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Battle of the Treks

Four of our experienced Product team, past and present, go head to head in the Battle of the Treks.

Dan, Walking & Trekking Programme Manager, extols the virtues of trekking to Everest Base Camp, Nick, ex-guide and Leader Manager, zig zags up Kili, Mark, also an ex-Exodus guide and now our Operator in the Alps, talks about the Mont Blanc Circuit, while Jim, Exodus' Head of Product, is drawn to Peru's inspiring Inca Trail.

Click on each of the questions from Round Two to expand (or collapse) for the answer from our four team members mentioned above

Round One: Walk in the park or the toughest thing I've done?


High camp at Phuyupatamarca, Inca Trail


Jim
The Inca Trail


Everest and prayer flags


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Summit of Kilimanjaro


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Chamois, Mont Blanc


Mark
Mont Blanc

A bit of both, the climb to Dead Woman’s Pass, at over 4200m is tough, but the rest of the trek is on a beautiful undulating trail. The hard bit is the size of he steps - especially if you have short legs.

Score: 3

Most days are pretty easy, particularly on the way up as the main goal is to give your body time to acclimitise. There's no denying that Base Camp day is on the tough side though, with a 9-hour slog on glacial morraine there and back - all above 5000m.

Score: 5

Up until summit day things are tough but managable; Kili is one of the world's most accessible high summits. For the summit you need to grit your teeth as it will probably be the most physical thing you have done, so just go for it!

Score: 5

This might not be the toughest trek you have ever done in your life but it is still fairly strenuous. Most days we climb around 1000 metres to a col and then descend a similar amount. After the two weeks are up you'll have clocked 100 miles and 10,000 metres of ascent and descent.

Score: 3

Round Two: Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?


Machu Picchu from near the Sun Gate on the Inca Trail


Jim
The Inca Trail


Thyangboche Monastery, Everest region, Nepal


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Climber on summit of Kilimanjaro


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Les Praz village


Mark
Mont Blanc

It’s not just the rewards of reaching the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, but the whole trek. The ruins en-route at Runquracay, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayña all add to the interest of the trek. Definitely one for the active culture vulture.

Score: 4

Both! It's Nepal, so history and temples are scattered along the paths, but you're never allowed to forget that these are the world's highest peaks. The mountaineering equipment heading up on yaks to supply summit teams keep that adrenaline high.

Score: 5

Standing on the highest point in Africa at 5895m is all about the adrenaline rush. Having said that, there’s a lot of history that goes with the mountain. Talk to your guides and porters; they have a thousand stories to tell.

Score: 3

France, Switzerland and Italy; three countries, three cultures and three different cuisines all in two weeks. The
Mont Blanc Circuit definitely scores high here.

Score: 3

Round Three: Gourmet meals or dehydrated food sachets?


Chowing down on the Inca Trail


Jim
The Inca Trail


Breakfast in the Himalaya


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Lunch laid out, Kilimanjaro


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


European picnic selection


Mark
Mont Blanc

Plentiful portions of good quality, freshly prepared food - cooked breakfasts and three course camping dinners. At the end of the trek there’s always the option to try the local speciality, Guinea Pig!

Score: 4

Parts of this trek are 3 weeks walk from the nearest roadhead (OK, perhaps 2 weeks for a sherpa!), so whilst the food is always filling and tasty, the variety is not the greatest - interchange egg and vegetables with rice and noodles, add in the occasional Dhal Baat and you get the idea.

Score: 3

We have a table cloth in the mess tent but no silver service, the food is plentiful and a good balance. Try the Uji (Tanzanian porridge) for breakfast to give you the start to the day you need, or Ugali (cornmeal), an aquired taste the porters wolf down.

Score: 4

Pizzas the size of small countries, homemade apple strudel and myrtille tart with your morning coffee, hot chocolate you have to eat with a spoon! Let our feedback do the talking from the 2008 season 99% of guests said the food was excellent or good.

Score: 5

Round Four: Best nightlife?


Phuyupatamarca ruins, Inca Trail


Jim
The Inca Trail


Namche Bazaar


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Approaching the summit of Kili in the early hours of the morning


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Casino, Chamonix


Mark
Mont Blanc

Without question, Phuyupatamarca! One of the most beautiful locations I have ever stayed in - expansive views, a magnificent sunset, quiet location and the knowledge that tomorrow you’ll get you first view of Machu Picchu. Exquisite.

Score: 3

Namche Bazaar, clinging to the top of forested cliffs, is the central town of the sherpa region. It buzzes with trade, trekkers and mountaineering tales. Oh, and a few bars, pool tables and high-altitude hangovers.

Score: 4

Make sure you take a moment to look at the stars as you can see one half of the northern sky, and one half of the southern sky. If you fancy a beer wait till Horombo hut on the way down, if you're still awake after the long summit day.

Score: 2

To be fair after a full walking day most people just want to share a carafe of local plonk and chat about their day, although it has been known for the group to descend en masse to the nightclub for a 'bop' on the last night in Chamonix!

Score: 3

Round Five: Any flora and fauna?


Llamas and Machu Picchu


Jim
The Inca Trail


Himalayan Tahr, Nepal


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Giraffe silhouetted in sunset


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Views of the Mont Blanc Massif with Alpenrose in the foreground


Mark
Mont Blanc

Not what it’s famed for, but you won’t be disappointed. The trail passes through a number of distinct climatic zones and those who stop to take it all in will spot some of the many species of orchid (over 400 have been recorded) along the trail. For birders you should spot Condors soaring high overhead, perhaps the giant hummingbird, jays, nightjars or the national bird of Peru, the Andean Cock of the Rock.

Score: 4

You're here for mountains! Not just any mountains, but Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Makalu! What are you doing looking at the ground? OK, if you must look down below the staggering summits, there are plenty of eagles, a few deer and some rodents. Now look back at the mountains!

Score: 3

It is a walk through four seasons in four days. You will go from lower slopes on the mountain that are heavily cultivated, through to the ice cap (which surprisingly has lichens which are amongst the oldest living things on earth). For the lucky you may spot evidence of lion (pug marks), elephant, buffalo, eland or glimpse the Black & White Colobus monkey.

Score: 4

Meadows carpeted with colourful wild flowers: Alpenrose, orchids, gentians and primulas just to name a few. In September the bilberries arrive and the hillsides turn a shimmering red. Look out for herds of Chamois playing on snow patches, and Ibex enjoying the afternoon sun and having a scratch with their metre-long horns. If you hear a loud whistle there are marmots about and in late summer you might see the young cubs playing by their burrows.

Score: 5

Round Six: Your favourite memory? Kodak moment?


Fantastic views at Machu Picchu


Jim
The Inca Trail


Lone trekker gazing over peaks and clouds, Himalaya


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Sunrise from summit of Kilimanjaro


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Viewing the Alps


Mark
Mont Blanc

There is a spot, just after you pass Sayajmarca, where you are on a high flat trail, the walking is easy, you have stunning views of the railway far below and you can see, roughly, the point where the sun gate sits.

Score: 4

OK - I'm going to have to take two: having a chat with Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Base Camp whilst he prepared for his summit attempt is probably my most shared moment, but the one I go back to the most is sitting on top of Kala Pattar and watching avalanches rumble down the world's highest peaks.

Score: 5

Not trying to outdo Dan, I have picked two as well: the first in the gardens of our hotel coming directly from the summit with Chris Bonnington being introduced by my family doctor. I just wished I had had a chance to shave and wash after 6 days on the mountain. Then on the summit the horizon is visible so far in either direction that the curvature of the Earth can be clearly seen.

Score: 5

The stunning, no awe-inspiring, view of Mont Blanc from the Bellachat refuge on the final day. At 4810m, Mont Blanc is just across the valley and on a clear day it's possible to spot climbers on the summit. Up, down, left and right, this mammoth mountain, the highest in Western Europe, dominates the view. Tumbling glaciers, gaping crevasses and sharp needles of rock all add to its grandeur with their own individuality.

Score: 5

And the Winner is:


Ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru


Jim
The Inca Trail


Leap of joy in the Himalaya


Dan
Everest Base Camp


Kilimanjaro campsite


Nick
Kili Rongai Route


Ibex with views of Mont Blanc


Mark
Mont Blanc

Total Score: 22

Total Score: 25
The Winner!

Total Score: 23

Total Score: 24

Did we get it right?
Do you think Everest Base Camp should have won our ‘Battle of the Treks'? Or have you walked one of the treks or simply have an opinion? Then click here to contribute to the battle!'

Footnote: Get fit for battle

A little fitness training prior to your trek is always beneficial. If you can, do a few long hill walks. Failing that, train on your stairs at home or in the office. Once on trek, don’t try to go too fast and make sure you drink plenty of water, especially when you are at altitude.

Always ensure that you have comfortable walking boots and socks. A pair of walking poles can help over rough terrain and take some of the strain off your knees.

Forum Entry; Battle of the treks - Did we get it right?

 

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