Everest Base Camp Trek
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Everest The ultimate peak, the ultimate trek is not for the faint of heart. The trek to Everest Base Camp(EBC), the most iconic base camp at the foot of the tallest mountain in the world was made famous by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, when they first reached its rocky base, and its siren call has been heard by trekkers and climbers ever since. Everest’s famous summit soars so high in the Himalayan sky that trekking to its base is still a hearty adventure and not for weekend walkers.
From Khatmandu, the capital of Nepal you will take a short and spectacular flight to Lukla from where your trek to everest base camp begins!
For the next 14 days, you’ll weave through some of the world’s most spectacular mountain scenery, discovering Nepalese tea-houses, learning about the traditions and cultures of the Sherpa, following the river Dudh Khosi, passing boulders carved with Tibetan Buddhist prayer inscriptions, and after five days will enter Sagarmatha (or, Everest) National Park and get a first glimpse of the world’s highest point.
You’ll stay in villages set against breathtaking, jagged pinnacles which speak of India’s continental collision with Asia and discover remote mountain monasteries, learning about the Sherpas’ spiritual perspective on their mountain home. This trek is part-challenge, part-quest, part-tribute. There’s nothing else like it.
So who is this trek for and what can you realistically expect? You’ll likely be sharing the trails with fellow hikers: In the past years over 40,000 people have been doing the trek to Everest base camp annually. And although the region has become an achievable goal for more people, it still demands a good level of fitness and preparation.
The best times to go are from March to May and from September to December though you will find people trekking here throughout the year. In the winters though, weather could get very rough some times resulting in shut down of the lodges in higher altitudes. So you will have to be prepared and carry your own tents and some extra clothes to stay warm. During monsoons (July to September), it could be pouring on most days with the peaks disappearing in clouds and a chance of landslides occurring on some routes. So pre-monsoon and post-monsoon is the best time to do the Everest base camp trek.
Trekking comprises between 4 to 10 hours of each day, with elevations ranging from 2,740m (9,300 ft) to 5,500m (18,100 ft). Rest days and opportunities to acclimatize are included in guided treks and advised for solo hikers, and trekking grades range from moderate to steep - so you’ll need good shoes and socks.
Pack light, keeping in mind your porter's load, and ensure your first aid kit includes medication for diarrhea, antibiotics for a chest or sinus infection, and adhesive bandages for blisters. You’ll also want water purification tablets and couple of 1L bottles. In terms of clothing, don’t forget warm fleeces for the cooler days, sandals for the evenings and a raincoat, gloves, woolen hat, sunhat and polarized sunglasses. The sun can get quite bites up there, so sunscreen and lip balm will stave off blisters.
By the end of base camp trek, you’ll be overwhelmed by Nepal, a country of warm, gentle people, beautiful scenery, and a rich variety of cultural traditions. This blend of adventure and cultural exploration under the shadow of the tallest peak in the world is a great way to experience the Himalayan Mountains - the planet’s most impressive mountains.
We did Everest Base Camp trek in November 2015 in a group of 6 and luckliy none of us got Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS). Below are some tips to minimise risk of AMS. Please note that I'm not a doctor and below tips are based on my experiences and what I read on the topic.
I say that if you are reasonably and functionally fit, without any heart/lung disease and have some experience in trekking for multiple days (6-7 days), then you can go ahead and do the Everest base camp trek without a second thought. If you have do have any worrying heart conditions then please do take an opinion of your doctor. If you are huffing and puffing to climb a flight stairs up a 3 storey building, then ascending 3000 vertical meters of mountain trail is not for you.
Kids of the age six and adults over seventy years of age have done the trek till base camp successfully. If you allow enough time for acclimatisation and keep yourself well nourished and hydrated, the Everest base camp trek will surely be enjoyable and uneventful.
Evidently, as this trek route lies in the heart of the Himalayas at the foot of the world’s tallest mountain, it is challenging. Trekking through steep ascents and tough descents, rocky trails and moraine walking can be hard on people with knee/ankle problems. What makes it harder is the altitude that you will be trekking at, where sheer breathing is a task. In that case, I suggest you hire a porter who will carry your bags and also shows you the route, otherwise carrying even 10kgs at 13000ft feels like carrying 30kgs at sea level.
"Camping for persons who are not summiting the Everest is not allowed at the Base camp. Special permissions are required to camp at the Everest base camp. Hence, organised trekking groups camp at Gorak Shep which is an hour’s trek away from the base camp. More over, the base camp is just a moraine which exists only during the climbing season and otherwise it is just a patch of half decayed glacier with heaps of rubble marked with prayer flags. During climbing season however, the base camp is reserved for expeditions. It is wiser to stay at GorakShep where a cluster of lodges and tea houses can be found. You can get yourself a warm bed to sleep in and some hot soup to sip through the night. The next day you can trek to the base camp and spend some quality time during the day and return back to the lodge by lunch time. "
Essentially, you need to consume at least 5-6 litres of fluid per day on the Everest base camp trek. That includes water, tea, soup and all other edible fluids you can think of. When it comes to drinking water you have basically 2 options. Ask for boiled water at the lodge you are staying or dining in, or buy plastic water bottles. The former is much cheaper and a lot less harmful to the environment when compared to bottled water. However, FYI, bottled water costs NPR 60 at Lukla during the start of the trek and goes up to NPR 300 at Gorakshep (5500 m) which is your last camp. Narrowing your options to Boiled water, it ranges from NPR 100 to NPR 250 per litre depending on which . However, in the high altitude, water starts to boil at a lesser temperature than at sea level. While water starts to boil at just 86 degree Celsius, it might not purify all bacteria and hence it is suggested you use Water Purifying tablets or Water Purifying Sticks to be on the safer side. Water purifying tablets are available in Kathmandu. Sticks are available on various retail stores on the internet.
You definitely can. There aren’t any edge-of-the-cliff trails or narrow paths on high precipices that you need to walk across. Rather, the trails have steep ascent and descent with lots of tree covers. There are very few places where the trail follows a narrow ridge at a considerable height, but even then the path is wide enough to not cause panic. It is advisable to hire a guide and porter to keep you on track and keep the weight off your shoulders. The guides usually have immense experience and knowledge to help you complete the trek joyfully and the porters will carry upto 20kgs of weight which will help you to trek freely and mindfully, especially while crossing suspension bridges. Yes! You read that right. There are a few suspension bridges which are high and which move while walking on it, but they are also well guarded and sturdy with handrails and wire mesh below the rail to help you walk across fearlessly. Another simple hack is to take the help of walking sticks which you can buy/rent at Katmandu for just NPR 300 or simple pick up sturdy sticks that you will find en-route your trek.
I have seen several families with young children as old as six do the Everest base camp trek, which includes us as well. However, it is unwise to take children who are too young to recognise and communicate the early signs of Altitude sickness/ Acute mountain sickness on the trek as it can be fatal. Children who are fussy eaters, who are allergic to specific food, not good with extreme cold temperatures, fussy about sleeping/latrine conditions will have a hard time on the trek. Consider hiring a porter for the eEverest base camp trek if your child is too young to carry 8-10kg of weight and trek for 5-6hrs a day for a period of 12 days, which in fact is challenging even for adults. Active children should find it easy to occupy themselves with the wonders of the wild. The golden rule is, it is necessary for kids to have adequate rest, sleep and nutritious food and also make room for additional acclimatisation days. Chocolates can cost a bomb in the higher altitudes, so carry your own pack of tucks and snackers to keep their morale high. There are always alternatives to carry your kid just in case, options ranging from horses, mules to porters who come for a price. It is sheer pleasure to travel around the world with your kids, so I say go for it without hesitation.
Honestly saying, the weather forecasts at Lukla are hardly true. They often show a long list of claims which turn out to be inaccurate. If you compare reports from different weather stations, each will provide a different forecast. So fear not. A more accurate prediction of the weather/ clouds can be given by your local guide. Sometimes, flights do get cancelled, but it is mostly because of wind and not due to poor visibility. I can guarantee it is one of the best flight paths you would ever take, especially if you pick a seat on the left side (while facing the cockpit). Pre-monsoon in March/April and post monsoon in Oct/November are the best times to trek. The weather is usually very favourable for the flight as well, but hey! It is the Himalayas, so it can turn out to be unpredictable at times.
If you are willing to do the Everest base camp trek on your own and carry your bags all by yourself, then you don’t need any help from porters or guides. However, there are other options you might want to look into if you want to make your base camp trek easier. If you want to do the trek by yourself but want to hire a Porter who just carries your bags, then don’t opt for a guide. The porter usually can or cannot manage to speak English, and mostly he won’t worry about booking a lodge for you. In case you want to cut the cost and hire an all-rounder, that is a porter cum guide, he can play both the parts equally well and should usually manage to speak basic English as well. He may or may not book the lodges for you depending on where you hire them from and on what conditions/ perks they come with. For a bigger group, I suggest you hire a guide and a porter who can be hired almost at the same cost as you hire a guide cum porter if you manage to negotiate. They will also book comfortable lodges for you and order your food. As in our case, our guide booked a decent room with attached toilet, when compared to a guide cum porter of another group who ended up in rooms without toilets or proper electrical. Though such incidents may wary, it is advisable to book your entire tour with an adventure company who will take care of the whole trip at minimal cost. "
If you have enabled International calling on your current sim card, you will likely have connectivity along the trek. But I suggest you buy a local sim from N-Cell from Kathmandu which offers the best connectivity along the trek. N-Cell offers 2G and 3G services as well. Nevertheless, I highly recommend you be disconnected with your cell phone and stay connected to the nature. However, I do understand the dire need for communication or more importantly Snapchat.
Everest Link provides Wifi all along the Everest Base Camp trek. I usually had service in the lodges I was staying in, if not, I would go to the nearest bakery to surely find a Wifi hotspot. The cost of Wifi per hour stars at NPR 200 at Lukla and goes up along the Everest Base camp trail, reaching all the way till NPR 1000 or more at GorakShep. Most tea houses and bakeries also provide Wifi complimentary on purchase. Wifi speed? It’s considerably good, but try complaining at 17,000ft!
Charging is available at the front desk of most tea houses/lodges. In some places the charging was very slow and I had to leave it overnight sometimes. Few places also offer free charging if you book your stay. However, generally the cost for charging cell phones range from NPR 150 to NPR 400 per hour relative to the altitude. The cost of charging Laptops, Camera’s etc also varies more or less.
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Packages found for Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek, Nepal