Tibet, Shigatse: After a silent and sleepy breakfast in the hotel, we set off for the second day of the road trip to the Everest Base Camp.
Six people on the road, surrounded by a rough landscape. We barely met another car on the way. The road to the camp is unmade for long sections, it took us nearly 8 hours to cover 350 km.
We had time to talk while our awesome driver was doing all the job.
The Tibetan guide, Gyaltsen, shared tales and adventures from his early life and we emphasized a lot. Sometimes we got off the van and stretched our legs: just desert rocks and mountains. On the way to the EBC, we stopped and visited a monastery apparently inhabited by two monks only. They were reserved and shy but allowed us to visit the halls, which were decorated with paintings and sculptures, and to climb to the rooftop to look at the view.
ARRIVAL AT THE EVEREST BASE CAMP
We went ahead with our road trip. After a few hours in the car, I started feeling a bit dehydrated, probably because of the altitude. We spotted some wildlife in the desolated landscape.
When we arrived at EBC an hour or so before the sunset we all felt tired. It was quite windy. We took some time to familiarize myself with the camp and the beautifully colored tent assigned to us, run by a girl and her mother. The camp was busy with people.
I realized I didn’t bring enough warm clothes. I had just shirts and sweaters and luckily a woolen hat, gloves, and Tibetan style pants that I had bought at a souvenir shop in Lhasa. Tibetan summer can be very cold!
I was happy: me, in a Tibetan camp, at about 5200 meters.
But there wasn’t enough time to rest on thoughts. We drank tea in the tent, visited the bathroom box that was shared by all the camp dwellers, and after we took a walk to see Mount Everest and Rongbuk Monastery.
We managed to gaze at the mountain while the snow was made pink by the sunset light.
Rongbuk Monastery is the highest monastery in the world. The Lama welcomed us in a red winter coat. He showed us the cave where it is said that Padmasambhava reached enlightenment. Different from others monasteries in Lhasa, photos were allowed and free. I decided to leave my camera outside the sacred cave. I just felt so grateful to be there.
SPENDING THE NIGHT AT THE EVEREST BASE CAMP
We had a light dinner and lay down for early sleep on the beds that covered the whole perimeter of the tent and consisted in wooden benches with mattresses on them
Before switching off the light, the tent owner came and put even more thick blankets upon each of us, tucking them in. I think I was sleeping with 5 or 6 blankets, a hat, and gloves on, and still felt a little bit cold.
In the middle of the night, I woke up with a terrible headache. I emerged from the sea of blankets and tried to stand. The guide heard me, and he and got up too. He suggested taking the medicine to beat the altitude sickness. I couldn’t see anything because there was no light. I try to avoid pills in general, but I trusted the Tibetan guide very much. He whispered in my hears that the headache could turn into a fever and I still had more days to spend traveling. So I decided to swallow the pill, had a big glass of water, and fell asleep again. The morning after I was feeling absolutely well. Also, I was so positively surprised that the guide was sleeping with an eye open, checking constantly on us!
We took another walk to see Mount Everest that morning. The colors changed a lot. I felt so cold, again.
We took off early. We drove along a young Brahmaputra, close to the glacier where the river is born, directed to Tashi Lunpo Monastery, a place of magical atmosphere built by the 1ast Dalai Lama Gedun Drup in 1447, which later became the seat of the Panchen Lama lineages. Would you like to see more photos of our road trip to Tibet? Find them in this post!