Everest Base Camp Guide: What to Know Before You Go
While climbing the peak is an extremely challenging and costly endeavour, another way to experience Everest’s incredible landscapes and sublime beauty is to head on a Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek.
While there are two base camps at the foot of Mount Everest, one in Nepal and the other in Tibet, the Everest Base Camp trek almost exclusively refers to the trek on the Nepalese side.
This is, in part, because it is the traditional route taken by mountaineers on their way to climb Mount Everest. The Chinese government also imposes several restrictions on visitors to the north base camp, also known as the Everest Kangshung camp. After canceling the trekking season last year, Tibet has once again opened in 2022.
Heading on an Everest Base Camp trek is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime. Before booking your very own EBC adventure, take some time to familiarize yourself with some of the relevant facts and information below.
Where is Everest Base Camp, and how long does it take to get there?
On the Nepalese side, Everest Base Camp (28°0′26″N 86°51′34″E) is located about 150 kilometres (90 miles) northeast of Kathmandu. The camp sits just south of the homonymous mountain and provides access to the southeast ridge, the most popular climbing route.
An EBC trek takes about two weeks, including the two days on either side of the trek in Kathmandu and about 12 days from Lukla to the base camp and back.
Most trekkers will meet their guides in Kathmandu and fly to Lukla together. However, there are also options to trek directly from Kathmandu to Lukla and then to the base camp, which adds about two weeks to the trek.
What can I expect on the classic Everest Base Camp Trek?
The classic Everest Base Camp trek begins in Lukla (2,850 m/9,350 ft) with a steady ascent through rhododendron and pine forest along the banks of the Dudh Koshi River. The first night of the trek is spent in the village of Phakding (2,660 m/8,730 ft).
The following day, trekkers cross the Dudh Koshi river on a steel suspension bridge and climb over the Monji Pass before arriving at Namche Bazaar (3,435 m/11,270 ft), the last major settlement before Everest Base Camp.
Most guides opt to spend a day exploring the small town and acclimatizing. Here, you will get to meet plenty of other trekkers and have the chance to visit local monasteries and the famed Everest View Hotel, where you will get the first outstanding views of Everest.
From the unofficial Sherpa capital, you continue to steadily climb toward Tengboche (3,890 m/17,760 ft), home to the famed monastery of the same name. The village offers spectacular panoramic views of Everest and other major Himalayan peaks.
Trekkers continue to ascend from Tengboche onto Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft). At this point in the trip, the landscape begins to change. The verdant foothills start to transition into a more stark and rocky terrain. An additional day is generally spent in Dingboche to allow trekkers to acclimate.
From Dingboche, trekkers continue ascending toward EBC, meeting up with the Khumbu glacier and hiking on its outskirts to Lobuche (4,900 m/16,080 ft).
The following day of the trek (usually Day 8) starts early as trekkers continue to hike beside the foot of the glacier, passing Gorakshep (5,180 m/17,000 ft) and making the final ascent to Everest Base Camp (5,364 m/17,600 ft).
Keep reading: Comparing Everest’s Khumbu Icefall and K2’s Bottleneck
Most itineraries spend time exploring the base camp, chatting with mountaineers preparing to climb the peak before returning to Gorek Shep.
Getting an early start, the return to Lukla and Kathmandu begins with a pre-dawn ascent of nearby Kalapathar (5,545 m/18,190 ft). From the summit of this minor peak, you will enjoy a sublime sunrise over Mount Everest and several other iconic Himalayan peaks before returning to Gorekshep and descending to Pheriche (4,288 m/14,070 ft).
From Pheriche, the next several days are spent returning to Namche Bazaar and eventually on to Lukla.
When is the best time to trek to Everest Base Camp?
The best time to do a Mount Everest Base Camp trek is from October to November or March to May. However, most guides offer EBC treks from August through May (although visiting during the winter months is inadvisable for novice and intermediate trekkers).
The spring and autumn offer the best climatic conditions for trekking, with average daily temperatures around 10 ºC (50 ºF) at lower elevations and around freezing at higher elevations.
Spring and autumn are also when the least amount of rain falls in the region, and there is the highest proportion of clear days.
How difficult is the Everest Base Camp Trek?
A Mount Everest Base Camp trek is physically demanding but technically not very difficult. No mountaineering skills are needed to complete the trek, but most of the hiking takes place well above 3,500 m (11,500 ft).
Over two weeks, trekkers will steadily climb from 2,860 m (9,380 ft) to 5,364 m (17,598 ft). Participants will need to be fit enough to hike an average of six hours per day over rough terrain while steadily ascending.
Most guides highly recommend spending a few months training before arriving in Kathmandu and heading on the trek. Training for an EBC trek should include:
- Aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular exercises;
- Leg, core and upper body strengthening exercises;
- Climbing conditioning, such as hiking with a backpack or climbing a stair machine;
- Flexibility and breathing exercises.
The hike can be TOUGH for the unacclimatised. Don't rush!
How much does an Everest Base Camp Trek trip cost?
Expect to spend between USD $1,200 (£970) and $1,500 (£1,215) per person on an average Mount Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal.
However, prices vary depending on the size of the group, when you head on the trek and what is included in the cost of the trip.
The aforementioned price range usually includes:
- Transport to and from Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) and the domestic flight to Lukla
- Accommodation in Kathmandu and throughout the trek
- All meals on the trek
- Permits and entrance fees
- Personal porters
- Expenses of the guide and porters
These prices generally do not include:
- International flights to and from Nepal
- Visa fees
- Gratuities for the guide and porters
Trekking to the Everest Kangshung Base Camp
While most trekkers opt to head to the Nepalese Everest Base Camp, there are still some who head on the Everest Kangshung Base Camp trek.
Unlike the Nepalese side, a paved road leads directly to the north base camp from the G318 highway. However, there is an option to hike a roughly 55-kilometre (34-mile) trail through the beautiful Kharta Valley up to the base camp.
Sorting out the Logistics
One of the reasons this trek is done less frequently is the logistical challenge of arriving here. Most Everest Kangshung treks take about eight days of hiking but require two weeks to arrive at the Kharta Valley and return to an international airport.
The other reason this side of the mountain is less-traveled is the red tape put in place by the Chinese government. Visitors require a government-issued permit to visit the base camp and a separate permit to travel in Tibet. This is on top of the visa required for most nationalities to visit China.
However, once these hurdles are crossed, the trekking is incredibly peaceful and scenic. As you go, you will cross fewer hikers than on the Nepalese side and enjoy plenty of stunning views of the valleys and Himalayan foothills on the northern side of the peak.
Getting a Different Perspective of the Himalayas
The trek begins in the gorgeous Kharta Valley (3,690 m/12,100 ft). After arriving at the trailhead, trekkers begin ascending wooded hills and pass traditional villages en route to the Dhampu meadow (4,300 m/14,100 ft).
The following morning, the trek continues with a strenuous ascent through a massive boulder field and onto the base of Shao La.
Rising to 4,700 m (15,400 ft) in elevation, you will get an early start the following day to hike up to its summit. From the top, you will get your first views of Mount Everest, which dominates the Himalayan skyline.
After descending from the modest peak, the trek continues with a steep descent through yak pastures before arriving at the floor of Kama Valley. The night is generally spent in the village of Joksam (4,030 m/13,220 ft).
The trek continues with a steady ascent through a coniferous forest and up a series of ridgelines until you reach Alpine Camp (4,470 m/14,670 ft). From here, there are great views back into the valley.
The following day, you will continue to ascend a mountain ridge before descending to Patthang (4,550 m/14,930 ft). The rest of the day is generally spent acclimatizing, with options to head out on other short hikes.
Keep reading: Five Popular High-Altitude Lake Treks in Nepal
From Patthang, the trek continues one last day until hikers arrive at the base camp (5,200 m/17,000 ft), which offers more great views of Everest and other iconic Himalayan peaks.
There are various ways to return after arriving at the base camp. Some trekkers continue to the east and drive into Nepal to return home via Kathmandu. Others retrace their route to the Kharta Valley or drive back to Lhasa directly from the base camp.
Enjoy the Adventure of a Lifetime
Whether you choose to take on the traditional Everest Base Camp trek or the Everest Kangshung trek, the Himalayas are truly a unique part of the world to explore.
Don’t put your next Himalayan adventure off another day, and book your next trip now! ExpedReview compares Everest Base Camp trips from certified guides so you can find the adventure that is perfect for you!