I am currently in a little town called Namche Bazaar, which is in the hills on the way to Mount Everest. I left Kathmandu about four days ago and caught a tiny plane with just enough room for sixteen people with the wonderfully named Yeti Airlines. The journey was a little hair raising at times as we flew between the the mountain peaks towards Lukla. However, this was nothing compared to the landing, which was on a tiny steep airstrip that is the size of an average driveway at home. It was on the mountainside and we made an incredibly steep descent before bumping down hard. To add to my general dislike of flying, you could see through the front windows and realised what we were going to land on.
Anyway, we got down safely and set off trekking. I am travelling with a group of fourteen people with a company called Peregrine who specialise in treks. It's an Aussie company, so most are Australians but there are a couple of other Brits, a Canadian and an American. The group seem very nice and I am enjoying the trek very much.
We set off from Lukla and trekked up the roughly hewn stone pathways that locals have made over the years with chisels and hammers from rocks. It's an ongoing process and we see many of them still working on the paths. To get anywhere you have to trek up and down the pathways as the whole area is a series of hills, valleys and mountains. The hillsides are covered with forests of tall green trees, huge brightly coloured rhodedendrums and lots of little villages that we walk through and the children all come running out to say'Namaste' to us.
We pass the local men and women driving along their herds of Yaks, which you have to jump out of the way of as they have a habit of accidentally pushing people over the edges of the paths. There are clear rivers running along the bottom of the valley with the water bubbling past rocks and forming rapids. We have to cross the rivers on metal footbridges which can get pretty bouncy if there are a lot of people crossing at the same time. There are lots of Buddhist Stupa's and Gompas which also have multicoloured prayer flags flapping in the wind. You have to make sure you walk around them to the left hand side or it is meant to be unlucky.
Along the way you pass the numerous Sherpas, who walk up and down the hills carrying the most enormous loads you could possibly imagine.? They are only tiny people and they are bent double with their loads which they carry in huge baskets strapped across the tops of their heads and occasionally rest on Tshaped sticks after they have walked up a particularly high flight of steps. It makes me feel embarressed to be puffing and panting with only my small daypack on my back.
We are staying in little guesthouses en route and so far getting really nice food. In fact, I think I'm eating lots more than I would usually but I need the energy.
Hopefully all this walking will increase my fitness as I have done so little since I have been away. We are now having a couple of nights in one place to try and assist with the acclimitisation process, although have walked on both days.
I am hopeful that I will be able to get up to the Everest Base Camp, climb a mountain called Gokyo Ri and also see the Gokyo Lakes along the way. I will let you all know how I get on.