A Journey through Nepal: Lukla to Ghat to Monjo

by Amelia Old

On the day we were to begin our trek to Mt Everest Base Camp with World Expeditions, we started with a 5am wake up call although I was up by 4:30am. I had been feeling extremely anxious in the days leading up to this moment paired with jet lag. I had worked myself up to what would soon come. The dreaded flight into the ‘most dangerous airport in the world’. I was terrified which was purely my own fault for watching so many youtube videos prior to my trip.

Lukla Airport

The Lukla Airport is considered to be the most dangerous in the world.

Our tiny plane after arriving to Lukla

The flight ended up being the least of my worries. I closed my eyes and held my breath on takeoff expecting some major jolt. It never came. The 45 minute flight ended up being uneventful but absolutely stunning. Once we arrived to Lukla, we spent about 1.5 hours there just getting ready to begin our trek. Our porters already had our red World Expedition bags and we were left with our day packs. 

My husband and I with our World Expeditions Guide Arjun. On the way to the airport!

Our group was full of excitement and all smiles ready to begin our hike. We knew it would be a shorter day which helped ease the thoughts of what may come in the days ahead. I expected the first day to be easy but for me it was far from that. My heart immediately felt like it was working over time and I fell not once but twice. The first time my camera fell right into yak sh*t. I was mortified. The trails were quite busy on this day and there was a big group that kept making their way in and around us. Due to their pushiness, I hit the ground again. This time falling hard. My ankle and knees hurt so bad that tears formed in my eyes. I took a deep breath and wondered if this was it. Would I really be ‘done’ on the FIRST day? 

Every time I stepped down the rest of the day my knee gave excruciating pain. All I could is say a silent prayer that the next day would get better. That it would get easier. 

Once we arrived to our camp in Ghat, we had lunch then as a group decided to walk down to the river. Our guide shared that if we briefly stuck our feet into the cold water it would help our aches.

My husband, Tim, and I at our first campsite in Ghat.

Me after just one day of hiking. HA!

Me with my fellow trekker Coral.

Tim (in the back) with our trekking family: Dave, Coral, Shane, and James.

                         My trusty hiking boots taking a rest by the river.

The weather seemed to change quickly. It was warm all day. Sunny and beautiful with the temperature in the 70s. However, the sun starting setting early at around 3:30pm. The cold weather immediately set in and I knew I’d have to layer up.

We were in bed by 7:30pm. With the insomnia I usually face at home, I didn’t even think this was possible. I did wake up a few times to go to the toilet. Thanks to all of the water I was drinking to stay hydrated.  It was terribly cold and a pain in the back side to have to basically get dressed to leave our tent to go pee. Oh, how I wished I had it as easy as a boy does! Although, now I’ve learned of an amazing contraption called a ‘she-wee‘ which makes this possible! I will make sure to add that to my packing list if I were ever to trek to Mt Everest Base Camp again.

The sound of the river was amazing and I’m pretty sure that played a part in helping me sleep. I started off sleeping with two pair of pants, two pair of socks, two shirts, and a beanie. Through the night I seemed to warm up and pulled off my hat and socks. Let me add that I started off early dressing warm at night while others worked their way up to it. Looking back, it’s probably best I did this considering I ended up so sick throughout the trek.

We woke up at 6am, our new wake up time for the weeks ahead, with a cup of tea which was brought to our tent. This was followed by a bowl of warm water to clean up with. Our guides would come to our tent and say ‘washy-washy’. This always made me smile and you knew your bowl would be right outside waiting on you. Another thing to get used to as there would be no showering. 

Tim and James goofing off

After the day before, I decided to use trekking poles offered to me by our guide. It made the world of difference and helped keep me balanced. Day two was tough. The rocky terrain was very different than what we are used to. Not to mention at times, our trail would go straight up, straight down, then back up again. It was hard work. There were a couple of times my heart was beating so fast that I could barely breathe. It was apparent my extra heart meds were going to become useful during our trek to Mt Everest Base Camp.

By this time I was learning to slow down. It wasn’t a race. We saw our first person coming down on a horse and that meant altitude sickness likely got the best of her. Several times a day you could hear helicopters which meant rescues were happening. That was a bit scary for me as I tried to remember to stay slow and hydrate. Tim and I were on completely different paces and he seemed to be far ahead of me at times. I was always the last in the group which bothered me. 

Tim and I at our campsite Monjo

Our porters preparing for the trek.

We arrived to our second campsite, Monjo, after about four hours of trekking. The camp was insanely peacefully with a few locals working on their gardens nearby. Aside from the physical challenge of this trip, our group was having to learn to slow down without wifi, work, family life, computers, tvs, or other daily distractions. It was a challenge but gave us time to think, to journal, to read, and to just be in nature. Something told me this would become easier as the days passed. 

Crossing one of the many suspension bridges.

I had already begun to notice the incredible work ethic of the Nepalese. They were hard working, determined, and the strength they possessed to carry such weight on their backs as the porters did was just incredible. And with little complaints. 

I was being reminded of how much we take for granted in our world. We often times fail to realize the importance of simplicity. I noticed my fellow trekkers were also being forced to rethink how we approach our lives too. We were all beginning to realize how life changing this would be for us all.

This little one attacked us with water guns as we walked through the village. So cute!

By this time, my head and throat were starting to hurt and I reminded myself to use my buffer more the following day to Namche. Looking back, I had no idea what I was in for. It would become the hardest thing I had ever done physically in my life. 

Did you miss reading about our time in Kathmandu before our Mt Everest Base Camp trek began? Click HERE to check it out!

A Journey through Nepal: Monjo to Namche to Deboche

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