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Must-see Getaway: Jason Dundas and dad trek around Everest

13:00 AEST Fri Sep 2 2011
Jason's been to some pretty special places over his four years with Getaway — some fun, some challenging and everything in between. When he knew his biggest adventure was coming up, he asked if he could take his dad, Ross along. They've never been on a Getaway trip together, and this was one heck of a way to change that.

The Dundas men took on the enormous task of trekking in Nepal!

Often described as 'The Rooftop of the World', the tiny country is squashed between India and China and is home to eight of the world's tallest peaks, including the big one — Mt Everest, 8848 metres high.

Roads are few and transport for the most part is by foot. A reasonable amount of fitness is required and it's recommended you start preparing a few months out.

There are different ways to plan a Nepal trek, and Jason and his dad went with the experts, World Expeditions, on a walk from Junbesi to Namche Bazaar, the traditional home of the Sherpas, elite guides and mountaineers who make it a lot easier. They carry everything you need, leaving you to tote just a day pack. Initially you may feel a little uneasy about someone carrying your gear, but when you see how strong the Sherpas are and how easily they do it, you will just be grateful!

It all began at 2800 metres, a half a kilometre higher than any mountain in Australia. Apart from their Sherpas and a couple of donkeys and a cow, they saw no one else so enjoyed the fantastic feeling of having it all to themselves. Above the clouds they had their first view of Mt Everest which is pretty overwhelming. Sherpas worship it as 'Mother of the World'.

Along the way they saw prayer wheels. Inside each is 108 different prayers, and as you spin the wheel, prayers are released.

Tired and sore at the end of every day, seeing your camp set up is a great feeling. Everyone has a tent and there is a kitchen and toilet. Tents are small and warm and while not five star, might just as well be.

There were no complaints when it came to meals. Three courses three times a day with porridge, pies, pizza, pancakes, pasta, all guaranteed to be burnt off during the day.

They soon found out that trekking in Nepal isn't just about walking through pristine wilderness — it becomes increasingly difficult. You travel up and down long, thin paths all day and it can take its toll. Arriving at remote villages and appreciating the culture of locals gives a real boost. Nepalese Tea Houses offer accommodation and a bed and pillow are most enticing.

Creature comforts are at a premium out here, but it is possible to pay for a relatively hot shower. You can also pay the local teahouse for electricity to charge up things like batteries or mp3 players. They even managed a few games of Caram, a very popular Nepalese version of pool.

A sleep above ground did wonders for Ross and Jason and they were ready to continue to Namche. As they became closer, the trail began to get busier.

The final stretch to Namche Bazaar involved climbing 600 vertical metres, their toughest day. Even though they were reasonably acclimatised, the altitude was making itself felt. At more than 2900 metres, the altitude sickness zone, everything was aching, stomachs were hurting and the destination couldn't come fast enough.

After nine days of hard slog, arriving in Namche Bazaar was like arriving in New York City according to Jason. It's the last big town before Everest Base Camp and most climbers spend a couple of days there to acclimatise for higher altitudes ahead.

The village is on crescent-shaped mountain slopes and views of mountains across the valley are stunning. Once a trading post where locals bartered yak cheese and butter for agricultural goods, the 1953 climb of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay changed the dynamics of the village forever as climbers and trekkers followed in their footsteps.

Namche has prospered from the tourist trade, but remains a small settlement with just sixty dwellings. It's Nepal's wealthiest district and has lots of hotels, three museums, a stupa, monastery, several cafes and many well-stocked stores. It comes as a surprise to see Australian goods on sale there! There are official money-changing facilities, but they offer a lower rate than in Kathmandu, so try use them for changing just small amounts.

Prices are generally higher than elsewhere, as everything is carried in from Kathmandu or China. Believe it or not, there are lots of internet options, so that's good for bragging.

A little further above the Bazaar is the payoff for the hard yards. At just over 4000 metres, the highest point of the Dundas's journey, they took in the best views of Mt Everest.

Jason and Ross highly recommend joining a World Expeditions' trek. It's not easy and you will need to enter into some fairly extensive pre-trek training. The rewards far out-weigh any discomfort. It's spiritual and challenging and sleeping in the clouds shrouding the world's highest mountain all remain wondrous long after the aches and pains have gone.

Location

Out of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

Cost

World Expeditions 17 day Solu Khumbu Everest Treks cost $2490 per person. Four-star accommodation and sightseeing in Kathmandu, internal flights and transfers, gear pack and camping equipment, most meals, porters, permits and entrance fees are included. They run regularly between September and April.

Thai Airways has flights to Kathmandu from:

  • Perth $1124
  • Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $1298

Sales and validity dates apply.

Prices correct at September 3, 2011.

For more information

Thai Airways
www.thaiairways.com.au

World Expeditions
Ph: 1300 720 000
www.worldexpeditions.com.au
info@worldexpeditionscom.au

Visas: Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa for Nepal. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly.

Electricity: 230 V (50 HZ).

Time zone: GMT + 5.45 hours.

Currency: Nepalese rupee.

Telephone code: +977.

Nepal

It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.

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