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Snow Cat Travel

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OUR Himalayan Travel BLOG

Welcome to our blog and Social Media Page


As well as features about our Nepal & Bhutan tours, we'll also include articles of interest about Nepal& Bhutan too.

By Snow Cat Travel, Jul 4 2019 09:32AM

For the forthcoming Autumn 2019 season flights to Lukla will NOT be from Kathmandu. This will adversely affect the Everest Base Camp Trek and other Everest Treks including Luxury Everest treks.

We have been advised by the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority that all flights to Lukla will instead be from Manthali Airport.

This is BAD NEWS for anyone intending to trek to Everest Base Camp, or elsewhere in the Everest region, as Manthali Airport is pretty awful 5 hour journey by road from Kathmandu.

As flights to Lukla are entirely weather dependent, they tend to be scheduled for early morning to take advtange of more likely clear weather at that time of day.

This means that if you're on an early morning flght to Lukla you are faced with the very unpleasant prospect of having to leave Kathmandu around midnight and the even more unpleasant prospect of travelling in darkness, which we think is potentially dangerous.

You've probably never heard of Manthali Airport as it's generally not one that tourists use.

So, it's no surprise that there's only very basic accommodation there and in limited supply too if you're thinking of spending a night at Manthali before your (fingers crossed) flight to Lukla the next morning.

Of course to do this you will either need to consider adding an extra day into your plans to soend the previous night in Manthali and thus avoid the perils of travelling by road in the darkness (and leaving Kathmandu at an ungodly hour), or sacrifice your planned night in Kathmandu.

For many on a tight schedule there is the very realistic prospect of arriving at Kathmandu Airport after a very long international flight and having to "hit the ground running" and head straight for Manthali.

Not an ideal start for a trek to Everest Base Camp.

As you probably know, flights to Lukla are notorious (infamous) for being severly delayed, or even cancelled for days on end.

We shudder to think what the knock on effects of such an event will create given the limited and basic accommodation at Manthali for tourists.

There is real, clear and present potential (in our opinion) for some very, very unpleasant situations. Any disruptions (and these are always highly possible) will make what is already a bad situation even worse.

For a Nepal Trekking Agency and most importantly tourists it's one massive, unwelcome headache.

Thnakfully Snow Cat Travel are an exclusively private custom trek and tour operator. We do not and never will operate fixed itinerary, join a group treks.

For the many whom have booked a fixed itinerary join a group trek, which will have been planned moths or even a year or so ago and on the basis that flights to Lukla (as they usually are) would be from and back to Kathmandu do not now have the flexibility, as fixed itineraries are precisely that.

We're actually very thankful that we chose not to be a mass tourism operator and don't have the headache, as we can design any custom trek to Everest around this "no choice" change and invariably advise clients as a matter of course to consider building in CONTINGENCY for the unexpected into any tailor made trek itinerary.

As such we will be recommending that all clients whom are intending to hike to Everest Base Camp, or any other Everest hike still spend their first night upon arrival in Kathmandu. It helps get over the long flight and the time difference (a good nights sleep works wonders on the body) and not least being able to sort out "bits and bobs" unhurriedly before heading off on trek....not least being able to get travel cash sorted.

Neither will we be advocating "drive at night" or "slumming it at Manthali. Rather we will be suggesting a part way drive to a rather serenely lcoated small hotel on the banks of the Sun Kosi River, yet just an hour's drive to Manthali Airport, which is about the same time wise as it takes to get to Kathmandu Airport from central Thamel.

Of course it is ultimately the client's choice, but we don't think that starting an Everest trek already exhausted and inevitably stressed is a sensible idea.

By Snow Cat Travel, Jul 25 2018 12:35PM

If you’re an experienced trekker, you don’t need to be put off by the thought of crowded trails that are often the case on the “standard” Everest Base Camp trek.

Everest Treks
Everest Treks

There are indeed other and arguably better ways to reach Everest and because they are even more challenging, by default they aren’t anything like as busy.

How you can trek to Everest and avoid the crowds

The simple explanation is that you take a detour from the “standard” Everest Base Camp trail, which is the one that by far most people follow.

Just like other bucket list treks (think Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail), the “standard” Everest Base Camp trek does seem to attract more than it’s fair share of people who would never usually go trekking. Judging by some of the questions we get, without much of an idea as to the realities (or the pitfalls) either of what is still a challenging trek and at very high altitude too.

Gorak Shep Teahouses
Gorak Shep Teahouses

But, what is generally known as the “standard” Everest Base Camp trek is in fact mostly a linear route i.e. the way you go up, is the way you come down.

And yes….it does indeed get very busy at times.

The detour that we call “Everest The Hard Way

Well, you can of course be an “Everest purist” and begin the trek at Jiri instead of missing that bit out and flying up to Lukla. However, nowadays most people do indeed start and end their Everest trek at the mountain airstrip of Lukla.

So, the first two days of walking are from Lukla, down to Phakding and then up the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar, the same as the “standard route”.

But, after a compulsory acclimatisation day at Namche (it’s 3440m altitude after all), here’s where the detour starts. Instead of heading up the main valley that the “standard” route takes, you take a “left turn” up a side valley. Hey presto! In an instant you’ve lost “the crowds”.

Everest Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier
Everest Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier

You’re heading for the tiny settlement of Marulung (have you even heard of Marulung?) above the Bhote Khosi River, via Thame. As you’re now over 4,000m you really need a couple of days for acclimatisation along the way too.

Leaving Marulung, a tough, but very rewarding day lies ahead. Crossing the 5340m Renjo La to descend to the glittering, turquoise lakes of Gokyo. There’ll be a lot of huffing and puffing as you climb up to the Renjo La, but the views of the Himalayan peaks of the Everest region from the pass are outrageously stunning.

Views of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Gokyo Lake from the Renjo La
Views of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Gokyo Lake from the Renjo La

Here at Gokyo you can then take a hike for closer views of magnificent Cho Oyu and indeed the “scoundrels view” of Everest (around 5 hours return). There’s also one of the classic Everest view points, Gokyo Ri (5360m) to do too.

The following day is (thankfully) a bit more straightforward as you head across the Ngozumba Glacier to Dragnag (4700m), but there’s another “toughie” to follow the next day.

Everest panorama from Gokyo Ri
Everest panorama from Gokyo Ri

That would be the Cho La (5425m). This is a usually glaciated (or sometimes snow covered) pass that is quite steep in places and with some loose scree, old moraine and a boulder field to navigate. Enough to keep the inexperienced non-trekker away. As with the Renjo La, the views from the Cho La are equally stunning and well worth the scrambling up before the long descent to tiny Dzongla (4830m), which really is nothing more than a couple of teahouses

Ama Dablam
Ama Dablam

Now, to make the final approach to Everest Base Camp, you are gonna have to re-join the “standard” trail, so enjoy the last day of the detour as you hike to Gorak Shep (5140m).

Just like Dzongla, Gorak Shep is really just a handful of trekking lodges (possibly the highest in the world) and the stop over location for Base Camp.

But, with Pumori rising above Gorak Shep and the satellite ridge of Kala Pattar (THE classic Everest view point), it’s a pretty spectacular place and although you are re-joining the “standard route”, not everyone who sets out on that route makes it this far up anyway.

The classic Everest view from Kala Pattar
The classic Everest view from Kala Pattar

Still, you’ll surely want to make the 6 hour return hike up to Everest Base Camp.

For the descent you’d then follow the “standard” route via Pheriche, Phortse and Monjo to Lukla. But, you do now get the views of iconic Ama Dablam as compensation.

However, you can actually take another little detour and add in the Kongma La ( a couple of days more is all you need), thus making the “Three Passes Everest Trek”.

Pumori and Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep
Pumori and Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep

Now doesn’t that sound better than hiking up and down the same way with everyone else?

For more see our Everest The Hard Way trek.

Sopurced from our original Snow Cat Travel WordPress blog

By Snow Cat Travel, May 21 2018 10:00AM

Everest view from the Renjo La- Everest The Hard Way Trek
Everest view from the Renjo La- Everest The Hard Way Trek

A very challenging Himalayan trek and a quieter trek to Everest Base Camp. Instead of following the usual route to Everest Base Camp this trek goes even more off the beaten track and includes the tough ascent of the Renjo La to Gokyo, then across the Cho La and a backdoor route to EBC. Definitely the realm of the serious, commited and very strong trekker. Possibly the greatest Nepal walking holiday.

The altitudes involved in this trek up to EBC demand respect and thus the walking becomes more challenging as a result. There's the possibility to extend this trek and include the Kongma La on the return from Everest Base Camp to form what has become known as the Three Passes Everest Trek.

See our Everest The Hard Way trek page for more.

By Snow Cat Travel, Feb 14 2018 12:00PM

Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam from the Everest View Hotel
Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam from the Everest View Hotel

It's not called the Everest View Hotel for nothing.

Located at 3880m, the Everest View Hotel is a short walk up from Namche Bazaar, and if you're hiking to Everest Base Camp, it's a handy place to stop for refreshments and take in the views.

But, if you're also looking for a shorter Everest trek then it makes for a great objective as you can see the summit of Everest rising above the Nuptse Ridge, Lhotse and Ama Dablam too.

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