Food is an extremely important part of any travelling and when it comes to high altitude adventure like Everest Base Camp Trek, its importance becomes even more prominent. Your level of performance and degree of fun during trek is highly dependent on what and how you eat. So, it’s very crucial to know about the food varieties, their availability and “do’s & don’ts” of eating during Everest Base Camp Trek. Despite being far-off region, Everest Region is more comfortable compared to other trekking regions of Nepal when it comes to food specifics. You don’t have to stress much about food but still it’s not an easy affair like the luxury you enjoy back home. Better prepared than be surprised (or shocked?)! So, here are few things you need to know about food during your Everest Base Camp Trek.
Lunch at Thukla during Everest Base Camp Trek
Where do you eat?
A Teahouse Dining Hall at Pheriche in Everest Region
It’s very rare to find fancy outlets for food and drink during the trek. However, in some busier hubs like Lukla, Phakding, Namche, you can find nice restaurants, cozy pubs and cafes with wider range of choices. Otherwise, in most of the places, you eat at the tea houses that are strewn along the trail. They provide modest food and lodging facilities (with exception of some luxury lodges that provide upscale services). Every tea house has a big dining room, most of them with a big heater in the middle to keep you warm during evenings. Normally, such rooms are more than an eating area as it also serves as a place for gathering, socializing with fellow trekkers or passing time reading books and doing other leisurely stuffs. You are normally expected by the tea house owners (a kind of de facto thing) to have breakfast and dinner at the place where you sleep. In some cases, if you don’t dine at your lodge, you may also have to pay twice thrice or maybe ten times the normal price of the room for your stay. So, it’s better to eat where you spend the night …this way you will also save yourself from the hassle of haunting an eating place at the hour when all you need is a peaceful rest. Lunch is a more flexible affair. You have lunch somewhere in the mid-way, in one of the teahouses you come across.
What is available?
A lunch platter of bread, fries, fried chicken, boiled vegetables, fried mushroom, cheese balls and momo
As expected of any remote areas with very limited option of transportation, food menu in Everest region won’t come with extremely wide varieties of options. So, you need to compromise a bit with your palate. However, tea houses have a decent range of continental and local foods. Most of the teahouses have similar menus. In breakfast, you can find items of bread, eggs, porridge, cereals like muesli and corn flakes, pan cake, hash browns, fries, chapatis etc. Lunch and dinner menu is same, in which you find items of some vegetables (limited option), spaghetti, pizza, noodles, sandwich, soup, momo etc. Fruit is rare and you don’t find any seafood in the menu. Nepali staple diet “Daal Bhaat”, which is a platter of boiled rice, curry, lentil soup and pickles is available everywhere. You can also find simple choices of hot beverages that include different types of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, hot lemon honey etc. In some places, you can also find simple dessert menu that include apple pie, chocolate roll, custard and pudding.
Daal Bhaat, a staple diet of Nepali, is a platter of rice, curry, lentil soup, pickle etc. However, it can have certain modification as in the picture- it has an omelette and no pickle.
What is the price range?
As almost every food item is generally transported from Kathmandu via planes (or from lower valleys) and carried up higher by porters, yaks and zokyos, the prices tend to be much higher than in Kathmandu. With the increase in altitude, the price also increases. In average, you will spend about $8 for a meal including hot beverage. So, for 3 meals a day, it will total about $24. You can also get snacks like chips, energy bars and chocolates. Your expense on snacks depends on how frequent nibbler you are!
Drink Menu at World’s Highest Bakery Cafe at Lobuche (Prices in Nepali Rupees)
Drink Menu at one of the teahouses in Deboche (Prices in Nepali Rupees)
Keeping yourself hydrated is quite important during the trek. Bottled water is available throughout the trail, with price ranging from $1 to $4 per bottle (1 liter). If you are travelling through a travel agency, they will arrange filtered water for you. However, in Gorak Shep (the last stopover of Everest Base Camp Trek), you have to buy bottled water as tap water is not available due to water scarcity. It’s recommended that you carry chlorine pills or sterilizing device just in case you run out of filtered water or bottled water in the middle of your way.
Food Tips during Everest Base Camp Trek:
It’s better to eat soupy foods like noodles, soups, stew etc. as they are quite good in high altitude.
Normally, the standard meal number is three (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with snacking as per your wish. So, don’t over stuff yourself while eating as it might be difficult to walk with heavy stomach. You may also feel lethargic and experience stomach cramps in heavy stomach.
Instant coffee is easily available throughout the trail. However, it is recommended to reduce your caffeine intake. You can substitute coffee with hot drinks like tea, honey lemon, hot orange, hot mango etc.
Alcohol consumption can cause serious health issues at higher altitudes. So, you should refrain from taking alcoholic drinks. Nonetheless, you can always party at the end of your trek in Lukla. So, curve your craving till then!
Due to altitude, you are less likely to feel thirsty. However, it is necessary to drink plenty of water. You should ensure 3-4 liters of liquid intake per day including water, soup and tea.
As you need a lot of energy while trekking, you should take food that are rich in carbohydrates like porridge, rice, pasta etc. But you also need to take protein giving foods like eggs, lentils etc. and vitamin giving foods like available vegetables and fruits to make your diet balanced. You can also take food supplement if it is an essential part of your diet.
Though meat has rich nutritional value, consuming meat is not recommended during the trek. Slaughtering is not allowed in the region due to religious principles. So, all the meat is transported from Kathmandu or lower altitude to Lukla and then carried by zokyos or porters to its destination without proper refrigeration. During this process, the meat loses its freshness and becomes unhygienic.
To ensure freshness of foods, eat at busy teahouses as they are more likely to have food with shorter storage life.
Avoid junk food and oily food as much as possible as it becomes difficult to digest such foods.
Carry dry fruits, nuts, energy bars and chocolates. They will constantly refill you with energy during much needed time.
Personal hygiene is quite important. Make sure you wash your hands or use sanitizers as frequently as possible. Washing your hands may not be possible all the time, so keep a hand sanitizer always handy!