Welcome to this episode of the Why We Travel Podcast. This episode features a conversation with Gisselle Vallejos about her trek to Mount Everest’s Base Camp.
Gisselle is a solo woman traveler and budget backpacker. She loves slow travel and immersing herself in the local culture of the places she visits.
Gisselle is from Minnesota in the USA and started traveling internationally at the age of 27.
She has been to 6 out of the 7 continents, traveled to 22 countries, and has spent time living in Australia, and Vietnam, and is now currently living in Cairo, Egypt.
On the Show Today You’ll Learn:
- What you need to know before trekking to Everest Base Camp
- Challenges involved in high-altitude trekking
- How to plan your trek
- Interaction with other travelers and the atmosphere along the trail
- How much money you will need for your trek to Base Camp
- And more
Links & Resources
YouTube: Gventures Link: https://www.youtube.com/c/Gventures
IG: mygventures Link: https://www.instagram.com/mygventures/
Facebook Page: Gventures Link: https://www.facebook.com/GventuresElMund
Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Why We Travel Podcast. Now, in this episode, we wanna go really high up into the mountains. We want to go into Himalayas. So I have with me Giselle. Giselle traveled to Nepal and wants to give us a bit of an idea on what has happened there. So let’s say hello and how are you today?
Giselle Vallejos: , good. Thank you so much for having me. .
Claus Lauter: Maybe to start with, gimme a bit of, , background. What got you into traveling? What got you into solo traveling?
Giselle Vallejos: , I wanted to travel for a long time since I was a little kid. I really liked explore comic books and just traveling adventures and, , it took me a long time to actually get around to doing that.
But when I was 27, I started a solo backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and that really hit off. My solo travels. I ended up being gone for two years and , , the rest is history.
Claus Lauter: Okay, you have been to six of seven continents. So one is missing. Let me know which one is that.
Giselle Vallejos: Antarctica,
Claus Lauter: Okay. And we’re on the same page. That’s one is missing from me as well. Tell me a little bit of, , your backing experience in India and then what got your to the idea to get to ever space camp.
Giselle Vallejos: Yeah. So I was living in Australia and just saving money and was looking at India.
I had been around Southeast Asia, and it broke the barriers for me. I was like, All right, I can do Asia. India seems a little crazy, but let’s go. So I went there in the beginning of 2019 from Australia and spend three months backpacking around India. And I had a plan to go to Nepal, but it was very vague.
I had no idea what I would do there, probably just bu around and Katmandu was my plan. But the closer I got, I crossed the border by bus from India into Nepal and I heard more and more from other travelers about the Treking and Himalayas. Of course, how beautiful it is. And I’m not much of. Tracker or a fitness, , junkie, so to speak.
So I had never really done anything like that, but it sounded like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So yes, I crossed the border and heard more about it and decided why not, and the idea was to just track maybe a small trick, two or three days, and. The more I heard about ever base camping an option , I was like, I have to do this.
So that’s how it started, , .
Claus Lauter: Okay. You said you were not really prepared for that. What does that mean?
Giselle Vallejos: I’ve been hiking a few times in my life before that. I’m a big city girl and, I have very little experience , with nature. I mean, I do love it, but I have never been in the mountains really before.
And, , coming from India, I had a backpack with. Sandals and dresses, you know, so I had no gear or anything like that. , so yes, when I decided I would go on this trek, I researched it and found there was cheap ways to get there. I went to the markets and started bartering for everything I would need from to pants to jackets, to a smaller backpack to water bottle.
Anything that you’re going to need on a three week trek.
Claus Lauter: Okay. You’re saying there obviously some challenges there. One challenge I can imagine is altitude, altitude, sickness, thin air, everything that comes with that. What’s your experience on. .
Giselle Vallejos: Yeah. So I think that is a, issue because you never know how your body’s going to react.
And again, me having no experience in any kind of mountain, mountain is terrain. I was concerned about that, especially as I actually smoke cigarettes and am asthmatic as well. So that was a concern, but , I decided I would just go as slow as I wanted, and I had two months, over two months in Nepal. So I didn’t need to rush and I would go at my own pace and, , hope for the best. And, I bought diamox pills, which is the altitude sickness medication to help you. , and if you’re in need, . But yeah, I walked in pretty blind with it, to be honest.
Claus Lauter: Okay. What kind of help did you get, , in regards of giving you advice and pointing you that right direction? What did you help you there?
Giselle Vallejos: I just was hearing treking from other travelers and the hostel that I was staying at in Cat Mandu. Some of the people that worked there had been guides in the past.
So I was asking them, is it really necessary? Have a guide or have a porter I was trying to do this trek on a budget. Most people fly into Lula where the trek begins, and I was trying to avoid any costs really. I was gathering information from other trackers. People had been there, people had led.
Maybe guides there in the past and marking cities on my offline maps to where I would follow this trek. So I was just gathering information on the ground from people that had been treking in the region.
Claus Lauter: Okay. How can I imagine the trek? How long does it take? How many stages are involved?
Giselle Vallejos: That’s a good question.
There’s different ways , to go about this trek. If you take the trek as I did, I took a bus from Cat Mandu. It was about a 16 hour ride from Ka Mandu into the Himalayas to a city or a town I should say, called Falu. And from there it takes a few extra days of Treking to reach Lela, which is the big city where everyone flies into and where.
Ever’s base camp track officially begins. If you’re flying into Lula, it takes about two weeks to go up and down, depending on your age and fitness, but roughly, usually the itineraries if you go with a tour company, because I did look at things online . For my own trek, I was basically getting ideas of the cities that I would be hitting from, what the tour companies would do, but I was just doing it on my own.
And so it can take two weeks, but if you’re coming from say J, it could take three weeks. depends on where you start, but two to three weeks I would say.
Claus Lauter: did it on a budget. When flying is more expensive on the budget, what would you calculate? How much would that cost to get you up there
Giselle Vallejos: if you’re doing a round trip flight to Lela, it costs a round, I think $180 to fly to Lala and then back to Ka mandu. For me, I took a $12 bus ride one way into the mountains. Didn’t know how I was going to get back, but I figured it out at the end and I ended up taking a Jeep that was $20 to get back to the city.
So cramped, long bus rides, narrow roads, very treacherous, bit scary at times, but much cheaper and a lot more adventurous. And that also does help with, , a climatizing because you’re coming from solo altitude on a bus slowly. , that it really helps you. Adapt to that versus just flying in from the low level of Catman Dew to the Himalayas.
Claus Lauter: ,
Okay. How can I imagine the environment there? Obviously it’s high in the mountains. , I reckon it’s cold at night. , How does that work?
Giselle Vallejos: It’s very rural. , it’s cold at night. The buildings that you stay in, cuz there are tea lodges, it’s not camping outside, you, , are not allowed to camp.
But they have teahouses and lodges, which are essentially where Nepali live. But they open their homes to trackers coming through. And for a small fee you have a bed. Small room, very basic. , there’s no heating in the buildings. They’re usually a central fire in the middle of a lodge where it’s, heated by Yung or feces and it’s only from like 5:00 PM to the evening.
So it’s just heavy blankets. You’re wearing your tracking gear. , when you’re tracking, you’re usually exercising, working up a sweat. So I didn’t find myself to be very cold, but at night, yes. And when you’re stopped it can be a bit chilly .
Claus Lauter: You said exercise and you said you were not very well trained.
What would you think? How good should somebody be trained or is there any kind of things that could hold someone back from doing this trip?
Giselle Vallejos: yes. And I hesitate to give advice on that because I don’t wanna put someone at risk for Treking. So it’s really something that one should research and look at your own health situation, perhaps if you have a bad heart or lung issues.
A lot of factors could go into, being at risk up there , especially. The aid, you should have travel insurance or some type of way to get down if you do run into an emergency. Diamox pills, drink lots of water, move slowly. There’s a lot of different tips for me. I just charged in recklessly, but thankfully everything worked out okay.
yeah, I’m a bit of a risk taker at times.
Claus Lauter: What was the sort of age range of people that you saw doing this trip? What was the youngest and the
Giselle Vallejos: oldest? I love that. Yes. The youngest I saw, I was one of the few solo trackers that I ran into along the trail. Most people were with a few people groups, a tour guide, , a Porter at least, but, , 18, I think was the youngest.
There was a group , of boys and they were very young. And the oldest I saw, I met a man, , that was 60 years old, tracking, , he was making it there for his 60th birthday, which I found so inspiring and amazing. , I nicknamed him Billbo Bains
Claus Lauter: Very good goal as it sounds like a, Camino what you do in Spain.
So how was the vibe, how was the atmosphere between you, other travelers in general?
Giselle Vallejos: , very close. The people are so friendly and willing to help you out. Not only , the other fellow trackers that I ran along the trail, but their guides, their porters. There was one point where I had not bought a permit that I should have but I had met some the previous day and.
Saw me freaking out and were like, How can we help? And their guide spoke to the checkpoint officer and they sorted out a permit for me there on the spot. And everyone is just has each other’s back. If you’re feeling, , sick, someone’s, gonna. Give you water or try to, you know, do you need coffee, tea, anything I can grab you.
It’s very supportive and yeah, it’s just such an experience, a bonding experience. I think being out in the Himalayas and It’s so peaceful and majestic and all inspiring and so it’s a journey. Even if I was treking alone, meeting these people, I would run into them again and again, and it was very much a companionship.
Claus Lauter: No, I can imagine. You said you need to permit administration red tape. What comes with that?
Giselle Vallejos: It depends on the truck that you’re doing. So when I was in Cat Mandu, I went to the immigration office. tracking permit there’s a place for it. I don’t recall the name at the moment, but if you tell them the truck that you’re planning to do and where you’re planning to start, they will inform you of what permits you are going to need.
So it varies if you’re gonna do, for example, the three passes versus just going to Everest Base Camp. Of course, if you’re. Summiting, that’s a whole nother deal, with a very expensive permits. But the permits that I bought were roughly 30 a piece, and I think I needed three permits to do the trick to Everest Base Camp.
So relatively cheap,
Claus Lauter: okay. Now being at the base camp, I haven’t been there. , how is that, What kind of impression does that leave with you?
Giselle Vallejos: Incredible. It’s so vast. It’s so large. Even when I was standing there it was hard to absorb. I was off season or very close to off season, so there was very few people in base camp and I didn’t even realize I had arrived.
Actually, this is the funny thing about not having a guide I was walking along this ridge and it looked like apocalyptic scene. I don’t know what I imagined ever as base camp to look like, but it was very like volcanic rock and black and very hilly. And I saw one lone yellow tent and I was like, am I here,
And I went down the ridge slipping and sliding because the rocks are very loose. And there was one other guy that I had seen before with his guide and I was like, Dilly and ran over and are we here? Is this it? And yes, this is it. This is Ever’s base camp and pointing out the mountains to me.
And then I found the rock that, says, Base camp meters, 5,000. it was, , incredible. And just walk , the Kubu ice fall, the glaciers, it’s just massive. They’re the size of houses and I’m watching other people walk up to them and there’s just so minuscule, incredible.
Claus Lauter: Okay. It sounds something that people should put on their bucket list. Would you recommend it? Is that so goal
Giselle Vallejos: a hundred percent. One of my fondest memories of my travels around the world absolutely. And very spiritual. Nepal as a whole is just such a beautiful country and very warm, welcoming people and to experience the mountains in a way that most people never get to.
Seeing the stars is just incredible at night. I’ve never seen him so bright, you can see everything like the ancients would have maybe thousands of years ago.
Claus Lauter: Awesome. Yeah. Talking about Nepal, food always is a topic. What’s the food? What’s the food situation there?
Giselle Vallejos: , the food is delicious.
I love all food though. I’m definitely a foodie. I love eating all the local foods to any country I visit. , along the trail you’ll end up eating a lot of, do bots, which is, , like a lentil soup. And there’s some cabbage, everyone makes it a little bit different, but, , very filling, warm and delicious.
I miss it. To this day, I wanna return to Nepal more treking and eat it. , they have momos as well, which is like a little dumpling filled with meat and they have a delicious red hot sauce that you can dip it in. And I love spicy, so that’s something I also miss from Nepal, the Momos. , okay. But there’s a lot of delicious food.
Claus Lauter: Okay. What would be one gold nuggets that you would give someone on the way going to Nepal, going to the base camp?
Giselle Vallejos: , move slowly. Take your time. Don’t rush. , I ran into a few people that were trying to hit a lot of certain things or, maybe give yourself extra time and don’t have a flight planned and don’t plan to leave Nepal immediately after you.
Are doing this trek, give yourself a few days a case you need to rest an extra day in the mountains. Or if you just decide you want to absorb it, cuz you really wanna cherish these memories and enjoy it. And I met some people that rushed and got altitude sickness they were a day away from Everest base camp and didn’t make it , and these types of things, to be able to have enough time to really, fully enjoy the experience, immerse yourself in it , is very vital in my opinion.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Awesome. What’s your next list? Your next country, your next
Giselle Vallejos: goal? Oh my goodness, I have so many. , I’m currently in Egypt and planning a motorcycle trip to the south, which is nervewracking because I’m just started learning how to drive motorcycle, and the traffic here is absolutely insane, but I’m going to do it this winter, hopefully in Sheila
Japan is on my sites as well. I know that’s a lot further away and a bit more expensive of a country to travel in, but I’ve always loved to, I would love to go there as well. So
Claus Lauter: cool. Okay. Where can people find out more about you and follow you?
Giselle Vallejos: so I actually have a YouTube channel and there’s a video that, , tells people about how to track to Everests base camp on a backpackers budget, but packed with information.
so they can follow me on YouTube at G Ventures. That’s G Ventures, all one word.
Claus Lauter: Cool. I will put a link in the show notes and you’re just one click away and people can follow and contact you there. Thanks. That was very insightful. I think a lot of people want to go to Mount Everest. It’s the highest mountain at least, so you should go there.
So thanks again for your time and talk soon.
Giselle Vallejos: Thank you so much. Have a great day. But,
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