Eco/Mushroom Tour of the Khumbu Region in the Himalayas

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IMT Announces
Eco/Mushroom Tour of the Khumbu Region in the Himalayas

Join IMT on June 18 – July 4, 2021 during peak mushroom season to explore the grandeur of the Khumbu region and Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal on a unique mycofloral and ecological trek to Everest Base Camp. We are now taking a limited number of reservations for this custom designed citizen/scientist Eco/Mushroom exploration into this Himalayan landscape. The Khumbu is home to rugged forested terrain, deep river-carved gorges and multiple climate zones which support dozens of rare and interesting mushrooms, plants and medicinal herbs. Shiva Devkota, Ph.D, Nepal’s foremost mycologist and conservation biologist, will provide IMT with his experienced insight and guiding into the mycology and biodiversity of the region.

The Khumbu is situated in the heart of the Himalayan Mountain arc which runs for over 2,414 kilometers through the center of the Eurasian continent. Our trek passes through localized microclimates which display an abundant fungal and floral diversity. Beginning in the forested temperate region surrounding Lukla, we trek through forests of Birch, Juniper, Blue and Himalayan Pine, Bamboo and Rhododendron. As we steadily gain elevation, we pass through sub-alpine and alpine ecosystems culminating above tree-line at Everest Base Camp. On most days of the trek, we will have an opportunity to foray for fungi and lichen guided by Dr. Devkota. This region is also home to rare and endangered mammals such as Musk Deer, Himalayan Bear, Tibetan Wolf, Snow Leopard and over 118 bird species. Our trek will include a visit to the Buddhist monastery at Tenboche, a World Heritage Site.

During the trek, our evenings will be spent learning about the fungi we’ve found during our forays, and about the ecological and evolutionary processes at work in this mountainous region.

In-country travel will be by private helicopter which provides greater safety, comfort and convenience.

Trek size is limited to 12 clients. Prior mushroom experience is not required but certainly welcome.

17 day all inclusive trek cost of $5,900 includes

  • Kathmandu airport pickup and drop-off
  • 3 nights at 4-star Kathmandu Hotel with breakfast
  • Kathmandu City Tour
  • Private in-country helicopter transportation from Kathmandu to Lukla and return to Kathmandu from Phortse
  • Accommodations in Tea House Lodges while on trek
  • All meals, beverages outside of Kathmandu
  • Licensed experienced Sherpa Guides
  • IMT Trekking Duffle for each client
  • Porters
  • Park fees and permits
  • Attendance at Dumji Sherpa Festival in Namche Basaar
  • Airport pick up and drop off

Not Included in Trip Cost

  • Items of a personal nature (personal trekking gear, telephone calls, alcohol, laundry, etc.)
  • Airfare to and from Kathmandu
  • 30-day Nepal tourist visa
  • Sherpa guide/porter gratuities
  • Non-scheduled meals and accommodations while in Kathmandu
  • Trip cancellation insurance (required)
  • Medical rescue insurance (required)
  • Single room occupancy available (additional $240)

Flexible Change Policy

CANCELLATION IN THE EVENT OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS DUE TO COVID-19

In the event there exist Government imposed restrictions, quarantines or
other circumstances that prevent travel due to COVID-19 to the start of the
trek, IMT offers you two options:

Option A) Move your trek forward a year free of charge and incur no fees.

or

Option B) Receive a full refund, minus administrative and out of pocket
expenses of $500 incurred by IMT

Trip Info

March 4, 2021

Dear IMT Mushroom/EBC Trekkers:

I am pleased to welcome you to IMT’s June 16-July 2, 2021 Mushroom Trek to Everest Base Camp. Please note the change of date. The new start date is June 16. This date will allow us sufficient time for a day tour of Kathmandu as well as the extra days for Jeep travel into the Solumkhumbu and onto Namche in time for the holiday of Dumji.

I am so very excited about the planned itinerary, our trek goals and the make-up of our group. I am confident this Trek will provide an inspiring and exciting adventure for you as well as an opportunity to explore the funga and ecology of the Khumbu region and Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park. This letter will address a lot of issues and details concerning the trek, so please review carefully. This letter will be loaded onto the IMT website for easy reference: www.imt-nepal.com.

First and foremost, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about your gear, training, inoculations, travel, or trekking logistics. My mobile phone number is 202-255-1191 and my email address is: rsilber@imt-nepal.com.

The most pressing and still uncertain logistical issue concerns Nepal’s entry protocols regarding Covid-19. We continue to closely monitor the situation in Kathmandu and will report back to everyone concerning all developments. We have been informed that our collective status as vaccinated travelers will not require being quarantined in Kathmandu. Please make sure you bring a copy of your documentation demonstrating you have been fully inoculated against the SARS—CoV-2 virus. I will let you know if there are any electronic apps which will be used to identify you as a vaccinated traveler.

The itinerary has changed from that set out in the IMT website. To avoid possible departure delays occasioned by uncertain weather, we will be traveling by private Jeep from Kathmandu into the Solu or “mid hills” region of Solukhumbu. This is the traditional approach to the Everest region and will provide additional time for acclimatization and allow us to experience a region of Nepal which most trekkers to EBC never see. We also anticipate departing Kathmandu one on June 18 and will tour Kathmandu on June 17. This itinerary allows us to arrive in Namche Bazar in time for the Buddhist Festival of Dumji.

1) PRE-TRIP PREPARATION AND TRAVEL

DEPOSITS/TREK PAYMENT: If you have not done so already, please go to the IMT website and click on “Resources” then select “Trek Payment” to pay your remaining balance due. I sent each of you an invoice. Please let me know if you have any difficulties using the STRIPE pay-window on IMT’s website. If you wish to electronically wire-transfer the funds to IMT, please contact me for instructions.

CANCELLATION IN THE EVENT OF GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS DUE TO COVID-19: As mentioned above, the protocols and circumstances involving travel to Nepal are changing as more Covid-19 vaccine becomes available worldwide. However, in the event there exist Government imposed restrictions, quarantines or other circumstances that prevent travel due to COVID-19 to the start of the trek, IMT offers you two options:
Option A) Move your trek forward a year free of charge and incur no fees.
Option B) Receive a full refund, minus administrative and out of pocket expenses of $500 incurred by IMT.

NEPAL ENTRY PROTOCOL: These protocols are changing, and we will keep everyone informed as we get closer to our departure date. I have obtained your 30-day tourist visas and they are affixed to your passports which have been returned to you.

FLIGHT INFORMATION: Please book your travel with our travel agent Pirjo Dehart at CTT Destinations. She and her staff are experienced in arranging travel to and from Nepal from both coasts. Please contact her at 800-909-6647 or email: pirjo.dehart@CTTDestinations.com.

ITINERARY: I will send you an updated itinerary as soon as all the final arrangements are in place.

PHOTO FOR PERMITS: Please email us one passport type headshot photo of your head/shoulders (no hat or sunglasses, neutral background) taken with your digital camera or phone.

TRAINING: Trekking in Nepal to EBC should be a pleasurable experience, but you need to be in excellent shape. Your focus should be in building cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and stamina. How you individually get there is up to you but we’re here to help suggest training regimens which will prepare you for this trek. We recommend working with a trainer, at least initially to develop the skills around the gym to be effective. We also recommend lots of walking, hiking, bicycling, and yoga to build core strength and endurance.

BAGGAGE: We recommend you use your daypack as a carry-on and then check one rolling suitcase. We will provide you with an IMT duffel which you will use on the trek and is yours to take home. Please bring enough clothing in your carry-on in the event your bag is delayed. Please don’t forget your passport, cash and whatever medications you require during your travel. We also recommend you take a photograph of your passport and vaccination documentation with your phone, so you’ll have a record of that in the event of loss. Please check your luggage from your departing airport all the way through to Kathmandu. We suggest using TSA approved locks to secure your luggage so that they can be opened if necessary, by airport security.

EXTRA MONEY TO BRING: How much additional cash to bring is an individual decision, but we suggest that you have at least $800 to spend for gifts, tips for your guides and porters and any additional meals outside of the itinerary. In Kathmandu you can use your credit card, and a debit card to obtain rupees. It is difficult to change money once the trek starts.

IMT’s TIP POLICY: We will collect in U.S. currency a tip pool and ask IMT’s clients to each contribute $200. We will collect this in Kathmandu and distribute this after the trip on behalf of the team as a thank you gift to the people who will be helping us along the way. This will include our Sherpa guides, porters, and hotel staff. As I mentioned, you may also wish to provide an additional tip to your guides, porters, drivers and hotel personnel if you so choose.

TRAVEL AND MEDICAL EVACUATION INSURANCE: Everyone must purchase trip cancellation and medical evacuation coverage. Please contact Global Rescue, 617-459-4200. Let them know you are an IMT client as they are familiar with our insurance requirements.

IMMUNIZATION CHECKLIST: Along with your Covid-19 vaccination, please consult your physician or check the Center for Disease Control Website at www.cdc.gov . Here are our suggestions:
⦁ Tetanus-Diphtheria – You should already have. Do you need a booster?
⦁ Polio -You should already have. Do you need a booster?
⦁ MMR -You should already have. Do you need a booster?
⦁ Meningitis – Recommended. Consult your physician.
⦁ Hepatitis A – Recommended. Consult your physician.
⦁ Hepatitis B – Recommended. Consult your physician.
⦁ Typhoid – Recommended. The tablet form, Vivotif, is good for five years.
⦁ Rabies – Recommended. Consult your physician.

ALTITUDE ILLNESS: Here is a link to an excellent article published by the Wilderness Medical Society with updated Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Altitude Illness. We suggest you review this article and share this with your physician to ensure that he or she is familiar with current protocols.

REQUIRED MEDICATIONS: YOU SHOULD BRING THE FOLLOWING
1) Antibiotic for upper respiratory problems (Zithromax Z-Pak); 2) Antibiotic for GI problems (Cipro and/or Z-Pak); 3) Diamox (acetazolamide) for acclimatization (125 mg tabs recommended, enough for a week); 4) a few Sleeping pills for the first few days of jet lag; 6) Asthma medication, if any history for example an Advair inhaler – many people find this useful for “Khumbu Cough” bronchitis/irritation which can ruin your expedition and prevent you from continuing ; 7) nifedipine (for pulmonary edema, the 30 mg time release x 2 tablets) and 8) dexamethasone (for cerebral edema, 4 mg x 10 tablets).

Non-prescription medicines we strongly recommend include Imodium for diarrhea; Pepto bismol, throat lozenges, wet wipes and personal body wipes, plenty of hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

CLOTHING AND TREKKING GEAR: It is important that you understand the trip logistics, clothing and gear requirements for the trek. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Please review the clothing and trekking equipment list on IMT’s website and understand the purpose of each item. Please check in with www.Backcountry.com, and ask for our “gear head” Rob Lindsen. For your convenience, please click on https://www.backcountry.com/fitting-room?id=1418737 and this will show you examples of the clothing and equipment on IMT’s list. If you wish to speak to Rob directly, call 801.204.4691 Mon-Fri, 9am – 4pm MST.

COSTS INCLUDED IN TRIP FEE: Transfers for international flights airport-hotel-airport, transfers for domestic flights hotel-airport-hotel, Jeep travel, Hotel in Kathmandu for stated itinerary, all permit fees, Professional Mycologist, guides, porters, helicopter flight including 20kg per person, all food, emergency O2.

COSTS NOT INCLUDED IN TRIP FEE: Flights from home to and from Kathmandu. Travel expenses and hotels before or after the stated itinerary (we can assist you making reservations if you want to stay longer), personal gear, excess baggage charges, airport taxes and visas, tips for your guides and porters, (see, IMT’s Tip Policy) personal items and alcoholic beverages, costs incurred because of delays or events beyond the control of IMT, insurance policies (medical evacuation, trip interruption and cancellation).

2) ENTRY PROTOCOLS FOR TREKKING IN NEPAL

KATHMANDU ENTRY AND VISA: You now have your 30-day tourist visa which was pasted in your passport. We will update you about the protocols for arrival. Remember to carry a ballpoint pen and some cash. When you go through customs, they may x-ray all your hand luggage and your other luggage. We will take care of any tips for your greeters and luggage wranglers at the airport upon arrival, so you do not have to pay them any money. Your one responsibility is to show up healthy and with your bags. We will find you when you emerge with your luggage. Please also look for our International Mountain Trekking banner. Namaste, Welcome to Kathmandu!

KATHMANDU HOTEL: We have hotel reservations at the Kathmandu Guest House. This is a beautiful, historic and perfectly situated hotel in Thamel, a fun touristy part of Kathmandu. For those of you arriving earlier, we can make reservations for you if you wish. Please let us know. A terrific breakfast is included each morning, which will be a good chance to get together for a meeting with your fellow trek mates and mycophiles. You are responsible for all incidental charges to your room, including other meals, beverages, phone calls, and the like and must clear these charges before we leave the hotel to start our trek.

KATHMANDU PACKING: While on the trek, you will leave your extra clothing and belongings in your rolling suitcase at the hotel, including your street/travel items that will not be needed until you return to Kathmandu. You will transfer your trekking clothes and gear to the IMT provided duffle that you’ll use on the trek. The maximum weight allowed for the helicopter is 15 kg (33 pounds) for your trekking duffle bag and 5 kg (11 pounds) for your trekking backpack. We will meet with each of you at the hotel to make sure you have all the right clothing and gear and to make sure you’re not bringing unnecessary items.

JEEP AND HELICOPTER TRAVEL: We are traveling during the rainy season in Nepal (when the mushrooms are up) and this weather pattern can occasion delays to our schedule. This is the main reason we are travelling from Kathmandu by Jeep into the Solukhumbu and by helicopter back from the village of Phortse to minimize disruption to our schedule. But delays due to weather can occur, and we simply ask that everyone be understanding and as cool as possible if that should happen.

END OF THE TRIP LOGISTICS: When we return to Kathmandu from Phortse, we will transport you back to the Kathmandu Guest House and we will have room reservations for you. IMT will cover the cost of your room for that last night on July 1, 2021. We plan on having a celebratory dinner with everyone at The Third Eye, a terrific Indian restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. When you are ready to depart Kathmandu, we will arrange transportation to the airport for you. We also suggest you hold onto a few hundred rupees for the airport so you can buy a drink in the departure lounge and for tips for the baggage porters at the airport.

PASSPORT SECURITY and TRAVEL: Many trekkers choose to leave their passports along with your luggage at the Kathmandu Guest House rather than take them on the trek. This is up to you, and we are confident that your belongings will remain safe and secure at the hotel while you are on the trek to Everest Base Camp. We recommend you carry a photocopy of your passport on the trek (and take a photo with your phone so you have a backup). Please make sure you have the contact information for your travel agent or airline in case you need to email or call to make any changes.

3) TREKKING LOGISTICS AND INFORMATION

ACCLIMATIZATION AND HEALTH: We anticipate that you will not have difficulty with acclimatization. We have an itinerary and proven schedule which will enable you to acclimatize successfully. It is important that you pay attention to personal hygiene and strongly recommend that before meals, wash your hands with soap and water followed by antibacterial hand sanitizer. We also recommend bringing wet wipes and body wipes as showers are few and far between on the trek. We also recommend supplementing your fluid intake with one of the many energy and endurance products such as those available from Hammer Nutrition. On the trek you can take Diamox (acetazolamide) if you want, but we do not generally recommend it unless you are symptomatic for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Current protocol is 125mg in the morning and 125 mg in the evening (break a 250mg tab in half), starting when you begin to experience symptoms. Taking the smallest possible dose is best to avoid side effects, dehydration and tingling in your extremities. We recommend 600-800 mg Ibuprofen prophylactically every 6 hours and staying well hydrated as a good overall strategy for handling the higher elevation.

It would not be unusual for you to get a cold or some travelers’ diarrhea at some point on the trip. The combination of travel in a developing country along with new foods, other trekkers, mountain lodges etc. will increase the risk to you of getting sick. Should this occur, the likelihood is that you will recover fully within a few days without having to take medications. Current protocol for persistent diarrhea (≥3x days) is to start taking Cipro, but if there is no improvement after 24 hours, then start on the Zithromycin (Z-Pak). The Z-Pak also works well for bronchitis ailments, so make sure you have a course or two of Zithromycin.

FOOD & DRINKING WATER: All meals on the trek are provided. You should bring some additional snack foods and energy bars that you know you will enjoy eating. There are small grocery stores nearby the Kathmandu Guest House that sell all manner of snack foods.

MEDICAL SUPPORT: There is a small hospital in Lukla with limited capability. In case of any severe issue, we would call in a rescue helicopter for evacuation to Kathmandu where there is higher quality medical service available. It is important that you have your rescue insurance and personal health insurance information with you.

POWER AND INTERNET: All the tea-house lodges where we are staying will have solar power available for charging your phone (normally at a rate of a couple hundred rupees/hour). Internet scratch cards are available in Namche Bazaar which you can then use for wi-fi access with your smart phone. You may want to bring a small solar power charger. We recommend GOALZERO’s Nomad 5 solar panel: https://www.goalzero.com/shop/solar-panels/nomad-5-solar-panel/.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help.

Sincerely,
Richard F. Silber, Executive Director
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN TREKKING, INC.

Interested In Participating?

If you are interested in participating in this Trek and to receive additional detailed information, please email International Mountain Trekking at: info@imt-nepal.com or call us at 202-255-1191. Thank you.

Mushroom Trek Itinerary

June 18 – July 4, 2021

 

Day 1

Arrive Kathmandu

After clearing customs and gathering your duffle, you will be met by your IMT guides and our Kathmandu support team. Transfer to Kathmandu Guest House. (This is the same hotel the Beatles and George Harrison stayed in when they visited Kathmandu.) It is located in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu’s most vibrant and exciting neighborhood. Overnight at Kathmandu Guest House.

Day 2

After breakfast at the hotel, we will review your gear and clothing. After your gear check, we will take a sightseeing tour of Kathmandu with visits to various historic and cultural sites such as: Basantapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath Temple (Monkey Temple), Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, and Bouddhanath Stupa. At each stop you will learn the history and significance of these Buddhist and Hindu sacred sites. After lunch we return to Kathmandu Guest House to rest up. Overnight.

Day 3

Helicopter to Lukla (2866m) trek to Phakding. The first day of trekking of approximately 4 hours is quite relaxing, descending to the Dudh Kosi river that flows from the Himalaya’s highest peaks. We will take a lunch break along the way. The trail meanders around fields of potatoes and buckwheat and passes through villages until we arrive at Phakding (2652m) and overnight at a tea house.

Day 4

Namche Bazaar

Another active day of trekking as we cross and re-cross the thundering Dudh Kosi on suspension bridges and through forests of Himalayan pine to Monjo and the entrance to Sagarmartha Park. We continue up the long hill to Namche (3440m). While in Namche we will be able to experience the amazing Buddhist festival of Dumji. Overnight in Namche.

Day 5

Easy acclimatization morning in Namche with an afternoon hike and mushroom foray. Overnight in Namche.

Day 6

Trek to Khunde. Short trek to the village of Khunde and mushroom foray. Overnight in Khunde.

Day 7

Acclimatization day, trek to Khumjung and mushroom foray. Overnight in Khumjung.

Day 8

Trek to Tengboche with visit to monastery and puja ceremony with Rinpoche. Mushroom foray. Overnight in Tengboche.

Day 9

Trek to Dingboche. Mushroom foray. Overnight in Dingboche.

Day 10

Acclimatization hike. Overnight in Dingboche.

Day 11

Trek to Lobuche. The trail leads into a wide grassland and then continues upwards to a bridge to Thukla. Then up to Lobuche pass and into Lobuche approximately 5 hours. (4,930 m). Overnight in Lobuche.

Day 12

After breakfast, we will continue to gain altitude and trek to Gorakshep with views of the Khumbu glacier and the world’s highest mountains. After arriving at Gorakshep, and a short break, we head to Everest Base Camp. Towering overhead will be views of Mt. Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, Khumbutse. Overnight in Gorakshep.

Day 13

Early in the morning, and weather permitting, we will hike up to Kala Patthar. From Kala Patthar there are spectacular 360-degree views of the world’s highest peaks along with Khumbu Glacier. Hike back down to Gorakshep and then descend to Pheriche. Overnight in Pheriche.

Day 14

Trek to Pangboche. Overnight.

Day 15:

Trek to Phortse. Visit the Alex Lowe Khumbu Climbing Center. Mushroom foray. Dinner at the homes of our friends in Phortse. Overnight.

Day 16:

Helicopter to Kathmandu from Phortse and transfer back to Kathmandu Guest House. Overnight.

Day 17:

Transport to Tribhuvan Airport and home.