The Everest Base Camp has been the world's premier mountain trek since the 1960s when Nepal opened it's doors to commercial trekkers. Viewing the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest (Sagamartha), in person is undoubtedly the biggest draw to the trek. There are however many other reasons that make this the world's most popular trek.
Reaching Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular bucket lists items on many peoples lists
These include viewing 8 of the world's highest mountains. Following the same trail as the first summiteers of mount Everest. Engaging with the friendly Sherpa people who live in the Solukhumbu region the trek takes place in. Enjoying pristine Himalayan natural trails that have captivated trekkers for decades.
I've been on the Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC) on several occasions and this guide to the Everest Base Camp trek is the most up to date in the world today.
Below is a list of categories on this page that will hopefully answer all your questions about the trek.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Max Altitude: 5,545 m
Distance: 130 km (80.70 mi)
Throughout 2019-2023 a combination of airport maintenance and flight congestion meant 50% of flights left from Kathmandu to Lukla and 50% had to leave from Ramechhap airport to Lukla. This looks set to continue in 2023. Yes, it's a mess, but it's all still possible to make the trek. At the moment most flights are leaving to/from Kathmandu as there is capacity but when that changes others are told to leave to/from Ramechhap. As delays to Lukla airport (start of Everest Base Camp trek) are already well known it is highly advised you try to extend your trip to Nepal by 2-3 days. Otherwise, contact your trekking guide and ask them to make alternative arrangements for your flight to Lukla via Ramechhap (Manthali) airport (4-5 hours from Kathmandu). More information below in Lukla flight delays.
There are two Mt Everest Base Camps. One on the Chinese/Tibetan side of Mount Everest and one on the Nepali side in the northern most part of a province known as Solukhumbu.
Everest North Side Base Camp: Tibet/China
You can literally drive nearly all the way to Mount Everest's North Base Camp if you are in Tibet and on a restricted package tour. There's a one day same day return hike to the camp. You'll be limited to a tour and have to deal with the hassles of Chinese visas, permits etc. And you don't get all that close to Everest. The North side does offer a good view though. The Chinese are still building a new "resort" at the north camp which is due to open in late 2019 but earlier in the year the closed it for "environmental reasons". For trekkers, Tibet's Everest Base Camp is not really an option as it's more of a photo opportunity and tour with much less trekking involved plus there are still visa issues to overcome.
Everest South Side Base Camp: Nepal
This is the most popular trekkers base camp for Mt Everest and the more famous one. Reached by a 12/16 day trek its views of Everest are limited up close due to some other mountains in front of it. However by climbing Kala Patthar beside basecamp you do get spectacular views of Mount Everest and all of the Himalayan mountain range while being right on them. The Nepali side also offers a fantastic trekking experience with no permit or visa hassles. There are several trekking routes to start the Everest Base Camp but all converge on the main route to base camp.
This map shows you the trekking routes from Jiri, Lukla and Gokyo
The RED line is the famous Lukla to Everest Base Camp Trek
The YELLOW line shows a side trek to Gokyo
The ORANGE line shows the route from Jiri to Lukla
Please note this map should not be used as a practical trekking map. While the main Everest Base Camp Trek route remains the same there are variations depending on weather conditions, time of year, natural events and physical changes to the trek paths. Detailed trekking maps can be obtained in Nepal at very low costs.
The above map of the Everest Base Camp Trek is from my Trekking in Nepal Guidebook & Nepal Guidebook - the map can be zoomed right in to display the trails up close in the digital editions. In the paperback version there are additional maps. Additional Everest maps and more detailed trek information can be found in my Full Trekking in Nepal Guidebook.
Everyone knows Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world but here are a few more facts to fill some voids.
Height of Mount Everest
Mt Everest is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) in height. A measurement officially recognized by both the Nepali and Chinese governments.
How high is Everest Base Camp?
South Everest Base Camp is 5,364 meters (17,598 ft)
The Tibetan North Side Base Camp is 5,545 meters (18,192 ft)
Who discovered Mount Everest?
No one really. It has always there and in plain sight. However there have been several people accredited for accurately measuring Mount Everest in being the tallest mountain in the world.
Original British surveyors in the 19th century began mapping the world's highest mountains. Between politics, weather, and other obstacles if took over 50 years to finally confirm Everest as being the tallest mountain on earth. In 1847 Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, James Nicolson and Radhanath Sikdar (India) are accredited with completely most of the early surveying.
What's Mount Everest's real name?
Before the survey Mount Everest had many names from the many peoples that lived in the area. Andrew Waugh named the mountain "Everest" after his predecessor as Surveyor General of India: George Everest. This was initially rebuked by George Everest but the name stuck none-the-less.
In Nepal the Nepali call Mount Everest - "Sagarmāthā".
The Chinese have launched several campaigns to call the mountain - "Qomolangma" as was their first recorded name.
What's a teahouse?This is traditional trekking term giving to basic guesthouses on a trek in Nepal. The number one rule at a teahouse is if you stay there you must also eat there. Most have shared bathrooms, many have privates.
What's a Sherpa?Sherpa is the ethnic name for the people who live in the Solukhumbu region of Nepal. Contrary to bad reports a Sherpa is not a guide. Learn more about Nepali people.
Who was the first person to climb Mount Everest?Edmund Hillary (New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay are recognized as the first climbers to jointly reach the top of Mount Everest. However many more before them climbed Mount Everest but did not reach the summit.
- George Mallory made the first expedition in 1921 on the North Face and failed.
- George Finch made another attempt in 1922 on the North Face and failed.
- Over the next few years both Mallory and several others made many attempts to reach the peak of Mount Everest but failed.
- On 8 June 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made a joint attempt to climb Mount Everest but neither man ever returned. In 1999 an expedition team found Mallory's body and controversy has reigned ever since on whether either Mallory or Irvine had made it to the top.
- Due to China's take over of Tibet the North Face was closed off for a period in the 1950's.
- In 1953 Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were able to reach a height of about 8,595 metes (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge.
- Again In 1953 a British expedition of Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans came within 100 m (300 feet) of the summit on May 26th 1953 but ran into oxygen problems and had to turn back.
- Two days later the same expedition made a second attempt on the summit with its second climbing pair Edmund Hillary (New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay (Nepal). They reached the summit of Mount Everest at 11:30 a.m. local time on 29 May 1953.
Though both Hillary and Tenzing said it was a joint effort. After many years Tenzing finally spoke out and said Hillary was the first to put his foot on the summit of Mount Everest.
Where is the best place to see Mount Everest?
From Everest Base camp you won't see much other than the tip of Mt Everest. The best places to see Mount Everest up close would be a trek up to Kala Patthar which is on the Everest Base Camp trek itinerary or by trekking a different route to Gokyo.
Second to that the Tibetan approach to Everest offers a full view. Outside of trekking there are numerous Everest viewing flights from Kathmandu (weather permitting).
If you don't plan to go trekking
to Everest Base Camp then you can also read
places where can you see Mount Everest from.
Everest Base Camp (North Side, Tibet) Tours
Treks need to be arranged either in Nepal, Lhasa, or mainland China through an official tour. Tibet permits are now needed. The tours are about 7 days by jeep from Lhasa and require only one day of hiking. There are slight variations on this tour based on the operators.
Everest Base Camp Trek (South side, Nepal)
There are many options here ranging from package tours to independent trekking on EBC. Booking online can be significantly more expensive than booking in person when in Nepal unless using a find a local trekking guide service.
Local trekking permits are required.
Either by package tour or independently you have the choice of taking a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri and trek to Lukla then onwards to EBC. Or fly into Lukla and begin your trek from there. The trek from Lukla to EBC takes about 12 days return. From Jiri to Lukla is 6-8 days.
Trekkers with a guide going to Everest Base Camp
Is it more expensive to hire a guide online through an agency or can I do it when I get to Nepal?
If you are looking for a guide for the Everest Base Camp trek I recommend you read my article on how to hire a trekking guide in Nepal.
Booking a trek online through an agency is far more expensive than going with an independent guide. Many online agencies are often not Nepalese companies and just have a small office in Kathmandu. Likewise be careful of too good to be true or cheap prices. Unfortunately many of these rock bottom priced package treks involve a fraudulent insurance claim. The only advantage to booking through an agency is if you are seriously stuck for time on your trip. That said, you still manage the same for a lot less with an independent guide.
You may use my get a local trekking guide service if you find all the online options overwhelming.
Everest base camp weather is subject to change but does have peak seasons to visit
As with all mountainous climates the weather can change hourly. However the following weather charts and graphs will show you clear indications on temperatures and precipitation (snow) at Gorak Shep which is the accommodation area beside Everest Base Camp.
Weather chart for Gorak Shep (Everest Base Camp Trek)
Temperature and precipitation table for Everest Base Camp (Gorak Shep)
|Avg. Temperature (°C)||Avg. Temperature (°F)||Precipitation / Rainfall (mm)|
It's very important to note that wind chill is not calculated into the temperatures above. Wind chill can drive temperatures down -10 to -15 degrees with ease depending on conditions.
The following months have traditionally been used as a guide for preferred times of the year to visit Everest Base Camp as they have the clearest weather.
October - November/December: this is Nepal's peak and best time to go trekking.
February-March-April: this is the end of the dry season and the second best time of year to go trekking.
November/December to January/February: the skies are clear but it can get very cold.
May - June: This is Nepal's hot season and it can get very warm indeed.
June - September: this is Monsoon season and the least popular time to go trekking in Nepal.
For more details please see my guide on the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal
December, January & February can mean snow at Everest Base Camp which this Yaks knows all about!
If trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal you'll need the following permits:
- Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit
- Solukhumbu Regional Permit (available in Monjo or Lukla only)
- TREK Card - only needed if you are trekking alone (available in Monjo or Lukla only) and it replaces the Solukhumbu Regional Permit for solo trekkers.
Additional: Trekker Information Management System (TIMS Card)
The Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit can be purchased in Kathmandu at the Nepal Tourism Board for 3,000 rupees. Or at Monjo (on the trek) or Lukla. Both the Kathmandu permit and TIMS offices open between 10am - 5pm. Again, TIMS is no longer recognized in the region.
The Solukhumbu Regional Permit is available from a counter at Lukla and Monjo. It costs 2,000 rupees. Get a receipt.
How to get a Sagarmatha National Park Entry PermitIf you are trekking with a guide then they will most likely get your permits for you. Good guides will even get them ahead of your arrival to Nepal. Meanwhile Independent trekkers can get their Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit at the Tourism Office in Kathmandu. There is another permit office at Monjo (a village just past Namche Bazar on the trek).
- Fill out the Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit form
- Hand over the completed form, your passport and 2 passport photos
- Pay the 3,000 rupees (only payable in Nepali Rupees) - there is no tax added.
- Get your permit
How to get a Solukhumbu Regional Permit or TREK CARD
Solukhumbu region has a 2,000 rupee regional fee to all trekkers.
The Solukhumbu permit can only be obtained in Lukla (while you are on the trek). The counter is at the end of Lukla Village.
- Pay 2000 rupees
- Get your Solukhumbu Regional Permit
No more TIMS Cards needed for EverestOnce the Solukhumbu region started issuing their own permits they stated there was no need for a TIMS card. However the Tourism Office who oversees the issued permits disagreed and throughout 2017-2018 they both went back and forth. You can read more about the details on additional Solukhumbu fee information.
As of 2023 TIMS cards are still no longer necessary. However reports state that Nepal Tourism Board and TAAN in Kathmandu are still selling them! TIMS cards cost USD $10 with a guide or $20 if you are trekking independently. TIMS cards have been replaced by the municipal Solukhumbu government with the regional tax ($20 pp) for trekkers in a group or with a guide. For solo trekkers TIMS has been replaced by the TREK card ($20) which is only available in Monjo or Lukla.
Here's a fully up to date list of National Park entry permits and TIMS fees for trekking in Nepal. A list of all trekking permits in Nepal can be found in the book Trekking in Nepal.
Some tour operators provide basic equipment
If going to the North Base Camp in Tibet your tour operator should have all your equipment for you aside from basic clothing. However do take note of the following list as you can't go wrong including them.
Warm breathable clothing, trekking shoes/boots, hats, sunglasses, sun protection cream are needed but trekking poles will help save your knees from wear and tear!
If going to the south or Nepali Everest Base Camp then you'll basically need to look after yourself. Although some local trekking companies are starting to offer sleeping bags and trekking poles for free (you'll need to return them after the trek).
A lot of your clothing requirements will depend on the time of year you go. The following are necessities:
- A good pair of hiking boots
- Good quality socks
- A wind cheater style jacket
- Long sleeve shirts
- Trekking pants
- Sun protection cream
- Rubber sandals
- Travel towel
- Water bottles (heat proof & water tight)
- Water purification system
- Wet Wipes
- Washing powder
For a more extensive trekking equipment list see below. Or if you'd like you read about the latest trekking gear available in Kathmandu. There's also an extensive list of trekking equipment and trekking stores in my trekking in Nepal guidebook.
Keep in mind if you do the trek during the off-peak winter season you'll need to carry extra clothing. Wearing layers is essential as it can get hot during the day so you'll remove clothing then. While when the sun goes down it can get very cold very fast.
Meanwhile during the monsoon season you'll need to bring a rain jacket, cap and think about additional socks. It's harder to dry things out so spares are essential.
Should I buy all my trekking gear at home or in Nepal?
Buy your trekking boots at home and break them in before arriving. The trekking boots available in Kathmandu are plentiful but bad quality fakes from China. Only use them as an emergency. Good quality trekking socks from home can help too. Though you can get trekking socks in Kathmandu. Sunglasses should also be bought at home as there are many fakes in Nepal. After that you can buy most things in Kathmandu.
See below for a more extensive list of things and equipment to pack.
Can I do laundry on the trek?
Yes, you can either have a tea house do your laundry at a cost per kg. This will not be by machine, it will be by hand. Very few people opt for this. Or, you can do your own laundry in a bucket. There are some teahouses that will charge you for the use of a bucket. You'll need to bring your own washing line as there might not be one provided or it might be full. Do obey teahouse rules about not hanging laundry in your room!
Please note the above is a very basic list. For a full comprehensive list please see my article on trekking equipment you need for Nepal
A certain level of fitness is required.
I would advise anyone going to either the North Base camp or Nepal's South Base Camp to see a doctor before you go for a check up and to talk about dealing with altitude sickness.
If you go to the Tibet side of Everest you'll spend most of your time in a Jeep with only the minimal of trekking effort needed.
For trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal you'll need to consider the amount of days you'll be out trekking. Most days include 4-7 hours of slow hiking. Altitude is the biggest problem (time of year & weather pending). Going slowly is essential to avoid sickness. Do not shorten your trek below 12 days. Do read about altitude sickness in Nepal.
This is one of the more difficult sections of Everest Base Camp trek where you need to climb over boulders so some fitness is certainly needed - it's also a lot steeper than it looks.
Many people from all walks of life, ages and fitness levels have trekked to Everest Base Camp. In the peak season there's nothing much to worry about in terms of cold (unless you are from a hot climate) or extreme weather. Do see above for more information about the weather at Everest Base Camp Trek.
Generally speaking, the slower you trek, the easier it is.
I have bad knees (or arthritis) can I still go to Everest Base Camp?
There are no paved roads so you will be walking on rough paths with loose rocks and rubble. Most people find they can manage this with the aid of walking poles. There are however some larger boulders that need to be climbed. There are not too many steps going downhill compared to other treks. Again, going slowly is the key to knee preservation too.
The biggest problem for people with bad knees will be the decent. This is where knees take the most stress. Again trekking poles will help but only you can be the judge of what you are capable of. Do keep in mind things like the time of year which will be factor too (cold), altitude and carrying a backpack.
I would recommend anyone with bad knees, ankles, back or any joint problems to strongly consider taking a porter.
Can my children go on the Everest Base Camp trek?
Yes is the general rule. It's advisable that your child is reasonable and able to understand and obey instructions immediately. Your child should be mature enough to recognize altitude sickness symptoms. Do keep in mind that unless you have a porter your child will need to carry their own clothes in a backpack. While it is possible for children to do the Everest Base Camp trek it's also important to realistically assess if they are capable.
What training can I do before going on the Everest Base Camp trek?
There's no specific training needed if you are reasonably fit. If you are completely sedentary then yes some cardiovascular training would be recommended. Stair climbing or hill walking will get most people ready.
Remember you'll be walking up and down rough paths for 8-12 days. You'll be at altitude too which will make things much harder.
Having a good level of fitness will help you enjoy your trek more and always remember - it's not a race!
People can get sick when trekking. Altitude sickness is the biggest problem. After that the odd bad stomach can happen as can a sprained ankle.
Do read about AMS and understand the dangers of ignoring it. A quick decent is needed if you start to feel unwell.
Are there medical facilities on the trek?
Most larger villages will have "some" form of medical clinic during peak season. Lukla, Namche, Khumjung, Pheriche and Gokyo all have clinics but none are modern and are best used for minor ailments.
You should bring your own personal medicine with you as medical supplies are basic.
For serious medical attention helicopter evacuation is available. It's highly recommend you get proper travel insurance to cover this in Nepal.
In terms of terrain there are no ropes needed and no ice picks needed. There is no vertical climbing involved. You will have to trek between 5 and 8 hours a day plus trek in high altitude.
The ground is not paved. It is rough, rocky and gravel strewn. Most of the trek involves long paths that go up and then down. People with weak ankles should take caution. Depending on the time of year you go there can also be snow and ice in the trails.
There are some boulders that need climbing, but you can also walk around many. The Khumbu Glacier can be tricky to walk on due to potholes, rocks and unsettled ground. Use caution or seek the expertise of a guide.
Chart showing the Everest Base Camp Difficulty
The above chart shows that difficulty generally increases with altitude.
For many day 2 from Phakding to Namche is one of the first real test as you reach Namche Bazaar and then hit the 3,435m mark. Many people start to feel the effects of altitude here. The good news is that on day 3 you stay in Namche Bazaar to further acclimatize. You may also venture up to Everest View at 4,000m as part of acclimatization.
Day 5 Tengbouche to Dingbouche sees another increase in altitude as you reach 4,400m. Once again the good news is the next day is part of your acclimatization days as you do a side trek to 4,600m
Day 7 Dingbouche to Lobuche is another long tough day for those effected by altitude and tiredness at 4,910m.
Some days are definitely tougher than others ... it's not a race - go slow but surely.
Day 8 Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp is a long 8 hour day which culminates at 5,380m. The good news is that you come back down a little to sleep at Gorak Shep which is 5,164m
Day 9 is long day with a tough start as you climb up Kala Patthar at 5,545m but after that it's down to 4,320m
Days 10-12 the altitude drops and things become easier though again many people find day 11 tiring due to the long day and the end of the trek.
I've never trekked before, can I still go to Everest Base Camp?
Yes of course! The word "Everest" gives many people the impression of snow blizzards, summits and frostbite. During peak season you are more likely to see tanned people in shorts, selfie sticks and faces covered in sun cream.
If the above days seem to tough for you then add more days to your trek for rest. It's that simple. I've met people who've taken a 12 day trek and turned it into 16 leisurely days. They've spent their rest days exploring side treks and quite simply sitting out in the sun. Trekking to Everest Base Camp does not have to be tortuous!
So long as you are reasonably fit and come prepared you'll do well!
Here is a full breakdown on the cost an Everest Base Camp Trek. Meanwhile here is a short version. Do remember that budget is subject to many things and relevant to your own needs.
Firstly here is a list of the most expensive types of treks to the cheapest:
$1,600-$5,000+ All inclusive package tours bought overseas are the most expensive.
$1, 500+ Package tours bought within Nepal are next (accommodation, meals, permits & flights are included).
$1,400 Going with an independent guide and porter is next (accommodation, meals, permits & flights are included).
$1,300 Going with just a guide is next (accommodation, meals, permits & flights are included).
$1,100 - 1,200 Going with a guide and paying for your own accommodation, meals, permits & flights.
$900-1000 Going it alone is cheaper.
$750-850 Going with partner shares accommodation costs
$ 700+ Leaving from Salleri (no flights -note this will take 2 extra days)
Online Package Tours
There's a staggering amount of online package tours to Everest. So many that's it's hard to tell the difference. The issue is in the small print and over charging. Many don't include meals or bundle you with a group. You also don't get to talk with your guide before going. Costs vary between too good to be true to $1,600+++. Here are some online package treks to Everest.
Package Tours bought in Nepal
Cheaper than buying a package tour online. Kathmandu is filled with trekking agents and companies. It's just a questions of visiting them and picking a company/service you like. Do read the itineraries carefully. There's a list of recommended trekking companies in my Trekking in Nepal Guidebook and my Nepal guidebook and do read how to hire a trekking guide in Nepal.
Independent Local Guide/Company & Porter Packages
By going with an independent company or guide you avoid the high overhead costs of the big trekking companies. All guides should be registered and licenses just like the company they work for. All your accommodation, meals, flights and permits are arranged by the guide. To find these guides/companies you can use the Find a Guide Service.
Independent Local Guide/Company Packages
Just like the above but slightly cheaper as you won't have a porter. Everything else is included from permits, accommodation, meals and flights. Once again to find these guides/companies you can use the Find a Guide Service.
Local Guide Only
Going with just a guide and paying for your own permits, flights, accommodation and meals brings you a little independence. You'll need to bring a big bundle of cash but the trek can be quite rewarding. At the end of the day the trek will probably cost you the same as a guide package trek and you may lose out on a nicer bed. Once again to find these guides/companies you can use the Find a Guide Service.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp Alone
If you've never trekked in Nepal before, I don't recommend going alone. Do please see MissingTrekker.com for more.
I've trekked alone, with a trekking partner, with a guide and with a porter. I generally much prefer trekking with a guide. They know what they are doing, you do not have to keep up with anyone, you can take a rest day whenever you want, you can take a side trek wherever you want and you get to make friends with someone and learn more about a place than through any other method.
That said, if you have trekked in Nepal before and want to trek alone to Everest Base Camp here are the costs.
Average 12 day trek cost to Everest Base Camp
|Item||Cost USD $|
|Permits (Sagamartha & Solukhumbu)||50|
|Guide x 12 days||336|
|Accommodation x 12||60|
|Water 4 liters a day||96|
|Charging Batteries (3 charges)||15|
Extras: Don't forget to include a tip for your guide 10%. Any soft drinks, sweets, hot drinks etc. you may want to purchase along the way.
Do you need a porter? Charging electronics? Taking a hot shower? Taking private (faster) transport? Add it on to the total.
- The cost of an average teahouse with shared bathroom is 300 rupees in the off season and 500-800 rupees in peak season (USD $3-$8.50). Privates cost from $15-$20. Room heaters can cost from $20.
- The cost of one liter of water starts at 100 rupees and reaches a maximum of 500 rupees at Gorak Shep.
- The cost of a plate of Dal Bhat starts at around 500 rupees and climbs to 1800 (meat) rupees (USD $5-$18).
- Charging a battery 200-500 rupees.
- Hot Showers cost 300-500 rupees.
- Average cost of guide USD $30 per day.
- Average cost of porter USD $22.
Getting the right guide for the Everest Trek can make all the difference in the world!
How to reduce costs on your trek?
You could take a water filtration system like a steripen, lifestraw just remember that they are not 100% protective and don't remove microscopic minerals, chemicals or viruses. Boiling water on the trek helps (100+ rupees) as does water sterilization drops.
If you take a porter make sure you used your full 20kg allowance. Bringing snacks etc. helps to keep costs down.
A solar charger may help to keep your phone going!
Guides often get discounted flights.
Do read my article for a full break down on how much an Everest Base Camp trek costs.
Accommodation on the Everest Base Camp trek is mix of traditional tea houses, more modern guesthouses and commercial hotels. The general rule of thumb is the higher up you go the lower the standard of accommodation. There is still one golden rule though.
All accommodation require that if you stay there you must eat all your meals there too.
Teahouses are generally owned by local families however things have been getting more commercial recently. They can have anything between 3 and 15 rooms. The rooms are basic with thin plywood walls. Some have private bathrooms while nearly all have shared bathrooms. Some will have squat toilets while others western. They have a large communal dining area. Costs for a teahouse room are around $2-5.
Guesthouses or lodges on the Everest Trek have become more popular in recent years. They offer more modern accommodation. They are usually found in the larger villages and are more wide spread in lower altitude. They offer plywood, concrete or stone walls. They usually have more private rooms and more western toilets. Costs for a guesthouse or lodge are around $5-20 depending on shared or private bathrooms.
Hotels are dotted along the lower portions of the Everest Trek (Lukla, Phakding, Namche & one in Pangboche). They offer modern facilities like concrete walls, private bathrooms with hot water. Costs for a hotel are around $25-100+
Not all types of accommodation are available so don't expect hotels all the way to base camp. Likewise all types of accommodation can get booked out.
Don't believe the hype about being able to book a room on the trek online. While technically some places are online not all are, moreover there are other reasons it doesn't work to book online.
- Internet connections not working at the hotel
- Your internet or mobile connection not working
- Payments from credit cards being rejected
- Delays on the trek mean (you'll need to pay for cancelations)
- Overbooking by tour groups (many places will tell you they were overbooked so you'll need to move on)
- Overbidding by local groups (as wealth increases in Nepal local groups are out bidding tourists for accommodation so again you'll be told there was an overbooking)
Don't panic. There's plenty of accommodation on the trails. There are also plenty of villages and houses between the main stopover points.
Trekkers with guides usually have the benefit of the guide calling ahead to book a room for you. This is great as the guides often personally know the accommodation owner and get the inside scoop on what's being booked out, big groups arriving etc.
Personally I find this one of the best reasons to be with a guide. I personally often don't like saying in accommodation with a large group there so I often ask my guide to check first.
If you are independently trekking then unless it's peak season you won't have a problem getting a room. During peak season you may have to shop around a little and visit a couple of places in case they are booked out. Worst case scenarios are either having to share a room with another independent trekker or sharing the common room area with other trekkers. The best advice for independent trekkers during peak season is to start your trek early and arrive early to secure a room.
All in all the Everest Trek Route has plenty of accommodation.
Bedding: In teahouses and guesthouses (lodges) you'll usually get one thick blanket with your bed. Unless there's a full booking there will be more blankets available. Most places don't charge for an extra blanket however in recent years a few have tried to.
Mattresses in teahouses and guesthouse are usually thin with one sheet over them. If you are in a room with two beds you can pile one mattress over the other if they are too thin. Or bring a light camping foam mat if it's a big issue.
Bringing your own sleeping bag is a good idea especially in the winter season for extra warmth. Many people will sleep in their clothes. Personally I prefer to strip down and use my jackets as extra covers (they are warm to get into the next morning too).
Staying warm. Heaters are available in some accommodation. They are usually electric heaters and you'll be charged around USD$20. Another option is have water boiled and placed into your water tight and heat proof drinking bottle to use as a hot water bottle at night. Otherwise there is usually a fire in the common room where people gather around.
Showers: Cold showers or bucket showers are generally available everywhere at no charge. A hot (gas powered) shower costs $3-5. Hot showers can be good or they may not be working well. It's best to ask first before paying.
Charging: If you have a private room with bathroom then you'll probably be able to charge your electronics at no extra charge. However for shared bathrooms your room will only have light switch and no more. You'll need to charge your electronics in a common room. The price of charging a battery ranges from $3-6.
|Tea House/Lodge Name||Telephone Number
|Tengbouche Guest House||+977-9841450594||Tengbouche|
|Snow Land||+977-9841581552||Gorak Shep
There are many more villages and teahouses in each of the above locations. Likewise there are even more in the village and trails between the above village names.
Please note the above are not recommendations, they are listed simply to help if you get stuck or need a telephone number. There are plenty of teahouses on this trekking route and it's best to check them out yourself as each season they change.
Every trekking region in Nepal has a slightly different approach to food and water. While Dal Bhat is always a staple bottled water in some regions is not always available. The Everest Region is planning to ban plastic bottles by early 2020. One important factor to remember is that in Nepal if you stay in a teahouse you are expected to eat all your meals there. If you eat outside then they will charge you more for accommodation!
Every tea house you come across will offer a menu. On it you will find things like, pancakes, chow mien, eggs, potatoes, pasta and Tibetan bread.
This is a plate of typical Dal Bhat on the Everest Base Camp Trek - rice, lentils, curry, fresh vegetables and soup (will change slightly at every meal)
Many will offer Sherpa stew (homemade noodles, meat, veg), momos and even Yak Steaks. The menus are in fact very similar to that which you will find in Kathmandu at a basic restaurant albeit more expensive.
|Fried eggs (2)||250-500 Rupees|
|Tibetan Bread||200-400 Rupees|
|Dal Bhat (Meat)||500-1800 Rupees|
|Dal Bhat (Veg)||450-900 Rupees|
|Boiled Potatoes||400-600 Rupees|
|Fried Noodles (Veg)||450-600 Rupees|
|Fried Potatoes with Cheese||550-900 Rupees|
|Pasta with sauce||500-800 Rupees|
|1 liter beer||1000+ Rupees|
|Soft Drinks (Coke, Sprite etc.)||200-500 Rupees||1 liter tap water (from underground spring or stream)||free|
|1 liter boiled water (for filtering)||100-300 Rupees||1 liter bottled water||100-500 rupees|
Meat is harder to find past Namche and you might want to think twice about it unless you are really staying in high-end accommodation. The reason is simple: refrigeration (or lack thereof). The second thing to keep in mind is that meat is quite costly on a trek due to getting it there and keeping it fresh. That said, you can still buy a steak at EBC if you want (peak season) but it will cost you and I don't really recommend it!
As you can see from the above food price graph both food and water on the Everest Base Camp trek prices increase with the altitude. Meat and fresh vegetables also become scarcer. It should be noted that food is more expensive on the Everest Trek than on other treks.
I often bring some Yak cheese on a trek to supplement my diet. Speaking of Yaks, it's probably best to avoid the infamous Yak steaks - many are just tough buffalo steaks. If you have porter you might also consider bringing some cans of tuna. But again, these are also available on the trek but will cost double or triple more than in Kathmandu.
By far the most popular food on the trek is Dal Bhat. A mix of rice, soup, vegetables and vegetable curry. It's served in large portions and satisfies most large trekking appetites as second servings are free!
A plate of fried potatoes with cheese is many a trekkers favorite - however those with weak stomach should give the cheese a skip!
Is there bottled water on the Everest base camp trek?
Yes, there's bottled water from Lukla all the way up to base camp. But, the price goes up the higher you go. A one liter bottle of water might start at 100 rupees and at base camp cost well over 400. Keep in mind you'll be drinking several liters a day so the costs mount up.
A budget solution to this is to use a chlorine/iodine or a water treatment solution or bring a steripen or lifestraw. However with the later is does not remove viruses and micro bacteria. You can have a guesthouse boil water for you to aid in its sterilization.
Please note that the Everest region is planning to ban plastic bottles in early 2020. Whether this happens on time is another question, but it will likely happen during the year.
Should I bring any food with me on the trek?
Most things are available, but at a cost. Chocolate bars seem to be something people crave for and are available all the way to base camp. But they will cost a lot more than in Kathmandu. There's no harm to carry a few bars or again if you have a porter it will help.
Trekking bars made of oats are available in Kathmandu at many supermarkets. The most popular Nepali brand is Mountain Man. They come in several flavors from chocolate, peanut along with cinnamon and apple. While not exactly tasty, they are filling.
Probably one of the most underrated things to bring are packets of mints or menthol sweets that help keep your mouth from getting try while trekking.
Can I buy beer, tea or coffee on the Everest Base Camp trek?
Yes you can. Just keep in mind that both alcohol and caffeine are not recommended when trekking at altitude due to the dehydration it can cause. If you suffer from caffeine headaches you may well want to come off coffee before your trek. Coffee is usually the instant variety and tea is usually in the form of tea bags. There are a few espresso machines working their way to Lukla and Namche bazar. Many trekkers bring their own Aeropress or instant coffee on a trek. So long as you buy the boiled water it's not frowned upon yet.
While this is meant to be a guide to the Everest Base Camp Trek I'll give you some brief details on what's required to actually Climb Mount Everest itself.
Aside from the technical training you will need and the costs of travel / equipment you may need to take note of the following:
The window of opportunity to summit Everest is in May. That's right, there's only a two to three week window of opportunity to climb Everest every year.
A low-budget trip can start with costs of USD$35,000 minimum for a group trek of 7. Solo trips can be up to and well over USD$65,000 just to start. So yes, going it alone is more expensive.
Now let's add some essential things on:
- Climbing permits are based on groups fees. $25,000 for 1 person; $56,000 for 4 people; $70,000 for 7 people.
- Khumbu Icefall Fee – $2,375 per group
- Satellite Phone permit – $2,300 per phone
- Garbage and Human Waste Disposal $4,000
- Oxygen for group of seven (5 canisters) $30,000
- Guide prices start at $25,000 and go up to $150,000
- Assistant guides are $15-20,000
- Doctor at base camp $3-5,000
- Sherpas $3,000
- Cooks $3,000
- Yak transport of your goods to EBC $100-175 per day
- Helicopter charters from Kathmandu to Lukla – $7,000 each
- Donations to various deities and rituals $300-$400
- Medical evacuation helicopter from Base Camp to Lukla - $5,000
Technical training can cost up to $8,000
Equipment can cost up to $15,000
Total cost of climbing Mount Everest? $70,000 -$120,000
Want to take a budget package trip to Everest instead? Okay prices here are between $45,000 - $90,000 with a western guide. You'll need to book about a year in advance.
Everest Summiteer Alan Arnette has a good break down of summit prices here.
I've completed the Everest Base Camp Trek during the off-peak winter season in late December and early January. There were harsh cold winds, snow and not many trekkers around. In October and November the weather was much nicer. In April I was worried about cloud cover be the higher up the bluer the skies got!
I write guidebooks about Nepal and keep everything here updated. Here's a handwritten account of a winter trek. It should give you an idea of what the trek is like at the most difficult time of year. And what to expect.
I transcribed everything as a personal diary.
The following is my day to day account of the Everest Base Camp Trek:
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 1 part 1 - Flight to Lukla
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal 1 part 2 - Yaks and broken boots
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 2 - First glimpse at Everest
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 3 - Acclimatization
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 4 - Mental battles begin
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 5 - Worst day
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 6 - Memorial at Lobuche
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 7 - Fantastic photos of Everest
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 8 part 1 - Snowed in at base camp
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 8 part 2 - Everest Base Camp
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 8 part 3 - Retreating from the snow
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 9 - Encounters with the Himalayan Tahr
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 9 part 2 - The locals
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 10 - The Everest Drug
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 11 - Trekking at night
- Everest Base Camp Trek Journal Day 12 - Flying out from Lukla
The above journals will give you a day by day account of my journey to Everest Base Camp. For a briefer breakdown on an average 12 trek here's an EBC itinerary.
|Day||Route||Distance (km)||Highest Altitude|
|1||Kathmandu to Lukla (flight) - trek to Phakding||8 km (4 hours avg)||2,660 m|
|2||Phakding to Namche Bazaar||12 km (6+ hours avg)||3,435 m|
|3||Namche Bazaar acclimatization day (hike)||(3 hours avg)||4,000m/ 3,435 m|
|4||Namche Bazaar to Tengbouche||10 km (6 hours avg)||3,890m m|
|5||Tengbouche to Dingbouche||11 km (6 hours avg)||4,400 m|
|6||Dingbouche acclimatization day (hike)||3 hours||4,600m / 4,400 m|
|7||Dingbouche to Lobuche||12 km (7 hours)||4,910 m|
|8||Lobuche to Gorak Shep & Everest Base Camp *||15 km (8 hours)||5, 180 m / 5, 380 m|
|9||Kala Patthar - Gorak Shep - Pheriche *||13 km (6 hours)||5,545 m / 4,320 m|
|10||Pheriche to Namche Bazaar||15 km (8 hours)||3,435 m|
|11||Namche Bazaar - Phakding - Lukla||16 km (7 hours)||2,850 m|
|12||Lukla to Kathmandu||35 minute flight||2,513 m|
*Depending on the weather Kala Patthar climbs and EBC visits are often swapped. e.g., you might climb Kala Patthar on arrival and go to EBC the next day or visa versa.
Note:Please be aware of Everest Base Camp trekking itineraries from trekking companies suggesting less than a 12 day trek. 12 days is the minimum safety recommendation for the Everest Base Camp trek due to acclimatization requirements. Any trek under that number of days is high dubious and may well put your life in danger.
Those confused about extra itineraries should note that the trek to EBC pretty much does not veer off the main route. So do be aware of "other" itineraries making it out like they are taking you a new way. They are not - they are just listing off different villages on the same route. What does happen is that you can stop for the night at different villages along the way. And of course you can stay in them if you wish. This is normal as you'll be passing them anyway. The truly different itineraries will include side treks to Gokyo Ri but do know that these will add significant days onto your EBC trek.
For those with a few extra days and extra fitness to spare you may want to consider adding Gokyo Ri into your itinerary. Again if you are fit enough and if you have the time.
Everest Base Camp with Gokyo encompasses several high passes so is a much more physical trek.
|Day||Route||Distance (km)||Highest Altitude|
|1||Kathmandu to Lukla (flight) - trek to Phakding||8 km (4 hours avg)||2,660 m|
|2||Phakding to Namche Bazaar||12 km (6+ hours avg)||3,435 m|
|3||Namche Bazaar acclimatization day (hike)||(3 hours avg)||4,000m/ 3,435 m|
|4||Namche Bazaar to Dole||10 km (6 hours avg)||4,200 m|
|5||Dole to Machharmo||5 km (3-4hours avg)||4,470 m|
|6||Machharmo to Gokyo||7 km (4-5 hours avg)||4,790|
|7||Gokyo side trek to Gokyo Ri & lakes||12 km (7 hours avg)||4,910 m|
|8||Gokyo to Thangnak||5-6 km (3 hours avg)*||4,750 m|
|9||Thangnak to Dzongla (crossing Chola Pass)||12 km (8-9 hours avg)||4,850m (pass 5420m)|
|10||Dzongla to Lobuche||5km (4-5 hours avg)||4, 900 m|
|11||Lobuche to Gorak Shep & EBC **||15km (10 hours)||5,364 m|
|12||- Gorak Shep - Pheriche **||13 km (6 hours avg)||5,545 m / 4,320 m|
|13||Pheriche to Namche Bazaar||15 km (8 hours avg)||3,435 m|
|14||Namche Bazaar - Phakding - Lukla||16 km (7 hours avg)||2,850 m|
|15||Lukla to Kathmandu||35 minute flight||2,513 m|
* This distance and time changes every year due to Glacial movement.
** Both of these days can involve swapping a climb to and visiting EBC. Lobuche to Gorak Shep is 3 km. However, if you are tired when you reach Gorak Shep you can trek and visit EBC the next morning before going to Pheriche. Or climb and leave EBC until the next morning. Or, vice versa. Views from Kala Patthar and EBC can be hampered by the weather so you might want to keep that in mind and make a decision when you arrive.
Everest Base Camp Trek is fully open. It was never closed and was not directly affected by the earthquake.
- Lukla airport: was not damaged at all. Lukla village had minor damage which is repairable.
- Phakding: had a couple of teahouses damaged. There are still plenty of places open.
- Namche: contrary to media reports Namche Bazaar had only minor damage with plenty of places still open.
- Tengbouche: had a few damaged teahouses with many more open.
- Debouche: had virtually no damage.
- Dingbouche: had virtually no damage.
- Periche: received a lot of damage and is being bypassed by guides.
- Lobuche: had only a few houses damaged while everywhere else is open.
- Gorak Shep: had no damage.
The Gokyo Treks are also open.
Electricity and water have not been affected by the earthquake.
One way flights from Kathmandu/Ramechhap to Lukla cost USD $215 on average. Trekking companies and guides get discounts. Foreigners are charged more than Nepali. Guides get discounted rates as well.
Passengers entering flight to Lukla
Some Nepali domestic airlines offer flights online (Yeti, Sita, Summit, Tara). My advice which I have repeated for years is not to book online through a Nepali airline.
If your flight is delayed or canceled (which often happens) then it is extremely difficult to reschedule online
Refunds usually happen, but again it takes time
Tickets are often blocked booked by large trekking companies
The best option to book a flight to Lukla is to do it though a local trekking agent or your guide. Not only do they get slightly cheaper fares, but are also able to refund you immediately and/or reschedule your flight.
This is year is yet another prime example of changes which have affected people booking flights to Lukla. Since 2019 Lukla flights were moved from Kathmandu to Ramechhap but only when CAAN (General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal) say so. Throughout the years airlines have still listed the flights departing from Kathmandu when they are actually departing from Ramechhap. It's confused people, cost money and added stress to treks. The reality in 2023 is that flights leave from Kathmandu, but if the airports capacity is reached, then Lukla flights will be moved to Ramechhap. This usually happens from the 1st of April to July and the 1st of October to December.
Please see below for details on the change from Kathmandu to Ramechhap for all Lukla bound flights.
In 2019 were when the first diversions for all Kathmandu-Lukla flights started. This began on April 1st 2019 - July 31st for certain flights. However it was then announced that from September 1st all Kathmandu-Lukla flights will change to Ramechhap-Lukla until December 31st.
In 2023 it was announced that all Lukla bound flights will leave from Ramechhap if Kathmandu airport reaches capacity.
What should you do? First of all understand that the situation is a mess and not caused by trekking agents. It is caused by airlines, airports, and a lack of planning. Everyone is frustrated. And it's been going on a while.
In 2018 Nepal was beset with flight delays and cancellations from Kathmandu to Lukla. The official reason for this is due to bad weather at Lukla airport. However local guides also point out that airport traffic management is a greater reality.
Don't book a flight to Lukla online
Ignore online advice that you can book your own Kathmandu Lukla flight. Some airlines have simply not updated their online systems. The same holds true for Ramechhap to Lukla flights offered online - if the flight is delayed or cancelled you are on your own at the airport in trying to reschedule. Huge queues, angry or confused trekkers, a lack of organization and trekking agents with connections jumping the queues make rescheduling a massive headache. Likewise, many trekking agents are not informing clients. If you have a trekking guide or agent who lets you know about a possible disruption - then you've got an honest one.
This year I've received many emails from independent trekkers saying they booked Kathmandu to Lukla flights online and they just got an email from the airline saying their flight had been cancelled - what should they do? It's caused confusion, loss of money, and indeed cancelled trips to Nepal. As I've repeated over the past number of years - the only answer to this is to book flights through a trekking agent rather than online yourself.
The best option to book your Ramechhap to Lukla flight is to go through a local travel agent or your own trekking guide. Use my find a trekking guide service if you are unsure of finding a good guide.
The number one option is going with a guide who will then reschedule the flight ticket for you on the spot and perhaps most importantly find you a seat! The second option via a travel agent is that they will do the same thing.
Are you going to fly from Kathmandu or Lukla?
Nobody knows until 24 hours before the flight. That's when the airlines give the trekking agents notification. However, the majority of people will be flying from Ramechhap. Yes, there are a few "reserved" Kathmandu tickets but they are for Nepali or people will to spending more money than a helicopter.
For a trekker there's little you can do. You'll be going to Lukla in either case. In both cases do read on so you'll be prepared.
If you are short on days for your Everest trek and worried about the airport change
The weather changes in the mountains on an hourly basis and can delay flights. The most important thing is not to quit. If you only have 14 days in Nepal or have limited time, give it another day for the weather to clear. If you are not comfortable with this, then you have two options.
- Take a helicopter to Lukla
- Go to Ramechhap / Manthali Airport earlier
- Go on a different trek
For option one be prepared to pay more. A helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla can only take 6 people at a time and needs 6 people to come back to Kathmandu in order to make the flight. So, a guide or travel agent will get on the phone and start coordinating with other travel agents to make this happen. If it all works out then on average the cost is USD $250-350 per person one way. However, if they cannot get enough people then the price goes up.
Option two means taking a 4-5 hour taxi or micro van ride to Ramechhap / Manthali Airport earlier. A micro van with a capacity of 18 people can charge up to USD $200 in total. There is local bus but the road is bad and the journey takes 5+ hours. Many guides are arranging private cars at $20 for a one way ride.
Option three simply means you've run out of time when waiting for a new flight so rather than pack it all in, go on another trek. You can easily change flights to Pokhara and do any number of great treks from there. For some ideas of other treks, see this list of treks in Nepal.
How to get from Kathmandu to Ramechhap/Manthali?
Every year when the airport flights shift from Kathmandu to Ramechhap (Manthali airport) there is also confusion on how to reach Ramechhap. In previous years airlines ran their own buses but this is no longer the case. The biggest problem is that most Lukla bound flights leave from 6am in the morning as the weather is best then. This means you'll need to either that a private bus/car in the middle of the night from Kathmandu or take a day time bus from Kathmandu and stay overnight in Ramechhap. Public buses leave from Gongabu bus park (see my guidebook to Nepal or Trekking in Nepal for more).
Private buses are never announced until a few weeks after this change in airports occurs. Currently Master Himalaya (opposite Saraswoti Campus) offer 3am buses to Ramechhap (return). +977 9841 2455 24 / +977 9813 2636 92. Buses cost about 2,000 rupees.
Private cars to Ramechhap cost about $100-150 one way.
Here is a list of hotels in Ramechhap/Manthali
- S.S.F Green Guest House +977 48-540169
- G.S Hotel +977 48-540599
- Hotel Alina +977 48 5400062
- Lau Hotel +977 48 540060
- Pahuna Guest House +977 48-540373
- Okhaldunge Hotel +977 48-540311
- S.S. Restaurant +977 48-540530
- Namobuddha Hotel +977 48-540090
- Sunrise Hotel +977 48-540015
- Sailung Hotel +977 9860599198
- Sowagatam Hotel +977 9860962389
Keep in mind this change will also cause a change in plans when coming from Lukla to Kathmandu as you be will arriving at Ramechhap airport.
In all cases I would advise all trekkers on a limited time frame to try and extend their trip to Nepal by at least 2 days to counter all of the above. For those with additional time (5-6 days) you can still trek from Jiri to Lukla and on to Everest Base Camp.
While the above may not be the ideal trip you wanted in Nepal, it's important to be prepared. This is especially true if you only have a limited amount of time. Domestic flight changes are yet another reason why you should get the right travel insurance for Nepal.
Between 2018-2020 Nepal's helicopter industry took off. There's no getting around the fact that part of this was due to the long-standing helicopter rescue scam in Nepal. Today there are genuine helicopter ride options both to and back from Everest Base Camp. There are several helicopter options.1
The first option is to trek all the way to EBC then take a helicopter back to Lukla before taking a plane back to Kathmandu. You are at the mercy of your guide or company in regards to cost. If no helicopter is at Gorak Shep then one has to be called up for you. This can cost up to USD$10,000 for the full trip. This price is also the same as a Lukla - EBC - Lukla helicopter flight.
If there is a helicopter at Gorak Shep then the single journey can cost USD $5,000 for a full helicopter. However, this price is drastically reduced when pilots are looking to fill seats on the way to or back. The price can drop to USD$300-500 per person.2
The second option is to fly by helicopter from Lukla to Gorak Shep. Wait an hour.
The third option is to charter a helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla thereby skipping any possible flight delays from Kathmandu/Ramechhap to Lukla. Prices are around $400 per seat for a one-way flight. All seats need to be filled before the helicopter will leave.
As you can tell there is no set system or set prices. Again, you are at the mercy of both trekking agents and helicopter companies who are all out to make as much money as they can from you.
If money is not an issue for you then everything is indeed possible. If money is an issue then do expect on the fly changes to your "deal". An example of this is chartering a helicopter, paying for it and then finding people with many excuses joining your ride and also paying someone else for it. With any helicopter flight in Nepal - do exercise due caution.
Finally, if you do opt for flights or tours to Everest Base Camp itself rather than trek there is a portion of the trekking and local community who will frown upon you. This is not just because "you did not trek" but also because of the disturbances (noise) helicopters are making to the trekking regions of Nepal. Locals also say it has had an impact on their livelihoods (people not staying in teahouses). Many local administrations are trying to block leisure helicopter flights in and out of trekking regions. All things to be considered.
In 2018 it was revealed that trekking, medical and helicopter companies had been running an travel insurance scam in Nepal for the past 10 years. It involved offering "to good to be true" priced Everest Treks subsidized by cashing in on a fake medical emergency and travel insurance payout. It has damaged Nepal's reputation as an honesty country.
By mid 2018 over a dozen companies were listed as being involved.
Ways to protect yourself
It is now important to have a brief read about the scam and how to avoid it. You can read about the Nepal Helicopter Rescue scam and be prepared before you go. None of the these trekking companies have ever been listed in my guidebook to Nepal. All companies are vetted carefully and I never accept sponsored treks. The companies involved were all wealthy, well connected Nepali companies. Now more than every it's better to go with a registered and safe Nepali local company.
It's also become very important to choose the right trekking travel insurance for Nepal.
I get quite a lot of questions about doing the Everest Base Camp trek so here's a compilation of frequently ask questions.
Q: I've never trekked before, can I do the Everest Base Camp trek?
It really depends on your level of fitness. For first time trekkers I'd certainly advise in taking a guide, giving yourself plenty of days to complete the trek, taking your time and going during peak season rather than in the off-peak seasons.
Discover Sherpa Farm Houses under mountains!
Q: Everything is so expensive online, how easy is it to arrange an organized tour in Kathmandu?
Very easy. You can basically fly in and arrange an organized trek for the next day. Guaranteed that's a little extreme, but it can be done. Ideally I'd give it a couple of days of pricing around and interviewing potential agencies/guides. If you are stuck, or short on time then you can use my Find a Trekking Guide Service.
Q: I want to do the trek solo but can't book a flight to Lukla online! Help!
There are quite a few local airlines flying to Lukla several times a day. The problem is that they have a habit of making things difficult for you should a flight be delayed or canceled due to weather etc. You'll often see a guide and his group get in front of you when this happens. It's still better to let your guide or an agency do the booking for you. A few tour agencies will book on their behalf for you. The easiest way to do it is by visiting an agency in Kathmandu and buying your flight ticket personally. You can also buy an open ended return ticket. Once you know the day you want to return simply telephone the same agency. There is mobile reception along parts of the trek and landlines. The alternative is to buy a ticket from an agent on the Lukla side. Do remember though that flights are heavily subject to weather conditions. Check out my post on flying out of Lukla!
Q: Are there dorm rooms available or just teahouses?
Most of the rooms are twin rooms. If you are alone, then you'll have the twin to yourself. There are a few teahouses offering dorm rooms, but not many.
Q: What is a teahouse?
The traditional trekking name given to a Nepalese guesthouse on a trekking trail. You can read more about trekking accommodation in Nepal.
Q: What are the toilets like on the way to Everest Base Camp?
It depends on your accommodation. If you are paying a higher price for attached bathrooms then you'll have a western style toilet. However, the vast majority are shared bathrooms and squat toilets. That said, many teahouses have installed a western toilet and you may get lucky. In all cases, you should be prepared to use a squat toilet. Do not expect private toilets for the entire trek - some villages simply don't have them.
Q: I heard Lukla is dangerous to fly into. How true is that?
Lukla is indeed a dangerous airstrip as it's one of the shortest in the world. That said crashes are rare, but have happened in the past.
Q: How much luggage can I take on the plane to Lukla?
There's a 10kg limit on how much you can take to Lukla. You can hand carry 5kg. You can pay extra to bring more main luggage. It's usually USD$1-3 per kilo. Each airline had their own fee, so it changes frequently. If your guide is friendly, they can always take some for you. Airlines tend to bundle people together too. So if you are a couple, then they may just count all your luggage together e.g. 20 kg for both of you, so if your luggage is 12kg and the other persons is 8kg you are fine. One last point, you don't have to take all your luggage with you! It is very easy to leave your heavy stuff in your hotel storage until you come back.
Q: I'm genuinely scared of heights is this a problem?
There are some narrow areas along the trek and some boulders to climb over or around. There are also some steep passes to overcome. Think 45 degree angles. If you can handle that, then you should be fine. The biggest obstacle for people who are scared of heights to overcome comes from crossing suspension bridges. This can be unnerving to say the least. Make sure your guide is aware of this and prepared to deal with any issues that may arise e.g. fainting etc. Here's a photo of a Nepalese suspension bridge to give you an idea.
The Khumbu glacier with 8 of the worlds highest mountains awaits you!
Q: Is it necessary to buy bottled water? Can't we drink boiled or tap water?
Yes, tap water is available but it's sourced from a natural spring. There may be bacteria in it. Boiling water is a safe option as is using water purification drops or pills. Teahouses charge for boiling water (50-100 rupees per liter)
Q: Are there any ATM's on the Everest Base Camp Trek?
Yes, but they don't always work and are only available at Namche Bazar and Lukla. It's far better to get all your money ready in Kathmandu. You can get cash advances from hotels but there are also steep fees involved with some charging up to 10%. Money changers will also offer cash advances but again you will be looking at 8-15% rates. Upper scale hotels will take credit cards but again with fees. It's far, far better to bring Nepalese rupees with you. In a fix, bring some US Dollars or Euro for back-up.
Q: Is it a good idea to carry food stuffs and cook it using dry wood at higher altitudes?
There's very little wood available over 4000m. You will also not be allowed to cook inside teahouses. You can however bring your own snacks or supplementary foods. e.g. cheese, cans of tuna etc,.
Q: Do I need special travel insurance for the Everest Base Camp Trek?
It really depends on the small print of your current travel insurance provider. Many will not include mountainous trekking or mountain climbing. Do check with them to confirm that trekking to Everest Base Camp is covered by your policy.
Many do or will not cover you above certain altitudes either. You need to be sure that they allow you to select the correct level of cover for your trek! Keep in mind that a typical rescue costs $5,000 just for the helicopter alone, so it's strongly advisable to get insurance cover.
Here's an article I wrote about trekking insurance for Nepal.
Q: Can bring my own tent to Everest Base Camp?
Yes, you can. But you'll need to be prepared for the elements. I would advise this only if you are experienced in outdoor camping. Some guesthouses will charge a nominal fee for you to camp there. Likewise keep in mind things like camping stoves, fuel and food which will need to be carried.
Q: Can I charge my camera batteries on the trek? Should I bring a Kindle, iPad or laptop?
Yes you can charge batteries but you'll be charged by the hour and you'll have to bring your own charger. Same goes for laptops, phones or anything else that you need to plug in. Charges vary between 300 and 500 rupees per hour.
I personally wouldn't bother bringing a laptop on a trek, it'll be bouncing around all day and subject to damage. As for iPad's or Kindles? Well keep in mind that you will be meeting others on your treks and will be going to sleep early so there's not always time for reading. There are usually a few old magazines in teahouses that can be read.
Q: Is there internet on the Everest Base Camp Trek?
Many teahouses will have WIFI however it doesn't always work, the speed is bad and they will charge you between 200 rupees to 500 rupees to use it. In other words, don't expect WIFI to work and when it does don't expect to be uploading photos. It's best used for sending a quick message home to let everybody know where you are and that you are fine.
There is a service called Everest Link which offers higher speed internet. You basically buy a prepay card and whenever you see their signs you should be able to log in and get a signal. It does not work in all locations. But the service is improving.
You can also try purchasing a SIM card before going on your trek. However signals are not regular and again expect 3G or 2G speeds when they do work. For more information do read more about WIFI and the internet in Nepal.
Q: I have allergies, will food be a problem on the trek?
Depends on your allergies! The most common form of food on the trek is Dal Bhat, a plate mix of rice, vegetables and lentils. Here's an exact look at the type of dal bhat you'll get on a trek. Menu's do have a wide choice of plain pasta, noodles, pancakes and rice based dishes.
Q: What happens if I get sick or get hurt while trekking?
There are basic pharmacies in most larger villages along the trek. There's a hospital in Khumjung and a few altitude sickness clinics open during the peak season. Basically you are on your own for the duration of your trek (hence going with a guide/porter is a good idea). However in the event of an emergency there usually is access to a telephone line or satellite phone for an evacuation via helicopter. This is another reason to be sure you are covered with adequate travel insurance!
Meanwhile most everything else if covered on other articles on trekking you'll find below or in the right-hand side bar at the top (desktop) or below if you are on mobile.
The above information should give you a brief outline and understanding about trekking to Everest Base Camp. My guidebook to Nepal contains a lot more including daily itineraries on the trek..
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The books contain day-by-day guides with accuracy using scalable maps, photographs and travel-tested up-to-date trekking information.
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First Time Trekking in Nepal
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