BY ALEX SAIFITI
In November 2017, I took the challenge of trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. It was a once in a lifetime experience, an opportunity to challenge myself and get away from New Zealand for a moment to reflect and develop. Here are five things I wish I knew before leaving for Nepal.
1) Prepare for lost luggage
Arriving at Kathmandu airport, I paid for my visa and waited patiently for my bag. As the bags slowly drifted out from the back along the carousel, time went by, and the crowd began to disperse. My bag was nowhere to be seen. I started to worry and as another group of passengers came through, and their bags began to arrive, I knew it was not looking good.
Where the others in my group had MacPac and Kathmandu jackets, for the first few days, I had a jumper and t-shirt. Where others had rain and wind-proof pants, I had a pair of chinos from H&M. Where others had quality expensive hiking boots, I was stuck with not so new “New” Balance Shoes.
Having a bag that doesn’t show up or even worst, goes missing can be a disheartening experience. Especially, if like me, you had to be flying somewhere else the next morning to begin trekking to Base Camp. To have made this not so good experience a little better, I would and should have packed more layers in my carry-on bag.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Make sure you pack some layers in your carry-on bag and keep your valuables (e.g. camera and money) with you.
2) Layer Up
Following on from point 1, it is fundamental that you layer up on your trek. Evenings can be pretty chilly, so much so that water bottles left outside of your sleeping bag will freeze overnight.
Yes, it can be annoying putting on and taking off clothes as your body temperature changes and adjusts to the weather, but it is important to be over-prepared as opposed to shivering to death. Sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses are also important! Thermals are your friends, whether worn in bed or during your trek. It also pays to pack a good beanie, a buff and gloves.
3) Snacks matter!
At 5,364 metres I am about to open a block of Whittakers coconut chocolate. A trip filled with many memorable moments, this had to be one of the highlights. I had waited 15 days to open and eat a block of New Zealand’s finest. The anticipation and eagerness nearly pushed me to the edge of opening it before I had conquered Base Camp.
Throughout the 15 days of trekking, food, particularly snacks became limited in nature. This was apparent if you did not bring any yourself. By the end of the trip, I was sick of seeing Pringles, Mars Bars, Snickers and Digestive Biscuits in almost every store, restaurant and accommodation along the way.
Do yourself a favour and pack some Pineapple Lumps, Whittakers and anything else that will keep you going during your trek. You will be surprised how fast it all goes, so pack more than expected!
4) Bring a book
Between the long days of walking, there is ample time to sit back and relax. Giving your feet a rest is great. It offers you a chance to get to know people, perhaps write a journal and reflect on your experience to date.
The one thing I regret doing is failing to bring a book to read during downtime. You can rest and play cards all you want, but you cannot go wrong with a good read. This was made apparent by almost everyone else in my group who had brought a book or kindle with them. To make the experience even more tangible, you may want to think about bringing a book about Everest.
5) Protect your feet
Finally last but not least concerns the health of your feet. Blisters can make or break your experience, so having shoes that are well worn in and just right, quality socks (multiple pairs) and all-important hikers wool will keep your feet in good stead. Do not be the person who brings along brand new hiking boots that have hardly ever been worn. You will either regret it or be considered very lucky.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to bring is a positive mindset. No matter what is thrown at you, it is important to appreciate where you are and what you have achieved. With bags, a book, snacks or not, a positive mindset can often mean the difference between a bad experience and a learning experience!
Alex is a young professional working weekdays and appreciating weekends, Alex has successfully survived university to progress his way into working life. He’s still asking the questions that hopefully matter and wondering if money is really the answer to his problems.