Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world and trekking to the base camp is no easy feat either. Trekking to Everest Base Camp takes anywhere from 9 to 15 days depending on your pace and how well you acclimatize. In this article I will cover the following:
Every experience trekking in the Himalayas is going to be different, especially because the changing seasons can provide different conditions throughout the year. I will do my best to highlight this but for the most part, my tips will relate to my trek which was completed in June 2017.
If you aren’t sure yet whether 2 weeks of trekking is worth it. Click below to view my 40 favorite photos from the trip. I promise your mind will be blown.
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TREKKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOUR AND A GUIDE
Trekking to Everest Base Camp can be done without a guide although I suggest hiring one.
Here are 3 reasons why:
- Directions. The route isn’t incredibly hard to follow but there are many twists and turns I would have missed had I not had a guide. I assume in peak season you can just follow the crowd but in low season you would not a map, compass and a good sense of direction if you went alone.
- A guide is relatively cheap to hire. Included in your package will be a qualified guide. However, in your package is also food, accommodation, flights etc. The guide him or herself will only cost $10-15 per day.
- Things go wrong. My guide helped me through food poisoning, altitude sickness and was as much a nurse as a guide. I rarely get sick at normal heights but altitude sickness is uncontrollable. I am pretty fit and it still smashed me hard. You can go it alone but it’s comforting to have a guide reassuring you it will be fine. He had seen it all before so his calm made me feel better about feeling sick for four days straight.
Now if you have decided to go alone good luck I wish you the best. If you think you will get a guide like the majority of people trekking to Everest Base Camp, you have a lot of options and things to consider.
Pictured below is a legend and someone who became a good friend. When I left Nepal he waited at the bus stop for two hours with me and gave me a Nepali scarf as a gift. Oh, he was also my trekking guide. Lapsang Tamang.
Group or solo? How many days will it take you? Do you need a porter to carry your bag? Will you go with a big well-known company?
I suggest going with a small group of friends. We saw a few big groups and it looked like a Contiki tour compared to the experience I had with just myself and my guide. Only get a porter if you really need it. You should be able to carry your bag for 4-5 hours of trekking each day.
I was approached on the streets of Kathmandu by a man called Sanu from Hidden Discovery Trek & Expedition. I went for a chai tea with him (I’m friendly like that with strangers). I knew he was trying to sell me a tour but that’s how it works. Wine and dine. He offered me 12 days for $900 USD, which was $300 less than the best offer I had received so I decided to go for it. He assured me the guide would be able to speak English and had done the trek many times before.
My guide, Lapsang Tamang, had done the trek multiple times as a porter and now many times a guide. He said he has lost count but somewhere over 20 times, he has been trekking to Everest Base Camp. The best thing to do is to contact my guide and arrange to meet him first in Kathmandu so you can chat and decide if you want to go ahead. You will be together for 12 days after all!
You can contact my guide directly here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lapsang is an awesome guy and I had too many chai tea hangouts with him before and after the trip. Lapsang and I became friends during the trip and afterward, we went bungee jumping, cooked Dal Bhat at his apartment and visited Swayambunath Temple. I hope you choose to support great local guys like this rather than big money-making companies.
EVEREST BASE CAMP PACKING LIST
I had no winter clothes or even trekking shoes before getting to Kathmandu and bought it all for under $200 brand new (Likely fake North Face). But just as a guide you can get all the gear new for under $200. Bargaining/second hand etc. may help you get it a bit cheaper but this was one time I didn’t want to be so tight with money then freeze my ass off later on top of a mountain. Keep in mind you won’t be doing any washing. Clothes that dry quickly and are lightweight are key. I showered once… Here is a list of what I took:
2 pairs of pants that rip off into shorts ($15 each in Kathmandu) (Super Safari style but actually handy in this situation.)
2 long sleeve quick dry material shirts ($10 each in Kathmandu)
5 Pairs of Thermal North Face socks ($2-3 per pair in Kathmandu)
1 Fleece pants and sweater. Kind of looks like pajamas ($25 for top and bottom in Kathmandu)
1 Thermal Lycra long sleeve and pants ($20 in Kathmandu)
5-6 pairs of quick dry underwear
1 huge waterproof down jacket (Rented for $1 a day in Kathmandu)
Beanie ($1 in Kathmandu)
Neck Buff ($2 in Kathmandu)
Gloves ($5 in Kathmandu)
Headlight (Didn’t use but handy to have in case) $4 in Kathmandu
Water Purification pills and 1L bottle $8 in Kathmandu
Sunblock (I didn’t wear it and I got the craziest windburn. Nose peeled right off!)
Camera gear and electronics (Not necessary but up to you. Obviously I carried a lot)
All of this should fit into a backpack no bigger than 50l and be less than 15kg. I used my 80l backpacking bag because I didn’t want to buy a new bag for a two-week trek. It worked out fine and weighed about 13kg including all of my lenses, chargers and power banks.
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK COST
I paid $900 USD for my package but you can expect to pay anywhere from $850 to $1500. You can also negate the cost of the flight to and from Lukla by hiking from Jiri to Everest Base Camp Jiri to Everest Base Camp.
-Taxi from Thamel to Kathmandu Airport
-Flights from Kathmandu Airport to Lukla Airport
-Flights from Lukla Airport to Kathmandu Airport (Regular price $320 round trip)
-Breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the guest houses you are staying at. I could pick anything on the menu, which had western options or Nepali options. You can eat pancakes, pizza, and burgers or you can go for the 24-hr Nepali Power Dal Bhat. I could also choose any hot drink with each meal.
What’s not included:
-Water. You can buy bottled water like me if you are playing it safe. It is $1 per bottle at a lower elevation and $3 per bottle at the highest elevation. Or lots of people use purification tablets and they seemed to be fine.
TREKKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP: WIFI/ELECTRICITY AVAILABILITY.
Wifi: Costs anywhere from $3 to $10 to use wifi at the guesthouses. Buy a Ncell Sim before you go. Ncell works at 50% of the guesthouses.
Electricity: You will have to pay anywhere from $2 at low elevation to $8 at high elevation to charge your power banks, cameras, and phones. Key is to get a fat power bank. Pay to charge that then charge everything from your power bank. My power bank lets me charge my phone and four camera batteries before it would be done.
TREKKING TO EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK BEST TIME OF YEAR
This is an interesting question. Do you want snow, reliable weather or to get away from crazy crowds?
February to May – Peak season, clear bright days, very busy trails, lots of people attempting Everest ascent
June to August – Monsoon season, no crowds and empty guesthouses
September to October – Most stable and clear weather, trails are quite busy
November to January – Coldest period, can reach -25, some routes closed
I trekked in the first week of June and was lucky escape the rain. I didn’t get wet once. Normally it rained in the afternoon or at night if at all but we trekked in the morning and usually only heard the rain as we slept. The trails were open and some days we didn’t even see anyone. My guide showed me a photo of Namche on a busy morning and I couldn’t believe it. The path looked like the start of a marathon. After seeing that I was so glad to have gone in the off-season.
EVEREST BASE CAMP TEMPERATURE
During June when I trekked it was sunny in the days and I actually wore shorts every day. However as I mentioned above about when the best time to be trekking to Everest Base Camp is, it can get very cold at high elevation during the November to January (-20 to-30)
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIFFICULTY
Trekking to Everest Base Camp takes some serious effort. But do you need to be in great shape to complete the journey? The simple answer is NO.
You can go at a slow pace, your own pace and still make it to Everest Base Camp. In fact going slow will help you to acclimatize better. I am all about speed but this is not a race. Some days we only trekked for just over three hours but we gained 500m in altitude so we rested for a day and then went again in the morning.
Having said all of that you should be able to walk 10-15 km in a day. Be able to walk up intense inclines for at least an hour. Be able to carry a bag while doing all of this unless you plan to hire a porter.
It’s hard to measure if you are ready. It isn’t like a marathon or anything else you have ever done most probably. I didn’t train at all and was fine. I’m in pretty good shape and played sport my whole life. There were people on the trail who were overweight and going incredibly slow but they were right there with us at base camp to celebrate the achievement.
EVEREST BASE CAMP ALTITUDE
The base camp is 17,600 ft or 5,380m. However, you will probably also trek to Kala Patthara, which looks over the base camp. Kala Patthara is 5,644m high.
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DISTANCE
The distance from Lukla the first town to Everest Base Camp is 38.58 miles or 62 kilometers. Most people take 8-9 days trekking to Everest Base Camp and 3-4 days trekking back to Lukla. We took 8 days to trek to Base camp and two days to trek out.
EVEREST BASE CAMP ITINERARY
Your itinerary will vary depending on your speed and your guide. However, most people follow a somewhat similar trail and timeline. This was my timeline. Note that I spent one extra day in Phak Ding due to sickness. Most people spend that extra day in Namche.
Day 1. Kathmandu flight to Lukla
Lukla to Phak Ding (3-4 hrs)
Day 2. Phak Ding rest day (sickness)
Day 3. Phak Ding to Namche (5 hrs)
Day 4. Namche to Tenboche (4 hrs)
Day 5. Tenboche to Dinboche (3 hrs)
Day 6. Dinboche to Chukhung Ri (2.5 hrs)
Chukhung Ri back to Dinboche (1.5 hrs) (Acclimatization day)
Day 7. Dinboche to Lobuche (3 hrs)
Day 8. Lobuche to Gorak Shep (2 hrs)
Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (1.5 hrs)
Everest Base Camp to Gorak Shep (1.5 hrs)
Day 9. Gorak Shep to Kala Patthara (2 hrs)
Kala Patthara to Gorak Shep (1 hr)
Gorak Shep to Tenboche (7hrs)
Day 10. Tenboche to Lukla (8 hrs)
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