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How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek

Nepal is considered the ultimate adventure destination. It is home to diverse cultures and landscapes.

It takes pride in housing the mighty Mount Everest, and since you are here, I’m guessing you are looking forward to planning your epic adventure journey to the world’s highest trekking destination– Everest Base Camp.

Everest Base Camp Trek offers an adventure amidst the jaw-dropping views of the snow-covered mountains, icefalls, and quaint villages. As you ascend the challenging trails, the trek will let you explore the old Buddhist monasteries at the Sherpa villages like Namche, Tengboche, Pangboche, and Lobuche.

Everest Base Camp Trek is an excellent opportunity for you to interact with the locals and get up-close with the region’s culture and lifestyle. Not to forget, you will surely be in awe as you gaze at the panoramic vistas of the Himalayas from Kala Patthar.

Everest Base Camp Trek is a perfect activity for an adventurer who yearns for a lifetime experience. And yes, an experience like this comes with many hows, whats, and ifs.

It is vital to pre-plan and be aware of all the hindrances and difficulties you may face along your trekking route, considering your main question would be ‘How to reach and return safely?’
Plus, we are talking about trekking, one of the highest destinations here!

Yes, it can be complicated to think about the best touring package, routes, seasons, food and lodging, and most of all, altitude sickness.

But worry no more; I am here to make your planning more comfortable and give you all the tips to plan an Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal effectively.

So let’s begin!

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: The Route

Route to EBC

The first thing you need to decide is the route and the package that is feasible for you. There are four categories of routes that you can choose from: the Popular route, the Classic route, the Alternative route, and the Island Peak + Everest Base Camp route.

1. Popular Route

The popular route is the most common trek that most of the trekkers take.

You will fly to Lukla and start hiking through Namche Bazaar’s trails, followed by Dingboche, Lobuche, Gorak Shep, and finally reach the Everest Base Camp.

On your return, you will sightsee the sunrise and the enchanting mountain ranges from the Kala Patthar viewpoint and descend via Pheriche.

2. Classic Route

There are two classic routes to the Everest Base Camp: Jiri – EBC and Phalpu – EBC. These routes were used when the flight to Lukla was not established.

The classic routes are more challenging than the popular route; however, the journey has many acclimatization days in between.

  • Jiri -EBC: It is the same route followed by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary to summit Mount Everest. You will drive to Jiri and commence your trek. You will walk through many villages like Sete, Junbesi, Nunthala, Bupsa, Surke, and Phakding before reaching the base camp. This trek is for people who have ample time to tour.
  • Phalpu- EBC: It is a route you will be traveling on wheels from Kathmandu to Phalpu, then trekking through Takshindo, Kharikhola and Puiyaan before reaching Phakding ( from where you will follow the usual EBC route).

3. Alternative Route

There are three alternative routes that you can choose from to trek to the Everest Base Camp:

  • Trek to Everest Base Camp and return by helicopter to Lukla/ Kathmandu: The route is best for trekkers who do not want to miss out on the fun of trekking but have limited time.
  • Everest Base Camp – Gokyo (crossing Cho La Pass): We will take the usual popular route to the Everest Base Camp, then go to the Gokyo Valley via Chola Pass while returning to see the majestic Gokyo lake. We will also hike to Gokyo Ri on this trek.
  • Everest 3 passes trek: This trek will take you to the three high passes, namely, Kongma La (5,535m), Cho La (5,420 m), and Renjo La (5,360 m). The trails are less crowded and challenging, which is a perfect balance to an adventurous yet serene trekking experience.

4. Island Peak + Everest Base Camp

If you want to make the most out of your Nepal tour, combining trekking and climbing a mountain would be perfect. You will get to trek the Everest Base Camp then climb the most popular trekking peak– Island Peak.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: When to Go

Planning when to trek the Everest Base Camp is a must, considering that the weather plays a significant role in safety matters at such a high altitude.

The best time to trek Everest Base Camp is either in the Spring season (March to May) or the Autumn season (September to November). The summer season that begins from May-end to June is also an excellent time to trek the base camp.

These are the months when the weather is dry, and the skies are more apparent, making it best to view the beautiful Himalayan ranges and rhododendron forests while trekking through the trails. These are the times when the days are warm, and the nights are bearable cold.

Monsoon season (July to August) is when the region faces heavy rainfall making the trails wet and slippery. Also, there are a lot of flight cancellations to and from Lukla. Winter starts in November and hits its peak in January, covering the trails with snow.

Monsoon and Winter are the most challenging times to trek the Everest Base Camp; however, if you are looking for sheer adventure, these months will be worth it.

These months will also have off-season discounts on accommodation, so it will be best to save some bucks on your trek.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Solo, group, or independent

You have three options on how you want to carry out the Everest Base Camp Trek: Solo tour, Group package tour, or an independent tour.

  • Solo trek: It is where you buy the package from the agency and tour with the trekking guide and a porter.
  • Group: In a group package, you will be traveling with friends or families and other enthusiasts. It is fun; you will have company and get to meet new people.
  • Independent: You will have to manage everything on your own and hire a porter to carry your baggage. However, I suggest you trek with an agency for security reasons.

Trekking with an agency is the best option as you will be assisted on every step of your trek. Your trekking guide will make sure that you won’t face any difficulties on the hike. The agency will manage guides, porters, transportation, accommodation, and food according to your needs. They will even have emergency medical kits and medics on standby. Worth it, right?

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Get Your Important Documents Ready

Every country demands a specific set of documents to let international individuals inside their land. So, here is a list of some essential documents that you need to carry with you at all the time to tour Nepal:

  • Passport with 6-months validity
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Nepal Tourism Visa (which you can get from the international airport or the Central Immigration Office)
  • Travel Insurance Certificate
  • Travel cheques
  • Cash-in-hand for purchasing a Nepalese visa at the airport.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Trekking Permits

You will need two different trekking permits for the Everest Base Camp Trek. If you are traveling with an agency, they will obtain it for you but, if you are planning to travel on your own, you need to know you cannot travel to Everest’s region without these.

Khumbu Rural Municipality Permit

You need to pay for it at Lukla before you start your trek. It costs 18 USD/NPR 2125 per person for four weeks. If you are trekking beyond four weeks, you need to pay USD 21.27/ NPR 2500.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit

The permit can be obtained at the office located at Monjo. If not, you can also get it from the DNPWC Counter- Tourist Service Center at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu.

Nepal Tourism Board

Nepal Tourism Board Office in Nepal

The permit costs USD 30 + 13% VAT.

If you are a citizen of one of the SAARC nations, you need to pay USD 15 + 13% VAT for the permit.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Get a Travel Insurance Policy

As much as we do not like thinking about things that could go wrong, we need to plan and be practical.

Everest Base Camp is graded as “Challenging” due to its high altitude trekking, potential altitude sickness, and climate changes. Even though the trekking agency will put your safety as the number one priority, you will need a travel insurance policy that provides coverage for all the costs of injuries or emergencies you may face during your trek.

Your travel insurance policy must cover helicopter evacuation and hospitalization in case of an emergency. Also, try to choose an insurance company that provides coverage on domestic and international flight cancellations and stolen baggage.

You see, the weather in Lukla is an enigma; you may face potential flight cancellations.

You will have to provide a copy of your travel insurance policy certificate to your travel agency. The policy information will be used by the travel agency in case of an emergency.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: What to Pack

Planning what to pack according to the weather is essential. I suggest you do not fill your bag with anything unnecessary. You need to keep your backpack as light as possible, even if the porters carry it for you.

Here are the lists of all the must-have essentials you will need on your Everest Base Camp Trek:

Clothing

  • Thermal tops and trousers
  • Woolen gloves
  • Caps / Hats
  • Wind / Waterproof jacket
  • Down Jacket
  • T-shirts
  • Socks
  • Trekking boots
  • Camp shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch

Trekking Equipment

  • Rucksack (30 litres) / Daypack
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water bottle / Hydration bottle
  • Tent (optional)
  • Toiletries
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Mouth wash
  • Towel
  • Wet wipes / Napkins / Toilet paper
  • Soap
  • Sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Moisturizer
  • Hairbrush
  • Sanitary pads (for female)
  • Lip balm
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Mobile phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Power bank
  • Extra batteries
  • Electric extension cord

Medical Emergency Kits

  • Diamox Tablets (for altitude sickness)
  • Throat Lozenges
  • Electrolyte powder
  • Band-aids
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Prescribed medications (if any)

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Meet your trekking guide beforehand

A trekking guide has a significant role in making your Everest Base Camp Trek successful.

I suggest you tell the tour agency about your preferences and meet him/her before the trek. Getting to know your trekking guide will give you insights into his communication ability, knowledge, and trekking experience. Also, make sure that the trekking guide is registered and insured.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Accommodation

The tour agencies usually book the lodges/tea houses en route to the Everest Base Camp. However, if you plan to trek by yourself, let me tell you that accommodation is not THAT expensive.

You can get through 11 nights on the trail for just USD 50 or even less. A double room at most tea houses costs only USD 4 – USD 5 per night; cheap, right?

It is best if you carry a sleeping bag. The rooms also have enough blankets to keep you warm; however, sleeping bags help you stay extra warm plus, there is nothing better than having personal sleeping materials for extra hygiene.

If you want to stay at nicer lodges, prepare to pay USD 20 – USD 40 per night. Everest Base Camp Trek trail has numerous standard and comfort lodges that offer clean beds, food, and bathroom in a local setting.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Food and Water

The touring agency takes care of your meals (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner) during the trek. The cost of meals is included in your package.

You will be eating your breakfast and dinner at the lodge/teahouse that you will be staying at, whereas you will have your lunch at tea houses on the trail.

Your breakfast will typically constitute a combination of eggs, toasts with jam or honey, milk tea / black tea. Or chapati with potatoes, porridge with milk, or Tibetan bread.

Lunch at tea houses includes Dal Bhat (rice with lentil soup and curry), Noodle soup, momos (dumplings), more varieties of soups, sandwiches, rice and curry, burger, and more.

Dinner mostly consists of DalBhat, Tibetan bread, soups, noodle soups, potato items, and more.

If you are vegan, vegetarian, or are allergic to any food, then inform your trekking agency ahead of your trek.

If you do not trust the food quality, I suggest you bring instant food or packaged food with you. It would be best to carry tea/coffee powder, energy bars, and other carbohydrate-rich foods with you.

In the case of water, carry a hydration bladder and use water purification tablets. You need to drink at least 3 – 4 liters of water a day to keep your body hydrated throughout the trail. It is better to use a reusable bottle with a SteriPen or an inbuilt infiltration system (LifeStraw is a great one).

You can also fill your bottle with boiled water at the lodges and treehouses for an extra charge.

If you do not own one, then buy sealed mineral water. Mineral water will be provided to you only on your lodge or while you sit down to eat.

Mineral water costs NPR 100 / USD 1 to NPR 400 / USD 4. Mineral water starts getting costly with the altitude; however, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Never drink water straight away from the flowing rivers or streams, no matter how clean they look.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Plan your Budget and Have Cash in Hand

Planning your expenses for the trek may seem tricky, but it truly is not. Most of your major expenses like trekking, transportation, accommodation, food, and permit charges will be covered within the trekking package. There can be mini-expenses that you will need while hiking through the trails, like snacks and mineral water bottles.

As you know, the expenses keep increasing with the altitude; it is better if you carry some cash. You can ask your guide about the aggregate expenses as it depends on which season you are trekking the region.

I suggest you change your currency into Nepalese rupees while you are in Kathmandu as you need to have enough local money to purchase goods and services on the Everest Base Camp trail.

Plus, it would help if you separated some cash to tip the trekking guides and porters at the trek’s end.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Altitude Sickness and Acclimation

Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a severe condition caused due to ascending at a high altitude too quickly. Since Everest Base Camp is the world’s highest trekking destination (5545m above sea level), there is less oxygen in the atmosphere.

AMS can happen to anyone regardless of your physical fitness or trekking experience. Most trekkers seem to start getting symptoms of high altitude from Namche Bazaar.

You must know the common symptoms of AMS: headaches, dizziness, poor appetite, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. You should never ignore the symptoms and try to hurdle your way to your destination because AMS can be fatal.

To avoid this, you should walk slowly and rest in between to help your body get used to the thin air. It would help if you let your body acclimatize to the altitude by resting in between trekking days.

Another way of curing AMS is by taking Diamox tablets right when you start getting mild symptoms.

There are some clinics at Lukla, Namche, and Pheriche that offer first aid for mild cases. However, if the condition worsens, then an air evacuation has to be arranged. The helicopter will take you to Kathmandu for treatment.

So take a rest at a lower altitude before reaching higher heights of the trek.

How to plan an Everest Base Camp Trek: Communication

I guess you might not be expecting a mobile service or network, let alone an internet service up at the Everest Base Camp. Let me correct you; you are in luck!

Mobile service, as well as an internet connection, is available throughout the trek. You can get a wifi service at every treehouse; some are free while some charge you NRS 100 / USD 1 per hour.

Please buy an NTC or NCELL sim card. The network is okay; you can voice-call and load data for using the internet service (3G, 4G). It will be a cheaper method than paying for service per hour.

Another best option is to purchase the Everest Link Card, which provides fast and reliable internet service. You can buy this card in Kathmandu, Lukla, Namche Bazaar, Dingboche, and Gokyo valley.

So here we have it; the ways to plan for the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. I hope this article has helped you plan your Everest Base Camp Trek and has answered all your questions.

If you have the will for it, anything is possible. I’m sure trekking to the Everest Base Camp will surely be a lifetime experience for you.

Lastly, remember, folks, you need to be prepared mentally and physically for this trek. So, pull up your socks and start doing some cardio, go on a morning jog or hike a hill nearby.

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