My experience with WHOA group. Since connecting with Women High on Adventure Travel (WHOA) group a year ago it was finally now and finally time to connect face to face in Nepal Himalayas. There has never been so many interesting women together in my life traveling to Everest Base Camp having fun, sharing love and passion for adventure same time teaching English to our training women guides and inspiring them for for who they are. From the first day meeting when I met founders of WHOA Danielle and Allison I knew this expedition was going to be once a life time experience and life long connections, soon after meeting Danielle and Allison we went out to vegetarian restaurant in Thamel, it was quite late at night so soon after we all ate we had to rush out of the restaurant due to their closing time but it was enough time for us to mingle so we all went to small cosy bar near by the hotel and enjoyed some Nepal made Everest beer and had endless chat and talked about what a great changes we could make in the life of Batase girls and employments in the tourism industry for women and create a equality to be female guides. Next morning I organised a 4WD to travel four hours drive to to Batase from Kathmandu and to give clear understanding of our goal and where we are up to in progress so far. It was very different drive to Batase for Danielle and Allison compared to driving in New York City but they didn’t complain at all, it was great arrival to my home village with two very inspirational women and to be able to see my family and our 52 disadvantaged children at the hostel that we been helping for many year through Friends of Himalayan Children. On this arrival there were special guests cairns Jonothon Clayton from cairns who need beat supporter of FHC charity for many year. After arriving in Batase we were welcomed with the tea by our family members which we enjoyed very much and I tool our guests Danielle and Allison to our FHC hostess to introduce 52 young happy children and explain our work. The day went very fast and ended with unpredicted rain storm in Batase and we all woke up with beautiful Himalayan mountain views front of our hour with cloudy sunrise. I’m very thankful for the weather because I was fortunate enough to show my real village to this two inspiring women from a New York. After beautiful morning I took for a village tour for a small walk to village and Batase school that I spent most of my life building education for Batase children. Next morning I gave option to Trek 20km down to Kathmandu or take a 4WD drive back same way they choose the walking and took us about 6 hours walk to Kathmandu. In Kathmandu we also spent some time visiting local dress makers and craft workers to make some WHOA products and we spent some time getting ready for our Everest Expedition and visited some local restaurants to get ready for our big group of arrival well come to Nepal dinner. On the very first meeting at Nepali restaurant with 24 women from diverse background were very motivational moment for me and my journey have started strong from very first meeting with all of the beautiful women.
For Very next day we reserved two plane to Lukla so our group became two and they few 30 minutes apart, it was very adventurous flight to Lukla because suddenly weather went pear shaped and plane had to divert to two separate airports to wait better airport it is not a great feeling for group leaders and guides when weather changes like that sudden or in advanced. Finally weather got better in Lukla and both plane landed safe in Lukla airport. All our Batase crew assistance trekking guides, women guides, porters and trainee guides were waiting waiting excitedly in Lukla, soon after we arrive in the lodge we all got changes and porters packed our bags and started our 10 days worth of hike to Mt Everest Base Camp, our WHOA group and Take on Nepal crew always was shining stars on the Everest trails became of the colourful pink hats and laughter with bigs smiles and bonding two cultures along the way that no other company does.
Even though we had weather issues and delayed to land in Lukla we arrived our destination Phagding early 3pm, with first day of Trek excitement our porter and guides sang Nepali song and everyone started dancing with the songs. It is very impressive to see everyone had enormous amount of energy to sing and dance after long hike to Phagding, our guides took orders for dinner as soon as we arrived which was very convenient and dinner was all ready by six and I have to mention this that one of the best hospitality and meals you can get on the Everest Trek is here on the start and in the end. Normally we have our round table with all staff and group members tonight being day of hike and little tired we gave a pass and saved it for next day. Comparing to Our previous morning our first morning in the Khumbu region it was awe inspiring views with great sunrise over the rocky forest of Phagding village and some of our group members went for morning photography session and came back with stunning images, our breakfast were ordered before we went to the bed there for our breakfast were ready as soon as most of our group members were up at 6:30 and everyone enjoyed their first breakfast in the Everest region before they. First day and very first part of up hill trek to Everest start here at Phagding, as we trek up to Namche Bazaar we passed one of the highest suspension bridge call the Yak Bridge this was very exciting to see as some of our trekkers gig very excited to be traveling on the one of the highest bridge and some started to panic overall everyone manage to walk and take many great photos of first glimpse of Mt Everest in the distance.
After one big never ending up hill our arrival to the base of one epic highest big village of Namche Bazaar everyone got lit up and god very excited, not far from the Base of the village we arrived in our tea house in Namche and high we have booked and reserved before six months so our clients can get the best window view of Kongde peak from your rooms. Namche is the village where you will be surprised by it is the one big village with everything served for you high quality top brand goods to organic Eexperso cafe and local weekend marked, not very long ago the Tibetans use to bring supplies to trade in the Namche market place this was only stopped by Nepali government not long ago.
On our third day of the trek in Namche Bazaar it was the the day to acclimatise and to rest, some of us woken up 4:30am for nice sunrise over Thamserku peak and many of us captured beautiful shots of early morning rise when we arrived back to our tea house our breakfast was ready and all of our group members were up for their acclimatising walk up to Everest View hotel. Everyone made up to the Everest View first proper look to the Everest and all other highest peaks around beautiful black team always charmed everyone and brighten their day and we walked back to Namche for lunch, everyone had relaxing afternoon hanging out in the coffee and cake shops or shopping in Namche. In this day we also had great opportunity to share each of our days and our feelings to each other on the ring table this was first day where all of our women trainees and clients got to know each all. Real feelings to the high altitude started here from Namche for most of our group members, hike up to Diboche was quite easy for the first part and after the lunch it was little bit of challenging moments for some of our group members but we all arrived in time before the sunset to Tengboche monastery where we could all experience the chanting and meditation session by the Tibetan monks and we settled into our lodge. Over looking Lotshe rage by the dining hall from the tea house and from the bedroom was one of the highlights in the tea house beside big fire chimney with wood fire.
Trekking to Dingboche is all in the high altitude and this is the place where everyone even felt more of the thin air as we arrived in the Dingboche town there was light shower of snow and as soon as we settled into our love the rain and snow settled and sunset over the Mt Amadablam was magnificent opportunity for everyone to arrive. Knowing next day was our second acclimatising day during this trek means everyone can have late morning and sleep comfortably. Our acclimatising up to Nagarchung peak 5100m was one hard and great day but it was not everyone’s choice so handful of member made to the top and half came back from halfway and had a rest in the lodge, and compared to many last trip this group members did very well and everyone was still 100% from here my team and I were certain they will be fine for Base Camp they had the heart they had strong legs and they were all not touched by any signs of high altitude sickness. Our day trekking up to Labhuche was very short but very high everyone took very easy and had the lunch after 3.5km distance in Thukla and the day was very nice and sunny which help everyone to enjoy their lunch myself and few other members we eat our lunch outside while some of us was drying our weight shocks on the sun, after luck our trek was all uphill and it felt like it was never going to end and many members was asking how far in next destination and it didn’t help my motivation for my walk and as day turned into afternoon rain shower showed up as we arrived memorial pass Thukla pass, we all stopped to put raincoats on as we do that all the group members coughed us and we all roamed and experienced cemeteries and memorial park for sometime. Not long after we arrived at our tea house in Labuche and settled in rested and ordered our dinners, being us and one bigger groups of trekkers we were first priority in the every tea house just like in this one everyone went to bed early because next day was our most important hike to Everest Base Camp and walk alongside khumbu glaciers across Gorakshep for the night.
Awe inspiring morning fully covered trails by the overnight snowfall and I felt it was just like I imagined to have real Everest experience all morning walking through the snow trails with crystal clear morning surrounded by millions of tall and short peaks on you front, back, right and left all 360 degrees wow. After we walked about two kilometres everyone saw Mt Everest again and it was magical moments but when we are in this area everyone gets confused with which peak is Everest and that is the question we will hear all the time because we are in the base of my giants and they all like and if you are new to the are you may as well say Everest for any peak next to you. After long walk of very short distance we all made to Gorackshep for early lunch, every checked into their rooms and had light lunch and we all continued our life long dream to the Base of top of the world highest peaks, the weather stayed shining for us Himalayan peaks continually smiled at us, I could see and feel most of our group members getting high altitude reactions some members over the moon for achieving their life long goal to be Base of the Everest and other it the little bit of panic getting some headaches and low physical strength, we all spend very good long hours in the Base Camp tacking photos and roaming on the top of Khumbu glaciers listening to an ice cracking and felling the ground movements. After a while we all returned back to tea house for afternoon tea to have much needed rest for our final hike up to Kalapather peak on the next day. After Everest Base Camp trip not everyone was keen to get up at early morning to hike up to the peak to see the Sunrise so we all set ourselves 4:30 am hike time to Kalapather, in the big groups of 24 members in the group some stayed back in the bed resting and most of us hiked to try to reach the top of Kalapather 5500m peak and half of the group members headed back to the lodge for morning tea half continued to the top of our Kalapather, the views and the feeling from Kalapather is hard to describe in words, full of giant peaks in all corners and sun rising over the Mt Everest in you stone through distance. What takes us three hours hike to the top took us 20 minutes to walk/run down to Gorackshep for breakfast before our trek back to Pheruche below 1500m.
In the thin air many of our group members suffered mor than ever before and their mind and their body had to push to the next limit that they never had to before and this situation have lead everyone to change how they, think, see and talk some of the group members started suggesting they might take helicopters back to Namche and wait for group members some just stater to give us suggestions that they were not told enough to get prepared for this kind of hike and this king of living conditions where you have to buy hot showers and cup of boiling water, thankfully our guide team were the experienced and experts in the mountains to deal all kind of situation and they have all handled well and we all brought all 24 very inspiring women safe back from the Himalayas down to Lower land. In my life we have lead many groups small and big to the Everest Base Camp Trek and we have never came across very successful trip like this one, in many case we have seen many clients getting high altitude reactions from as early as Namche Bazaar in this group no one got sick or tired until they reached to Gorackshep and this surprised us big time with WHOA group members. When we returned back all together Amy tea house owners and other guides were shocked and asked us what was the trick to keep them all together because normally group size like this few would be flown down by the helicopter but not in this group. As we arrived in Namche Bazaar everyone got very excited and they all couldn’t wait for little party, bars, cafes and some shopping, next day was our one long big walk to Lukla and the very final day together with local porters and guides.
Final day in Lukla was very interesting ending of our 12 days long hike, most of the group members stayed strong and non showered for all this time so full trek and this was the evening to have one first shower in fourteen days and that really lit of everyone, evening started with full of cheering and toasting of wine and beers very soon we started our thankful tips ceremony which made our guides and porters very happy and we fulfilled their trip made worthwhile being porter with many wise women. Final good byes were in song language our porters and guides sang in Nepali and client sang back in English and we had to all say good bye and go to bed. Going to bed and saying good bye was not easy task for our women traveler and women guides full of tears and hugs were shared and many of them exchanged life long friendships and future contact. After experiencing this moment and seeing the journey of each and everyone and teaching my women guides and other staff how to be a global citizen and teaching them how to provide great hospitality that our visitors to Nepali Himalayas need had gave me more sense how important this work is in the life of trekkers and my fellow staff and young guides.
© Take on Nepal 2020