Mt Everest Base Camp – Complete Guide!

Oh My God! I really cannot contain the excitement! I have finally done it. Mt Everest Base Camp – which was a distant dream – I have done it!!! This has been the epitome of all the adventurous things I have done so far in my life. But I will for sure confess – I had booked this adventure during the Easter this year, where I was at my lowest phase of my life. I am glad I had booked it then. I had asked my friend Vijay if he can join me and he had happily agreed without any hesitation.

What is Mt Everest Base Camp?

Mt Everest Base Camp or in short EBC is the starting camp site used by the mountaineers to climb the Mt Everest. There are two EBCs – one accessible from Nepal and the other from Tibet. The EBC at Nepal is the South Base Camp at an altitude of 5364 metres and the EBC at Tibet is the North Base Camp at an altitude of 5150 metres. Vijay and I did the South Base Camp in Nepal.

Preparation

EBC is definitely not easy. It does require a lot of preparation and commitment. The total distance of the hike is about 115 kilometers starting from Lukla and ending at Lukla. And the altitude makes it even harder.

I have been regularly hiking for almost every weekend for past two years. I would suggest breathing exercises or yoga for few months before the hike. I also probably would add few multiple day hikes as preparation.

Booking

There are plenty of travel agents available for EBC hikes. Vijay and I went with Unique Path Trekking. And I must say that I really liked the way Babu (Managing Director) handled every situation. However, I did not like our guide Lal as he demanded lots of dollars as tips on the last day. So I would suggest going with Unique Path Trekking but not with the guide Lal. More details about booking the tour can be found here.

What to pack?

The list I had put up earlier worked very well. The only thing I would like to add to this list are the electrolytes or energy drinks.

Sleeping bags – It is advisable to hire a sleeping bag from the agency and also carry your own sleeping bag. The tea houses at higher altitudes can get very cold (up to -10 degrees centigrade) so you can use two sleeping bags and stay warm.

Acclimatization

Getting used to the altitude is a must for this hike. Taking the altitude lightly can be life threatening experience.

I would recommend spending a day or two at Namche Bazaar and a day at Thyangboche.

I cannot stress enough on the importance of acclimatization. I have seen a real life experience where our porter Ashish ignored the altitude sickness and suffered – the detailed story can be read here.

I also suffered an acute altitude sickness. I experienced headaches, vomiting and loss of appetite. And trust me this is definitely not fun.

Note: I did take the medication (Diamox) prescribed by my doctor in Australia for altitude sickness.

Itinerary

The starting point of the hike is Lukla. The Lukla airport is one of the World’s most dangerous airports. And very few flights fly to Lukla airport. Our flights were cancelled continuously for 3 days after which we decided to take a heli. More information on how to reach Lukla can be found here.

Note: The hike is generally of minimum 11 days with acclimatisation of at least 2 days. But we had missed 3 days because of our cancelled flights, we completed the hike in 9 days. I definitely do not recommend not taking the rest days, as they are very important for acclimatisation.

Day 1:

  • Elevation: Lukla (2840 metres) to Phakding (2610 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 3 hours
  • Distance covered: 8 kilometres
  • Grade: Easy to Moderate

Day 2:

  • Elevation: Phakding (2610 metres) to Namche Bazaar (3440 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 7 hours
  • Distance covered: 12 kilometres
  • Grade: Very Difficult

Day 3:

Note: Even though I continued my hike, I definitely recommend a rest day on this day.

  • Elevation: Namche Bazaar (3440 metres) to Thyangboche (3860 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 6 hours
  • Distance covered: 10 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate for first 3 hours and then Very Difficult

Day 4:

Note: Even though I continued my hike, I definitely recommend another rest day on this day.

  • Elevation: Thyangboche (3860 metres) to Dingboche (4410 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 6 hours
  • Distance covered: 12 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate

Day 5:

  • Elevation: Dingboche (4410 metres) to Lobuche (4910 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 5 hours
  • Distance covered: 12 kilometres
  • Grade: Difficult

Day 6 – The Day:

  • Elevation: Lobuche (4910 metres) to Gorakshep (5160 metres) to EBC (5364 metres) to Gorakshep (5160 metres) to Lobuche (4910 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 3 hours + 2.5 hours + 2.5 hours + 3 hours
  • Distance covered: 4.5 kilometres + 4 kilometres + 4 kilometres + 4.5 kilometres
  • Grade: Very Difficult
  • This was the hardest day of all the days and I think one of the best decisions that we took was not to stay at Gorakshep.

Day 7:

  • Elevation: Lobuche (4910 metres) to Pangboche (3985 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 6.5 hours
  • Distance covered: ~12 kilometres (Approximate because I do not have the accurate distance)
  • Grade: Moderate

Day 8:

  • Elevation: Pangboche (3985 metres) to Namche Bazaar (3440 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 7 hours
  • Distance covered: 13 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate

Day 9:

  • Elevation: Namche Bazaar (3440 metres) to Lukla (2840 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 10 hours
  • Distance covered: 19 kilometres
  • Grade: Difficult

Emergency & Travel Insurance

Always ensure to take a comprehensive travel insurance that covers the emergency rescue operation and repatriation. This activity does require an add on of mountain hiking for up to 6000 metres. I went with the travel insurance provided by Columbus Direct with add on Sports and Activity Pack B. It costed me AUD 192 (USD 135).

In Australia, we also are provided with a service by the government where we can pre-inform or pre-register all our travel details through Smart traveller website. This way the government clearly knows where and what our travel plans are.

Expenses

  • TourUSD 877 or AUD 1185 (per person)
  • Flights from Sydney to Kathmandu return – USD 926 or AUD 1313 (per person)
  • Hotels at Kathmandu (7 nights) – NPR 21000 or USD 250 or AUD 176 (per person)
  • Heli from Kathmandu to Lukla – USD 550 or AUD 780 (per person)
  • Heli from Lukla to Kathmandu – USD 315 or AUD 447 (per person)
  • Other expenses during hike (such as food, wifi, mobile charging and water bottles) – NPR 35000 or USD 294 or AUD 416 (per person)
  • Tips – NPR 3500 or USD 30 or AUD 42 (Porter) & NPR 4500 or USD 38 or AUD 54 (Guide) (for two people)
  • Donations during hike – NPR 500 or USD 4 or AUD 6 (per person)
  • Travel insurance – USD 135 or AUD 196 (per person)
  • Snacks – USD 40 or AUD 57 (per person)
  • Total – USD 3459 or AUD 4672

How to save money during the hike?

On an average,

  • Drinking water costs NPR 80 to NPR 350 per bottle.
  • Mobile charging costs NPR 200 to NPR 500 for 1 hour or full charging (depends on tea houses).
  • Wifi costs NPR 500 to NPR 600 for 1 night.

Drinking water is one of the major unavoidable expenses during the hike. I recommend:

  • Taking water purification tablets and purify the stream water before drinking.
  • Taking a portable camping stove and heat the tap water available at the tea houses.

Another major expense was for charging our mobile phones. I recommend:

  • Using the solar chargers. Tie the chargers to the Day pack while hiking so you can use it at night to charge the mobile phones.
  • Taking good power banks fully charged so you can charge your mobile phones.

Wifi also costed us a lot of money. I recommend:

  • Buying a local Nepali SIM with data. You will be surprised to know that our guide had network at EBC.
  • Buying a 10 GB Wifi card at Namche Bazaar which can be used at all the higher camps.

Rubbish

As a responsible traveler, it is important to keep the trail clean. There are bins provided at each rest area where you can dispose rubbish.

Giving way to Yaks, horses and donkeys

You will find lots and lots of Yaks, Horses and Donkeys transporting goods. It is advisable to stand along the mountain side and not at the valley side to give way to these animals. Any slight push from these animals can make you trip, so the safer side is the mountain side.

Treating animals and kids

You will encounter many animals and kids along the way. It is very important to treat them right. They are simple and adorable. So, make sure you have treats for kids.

Lessons learned

I always document the lessons I learn from each of my hikes. And this travel and hike taught me many things as well 😊.

  1. Always add check in baggage well in advance. It costed me AUD 77 for 30 kilos for adding it at the last minute.
  2. Always carry some snacks in your carry on. You might not have time to buy food after security and before boarding.
  3. Always be ready with an extra USD 1000 per person if the activity you are doing is dependent on weather.
  4. Also be flexible with your travel days.
  1. Rest days are very crucial for high altitude hikes.
  2. Fully charged power banks or solar chargers would have been extremely helpful.

And more importantly…

Have a positive attitude, go with a smile and do not panic.