While actually climbing Mount Everest is unfortunately out of reach for many of us, nearly anyone reasonably fit can make the trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The scenery along the way and the opportunity to stand at the base of earth's most famous mountain lures thousands of travelers each year.
The exciting hike to Everest Base Camp at 17,598 feet (5,364 meters) can be made in segments with or without a guide. Trekkers stay in simple lodges along the way and enjoy spectacular mountain scenery of many of the world's tallest peaks in the Himalayas. The trek to EBC can be made in eight to 14 days, depending on where you start, how long you take to acclimate, and how you choose to return.
Ironically, the finish of the trek to Everest Base Camp can be a spectacular anticlimax, depending on your timing; the camp is abandoned outside of the Everest climbing season!
- See some interesting Mount Everest Facts.
Arrange a Tour or Do It Yourself?
While all-inclusive tours can be booked before you leave home, you can also make your own way to Nepal and easily arrange the trip yourself. Numerous tour agencies -- both Western operated and locally owned -- abound in Nepal.
Organizing your trek in Nepal increases the chances that you help the local people -- who are often exploited for their beautiful landscapes -- rather than put money into the coffers of Western tour companies which may or may not give back to the Nepalese people. See more about responsible travel.
When to Go
Although you can technically make the trek to Everest Base Camp at any time of year when snowfall permits, you'll miss a big part of the mountain scenery if you go out of season. The best times for getting to EBC are between early September to around the middle of November, before heavy snow begins to cause problems. Unfortunately, this means hiking in cooler weather with even less daylight than usual.
An alternate season is between the beginning of March, after the snow has begun to melt, and the middle of May. As days get longer and the summer monsoon months begin, clouds will obscure the gorgeous views of distant Himalayan peaks. A benefit of hiking in the spring is seeing the trees begin to bloom.
Many facilities and lodges will be closed during the harsh winter months.
- See more about the Climate in Nepal.
How Much Does Everest Base Camp Trekking Cost?
As with all things travel, the expense of trekking to Everest Base Camp entirely depends upon you and your levels of comfort. Prices rise in proportion to the elevation; expect to spend more the closer that you get to EBC and the farther that you get away from civilization.
Extremely basic accommodation can be found for as low as US $5 per night, although you'll have to pay an extra US $5 for a hot shower and even more to charge electronic devices. Luxuries such as hot water and electricity come with a price! A Coke can cost between US $2 - $5. A hearty Nepalese meal can be enjoyed for less than US $6, but expect to pay much more for Western food.
- Read about Tibetan food that you'll also encounter in Nepal.
Hiring Guides and Porters
Although some experienced hikers do make the trek to Everest Base Camp without a guide, having one along could prove invaluable -- particularly if something goes wrong or you begin to experience symptoms of altitude sickness.
Guides are different than porters; they cost more and do not carry your bag! Add at least US $17 a day to your budget if you plan to hire a porter to carry your bag. If you're fit, experienced, and pack light enough, you can opt to carry your own backpack.
Both guides and porters will approach you on the streets in any tourist area, however, you should hire only a credible and licensed guide through either a trekking company or your accommodation. Try speaking with other hikers about their experiences and negotiate prices for both a porter and guide. Finalize details such as food and extra costs before making your decision to avoid a potential disagreement later! Hikers are typically not expected to provide food or lodging for guides and porters.
- Read about hiking safety in Asia and 10 threats that you could encounter.
What to Carry on a Trek to Everest Base Camp
Lots of basic equipment and used gear can be purchased in Kathmandu from outfitting shops or from travelers who have finished their treks and no longer need mountain gear. Aside from the obvious items needed on a serious trek such as sunscreen, a first-aid kit, quality sunglasses, and cold-weather gear, a few essentials will certainly add some comfort:
- Good Hiking Boots: You should invest in high-quality hiking boots and break them in properly before you leave home; painful blisters can ruin an otherwise-excellent hike.
- Lightweight Sleeping Bag: (Compare Prices) Although lodges along the way to Everest Base Camp will provide heavy blankets for the freezing nights, they have a reputation for smelling terrible. Washing and drying heavy bedding at high elevation isn't exactly easy! You'll need a lightweight sleeping bag to provide a layer between you and unwashed bedding.
- Alternate Footwear: You'll be glad to have some light shoes to wear around the lodges rather than your heavy, muddy hiking boots.
- Water Purification: (Compare Prices) Whether you choose tablets or a filtration system, you'll save money in the long run; bottles of water can cost several dollars each as you get higher into the mountains. Even in cold weather you'll need to drink lots of water to counter dehydration in the thin, dry air.
- Trail Snacks: Candy, nuts, and small edibles will provide a much-needed energy and morale boost on the trail or once you arrive at the lodge. In fact, hikers are willing to spend US $5 for candy bars at higher altitudes along the trek to Everest Base Camp!