Late last year, I crashed into Nepal – while the connecting flight to Kathmandu went without a hitch, I had fallen head over heels in love.
Nepal is the kind of country that finds a bare room in your heart, a little nook you didn’t know was there, and furnishes it with mountain-rimmed horizons, the bustle of narrow streets, the quiet whisper of thousands of prayer flags.
Kathmandu can be distilled into three core characteristics: ancient Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas // brightly painted buildings against a cornflower blue sky // the shout, smog and rubble of a city at the heart of the country’s tourist industry.
A tense one-hour flight into the belly of the Himalayas and you find yourself on tarmac 2’860m above sea level. Lukla is tucked amongst the jagged peaks, the first stop on the way to Everest Base Camp.
It’s an encouraging kind of place.
The four days it takes to get to Base Camp are strenuous. Legs burn and lungs rage against the reduced oxygen. Fresh food isn’t carried to the tea houses past Namche Bazaar. On our return down the mountain, we found some bananas, our first fruit in a week, and I actually cried.
Nepal is one of the most diverse regions in the world, with everything from elephants to snow leopards calling the country home. The trek to Base Camp reflects the same kind of wild, varied beauty.
Nepal looks you in the eye and says ‘Stay with me’. I didn’t realise until I got home that it was in fact this place that would stay with me.