Authored by Amy Blyth
Are you looking for an extreme trekking challenge? Then you’ll love Nepal’s epic 62-kilometer trek to Everest Base Camp which lies 5,365 meters above sea level.
The Mount Everest base camp trek will take you through tiny mountain villages and pine forests, alongside topaz rivers and across staggeringly-high suspension bridges to the foot of the world’s highest mountain. However, with sub-zero temperatures and altitude sickness to contend with this isn’t a challenge for the faint-hearted.
Having completed the trek myself, here are some important tips on how to survive the journey to Everest Base Camp.
Things You Need to Know About the Everest Base Camp Trek
Travel With the Proper Gear
The Himalayas is an extremely hostile environment with unpredictable alpine weather, wild terrain, sheer drops and life-threatening altitudes.
As there’s no motorized transport, the only way down is on foot, horse or expensive emergency helicopter. To stay safe, here are some essential items you’ll need to trek to Everest Base Camp:
Everest Base Camp Gear List
➡ Good hiking shoes – invest in a good-quality pair of waterproof trekking shoes with ankle support.
➡ Thermals and down jacket – temperatures can drop to below minus five on the trek, so pack thermal layers including leggings, a fleece and down jacket.
➡ Sleeping bag – tea houses will supply blankets and pillows, but these can be thin and grubby, so carry your own minus 10 to 20 sleeping bag and liner with you.
Pro Tip: Save money by renting your down jacket and sleeping bag. Shona’s Alpine store in the Thamel area of Kathmandu charges a deposit, plus between $0.50 and $1 per day, for good-quality rentals.
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➡ Rain gear – it can rain, hail or snow at any time in the Himalayas, so pack a waterproof coat, trousers and backpack cover.
➡ Gloves, hat and buff – are essential for protection from the elements. A buff is particularly useful to fend off dust and cover un-washed hair!
➡ Sunglasses and sun screen – alpine sun can be fierce and cause snow blindness, so take factor 50 sun screen, Carmex SPF lip balm and a sturdy pair of sunglasses.
➡ Toiletries and medicine – take painkillers, band aids, lozenges, stomach settlers and rehydration salts to deal with common trekking ailments.
Pro Tip: Buy toiletries before you hit the trail as they can be expensive in the mountains, costing up to $4 for a roll of toilet paper. Showers are also few and far between so take baby wipes as a substitute.
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➡ Flashlight – is essential if you accidently end up trekking past sundown and is handy for trips to the bathroom, as many tea houses have limited electricity at night.
➡ Map – although routes are well sign-posted, always carry a paper map just in case, you can buy one for a few dollars in Kathmandu.
➡ Water bottle – all bottled water on the trail has to be carried up by porters so it’s expensive and difficult to dispose of the plastic waste. Instead, take a robust water bottle so you can top up with boiled or UV filtered water.
➡ Gadgets – take a camera and enough memory cards to capture the incredible mountain views.
Pro Tip: You’ll have to pay for electrical charging and wifi in tea houses, so take a power bar and solar charger with you. You can buy a Nepalese sim card to give you basic wifi access along most parts of the trek.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and Acclimatizing
One of the toughest parts of trekking to Everest Base Camp is dealing with the high altitudes, which can literally leave you gasping for air.
Most trekkers experience altitude headaches, fatigue and shortness of breath, but this can develop into potentially-fatal High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). The only cure for AMS is to descend, but it can be prevented with these simple tips:
Tips for Preventing Altitude Sickness
➡ Stay hydrated with around three liters of fluid a day.
➡ Above 2,700 meters you shouldn’t ascend more than 450 meters per day, so plan acclimatization days into your schedule. During these stops, hike a few hundred meters higher, then descend again to sleep and this will help your body adjust to the altitude.
➡ Always descend if your AMS symptoms get worse.
➡ Consider taking Diamox, medicine that helps your body acclimatize to high altitude.
You can attend one of the 3pm daily lectures held at the Himalayan Rescue Association in Pheriche to learn more about AMS and read their online guide.
Everest Base Camp Trek Cost
I’m sure you’re wondering how much the Everest Base camp trek costs. Budget roughly $30 per day for food, supplies and accommodations on the trek. You should take plenty of cash because you’ll only find ATMs in Lukla and Namche Bazaar.
Trekking costs will vary depending on whether you join a tour group, hire a porter or trek independently, but here are some guidelines to help you budget for your trip:
Costs for the Everest Base Camp Trek
➡ Every trekker needs to buy a Trekker’s Information Management Systems Card which costs $20.
➡ You’ll also need a Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit which costs $34, you can buy both of these from the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu.
➡ To get a trekking permit you’ll need travel insurance that covers you for hiking up to 6,000 meters.
➡ If you plan to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla to start your trek, as most people do, you’ll need to pay a flat fee of $155 for the 30-minute flight on a tiny, 16-seater plane.
➡ It costs between $20 and $25 a day to hire a porter.
➡ A private room in a tea house typically costs between $1 and $5 per night with a shared bathroom, but you’ll be expected to eat breakfast and dinner at your chosen lodge.
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