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 the lowest phase of my life. I am glad I had booked it then. My friend Vijay had happily agreed to join me, without any hesitation.

Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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Mt Everest Base Camp

What is Mt Everest Base Camp?

Mt Everest Base Camp or in short EBC is the starting campsite 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 the past two years. I also probably would add a few multiple-day hikes as preparation. Along with the hikes, I would suggest breathing exercises or yoga for a few months before the hike.

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.

The details of the bookings are:

  • Tour Operator: Unique Path Trekking and Expedition (P) Limited
  • Contact details:Address: Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
    • Phone: +977 9851 098143
    • Email: uniquepathtrek123@gmail.com
    • Booking website: Bookmundi.com
  • Cost per person: USD 877 or AUD 1185
  • Inclusions:
    • Airport pick-up and drop off by private vehicle
    • Accommodation on twin sharing basis in guest houses during the trek
    • Domestic flights between Kathmandu and Lukla
    • 1 English speaking guide
    • Food and drinks
    • Insurance
    • Sleeping bag
    • Trekking permits and paper work
    • Rescue arrangement
    • Government taxes
    • Porter

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.

Hiking pack (daypack and backpack)

The first lesson I learned during my Inca trail hike was that that it is important to have two packs – the first is the backpack, carried by the porter, mainly containing clothes and things not required while hiking and the second is the day pack, carried by me, mainly containing water bottle, snacks, passport and cash.

Few things to remember

  • The hike is for 11 days.
  • The things that have to be carried must cater for the weather conditions and you need to be prepared to handle the worse.

This post details out all the things in my backpack and day pack during the Mt Everest Base Camp:

Day Pack

  • Passport & a zip lock bag to protect the passport
  • Poncho/Rain gear
  • Insulated Jacket
  • Socks (1 pair)
  • Headlamp/flashlight with charged cells
  • Sun protection cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Toiletries
    • Wet wipes
    • Eco-friendly soap
    • Chapstick
    • Sunscreen
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Safety pins
  • Snacks – Chocolates, wafers, biscuits
  • Personal medication
    • Panadol
    • Prescribed medicines
  • Camera, batteries and memory cards
  • Phone & Phone charger
  • Travel adapter
  • Cash
  • Earplugs
  • Waterproof day pack cover
  • Compass

Backpack

  • Hiking shirts (4 to 6)
  • Hiking pants (2 to 3 pairs)
  • Breathable underwear (clean one for each day + an extra pair)
  • Thermal top and pant (2 to 3 pairs)
  • Fleece jacket
  • Socks – It is advisable to wear two pairs of socks each time to avoid blisters on the feet (two clean ones for each day + two extra pairs)
  • Beanie
  • Shawl
  • Hand gloves (inner and outer layer gloves)
  • Gaiters
  • Hiking shoes – Very important and ensure you have used the shoes and are comfortable before going on the hike
  • Flip-flops
  • Few disposable bags
  • Trekking poles
  • Towel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Space blanket/Emergency thermal blanket
  • Sleeping pillow
  • Toiletries:
    • Toilet rolls
    • Wet wipes
    • Deodorant
    • Eco-friendly soap
    • Toothpaste
    • Toothbrush/tongue cleaner
    • Tweezer/pocket mirror
    • Bug repellent
    • Safety pins
  • Snacks – Ensure sufficient snacks like chocolates and some eateries are carried
  • First aid kit
  • Personal medication
    • Diamox – altitude sickness tablet – prescribed by your doctor
  • Power bank
  • Games (Uno, playing cards)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Novel and travel journal
  • Insurance
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Candles and matchsticks/lighter
  • Whistle

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.

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

I also suffered an acute altitude sickness. And 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 for Mt Everest Base Camp

The starting point of the hike is Lukla. 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.

Kathmandu to Lukla Transportation options

On Day 2 of our travel to Kathmandu, my friend Vijay and I were still at the Kathmandu airport waiting for our flight to Lukla. After a lot of talking and research at the airport, we have learned that there are mainly three options (okay five) to go from Kathmandu to Lukla.

  • Option 1 – Take a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. The cost is approximately USD 180. This option is cheaper and best if you have too many days in hand as there are high chances that the flights get canceled.
  • Option 2 – Take a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Phaplu. And a helicopter from Phaplu to Lukla. The cost is approximately USD 180 and an additional cost of USD 150 per person. We had to pay for our guide as well.
  • Option 3 – Take a helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla. This is the most expensive option and it costs approximately USD 500 per person (and additional bank charges of 4%).
    • Note: All costs mentioned above are only for one way.
  • We were also told about Options 4 & 5 which is by road.
  • Option 4 – Jeep ride from Kathmandu to Salleri. The road trip is about 9 hours. From Salleri to Phakding, the only way is to walk and the walk takes about 3 days. This is the longest travel option from Kathmandu to Lukla and it was definitely not feasible for us.
  • Option 5 – Jeep ride from Kathmandu to Phaplu. And then take the heli from Phaplu to Lukla. Again this was not feasible for us.
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

Day 2

  • Elevation: Phakding (2610 metres) to Namche Bazaar (3440 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 7 hours
  • Distance covered: 12 kilometres
  • Grade: Very Difficult
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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Mt Everest Base Camp

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
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

Day 5

  • Elevation: Dingboche (4410 metres) to Lobuche (4910 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 5 hours
  • Distance covered: 12 kilometres
  • Grade: Difficult
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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.
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

Day 8

  • Elevation: Pangboche (3985 metres) to Namche Bazaar (3440 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 7 hours
  • Distance covered: 13 kilometres
  • Grade: Moderate
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

Day 9

  • Elevation: Namche Bazaar (3440 metres) to Lukla (2840 metres)
  • Number of hours walked: 10 hours
  • Distance covered: 19 kilometres
  • Grade: Difficult
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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 for Mt Everest Base Camp

  • 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 (per person)

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.
  • And 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.
  • Also, buying a 10 GB Wifi card at Namche Bazaar which can be used at all the higher camps.
Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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.

Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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.

Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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.

Mt Everest Base Camp - Complete Guide!

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. Ensure to add check in baggage with the flights well in advance. It costed me AUD 77 for 30 kilos for adding it at the last minute.
  2. 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.
  5. Rest days are very crucial for high altitude hikes.
  6. 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.

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Mt Everest Base Camp

40 Comments

  1. Gosh this sounds like a lot of preparation and dedication. I know guides due some shady things but I’m surprised the guide demanded tips. I hope you informed the director. Good thing you had medication for your altitude sickness, imagine how horrible if you did not. Congrats on reaching your goal – you look very happy

  2. I can just imagine the excitement of reaching Mt Everest base camp. Since this is something I may never do, I can only live this excitement through you. Even with regular hiking I am sure the 115km hike was a challenge. We learned on other trips how important it is to prepare for the altitude. What an interesting variety of sites during the hike. Good to provide some tips on how to save money. It will help people prepare better.

  3. The EBC trek is indeed one of the unique experiences of life. You must have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it in spite of bad weather and other hindrances. I like the way you have spelled out the entire experience, itinerary and costs. Great to see you have also devoted space to trash management as well as the animals out there.

  4. I’m so glad I found this, climbing to Mount Everest Base Camp is something that I want to do so badly. I knew it was a difficult hike that took many days, but it is great to read about it from someone who has completed it. Great tips on making sure to take the time to rest and let your body get acclimated. I am the go, go, go type so I would want to do as much as I could as quickly as I could, which obviously would prove to be a mistake in this case. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  5. kavitafavelle

    What a wonderful and exciting achievement, well done! Sounds like you made a great choice of operator, and that you were happy with your guide throughout the trip with exception of his demands for tip the end? Was that the case? Is there any guidance provided by the tour operator on an amount to tip?

  6. Not so long time ago I saw a documentary about the Lukla airport. Not sure I would want to fly there but Everest Base Camp is definitely on my bucket list. Thank you for the guide and especially for including the expenses (y)

  7. This certainly is a trip of a lifetime. You require a lot of determination and stamina to pull it off. Congrats to you for your success and so good to see you so happy. Thanks for all the guidance. Would love to do this trip sometime and it certainly would be a solo trip in that case as my wife would definitely shy away.

  8. Amrita

    Wow! I am equally excited that you went to the Everest Base Camp. This is a great achievement in itself. Its great that you have mentioned the expense of the trek and your tour operator as well.
    I had wanted to do EBC since long and have done a number of treks in India. However, my next aim is to do the Mustang Trek in Nepal. Lovely reading about your experience at EBC.

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