The 101 on Trekking in the Everest Base Camp Region

Above Pheriche, Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
So much more than Base Camp

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.

#Macchermo lodges #Gokyo Area #Everest Base Camp region #Khumbu #Nepal
Simple Accommodation Stunning Location – Macchermo, Gokyo area 

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.
Climbing Kala Patthar October 2015
The innocent looking path to the top of Kala Patthar was the hardest few hours of our 2015 trek for me. The large mountain on the left is Pumori.
  • 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.
Sign to Jiri from the main EBC trail
The signage to Jiri and Salleri two days walk from the main trail 
  • 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.
Tenzing Hilary Airport Lukla Nepal
Waiting for the next four planes to land at the Tenzing Hilary Airport
Porters Load along the EBC Trek trail
Meet the doko. You will see lots of these with your food and drink up the track
  • 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.
Children running home from school EBC trek trail Nepal
Children running home from school
  • 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. 
trekking gear
Training is key to you managing and enjoying your trek.
Camping an Lodge accommodation in Dole Gokyo region Nepal
Camping and lodge accommodation in Dole on the way to Gokyo
  • 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.
Lodge in Phakding EBC trail
The lodge we stayed in Phakding on the way up and on the way down in 2015.

Lodge in Dole in the Gokyo Valley Nepal

ACCOMMODATION 

  •  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.
  1. Food is basic.
  2. It is not advisable to eat meat along the trail or in Kathmandu.
A lodge in Phakding Nepal
Lodges usually sell some basics 

Trek with a company or independently but trek with a guide or a porter guide

The Porter guide and me Above Macchermo on the way to Gokyo
Dilip our Porter guide with me above Macchermo on the way to Gokyo

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 … 
Spectacular View from Dingboche Ridgetop
Imja Chola River from above Dingboche

When You Can Trek To Everest Base Camp 

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 

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.  
  • 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.
September 2015 between Mongla and Portse Tenga Nepal
You can be unlucky with the weather …

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.

https://bearfoottheory.com/planning-your-everest-base-camp-trek-logistics/

  • 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

 

Heading Out for Everest Base Camp – Day One Lukla to Phakding

Walking out of Lukla

trek n.1. a long difficult journey, esp. on foot  2. a journey or stage, esp by ox wagon            3. make a trek  – trekker 

Saying Goodbye in Melbourne

In September 2015 my husband and I flew to Nepal to trek to Everest Base Camp. At the departure hall at Melbourne Airport saying goodbyes to our adult daughters,  the eldest hugged her father and said

                          “Dad, go easy on Mum remember it’s her holiday too.”  She turned                                      to me and said “Mum, ….man up.”

And with that sage advice… Continue reading

Bucket Lists and Difficult Journeys

Trekking to Everest Base Camp – Are You Ready?

You don’t need to be an athlete nor a mountain climber.

You don’t have to be seasoned hiker either. For many people who trek to Base Camp it is their first experience of anything like this. I know because I was one of these people.

With Training Everest Base Camp is achievable for the average person

Training before you go is highly recommended. Your training is part of the bigger journey. It certainly was part of mine. The Trainer kept reminding me, you know the quote, the journey is not just about the destination. Oh and the question of age. I’m in my fifties and there were plenty of people older than me on the trail.

Above the yak pastures on the trail to Dingboche.
One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.

If you are healthy, have trained and mentally prepared Everest Base Camp is possible. Continue reading

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

From the perspective of an over 50 woman was never particularly fit, never wanted to go to Everest Base Camp and would now happily go there annually.

  1. Trekking to Everest Base Camp is amazing, amazing and yes amazing. I make no apologies for the overuse of the word.

What better Big Challenge than Base Camp?

  1. Climbing Kala Pattar, looking at Mount Everest at sunset or sunrise or standing at Everest Base Camp is possibly be one of the best things you will ever do in terms of travel experiences. Certainly it will be an achievement you will be proud of. Guaranteed.

View from Kala Patthar with Mount Eversest

Mid afternoon from Kala Patthar as clouds started rolling in

  1. Trekking to Everest Base Camp is something you have to work at. And we always value things more if we have to work for them. And you have to work for trekking to Everest Base Camp before you leave for Kathmandu. It’s what you call Training for EBC – that’s Everest Base Camp. And to do it you need to train for six months or more depending on your base fitness level. We did. My trainer  often reminded me; “Remember it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey.”

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Leaving Lukla

Everest Base Camp Trek

Day Seventeen Lukla to Kathmandu

The final day of seventeen wonderful days trekking from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and back in October 2015. Having fare-welled our Porter Guide, my husband “the Trainer” and I flew to Kathmandu grateful for completing the trek safely and already thinking of a return trek.

Lukla Airport

Above: The tarmac at Lukla airport and the parking spaces for the four planes that fly back and forward to Lukla every day.

We were up early for one of the first flights out. The Paradise Lodge where we stayed the night is a one-minute walk to the airport. The owner of the lodge said goodbye to us and presented us with the traditional cream scarf to wish us well.

Lukla with the mountain behind
The larger yellow building in the middle is the control tower at Lukla Airport

The departure hall at the airport is a bit crazy and we were glad to have someone with us to direct us where to go and in which order. We very quickly passed through the tickets and security checks and into the hall to wait boarding where passengers are always keen to watch the planes landing. The unloading of passengers and baggage is amazingly quick and the same goes for loading and boarding.

Being our fourth flight, we were relaxed. I was more relaxed about take-off rather landing at Lukla.

As we flew back along the line of the Himalayas I wondered if it would be our last trip as I was hooked on this magnificent part of the world.

Other Posts

The Infamous Lukla Airport 

Missed the beginning of the 2015 trek? Here are the first five days to get you started.

Day 1 2015 Trek – Lukla to Phakding

Day 2 2015 Trek – Phakding to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 2015 Trek – Acclimatisation In Namche Bazaar

Day 4 2015 Trek – Namche Bazaar to Khumjung

Day 5 2015 Trek – Khumjung to Phortse

and here is the 2015 Trek Itinerary with links

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Slip Sliding Away at Everest Base Camp

The Walk You Have To Do

Day Twelve Gorak Shep (5170m) – Everest Base Camp (5300m) – Lobuche

The walk into Everest Base Camp took me by surprise as I hadn’t read the section in the guide book. The track isn’t much of a track, making the walk a little crazy. At the end you just clamber over boulders and slip everywhere. But that’s getting a little ahead.

Almost at Everest Base Camp
Insane trail to Everest Base Camp

The photo shows the middle section of the trail which had lots of boulders and scree. A defined path becomes non-existent, so we headed in a general direction picking our way as best we could. And following our trusty Porter Guide, of course. Because of clambering over boulders, I developed blisters on my toes. Applying band aids before setting out is probably a good idea.

EBC has the reputation of looking very dull. Most trekkers visit it in the afternoon when the mountains can shade the area. We took the advice to visit in the morning and with the light it was quite lovely.

Exploring Everest Base Camp
Large boulder perched on ice above a small stream

Exploring the Everest Base Camp Area
Exploring the Everest Base Camp area
Everest Base Camp Area
Our Porter Guide Basanta exploring
Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp
Tents for the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

I plan to write a post about the runners and the marathon as they were a feature of our trek. We bumped into them several times along the trail much to the Trainer’s delight.

The Main Everest Base Camp Trail’s highlight is the view of Mt. Everest and the Himalaya Range from the top of the hill Kala Patthar. Not everyone has heard of Kala Patthar. However, Everest Base Camp is famous, so it’s a must do. Or is it? I felt uneasy at Base Camp, being directly underneath where the 2015 avalanche came off Mt. Pumori into Base Camp (or so I was told). If I go back I would climb Kala Patthar twice, climbing it once in the afternoon and again the next morning at sunrise.

The triumphant team of three, lined up to take the obligatory photo by the sign and flags.

We Three at EBC
The Trainer, Me and the Porter with the Yellow Wig at Everest Base Camp
At Everest Base Camp
Climb Every Mountain – The Open Door Singer’s sign at EBC

The sign for my choir had its big moment here. 130 people sang Climb Every Mountain to me before I left Melbourne. It was very special.

The round trip to EBC from Gorak Shep is 8km and takes 6.5 hours. Back at Gorak Shep (the end of the trail and starting point for Kala Patthar and EBC) we had lunch at the lodge where we had slept the night before and left. We headed back down to Lobuche (a 2.5-hour walk) through the long valley that feels like a moonscape. Back in our lodge in Lobuche we ate and went straight to bed. Exhausted but very happy and very pleased with ourselves.

All the training had prepared us well. The trek to Everest Base Camp is more than the walk to that point. It is about the training before hand, getting all the right gear and training with it, the research and preparation and then the trek itself. It is a long journey in many ways, for which you are rewarded in just as many ways.

Now we just had to get back down to Lukla in one piece.

Everest Above Our Heads and Base Camp at Our Feet

EBC Trekkers standing on Kala Patthar in front of Mount Everest and above Everest Base Camp
The trainer, me and that yellow wig with Everest above our heads and Base Camp at our feet.

The Million Dollar View from Kala Pattar

And the Trainer’s Last Words

Day Eleven – Lobuche to Gorak Shep and climbing Kala Pattar (5545m)

People who have been to Everest Base Camp or have researched the trek know the highlight of the trek is not Base Camp but is the climb to Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep to view Mount Everest from the closest and highest viewpoint on the main EBC Trail. Many trekkers climb the hill in the dark to see the sun rise on Everest or in the evening to see the sun set. Climbing in the afternoon after first arriving in Gorak Shep and an early lunch is also an option.

Continue reading