Everest Base Camp Trek
EBC is, it seems, one of those ‘bucket list’ hikes that avid outdoorsy people dream about. As such, we’re going to cover this one in a lot of detail!
Here you’ll find links to specific sections of the Everest Base Camp trek. Below are some general guidelines for the trek overall.
Mt Everest Base Camp – the goal itself!
Firstly, if there’s one thing people do wrong when planning a trip to EBC it would be this: they don’t budget enough time. This area is beautiful and rugged and hard to access, and as such any number of things go wrong. You could get altitude sickness, the weather could go bad and delay your flight to Lukla, or you might be a bit slower than expected and need more time to get up to Base Camp. At a very minimum plan on two weeks, with a week buffer on either side to make sure you can get back to Kathmandu in time for your flight out of the country. Don’t have time to do it justice? Take the scenic flight from Kathmandu instead. End of story.
Secondly, especially if you do have time to spare, try to get off the main trail if you can. The hiking in Sagarmatha National Park is amazing, but is also incredibly popular and can get pretty crowded. There are several passes from other valleys that connect pretty neatly to the main trail below Lobuche. Consider following these on the way up to EBC to ditch some of the crowds and see a bit more as well.
Thirdly: maps. From a trail-find perspective we don’t think a map is particularly necessary here. All of the main paths, even up Gokyo Ri and other popular side-hikes, are rather well defined. Where the map can come in handy, though, is planning for elevation gain. Some medical professionals recommend not to increase sleeping elevation each night by more than 500m, but in practice each individual needs to asses their own condition as they hike each day. Maps are pretty easy to come by in Lukla or Kathmandu at the start of your trip but they’re about the same price to buy online before you go. Either way, make sure you have something to help plan your daily safe sleep stop. (If you’re taking a guidebook with you, many will contain this info and a basic map already.)
Forthly, on that note, pay attention to the physical risks. Acute Mountain Sickness, HACE, and HAPE are very real and serious things. If you find yourself starting to feel sick at all while at elevation, assume it could be AMS or worse and stay put for a day. If symptoms get worse, descend to a lower elevation immediately.
Fifthly, on guides and porters. It is very possible, though not terribly common, to trek up to EBC with neither guide nor porter. At the highest elevations (particularly Lobuche and Gorak Shep) you may be crowded into overfilled guesthouses where you’re the last to be served. Aside from that, though, there aren’t too many headaches with not having one. If you don’t mind carrying your own stuff and feel comfortable navigating the (very navigable) trails on your own, then by all means go for it. If you do decide to hire somebody, though, know that it is YOUR responsibility to have the gear they need to make the trip safely. If your porter/guide don’t already have shoes/jacket/warm things it will be up to you to rent them (easily done in Lukla). Even less necessary, it is possible to arrange a guide and permits before arriving in Nepal. If you have a spare day or three, though, it can also be done in Kathmandu pretty easily.
Sixthly, gear. Most trekkers will be sleeping and eating at ‘teahouses’ for their entire trek, so tents and stove are generally unnecessary. You COULD bring a stove and fuel to heat water (most guesthouses charge even for boiled water) but the prices are low enough that this probably isn’t worth the weight trade-off. It can be a good idea to bring a small and light sleeping bag, because while blankets are provided they often don’t seem to be washed terribly often and so the extra layer of separation can be nice. Also, you can generally charge electronics in teahouses for a nominal fee. Don’t forget those camera chargers!
Seventh, permits. Visiting the Sagarmatha National Park requires a TIMS (Trekking Information Management System) permit from Kathmandu. Again, this can be arranged by a trekking company before your arrival but also within three or four days if you have time to spare for the capital.
As an example, here is what we carried on a long (~ 4 week) trek in the area. We slept in a teahouse every night and bought all of our food during the trek.
– Summer sleeping bag
– Two hiking shirts, two pairs hiking socks, two pair quick-dry underwear
– Sleeping shirt and shorts
– Camera and battery charger
– Kindle (books are heavy!) and charger
– Map (purchased in Kathmandu)
– ATM card (useful only in Namche Bazaar and to a lesser extent Lukla)
– Nepalese Rupees
– Soap and deodorant
So that’s a start. Links to come for specific sections and route ideas!
If you still don’t feel confident trying to do this sort of hiking on your own, check out GetYourGuide below for a number of guided itineraries through the area.