|Enjoying the view en route to Namche Bazaar from Thame.|
Kathmandu was crazy, with its deadly traffic belching out fumes and adding to the city's smog bubble. Rickshaws ferried tourists around and car horns bellowed so often it was like a second language. Dogs and cows wandered the streets, and men did their best to sell tiger balm and trekking holidays to any tourist they set eyes upon. After a few days, we were relieved to have our Sagarmatha National Park permit, our trekking card, and the bus journey to Jiri booked. After an eight-hour, impossibly cramped bus ride winding up and down Nepal's 'foothills', we finally made it to Jiri, the starting point of our trek.
|Our amazing bus to Jiri.|
Since the airport was built at Lukla, not many people walk into the Everest region from Jiri anymore. For the local people who run lodge businesses this is a great shame, but we loved the tourist solitude. We tended to bump into the same trekkers each day, making us almost like a little family. The local people were also very welcoming.
|Typical terraced hillsides and our first sighting of the Khumbu, en route to Ringmo.|
As we walked through the terraced foothills, I couldn't help but compare these lovely homesteads to the crofts at home. Each homestead seemed to have their little family of goats, a dog lazing in the sunshine, a skinny cat lurking by the house, and a moo swinging its tail under a little thatched roof. Some even had a pig enjoying the muddy soil. Sometimes we saw men using their cows to help harvest the crops. Often women were scything in the fields. It was amazing to think that we would consider these people "poor", and yet they were full of smiles, and we actually envied their way of life. Away from the roads, these villages were scenic perfection, and I loved that we'd gone back in time, to the days when people walked everywhere. The distances that the local people walked was incredible. A week-long trek for us would be covered in three days by most!
|Country living in Junbesi.|
|The pretty village of Jubing.|
|Kittens with singed whiskers for sleeping too close to the stove!|
Once we ventured above 3,500m the landscape changed dramatically. We were above the foothills now, and surrounded by the snowy panorama of the Khumbu Himalaya. The bright green fields were gone, replaced with brown, barren soil and dwindling forest. The local people still grew their crops, but not the variety that we saw in the foothills. We saw families burying their potatoes, preparing for the onset of winter. Cows were replaced by furry, horned yaks - not too disimilar from our Highland cows. This area in particular reminded me of Ardnamurchan. Much more challenging terrain, and yet like Scotland's crofters, they persevere.
|The traditional village of Thame.|
|Trekkers heading back to Namche Bazaar, past the first Gokyo Lake.|
|The village of Gokyo, with a cloud covered Cho Oyu in the background.|
The highlight of Gokyo was the tough zig-zag up Gokyo Ri, standing at 5,357m. The walk up was insanely challenging due to the altitude - never have I had to think so hard about breathing. But the snowy, towering amphitheatre of the Himalayas, including Everest, made it probably the most memorable part of my Nepal adventure.
|A slice of the panorama, including the Ngozumpa glacier, from the summit of Gokyo Ri.|
|Ben descending Gokyo Ri, with the village below (far left) and Cholatse dominating the skyline.|
After four days enjoying the snowy, mountainous paradise of the Gokyo Lakes, we set off again. The nights were so cold that our water bottles froze solid, and I was keen to descend for some warmth! Despite the trek being ridiculously up and down, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to walk all the way back to Jiri and complete the circuit. After 25 days of trekking from one village to another, our bodies were desperate for a break. And so ended our trekking adventure!
Ben's trekking photos can be viewed on his website, here.