The Lost Earth Adventures Blog

Everest Base Camp trek raises thousands for charity

Posted on: November 28th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Trekking to Everest Base Camp raises £43,000 for EY Foundation

Charity challenge to climb Everest Base Camp
Our seasoned adventurer, Nev, gives us the inside track on leading the hike to Everest Base Camp with the EY Foundation, a charity which gives young people the skills and experiences to develop their careers while working with social enterprises to create more opportunities for young people in our communities.

He tells us what the trek entails, the high points, the challenges, and what it feels like to do something extraordinary to help an extraordinary cause.

Charity challenge group raise money on Everest trek

I’m not going to tell you everything. To be honest, I can’t tell you everything.

This is not so much due to some kind of ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ code, but simply to cover everything that happens on one of these three-week trips would require a book, not a blog.

So, I’m going to stick to what the highlights were for me.

In case even that might be too wordy to distract you from your day, here’s the bottom line: the EY Foundation recruited Lost Earth Adventures to arrange and run a trip to Everest Base Camp (and back!). In the process, they raised over £43,000. I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

Hippie hangout

Everest Base Camp views with EY Foundation

Where to start? Kathmandu, of course!

While once as far off the beaten track as Timbuktu, generations of mountaineers, hippies and fellow travellers have beaten a new track that leads right to the gates of our accommodation; Kathmandu Guest House.

Underwhelming though the name might be, it offers unparalleled service and a guest book of the climbing greats.

It’s directly beside Thamel, the best place to turn dollars into rupees and rupees into treasure… or tat.

While the bustle of Thamel never really slows, its commerce seems to undergo a series of reincarnations. It currently thrives on Chinese-made imitations of top-of-the-range trekking goods. This is particularly useful if you still need kit in-country or for when you return home.

Of course, there’s no end to ethnic clobber, trinkets and statuary. My particular weakness is for the bookshops. You can find the usual international bestsellers, but keep digging and you could unearth an obscure, dog-eared tome left behind by the original hippies generations ago.

The second layer

EY Foundation with Nepali guides
Even Forrest Gump would agree that Nepal is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

We thought we’d have to jump-start our trek with a flight into Lukla (more about the return flight later!), but the vagaries of Nepali officialdom meant that part of the itinerary had to be rewritten shortly before our arrival.

This is when having the support of a truly experienced company like Lost Earth Adventures makes all the difference. Things don’t always go to plan but what followed was like a whole second layer of chocolates to tuck in to.

The day-and-a-half road transport reveals the scale and complexity of this great country, showing us parts of Nepal not usually seen by Westerners.

More importantly, it means we start our trek not with the throngs at the ‘front door’ at Lukla, but more discreetly via the ‘service entrance’ at Kharikhola.

There we find ourselves happily outnumbered by Nepalis. The Nepalis find themselves happily outnumbered by mules.

Another world

Mules on Everest Base Camp

From here on in the only engines are on aircraft, the only sound of traffic the tinkling bells of mule trains.

These beasts lumber through a dozen at a time. Human porters carry impressive loads. We’re down to day-bags from here on.

The rest of our belongings are packed into holdalls and strapped in balanced pairs across muleback.

And so we walk on. Slowly but surely, we meander into another world.

The immediate relief is that after days of hectic and international travel, the real journey begins. Thousands of miles have been covered while essentially idle. Now we’re on the move, unrestrained.

Everest charity challenge group
We take off the burden of technology and shallow priorities. Instead, we have a simple and honest mantra: look after your wellbeing, look after each step.

Of course, not even the Himalayas have avoided 21st century tech entirely. There are plenty of places where you can get a mobile signal. There’s decent coffee, WiFi and a couple of Irish Bars on this route. Western toilets are now the rule, not the exception. Yet there’s still a choice on offer that allows you to switch your phone off and immerse yourself in one of the most iconic journeys on the planet.

The town of Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

We run into other trekkers on the second day who’ve just flown into Lukla.

By this time, we consider them amateurish interlopers, mere mortals. Another day brings us to Namche Bazaar.

This place might be the most attractive town in Asia.

Set in an amphitheatre that looks out on stupendous views, its serried ranks of granite buildings are layered back on each side of the slope, giving you the impression of being able to see everything that is going on without even turning your head.

The town is the meeting place of different trading routes and when the bazaar itself is in session, sixteenth-century-looking traders appear. Their pack animals, indeed all the pack animals above here, are ‘dzo’. Aside from being a very useful Scrabble word, that’s the term for a yak/cattle hybrid that is uniquely suited to the altitude and lack of fodder. Wild enough to survive but tame enough to carry a load, these are impressive beasts.

We, however, are not as uniquely suited to the altitude. A two-night stay at Namche with the option of a day hike offers an acclimatisation boost and a first view of the highest peaks including Everest herself.

Like an Arctic tundra

Everest Base Camp views
Safe acclimatisation is the cornerstone of our uphill journey over the following six days.

Though the air thins, the evenings provide recovery time and another rest day certainly bolsters our spirits.

As we ascend, the landscape dries and thins too. Sometimes, even turning a corner presents a completely different colour scheme. Kathmandu required air conditioning, but after a week it’s like we’re walking through an Arctic tundra, mesmerised by the tallest mountains on the planet.

In amongst these days is probably the sweet spot of this trip. It’s when you become used to the routine and the trekking but the destination is not quite a reality yet. You become easily convinced by the cycle of your day: deep sleep, bracing exercise, chai and dahl baht.

But, increasingly, the destination did loom ever larger in front of us.

Gearing up for summit day

Summit day for EY foundation

Another of Lost Earth Adventure’s cunning ploys is to have your last night’s sleep at Lobuche. It means you have one hell of a challenging day ahead—up to Everest Base Camp and/or Kala Patthar and back down to Lobuche—but it makes total sense.

Restful sleep higher up is unlikely. And at this stage, our group is more than fit enough for the challenge.

Summit day starts long before dawn. The group divides up according to destination and guide. While Everest Base Camp is on offer (everyone has heard of it, but you don’t get the greatest views), Kala Patthar is a huge temptation. It’s a deserted and beautifully-isolated summit but without the same bragging rights. The EY team choose whether to attempt one, the other or both.

Make no mistake, summit day is an attempt. There’s an almost random element to which even the most-acclimatised can be hampered by altitude sickness. As you continue in the pre-dawn chill, you ask yourself; are you drinking enough? Eating enough? Do you have the right amount of clothes on? These are small decisions, but each one is made to minimise the body’s inevitable stress.

Everest Base Camp charity challenge
Just as inevitable, the sun rises and the landscape regains some colour. Each step from here is a crucial step towards your own spiritual and physical highpoint. Made it!

The way down to Lukla

It’s funny how thoroughly you can lose faith in such a thing as physics while strapped into a twin-engine aircraft at the top of an airstrip that falls away in front of you so severely that most of it is lost from sight.

The pilot’s got the handbrake on while he brings the engines screaming up to full revs. At some point, the chocs come away and we are pulled forwards off the flat and onto this ridiculously-angled runway.

We barrel down it. It feels like a funfair ride. It seems to use every foot of the tarmac until eventually, the mountain falls away below us and suddenly we are not falling but flying.

It’s the beginning of our journey home. We’ve created new memories, visions of mountains that we can never unsee, and we’ve helped a truly great charity in the EY Foundation. The group raised more than £43,000. I’m not sure what feels better; reaching the summit or helping a great cause do the same. I’ll go with the latter.

Like no other trek, this is one that ended on a high.

Read more about how the EY Foundation helps connect young people with the employers they want to work for.

Do you run a charity?

Take a look at our charity challenges. Do something different and get involved!

Neville Shortt is an experienced trekker at Lost Earth Adventures and specialises in leading hikes in Nepal.

Why outdoor activities are great for team building

Posted on: November 24th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

The secret behind corporate success

Team-building, efficiency and improvement

Corporate event team building activity hiking

There’s that old adage that even the best product in the world won’t sell itself. It needs to be supported by a solid team who work together.

Almost every corporate sector relies on teamwork, but what does this really mean? What are the traits of an effective team? Do people work better in a team than others? And can you coach teamwork? Read on as we reveal all.

Tracing an effective team

Caving team building activity

According to a study by Mckinsey, 97% of employees and executives believe a lack of alignment impacts the outcomes of a task or project.

If you’re a business owner or manager, do you know how well aligned to your goal your employees are?

Having clear missions and communicating them effectively is arguably the key point to get right.

How can employees work together with you and fellow employees if they don’t know the end goal, the overall strategy?

Think of teams that work in high-pressure environments, like firefighters, military units and sports teams. Before each event or mission, they have a clear goal or strategy, understand their own roles and the roles of members of their team, and communicate during the event or mission until the goal is reached. Sounds simple, right?

Well, you already know it’s not. Every team has room for improvement and teams that improve are teams that actively seek out improvements. Words like trust and integrity are not just corporate dung, they’re a huge part of how every team needs to operate. If your team isn’t honest with itself, it won’t develop. It won’t flourish. It won’t succeed.

Remember, it’s like what former Soviet leader said, if you’re not going forwards, you’re moving backwards. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Mr. Gorbachev.

How do you improve teamwork?

Raft building team building activity

Teamwork starts at the top of the pyramid, since it’s these people who hire them. But when you employ a person, how much of your decision is based on their individual abilities or experiences? How much do you genuinely consider how they’ll fit into your team? Are they team players?

Improving your team is about honing the things we’ve said above. Have clear goals, make trust and integrity a part of your ethos. Communicate. Social events are always a good way to stitch a team closer together while forms of engagement help fill in any cracks. You could create open or anonymous questions to allow team members to have their say or organise a team-building session like our Leadership & Team Development days.

Gorge walking business team activity

Best team-building activities?

These adventurous activities are designed to encourage teamwork, leadership and motivation. We’ve organised such events for some of the largest UK companies.

Adding a sense of challenge to the event certainly spices things up, essentially forcing teamwork to come to the fore.

Our Wild Survivor challenge is the perfect example of this. We take your team out into the wilderness and you have to find your own way back to civilisation.

Honing leadership may be on the agenda and a cryptic adventure race is all about problem-solving, planning and having fun. Teams undertake various tasks and make their way through the course.

Sometimes, the size of your team dictates what you can do. Activities like gorge walking, rock climbing and caving are great for smaller groups. Not only are they great fun, but by belaying, leading and assisting each other, team members must work together even in tight spaces.

Of course, team-building can have a dual-purpose. If you want to partake in a team-building activity, why not take on a challenge like the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and raise money for a charity your team cares about? It’s a great way to fundraise, helps bring your team together and can also fuse your business with the local community or charity.

See what’s available for your team or get in touch to arrange something bespoke on 01904 500 094 or info@lostearthadventures.co.uk.

What to do in Kathmandu

Posted on: November 23rd, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Wondering what the best things to do in Kathmandu are?

From monkeys to mountain biking, our quick guide reveals all!

Kathmandu city landscape Nepal

Nearly all international visitors of Nepal enter through its mesmerising capital, Kathmandu. In fact, all our tours and treks see you fly into this unforgettable city. Some of our tours, like the 6-day Chisapani and Nagarkot trek and the 9-day Helambu trek, stay within the vicinity of the capital. And for good reason!

Majestic. Traditional. Frenetic. Trendy. Kathmandu has it all. Whether you have several days or just a few hours, we’ve compiled our favourite things to do in crazy Kathmandu.

Visit Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple holy man

Resting on the banks of the Bagmati River, Pashupatinath Temple is a sacred Hindu temple built in the 5th century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a marvel to behold, a true cultural experience.

Erotic carvings decorate the walls, monkeys swing from branches overhead, chants echo along in the courtyard and colour sweeps over every gaze.

Indeed, like much of Kathmandu, there is a vibrancy seldom found in other cities anywhere.

Explore the pagodas, soak in the atmosphere and take a snap with the friendly Hindu holy men that reside in the temple. But be warned, these men often stroll around naked!

Experience true culture

Down by the river, you’ll see families wash and funeral pyres bellowing on the bank. It’s tradition that sick Nepali people come here to spend their final few days. After they pass, they are cremated and then families mourn by celebrating their life. It’s an unusually enchanting sight providing an authentic look at Nepali life.

Get lost in Durbar Square

Durbar Square

The first thing you notice about Durbar Square (or Royal Palace) is the 50 temples which surround it. Lined with pagoda-type Hindu temples, the Square is 1km from Thamel. Walk from Thamel to Durbar Square for a genuinely atmospheric walk in time.

The ancient streets depict Newari architecture. Famous red brick and black wood design make you think of the Tudor buildings you see back home.

On these ancient roads, people travel by horse and cart and bicycles traverse the dirt. Why not take a trip by rickshaw?

Durbar Square is famous for its vast street food stalls and the smells and aromas stay with you for years, especially after all that Dal Bhat on the trek. Those with an iron stomach may wish to partake in a few strange dishes. Goat lung, anybody?

Discover Patan’s fascinating customs

Temples in Patan and Kathmandu
Technically a city in its own right, Patan has its own Durbar Square which is usually considered bigger and better than its namesake sister. This is also where the Kumari lives, the Living Goddess.

The Kumari is an elaborately chosen young girl believed to be a manifestation of the divine female energy in Hindu traditions, known as Taleju. When the Kumari’s menstruation begins, the goddess vacates her body while the search for a replacement commences. It’s a fascinating tradition and you can choose to be blessed by the goddess.

Unlike Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, Patan’s Square is pedestrianised and much quieter, so the frantic-o-meter is taken down a notch. Take in the large bells and pagodas while relaxing in a rooftop cafe.

Monkey Temple Kathmandu

The famous Monkey Temple

Of course, no visit to Nepal is complete without a visit to the famous Monkey Temple in Kathmandu Valley.

As the name suggests, it’s home to thousands of monkeys who patrol the ancient temple in packs. You’ll see them swinging from trees with their young and they even have their own swimming pool.

The monkeys live in relative harmony with visitors, but we advise not to make eye contact with them. In return, you’ll soak up the tranquility of the temple but keep your food close, they’re always on the prowl!

Indulge in ancient traditions

The Monkey Temple, or Swayambhuunath, is both a Buddhist and Hindu temple, a rarity in itself. You’ll see prayer flags and impressive stupas – mound-like structures containing relics – which help create a feeling of peace and meaningfulness.

Let the Tibetan influence sway over you as you learn about the Buddha’s third eye, the Eye of Consciousness. The idea is to learn how to consider the world beyond the physical eyes.

Swayambhunath’s atmosphere will blow you away. In amongst the swinging monkeys, roaming dogs, Buddhist monks that dedicate their lives to this place and the colour that shines everywhere, you’re bowled over by the sense of serenity and calmness the whole place gives off.

Boudhanath  temple

On to Boudhanath

Around 11km from the centre of Kathmandu lies Boudhanath, home to one of the largest stupas in Nepal.

The structure dominates the skyline while visitors often say it’s like Nepal’s Trafalgar Square.

What strikes you most about this place is how relaxed it is, it’s just so blissful.

At Lost Earth Adventures, we take many of our trekkers here after the tour, surrounding them with traditional Nepalese customs, coffee and shops and restaurants. Like all of Kathmandu, the food never lets you down – read our blog on ten best restaurants in Kathmandu if you don’t believe us!

In fact, our guide Bhairas lives in Boudhanath, so who better to show you around?

Rock bars Kathmandu

Tom and Jerry's sports bar Kathmandu

Got a few more hours?

In Kathmandu, you realise quickly that while everybody else rushes around, you just want to soak everything up. If you have a bit more time, here’s what else you can get up to.

If it’s a night out you’re after, the legendary Purple Haze Rock Bar is the ultimate nightspot for drinks and dancing.

Some of the best bands in all of Nepal play here and there’s live music most nights. Tom & Jerry’s is another top shout for a pint, pool or to watch the football.

For the thrill seekers

Mountain biking in Kathmandu
If the adrenalin junkie inside hasn’t quite had enough of trekking, why not trail run into Shivapuri National Park or jump into the saddle for a guided mountain bike trip? The tracks are amazing!

Not quite extreme enough? Well, there’s always bungie jumping from a 160-metre suspension bridge to get your blood pumping.

For serenity seekers

For the calmer ones among us, we highly recommend an excursion to Nagarkot (unless, of course, you did this on your trek). Set off in the dead of night and emerge atop Nagarkot before dawn. As the sun peels over the horizon, it reveals a simply breathtaking view of the Himalayas. Trust us, it’s one to tell your friends about. But don’t forget that camera!

Ready to make some memories?

We’ve been specialising in trekking trips to Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp and lots more treks and adventure holidays in Nepal for over a decade.

We make it our mission to tailor your trip to suit you. So if it’s monkeys or mountain bikes, trust us to help make memories last a lifetime.

See all our available treks or let us know what you want to see and do on 01904 500 094 or email us directly.

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