A family with two young children are spending their lockdown in the Nepalese mountains – but still hoping to complete a trek to Everest base camp.
Julie and Kris Smith set off on a round-the-world-trip ten months ago with their children Jacob, aged four, and Erihn, aged nine.
The adventurous parents had planned a trip to Everest base camp until lockdown was introduced in Nepal on March 26, when they were in the mountain area of Pakhepani in the Solukhumbu region.
They left Kathmandu on March 18, unaware that Nepal would be going into lockdown – but two days into the trek, when they arrived at a small little village, Ringmu, they found out flights and long distance transport was being cancelled.
On March 25, when they arrived at Pakhepani, they were told the lockdown would be brought in.
They had the option of staying in Kathmandu or pushing on with their trek, and decided it would be safer in the less densely populated Himalayas.
Local police granted them permission to walk to their current location Lukla, nine days after lockdown was implemented.
But they have been living in lockdown in a freezing cold hotel complex where they have to sleep with their clothes on under two duvets to keep warm, and have had only three hot showers in four weeks.
And the children have only a pencil and notebook for entertainment as all their belongings are in Kathmandu.
Despite the hardships, Julie, 46, and Kris, 41, describe themselves as ‘eternal optimists’ – and even in Lukla, the remote town they are staying in, they have managed to be tested for Covid-19 which fortunately came back negative.
Julie said: “We’ve been in the hotel for a month.
“The locals seem to carry on as usual.
“There’s rules for us and rules for them, people are looking out for us.
“There’s been nothing but positive vibes all the time.
“We have been staying in basic accomodation and we left all our electronics and belongings in Kathmandu.
“We even left a copy of Harry Potter.
“We’ve got basic pencils and notepads, which are like a godsend,
“The children have learnt to appreciate what they have got.”
Julie added: “When we started the trek, we knew the virus was spreading and it was getting worse.
“We thought ‘we are in a country where the virus is quite low’.
“We didn’t go into it blind.
“We were aware that if we have to be anywhere in the world, maybe it is not a bad place to be.
“The locals were saying ‘it is better to be here than Kathmandu’.
“There’s no way you can drive into where we are, they are not going to have more people coming in.”
Blood tests were carried out showing they were all negative for Covid-19 and the family, from Aberdeen, have certificates to prove it.
But coronavirus is not the only thing the family have to account for in their travel plans.
Kris added: “The monsoon rains are coming, we probably have another three weeks before the monsoons hit.”
Julie said: “If the monsoons come, we may have a ten-day walk out.
“We are eternal optimists.”
And the parents said their children were nonplussed by the situation.
Kris added: “The kids have loved it, they are better at dealing with things than us.
“I’m sure it will all work out in the long run.”
Julie said: “They are very resilient. We have got beautiful views but we are in the same position as everyone else.
“We have limited food and resources.”
They are having to take shelter from the cold around a cast iron stove, and are forced to scrub their clothes and wash in tubs to keep clean, and the children have started doing their own laundry.
Kris said: “We have got to try and get into two duvets with all our clothes on.
“The showers don’t usually work and we have had three hot showers in four weeks.”
Kris was working as an electrical engineer for an oil and gas company before they set off on the trip, while Julie worked in a law firm before they gave up their routine to travel the world.
They rented out their house and used their savings to fulfil their dream.
Julie said: “We have had a good lifestyle but we didn’t get to see the children much because we were always working.
“We have had such a good time and we don’t want to go home.
“We want to continue if it’s safe.
“Now we are in lockdown, we can think about these things more.
“It gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we are in life.”
Kris added: “There are people in much worse situations. “
They are documenting their trip using the social media name @clanwanderer