The KE Guide to the Everest Base Camp Trek

On any great adventure they say it’s all about the journey, not the destination - but the trek to Everest Base Camp is one of those rare few where the two are just as fulfilling as each other. From the incredible scenery to the life-long friends you’re sure to make along the way, there’s a reason this sits on the bucket list of trekkers and adventurers all around the world.  

What is Everest Base Camp?

In short, the world’s highest pop-up city. Everest Base Camp forms every year as spring arrives, ready for the mountaineering teams to start making their attempts on the highest peak in the world. Throughout the season, this kaleidoscopic collection of yurts, tents and domes will weather the ups and downs those coming and going; from the euphoria of climbers returning safely from the summit, to the quiet patience - or maybe melancholy - of those waiting for the perfect window to start their attempts. 

The camp is set up twice each year to provide a base in which to spend time and to acclimatise ahead of the climb on Everest. It is a melting pot of international mountaineers and their support staff with a range of facilities from Wi-Fi to medical care, and with two helipads to allow for resupply and potential evacuation.

An incredible army of Nepali and Sherpa guides, cooks and expedition organisers sustains the community, providing accommodation, meals and facilities. Comfortable beds, hot showers, good food and reliable electricity all contribute to the well-being of the climbing teams who pay a premium to take on the highest mountain on Earth. 

Highlights of the Everest Base Camp Trek

One of the world’s greatest mountain journeys, the trek to Everest Base Camp combines awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas with a rich insight into mountain culture, both from the local communities and the international crowd of outdoor-obsessed enthusiasts it attracts. These are our personal highlights.


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The trails

Hiking in the Himalaya is a bucket-list experience for anyone who loves to walk, and on the Everest Base Camp trek it’s easy to see why. Passing below some of the world’s mightiest mountains, the trails weave between glaciers, snow-capped peaks, forested slopes and scenes of epic proportions. The paths are well-maintained, wide and well-marked, but have short steep sections as well, meaning it feels like a real hiking adventure. Whilst you’ll be in awe for most of your trek, there are certain iconic views to look out for as well. Kala Patar is perhaps the most famous, where you’ll first see an unobstructed view of Everest itself.

The culture

Along the way to Everest Base Camp, you’ll get an insight into life in the Himalayas. Yaks on the trail, kids playing in the snow, the expert guidance and gentle wit of your Sherpa guide - these are all the things that will make your journey even more memorable. Enjoy famous Nepali hospitality, drink chai in teahouses and decide who makes the best dal bhat. Make sure as well to stop off and visit the famous Tengboche monastery if you are on our Classic Everest Base Camp Trek, a leading centre for Buddhism and spirituality in the area with stunning views to boot.

 








 

The trekkers

Whether you go on your own or with people you know, it’s a guarantee that by the time you get to Everest Base Camp you’ll be celebrating there with friends. The sense of camaraderie as you complete your trek is infectious and impossible not to enjoy - there are few other treks in the world where you’ll bond so closely as a group, all urging each other to the top. You’ll find supportive and like-minded adventurers everywhere you go, from fellow travellers making the journey with you to friendly faces in teahouses and hostels along the way. 

The achievement

Whilst you’ll undoubtedly find any trekking holiday worth your while, being able to finish this adventure knowing you accomplished something great makes it all the sweeter. It’s entirely possible for anyone who wants to do it to finish this trek, but completing the trek to Everest Base Camp is still a serious challenge to be proud of and makes for a truly satisfying adventure.

More highlights of Everest Base Camp Trek

Where is the Everest Base Camp trek?

Everest Base Camp sits perched at a lofty 5364m (17598ft) on top of the Khumbu glacier, at end of a long valley in the Khumbu region of Nepal. There are actually two basecamps for Everest; the Nepal side serves the South Col route, which is the one favoured by less experienced mountaineers, whilst north face expeditions start from a different camp on the other side of the mountain in Tibet, which is currently not trekkable too.

Starting from Lukla, the classic route to Everest Base Camp is an 80 mile (130km) round trip. This might not sound like that much in the grand scheme of long distance walking, but the trek is broken up into manageable distances in order for you to acclimatise and enjoy the journey to the full. 

What routes are there to Base Camp?

There are several ways to complete the trek to Everest Base Camp - here are some options.

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The Everest Base Camp Trek (EBL)

This trek takes 17 days and is optimised for acclimatisation and your own comfort - it’s the quickest way to get there and still know you’ll make it to base camp. If you’re short on time for both your training and the trek itself, we think this option is the best.

The Ultimate Everest Trek (EVL)

This 20 day trek adds a few days to the normal itinerary to include some incredible extra highlights. From the capital of Namche Bazaar, you’ll hike up to the stunning viewpoint of Gokyo Ri, witnessing the stunningly blue sacred Gokyo lakes along the way, before taking on the challenging Cho La crossing to reach base camp. This route is for those who’ve always wanted to make it to base camp, but fancy doing it slightly differently than most.

Everest The Hard Way (EHW)

This 22 day trek has everything. You’ll cross the famous 3 passes of Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La, seeing unbelievably stunning views of Mount Everest, as well as the renowned viewpoint summits of Gokyo Ri and Kala Patar too. This trek lives up to its name, and is certainly a challenge, but if you have the extra time to do it, it’s well worth the effort, as you’ll get to experience views and trails fewer trekkers see.

How long does it take to trek to Everest Base Camp?

The average time people take to walk to Everest Base Camp is 12 days. We recommend completing it in 12 days as a minimum however, as it allows for 2 acclimatisation days and will increase your chances of making it to the summit. Even if you feel like you’re doing well and could do it quicker, having extra days to simply be in the mountains only adds to the experience. 


How difficult is the Everest Base Camp trek?

In a nutshell, trekking to Everest Base Camp is just the right amount of difficult. By that, we mean it’s a goal anyone with the desire to complete it should go for, because it’s extremely feasible as long as you’re determined - but it’s not so easy that you’ll be cheated of your sense of accomplishment when you finally reach base camp. 

As it’s a long hike, not a climb, you don’t need any specialist skills or niche equipment to complete this adventure. You simply need to be prepared to put the miles in, and battle against a few challenges. You’ll end each day tired, and might wake up with sore legs once or twice. You’ll feel the altitude, although careful route planning and expert guides will help you avoid the worst of this. You might even encounter adverse weather conditions. But most who start this trek finish it, and you can soldier on knowing it’s just a case of keeping on walking.

How to train for trekking to Everest Base Camp?

When it comes to training for trekking, nothing beats hillwalking. Get those miles in as much as you can, whilst carrying a full daypack if you can. And if you’re not located near any handy hills or mountains, do not fret - there are plenty of other things you can do. 

If you’re a complete beginner to hillwalking, then we recommend you start your training plenty of months in advance. Get out on easy low-level trails, to get used to walking on a different kind of terrain, and then start increasing your distances and metres of ascent gradually. But whether you’re an experienced hillwalker or not, the aim is to get to a point where you can comfortably complete 5 - 6 hour days with some decent ascent and descent, and feel like you could do the same again the next day. 

If you don’t live near any hilly areas, then you can still focus on building up your mileage. Ahead of your trip, start trying to walk to anywhere you possibly can in your daily life, rather than drive. Pop a podcast on and take the long way round to wherever you’re going. At work, get on those stairs - you could even spend your lunchtime doing reps up and down from the office.

 You can also support your training efforts with some time in the gym. Try walking for 45 minutes to one hour on the treadmill, before tiring yourself out even more with 20 minutes on the stair-stepping machine. Make sure you stretch and cool down with some gentle walking after each session.
If you don’t practise already, try getting to some yoga classes or taking online tutorials ahead of your trek too. Many basic yoga positions offer excellent support for running and hiking with gentle stretches of your calfs and hamstrings, and will both support your training and give you a way to ease your muscles mid-trek too. 

Read more about How to Train for Everest Base Camp Trek

How to deal with altitude?

The harsh truth about altitude sickness is that it can affect anyone - there are stories about some of the world’s most famous mountaineers occasionally suffering despite numerous high-altitude ascents under their belt. But, there are ways to plan your adventure to ensure you minimise the risk of developing it.

An important factor is the acclimatisation process - pick an itinerary which gives you plenty of time to get to base camp. At the end of the day, this is your holiday, it’s not a race. Choose a trip which offers at least two acclimatisation days, where you’ll hike high up, then come back down to sleep at a lower altitude, which will help your body prepare for the coming days. After that, the key really is to simply look after yourself well on the trek. Drink plenty of water, ensure you get the sleep your body needs, and avoid alcohol and tobacco (for the journey up at least).

How much does trekking to Everest Base Camp cost?

Travelling with an adventure travel company will take away a lot of the hassle of getting to Everest Base Camp, and also means you’ll benefit from having a local team of guide and porters who, as well as looking after the logistics, will provide a great insight into Nepalese culture. You’ll likely pay between £2000 and £2500 for your trek (not including international flights) and this should mean that everything else is included – you don’t have to worry about where you’ll stay each night and you don’t have to worry about taking a bundle of cash on your trip into the Khumbu. Just a word of caution – check what is included in your holiday package because some tour operators choose not to include all meals and food is expensive both in Kathmandu and on trek.

When is the best time of year to go?

There are several decent windows across the year in which you can make the journey to Everest Base Camp - which you choose depends on what you want out of your adventure. For example the colder months might make your adventure more of a challenge, but as it’s less busy in these months, you’ll get to enjoy quieter trails. The main trekking seasons are split into two distinct sides: pre-monsoon and post-monsoon.

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From May through to early September, you won’t want to be trekking in Nepal. It’s monsoon season, and whilst it doesn’t rain 24/7, it buckets it down with enough frequency and intensity that any trip would swiftly be cancelled - not to mention the mud, landslides and leeches that accompany the rains…

Once the monsoons ease, the autumn trekking season begins in earnest. October through to early November offer beautiful trekking conditions, with fresh air, crystal-clear views and comfortable temperatures. As well as that, you can expect the forested slopes and green valleys to look especially verdant after all that rain. 

From December to February, things start to get a little cooler, which makes it a quieter time of year to go. Temperatures at night will drop to sub-zero, and you could face weather delays. For those who want even more of a challenge and less trekkers on the trails, this is the time of year for you.

From March to early May, springtime arrives. This can be the busiest time of year, but it’s clear to see why - temperatures are ideal, the blooming rhododendrons are stunning, and you could even plan your visit in time to festivities for Holi, a Hindu festival of colour. 

Read more about When is the best time of year to do the Everest Base Camp Trek

What do you need to pack?

You don’t need any technical equipment for the Everest Base Camp trek, but knowing exactly what to bring will make your trip that much easier, so you’re not carrying any extra weight around with you. 

With any trek to high-altitude, layering is the key. We recommend bringing a couple of different thermal base layers so you can swap them out each day, and on top of that adding a mid-layer, a fleece, waterproof trousers, a waterproof coat and a down or synthetic warm outer jacket too. For accessories, bring a couple of pairs of gloves, one thin, one waterproof, so you’re prepared for all eventualities and can keep one pair dry;  both a warm hat and a hat with a visor, and sunglasses. 

Your daypack should be 30 litres, which will contain your layers, a personal first aid kit, food and water, whilst your main luggage will be ported to and from your accommodation. Bring some drybags so you can keep items in your daypack dry and organised. Don’t forget 2 x 1 litre water bottles - you can refill these as you go and save on plastic waste. We especially recommend a Water-to-Go bottle, where you can use a filter to fill up from any water source. 

On your feet, we recommend a well worn-in pair of hiking boots! If you need a new pair, get them well ahead of your trek, so you can put some miles in them and get used to them. As well as them, take a pair of light, comfy trainers, so you can give yourself a breather from your boots in the evenings. 

Other items you might want to bring come down to personal choice. If you use trekking poles, be sure to bring them - if you don’t use them, that’s fine too. If you think you’ll be using your phone or camera a lot, bring a power bank so you’ve got backup options. And if you’re picky about your snacks, grab a few of your favourite chocolate or energy bars to give you some extra power on your days you need an extra push.

Alternative Treks

While the Everest Base Camp trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal, there are dozens of other trips, equally and often more rewarding than that of EBC.

 

Annapurna Sanctuary and Poon Hill Trek

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North of Pokhara, one of the finest of Himalayan journeys is the classic trek into the inner sanctum of the  Annapurnas. Here, giant peaks such as the 8000 metre Annapurna 1, as well as Annapurna South,  Gangapurna and Machhapuchhre, encircle the natural amphitheatre known as the Annapurna Sanctuary. Combining the trek into the Sanctuary with a visit to Ghorepani and the classic Himalayan viewpoint of Poon Hill, this trek manages to cram the full range of Nepalese trekking experiences into 10 varied days of walking.

Gosainkund and Langtang Trek

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North of Kathmandu (its peaks visible from the city on a clear day) the Langtang Himal is one of the most accessible trekking destinations in Nepal. We have just a short drive to the village of Sundarijal, where we start our approach to Langtang through the unspoiled region of Helambu. Five excellent days of trekking take us along the airy ridge of the Thare Danda and across the Laurebina La (4610m) to reach the sacred lakes at Gosainkund with fantastic views westwards to the Annapurnas, Manaslu and the Ganesh peaks.

Around Manaslu Trek



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A challenging trekking holiday around Manaslu in the Nepal Himalaya. Manaslu at 8163 metres is the eighth tallest mountain in the World. Situated close to the border with Tibet, some 100 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu, the valleys to the north and east of Manaslu were a restricted area until the early nineties when KE Adventure Travel were one of the first companies granted permission to take groups trekking into the region.

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