Everest Base Camp: A Trek to The Roof of The World

By Jan Bakker

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Everest Base Camp: A Trek to The Roof of The World
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The trek to Everest Base Camp is on the bucket list of many trekkers around the world. And rightfully so! This iconic route through the Khumbu Valley arguably shows the biggest display of high altitude mountains on the planet. With a spectacular flight to the trailhead, visiting remote sherpa villages surrounded by snow-capped summits and standing at the foot of the highest mountain in the world, the Everest Base Camp trek has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. At Bookatrekking.com we will help you to make the most of it!

I am Jan, and at Bookatrekking.com, I ensure that you find your next adventure in the Himalayas. As an experienced trekker who has visited Nepal multiple times, I’d like to share my knowledge and advice for the trek to the highest camp spot on the planet, Everest Base Camp. Are you ready for some serious altitude?

Everest Base Camp, The Gateway to The World's Highest Mountain

Mount Everest, also known as Chomolungma, Sagarmatha and the Mother Goddess of Earth are all names for the same legendary mountain. Outside the Himalaya region, people mostly refer to the mountain as Mount Everest, named after geographer Sir George Everest. At 8848 meters above sea level, it is the highest mountain on Earth. After many failed attempts Everest was first climbed in 1953 by the legendary mountaineers Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hilary. The route they used to get to the foot of the mountain is now the standard route for both mountaineers and trekkers to reach Mount Everest Base Camp.

To witness the highest point on Earth is an irresistible draw for many people. But, unlike the Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side which is now reachable by car, you still have to walk the 53 kilometers one-way to reach this base camp on the Nepali side. And it’s definitely not a walk in the park. The Everest Base Camp altitude is an incredible 5364 meters (17,600 feet) which makes it the world’s highest permanent camp spot. The start of the trek is at the small airfield in Lukla at an elevation of roughly 2850 meters (or 9200 feet). From there you gradually ascend past sherpa villages and rhododendron forests to the “capital” of the Khumbu Valley, Namche Bazaar. From here you can catch your first glimpse of spectacular peaks like Ama Dablam, Pumori and Mount Everest.

From Namche it’s still almost 2000 meters up to Everest Base Camp in an increasingly rugged landscape with glaciated mountain tops wherever you look. You share the slopes with the big beasts of the Himalayas, yaks as you approach your highest tea house of the trek at Gorak Shep. With only 3 kilometers to go, Everest Base Camp is within reach! Most organizations do a roundtrip to base camp and back to Gorak Shep because accommodation at EBC is camping only. To actually see Mount Everest in full you will have to scale the 5645 meters high non-technical peak of Kala Patthar, a short climb from Gorak Shep.

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Everest Base Camp Trek Difficulty

Altitude. That’s by far the hardest part of this trek. I have trekked and climbed above 5000 meters in Africa, South America and Asia many times and more often than not the thin air is the crux of an expedition, not the technical difficulty. Each year more than 30,000 people set out from Lukla to trek up the Khumbu Valley to one of the world’s highest campgrounds in the world. With an increasing number of trekkers, the path has improved dramatically over the past two decades. In technical terms, the classic Everest Base Camp trek is not difficult, as it is walking rather than climbing Everest Base Camp. However, trekkers should still be fit. The fitter you are, the more comfortable and enjoyable the trek will be and the bigger the chance of successfully reaching EBC.

To lower the risk of altitude sickness, the daily distances are relatively short, to allow for acclimatization. Each day you’ll be ascending to higher altitudes and you will spend a number of days above an elevation of 4000 meters (13,000 feet). No matter how fit you are, you will feel the effect of the extreme elevation. Further below in this blog post we’ll talk more about altitude and altitude sickness. Having said all this, we like to think that everybody with the right mindset and decent fitness can do it. Better start training for Everest Base Camp!

Everest Base Camp Trek Difficulty

The Best Time to Trek to Everest Base Camp

The Everest Region, along with most of the other trekking areas in Nepal, has four distinct seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. The months from March to May, pre-monsoon, and from October to early December, post-monsoon, are the most popular for trekking to Everest Base Camp. Every season offers its own excitement and atmosphere and in principle, you can go trekking year-round. There are good reasons why spring and autumn are considered the trekking season. Below we’ll give you a run-down of what each of the seasons are like.

Spring

Spring (March-May) is the main season and trekkers from around the globe come to Everest Base Camp in large numbers. In springtime, the temperature is mild, the precipitation is low and the trekking conditions are great. On the trail it’s buzzing with excitement and anticipation to see the world’s highest peaks in all their glory. It gets busy, but therefore it’s a great time to connect with like-minded people and chat about everything adventure. While temperatures in daytime along the trek are balmy, the Everest Base Camp temperature can still dip below freezing level at night and in the early morning. Check our packing list for the trek further in this blog post.

Summer

Summer season falls in the months of June, July and August. Summer is the month with the highest temperatures and in that sense it is quite pleasant. However, this is also the monsoon season, and it rains a lot. The chance of seeing the mountains around you is smaller as it is cloudy most of the time. The trail will be wet and slippery and there is an increased risk of landslides. On the flipside, it’s not very busy on the route and the sherpa villages feel more serene.

Autumn

Autumn in the Khumbu (September, October, November) is, like springtime, prime trekking season with similar trekking conditions. The big difference is that the air in spring is sometimes a little hazy due to the dust in the atmosphere. Post-monsoon the air is very clear, allowing for superb views of the mountains.

Winter

Winter season runs from December to February. This period is the hardest time to trek in the Everest Region. With the Everest Base Camp elevation exceeding the 5000 meters mark, it gets extremely cold. Night temperatures drop to -20 degrees Celsius. Add wind and snowfall and you’ve got yourself a proper winter expedition. Why do we still run the Everest Base Camp hike in winter? We work with some of the best trekking companies in Nepal. Besides trekking trips they also organize climbing expeditions to some of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. Our partners can keep you safe and comfortable, even in these cold conditions. And you will probably have the entire Khumbu Valley to yourself!

The Best Time to Trek to Everest Base Camp

The People Who Make The Trek to Everest Base Camp Possible: The Sherpas

The name Sherpa is often misused as a general word for Nepali mountain people or even high altitude porter. The Sherpa people are a Tibetan ethnic group living mostly in the mountain regions in eastern Nepal, with the highest concentration in the Solu-Khumbu Valley. The main religion is Buddhism, and on the Everest Base Camp trek you will see many gompas (monasteries) and stupas (a dome-shaped shrine).

In the early days of mountaineering, Sherpas were recognised as an invaluable link for big scale mountain expeditions in the Himalayas. They were (and still are) able to carry massive loads, quite often similar to their own body weight. That strength, mountain expertise and natural ability to adapt to extreme altitudes has turned into a livelihood in the form of mountain tourism. An estimate of 50,000 trekkers and climbers visit the Everest Region which makes tourism the biggest source of income for many Sherpa families.

The People Who Make The Trek to Everest Base Camp Possible: The Sherpas

Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary

What does an Everest Base Camp trek look like day by day? Below is the 12-day itinerary for the trek that we organize to EBC. This schedule is designed with a thought-through acclimatization schedule, for your safety and enjoyment of the trek.

Day
1

Fly to Lukla , trek to Phakding

Duration: 02:30 h
Distance: 7.3 km
Ascent: 160 m
Descent: 370 m
We’ll board a flight to Lukla (2810m). You will be able to enjoy the beauty of splendid hills, rivers and mountains during the 30 minute flight. On reaching Lukla airport, you’ll be introduced to your porter, and served a wholesome breakfast. After that, we will head north to Phakding (2620m). It is an easy 3 hour hike through the Dudhkoshi valley. We will head north from the airstrip to Chheplung (2700m) and cross the crystal clear Thadokoshi on a locally built suspension bridge. Past the bridge, you can witness KusamKanggru (6367m), which is one of the toughest mountains to conquer. Away from the ThadoKoshi, the trail continues towards the Ghat (2590m) and we will cross a ridge marked with painted Mani stones. We will reach the beautiful tribal village of Phakding where you will stay overnight.

Phakding

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Phakding
Day
2

Trek to Namche Bazaar

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 10.5 km
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 150 m
Heading for the Namche Bazaar, we cross through the hamlet of Zamphute and Tok Tok to see dazzling Thamserku glistening in the sun that stays all the way with us in most of our trek. Passing through the scenic Sherpa villages of Benkar, Chumoa and Monjo, we reach Utche Choling Gompa on a bluff abutting the Dudhkoshi river and further we make our way between the bluff to the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO declared world heritage site. Completing halfway to Namche Bazaar, we head for the second half of the march that would likely to take more time due to steep climb at the end. Crossing through the last village of Jorsale, a steep stepped path leads us to an amazing high bridge over the Dudhkoshi River gorge and just before this bridge, the Dudhkoshi is met by its tributary, the BhoteKoshi.

Namche Bazaar

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Namche Bazaar
Day
3

Acclimatize at Namche Bazaar

We have an acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar. To help our body better adapt to the high altitude, we can take short walks or climb few hundred feet during the day to have a look in the villages, houses, terraced fields and snowy mountains of Kwangde, Khumbu peak, Thamserku, Kusum Kanguru and the village’s big weekly event, the Saturday market to have fun mingling with the crowds and watching men and women in traditional attire.

Namche Bazaar

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Namche Bazaar
Day
4

Trek to Tengboche

Duration: 05:30 h
Distance: 9.5 km
Ascent: 780 m
Descent: 350 m
Our route for today to Tengboche weaves in and out of side valleys, making small ups and downs, to the picturesque tea shops of Kenjoma, and joins the trail from Khumjung just before a collection of Mani stones. The views of Everest and Ama Dablam are excellent from this part of the trek. We pass the small settlement of Sanasa from where the trail drops towards Phunkithanga (3250m). From here the trail climbs steeply through pine forests and around Mani stones as it follows the side of a hill to the saddle on which the monastery of Tengboche sits at 3870m. The view from here is rightly deemed to be one of the world’s most magnificent sceneries. Kwangde (6187m), Tawachee (6542m), Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse (8501m), Amadablam, Kantega and Thamserku provide an inspiring panorama as the Himalayan giants. We will spend the night in Tengboche.

Tengboche

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Tengboche
Day
5

Trek to Dingboche

Duration: 05:30 h
Distance: 10.8 km
Ascent: 630 m
Descent: 170 m
We descend through a beautiful forest then cross the Imja Khola and trek through the village of Pangboche. The route continues through summer pastures to Dingboche. We will spend the night at Dingboche. It is a very relaxing village with lots of mountain views. This is a very easy hike which will take about 3 to 4 hours.

Dingboche

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Dingboche
Day
6

Acclimatization in Dingboche

Today in Dingboche we have another acclimatisation day and there are some breathtaking views of the north face of Ama Dablam and the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge as we explore this beautiful valley that leads us up to Island Peak. The hike is short with a good chance to relax in the afternoon and we can do some side day trips to help our acclimatization process.

Dingboche

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Dingboche
Day
7

Trek to Lobuche

Duration: 04:20 h
Distance: 7.8 km
Ascent: 620 m
Descent: 20 m
We start the day with a climb to the chorten trail. This is a gentle climb that will last about 1.5 hours. Then we get to Thugla at 4600m with a tea house where we will have lunch before climbing the steep part of today’s trek for another 1.5 hours. We start to get close to high mountains like Mt. Pumori and Mt. Nuptse after a while as we proceed towards Lobuche where only basic accommodation and food is provided. Then we trek along a broad valley floor to Thugla, leaving behind the Trekkers Aid Post at Pheriche at 4240 m. A western volunteer doctor, supported by The Himalayan Rescue Association is stationed here and offers treatment and consultation to trekkers. When we come out of the valley, we descend to the yak pastures at Lobuche. We overnight at a Lodge.

Lobuche

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Lobuche
Day
8

Trek to Gorak Shep (5180m) – Everest Base Camp (5364m) – Ghorak Shep

Duration: 06:40 h
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 390 m
Descent: 150 m
This challenging trek day will take around 6-8 hours. From this point onwards you will probably feel the altitude more than before. We therefore will have have to be extra careful. The trekking distance will be around 15km. After a filling breakfast, we will head to Everest Base Camp, trekking through the rocky terrain alongside the Khumbu Glacier. Upon reaching EBC, you will have some time to enjoy the heavenly environment and take photographs. If you are trekking somewhere between March and May, you might get the chance to see all the commercial expeditions trying to reach the summit. After lunch, we will trek downhill to Gorak Shep, and spend the night at a local guest house there.

Gorak Shep

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Gorak Shep
Day
9

Gorak Shep – Kala Patthar (5643m) – Pheriche

Duration: 09:00 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 430 m
Descent: 1330 m
Finally, we have our date with Everest, the climax of the trek. We start after an early breakfast without hurry. Crossing through the wide sandy bed of the dried up lake and steep zigzags we ascend about 100m to have the great view of Lingtren, Khumbutse and Changtse. As the climb begins again, we get a grand view of Khumbu glacier and Nuptse massif and finally we climb to the rocky viewpoint of Kala Patthar. It’s a slow tough climb but every meter ascended is rewarded by a bit more of Everest and finally we find ourselves sitting on the Kala Patthar rocks in middle of an unbelievable Himalayan Panorama. Now we return downhill which takes much less time. Retracing the way we came up, we pass through Gorak Shep, Lobuche and from Dughla, instead of moving towards Dingboche we descend to Pheriche making our way along Khumbu Khola, for our stay for the night.

Pheriche

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Pheriche
Day
10

Pheriche – Namche Bazaar

Duration: 10:20 h
Distance: 20.5 km
Ascent: 580 m
Descent: 1410 m
From Debuche, a 1h30 climb takes you to Tengboche, from where you will descend to Phunkithanga at 3200m. Then you will have a final climb towards Namche Bazaar for the final party night, which is also the last chance to have close-up views of the mountains. Following the same way back to Namche is an easy walk. Once you get to Namche you can appreciate a hot shower and wifi, as well as pastries and beers in bakeries and bars.

Namche Bazaar

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Namche Bazaar
Day
11

Trek to Lukla

Duration: 07:00 h
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 530 m
Descent: 1080 m
Finally we return to Lukla following the Dudhkoshi River, where the trek ends. We will spend the night in Lukla.

Lukla

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Lukla
Day
12

Fly back Kathmandu

Early morning air trip from Lukla to Kathmandu. Don’t forget to pick a seat on the right side, to see the spectacular mountain views again. On reaching Kathmandu, it will be time to say goodbye! May you enjoy the rest of your journey here in Nepal.
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Everest Base Camp With Helicopter Return

A classic Everest Base Camp trek takes a minimum of 12 days to complete. Most of the trekking days are spent going up to acclimatize while keeping the dazzling Everest Base Camp height of over 5000 meters in mind. It allows you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscape. Once you’ve reached the ultimate goal of the trek, most people backtrack their steps to Lukla for another three days. For those with limited time, Bookatrekking.com designed a trek that includes a helicopter ride back to Kathmandu from your highest tea house at Gorak Shep. This saves you three days and your knees will probably appreciate it as well. It will be the most spectacular helicopter flight in your life, soaring among the highest mountains in the world. Finally, for those who want to trek in style, we also offer an Everest Base Camp Deluxe trek, staying in the best lodges available along the trail. You'll get dropped off by heli in Lukla from Kathmandu and you fly back from Gorak Shep straight to Kathmandu.

Everest Base Camp With Helicopter Return

Where Can I Find A Map For The Everest Base Camp Trek?

Below you can find the complete route to Everest Base Camp, including some (optional) side trips.

What Permits Do I Need For The Everest Base Camp Trek?

For trekking to Everest Base Camp, you need the following permits:

TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System):

This permit is important for every trekker wishing to trek in Nepal. From the Annapurna Circuit to the trek to Poon Hill, all trekking routes require this permit. This costs NRS 2000 per person. This equals about 17 USD or 15 EUR.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit:

For entering the Sagarmatha National Park, the national park that is home to the Mount Everest Region, you need to obtain an entry permit. This permit costs 30 USD + government tax. All permits are included in the price of our trips and are arranged by our local partner.

What Permits Do I Need For The Everest Base Camp Trek?

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Everest Base Camp Trek with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

The Tea Houses on The Everest Base Camp Trek

Tea houses are small hotels known as Bhatti. These are small hotels and you can expect a certain level of comfort. However comfort in this high, remote region is relative. Tea houses are comfortable to the extent that you have a roof above your head and that you can enjoy warm, home-cooked meals. They are run by local families who have opened their houses to trekkers passing by.

Trekking in Nepal has become very popular in recent years, and more and more tea houses have popped up along Nepal’s trekking routes. The more popular your route, the better the quality of your tea house is. Hence, the teahouses on the Everest Base Camp Trek are good value for money. You can expect flush toilets, hot showers and in some cases even wireless internet. The use of these amenities is usually at an additional charge.

Everest Base Camp and Altitude Sickness

The route to Everest Base Camp is one of the highest treks in the world, taking you to altitudes way above 5000 meters. The human body needs to adapt to these altitudes, and the only way to do this, is to ascend gradually. Let’s dig a little deeper into what altitude sickness is and how you can avoid it.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a health condition that occurs when someone is exposed to low levels of oxygen at higher altitudes. AMS is a serious condition and as the name suggests acute. It needs to be dealt with immediately, as it is potentially life-threatening. Most people will experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and act before symptoms become more severe. Below we break down the different forms of AMS and how you can reduce the risk of getting it.

AMS symptoms

It is key to know how to identify altitude illness. You may experience the following symptoms due to the jump in altitude: headache, lack of appetite, breathing difficulties, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. The intensity and severity of these symptoms may increase with altitude and an overall feeling of fatigue will take all your joy away. This may further deteriorate to one of these life-threatening conditions.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): HAPE is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest tightness, and an increased heart rate. It can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate descent to lower altitudes and, in severe cases, medical treatment.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): HACE is a more serious condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain. Symptoms may include severe headaches, confusion, loss of coordination, and altered mental status. HACE is also a medical emergency and requires immediate descent and medical attention.

10 ways of minimizing the risk of AMS

1. Gradual Ascent: One of the most effective ways to prevent AMS is to ascend gradually. When traveling to high altitudes, try to take several days to acclimatize before going higher. This allows your body to adapt to the reduced oxygen levels. All our treks in Nepal keep sufficient acclimatization into account.

2. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can increase the risk of AMS, so drink plenty of fluids. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.

3. Diet: Consume a balanced diet with adequate carbohydrates and avoid heavy, fatty meals. Carbohydrates can help your body utilize oxygen more efficiently at high altitudes.

4. Medication: Some individuals may consider taking medication, such as acetazolamide (Diamox), to help prevent AMS. Consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication, and be aware of potential side effects.

5. Rest: Ensure you get enough sleep and rest during your ascent. Fatigue can increase the risk of AMS.

6. Avoid Overexertion: Pace yourself and avoid overexertion. Listen to your body, and if you experience symptoms of AMS, rest or descend to a lower altitude.

7. Descend if Symptoms Persist: If you experience symptoms of AMS, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, it's crucial to descend to a lower altitude. Symptoms should not be ignored or dismissed.

8. Learn the Signs: Educate yourself and your travel companions about the signs and symptoms of AMS, and be vigilant in monitoring each other's condition.

9. Plan for Acclimatization Days: When trekking or mountaineering at high altitudes, plan for rest days to allow your body to acclimatize. This may involve ascending to higher altitudes during the day and descending to sleep at lower altitudes.

10. Maintain Altitude Awareness: Pay attention to the elevation you're at and the rate of ascent. Rapid ascents significantly increase the risk of AMS.

It's essential to understand that AMS can affect anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or previous high-altitude experience. These days there are several tools to monitor your health at altitude. A widely-used (analog) method is the Lake Louise score card. It ticks the altitude symptoms while keeping the severity in mind. It’s a common tool used by guides. Nowadays, most trekking and mountain guides bring a blood oxygen saturation meter, which also measures the heart rate. These are key indicators whether a person adapts to altitude well or not.

Packing List for the Everest Base Camp Trek

Trekking in Nepal requires good quality and appropriate equipment. Especially the essentials like a good pair of hiking boots and breathable hardshell rain jacket. We highly recommend that you read our suggested packing list to hike the Everest Base Camp Trek.

  • Technical Clothing

  • Headwear

  • Handwear

  • Footwear

  • Accessories

  • Equipment

  • Other

Where Can I Book the Everest Base Camp Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book this trek and many others. Our guided options come with experts on the ground, and offer you a convenient, stress-free, safe, and educational way to explore the outdoors. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is this not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our blog posts:

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