Situated at 5,364 metres (17,600 feet) above sea level, on the toe of the world’s highest peak, Everest Base Camp (EBC) is among the world’s most popular trekking destinations and a must-do for anyone visiting Nepal.
Running from the northeastern town of Lukla through Sagarmatha National Park and onto the edge of the mighty Khumbu Glacier, the 130-kilometre (80-mile) adventure takes about two weeks. The trek provides adventurers with incredible views of Mount Everest as well as an unforgettable cultural experience.
No technical abilities are required to take on the trek, which makes it perfect for adventurers who are not ready to climb the highest of the Himalayan peaks but would like to explore the sublime wilderness surrounding this remote corner of the world.
Quick Facts about the Everest Base Camp Trek
- An estimated 35,000 trekkers visit EBC every year, making it one of Nepal’s most popular attractions and one of the world’s most-taken treks.
- Ama Dablam, Makalu, Island peak, Lhotse, Labuche and Nuptse are among the many mountains that can be seen throughout the trek. Several cultural sites, including the monasteries in Tengboche and near Namche Bazaar serve as attractions during the trip as well.
- Among the top highlights of the trip are climbing to the summit of Kalapathar (5,545 metres/18,190 feet) just before the sunrises over Everest.
History of the Everest Base Camp Trek
The idea of trekking to EBC first entered the mainstream after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached Mount Everest’s summit in 1953.
However, the area where the modern base camp is located was still considered holy by the local Sherpa people and most ascents of Everest began from the bottom of the Khumbu Valley.
It was not until 1963, when Jim Whitaker became the first American to summit the peak, that things began to change. The publicity of his ascent generated a lot of interest among would-be climbers, who started following in his footsteps.
By 1978, Everest Base Camp had become a popular destination in and of itself and has steadily grown into a small settlement in the high season.
Experience Required for Everest Base Camp Trek
While the EBC trek does not involve any technical climbing or mountaineering skills, it is a physically challenging trip and requires a very high fitness level.
Most guides recommend previous experience at high elevations (4,000 metres/13,100 feet or more) before signing up for an EBC trek.
The vast majority of the hiking takes place well above 3,500 metres (11,500 feet). Over the course of two weeks, participants can expect to climb steadily from 2,860 metres (9,380 feet) to 5,364 metres (17,598 feet).
Trekkers should be fit enough to walk for at least six consecutive hours per day over rough terrain while steadily ascending. The hike can be especially tough for the non-acclimated, so it is also essential to go at an appropriate pace and not rush.
Main Routes of the Everest Base Camp Trek
While there are a few variations along the way, the EBC trek mostly follows one main route, which begins from the northeastern city of Lukla.
From here, trekkers will ascend along the forested banks of the Dudh Koshi River until arriving at Phakding. The following day, trekkers cross the river and continue to climb until arriving at the Sherpa outpost of Namche Bazaar, from which point the first great views of Everest are seen.
From Namche Bazaar, trekkers will continue northeast, steadily ascending past Thyangboche and Dingboche before arriving at Gorak Shep. The small settlement is the last stop before trekkers climb up onto the Khumbu glacier and up to the base camp.
From the base camp, trekkers will enjoy one last highlight of the trip before returning to Lukla: watching the sunrise over Everest from the summit of nearby Kalapathar.