12.12.2011 Trip to the Everest Base Camp, Day 1 Nagarkot
We get up early, but need to pack all the stuff we had on our rooms back on the bikes. Everything takes ages. We ask for the bill and it takes the staff half an hour to get it ready. We also need to change money and I need to pick up laundry. You might think this is all done in short time, but not so in Nepal. Everything takes time over here. People are not in a hurry. It’s noon until we finally take off.
A couple of hours later we reach “Nagarkot”, a small village famous for viewing sunrise and sunset. The weather is just perfect. Blue sky, sunny day, just a bit foggy. I’m not sure if this is actually fog or smog from Kathmandu. Anyway, we have a lunch break at a terrace and enjoy the view into the Kathmandu valley. There is a view tower close by, which we want to reach to make photos. Once we arrive, we figure that there is no way to get up with the bikes. We look for another spot as we plan to make photos with the bikes and find a plateau with the Himalaya mountain range in the background. Excellent!
After our photo shooting, we go back to the village to look for a room. Some guys are hanging around on the road and we agree to take a room with shower for NRP 600. As we arrive in the lobby, the price for room with “hot shower” suddenly climbs up to NRP 800. We feel like being cheated, turn around and find another room for NRP 500. Negotiations are sometimes tiresome in Nepal, or maybe it’s a language barrier. Harry gets us a bottle of local rum, which we mix with black tea. He can’t believe what he just saw: There is an open fire for heating in the liquor shop. A mother and her child are sitting next to it. He had to leave the shop immediately due to the smoke in there.
13.12.2011 Nagarkot to Charikot
We get up at 05:30 a.m to be in time for the sunrise. The night was cold, just 7,5°C in our room in Nagarkot at 2200m altitude. Nope, there is no heating over here! Our room has a balcony towards East and we get rewarded by a beautiful sunrise over the mountain range, which we enjoy with a cup of coffee. I can show Harry some tricks with his camera. He is an interested and good student. ;)
The hotel offers great breakfast. We go for boiled eggs and some toast. I have vitamin/magnesium tablets left, which we take as a precaution against a cold. There is frost on the cover of BigBertha, so it was freezing during the night. I’m curious if the new oil will make her engine start smoother and yes it does. No problem so far, everything just as usual.
We look forward to another adventurous day, but before we take off, we need to answer questions of the people who gathered around us. Unlike India, the guys ask “educated” questions about our bikes, such as engine size, power, number of gears and range. In India, the people are very attracted by such big motorcycles, but they always have just one question: “Price? Price? Price!”
We finally leave Nagarkot at 9 a.m. It’s a great ride downhill back to the “Arniko highway”. We go through rural villages and watch the people on the street. Young school children wear school uniforms. The older ones obviously don’t have to wear them anymore as they wear normal cloths. We see elderly women wearing huge baskets full with plants or grass. Water buffalos enjoy the morning sun with rice paddies in the background. The scenery is similar to India. However, those villages in Nepal are much cleaner.
Back to the highway, we have some small talk with a police officer. I ask him about the speed limit here. 55 kph is his response. “What?”, we are thinking, “this is a wonderful 4 lane highway with very little traffic! We could go 100+!”. Some 2 km later we find out that this was just a small section. The beautiful 4 lane highway turns into a busy local road again. Harry’s horn doesn’t work properly. Just like in India, the horn is your most important piece of equipment. People don’t LOOK what’s around them, they simply rely on the sounds. Harry stops at a gas station to get the bugger fixed by bending one of the pins.
At Khadichour we take a right turn over a massive metal bridge. The road is small, winding and partly destroyed from the monsoon season. We constantly honk to make speeding trucks aware of us. We climb up a pass to 2.700m altitude and back down to 2.000m. It’s a roller coaster on bad roads for about 60 km.
We catch a glimpse of dancing women in a small village. A wedding party is going on! No question, we need to get involved and dance with the party people. Unfortunately, the bride is missing. She is currently undergoing some preparations for the multi-day event.
Back on the bikes, I see Harry’s rear wheel wobbling so I honk like crazy to force him to stop. Indeed, four of the five screws got loose. I watched him using WD-40 during the service and was wondering what he was doing. Obviously the wrong choice. He cleans the screws and use some Loctite to keep them in place. It seems to work just fine. Luckily the threats are not damaged. This could have been the end of his journey!
We stop at the next village and have some “Chowmein”, a local noodle dish with all sorts of veggies and spices. Including two bottles of coke, our lunch costs €3.
Next stop is a pass at 2.600m altitude, where we are being asked for our passports. “We don’t have them! They are at a travel agency in Kathmandu for our China visas.”, we reply. The military guys happily accept copies and let us go. There is no permit necessary for this route.
Time is fleeting and we make little progress towards our destination of the day. We decide to stay in “Charikot” for the night. Some locals are surrounding us as usual and show us the way to the hotel. This time we are lucky as the room features hot water! No wonder, as this seems to be the best hotel in town. The price of €6 is out of our daily budget, but we look forward to have a shower.
We find a restaurant with excellent food. We order chicken chilly with roti bread:
14.12.2011 Charikot to Jiri and Shivalaya
The night in “Charikot” was freezing cold. In the morning I can still see my breath, not just outside, but in the room! Just like in India, houses don’t have heating. There is not even a mobile heater available in our hotel. We have breakfast, omelet with toast. We ask for salt and pepper, but the guy understands zero English. Harry search for them in the kitchen and is successful.
Charikot, view from the hotel’s rooftop:
Our goal for today is “Jiri” and we want to find out how far we can go to the Mt. Everest Base Camp.
En-route to Jiri:
We heard there is a trekking path after Jiri, but the map shows a road. We arrive in Jiri at noon and have a break at the “Everest Guest House”. The guy there gives us directions and tells us about the actual “road” conditions. It’s gonna be very bumpy, muddy and we’ll have few water crossings to manage. He predicts it will take us two hours for the 20 km to “Shivalaya”.
He shall be right. The way is challenging with our fully loaded bikes. Harry doesn’t have a lot of practice in muddy conditions and almost crashes twice. I have to immolate another valuable item: My oil canister with 2l of the expensive 5W40. L Somehow I keep loosing stuff. At least the water crossings are easy at this time of the year, as the monsoon season ended a couple of months ago.
At this this bridge you need to take a left towards “Shivalaya”:
As we arrive in “Shivalaya”, the locals immediately surround us.
Children from Shivalaya, at the footstep of the Mt. Everest:
We are told that there had been only 1 foreigner on a local motorbike here before. We seem to be the first overlanders on big bikes ever reaching this small village en-route to the Mr. Everest Base Camp!! The road up here was built 5 years ago. From “Shivalaya” there is another road up to “Bhandar”, which was built in 2010, but that seems to be in much worse condition. We don’t want to risk any damage to our bikes as we have a 4000km overland journey via Tibet and Southern China to Laos ahead of us and decide to skip the last bit.
We find shelter in a guesthouse. “Badam” the host, speaks very good English. He used to be a trekking guide for many years and tells us stories about the Mt. Everest. Many people suffer from altitude sickness and just about 60% manage to make it to the peak. The cost of the climb is $70.000 per group just for permits!
My room for the night. The cheapest place, I ever stayed at. Nrp 100, about €0,90:
We have some boiled eggs, Nepali bread and Tea for dinner, which we mix with Whiskey, as there is no rum available in the village.
15.12.2011 Shivalaya to Kathmandu
This was the coldest night so far. It’s 2°C as we wake up in the morning in our accommodation, which looks like an alp shack. However, I felt warm in my new sleeping bag. Good news as we expect -25°C in Tibet during the night. “Badam” has already made breakfast for us. We need to start early, as it will be a long way back to Kathmandu. We guess 9 hours riding for 180 km.
We get to the bikes and are curious if the engines will still start smoothly. There is frost on the covers, so it must have been below freezing point during the night. No problem yet, just 1 click and our beemers are ready to go.
Harry is not feeling well this morning. He says he is afraid of crashing today, so we take it easy for the decent. We ride over hill and dale, through water crossings, sand, gravel and mud. Although the terrain keeps us busy, we don’t miss taking photos and videos.
Shortly before “Jiri”, Harry makes a wrong decision in a muddy section and crashes. He is lucky as he just falls in a puddle and not steep downhill. Unfortunately I don’t capture that scene on video as he went ahead while I still took some photos. There are a couple of guys around who help him lifting the bike, while I record the scene.
Back in Jiri, Harry needs to change his gear as everything is soaking wet. I can help out with a jacket and we keep riding until Kathmandu.
A few pictures en-route to Kathmandu: