FAQs | Everest Base Camp Trek
General Questions :
1: Is the trek difficult ?
The trek to Everest Base Camp is a stunning walk through the world famous trail to Mount Everest. It is not a technical climb; you do not need to have any previous technical climbing experience or even any altitude experience to complete the trek. Walking for ~7-8 hours daily for ~13 days is definitely not going to be a cake-walk. But, it is not impossible. Any person with some decent fitness levels can do this trek. The trail has no technical sections. However, in order to fully enjoy the journey you need to be physically fit and have good strength, conditioning and endurance.
2: When is the best time to do this trek ?
During the summer months - March, April and May.
After the onset of monsoon - September, October and November.
These are the months where you have the best weather with clear skies. However, the weather in the mountains is unpredictable. Its better to go prepared for any type of weather. For instance, we had clear skies on the day we reached EBC and were treated with heavy snow fall the next day.
Apr : Max 10°C; Min -5°C
May : Max 15°C; Min 0°C
Jun : Max 17°C; Min 5°C
Sep : Max 19°C; Min 5°C
Oct : Max 12°C; Min 4°C
Nov : Max 10°C; Min -10°C
You can expect lower temperatures during snow storms or during winters.
Wind speed: 14 km/h
Precipitation/month: 15 mm (0.6”)
Sunshine hours/day: 7
Good weather :
Heavy snow :
3: How do I reach Kathmandu ?
Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu is well connected to all the major cities of the world. All the major airlines operate their flights in and out of Kathmandu regularly.
4: How do I reach Lukla from Kathmandu ?
A short 35 minute dramatic flight will take you from Kathmandu to the mountain town of Lukla. This will be the last motorized transport until your return flight to Kathmandu. You will be on foot for the next 13 days from Lukla to EBC and back.
A Plane landing :
5: How long is the trek ?
The distance from Lukla to EBC and back is 124 kms. There will be multiple acclimatization hikes. By the end of the trek you would have ended up walking up-to 140 kms.
6: How many days do I need to complete this ?
A typical itinerary would be of 15 days. 13 days on the trail and one day each in Kathmandu on either side of the 13-trek-days. It is important to consider having buffer days due to weather related flight delays. Though we had planned for a 13 day hike, it was cut short to 9. Lukla weather plays a major role for you to fly in and out.
7: How does a normal itinerary look like ?
A typical itinerary will look something like this :
Day 0 : International flight landing in Kathmandu.
Day 1 : Explore Kathmandu.
Day 2 : Fly to Lukla (2804 m) from Kathmandu, trek to Phakding (2610 m).
Day 3 : Trek from Phakding (2610 m) to Namche Bazar (3441 m).
Day 4 : Acclimatization day in Namche Bazar which includes a short hike.
Day 5 : Trek from Namche Bazar (3441 m) to Tengboche (3860 m).
Day 6 : Trek from Tengboche (3860 m) to Dingboche (4410 m).
Day 7 : Acclimatization day at Dingboche (4410 m) which includes a short hike.
Day 8 : Trek from Dingboche (4410 m) to Lobuche (4910 m).
Day 9 : Trek from Lobuche (4910 m) to Gorakshep (5153 m) to Everest Base Camp (5364 m) and back to Gorakshep (5153 m).
Day 10 : Hike up to Kalapatthar (5545 m) and retreat trek to Lobuche (4940 m).
Day 11 : Retreat trek from Lobuche (4940 m) to Tengboche (3860 m).
Day 12 : Tengboche (3860 m) to Monjo (2835 m).
Day 13 : Monjo (2835 m) to Lukla (2800 m).
Day 14 : Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu. Explore Kathmandu.
Day 15 : Return international flight from Kathmandu.
8: On which day will I reach EBC ?
In a typical 13 day itinerary you will reach the Base Camp on Day 9. Due the dynamic nature of the trek one must have multiple buffer days in place.
9: Can I see Mount Everest from EBC ?
No. Mount Everest is not visible from the Base Camp.
10: Why should I go to the Base Camp of Everest ?
Because it is there.
11: What is the highest point on the trek ?
Kala Patthar at 5550 m. You will be at this point on the 10th day. Trek to Kalapatthar is the most difficult part of the entire expedition as well as the most rewarding one. This is the point from where you can have a panorama view of the entire Everest region including Mount Everest.
12: How much does the trek cost ?
There are a lot of factors that define the cost of the overall trip in-and-out of Kathmandu. I have categorized the main expenses below :
International flight : Someone flying in from say Europe will have a more expensive flight than the person flying in from New Delhi. Pretty obvious. Booking your flight tickets months in advance can bring the cost down significantly.
Solo v/s Guided : Going solo will bring down your expenses significantly than going with a guided tour operator. I have answered this in detail under "Solo v/s Guided" section.
Equipment : A detailed list of gear is mentioned in the "Equipment and Gear" section of this page. This can add on to your expense if you are buying everything from scratch. You can also consider renting some equipment in Kathmandu.
Food and water : This is pretty cheap in the earlier sections of the trail. However, bottled water gets expensive as you go higher. Use of water purifying tablets is recommended. I have given a detailed explanation about what kind food and water one can expect along the trail in the "Food and Water" section.
Accommodation : Two days in Kathmandu and 13 days along the trail. This can be completely free if you are planning to camp along the trail or might cost you a little. Accommodation in the lodges along the trail is not expensive. More details in the "Accommodation" section.
Permits :For regular Lukla to Everest trek you need two different permits.
a. Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS Card)
b. Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit.
Always carry your passport along.
13: Do I need to be very fit to take this up ?
If you do not want to wake up every morning with a sore body it is highly recommended to go prepared. It is definitely not easy to walk for ~140 kms for 13 continuous days at high altitude. A 2 month dedicated training plan should suffice if you are already in shape. The focus must be on building stamina and increasing your core body strength. Refer "Training" section to see the plan that I followed.
Solo v/s Guided :
14: Should I go solo or take a guide ?
Going solo will bring down your expenses significantly when compared to going with a guided tour operator. But remember that you will have to do everything on your own. From arranging for an accommodation to medical help to booking domestic flight tickets. You are all alone in the wilderness. Considering to go with a certified guide is a very good option.
a: You will have the benefits of having a trained and a certified guide.
b: They will have good knowledge about the region. You will be enriched with details and facts about the surroundings.
c: They will guide you through navigation, suggest you the best places to stay and eat and help you with price negotiations.
d: You will enrich local economy.
e: Your trek will provide a means of earning to the locals who are heavily dependent on tourism.
Equipment and Gear :
15: What do I pack for the trek ?
The following is the list of items I carried:
16: Should I buy my Gear at home or in Nepal ?
That very much depends on how much use you intend to get out of it. Fake gear of reasonable quality is available in Kathmandu for a fraction of the original price– be aware that standards are lower, so a -30°C rated sleeping bag will only be good for -20°C, a 900 fill down jacket is more likely to be 700 fill, etc. There are also some high end trekking gear equipment shops available in Kathmandu like North Face, Black Yak etc which are pretty expensive. All this depends on your budget and if you intend to use the gear in the future or not. But generally speaking, the secondary trekking market gear in Kathmandu is good enough and with the help of a local presence, you can find few shops which offer decent quality gear at a good price.
17: Can I rent the entire gear from Kathmandu ?
Trekking gear in Kathmandu can be rented but is limited to Sleeping bags. The shopkeepers are reluctant to rent down jackets and other stuff as they feel that the items would not be deemed sell-able after use. But you can buy your trekking gear in Kathmandu at moderate prices. Normal price range for a sleeping bag on rent is NPR 100-150 per day and NPR 4000-5000 as deposit for the bag depending on the shop. I suggest to buy all your essential gear like boots and bag-pack back at home as the quality of essential and critical items like these should not be compromised.
18: Can I buy gear along the trail ?
You will find trekking gear shops up-to Namche Bazaar and a few here and there a little higher up. Do not wait to buy stuff until you reach there.
19: Do I need to buy a new pair of hiking boots ?
Your legs are one of the most important parts of your body during the trek. Keeping them comfortable should be a priority. Having a good pair of hiking boots and getting used to them with multiple walks back home is a very good idea. Ensure that your boots have deep grooved soles and provide good support to your ankles as the terrain along the trail is very uneven and any twist to your ankle will put you in deep trouble.
20: When do I start my training ?
The earlier you start the better. The fitter you are the better. Start your training roughly 8 weeks prior to this trek. It is recommended that you put in 12-16 weeks if you aren’t already hitting the gym regularly.
21: Any recommended exercises for strength training ?
Dead lifts Squats Front, Squats Military, Press Bench,Press Incline, Press Pull-ups, Push-ups, Weighted step-ups. Your strength routine should last for 45-60 minutes per day.
22: Any recommendations for cardiovascular training ?
Start walking inclines on a treadmill. This is a low-impact exercise and a great way to start your training. Eventually add the stair climber to your routine. Running, rowing, cycling, swimming, and walking uphills are all a great way to build your endurance. Mix it up and choose the exercise you enjoy the most.
23: How do I train for altitude ?
Unless you live at altitude there is no way to truly train for this. The best thing you can do is get in top physical shape. Your body will adjust as you trek to Base Camp. The key is to walk slowly even when your body can push you further. The strongest athletes are often the ones who race too quickly each day and feel the symptoms of altitude sickness. Train hard. Trek slow.
24: What do I expect ? How do I prepare myself mentally for what is to come ?
Depending on your level of comfort with the outdoors, you may need to prepare yourself for life in the mountains. However, for some who are more comfortable with the four seasons than a campsite or a tea house , you may need to prepare yourself for what is to come. Accommodation on the trek to Everest Base Camp is in small tea houses, run by the local Sherpa people. You will have a bed to sleep in (albeit not the most comfortable bed in the world, but a bed to say the least), in a twin-shared room ( Sometimes in dormitories, kitchen places and other uncomfortable situations ). There are options for showers lower down on the trail, if you decide to use them, however, you can keep yourself clean by using baby wipes and a bowl of warm water each day. The toilet situations can be difficult at times, as in the tea houses they are generally not Western-style toilets, rather just a hole in the ground instead of a toilet bowl. You will also need to be prepared to use the great outdoors at times when you are on the trail with no tea house nearby. You do need to prepare yourself for these things, as you do not want to arrive on the mountain and have higher expectations and be disappointed.
25: How should a sample training plan look like ?
The following training routine is what I followed for two months before landing in Nepal:
28: How is accommodation like in the tea houses ?
Given that you’re trekking through the wilderness in a third world country, accommodation at Nepalese tea houses is very basic. All rooms that I stayed had two single beds which are prepped with sheets, a pillow and a thick blanket. Some rooms had shelves and coat hooks and some had none. You are usually provided with a padlock to secure your door, but it’s a good idea to bring your own, just in case.
Food and Water :
26: What kind of food can one expect in the tea houses and along the trail ?
Food is fairly basic along the trail.
For breakfast, you’ll find some variation of the following:
o Pancakes: Plain, apple, cinnamon, lemon; served with peanut butter, jam or honey
o Porridge: Oat, champa (barley)
o Eggs: Scrambled, boiled, fried, poached, omelet (plain, onion, vegetable, cheese)
o Bread: Toast, Tibetan, Chapati
For lunch/dinner, the meal of choice is daal baht: a huge plate of white rice with small sides of a vegetable or two (often spinach and potato), and a bowl of lentil soup. Each daal baht is different – some curried, some spicy, some plain, some thicker – it depends on how the chef likes to prepare it. So although it’s the same general dish, you shouldn’t get too sick of having it daily since the flavor will vary. The best thing about daal baht is that it’s All You Can Eat – they’ll replenish your plate before you have a chance to finish the first serving. It’s perfect after a long day of trekking when you’re famished.
If you’re craving something other than daal baht, there are plenty of other options for food at tea houses. Usually they look something like this:
o Rice: Daal baht, fried rice (egg, chicken, vegetable, plain), curried, plain. Avoid non veg as it is preserved and generally not fresh.
o Soup: Sherpa stew, chicken, tomato, garlic, mushroom, vegetable.
o Noodles: Chowmein, egg fried, spaghetti.
o Potato: Boiled, fried, mashed, chips, Swiss rosti, pancakes.
o Other: Pizza, spring rolls, dumplings.
Egg fried rice :
Daal Bhaat :
A sample Menu card :
27: Is drinking water easily available ?
Yes. Drinking water is available all along the trail. But, in the higher sections it can get very expensive. At one point, a liter of bottled water was costing 400 NPR. We opted for getting our bottles filled with tap water(they jokingly call it as Everest water) and using purifying tablets.
Tea houses have an open room with tables arranged around the perimeter for trekkers to sit, hang out and dine. In the center of the room there is usually a wood stove, mostly used in winter months and during cold nights and early mornings. It’s common for them to have a display of snacks and other essential items on one side of the room to entice trekkers to buy. If you’re lucky, there will be a TV.
High altitude sickness :
29: I am extremely fit. Can I be a victim of high altitude sickness ?
Altitude related illness is not related to your fitness levels. Irrespective of being fit or not it can hit you. It is mainly about how your body deals with lack of oxygen.
30: What exactly is high altitude sickness and how to tackle it ?
High altitude sickness includes:
AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness.
HAPE - High Altitude Pulmonary Edema.
HACE - High Altitude Cerebral Edema.
HAPE and HACE are a more severe version of AMS where fluid gets accumulated in lungs and brain. If not treated on time it could potentially lead to death.
AMS symptoms :
● Lack of appetite
● Difficulty staying asleep (waking frequently)
● Nausea, sometimes with vomiting
AMS prevention :
The two most important preventive measures are to ascend slow and to keep your body well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Human body is not designed to work at high altitudes where the oxygen level is low. The itinerary must include multiple acclimatization days to give your body enough time to get used to the height. You must plan to hike to a higher altitude during the day and return to a lower elevation to sleep at night.
AMS treatment :
AMS treatment includes rest, descent, and medicines to relieve symptoms. Take Dispirin and Diamox along. Dispirin takes care of mild headaches due to dehydration. If Dispirin does not reduce your headache after an hour then you must be using a half tablet of Diamox. It helps in acclimatizing faster. It takes all the bi carbonates out of the body through urine and acidifies your blood. That means your body will start to hyperventilate and you will inhale more oxygen. Basically, it makes you breathe better and helps your body get more oxygen. The best treatment of them all is to stop climbing higher until the symptoms have resolved. If hit by any of these symptoms and if they did not improve or worsen even after medication, you must descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
31: Is Insurance a necessity ? Why is it so important ?
During times of emergencies like mountain sickness or a natural calamity, you might have to be immediately deported in a helicopter. The cost of such deportation is covered by a health insurance that needs to be purchased before you start the trek. Consult any travel agency regarding the purchase of insurance. They should guide you through it.
One of my team member was suffering with altitude sickness. It took one email and a follow up phone call to the insurance company for arranging an evacuation chopper. He was flown straight to a hospital in Kathmandu. I now realize the importance of being covered by an insurance, especially on high risk journeys of this stature and magnitude. When you know that help is not far away, you can go ahead and take risks. I also realize my mistake of not having myself covered by an insurance and at the same time I thank God for my good health through out the trek. Make sure you do not start the trek without an insurance policy. It is very important.
Electricity, Mobile network and Internet/WiFi :
32: Are tea houses equipped with electricity ?
Electricity is not a problem. All the tea houses I went to had electrical connection. Some tea houses even had solar panels installed.
33: What mobile network will work during the trek and where to buy a local sim card ?
The best network in Nepal is NCELL.. At certain points during the trek, there would be no network as the locations can get pretty remote as you go higher in altitude. The best place to buy a local sim card is just outside the exit gate of the airport on the right-hand side. You will require INR 100 rupees, a passport size photo and a passport for identification. Buying a sim card at the airport helps you to locate your driver easily or call your trek supervisors.
34: What about internet/WiFi ?
You can top up your new NCELL sim with a data pack at the same place where you purchased it. You can also buy internet coupons which are available at locations above Namche Bazaar. The NCELL internet coupons have worked as high as Gorakshep. Most of the tea houses have a WiFi facility. They will charge for using this. It is advisable to carry a bit of extra cash for these coupons because it will be the only form of connectivity towards the outer world in the absence of cellular networks.
Electronic equipment :
35: How to charge my phone and camera batteries ?
Tea houses are equipped with electricity. You can charge your electronic devices in the common area. You will have to pay for this service. You can get away without paying if you ask your guide to get it charged for you. They charge ~100 NPR for one hour of charging and ~500 NPR for full charging. I suggest you to carry a power bank and a couple of batteries for your camera.
36: How many chargers and memory cards do I need to carry ?
The following list should suffice:
a. One charger for your phone.
b. One power bank.
c. Two camera batteries.
d. I carried 20 GB for my DSLR and 32 GB for mobile to record videos. It all depends on how many pictures you intend to click and the duration of videos you intend to capture. It depends on whether you intend to click raw or compressed. I captured around 1200 photos in compressed format and around 250 video clips. I had carried extra memory, for just-in-case situations.
Photography tips :
37: Any tips to click pictures ?
Ensure that you click all your pictures before noon because that is when you will get to witness the peaks when the skies are clear. Clouds begin to build and engulf the sky after noon and you will have no visibility of the peaks. This means, you will have to plan your hiking hours during the first half of the day.
Before noon :
Heavy cloud cover post noon :
38: Should I carry a tripod ?
If you are into some serious photography then yes you must. If you want to be a part of the image and you don't trust your peers photography skills then you must carry it. If you feel a normal tripod is big and will add on to your weight, you can consider carrying a gorilla pod. You can capture some really cool time-lapse videos as well. Watch my Everest Base Camp trek video in the Videos section of this website.
39: Are there ATMs along the trail or do I need to carry cash ?
Yes , there are ATMs in Lukla and Namche Bazaar. Transaction surcharge is high, so it is to better to get cash out in Kathmandu.
40: How much money should I carry for the trek and what are the major expenses apart from food during the trek?
You have to set aside a good amount from your budget for food. INR 1000-1500 per day which will include 3-time meals and tea/coffee. Also during the EBC trek, it is a common and an age old practice that you eat your food at the tea house where you sleep during the night. That is why the room rates are very discounted as the tea lodge owners expect you to eat the meals at theirs. The tea house accommodation per night costs just 100 NPR. The further ( higher ) you go during the trek, food becomes costlier. You will also need to set some extra cash aside for snacks, water(if you are opting for bottled water) , sweets (bottled), WiFi and charging devices. You need to also carry some emergency cash. This can be utilized for hiring a horse if you are feeling really tired, buying extra trekking gear in Namche Bazaar and for unforeseen events during the trek. Also, try to carry some cash to tip your porters and guide at the end of the trek. You probably won’t see your porters and guide after you leave Lukla and head back to Kathmandu, so you will want to have cash ready for tipping.
41: Are showers available on the trek ?
Yes, but most trekkers don’t take them and you wont bother taking them in freezing temperatures. Everyone smells together on the trek so you don’t need to worry. Your biggest concern will be to stay warm. Waiting for a hot shower is very rewarding after the expedition. It makes you feel so much better in the end. You can consider taking baby wipes to clean yourself after a long tiring day of hiking.
42: Where do I get my currency exchanged into Nepalese rupees ?
You can exchange currency at one of the many currency exchange stations in Kathmandu. If you happen to stay in Thamel, you will find them in every nook and corner of its streets.
Exchange rate – 100 INR RUPEES == NPR 160 RUPEES.
43: I am a vegetarian, will I have problems finding food during the trek ?
No problem at all because the lodges mostly serve vegetarian meals. It is always recommended to eat vegetarian meals to avoid food poisoning. Eating heavy meals and non- vegetarian food at high altitude is not really safe for the stomach. Plus the non veg food that is served is preserved as fresh meat is readily not available.
Delicious veg spring roll :
44: Is there any possibility to wash clothes en route ?
You can rinse out clothes in tubs supplied by tea houses but that is not usually done. In general you will get used to smell and dust.
45: Where do I go in search of toilets during the hike ?
The toilet situations can be difficult at times. You need to be prepared to use the great outdoors at times when you are on the trail with no tea house nearby. Else you will have to wait until you find some settlement along the trail. The toilets are not western-style , rather just a hole in the ground instead of a toilet bowl. Along the trail, you will find wooden sheds having a wooden plank with a big hole in it.
46: How is a normal day like during the trek ?
Walking. And trust me,lots of it. By the end of this journey you would have either fallen in love with it or you will start hating it .
47: How to avoid sun burns and sun strokes ?
Use a sunscreen cream not less than 50 SPF and always have your face covered with a balaclava.
48: Is there anything else I need to know before I plan the trek?
Always plan extra days than the number of days the trek will cost you. The weather in unreliable and the flights can get delayed or cancelled. You also might confront natural calamity because of which you might get stuck in a particular place for long. Sometimes, the weather in some area might be unfavorable for you to travel and hence you might have to halt for an extra day. You can fall sick. Considering all these possibilities, do not book a flight back to your next destination that is scheduled immediately after the last day of the trek.
On your flight to Lukla try getting a seat on the left side. The peaks will be on the left!
Enjoy your Everest Base Camp trek !
Trekking to EBC is every adventurer’s dream. The very thought of standing at the Base Camp of the world's highest mountain itself is so exciting. I hope answers to these FAQs will be helpful in planning your EBC journey.
When you are trekking to the Base Camp of Everest, it is challenging, it is tough, it is scary, it is daunting and it is exhausting. But then, when you look up to witness the stunning landscape around you, you get to know that whilst it is all of the above, more than anything, it is rewarding and completely worth it. One has to definitely go out in the mountains. They will make you modest. They will make you humble. They will make you feel that the world is a much bigger place than where you live. Looking at them you will realize such a tiny place you occupy in this world.