Luxury Travel Consultant Jessica Rizzolo fulfills a lifelong dream trekking to the Everest Base Camp.
Like so many others, the Himalayas had been calling me for as long as I can remember. Trekking to the Mount Everest base camp was a lifelong dream and held the #1 spot on my travel bucket list. For me, there had always been an inexplicable pull to stand among the world’s highest peaks and walk in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, and many other courageous souls. Adding to the allure of this spectacular corner of the world was the spiritual energy of the region and culture of the local Sherpa population.
My first attempt to travel to Nepal and fulfill my dream ended abruptly, when I arrived on April 25, 2015 – the day a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the country. I thought about putting the trip on hold for a few years. Ultimately I decided that it did not feel right to let my biggest dream sit on a shelf collecting dust. In addition, I knew that my visit would contribute in a positive way to a country that very much needed the support of tourism.
So, it happened! I recently returned home from a 12-day trek that brought me face to face with the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. Catching my first glimpse of Everest as the clouds moved away was a sight that will stay with me forever. However, like many things in life, the journey to reach that moment came with its share of ups, downs, and very little oxygen!
The gateway to the Khumbu valley is Lukla and getting there is no small feat! Most people know this short flight from Kathmandu as the most dangerous in the world due to the airports’ short runway flanked by a wall of mountains. As unsettling as it may seem, I chose to view the flight as a rite of passage – although, I did cross every limb on my body as we began our descent!
From start to finish, the scenery along the Everest route is truly remarkable. During the first few days of the trek, my guide led the way through lush forests with towering waterfalls cutting through the surrounding mountains. Every so often, long metal suspension bridges laced with prayer flags would take us over the roaring Dudh Koshi River below. I was surprised to learn that even the yak’s who carry goods to and from base camp also cross the same bridges! As we gained altitude, the temperature dropped and the landscape became dry and stark. The higher snow-capped peaks seemed to grow larger and larger!
Aside from the natural beauty of the region, the route to base camp also passes through many small villages. In Tengboche I received a special blessing from the head Lama of the local monastery. Namche Bizarre is another famous stop in the Khumbu valley. It is surely the most bustling with its countless trekking gear shops, cafes, and tea lodges. Other highlights along the way included a stop for tea at the Everest View Hotel, the world’s highest hotel and the Everest Café in Khumjung which serves up the best apple pie (this is a very strong statement, as it comes from a person who lives for dessert). The most touching stop for me was Memorial Park, a gathering of stupas honoring climbers and travelers who have passed.
The accommodation options along the route range from rustic tea houses with shared bathrooms and showers for a fee to comfortable stone guest houses with heated beds and private en suite bathrooms. Check with Ker & Downey for your accommodation options along the route.
Due to time constraints, I took a helicopter back to Lukla from Gorek Shep, the final village along the route and home base for treks to both Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar. It not only felt good to descend to a lower altitude quickly but the scenery along the way was an awe-inspiring re-cap of the journey that brought me to the roof of the world.
My visit to the Himalayas and Everest Base Camp not only fulfilled a personal dream but also opened a door to a world of self-reflection and adventure unlike any other. I know that the experience will continue to enrich my life and reveal small treasures to me as I continue to explore the world and navigate this thing we call life.
If Nepal is on your bucket list, please do not hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.