A trek to the Everest Base Camp is an amazing experience and achievement – it is also a trip that is more accessible than many might initially think.
Commercially guided groups have been climbing Everest for decades, and the popularity of the Base Camp trek only continues to grow as more climbers come to understand how much of a realistic goal it is.
A big part of the attraction to visiting the area is the support and infrastructure that surrounds the trek. This is also where The Bucket List Company comes in, as we can help you well on your way to the mountainous adventure of your dreams with our Everest treks!
We’ve put together the ultimate guide for everything you need to know about making the trek to Everest Base Camp. From an overview of the route itself to the food you’ll eat and sights you’ll see, our guide’s got you covered.
Location and History
Climate and Environment
Everest Base Camp Routes
Equipment and What to Pack
Insurance and Health Considerations
Things to Do in Kathmandu
Things to See After the Trek
The History and Location of Everest Base Camp
Named for Sir George Everest, who recognised it as the highest mountain in the world back in 1841, it wasn’t until 1856 that the mountain became widely known as ‘Everest’ in the western world. To the people of Nepal, the mountain is known as Sagamartha, meaning “goddess of the sky”, while Tibetans call it Chomolungma, or “goddess mother of the world”.
After many attempts, the mountain was first summited in 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Nepali climbing partner Tenzing Norgay. Since then more than 9,000 successful summit attempts have been made on the mountain, with around 800 attempts made every year.
Around 40,000 trekkers also make their way to the more manageable Everest Base Camp each year.
Where is Mount Everest and Everest Base Camp?
To find the 8,848m summit of Everest, you’ll need to head to South East Asia to the Mahalangur Himal range of the Himalayas.
The mammoth mountain lies on the border between Nepal and Tibet, with its Base Camp sitting at a height of 5,364m above sea level at the foot of the Khumbu glacier.
How Tall is Mount Everest?
Everest’s first official height was recorded by Andrew Waugh in 1856; he calculated it to be exactly 29,000ft, or 8,840m. However, as he didn’t want people thinking he’d simply rounded the height to the nearest thousand, he reported it as standing at 29,002ft instead!
Over the years, modern surveys have found Everest to stand at 8848.86m. During a 2020 survey, it was also reported that Everest is growing about 40cm a century!
The Environment of Mount Everest
When you first think of Mount Everest, snow and ice will likely come to mind. But what is the climate and weather of Everest and its surrounding areas really like?
What is the Climate at Everest Base Camp Like?
Unlike anything we’re used to, Nepal experiences five distinctly different seasons in a year:
Altitude has a big influence on the average temperatures during each season. For example, the Kathmandu Valley enjoys pleasant average summer temperatures of 20°C-35°C, and dips as low as 2°C-12°C in winter.
Meanwhile, in the mountainous northern regions, summer temperatures are more moderate, while winter lows are often below zero, bringing snow to the valley floors and making high passes impossible to cross.
On average, in the mountains, the temperature drops about 6°C for every 1000m of ascent.
The Ecology of Mount Everest
On the trail from Lukla towards Base Camp, you’ll travel through forested terrain with a roaring river below you.
As you gain height over the next few days, the landscape around you changes slightly and you’ll experience an alpine moorland environment. Climb higher again and the environment is very arid as you travel across the moraines, past Gorak Shep, towards Base Camp itself.
The Geology of Mount Everest
A whopping 65% of Nepal can be classified as mountainous regions, with regions that also account for a third of the Himalayan mountain range and contain eight of the world’s fourteen mountains over 8000m.
The Himalayas lay on an active seismic zone, where the Indio-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates are colliding. These massive land masses are still moving, as proved by the 2015 earthquake.
The activity of the seismic zone means that the Himalayas are still growing at a rate of nearly 27mm a year, and they’re also moving north-east by a couple of inches each year too!
Which Route Should You Take When Trekking to Everest Base Camp?
40,000 people trek to Everest Base Camp from Lukla Airport each year. Many of them choose the standard Everest Base Camp route, but there are also two other stand out treks that offer amazing experiences.
The Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary
You might find slight variations between different trekking companies when undertaking the “classic” EBC trek, but you’ll always be on the same trail, perhaps stopping in different villages overnight.
Day 1: Kathmandu – Lukla – Phakding/Monjo
Ideally you’ll arrive in Lukla between 7 and 9am, but it’ll be totally weather dependent. When you arrive in Lukla, you’ll head to a teahouse for breakfast and a coffee before you start trekking.
The first day’s hiking is steady and the total trekking time today will be around 3-5 hours depending on your final destination.
- Lukla (2,860m) – Phakding (2,610m) = 9km (3 hours)
- Or Lukla (2,860m) – Monjo (2835m) = 13km (5 hours)
Day 2: Phakding/Monjo – Namche Bazaar
The start of the trek today is ‘Nepali flat’; little bits of up and little bits of down.
During the first few hours you’ll get to cross some of the famous (and slightly terrifying) suspension bridges in the Khumbu. You’ll continue to follow the river (Dudh Khosi) to the final suspension bridge of the day.
Once you’ve reached the other side, you’ll then start your climb up Namche Hill. It takes most trekkers around two hours to get to the Namche Bazaar, the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region.
- Monjo (2,835m) – Namche Bazaar (3,440m) = 8km (4 hours)
Day 3: Acclimatisation Day at Everest View Hotel
Many itineraries will offer an acclimatisation day today, and we’re no different. Today, you’ll head up for your first view of Mount Everest.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar – Tengboche
After ascending out of Namche, the first few hours are relaxed, and you can enjoy the views around you, high above the river valley below.
The track then descends steeply for your lunch stop next to the river. From here, it’ll take most trekkers just over two hours to climb the 700m vertical ascent via the zigzag path to reach the town of Tengboche and the famous monastery.
- Namche Bazaar (3,440m) – Tengboche (3,867m) = 12km (6 hours)
Day 5: Tengboche – Dingboche
Today’s trek starts off downhill and you’ll continue again with some ‘Nepali flat’ before crossing the river and ascending to Pangboche.
It takes around two hours to get to Pangboche. From there, it’s another four hours of trekking to Dingboche.
- Tengboche (3,867m) – Dingboche (4410m) = 12km (5 hours)
Day 6: Acclimatisation Day
On our acclimatisation day we always spend the morning trekking towards Chukhung (4,730m) for our acclimatisation walk. On this walk, you get amazing views of Ama Dablam (6,812m) and the other mountains around you.
You’ll arrive back at the teahouse in time for lunch, and then have the afternoon to relax and recoup before the trek starts again the following day.
- 3-4km (2-3 hours)
Day 7: Dingboche – Lobuche
We’ll follow the trail back towards the Khumbu Valley towards Tukla (4,620m), which usually takes around 2.5 hours to reach. This is where you’ll stop for lunch and an hour’s rest.
After lunch you’ll slowly make your way towards Lobuche. Once you reach the top you’ll enter the Everest Memorial. From the Memorial, it takes about an hour and a half to reach your well-earned bed for the night in Lobuche.
- Dingboche (4,410m) – Lobuche (4,940m) = 12km (6 hours)
Day 8: Lobuche – Everest Base Camp – Gorak Shep
Today, we leave Lobuche for our end goal destination, Everest Base Camp!
Your first stop for the day will be Gorak Shep (5,164m). The trail to Gorak Shep is again ‘Nepali flat’, crossing boulder fields and glacial moraine. It’ll take around three hours to get to Gorak Shep, where you’ll have a late breakfast/early lunch before continuing on for a further two hours to reach Everest Base Camp.
Once you reach Base Camp you’ll have time to enjoy everything that it is, and the plentiful views of the mountains around you. Get all the photos you want and have a wander around before we start our 2-hour trek back to Gorak Shep
- Lobuche (4,940m) – Everest Base Camp (5,364m) – Gorak Shep (5,164m) = 10km (8+ hours)
Day 9: Gorak Shep – Kala Patthar – Pangboche
Many providers will offer you the opportunity to trek to the top of Kala Patthar on your trek, and we always put this into our itinerary the day after you’ve reached Base Camp.
You’ll need to leave the teahouse around 4am for the 2-hour trek to Kala Patthar’s summit for the sunrise. We’re aiming to get there before sunrise to give you the very best view of Everest that you’ll get on this trip.
We’ll be heading back the way we came for the first part of the day, so you’ll go back through Lobuche and along to the Everest Memorial before dropping down the Tukla pass.
- Gorak Shep (5,164m) – Kala Patthar (5,643m) = 1.2km (2 hours)
- Gorak Shep (5,164m) – Pangboche (3,985m) = 18km (6.5 hours)
Day 10: Pangboche – Khumjung
This is another point on the trek where itineraries change depending on which company you’ve gone with. On our trek, we’ll finish in Khumjung today; we generally arrive at Khumjung in time for a late lunch, giving you the afternoon to explore.
- Pangboche (3,985m) – Khumjung (3,790m) = 9km (4 hours)
Day 11: Khumjung – Monjo
You’ll spend the morning trekking down the hill to Namche Bazaar. Today is a nice, easy day and you’ll have lots of spare time.
You’ll arrive in Namche by mid-morning and everyone will have some time to explore the town one last time and buy anything they didn’t want to carry on the way up. After lunch, it’s time to continue down to Monjo for your evening stop.
- Khumjung (3,790m) – Monjo (2,835m) = 12km (3-4 hours)
Day 12: Monjo – Lukla
We’ve now exited the Sagarmatha National Park and the final challenge is the last uphill section into Lukla for your final night of sleeping in the mountains ahead of the morning flight back to Kathmandu.
- Monjo (2,835m) – Lukla (2,860m) = 13km (5 hours)
Everest Base Camp and the Gokyo Lakes Trek
For some, the classic EBC trail might sound a little too well-travelled, with its 40,000 annual visitors. Others aren’t so keen on the idea of retracing their steps and would rather a round trip than a “there and back”.
On the Gokyo Lakes alternative trek, you’ll approach EBC the classic way but, on the return, you’ll climb the Cho La pass at a dizzying 5,420m to give access to the valley to the west of Everest.
Here you’ll find the village of Gokyo, a summer Sherpa farming village, and will pass the five sacred lakes on the moraines along the side of the Ngozumpa glacier. This route has similarly jaw-dropping views of the Himalayas and Everest but is hidden away from the crowds and the commercialism that follow them.
Everest Base Camp and Island Peak Trek
For another alternative route you might consider the Island Peak trek.
Imja Tse, commonly known as Island Peak, is seen as you look north from Dingboche. This glorious mass of ice rises like an island out of the valley and is one of the most popular trekking peaks in the whole of Nepal.
How Hard is the Everest Base Camp Trek?
Here’s the reality: most of us are never getting to the top of Everest. But just because you’re not scaling the highest mountain on the earth, it doesn’t mean you won’t get the opportunity to experience its awesome heights from below.
Experiencing the great mountain from Base Camp is an incredible experience in its own right, and is far more accessible than the incredibly draining, dangerous and effort-filled climb to the summit.
And the best bit is that there’s no technical climbing required at all. Instead, it’s a long hike.
How Fit Do You Need to Be?
Not that fit.
You’ll need to have a basic level of fitness, but you don’t need to be a bodybuilder or a marathon runner. The key characteristic required to trek to Base Camp is determination.
Hard Do You Need to Train?
The best prep you can do is lots of walking – that’s going to be your primary activity for all of the trek after all!
Don’t just head out for a stroll though, take your backpack; it’s much more effective to try to replicate the load you’ll be carrying on the trek.
Accommodation on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Nepalese teahouses are the most popular accommodation for trekkers around Everest, providing everything you need for a comfortable night’s sleep between hikes.
Dotted along your route to Everest Base Camp, these bastions of warmth will be a welcome sight at the end of another day’s trekking.
What to Expect From Nepalese Teahouses
These humble abodes will provide you with a haven for the night, though prepare yourself for little more than the bare necessities. A single bed, a little electricity, and the possibility of a hot shower will be a welcome solace after each day’s trekking.
You’ll get a single bed to sleep in, complete with a pillow, sheets and a bed cover too. We’d always recommend getting in your sleeping bag and using a pillow liner to sleep as hygienically as you can though.
What Food Do You Eat on the Everest Base Camp Trek?
It’s understandable that this is one of the most common questions we get – food is an important part of any holiday, but when you’re booking the trip of a lifetime, it has to be even more special.
Tips for Eating in Nepal
The first thing you need to know is that the food will vary significantly from Kathmandu to the remote mountain villages of the Everest Base Camp trail. In Kathmandu, you can get more or less any type of cuisine you can think of – from local Nepali dishes to international fare, cooked to the highest of standards.
However, in the mountains, resources are harder to come by, meaning there’ll be a smaller selection of delicious local Nepali dishes, plus a few ‘Western’ meals thrown in for good measure.
As meat is difficult to transport up to EBC and cannot be refrigerated, we’d highly recommend that all trekkers avoid meat dishes on the Everest Base Camp trek – with the exception of tinned fish and preserved items.
It’s also not advised to drink the water in Nepal, so we suggest you bring your own water bottle with a filtering system or chlorine tablets.
Nepalese food typically includes lentils, grains, spices, potatoes, curried vegetables, meat and dough snacks. Many local people will eat dal bhat – curried lentil soup with rice, vegetable curries and pickle – for up to three meals a day.
But there’s a whole range of tasty dishes to try, from spring rolls and momos to chow mein and rice balls.
Who are Your Everest Base Camp Guides?
If there’s one thing you can guarantee on a trek to Everest Base Camp, it’s that you will be well looked after throughout your travels.
You’ll have a team of experienced, vigilant guides and a portering team seeing to your every need. The person in charge of this support team is known as the “Sardar”, whose job it is to manage and organise the rest of the in-country team.
They’re generally fluent English speakers and tend to be the most experienced members of the team. Their responsibilities include hiring the porters and assistant guides, assigning responsibilities to other members of the team and handling all the logistics on the trek.
The Sardar will employ a number of assistant guides to help you on your way as you trek, generally on a ratio of about 1 guide per 5 trekkers. These porters will help carry your belongings and order food at the teahouses.
Tipping Your Guides
At the end of your trek, it’s customary to tip the support team as a thank you for all they’ve done for the group on their travels. Normally, this is put together as a group, then given to the Sardar, who will split the tip up amongst the support crew, depending on the importance of their role to the team.
Each individual trekker would normally put somewhere between $60-$90 into the tip. However, if you feel you would like to specifically tip one team member who has helped you, you can give them a personal tip.
The Cost of the Everest Base Camp Trek
Whether you’re budget-dependent or not, it’s important to consider how much you want to pay for your Everest Base Camp trip – and what this cost will actually get you.
At the cheapest end of the scale, there’s the option of trekking to Everest Base Camp independently.
At this time, it’s not a legal requirement to have a guide to trek to Base Camp – you can go it alone if you choose. This will obviously save you money, but there are several drawbacks.
If you’re trekking alone, you’ll have to navigate your own way along the trails and carry your own bags, which makes the trek much more physically and mentally difficult. There is also no expert on hand if anything goes wrong. Ultimately, the cost of a local guide is a very small price to pay for the safety and ease they’ll bring to your experience.
The Benefits of Trekking With a Travel Company
Booking with a tour company takes away all the stress of organising a trip and the logistics involved, allowing you to focus on the adventure.
This will, of course, cost you more – but only because everything is included in one price!
One important thing to bear in mind when you’re choosing a company to trek Everest Base Camp with is whether they include UK guides as well as local guides.
While Local guides are fantastic – they have all of the local knowledge and expertise from living in Nepal and having done the Base Camp trek hundreds of times – UK guides have their benefits too. They give you a point of contact from the moment you depart from the airport to the moment you arrive back home.
Cost of Flights to Kathmandu
Tour operators will already have relationships formed with flight agents, and they’ll be able to get good industry rates on quality flights.
Generally-speaking, taxis and tuk-tuks are affordable in Nepal, but as with any country, journeys to and from the airport will be charged at a much higher rate, so having a transfer booked in with your tour operator is usually preferable.
Booking your flight to Lukla as part of a package tour is also a much better idea in most cases.
Accommodation Cost in Kathmandu
Again, a tour agent will be booking rooms in hotels for a larger group of clients, so it’s highly likely that they’ll be able to get a much more competitive rate for accommodation than you could independently.
How Much Does Food Cost on the Everest Base Camp Trek?
You can expect to spend around $25 dollars per day for three meals if you’re not using an inclusive operator, plus money for any snacks.
Many tour operators don’t actually include the cost of food in their treks. Here at The Bucket List Company, we include all of your meals and refreshments, permits, flights, accommodation and everything else in the price of all our treks in Nepal, so that you never have to worry about unexpected costs.
What Equipment Do You Need on the Everest Base Camp Trek?
Another big question we get is “how much can my bag weigh for the EBC trek?”
On your international flight you’ll have 23kg for your hold baggage plus your hand luggage. We’d advise not taking your day sac as your hand luggage bag, for two reasons:
- You’ll need an additional bag so you can leave stuff at the hotel in Kathmandu.
- Your day sac can get so dusty and dirty on the trek that you really won’t want to be carrying it on the plane journey home.
On the internal flight to Lukla you’re allowed 15kg in total between your duffle bag and your day bag.
The following few tips will help you make the most of your weight allowance:
- Wear your heavy boots and clothing on the flight
- Have your camera around your neck or in your pocket ready to take pictures from the plane
- Keep heavy items like battery packs in your pocket
- Buy your water and snacks when you arrive in Lukla (you can restock each day in the teahouses)
Everest Base Camp Checklist
With all that being said, check out our checklist below, so you can be sure you know exactly what you need to bring for the trek.
- Valid passport
- Travel and medical insurance
- Thermal socks x2
- Thick trekking socks x7
- Hiking boots
- Non-cotton T-shirts x6
- Fleece jumper
- Hiking Trousers x3
- Insulated jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Underwear x6
- Thermal trousers
- Thermal top
- Sun hat
- Thermal beaning
- Head torch
- Sleeping bag
- Inflatable pillow
- Duffle bag
- Waterproof bag cover
Hands & Walking:
- Trekking poles
- Out gloves
- Inner gloves
- Insect repellant
- Lip balm
- Toilet roll and sanitary products
- Water purification tablets x50
- Filtered water bottle x2
- Small lock
- zip lock bags x2
- Energy drink
- Ear plugs
- Dry bags
- Spare batteries
Insurance and Health Considerations for Your Travel Holiday
Even in the best conditions, EBC is always going to test your health, fitness and endurance, which is why it’s so important for you to invest in travel insurance before you board your flight.
Travel insurance should cover you for any potential bills; from losing your possessions to getting injured whilst abroad.
Ideally, you should invest in travel insurance that covers high altitude trekking and all medical and repatriation costs (including helicopter rescue). You should also make sure your policy covers you for the maximum altitude you’ll reach on your trip.
Health Considerations for Your Everest Base Camp Trek
Trekking at high altitude is dangerous.
Some medical disorders, including heart and lung conditions, may complicate matters in the Khumbu region, and certain medications may place climbers at a greater risk on the mountain. That’s why we always recommend you seek medical advice from your doctor to make sure that you’re clear for the trip.
Acute Mountain Sickness
This is something you should be prepared to experience on your trek. As the name implies, it’s an illness that commonly occurs at exceptionally high altitudes, such as Everest Base Camp or Island Peak.
AMS can be effectively treated by immediately taking the affected climber to a lower altitude.
The best way to minimise the severity of the illness is by maintaining a slow, steady pace from day one of your trek.
Things to Do in Kathmandu
For mountaineers and trekkers, the capital city of Nepal holds an almost indescribable draw. It’s hectic and crowded, but it’s also full of culture, character and captivation. Not to mention being a welcome source of food, entertainment and all the creature comforts you’ve missed on the EBC trail!
Where are some of the must-visit spots?
- Durbar Square – UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath Stupa) – one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal.
- Boudhanath Stupa – considered to be the centre of Buddhism.
- Pashupatinath Temple – a Hindu site known as the temple of Lord Shiva.
- Patan Durbar Square – location of the Patan Museum.
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square – location of the 55 Window Palace and the tallest pagoda in Nepal.
Where to Eat in Kathmandu
When it comes to food, Kathmandu is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Here, you can find almost any kind of cuisine. Some of our top picks for the best places to eat include:
- Le Sherpa
- Bhojan Griha
- Fire and Ice Pizzeria
- Street food
Things to See After Your Everest Base Camp Trek
If you thought Nepal was all mountains, think again! After a few days exploring Kathmandu, it’s always worth heading 60 miles out of the city to the astonishing preservation area, Chitwan National Park.
Established in 1973 and gaining coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1984, Chitwan National Park is home to lots of endangered animals including thriving populations of deer, monkeys, boar, sloth bears, elephants, rhino and leopards.
If you’ve made it to the end of this guide, there’s only one thing left to do – book your trip! The Everest Base Camp trek is a journey unlike anything other and really does offer the adventure of a lifetime.
To find out more about this trek or any of our other destinations, get in touch at 01769 309007.
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