Tour Review: World Expeditions Everest Base Camp Circuit.

World Expeditions come with almost 30 years experience in the adventure travel industry and are self proclaimed to be recognised in responsible tourism initiatives, which I must admit did catch my eye. After many hours of research over the net as well as a couple of information nights I decided to go with World Expeditions.

There are many travel companies that operate in Nepal that offer very similar itineraries and experiences with largely varying prices. So I wondered why the large differences in costs? World Ex is not the cheapest, in fact I would say that they are one of the more expensive ones.

The World Ex. EBC. Circuit at $2,690.00 (18days) sounds a little higher than the Intrepid equivalent at $2,425.00. (20 days). Now I am not going to do a comparison as I have not trekked with Intrepid, however I have toured with Intrepid through Tibet. The World Ex trek is a fully catered trek, this means you get supplied, breakfast, lunch and dinner almost every night, the only nights that food is not included are those in Kathmandu. Keeping your energy levels up whilst trekking is vitally important to both your health and your ability to enjoy the trek. World Ex food, to put it simply, is astoundingly good. We never went hungry and the Chief suprised us every day. What he was able to prepare, sometimes with nothing other than a camp stove and cooking on a tarp in a frozen and windy valley was amazing. One night we actually had a full on Italian night, with pizza and spaghetti. I understand that this is not a traditional Nepalese cuisine, and for some that in it self would stop you choosing a certain tour. I am all for and normally do eat, local cuisine, however we found whilst trekking, eating food that you are used to back home is a great way to ensure that you stay healthy and keep the dreaded travellers belly at bay. This is not something that you welcome when the best toilet around is a hole in the ground.

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Breakie Alfresco

When we landed in Nepal we were met at the Kathmandu International airport by a World Ex representative and assisted through the maze of people looking to help carry your baggage or drive you to where ever you need to go. The mini bus/ van is what you would expect in Nepal and we had no issues with it. If you are an adventure traveller you would not be disappointed by the lack of air-con, the seats were fine and I felt safe as the driver made his way through the chaos that is Kathmandu streets. The driver even stopped for us to take a few photo’s of some monkeys chasing us along a wall.

Once we arrived at the Raddisson Hotel, where all World Ex tours leave from we were greeted by super friendly door staff and I could say no bad things about the 5 star hotel. The place is super clean and tidy, the staff go out of there way to help you, the rooms are very spacious and there is free WiFi through out the hotel. They say that you are only aloud 1 free WiFi ticket, that last 24hrs but we were never questioned when we asked for a 2nd WiFi ticket. Kathmandu is known for its rolling blackouts that happen completely randomly at any time anywhere. However Raddisson is one of the only places that have a generator large enough to power the entire building so you only ever loose power for a matter of seconds before it is back on again. This is specially good when the power cuts out and you are in the lift heading up to your room.

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What a view? From the roof pool at the Radisson

The World Ex staff are suburb, our Tour Manager Prasant was out of this world helpful and a super bloke. He was so knowledgeable about all aspects of the Himalayas and was always ready to answer any question we could through at him. He was also brilliant in diagnosing one of our trekkers and organising her a Medi Vac out of Gokyo Ri. Even after the local doctor had said that she is fine and not to worry. Prasant had watched the trekker detereiate over the course of the day and decided to get her a helicopter out. We later found that she was diagnosed with HACE, High Altitude Cebral Oedema, essentially Prasant saved her life. This knowledge is worth ever cent you pay plus many many more. If you are like us and this is your first foray into trekking, it is worth going with a highly recognised tour group that has many years of experience. It may actually save your life.

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Day Tour, We visit the Boudhanath Stupa

The Kathmandu day tour, guide was a character, it was obvious he new the city well and was very passionate about his city, however none of us could understand a single word he said. He would talk so fast and with so much energy the story was lost. The World Ex hotel representative who is based at the Raddison to support World Ex customers is very good at his job, he can sort out anything you want from organising a fair cab price into the city, or to the post office on the other side of the city, to hotel transfers. However his customer service could do a with bit of work. He comes across grumpy and unwilling to help, which is actually the opposite to what he is. He can help and is really good at it, as the face of World Ex at the Raddisson this probably needs some attention.

The pre-deperture and post return assistance I believe to be what your would expect. World Ex offer information nights in most capital cities and these nights are great ways to easily ask information about the tour and get a better understanding of what you will need to get and do to prepare. World Ex do hand out a what to bring list, which is very comprehensive. However you pretty much need to leave most of the gear in Kathmandu due to the weight restriction of the planes that fly to Lukla. This did mean that we spent way more on gear than we needed and what we could actually take on the trek. I believe the list is most likely a generic list that they send out to all trekkers, a suggestion would be have a gear list suited for each trek. Any trek that flies through Lukla, you are restricted to 10kg in your trekking bag and 5kg in your day pack. The 10kg already includes nearly 6kg of supplied gear, including your sleeping bag, thermal liner and down jacket. So you are basically left with 4kg for 18days. Not a problem but the gear list that World Ex

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The World Expeditions bag

suggest weighed in somewhere around 15kg in itself. They do supply a really cool World Ex trekking bag that the porters carry and you are aloud to keep. The Hotel do supply a room to store your gear that you leave behind, however it is just a room where everyone stuff from all treks is kept and is not always locked, which is a little concerning, we did not have anything go missing and I have not heard of anyones stuff go missing.

The trek staff are some of the nicest and polite, hard working people I have ever met. You could imagine that in years gone passed porters were mistreated, leaving them to sleep in caves on the side of mountain in freezing weather and paid very poorly. This is now no longer the case, I am not blind and do believe these circumstances still happen. World Ex pay there staff according to the regulations set out by the “Trekking Agents Association of Nepal and the Labour Union of Nepal. They supply staff with three meals a day, accommodation mostly tents, appropriate foot ware, water proof clothing, warm garments, gloves, socks and sunglasses. Porters also receive Life and Income Protection Insurance, they have access to the same first aid equipment that the travellers have. The first aid kit and the PAC Portable Altitude Chamber were impressive to see and to realise that they were carried everywhere. One night the team gave us a demonstration of the PAC and explained to us how it works and what happens once you enter it.

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Portable Altitude Chamber

I would happily suggest World Expeditions to anyone thinking of trekking Nepal. I had such a great time and I felt safe in the knowledge that I was properly looked after by the World Ex team whilst in the mountains. The pre and post trek service I believe was what you would expect from a tour company. They support local people and the communities they pass through.

I have not received any form of payment for this review, it is the opinion of myself. I understand that others may have varying experiences of such tours, which I would love to hear about, so please feel free to comment below about your experiences with World Ex, or any tour company in the Himalayas.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane

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