You love to hike. You’ve bagged Colorado 14ers. You’ve summited Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. You have your eye on Patagonia. How about Nepal? If you have considered trekking to Everest Base Camp, you can make it a stunning reality with determination and hard work. Here’s how.
How Hard Is the Trek to Everest Base Camp?
Not gonna lie – it’s a challenge. However, if we compare it to, say, Kilimanjaro, another iconic and epic trekking destination, it’s actually easier. Kilimanjaro requires you to hike 19,340 feet in six days and the final summit push is 3,937 feet. The hike to Everest Base Camp is 80 miles roundtrip from Lukla at 9,383 feet to camp at 17,600 feet. Over 14,000 feet the depletion in oxygen becomes very apparent and even small steps seem like a large effort.
Let’s back up a bit, though. Getting to Everest Base Camp isn’t a steep hike – instead it’s a trek along mountain paths, with a few steep hills, but mainly zigzagging paths on moraine. At this point in the trek, there is no need for fancy technical equipment, except maybe some microspikes for icy areas.
How Long Does It Take to Trek to Everest Base Camp?
You’ll need two weeks from Kathmandu to Kathmandu if you fly into Lukla and trek the normal route. Take your time once you get to Kathmandu, though, before starting the trek to recover from jetlag and explore a bit. Typically, it will take between 11 and 14 days to trek roundtrip to base camp. The most common length is 12 days: 8 days to hike from Lukla to camp, then 4 days to trek back to Lukla.
Beyond the standard route, there are some other gorgeous, less-traveled ways to base camp, including Jiri, Saleri and Phaplu.
Do I Have to Be in Amazing Shape to Hike to Everest Base Camp?
The better your physical fitness, yes, the happier you will be on this multi-day trek. If you’re someone who can walk for about five hours a day with a light daypack, you’ll be fine. Most of your trekking will be done in the morning and you’ll rarely walk for more than five hours, with the exception of a few of the days. Typical distances per day will be between 5 and 8 miles. There are no technical sections or rock climbing – it’s just a graded hiking trail to the base camp of the world’s tallest mountain, so bring a healthy and adventurous attitude.
You will, however, have to account for the altitude, which you can’t really train for. Everest Base Camp has 50 percent less oxygen compared to sea level. Acclimatization will require that you take it slow, ascend gradually, get plenty of food and water and sleep well. If you move up too quickly, you can get quite ill.
When Is the Best Time to Trek to Everest Base Camp?
Choose from the two main trekking seasons in Nepal: pre- or post-monsoon. Pre-monsoon is March-May and post-monsoon is October-November. From March to May, the weather starts out cold and gets warmer, and as you’d expect, the trend is opposite in the fall.
Do I Need a Guide to Trek to Everest Base Camp?
It’s a good idea – no matter what your ability level – to trek to Everest Base Camp as part of a small-group tour. Everything will be planned for you, which is a huge time- and worry-saver when going so far from home. Flights, guides, porters/Sherpa, food and accommodations are all included. You’ll gain an understanding of the raw power of the Himalayan Mountains, leaving everyday life far behind. You’ll visit tiny teahouses in the Nepalese countryside, learn about Sherpa life and watch the sun rise over Mount Everest. Plus, you can ensure that you join a group that is committed to the rights and fair treatment of the porters and guides who help showcase their homeland for you.
Can I Go Higher than Everest Base Camp?
If you are acclimatizing well, then, yes, your guide might suggest that you climb higher, to Kala Patthar, from which you’ll have a spectacular view of Mount Everest (you actually can’t see it from base camp). Try to get to the viewpoint at sunset, when the world’s tallest mountain turns pink.
Is It Dangerous to Fly into Lukla?
Well, to be fair, it’s known as the world’s most dangerous airport, but the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal is part of the deal when trekking to Everest Base Camp. There is a short runway and limited electricity, which adds to the nerve-wracking experience. For some, it’s a welcome, hair-raising adventure; for others, it can be quite scary. For the best views, sit on the left-hand side of the aircraft. There are often weather delays or cancellations due to Lukla’s mountainous surroundings, so build in a few extra days to get back from Lukla to Kathmandu.
Where Will I Stay on the Way to Everest Base Camp?
You’ll be spending the nights at teahouses/lodges along the Everest Base Camp trail. There will be plenty of options for a warm drink and good food, including dal bhat, chow mein, spaghetti and fantastic sugary treats.
What Is Namche Bazaar
This vibrant market town is a significant stopover on the Everest Base Camp trail, allowing for acclimatization, while also giving you insight into the Sherpa way of life. You’ll find everything you need for your trek here in this historic trading hub. Be sure to try the homemade yak cheese and pick up some of the traditional art and crafts you’ll find in the shops. If you’re spending a few days here, visit the nearby Sherpa villages like Thame, Khumjung and Khunde.
While you’re in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp, build in time to see more of this incredible nation.
Kathmandu: While the 2015 earthquake destroyed many of the temples in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durbar Square, most of the city made it through unscathed. Build time into your trip to immerse yourself in this colorful city’s cultural and artistic heritage – visit the royal palace, take a yoga class, and stroll through the Garden of Dreams.
Combine the Khumbu Valley and Everest Base Camp: Want more trekking? Consider a trek through the beautiful Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp and up Kala Patar with a friendly guide and Sherpa at your side. You can even decide to tackle the Kongma La pass, with its unrivaled views of the Everest-area peaks.