesterday, the long break had evaporated our motivation to hike on.

It was a short uphill stint again but at the top we were rewarded with the most incredible view! Lhotse and Nuptse, Mt Everest’s next door neighbours  stood before us while Everest herself, hid behind the cloud. Surrounding us was the most spectacular mountain range. I was in Himalayan heaven! Energised by the stunning view, the six of us who had formed a little hiking group were enthusiastic about the rest of the hike. We walked through a valley at about 4100m, heading towards the Everest mountain range. I felt like I was in Frodo in Lord of the Rings, going on an adventure! We were tiny specks of scenery compared to the vast land mass around us. The mountains that had looked so far away just a couple of days ago, were now dwarfing us in the valley. The landscape had started to change and the dense, green forest transformed into sparse, desolate rocky plains. Only the toughest of plants can survive in the thin air and it was clear that there wasn’t many that could.

B admiring Lhotse
On the way!
Cheering about the stunning view!
One of the many porters carrying massive loads.
Hello Dingboche!
 

We walked through the valley for about an hour, enjoying the lovely mountainous hike until the inevitable uphill began. It was nowhere near as bad as yesterday, maybe because of the clear skies giving us motivation to keep walking or the remnants of the caffiene were still working. It took about an hour or so to hike up the path and around the bend into Dingboche. This little village was situated in a small valley, surrounded by some of the most famous mountains in the world. We were here for two days to acclimatise and with the view as good as this, I wasn’t complaining! Tomorrow is a rest day with just another acclimisation hike about 400m higher.

J. X