A Basic Overview To Everest Base Camp Trekking
Whether you have just returned from your first taste of hiking somewhere spectacular like Machu Picchu and are thinking about tackling the Everest Base Camp trek. Or your neighbour has just returned from their third trek in Nepal and you’re thinking there must be something in it. Or you have been thinking about trekking in Nepal for a while. Whatever the reason and you know next to nothing about trekking in Nepal, this post is for you.
This is the 101 on trekking in the Everest Base Camp region also features some photos of the Gokyo region. Gokyo is the less popular trek but is very beautiful and less crowded.
It is a good idea to decide when and where you will trek twelve months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and research. This is the case whether you are trekking with or without a tour operator. Being prepared for what the trek is like is critical. Mental preparation is everything. Everything.
Basic Points About the EBC Region when you know absolutely nothing
- EBC stands for Everest Base Camp.
- You can’t see Mount Everest from Everest Base Camp. You get your first view of Everest on the climb to Namche Bazaar.
- The highlight of trekking to Everest Base Camp is the view from Kala Patthar. Not Base Camp. You can see Everest and the rest of the mountains from Kala Patthar. You can climb to Kala Patthar to see Everest at sunrise, sunset, late morning or early afternoon. You do not need to be a mountaineer to get this view.
- There is no road to Everest Base Camp, Nepal.
Everest Base Camp and Gokyo are in the Khumbu region.
- Most people start their trek by flying to Lukla. The closest road is two days walk from Lukla at Jiri or Saleri.
- Everything needed along the track comes in on foot. Gas for cooking, food, housing and building supplies are carried up by donkeys, yaks and porters. The porters do the hardest carrying, carrying weights of up to 140 kilos.
- Understandably food and drink are more expensive the higher you go up the trail.
- The trail is in a remote part of the world, but people live at points along the track. On the lower parts of the track you will see children walking to school. Tell this to the folks back home to stop them worrying about your planned adventure.
- People worry about altitude sickness on the trek, but it is avoidable.
- I have met people worried about altitude sickness affecting them because they had experienced it ascending mountains in the Andes in a bus! This happens because you are ascending too fast. It doesn’t happen trekking to the Base Camp region if you plan your ascent according to the altitude rules.
- Your altitude acclimatisation starts in Kathmandu at 1,400 metres or 4,500 feet. Don’t sign up with a trekking company that counts Kathmandu as day 1 of your trek.
- If you trek to Everest Base Camp you don’t have to sleep in a tent.
- You can camp with Australian Company World Expeditions specialise in trekking and camping in Nepal. Their orange tents in the photo below in the Gokyo region.
- Trekking to Everest Base Camp is achievable with an average fitness level but you need to train so you don’t experience any pain and you enjoy it.
- People of all ages trek along this track.
- Click here to read how we trained for our treks to Everest Base Camp.
- If you trek to Everest Base Camp you don’t have to sleep in a tent.
- If you decide not to camp, then you will stay in a lodge. They used to be called tea houses.
- Accommodation is basic. Very basic. I am talking basic beds, blanket and pillows. Usually some sort of shelf along the window, maybe some coat hooks. No mirror and no power points.
- Bathrooms are basic. Sometimes you can get a toilet in your room. Showers are generally communal except in the more expensive lodges and maybe in some lodges in Phakding.
- There are some nicer hotels in Namche Bazaar and there is the Yeti Group along the lower part of the track. But remember the infrastructure is not there for the fabulous plumbing and heating, regardless of the price.
- In Namche Bazaar for a moderate rate you can have your own reasonable bathroom, western toilet and power points and mirrors.
- A shower each day is not possible. Wet hair on the trail is a problem and there are no power points for a hair dryer to dry your hair.
- You don’t have to carry a huge pack with food etc because there are lodges all the way along the track spaced at strategic points and they can cook your breakfast and dinner.
- The basic accommodation is very cheap. The lodges make their money from the food. You must eat your evening meal and your breakfast in the lodge.
- It is customary to pre-order your meals ahead of time, so they can get organised. below is the standard menu along the trail.
- Food is basic.
- It is not advisable to eat meat along the trail or in Kathmandu.
Trek with a company or independently but trek with a guide or a porter guide
- You can trek independently or with a group. You can organise your trek before you leave home or in Kathmandu.
- You don’t have to carry a large back pack. Someone else does that for you. Your porter. That’s if you’re smart enough to get one. Get a guide and porter or just a porter/guide. The porter guide won’t speak English as well as a straight guide will, but he will look after you, and carry your gear.
- Trekking by yourself without a companion or even a porter is potentially dangerous and not recommended. People trekking by themselves can, and do, go missing.
- You can’t drink the water. Take water purification tablets or buy a steripen. You drink a lot water trekking at altitude and as water gets more expensive the higher you get along the track the steripen. We wish we had bought a steripen – it would easily pay for itself.
- Read how a steripen works ttps://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/travel/steripen.htm
- Trekking in Nepal is addictive. You probably won’t want to stop at one trek.
Planning – Decisions before you leave for the Everest Region
- Who you are going to go with?
- Decide carefully who you want to go on this trekking adventure with. Because it might not be their dream destination, or cup of tea. I know. Because that was me. But, now I have just returned from my third trek in the Everest Base camp region. And planning a fourth. Trekking in Everest Base Camp region is addictive.
- If your planned travelling companion is very particular about accommodation – maybe you can go with someone else OR they just give it a go. It’s worth it for the spectacle views …
When You Can Trek To Everest Base Camp
- The weather is an important factor
- Think about this early on if you need to book holiday leave from work.
Why are you going ?
- If you want to go all the way to Everest Base Camp make sure you have an itinerary no less than 14 days Lukla to Lukla NOT including arrival in Kathmandu.
- Importantly there is a chance you won’t get to Base Camp. On our first trek in 2013 we didn’t, and you need to be prepared for that. Pushing on could cost you your life. You can always try again another time. There is no shame in not getting to EBC.
- You might be happy enough just to experience trekking and the big mountain panoramic views. Then maybe trekking to Namche Bazaar is far enough. Or you could go a bit farther to Thame or Khumjung. It is still a fantastic experience with great views. Dingboche is further with fantastic massive landscape views.
The Number of Days Trekking to Everest Base Camp is the Most Important Factor to Get to Base Camp Safely
- The key thing is the number of days you trek.
You need 14 days to get to Everest Base Camp. Treks that do it in 8 to 10 days is not enough days. It is dangerous.
- Don’t just listen to me read this post from Ian Taylor trekking http://iantaylortrekking.com/everest-base-camp-trekking-is-for-trekkers-not-tourists/
Your Trekking Options. How Will You Trek ?
- with a tour group, or independently with a guide and porter or a porter guide?
- will you book before you leave home or in Kathmandu?
Research, Book, Buy and Train, Train, Train
Know What to Expect – Mental Preparation is Everything
- We researched our gear by going to all the trekking shops and buying in store.
- Buy gear early unless you want to buy it in Kathmandu, which I don’t recommend.
- Buy your boots early. You need to wear them in.
- Start shopping for your best airfare options – we buy our air tickets only few months before our departure – just in case circumstances change
- Research insurance, costs of a porter etc
- Read some blog posts and get an idea on what to expect
- Read about
- the accommodation
- the food
- what the trail is like
- look at some maps on the internet
- look at Google Earth along the track
- buy or borrow a range of guide books
- watch some YouTube videos
- It is important one person going knows what to expect each day. If you have a guide, they will tell you each night what to expect the next day. A porter/ guide, may not speak English as well as a guide, but they will be able to tell you on how long it will take you to get to your next destination and a rough description of the trail. Even with the porters and guides it is a good idea to know what you are signing up for before you book your trek and airfares. Do your research before you book anything.
- Read about
- Train with your trekking clothes and your day pack and some weight. Try a drink bottle with an increasing amount of water to increase the weight slowly.
- Train, train and train
Best Months to Trek in the Mount Everest Base Camp Region?
The best times to trek and the seasons in the Everest Base Camp region
- April, May – when all the rhododendrons are flowering, the warmer of the two seasons and the busiest because the Mount Everest climbing season is in May. A lot of people and food and equipment move along the track in April.
- October to December – a colder but less busy season. There is chance of clouds in the afternoon and of some snow in higher parts
- We have only trekked in this season. It was quiet for us because there were no flights for about three or four days.
Months to Avoid Everest Base Camp Trekking
- January and February is winter and cold. A few people do trek then. But why would you?
- August and September are the monsoon season. Lots of rain and clouds can obscure the views and there is the possibility of landslides lower part of the track.
After You Decide to Trek to EBC Region – Research Some More
- Research your trek – the destination and the route
- Build flexibility into your itinerary.
- A great tip is to plan 2 to 4 buffer days. A tight deadline is not what you want. You might get sick, or feel unwell or miss a flight in or out.
- Begin your training 3 to 6 months before you go depending on your fitness level
- 3 months if you are reasonably fit and need targeted training
- 6 months if you want to establish general fitness first
Research and Preparation Equal Success for the Everest Base Camp Region treks