Day 175(2): E.B.C. trek day 1, Lukla to Phakding (2655m)

Phakding Travel Blog

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Walking down the valley to Phakding

Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Sanjeev (Nepal), Mark & Lindsay (Canada), Nick (UK) & Sebastien (France)

Booking this trek had been harder than I had thought it would be. Because I wasn't sure when exactly I would arrive in Nepal, I didn't want to book the trekking in advance. Besides, I wanted to book through a Nepali agent, rather than an international travel agent. So I decided to book my trek one I reached Kathmandu.

Well, it is not impossible to book a trekking in Kathmandu (in fact, it is very well possible to book your trekking in Kathmandu), but as it turned out, what I wanted was not particularly easy to find. I didn't see myself walking on my own for 14 days, so I wanted to join a group.

The first of many suspension bridges
An organised tour with porters and a guide seemed like a fun thing to do. At least, it had been fun doing the Inca trail that way, so I was looking for a repeat experience.

Turns out, hardly any of the 500+ trekking agencies in Kathmandu do such trips. If you are with a group, you book the tour as a group. If you are travelling alone, you either meet other people to do the trekking with and sign up as a group, or you go at it alone. Most of the groups that have already booked have booked from overseas and aren't really looking for someone else to tag along with them.

The biggest obstacle however was the flight. Because of the bad weather all flights to Lukla had been cancelled for three days in a row and airlines had stopped taking new reservations until the backlog had been cleared.
Suspension bridge
So it wasn't just a simple case of finding other people to trek with and tag along with them. No, my departure date would actually be dictated by when I would be able to find a flight.

In the end I had been convinced by Hem that finding a group of people to join was too difficult and trekking alone would be a better option. I would meet dozens of people on the way anyway, as everybody is walking the same route.
After my disastrous trek in Kyrgyzstan I couldn't see myself walking up to 5000 metres carrying a heavy backpack, so I wanted a porter. In the end I opted for a guide-porter, a trained guide, who speaks English and who is also able to carry some luggage (though not all).

Sanjeev was a nice lad from Kathmandu and for the next two weeks he would be my guide, taking care of all bureaucracy with permits as well as arrange the guesthouses and the food.
Don't look down
Oh, and carry my backpack. A good deal, I thought. Sure, it would have been cheaper just to hire a porter, but in the end this is much less hassle. Had I been travelling together with someone I would have done those things myself, but being all alone it is quite nice to have someone else take care of all those worries. All I needed to do was walk.

So walk I did, though it wasn't very far. The first day of the trek only goes as far as Phakding, a steady two-hour downhill walk (though some people choose to walk two hours more to Monjo, which makes the second day a bit shorter).

And Hem had been right, I met lots of nice people on the way. I walked together with Mark and Lindsay, a father and daughter from Vancouver, Canada, for a while.
Much better accommodation than I had expected to find on this trek
Our ways separated when Sanjeev wanted to stop for a break, but I would meet them the next day again.

At the guesthouse I had a nice time talking to two guys from Switzerland, a British consultant Nick and a French mountain guide Sebastien, who are here in preparation for Nick's attempt to climb Mt Everest in 2013.
We were later joined by Fei, a Chinese girl who didn't seem to have a clue what she was in for. She was on her way to Tibet when she decided to take the bus to Kathmandu, where she booked a trek to Everest Base Camp. She had to be back in Shanghai in a fortnight though, so she wanted to do the trekking in 10 days, rather than the recommended minimum of 12 days. She had no idea about altitude sickness, acclimatization or any of those trivial things and didn't seem overly faced by any of it.
The streets of Phakding
I never saw her again during the rest of my trek, I wonder if she made it.
It is not recommended to eat meat while on this trek, since higher up in the mountains the people have no way of refrigeration (electricity is limited). Besides, most of the Sherpas living in this region are Buddhists, and while they eat meat, they don't kill any animals, so any meat that is on sale is either from animals that died of natural causes (dare I say diseases?) or animals that have been slaughtered in the valley and carried up by porters (in the hot sun). So I figured that after today I would not eat any more meat. Tonight would be my last carnivorous meal. I ordered a Yak sizzler, a delicious sizzling hot plate containing strips of dried yak meat, served with vegetables and fries.
All in all it was an excellent first day on the trek.

halilee says:
Haha, here I am, reading your blog again for a 2nd time, only 2 years later! As it was, last year I went to Nepal and did Annapurna Base Camp and now this October I'll be doing Everest Base camp and Gokyo Lakes. Kinda cool. :) I too wonder if that girl made it or not on the trek!!
Posted on: Aug 26, 2014
halilee says:
Wow!! Stunning scenery!! I would love to do something like this someday! :)
Posted on: Oct 12, 2012
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Walking down the valley to Phakding
Walking down the valley to Phakding
The first of many suspension bridg…
The first of many suspension brid…
Suspension bridge
Suspension bridge
Dont look down
Don't look down
Much better accommodation than I h…
Much better accommodation than I …
The streets of Phakding
The streets of Phakding
The start of the trek
The start of the trek
Mani stone
Mani stone
Passing small villages on the way
Passing small villages on the way
Walking through stunning surroundi…
Walking through stunning surround…
The guest house in Phakding
The guest house in Phakding
Phakding at night
Phakding at night
Phakding
photo by: halilee