Everest Basecamp Trek – Day 6 (Dingboche – Dughla)

Day six greeted us with a thick morning fog when Evgeny and I were leaving our lodge at Dingboche (4410m). This village is a base for a variety of treks in any direction (Nuptse, Lhotse, etc.). Therefore, we had a hard time figuring out which of the small trails would lead us back on the Everest Base Camp trek. But we managed and after a short climb, we reached a lookout where we could only guess how fantastic the panoramic view must be. But we were in an excellent mood and acknowledged that not everyone was lucky enough to enjoy this place in such a mystic fog. I guess Evgeny and I should become coaches for self-motivation.

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Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 5 (Tengboche – Dingboche)

At day five, Evgeny and I already started to have a daily routine by waking up early and leaving ahead of the crowd. The day’s trek would take us from Tengboche (3870m) to Dingboche (4410m), with a small breakfast break at Pangboche (3930m). Now, if you are confused by the place names – you’re not alone. Most of the tourists are mixing the “Teng”, “Ding” and “Pang” of all these “boche”. Most are using altitude meters to name the places. As there is only a handful of “boches” along the climb, speaking of heights instead of settlement names is therefore quite useful. Continue reading “Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 5 (Tengboche – Dingboche)”

Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 4 (Namche Bazaar – Tengboche)

On a map, the path between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche does look like a relatively easy walk. By the end of the day, the difference in altitude between the two villages is just a small climb of 500 meters. Unfortunately, this is just half of the truth: After a steep climb out of the Namche Bazaar village, the trail levels out. It then descends slowly from 3500m to 3200m, before ending in a steep climb of about 700m.

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Everest Basecamp Trek – Days 2 and 3 (Phakding – Namche Bazaar)

Asking other backpackers on the route, which part of the Everest Base Camp trek they think is the hardest, most of them will point out the stretch between Monju and Namche Bazaar.  As we did stay overnight in Phakding, it took us about 90 Minutes to get to Monju first, where we had a small rest before the steep ascent.

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Everest Basecamp Trek – Day 1 (Lukla – Phakding)

After a long overnight flight, we arrived at the town of Lukla, which marks the starting point of the Everest Base Camp trek. The journey to this small village involves a change of planes, as well as a short walk from the International to the Domestic terminal in the capital city of Kathmandu. We achieved this transit within one hour, which was perfect.

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Petra, passion in the desert

Corinthian Palace at Petra

After crossing the border from Syria, I first arrived in Amman, Jordan for a quick change of buses. Finding the bus was quite easy at the Amman bus terminal. A few hours later I arrived in Petra where I spent three days wandering around tombs, palaces, temples and other ruins like Indiana Jones.

Going back to Amman was very straight forward, too. After talking to the bus driver, he agreed to drop me off at the airport turnoff, so that I could avoid the unnecessary round-trip to downtown Amman.

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Krak des Chevaliers, Damascus and Bosra – French style

Krak des Chevaliers

The Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle dating back to the 11th century. Being one of the major historical sites in Syria, I decided to visit on the way back South of the country. Coming from Hama, this trip involved changing several times the bus. However, the connections were short, and for the last part of the trip to the castle, I ended up in a small minivan filled with local people. The castle is located on a small hill, next to a small town. This final climb wasn’t really strenuous, and the view upon arriving was simply amazing. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) described the Krak des Chevaliers as “perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world”. Well, this place really is worth the trip, but I do refrain from the superlatives he used because there are so many well preserved castles in Syria. Continue reading “Krak des Chevaliers, Damascus and Bosra – French style”

Conquering Apamea and the Dead Cities

Ancient village in the Zawiya mountains

This was now the fourth day in Hama. This city was the perfect base to explore Syria. By now, my driver knew the drill: Leaving early in the morning for day trips, returning late in the evening. Those were long shifts for him. However, he also knew that he had plenty of time by himself, once we arrived at a site. While I would extensively explore ruins and castles, he could take a nap, chat with his friends or make some extra money driving around local people. Continue reading “Conquering Apamea and the Dead Cities”

The superlatives of Aleppo

Qala'at Samaan (St. Simeon)

Syria is a country of many contrasts. Its countryside reminded me sometimes of being on a road-trip through Central Europe, where strategically placed castles overlooked green valleys filled with trees. However, here in Syria, landscape can changes completely after several turns on the road. Right after a green valleys can lie desert plains, where Bedouins are camping next to Roman and Greek temple ruins. Continue reading “The superlatives of Aleppo”