25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

From the perspective of a woman who is over 50 and never particularly into being 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.

Tears for the Big Picture and the Big Challenge

  1. Climbing Kala Pattar, looking at Mount Everest at sunset, sunrise or even at noon or standing at Everest Base Camp could possibly be one of the best things you will ever do in terms of travel experiences. It might even rate as one of the best things you do in your life. 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. Why? Trekking to Everest Base Camp is something you have to work at. And we always value things we have to work for, more. Don’t we? 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.”
Climb to Namche Bazaar, main trail to Everest Base Camp

Part of the steep ascent to Namche Bazaar before the rest point

I’m not sure who said that but I discovered on my journey that this is true. Your training will be part of a journey you experience when you realise what things you can – underline the word can – achieve, when you have a big challenge before you. The trek to Everest Base Camp is a life changing experience. Taking on an amazing challenge and achieving it feels amazing. You will cry on Kala Pattar or at Base Camp because you will have made it. Guaranteed.

Perfect for Everest Base Camp Hill training

Our favourite training hill in Melbourne -that’s the Trainer half way down and my daughter is the speck at the top.

  1. Standing in a valley in Dingboche or on top of Kala Pattar totally surrounded by mountains is an amazing experience. You get a little understanding of how astronauts feel when they view earth from space. You walk through the massive landscapes and feel so small. We are a small part of a very big picture on this wonderful planet. You might cry here too.
Above Periche Between Dingboche and Dughla

Between Dingboche and Dughla

Brief Anxious Moments and Some Tears

  1. I confess I didn’t linger long on the bridges. At first I felt a bit anxious crossing the suspension bridges that span the roaring rivers and jiggle about a bit. But no tears. You do get used to them and people are very careful on them. But the bridges are one of the reasons on the list because they are an exciting part of the trek.
Suspension bridge at Chheplung

First bridge on the Everest Base Camp Trek

  1. Add flying into Lukla one the world’s most dangerous airports. Granted it is a bit nail biting the first time. It was a dot point on my 2013 “Why I Don’t Want to Trek to EBC” list. I was so worried about all the things that might go wrong that I hadn’t thought about the amazingly beautiful place and adventure I was about to embark on. So when I saw the view out the window of the little plane, I cried. For most of the forty-minute flight you fly along the line of the Himalayas.Flying to LuklaIt is an experience in itself. After doing it once it’s a piece of cake. The pilots fly into Lukla every day. They have lots of experience and there are lots of procedures in place now since there have been air crashes. So you will be able to add that to your list of amazing travel adventures.
Lukla Airstrip

The airstrip at Lukla airport

Amazing and Beautiful Nepal

  1. You walk through the most amazing and beautiful landscapes and pass through lovely little villages on the way.
  2. Nepal is beautiful full stop.
  1. The people are beautiful. The opportunity to have some time with the local people – your porter or guide and maybe some of the lodge owners is special.
  1. Tourism and trekking to Everest Base Camp supports those beautiful people.

Why Would You Choose Anywhere Else?

  1. In terms of treks you don’t have to carry a big backpack, just a daypack. This is the job of the porter who will carry your gear for you. In doing so you will be employing a local person and be helping build the local economy.
  1. In terms of treks and challenges you don’t have to stay in a tent unless you want to. There are lodges which used to be called tea houses, all the way along the trail.
Lodge in dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Our lodge in Dingboche

  1. You are part of life on the track. It feels like you are on a pilgrimage. There is only one track and you are either going up, or you are going down. And you see the daily life along the track of the porters, trekkers, kids going to school, yaks, donkey trains, people going to market, lodges being built.
  2. You meet other trekkers staying at the lodges. People are keen to hear news of what is happening along the trail.
Talking to a trekker returning from Base Camp.

Hearing about the trail people’s experience of Base Camp and the weather was always good. Our porter waiting patiently for me.

  1. And if you are a couple like we were or a small group you probably will stop and talk to people going the opposite way while you catch your breath or rest or maybe even help with a bit of donkey traffic control.
Donkeys on EBC Trek

Keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. CHUK!

Great for Your Health

  1. The trail provides a path to your goal also provides a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. You need to be watching where you are stepping all the time. For that reason I found the trek quite meditative.
  2. You breathe fresh air at least five hours a day and think of all the vitamin D.
  3. You eat well. We ate vegetarian food and many lodges grow their own vegetables.
  4. You sleep eleven hours a night.
  5. Very few decisions need to be made. You get up in the morning and you know you have only one thing to do. Get to the next town on your itinerary. And you know how you are getting there. You are going to walk and you are either going up or down.
  6. No traffic, traffic jams or fumes. There is lots of foot traffic though and there are donkeys, yaks and a few horses just give them the right of way.
  7. No emails, no phone calls, no stress.
  8. You feel so fit and amazing. I looked and felt ten years younger. I have never felt as fit as on that trek. Ever. So, why wouldn’t you want to trek to Everest Base Camp?
  1. Even if you don’t make it all the way you will have tried and had an amazing experience and you can always try again.
  1. You learn taking on a big challenge is a great thing to do; whether you achieve it or not. The important thing is that you have tried. The journey is as much about the how you get there, the training, the preparation and how great it feels to get out of your comfort zone as is the final destination.

WARNING: You may get addicted to Nepal and to trekking in such an amazing place. We are seriously thinking of returning a third time.

After reading the 25 reasons, you might have a few unanswered questions. Like why on earth did I try to trek to Base Camp the first time if I was worried about it?

Or might want to see some of the bridges you will cross some high and long and others low and short.

Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi taken from the higher bridge

Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi Gorge

Lobuche to Gorak Shep

Crossing a Stream over the Rubble Strewn Trail to Gorak Shep

You may want to do a shorter trip and take in Namche Bazaar, Khunde and Khumjung and Thame or go as far as Pangboche or a bit further to Dingboche my favourite and climb the Dingboche Ridgetop for an amazing view. You will still have had an amazing experience. Most of the villages have side treks. I will be researching those a bit more for future posts.

And then there is Kathmandu itself with lots to see and great food.

Here is the itinerary for our trek in 2015 when we made it all the way to EBC.

Convinced? Ready to go? Here is a suggested  packing list.

And don’t forget you need to train to enjoy it, that way you will have no aches or pains and better still, you will feel fantastic. Guaranteed.

Day 3 Monjo to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 The Big Day

Most treks do Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day two. Before we left Australia, the Trainer  decided to add a day to our itinerary and walk to Namche Bazaar on Day 3 instead.We had time and it would be easier on our legs and lungs. I was happy for him to do all the research and planning and trusted his judgement. From my minimal research and a friend’s first hand experience I knew the infamous climb to Namche Bazaar was a hard one. The friend had trekked with  group and had been one of the earliest to arrive. He sat in a cafe and watched others from his group walk into the town. One very tough character from their group finally arrived, absolutely exhausted. He came up to my friend with tears in his eyes, hugged him and said that it had been the hardest day of his life. So when we set out from the tea house in Monjo I was mentally prepared and planned to take it slowly.

Just outside of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmantha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded.

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when a woman who looked 80 passed me with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags. on the way to Namche Bazaar.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags

In front two bridges over the Dudh Kosi gorge

A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.

Made It off the highest scary bridge

Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge

Fruit sellers on the Everest Base Camp trail on the climb to Namche Bazaar.

Fruit sellers on the climb to Namche Bazaar

One of the rewards of a strenous day's climb.

A reward of a strenuous day’s climb – the first view of Everest

Yes that is the trail around the mountain.

The trail around the mountain

Everest Base Camp Trek

The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished

Day 2 Phakding to Monjo

Phakding to Monjo Day Two Trek to Everest Base Camp

Follow the Pumpkin Coloured Backpack

This day was a short walk. For many trekking tours Day 2 is Phakding to Namche Bazaar. The climb to Namche Bazaar is a big day so the Trainer added a day to our itinerary so we didn’t need to rush and allow time to acclimatise to the altitude. Groups leaving our lodge for Namche a good hour before us. Setting out we looked forward to a leisurely day.

Phakding EBC Trek

Before leaving Melbourne our plans to trek the Everest Base Camp by ourselves and without a guide or porter had a few people concerned. Me as well. The Trainer explained to my mother before we left that trekking the trail is not like trekking a in remote location. He explained the trail is through villages with small tea houses dotted all the way, with lots of people trekking, porters and Nepalis going about their daily business including school kids walking to school. We did in fact see many children walking to school along the trail. Small children in small groups without adults running to school had my  herd mother radar working on overdrive at times.

Everest Base Camp

Kids walking to school

 
Phakding to Monjo

Vegetable gardens and stone walls line the trail through many villages. Note the Donkey train coming up the path.

Phakding to Monjo

Different types of prayer wheels are all along the trail. The important thing to remember is to turn them clockwise.

Bridge across Dudh Kosi

Cable  hanging bridge across the Dudh Kosi river after Benkar. I got off the bridges as quickly as possible.

 

Crossing the river Phakding to Monjo

Donkey trains on trek were a fascination for me. Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow ones moving while waiting on the sidelines.

Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. Chuk Chuk!

Day 1 Lukla to Phakding

2013 Trek to Everest Base Camp

For our 2013 Everest Base Camp trek training and preparation, videos and photos helped get an idea of what the trail would be like. One particular photo made me realise the need for step training. However the guide book and  The Trainer’s overview of the first day’s walk to Phakding didn’t quite match up with the experience. A two hour easy down hill walk said the guide book. Sam had done all the research and his words echoed the book. In the next few days I was about to discover how important  mental  preparation is.

What I wasn’t prepared for

Before we started out for Phakding my idea of downhill was downhill – not up hill and down hill in a general down hill direction. It took us about four and half hours walking and I thought we would never get to Phakding. From experience trekking in the Anna Purna region years ago, the Trainer had forewarned me the trail would be uneven and rocky. He had done a great job as personal trainer of designing  our training to prepare us for this. The track varied incredibly on the first day from cobblestones in Lukla,  to meandering flat paths, to rocky steps and very rocky sections. In the scheme of things Lukla to Phakding is an easy day and now we know to double the time needed in one guide book. A second guide  book now seems closer to the mark in terms of time.

The Everest Base Camp trail goes through small villages and can is narrow in parts. Shared by trekkers, porters, pack animals (yaks, donkeys and horses) and kids on their way to school and can be busy. I selected the photos to show how the track varies on the first day.

Walking out of Lukla

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp Trek

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp Trek

 

Lukla to Phakding Everest Base Camp trek

 

Day 3 Namche Bazaar Acclimatisation Day

Acclimatisation or Rest Day

It is best to think of the acclimatisation day involving some walking above where you are going to sleep. We walked above Namche Bazaar to the helicopter landing strip and quarry. The day was cloudy and the sound of rocks being chiselled for structures over the stream near the stupa rang out across the arena shaped town.

We also visited the monastery and turned some of the many prayer wheels on the way up. On the path to Khunde we sat on a large flat boulder and looked out over the pines and down to the river way below.

After our walk at one of the town’s bakeries I remembered meeting a French woman in 2013 who had spent her “rest day” walking up to Khunde and Khumjung and back down to Namche. At the time I thought she was mad but she was walking to Base Camp in less days than us and so walking the large circle up to Khunde and Khumjung would have helped with her walk to Tengboche’s altitude the following day.

For our 2015 trek we had decided to sleep a night at Khumjung. This was not the original itinerary. We had planned to sleep our second night in Monjo but we reached there by 11:00 and were feeling great so we decided to continue and climb to Namche Bazaar. Trekking independently with a porter gave us this flexibility. We were then able to walk to Khumjung on the following day and sleep at a slightly higher altitude allowing us more acclimatisation time for the altitude.

Below are photos taken on our Acclimatisation Day on 24 September 2015.

 

Namache Bazaar, Main Trail Everest Base Camp Trek

Looking out onto Namche Bazaar

Namache Bazaar, Main Trail Everest Base Camp Trek

Above Namche Bazaar on the path to Khunde

Pines above Namche Bazaar September 2015

Stunning large black pine cones

 

 

Monastery at Namche Bazaar

Monastery Entrance

Two Hours to Tengboche

Day Five Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

I knew that Day 3 of our itinerary, climbing to Namche Bazaar would be strenuous. We trained well and  though it wasn’t easy we managed the climb well.

When we set out two days later for Tengboche, Sam told me it would be a relatively easy day. That proved far from the case. We had a breather at the top of Namche after a steep climb out of the amphitheatre – shaped town. After a few more challenging hills with spectacular views, the track really leveled out. That bit was the honeymoon period.

The trail then descends 570 metres to the river after crossing this, there is a relentless 750 metres 2-3 hours climb (according to the guide book) to Tengboche. I am sure this section would have taken us much longer.

The funniest bit was the signage. Not far from Namche there was sign “2 hours to Tengboche”. Two hours further along the track there was another sign “2 hours to Tengboche” and then about another two hours further on, you guessed it – “2 hours to Tengboche”. Hence the comment on the video and the post title. At one point we stopped to catch our breath. Another trekker was doing the same with his guide waiting for him. When we asked the guide how much longer to the top, what do you think he replied? I couldn’t believe it.

On that day I learned mental preparation is everything. I had heard it said in relation to physical challenges but didn’t relate to it until then. For our next trek to Everest Base Camp we will be prepared for the two hours to Tengboche. In fact we are changing the itinerary to start the trek from Khunde or Khumjung and not Namche. The other tip is don’t believe the estimated trekking time between the towns and definitely don’t believe the signage.

Day 1 Lukla to Phakding EBC Trek 2015

Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding (2610m)
8.5 km 3.5 – 4hours

  • Flying into Lukla
  • Remember downhill is never just downhill
  • Beautiful little villages
  • 8.5 km walk, took 4 hours in 2013, 3.5 hours in 2015
  • Lukla to Chheplung took us one hour
  • First bridge at Thado Kosi Gaton
  • Om Mane Padme Hum

Day One on 2013 Trek
Day Two on 2015 Trek
Itinerary 2015 Trek

Flying to Lukla

Main Street Lukla, setting out on Main Trail EBC Trek

Lukla to Phakding

Ghat on the Main Trail Lukla to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp

Main Trail to Kala Patthar and EBC

Main trail Lukla to Kala Patthar at Phakding

Shomare Nepal

Shomare 4040 metres

This is the photo of the last place we reached before we turned around from our trek to Everest Base Camp in 2013. A small “restaurant” on what you would call the outskirts of town. We had a coffee and made a joint decision to turn back. It seemed the right thing to do considering the rash creeping up both my legs.

Ever since reaching Everest Base Camp has felt like unfinished business. We had done a couple of the really hard days and we only had another 23.7 kilometres to get to Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar. Certainly it was such a fantastic experience we wanted to do it again.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Somare. Our last stop before turning back