Everyone knows Everest Base Camp trek is an ambitious adventure but with proper planning it’s not that intimidating. Trust us! After all, we are speaking with more than 20 years of experience.
Everest Base Camp Trek is normally a two-week trek with 10/11 of pure trekking days which starts and ends at Lukla. However, this can be extended with a side trip to Gokyo Lake. This way you can have the complete experience of “Trekking in Nepal” as the classic Everest Base Camp trek is all about going straight to the Base Camp and retracing back the same way, whereas the extended trip allows you a circuit and adds the adventure of Cho La Pass (5420m), a High Mountain Pass and Gokyo Lake (4750m), one of the highest freshwater lakes. In both cases, you get to see the kaleidoscopic beauty of magnificent mountains, amazing highland settlements and unique flora and fauna of Everest region. For more details on the itineraries and daily activities, you can go through https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/everest-base-camp-trek/ and https://www.explorehimalaya.com/packages/gokyo-kala-pattar-everest-base-camp-trek/.
Trek to Everest Base Camp is well known for being one of the most adventurous treks, and some people even make it sound treacherous. However, the pleasure of comfort is not that unattainable if you are aware of certain things beforehand. Feed yourself with a bit of information, plan well and you are all set for this incredible journey! Below is a list of few things you need to know to make the most of this wonderful adventure.
Depending on your budget and interest, there are three ways of trekking in Nepal – GAP, TH and Fully organized camping trek. The most popular are GAP and TH. GAP includes Guide, Accommodation and Porter; whereas TH (teahouse) includes Guide, Accommodation, Porter and all meals. Fully organized camping trek is popular in remote areas only where there is no adequate accommodation facility, which naturally makes this type outdated in Everest region. So you can choose between GAP and TH. You can also be an independent traveler but it’s not recommended considering the geographical extremities and remoteness of the region.
Everest Base Camp Trek is rated as “Moderate to Fairly Challenging” trek. Physically quite tiring, it involves approx 6-8 hours trekking along rocky ridges of high Himalayan peaks. No previous experience is required. However, you should be moderately fit, used to some regular exercises and enjoy walking in the high altitude conditions.
Climate and Weather Condition
Climate, as expected, is extreme in Everest region. So, travelling during winter (from December to February) is not recommended at all due to piling of snow in trails. During monsoon also (from mid May to mid-September), the weather is cloudy resulting in very poor visibility. The best seasons to trek to Everest region is Autumn (from mid-September till November end), and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher every day. The nights are cold (between -10 C to 5C) but the days are sunny and hot (between 10C to 20C). The mornings are usually clear, with clouds building up during the afternoon, disappearing at night.
Everest region, also known as Khumbu region is the home of Sherpas, the able bodied, hardy and fearless world-class mountaineers and high altitude guides. They emigrated from Tibet about 600 years ago. In the past they were traders and porters, carrying butter, meat, rice, sugar, and dye from India, and, wool, jewelry, salt Chinese silk and porcelain from Tibet and beyond. Now, most of them are involved in mountaineering expeditions and trekking. They are the ardent followers of Buddhism.
The highest point of Everest Base Camp trek is Kala Patthar (5545m) and the trek starting point (Lukla) is 2800m. So Altitude sickness is a concern as it has the potential to affect all travelers from 2500m. It is caused by going up high too fast and can be fatal if the entire warning signals are ignored. Normally Everest Base Camp itinerary has gradual climb and the duration itself is short; hence, chances of AMS are not high. However, one needs to be careful and take all the necessary precautions.
Visa and Immigration
All visitors except the Indian nationals must hold passport and valid visa. Visa can be obtained at the Nepalese diplomatic missions and consulates abroad. Visa is also issued at the entry points. It can be extended at the Department of Immigration, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu. Children under 10 years need not pay any visa fee. People willing to get entry Visa at the air port or any of the land entry points are required to fill a visa form with passport photograph. For more information, please go to http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa
Permit is mandatory while trekking in Nepal. For Everest Base Camp trek or any other trekking in Everest region, you need to get Sagarmatha National Park entry permit and a local permit card. Sagarmatha National Park entry permit (NPR 3000 per person) can be obtained at the park entrance gate at Monjo. However, it is better to get from Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu just in case the Monjo point goes through some technical problems. You also need to get a local entry permit at Lukla (NPR 2000 per person). Previously you had to take TIMS card, which is replaced by the local entry permit. Have the copies of your passport ready for both.
Consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. Let your doctor know about the area you are travelling to. It is especially important if you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint. If you are travelling with a travel agency, normally your team carries a medical kit with standard prescribed medicines along with a users’ manual which you can use upon your own risk. It’s better to carry your own personal first aid kit.
A travel insurance which covers cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation is a MUST if you are trekking in Nepal.
During trek your main luggage will be carried by porters or pack animals (usually yaks or cross breeds). You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-screen, spare jacket, etc. – a small load that allows full enjoyment of the trek. A trek bag is ideal for your main luggage, plus a small lockable bag for anything that you do not need during your trek which you can leave at hotel’s locker room/safe deposit box in Kathmandu.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on this. Just be rational on your choice. Please visit https://www.explorehimalaya.com/2018/07/23/trekking-gear-list-for-everest-base-camp-trek/ for a complete list.
As geographical variation is very wide, you should go with layering style. While trekking in Everest region during the day at lower altitudes, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts are recommended. It’s always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket and some warmer clothing with you as mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. For the cold nights, thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket will help to keep you warm. Good shoes are of great importance. For more info on clothing, please go to https://www.explorehimalaya.com/2018/07/23/trekking-gear-list-for-everest-base-camp-trek/
In Nepal’s domestic airlines the weight allowance is 15 Kgs. Excess weight is chargeable about USD 1.5 or more per Kilo depending on sectors.
Trekking in Everest region doesn’t need tremendous logistics in terms of accommodation as you will find plenty of clean and friendly lodges along the trail. You stay in single rooms where possible, but often you will have to share. Rooms are basic, normally just a bed with a pillow and blankets. So a sense of adventure is required. In Kathmandu, you can find a wide range of star rated hotels.
Food and Water
You can find a considerable variety of Nepali and Western food as well as drinks (coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and beer) along the Everest Base Camp trail. You can also buy bottled water in local lodges and shops. However, it’s a sensible thing to bring water purification pills.
The starting point of Everest Base Camp trek is in Lukla which is connected by a 30 min flight from Kathmandu. For ground transfers, travel companies use private vehicles like car, van, hiace and coaster bus depending on the size of the group. You can also find public transports like bus, taxi and micro van in Kathmandu. However, they are often crowded, slow and uncomfortable (but very cheap).
You can expect to spend around 2500-3000 Rupees a day for your basic food and snacks (excluding accommodation and transportation as they vary widely depending on the level of service). Tips are appreciated by your support team after the trip. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. You can allocate 5- 10 % of the total tour cost as tips.
There are a plenty of telephone facilities in the Everest region. Cell phones work throughout the trek in Everest Region. However, keep in mind that it can’t be as smooth as in lowlands. If it is crucial for you to keep in contact with your family or others, you can get a rental satellite phone if necessary.
Money exchange is not a problem in Kathmandu. You can find many local certified moneychangers. But same can’t be expected during trek. The facility is available only in major stopovers like Lukla, Namche etc. Card payment (Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express) is also widely accepted in tourist- class hotels, restaurants and shops in Kathmandu. During trek, be prepared to pay in cash as it is accepted in major stopovers only.
Travelling is not just about what you get, it is also about what you leave. Try to leave positive impact behind. Respect the mountains, its fragile environment and the local culture. Choose the responsible service providers only. Go through “Dos and Donts in Nepal” thoroughly before travelling to Nepal.
If you are planning or joining Everest Base Camp Trek, you are well on your way to experience one of the finest adventures in the world. However, your sense of adventure will be intact only if you are comfortable against the basic elements of nature and surroundings. Mountain terrain is rugged and dramatic with notoriously unpredictable weather. So, you need to be well equipped to make your journey safe and comfortable. Here is a trekking gear list that comes handy when you are planning for this amazing Himalayan adventure to the Everest Base Camp or any other trekking regions in Nepal. Mountains can move you only if you can move yourself comfortably!
Kitbag (duffel bag)
A simple design without wheels and without foldable handles is best for your gear to be carried by porters. You can buy in Kathmandu, although they are not as tough as the North Face Base Camp Duffel.
Down-filled bags are fluffy, light and thick. 4-5 season sleeping with a muff (an extra section around the neck that makes a big difference to the overall warmth of a bag) is recommended. You can rent reasonable sleeping bags cheaply in Kathmandu.
Sleeping bag liner
Cotton, silk or fleece – it saves washing your sleeping bag and adds warmth. Cotton or silk ones can be made in Kathmandu but are more easily brought from home. Fleece ones are readily available in Kathmandu.
Extremely light, warm and easy to pack – they are very handy in cold regions especially during chilly mornings and evenings. Better to get the down jackets that can hold against -10 °C upto 3000m and -20 °C for altitudes above 3000m. They can be easily bought or rented in Kathmandu.
This should be comfortable with a good waist band that transfers some of the weight to the hips. It needs to be big enough to hold all the items you need for the day till you reach the next camp like jacket, water, camera and odds and ends.
Lightweight boots with good ankle support, plenty of toe room for long descents, a stiff sole to lessen twisting torsion are the best. Look at the inner lining -leather is good and Cambrelle is even better, a material that eats smelly feet bacteria. Try them in some steep terrain before trekking to find trouble spots.
Quality cotton mix sports socks (3-4 pairs) are good while in low country. Thick trekking socks (3-4) are better for higher up and cool evenings. Mostly modern trekking boots fit snugly so wearing two pairs of socks at the same time is impractical.
A luxury for your feet at the end of the day is the most important thing. Sandals or running shoes are good. Flip-flops, available for cheap in Kathmandu, are a necessity for showers during the trek.
Most trekkers consider this essential, but alternatives are a thick thermal top or a light down jacket. In Kathmandu you can get almost any sort of fleece you need.
Windproof and breathable jackets are a comfort during windy days. Make sure they have hoods. Gore-tex (or similar) jackets are recommended for treks over passes or climbing trips. Lighter jackets should be a second jacket, easy to throw in the daypack in warmer days.
Rain coat or Poncho
Bringing a raincoat or poncho is a sensible thing when you are in mountains as you never know when Mother Nature wants to have some fun.
Light weight thermals are great for warm nights in the sleeping bag!
Great for the chilly evenings, thicker is better (except for when the stoves in the teahouses really heat up!). Readily available in Kathmandu.
T-shirts are popular but a cotton shirt or mixed yarn travel shirt is more versatile. The collar protects the back of your neck and the sleeves can be rolled up or down. Take two or three so you can swap damp for dry.
You will live in these. Light material, loose and dark-colored is the best. You can survive with only one pair, although two/three is better.
If your trekking pants are reasonably windproof then special wind pants are not needed. If you do bring a pair, it is not necessary to have Gore-tex. Similar, waterproof is quite OK.
Warm skull cap/balaclava
Woolen/mixed synthetic warm cap or balaclava is nice for the evenings.
For winter trekking they are really the best for staying warm!
Definitely useful, especially on steep, rough terrain, but if you are not used to using them you can survive without.
Suitable for snow, it’s bright up there, but specialized glacier glasses with side pieces are not needed. Contact lens wearers report very few problems except cleaning them in the conditions. Ski goggles are unnecessary.
Fleece gloves are also a must. However, a good pair of wind and water proof/ gloves is also essential for foul weather. Available in Kathmandu for cheap if you don’t have a pair.
Should be one liter or more in capacity, take boiling water and be leak-proof. Nalgene or a similar brand, or European fuel bottles are the best. You need at least 2 water bottles, or at least 1 water bottle in addition to a Camelback or hydration system.
Torch / Flashlight
Petzl Tikka’s and other similar torches with LED bulbs rule. They are quite helpful for trips to the toilet at night!
Toiletries and odds & ends
The smallest tube of toothpaste is perfect for a month. You need to bring or buy along the way. Your personal toiletries come in the list. Make sure you also have toilet rolls or tissue paper for emergencies.
Bring only a small one trekking, or a camp towel. In Kathmandu the hotel supplies towels.
Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
Sunburn doesn’t look and feel as cool as the beach burn. Get sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher depending on the sensitivity of your skin. You should also use lip balm with high SPF. Also have a wide brimmed hat to go with.
First Aid Kit
We carry one with aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, decongestants, lozenges, various antibiotics for Nepalese varieties of diarrhea and chests infections, Diamox (an acclimatizing aid drug), antiseptic, antihistamine cream, rehydration, bandages and band-aids, tough blister tape (but not moleskin). As we are not certified to prescribe medicines you have to use them at your own risk.
You have to bring any personal medicines that you need.
Bring a bottle of iodine tablets such as Potable Aqua, Polar Puror Couglans etc or any other similar tablets. Bottled water is available on the trail.
Most people find wearing one while trekking is a hassle and keep it buried in their kitbag or daypack. But they can be handy. The Kathmandu hotels have safety deposit boxes.
Book and Note Pad
When you are free for independent activities, especially in the evenings books can be a good friend. Kindles are also fine. Note Pad is also important for making diary entries and taking notes of things that catch your interest.
Though there are charging facilities available in the hotels, lodges and teahouses en route, bring power bank when you are in mountains. You never know when there will be power cut or occur some technical emergencies.
A team of International Medical Relief (IMR) medical professionals including doctors, nurses and health assistants did Himalayan Medical Expedition in Manaslu region for about two weeks. The trek that started on 2nd April and concluded on 14th April was aimed at providing medical assistance to the remote villages of Manaslu region. The 7-member team had Ms Anna Amita Desimone (US), Ms. Sarah Rose Burney (US), Ms. Sophie Dojacques (US), Mr. Austin Ryan Eaton (US), Ms. Deanna Joy Shapiro (US), Ms Zoe Harriet Smyth (Ireland) and Ms. Tatiana Claudia Doyle (US).
The first day of the trek started with a 9 hour drive to Soti Khola, the starting point of the 13 days’ trek. The team provided medical care to many en-route villages including Philim (120 patients), Namrung (45 patients), Samdu (40 patients) and Samagaun (65 patients) where they distributed medicine as well. Their mobile clinic also served the trekkers who they met on the way. The most common problems found among the locals were arthritis, back pain, chest pain, lack of appetite and high blood pressure.
Along with providing the medical care, they also had an exclusive opportunity to get real close to Manaslu (8163m), the eighth highest mountain and the marvelous views of isolated highland villages untouched by creeping modernity. This physically demanding trek also led them to Manaslu Base Camp and Larke-La pass (5160m), the highest point of the whole trek, from where they got to savor the stupendous views of the Manaslu panorama. Finally after the humane service and adventure of almost two weeks, they concluded their trek at Dharapani. At the end of the trek, back in Kathmandu, the team rejoiced the trip and expressed their happiness for being a part of the humanitarian cause.
This is the second trip of Explore Himalaya with IMR. We take it as a matter of pride to be the local partner of IMR and hope to work for such noble cause in future as well.
Nepal never ceases to amaze people from all round the globe. And Malaysians, who are now one of the most seasoned travelers in South-East Asia, are no exception! This autumn Explore Himalaya is quite happy to welcome a group of 11 Malaysian travelers led by our old friend Mr. Song Poh. What makes the trip more special is we were not welcoming Mr Song Poh and his close friend Ms. Yogaranee Balaratnam Thambayah, aged 73, for the first time in Nepal. For Yogaranee, it was the forth time and for Song Poh it was the second time with us, and after almost 20 years!
The Malaysian group did the classic Everest Base Camp Trek from 07 November to 24 November. The group, which was a great combination of multi-age people ranging from 30 to 73, includes Song Poh (Leader), Yong Kek Loong, Yogaranee Balaratnam Thambayah, Tan Hooi Nee, Ting Choo Hew, Sitta V Kanagasabai, Ling Keoi Tai, Lim Ka Tin, Kalaiarasy Subramaniam, Tan Kim Chan and Wong Kok Seong. The group itself looked like a collective family, a close-knit travelling community – and the trek to Everest Base Camp was quite an ideal trip for them to share, care and create memories.
Song Poh and Yogaranee are frequent travelers to Nepal with Song Poh coming to Nepal for record 12 times and Yogaranee 5 times. However, to many the trip was the first one ever. So there was a lot of anticipation and excitement right after they landed in Kathmandu (1400m). The trip started with a city tour to the ancient treasures of Nepal including Bouddha, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square and Swoyambhu. The trip not only gave a real insight to the history of Kathmandu Valley, but also offered a wonderful spectacle of the mesmerizing cultural fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism being practiced since time immemorial. However, the tour just served as a savory to kick start the most awaited trip to the Himalayas.
The real adventure started on the third day, with a flight to Lukla (2860m), in which the members got to enjoy the scenic Himalayan vistas before the real beginning of the trek. Once in Lukla, the whole members felt the crispy chill of the mountain air, much different from the humidity of Kathmandu. Then, started the real trek that would last for next two weeks, through the meandering stony trail along Dudh Koshi river. Throughout the trek, the weather was exceptionally clear and the views were top-notch as if the Himalayas wanted to flaunt all its glory in one go.
The more the members went higher, the more they were exposed to the elements of nature. The more they were intimate to the nature, the more they experienced the grandeur of the Himalaya in its purest essence, from the first sight of Everest from Namche (3450m) to the panoramic view of Everest from Kalapathar (5545m). On reaching the Base Camp (5357m)-the ultimate point of their monumental achievement- they rejoiced, unfurled their national flag and captured all the moments in their memories. On the way back, they shared their experiences, re-captured the moments and bid the last bye to the land of Everest before flying back to Kathmandu. At the end of the trip our Malaysian friends, quite rejuvenated after the Himalayan experience, wished to come back to Nepal again and again. Explore Himalaya feels delighted to make their Everest dream possible and looks forward to travelling with them in the Himalaya in future as well. Congratulations to all the trekkers and best wishes for your next adventure!
Before flying back home, Explore Himalaya had a tete-e-tete with Mr. Song Poh, the team leader. An extract of the conversation:
EH: How was your first experience in Nepal? How is it now? Do you find any kind of difference?
Songpoh: Well, first time it was totally different because I had never done trekking in the Himalayas. But after coming here I found it such an awesome place that makes me coming back almost every alternate year.
EH: Which part of Nepal have you visited so far?
Songpoh: I think Annapurna 6/7 times, Langtang once, Khumbu-this is my second time.
EH: Which part do you think is comparatively better?
Songpoh: They are all unique, in their own way. I will say like Annapurna is beautiful, Langtang is beautiful, they are beautiful in their own way. They have their own speciality.
EH: How many members do you have in this trip?
Song Poh: In this trip, we are 11 including myself.
EH: Your group looked like a mixed age group. What is the range of the age group?
Song Poh: The average age would be above 50, some in the region of 70. The eldest member is Ranee aged 73, a close friend of mine. She has been here 6/7 times. She was here together with me twenty years ago and she keeps on coming back. The youngest member is 31.
EH: How was the trip as a whole?
Songpoh: It has been a successful trip to Everest Base Camp. Some of my friends are first time in the Himalayas. It was worth enjoying the every moment of the trip.
EH: How was the weather since it counts much when you are travelling in altitude?
Song Poh: The weather was cold and harsh. But the visibility was superb, you can never imagine such clear blue sky back in my country any more. Here in the Himalayas, everything was so clear and nice.
EH: What is the feedback of your team members?
Song Poh: Very good question! I have asked to my team members, “Do you want a refund for what you have paid for?” They say straight “No” for that adventure.
EH: So they get the value of their money?
Song Poh: Yeah, they get the value of their money. I think what they are doing is they are buying for the experience which they can never get anywhere else in the world.
EH: How is travelling in Nepal different from other parts of the world?
Song Poh: Every country is unique in its own way. I won’t say Thailand is more beautiful and Nepal is not….no, no. Nepal has got its own uniqueness and Thailand has its own in terms of its natural setting
EH: So are you planning to travel in Nepal in future as well?
Song Poh: Well that could be after the successful trip to Everest Base Camp. This is my second time to Everest. I travelled in many regions. I would like to try Manaslu next time.
EH: And what about the western parts like Rara and Dolpo, and eastern most part like Kanchanjugha?
Songpoh: Yeah, why not? If I have the opportunity and I have the means to do it, chances are yes.
EH: Is there any recommendation/suggestion for us? Have you ever felt like had these things been done, it would have been much better? Any thoughts on it?
Songpoh: From my personal accounts, logistics provided by the company are the important part. You know that you are backed up by a good company, able to get things done for you, and next thing the trekkers are mostly new to this region. We don’t know the language but we get help by helpful staffs. Our adventure is more meaningful, they are able to take care, to see our needs, Malaysians have their own unique demands. That’s the most important part. So you know, what are the demands of Malaysian trekkers, maybe you can look into that matter. Both trekkers and company should act more responsibly.
EH: If you are to give a message to other people who are planning to come to Nepal, what would you like to say?
Song Poh: Nepal has something what the world cannot provide, the uniqueness of its environment, the natural setting of the mountains, the friendly people and if anybody who is a keen trekker or ardent trekker, I think they shouldn’t miss the Nepali Himalayas. It is one of the most awesome trekking routes that you can ever imagine. Nepal has it all.
EH: Is there anything you want to say, something which you feel is missed to say?
Song Poh: If you want to do the ultimate trekking, I think Nepal is the place because they have the infrastructures, logistics, they have the people to do it. Personally to me, Nepal has been a fantastic place. Maybe I’m coming again, I don’t know when but definitely! So we are coming back again.
EH: Thank you for your time!
Medhavi Davda, one of the attendees of International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference 2017 http://htmnepal.com/program/itbmc/, has recently posted her travel story on Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar Trek in her blog http://www.ravenouslegs.com/ . Though she was in Nepal solely for the conference, she could not resist the charm of Nepali Himalayas and instantly packed her bags and set off for Everest Base Camp, one of the most sought-after adventure trails in the world. Medhavi’s refreshing details take us to the very base of the mighty Everest and make us enjoy every corner and every stone of her journey including the overwhelming moment she had at the first sight of Everest. As Everest Base Camp Trek is always one of its kind, so is the story of her trek! Explore Himalaya is really delighted to be a part of her lifetime experience. To enjoy her journey in full detail, please visit http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/trek-to-everest-base-camp-and-kala-patthar
If you are next in the queue, you can also visit her next blog for detailed guidelines http://www.ravenouslegs.com/blogs/handy-guide-and-tips-for-everest-base-camp-trek-in-nepal . You will never remain without thanking her!