Last week, Martijn received a message on his phone: the travel advice for Nepal had been changed by the Dutch government and going to the North of Nepal (where we are heading as well) is safe again. Even though we didn’t worry for one split second if we could still make our trip as planned, I’m glad that the Dutch government has decided to change its travel advice. I can usually determine by myself if it’s safe to travel somewhere, however other travelers may not be able to do so …
Anyway, less than a month to go until we are going to Nepal and we’ll start our trek to Everest Base Camp. The Base Camp that got destroyed by that horrible earthquake and that already caused so many casualties in just this area. As I wrote in one of our previous blogs, we have never been hesitant whether we should still go to Nepal at all. However, there are some things that still worry me a bit about our upcoming trip:
1. The altitude
Sometimes you hear those horror stories about hikers having to leave the mountains because they get severe altitude sickness. Een though we are hiking to Everest Base Camp with a private guide and porter who will keep an eye out for us and keep the pace slow, I’m still a bit worried about it. I’ve heard/read stories of people having to leave by helicopter because they couldn’t deal with the altitude. Just imagine… Last Monday we went to get our vaccinations and we had an extended talk with the nurse about altitude sickness and how to deal with this. We have been hiking at high altitudes before (up to 4.200 meters) but this doesn’t mean you can do it again this time. In addition, this time we will head up to 5.420 meters, quite a bit higher than we have ever been before. I expect to have severe headaches by the time I’m reaching this altitude…
2. My hair
The worst thing about a multi-day trek for me, is being unable to wash my hair. The fact that I can’t shower or have to shower cold doesn’t bother me, however my hair … yikes! The longest period I’ve not washed my hair was about five days and when that happened, the first thing I would do upon return to the hostel or campsite, was take a super long shower and apply about half a bottle of conditioner to my hair. Since I wear a beanie or hat almost all the time when trekking, the hair in my neck gets entangled and in the end it becomes like a birds nest. I have huge problems fixing it again and since combing it is not an option anymore, conditioner is generally my lifesaver. My hairdresser suggested I’d bring a bottle of dry shampoo that I can use without water. Let’s see if that will work for 17 days…
3. No internet
Although I’ve been saying for months how much I’m looking forward to the moment I’m without internet for a while, I’m also kind of anxious about it. Our trek is 17 days and there won’t be much internet connection along the way. There for we decided not to bring our laptops and not to post new articles on we12travel while we are on our way. When a new article goes live, I want to be able to interact with our readers, which is impossible when in the Himalayas. As this will be our first vacation that’s longer than one week in nearly two years, I’m ready to not update social media for a while. As our new website will go online November 1st, I’m a little nervous about missing out on comments and visitors, however, so be it… Fortunately, my brother is going to be our administrator for the time being and a friend of mine will take over some of our social media channels. It will all be old news however, they won’t be silence for three weeks at least. The only social media channel I plan on using is Instagram, but that’s because it’s one of the few social media channels I actually enjoy using rather than for the blog. So in case you are not following me there yet, now is the time!
4. The food
Generally speaking, I’m not a difficult eater, however I’ve heard various stories about the food in Nepal. Some love it, some hate it. Fact is that we are sleeping in guesthouses for 16 nights and that rice with lentils (also know as Dal Bhat) is a very popular thing to eat. One person loves it, the other person hates it. In all honesty I’m not a big fan of rice, not because I can’t eat it but if I choose to eat carbs at all, I prefer to have a pasta or potatoes. While in New Zealand we wanted to hike super low-weight so we decided to bring our home-made oatmeal from Holland. I’m not a fan of oatmeal either and after four mornings, I nearly had to throw up after eating it. Eating rice and lentils for the majority of time will definitely be a challenge…
5. The difficulty of the trek
I think we were quite optimistic when deciding to choose the strenous version of Everest Base Camp Trek, which will lead us across the 5.420 meter high Cho La Pass. Most treks we found on the internet were not going there, but since we didn’t want to do the standard route, we chose this as an alternative. It seemed the perfect choice, until I severely bruised my ankle last summer, just four days before I went to Alaska. The fact that I went iceclimbing and hiking there like nothing was wrong, definitely did not help with my recovery and ever since I came back, I’ve been under treatment of a physiotherapist because I could not walk without pain anymore. She basically taught me to walk again and told me I had to take things easy if I wanted my ankle to heal in time. I had to quit bodypump (ouch) and had to take much more rest in my exercise routine. I started walking again with 3 x 30 minutes a week and by now, I’m hiking up to 15 km again, with my pack, in hilly terrain near the area we live. In addition, I’m taking spinning/rpm classes to improve my endurance, however I’m still a bit worried. My shape is definitely not what it used to be but I’m forcing myself to take it easy and not to ask too much of my body. In case I hurt my ankle in any way again, the dream of hiking to EBC may be gone…
Congratulations! You just made it to the end of this blog. I’m sure that by now, you are wondering “what the hell that girl is worrying about” which is exactly what I’m hoping for. Please don’t take my “worries” too seriously. If the situation in Nepal wouldn’t have been like it is right now, I may not even have written this blog, or possibly I’d have written but never published it. However, I wanted to attract your attention to the fact that Nepal needs you!
It’s expected that the number of tourists going to Nepal will decrease with 50% this year, just because of this stupid earthquake. Did tourists ever stay away in these massive amounts when Christchurch in New Zealand was ruined by an earthquake? Why are we still heading over to San Francisco where a massive quake is about to hit any time now? Why do most people not want to travel to Nepal after the earthquake? Because it’s not western enough? Because you are afraid of another earthquake? Tell me!
With publishing this blog, I hope to have made a small contribution to get people to travel to Nepal again. If only I made one person change his/her mind about traveling to Nepal for their next vacation, my mission is accomplished.
As I said, we don’t plan to update much while we are traveling. I would still really appreciate it if you’d start following us because we’re going to update you about the sitation when we get home and tell you exactly why you still have to go to Nepal!
The Nepalese government has started a campaign called NepalNow and wants to show what Nepal is like at this moment. With the NepalNow hashtag you will be able to follow all updates and you can also read all about it on their website. The Dutch mountaineering and climbing club has initiated a tour going to Nepal as well (read this if you understand Dutch). There are plenty of intiatives out there to bring back the people to Nepal. Now it’s just up to you to make sure that tourism in Nepal will increase again, so that the locals, who may not have one single thing left anymore, at least have something to look forward to in the future!
Our way to contribute is by going to hike as planned and telling the world about our trip. We also decided that instead of buying our gear back home, we’re going to buy everything we need over there, such as a down jacket, waterproof gloves and crampons. Not that I need all of this stuff brand new, but just to support the Nepalese. They need the money more than I do. And OK … because I’m still a women who loves to shop!
Special thanks to Margreet Versteijlen for letting me use her pictures. Although not every picture was made at Everest Base Camp, I prefered to use these rather than those from picture databases that have been used all throughout the internet already.
Do you want to go to Nepal after the recent earthquakes? And in case you have already been, give us some suggestions, such as where to go on our free time in Kathmandu, where to eat and where to buy our outdoor gear!
[Note: our trip to Nepal is not sponsored and we were not asked to write about this. Hopefully, this won’t need further explanation…]
Thank you for reading and sharing!