One of the most common questions we receive from Bucketlisters who have just booked – or are considering booking – an Everest Base Camp trip is: “What will I be eating on the trek?”
It’s understandable that this is a common query – 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.
Of course, it’s easy to see why people are curious about what food is available on the Everest Base Camp trek. This is a hike passing through some of the most remote parts of the world, after all. However, don’t let that make you underestimate the quality of the food in the Nepalese Himalayas!
The food on the Everest Base Camp trek might not feature Michelin-star presentation, but let us tell you – it is tasty. If you’re curious about what you can expect to eat whilst trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp, keep reading for our complete guide to food on the EBC trek.
Tips for eating in Nepal
Before we get stuck into the incredible food you can try in Nepal, there are a few tips you should know for finding the best food 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 that there will be a smaller selection of delicious local Nepali dishes, plus a few ‘Western’ meals thrown in for good measure.
To meat or not to meat?
One important aspect to bear in mind is that all meat on the Everest Base Camp trail has to be carried up from the villages around Kathmandu by porters or yaks. This means that it is not refrigerated, and may cause stomach upset if eaten by travellers. Therefore we would highly recommend that all trekkers avoid meat dishes on the Everest Base Camp trek – with the exception of tinned fish and preserved items.
We do recommend that Bucketlisters bring along a supply of Imodium tablets and any other treatments for upset stomachs – just in case!
Speaking of meat, you needn’t worry if you’re a vegetarian – a great deal of Nepali cuisine is veggie, and in fact most trekkers stick to a vegetarian diet during their hike. We have also had vegans on the Everest Base Camp, who encountered no issues.
However, as with any dietary requirement, please let us know as far in advance as possible so that we can arrange for alternative options to be made available!
If you have severe allergies, you will need to let us know the exact ingredients you are unable to eat, so that we can notify teahouses and airlines. It is paramount that you bring along plenty of any allergy medication you need, though, because there are no guarantees!
Drinking water in Nepal
It is 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 (to avoid adding plastic waste to the trail and the villages surrounding it, which struggle to process recyclables). Drink only purified or boiled water, and avoid any salad or raw food that has been washed in tap water on the trek.
Fresh local food or ‘Western’ fare?
One of the pleasures of eating on the Everest Base Camp trek is that you will often be eating fruit and vegetables that have been freshly picked from the tea house gardens. So make the most of it – this is among the freshest food you will ever eat, and it makes sense that the local dishes tea that house chefs cook will be some of their best, as they have been making these meals for their own families for many years.
However, you can also find dishes that you would expect to eat closer to home in some teahouses, such as pizza and chips and “bangers and mash”. Many of our Bucketlisters find that this is a refreshing change after a week of dal baht and momos.
What you’ll eat in a day on the EBC trek
Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, we can get onto the good stuff and discuss what you will eat in a day on the Everest Base Camp trek.
Nepalese food typically comprises of lentils, grains, spices, potatoes, curried vegetables, meat and dough snacks. Many local people will eat dal baht – curried lentil soup with rice, vegetable curries and pickle – for up to three meals a day. However, there are a range of tasty dishes to try, from spring rolls and momos to chow mein and rice balls.
Menus will vary from teahouse to teahouse depending on the cooks and what they have available. However, here is a rough guide top what you can expect to eat on the Everest Base Camp trek.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – especially when you’re going to be spending several hours trekking! Luckily, the teahouses on the Everest Base Camp trek offer a great selection of options when it comes to breakfast.
From basics such as porridge and muesli, to hot options such as eggs or pancakes, to continental breakfasts, you can enjoy a whole range of familiar favourites if you’re looking for a breakfast choice that will set you up well for the day. It’s definitely worth trying the pancakes, which are very fluffy and can be over an inch thick! On our recent Annapurna Circuit trek, one teahouse even offered French toast!
Alternatively, why not try a Nepali breakfast? In Nepal, chapathis are a popular choice for breakfast, often served with cheese, jam or honey. In some areas, you can try Tibetan bread.
Breakfast is usually accompanied by coffees or chai (tea), with cow’s milk or – if you’re feeling brave – with yak’s butter and salt! The latter is called ‘Sherpa tea’ because it is what many of the local mountain guides drink to replenish their magnesium levels and give them energy for trekking.
One thing to note is that some teas will be loose leaf, whereas others will be powdered. Usually, if the tea is called ‘hot (flavour)’ it will be powdered, whereas if it is called ‘(flavour) tea’ it will be flavoured black tea (with caffeine).
After a few hours of trekking in the stunning Himalayas, you’ll be ready for a tea break to replenish your energy levels. Depending on where you are in the trek, this could mean one of two things.
Either your porters will boil some tea and you will eat some basic snacks, or, if you’re passing through a village with a teahouse, you will be able to stop for something a little more substantial.
One of our favourite spots for tea is Namche. Here you will find The Namche Bakery, which serves an impressive range of home-baked cakes and delicious speciality coffees.
Keith’s favourites include the apple pie, cheesecake, carrot cake and chocolate brownie. As he always says, only in Nepal can you finish a day of trekking with a hot slice of freshly-baked apple pie!
By midday, you’ll be ready to tuck into a hearty lunch. On the Everest Base Camp trek, there are plenty of options to choose from for your lunchtime meal.
Perhaps you would like to try a plate of mouth-watering dumplings (soft and steamed or crispy fried). Or maybe you’d prefer a rice dish, spring rolls, or even a sandwich.
Sherpa stew is a popular choice for lunch. This can either taste like curry in flavour, or simply resemble a vegetable stew. Served with bread or chapathi, it is a great option if you’re after a lunch that is gentle on your stomach! Alternatively, opt for something like potato rosti with eggs for a good protein kick.
A popular soft drink in Nepal is lassi. This is a fermented yoghurt-based drink, available in a wide range of flavours. We recommend trying a mango lassi at least once during your trek, but you can also try a range of tasty choices such as strawberry and raspberry – or just a plain lassi. You can find lassis in one or two spots – or – if all else fails – in Kathmandu.
Dinner is when the big guns come out. It’s wise to fill up as much as possible at dinner time, to replace the calories you have burned during a long day’s hiking.
Many Nepali people will eat dal baht for dinner. This is often served as a steaming platter of curried lentil soup, a range of curried vegetable and potato dishes, rice, spicy pickles, poppadoms and yoghurt and/or fresh chillies. What’s great about this dish is that you can try a range of scrumptious Nepali dishes in one – and customise its heat to your preference. It’s also brilliant for giving you all the nutrients you need after a day of hiking, and always includes endless refills. There’s a reason why locals always repeat “dal baht power, 24 hour!”
Alternatively, you might choose a plate of Nepali chow mein, various curries, fried potato dishes or fried rice plates. Of course, if you fancy meat, you can also get several grilled dishes and even steaks in some tea houses!
Of course, many teahouses will offer ‘Western’ food choices for those of you who are longing for a taste of home. The photo above was taken in Namche, where some of our trekkers enjoyed a lovely plate of sausages and creamy mashed potato. Other options include burgers and chips, pizza and even spaghetti.
Many Bucketlisters like to enjoy a drink after a long day of hiking (although this isn’t advisable at the higher altitudes!) Drinking a cold(ish) Everest Premium Lager is something of a rite of passage for Everest Base Camp trekkers.
…However, some are more adventurous and decide to try out the local options, such as Tongba, a fermented millet seed beer!
So as you can see, there are plenty of amazing options when it comes to food on the Everest Base Camp trek – and food in Nepal in general. Whatever your preference, you’ll find something to please your tastebuds here!
If you’re ready to experience the culinary landscape of Nepal – and to trek in the incredible mountainous landscape itself.