This is the place that separates the boys from the men. This is also a place where boys become men! The Everest (Solo-Khumbu) region is not for the 'run-of-the-mill adventure tourist'. This place beckons the hardest of the hardcore folks out there. This place is a paradise for those who get excited hearing words like EBC (Everest Base Camp), high-altitude trekking and mountaineering and near death experiences that leave you feeling more alive than ever. In short this is the ultimate adventure destination for those whom the society dubs as 'Crazy'.
To successfully navigate this region, you indeed, need that streak of madness blended with sheer grit in just the right proportions. This is what will help you surpass numerous difficulties that you will face for sure during your trekking and soul-stirring mountaineering adventure-filled expeditions, like, when the air around starts to get thinner making it difficult to breathe, your body being stretched way beyond any normal endurance levels and your mind starting to go numb. The elements of this region are harsh, to say the least, and fatal if you make the cardinal mistake of not respecting them. The region with its erratic climate changes, its deceptive snow laden mountain slopes, its slippery layers of ice, glaciers that may give way before you can recover and its precarious paths make this expedition the most daunting one you would have ever undertaken.
This is where you can eat the world's most expensive chicken as you sit chatting, recuperating after a day of laborious climbing. This is where a little 10-year old Sherpa can embarrass you with his ability to navigate the mountain terrain with comparative ease. This is where the not so distant view of the Everest Base Camp makes your chest swell with pride and eyes filled with tears of joy, as images of the magnificence that is Mt. Everest conjure up before you. This is where the awesome heights leave you feeling humbled. This is a place where you don't have to go in search for an adventure. Your adventure starts the moment you board the plane to land on one of the world's most dangerous, shortest and highest airstrips, Lukla. This region inspires you as it tests your mettle and will not relent till it brings out the Nomadier in you.
Will you dare yourself to make this trip? Will you be ready to test yourself against one of nature's mightiest? Will you prove to yourself that you are a true Nomadier?
If the answer to all the above questions is yes, then we have the most potent of packages in store for you. Go ahead. Take that first step. Take pride in being called 'Crazy'. For this one thing we assure you of, when you tell stories of your adventure-filled exploits of how you tamed the treacherous terrains and belittled the forces of nature during your wild trekking and mountaineering ventures to your family, friends and acquaintances, 'Crazy' would soon give way to 'Respect'!
Nepal is a land-locked country between India and China. It spans across the hills and mountains between the enormous Ganges plain and the high Tibetan plateau. To the north of it are the majestic Himalayas, including Mount Everest (8,850 mts.), Kanchenjunga (8,586 mts.), Lhotse (8,516 mts.), Makalu (8,485 mts.), Cho Oyo (8,201 mts.), Dhaulagiri I (8,167 mts.), Manaslu (8,163 mts.) and Annapurna I (8,091 mts.) - eight of the ten highest peaks on planet Earth.
Nepal is a country with many legends and folklores that add to the vibrancy and colour of the place rendered by it being a cultural bridge between Tibet and India. It is a potpourri of various ethnic groups, castes and clans. Nepal, the only Hindu kingdom in the world, also has Buddhists, a few Muslims and Christians. Kathmandu, the country’s capital is a fascinating city offering many engaging delights and various interesting places to visit and for sightseeing.
It is a land of colourful festivals. Dasain (Durga Puja), Tihar (Deepavali) and certain Sherpa festivals like Mani Rimdu – a popular three day Sherpa festival wherein the monks perform ceremonies and dances and Losar – the Tibetan New Year are a few of the popular festivals celebrated with immense fervor.
Nepal is home to the classic Everest Base Camp Trek. This trek can be done the traditional way, i.e., by beginning the trek from Jiri or from the more recent and quicker alternative of taking a flight to Lukla and to start the trek from there.
About The Everest (Solo-Khumbhu) Region
Most people in Nepal call Mt. Everest, Sagarmatha, which means ‘Forehead in the Sky’. The Tibetans call Mt. Everest, Chomolungma, which translates as ‘Mother Goddess of the Universe.’ These are expressions which are not at all far from the truth. How else does one describe the magnificence of Mt. Everest, the world's highest mountain at 8,850 mts.(29,035 ft.), offering the highest perch on Earth?
The Everest region represents nature at its most powerful, most awe-inspiring, most unconquerable. It offers an opportunity of a lifetime to stare the impossible in the eye. It is a region that has many inherent dangers, extremely low temperatures, low levels of oxygen, high winds at high altitudes, the tremendously strenuous terrain, to mention just a few. However, ask anybody who has been there if all the hardships were worth it and more often than not the answer would be in an absolute affirmative. It is a place where every true Nomadier would definitely leave his/her heart behind.
The Everest region lies mostly in the country of Nepal with some parts of it extending beyond the borders of Nepal and into China. This region known as Solo-Khumbu includes the famed Sagarmatha National Park in addition to over 90 peaks of height greater than 7,000 mts. and includes the towns of Namche Bazaar and Lukla, the villages of Thami, Khumjung, Pangboche, Phakding, Monjo, Dingboche, Debuche, Lobuche, Pheriche and Kunde and the famous Buddhist monastery at Tengboche. Some of these permanent settlements in the region are situated as high as 4,500 mts. and the summer encampments can be at much higher altitudes. Across the region, altitude ranges from 3,300 mts. to 8,850 mts., the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest.
One of the most dangerous parts of the region is the Khumbu Icefall at the head of the Khumbu Glacier. It is at an elevation of 5,486 mts., a little above the Everest Base Camp and southwest of the Everest summit. The danger is due to the unbelievable speed at which the Khumbu glacier, that forms the icefall, moves, causing large crevasses to open up with little warning. Also, the magnificent heights all around, can play ruthless games with you. Altitude sickness, frostbites, blizzards and bitter cold might test your resolve. Conquering becomes more vital first in your mind and over your senses and only then over nature itself.
The Untamed Factor
The Khumbu region becomes dry and desert from around October to spring and a contrasting intense green and flowery in the monsoons. The rapid change in elevation in the region leads to flora and fauna that is diverse with dense forests of pine and oak and up to 4,000 mts., the flowering rhododendrons. The latter causes a riot of colors in spring and is a major reason to make the trip. Tiny snow rhododendrons are amazingly, the highest altitude plants in the region. Other flora that can be seen here includes the gentian, primrose, edelweiss and the mountain poppy while the deep valleys offer sights of blue pine, fir and juniper, which is highly sought by the locals for its fragrance.
Most of the wildlife seen here comprises birds including Danfe or Danphe (in Nepali), the Impeyan Pheasant and national bird of Nepal. Tibetan ravens, Lammergeyers or bearded vultures, Griffons which are similar to the Lammergeyers but heavier and with shorter, wider tails and Golden eagles can be seen gliding along the mountain sides either hunting or scavenging. Blood pheasants and flocks of Snow pigeons can be spotted at close quarters and birds like the Snow coughs that soar to seemingly impossible heights remind a Nomadier of the task ahead.
Land animals in these regions are elusive, so keep an eye out for the Himalayan Thar, a large mountain goat that is excellent at rock climbing. The males can touch one meter in height and sport a copper brown coat with a slightly paler mane. Although extremely hard to spot, the region is also known to have a number of Snow leopards and Wolves that live at the top of the tree lines. A little beauty, the Weasel might present itself to you, even at altitudes of 18,000 ft., as a blur of tan fur scampering along somewhere. The musk deer that is unfortunately illegally hunted for its Musk is sometimes seen in the dark forest near Dole or Tengboche. Red panda and the Himalayan black bear are some of the more exotic animals that are found in this region.
And finally, the yaks and naks; yaks are the male animals while the naks are females. They are famed around the world for their thick coat and ability to thrive at extreme altitudes and temperatures. A yak can sleep outside in -40° Celsius and some are known to grow to weigh over a ton while standing 1.8 mts. tall at the shoulders.
When you take your eyes off the magnificent mountains all around, you’ll find yourself engrossed with the cultural mix of the land and especially the Sherpas who are the heart of this region. There are also other ethnic groups present like Kirat (Rai and Limbu) and Tamangs; who are Buddhists with roots in Tibet. The Sherpas came to international fame as a community as a result of their mountaineering exploits since early 20th century. They are the backbone of almost every expedition till today as their physical prowess at high altitudes is unmatched.
In the Tibetan language, Shar-pa means ‘Eastern People’ and possibly the first Sherpas were migrants from Northeastern Tibet. Almost all of the Sherpas follow the Nyingmapa (Red Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism which is the most ancient of the major Tibetan sects. It boasts of a no-caste system and is a mix of the Bonpo religion, forms of animism and tantric practices introduced by the Indian, Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. The Sherpas are traditionally farmers and although their tools might be primitive, their agricultural methods are quite sophisticated. A farming year in the Solo-Khumbu begins with the planting of potatoes, barley, buckwheat and millet in April-May and ends with the harvest in September-October.
The Sherpas respect all forms of life but however, they relish meat as to eat meat is not considered a sin by them unless they were directly responsible for the animal’s death. Hence their food is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian although the usual fare consists of many varieties of potatoes in rudimentary preparations. A Sherpa favorite is the shakpa or thick soup made with mostly potatoes but also with whatever comes to hand. Dairy products are made from the milk of naks and dzums, which are a cross between a yak and a cow. If one chooses to taste Nepali food instead, then the Newa cuisine is a must have while the Tibetan menu comprises momos (meat or vegetables encased in dough and steamed or fried) and thupka which is a meat soup. The usual vegetarian Nepali meal is dal bhat, a preparation of rice, lentils and a few vegetables. Along with the food, it is also not worth missing chang, the locally brewed rice-based beer made by the villagers themselves and rakshi, the potent fire-water.
Festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm and comprise dance and music forms and preparations of local delicacies or the festival meal. Sherpas, mostly located at higher altitudes and in the Everest region, celebrate Mani Rimdu, for the good of the world, in November and May, a highly social affair with monks performing many serious and fun ceremonies. The Losar is the Tibetan New Year and is the time for new clothes, meticulously stitched during the long and cold winters. This is followed in April with Orsho, a rite for the protection and growth of the recently planted crops. Dumji, a five-day festival over the anniversary of Khumbu’s patron saint, Lama Sange Dorje, Buddha’s birthday in May and Ch-rim are the other widely celebrated festivals in the region.
The Ultimate Escapade
The word adventure does not fully capture the experience awaiting you. The Everest (Solo-Khumbu) region has a certain magnetism that irresistibly draws the bull-headed thrill seekers from all around the globe. This place is like a wish fulfilled for all those in search for a true quest, one that is a perfect mix of lunacy, passion and fortitude, one which gives rise to a certain kind of a bond, which leaves you feeling one with your surroundings. The activities that one can take up are numerous and the experience of undertaking these adventure activities is totally rhapsodic. The mere act of waking up in the morning and looking out of the window of your inn / lodge or for those who are a bit gutsier, out of their outdoor tents is a thrill unlike any felt before.
For the hardcore adventure addicts and the ones who love to live their lives off-road rather than on it, this place is a treasure chest. Trekking is responsible for attracting the maximum number of adventurists to this place. There are numerous trekking routes that you can undertake as you discover for yourself the culture, the people, the villages and the wildlife of this serene place. This is a highly strenuous exercise and only gets tougher as the altitude gradually increases, the routes get narrower and the fatigue, unbearable. Just what an unfeigned Nomadier craves for.
The supreme high, however, is mountaineering. With mountains that are designed by nature to test the resolve of the best out there, this experience is simply spell-binding. There are various levels, based on the difficulty scales that meet the requirements of a beginner, an expert mountaineer and a Nomadier, alike. This is your chance to try and tame the beast. We suggest you go all out, because anything less would not suffice!
Here is a parting piece of information that might add to the temptation of the place. The mysterious Yeti hasn’t really been proved as non-existent. Surely, we have your attention now!