Want to climb to Everest Base Camp? Confusing information? This is everything you need to know.
FIRST OF ALL, you can walk to Everest Base Camp (EBC) without a guide, porter or group. Do not believe what you told by the travel agencies in Kathmandu or elsewhere.
The four of us at EBC
We walked to EBC in 18 days with 4 people. Three 20 somethings and a 60 year old ascended and descended the 5500m to EBC. No training was required, though a basic level of fitness is obviously required, and we carried all our own gear, from sleeping bags to cooking equipment. And we did it during winter time in January. You have to be determined, adventurous and remember to put one foot in front of the other.
Kathmandu is a modern city and is bustling with travellers and adventure seekers. If you want, you can buy everything you require to trek to EBC upon arrival. It has everything you could need from Baby Bell cheese to ice axes and crampons. Check out our KATHMANDU blog. Nepal uses Nepali rupees and US dollars so make sure to carry both currencies.
Here is what you need to know about walking to EBC:
1) Park fees
Possibly the most confusing and contradictory information about EBC.
This is the situation as of January 2018:
There a only TWO fees you have to pay:
- Monjo – the National Park entrance free at 3300 Nepali rupees per person. This is the first time you will pay. You cannot enter without paying so don’t worry, you cannot miss it. Manned by official park Rangers and open all year.
- Namche – before you enter the village you will have to pay 2000 Nepali rupees for the community fee. Again, you cannot continue without paying and you will be stopped by the rangers who will stamp your NP ticket and issue you with your local community ticket.
DO NOT PAY FOR ANY FEES IN KATHMANDU. If you do, you will have to pay again on the trek. If anyone tells you to buy the passes before you start, tell them to read this blog.
There used to be a requirement to purchase TIMS but that does not exist now! You only have to pay the national park entry fee and the local community fee. Keep your passes safe and take a photo of them as there are a few check points along the route where you will have them stamped.
NOTE: We were told to take x2 passport photos for the National Park entrance but they were not needed.
2) Walk or fly?
The majority of people fly in to Lukla Airport from Kathmandu to begin the trek. We did not.
One, it was too expensive ($170 one way per person); two, Lukla is at 2800m and thus at altitude so you do not have time to acclimatise and risk altitude sickness. Thirdly, we wanted to walk the entire way starting in Sallerri… where the road ends. It’s more adventurous, less touristy and a better story to tell.
The drive to Salleri was 9 hours in a shared jeep for $15 US per person. There are mix reviews from those travelling by jeep: those experiencing 12 hours of very cramped jeeps and then us who enjoyed a bumpy 9 hour jeep ride. There’s always a story to scare you. Many people also start in the village of Jiri, where Edmund Hilary and the team started the first ascent of Mt. Everest.
We decided to fly out of Lukla due to time constraints. This is definitely worth doing if you have the money. Lukla airport is known as the world’s most dangerous airport and it takes less than one hour to reach Kathmandu. During low season, you can book the day before you fly. However, high season you will have to book well in advance.
During low season, there are 4-5 flights per day. High season, there are 50-60 flights per day!
If you arrive in Lukla earlier than expected, the airlines will happily move you on to an earlier flight… we highly doubt they will do the same if you are late.
We trekked in winter. There was no snow, sunshine and suncream were essential, and cold nights. There has been no snow for 5/6 years on the trek but we did experience one day of snowfall but it was gone the next day. At night, it was cold (-10°C) but daily temperatures reached 20°C plus. Spring and summer is very hot and dry and hence the more popular time to visit.
A breakdown of how many people enter the National Park per month. October has 10 times as many visitors as January.
Our simple breakdown of the essentials:
- Walking boots
- Large backpack for everything you want
- Sleeping bag: -20°C in winter, normal sleeping bag for summer.
- Water filter and purification tablets: save money on water and plastic. You can drink the tap water on the trek. We did without purification but best not to risk it.
- First aid kit: including altitude sickness tablets (available everywhere in Kathmandu)
- Sun hat, glasses and cream – it’s hot all year round.
- Money: there are several cash machines in Lukla and only one in Namche with the latter often running out of cash. NOTE: Budget for $20 per day.
- Map: the trek is an obvious path. Thus, a map is simply to know where you are and/or if you’re THAT guy with all the gear and no idea.
Frequent and cheap. We paid $1-2 per twin room per night (i.e. $0.5-1 per person). So very cheap. You can pay up to $50 in Namche for one room! The only difference… ensuite and maybe some free water. The rooms are basic and warm, and in winter, a thick duvet is provided with each bed. You will be too hot. All of us woke up during our first few days sweating in our sleeping bags until we realized that going to sleep with a few clothes on is how you are suppose to sleep in a sleeping bag. NOTE – panties and a t-shirt is the recommended attire for a sleeping bag.
Showers are available for $3-5 (sometimes a bucket wash), and in winter they are harder to come across so pack plenty of baby wipes for a full body wash.
Food is abundant but simple. Do not expect fancy European dishes, though pizza is available in most lodges and tea shops. The famous dish of Dahl Baht is the most popular and common dish for two reasons:
- It’s cheap and you ALWAYS get second helping for free.
- It’s the only meal that fills you up after 9-12 hours of trekking.
Other meals include potatoe and vegetable fry, chow mein, and lots of other simple potatoe dishes. Try a Yak steak for a pick-me-up – it probably isn’t yak but play along with the charade.
Breakfast meals include porridge, chapatis, eggs and seasonal fruits. No bacon or sausages unfortunately so be prepared for simple food at very high prices.
Alcohol is available for $4/5 a beer. We brought a litre of whiskey in a plastic bottle. NOTE – Alcohol will aggravate altitude sickness symptoms so don’t get smashed!
You can pick up snacks everywhere along the trek but be prepared to pay $3-5 for a Mars bar or a pack of crisps.
The higher you go, the more expensive things become!
This can vary from $10 a day to $20 plus. We had a very tight budget ($10) so we made our own breakfast (porridge or noodles) and tea using our homemade stove, and bought our lunch and dinner in the numerous tea shops and lodges along the way.
If you trek during low season (winter) you can negotiate free accommodation after Namche so long as you eat dinner at your accommodation. This works best in groups but always try and negotiate.
We were able to exchange US dollars for Nepali rupees at a lodge. However it’s best to keep a reserve of cash for emergencies.
Our insurance did not cover us above 3000m. EBC is at 5400m so we would of had to pay the $500 for a helicopter ride if we had be evacuated off the mountain.
Our top tip:
Take it slow. If you rush the ascent you’ll get altitude sickness. Altitude sickness affects the fittest of walkers so “slowly slowly gets you to the top of the rock” [quote by a loud American on Kala Patthar]
There are helicopter flights available from Namche and Lukla.
NOTE– all flights are weather dependent. Our flight from Lukla was delayed by one day so plan accordingly.
We would highly recommend our route. Especially starting in Salleri as we were the only tourists on the path for the first 3/4 days. If we did it again, we would definitely start the trek in Jiri as few tourists branch off the main path which starts in Lukla.
Do not underestimate altitude. It can effect anyone at anytime so ensure to plan for a rest day or two along the route. We stopped for two nights in Namche on our ascent (the most popular place to rest as it is the biggest town) and stopped here again on the descent. People often take a rest day in the village of Dingboche so keep in mind that you may have to rest for a day if your altitude symptoms do not improve.
For us, we only experienced mild symptoms that were quickly relived by altitude sickness tablets and paracetamol. Walk slowly and at your pace and you will be fine.
Day 1 – Salleri
Day 2 – Taksindu
Day 3 – Karkhola
Day 4 – Paiya
Day 5 – Pakding
Day 6 – Namche
Day 7 – Namche
Day 8 – Pangboche
Day 9 – Dingboche
Day 10 – Loboche
Day 11 – Gorakshep + EBC
Day 12 – Gorakshep + Kala Patthar
Day 13 – Dingboche
Day 14 – Tengboche
Day 15 – Namche
Day 16 – Ghat
Day 17 – Lukla
Day 18 – Lukla to Kathmandu
Make sure you climb Kala Patthar when you reach Gorakshep. It provides the best view of Mt. Everest.
If you have any further questions about the trek you can get in contact with us here or on social media. Enjoy the trek and live the adventure.