Everest Base Camp Overview with Vanessa and Alasdair

Ahead of joining the Everest Base Camp trek, I caught up with Vanessa from our sales team and talked to her about all our Everest Base Camp treks, her highlights of trekking in Nepal and what draws people to this incredible region.

AB - We do three routes to Everest Base Camp. What’s the difference between them?

VD - To start, there’s the classic Everest Base Camp route, which we’ve been running for over 20 years now. However, we take a slight spin on the main trail. We include an extra acclimatisation day to increase the chances of completing the trip. It also just allows time to relax and explore the area a bit. To avoid it being an identical return journey, we divert off the beaten track to visit some other villages along the way.

The next level up would be the Ultimate Everest trek. It starts off along the same trail but at Namche Baazar it heads off along the Gokyo Valley with its spectacular lakes before climbing over the spectacular Cho La and up to Gokyo Ri, which is one of the finest vantage points for Mount Everest. It's a bit longer and tougher than the classic route, taking around 20 days.

For a long time we thought the Ultimate was the toughest Everest Base Camp trek possible, but then we pioneered a new route going higher for longer and aptly called it Everest the Hard Way. It takes on three 5,000m passes: Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La. Like the Ultimate and Classic, we visit Namche Baazar before trailing off to explore the Gokyo valley and cross the Ngozumpa Glacier.

AB - As well as doing the standard treks to Everest Base Camp, we do some other trips incorporating the Base Camp, but in different ways. One includes climbing Island Peak. Tell us about that trip.

VD - You basically follow the usual Everest Base Camp trek and then drop into a different valley and then head up to ultimately do a 6,000m+ mountain. While it is a fairly straightforward trekking peak, it is for those that love exposure because it is a narrow ridge on the peak. Doing Everest Base Camp first aids acclimatisation so the combination works really well. It’s really one for the climbers out there. You can go to Everest and bag a 6,000m peak on the same trip.

AB - I suppose the last Base Camp trek to talk about is the ultimate for fitness; the Everest Base Camp Marathon. We’ve had people in the office do it, but what’s it like.

VD - You basically do the trek to Everest Base Camp and get to camp at the actual camp and not just visit it, and then run 26 miles back. It works really well for a couple where one person might be really fit and want to do the marathon while the other walks, because you can enter together and the partner can walk instead of run back.

AB - Why do you think people are drawn to this region and this route?

VD - It’s iconic isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to get to the base of the world's highest mountain? Who doesn’t want to get to the base of the ice wall to see the crevasses. Maybe even to have apple pie with the climbers if they’re there?! And who doesn’t want to feel like you’re in such a special place? These peaks are just towering above you and you just can’t get that feeling here in the UK. It’s iconic, it’s bucket list, but at the same time it’s very special. There’s the Buddhism and the prayer flags and all the culture behind it as well.

AB - What are the highlights of these trips?

VD - Kala Patthar is a peak about 5,600m. When you’re there it looks small because of all the mountains around it. But you’re going to climb up to 5,600m and have this fantastic view down to Everest Base Camp. You can see what you can achieve and is just a real highlight.

To be honest one other highlight is just to stay in the lodges and experiencing that and understanding the effort the locals go through to build them. You can also access WiFi in most lodges and share the adventure with family and friends back home.

A lot of people also take home a greater understanding with knowledge and the passion that the guide and crew share with you. They really enhance the walking and get behind you. It isn’t easy and there will be times you’re tired, but they really get behind you and get you going.

AB - If you’ve already done the trek or fancy something different, what are the other treks in that area like?

VD - The luxury lodge is a great option. It’s all about getting spectacular views of Everest but staying in the best accommodation possible with warm rooms, fresh bedding, duvets and restaurant style food. A bit more comfortable.

The other version is the Everest Panorama where you go through the valley, trek where the climbers trek but do not get all the way to Base Camp but are still awarded with views of Everest.

AB - Outside of Everest we have some incredible treks in Nepal like the Annapurna, Kanchanjunga, Manasalu etc. What are those trips like in comparison?

VD - Annapurna circuit and Poon Hill were just incredible. I’ve been to Nepal before but I took a lot away from that trip. If I was a first timer I would definitely consider it. I suppose the difference is; going into a lower elevation for people who are concerned about altitude. So the Annapurna Sanctuary is a good way to see how you feel and get an idea of our holiday grading. You also walk through bamboo and rhododendron forests and lots of vegetation, which you don’t necessarily get on the Everest Base Camp trek because you fly in higher. The Annapurna Sanctuary is great for seeing the rural side of Nepal, but still with the amazing views later on and the feeling of being in the amazing Annapurna mountain range. I suppose it’s a decision of whether you want to see Everest or are you happy to expand beyond that and the Annapurna Sanctuary is great to just show off everything Nepal has to offer, whether it’s your first time or third time. It gives you a great spin on where to go to next.

Before that I did another trek, which was very remote and camping high up in freezing conditions. But it just demonstrates we have lots of different itineraries that will tick a lot of different boxes whether it’s your first time or, like a lot of our customers, your twentieth time.

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