Never would I have thought that Mount Everest will be a mountain I attempt as I crossed into the thirties. For all hiking and mountain lovers, this magnificent mountain which we always see on pictures and movies, is actually achievable!
Throughout this article, prepare to journey with me as I share with you my experiences, learnings and muses on this Everest Base Camp trek. From touching down in Kathmandu airport to the mountain top experiences all the way till the last Dal Bhat meal.
For starters..what and how were the preparations leading up to this Nepal EBC trip.
EBC Trek Programme and Itinerary
There are options of doing the trek with a reputatable tour agency or to attempt the EBC hikep planning it from scratch on your own. For us, we preferred to be in the safe hands of a reputable travel agency to manage the full programme, meals, park entries and neccessary manpower ( experience and reliable guide/ porter). However do note, a good travel insurance needs to be purchased on your own. Magical Nepal was the travel agent of choice to plan all the logistics, taking away all of the stress of getting from point A to point B.
From our arrival to Kathmandu to our departure, the trip took a total of 14 days. We began in Kathmandu and were there for a rest day before taking a flight to Lukla and trekking to Phakding. From there, it took us about a week to make the hike up to Everest Base Camp, with 1 Acclimatization day included in between. Sharing with you below here our final Everest Base Camp itinerary and programme that was customized to our needs/ speed.
Highlights of our EBC Hike
Some of the highlights of the trek included experiencing staying in the local teahouses in the different towns, and eating the local dishes like Dal Bhat and garlic soup. Yes garlic soup! I utterly hated garlic with passion but it was definitely a necessary soup for people to strengthen immunity and help cope with altitude sickness, if it hits you.
Speaking of altitude sickness, I will be covering it in greater detail later in the article, but this sickness..is not to be taken lightly! I was warned of it before my trip but figured out it would be manageable if you take the pills. However for me, though I consumed it rather regularly, I still got headaches every morning when I started ascending from 4,500 metres onwards. I will share a bit more further down some measure to take to minimise letting it overtake your entire trip.
Breathtaking Scenery and Himalayan Landscape
The journey from point to point was truly beautiful with varying scenery seen along the way. There will be days where you get Switzerland equivalent looking scenes of clear blue skies, lush green pastures and snow capped mountains in the distance. On other days, you walk through dense forests and hear the birds right next to you. We also went through parts of the trail where we crossed multiple bridges, walked by waterfalls, climbed steep steps and even at times have to be mindful of rock fall.
As you near the EBC Base camp, you will start to see glaciers, snow, ice structures and lakes. The colours are beautiful and when you get a good moment, bring out your camera and snap away, as the weather can take a sudden twist and mist/ snow/ rain or even hail ( yes hail!) may suddenly fill the skies.
Hardworking cattle/ animals of Nepal Hiking Trails
Yaks and mules are the most common animals that you will definitely meet along the hike. These majestic strong creatures are the heroes alongside the strong porters who carry the supplies/ food rations and even construction materials up and down the trail. Some of these items can weigh as much as 40kg and these creatures on their hoves can trot up and down steep trails and paths.
Reaching Everest Base Camp – What is it like
After many days of slow but steady progress, with some days harder than others, some nights better than others, we finally arrived at Everest Base Camp at around 4pm in the afternoon on Day 10. It was snowing that day and we were cold, but definitely enthusiastic to know we have finally made it! After snapping a lot of photos with our flag (Singapore flag that was also disguised as Polish flag), we departed and made our way back to Borachep.
However, our trek didn’t end there. The day after reaching Everest Base Camp, that was not the highest point yet. We did a 5 am sunrise hike up to Kala Patthar (meaning Black Stone in English) and began our trek back down to Lukla. That was a summit and technically the highest point we went in our trip.
And finally, after 15 wonderful days, we arrived back in Kathmandu city for a nice comfortable local Nepalese dinner. We couldn’t believe that our two weeks in Nepal had gone so fast-it was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Now that we have shared a brief overview of how the hike went and the personal experiences I had, here’s some useful tips and info on what to prepare and expect as you plan your trip to experience this for yourself.
Make sure you get insurance that covers for high altitude trekking. Mine costs me about US$64 as a Singaporean citizen.
Everest Base Camp Weather Throughout the Year
Any time you’re doing a trek, Everest or not, it’s going to be very weather dependent. Everest base camp weather varies throughout the year, so if you want to hike to base camp, it is recommended that you avoid monsoon season, meaning that appropriate months for visiting are February, March, April, May, September, October, November, and December. In other words, you have lots of options!
It’s also important to keep in mind how many people you will encounter at base camp at any given time of year. For those who are attempting to hike to the summit of Everest, there is a small weather window in May, so if you choose to go around this time, base camp will certainly be packed with people waiting for the right time to attempt a summit.
How high is Everest Base Camp?
While you may not be hiking to the summit of Mount Everest, you need to keep in mind that you will be spending an extended period of time at a high altitude. Exactly how high is Everest Base Camp, you might be wondering? Believe it or not, it’s 5,364 meters above sea level! Therefore, altitude sickness is a legitimate concern, and you should be aware of the symptoms, treatments, and preventative measures that you can take to avoid it altogether.
How to Prepare for Trekking in Nepal
Trekking in Nepal certainly requires the proper preparation, and aside from being physically and mentally prepared for the feat that you are about to undertake, it’s crucial to be covered at that altitude and have the proper gear and fuel. A variety of trekking clothing, such as breathable base layers, jackets, and rain gear, is essential, as the weather is unpredictable and you could even encounter rain at lower altitudes of the trek. And whether you are planning on renting or buying your equipment, it’s extremely important that everything fits well, as you’ll be forced to use it for the entirety of the trek!
Packing your Backpack
It took me a while to decide on which backpack to bring for the hike. You would definitely want a backpack with the perfect fit for such a long 12 days trek. Our backpacks we eventually used were Salewa bags from Outdoor Kaki online shop. They were comfortable, lightweight, and fit all of our gear perfectly.
And be sure to break in your hiking shoes/boots before starting the trek-the last thing that you want is blisters! Your footwear should be waterproof and breathable, as you’ll be wearing it nonstop. Trekking poles are an optional gear item, but they really can make a big difference, as they take a lot of strain off of your legs. They can be a wise investment for such a long and strenuous hike.
Picking the right Trekking Company in Nepal
As I said, we were so happy with our trekking company Magical Nepal. Our guide, Dilman, made us feel safe and at ease, allowing us to enjoy the beautiful landscape around us to the fullest. We also had an incredible porter, Kubir, and we even met his lovely family, as they have a teahouse along the trek and hosted us on our last lunch doing the trek.
It’s important to know that there are a number of factors to keep in mind when planning this trek. Here is some advice to ensure that you have a successful Everest Base Camp Trek!
Altitude Sickness: What to Look for and How to Avoid It
Hiking to Everest Base Camp is not a beginner hike, so you need to be prepared and aware of the potential risks. There are many symptoms of altitude sickness, some of the most common being dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, lethargy, loss of appetite, and insomnia. If you are on the trek and begin to experience some or any of these symptoms, it is crucial to inform your guide so they can take the necessary steps to address your condition, whether it is actually altitude sickness or not.
However, the best way to go about things is certainly trying to prevent altitude sickness in the first place. It’s important to train and get your body into the proper physical condition before setting out on a hike as strenuous as the trek to Everest base camp, especially if you don’t participate in similar excursions on a regular basis. It is also extremely important to stay hydrated, as dehydration is one of the leading causes of altitude sickness. You can also take certain medications (but only after having consulted with a physician) and avoid alcohol and tobacco to increase your chances of avoiding it.
Altitude sickness can be unavoidable in some cases, so if you end up feeling a little off while on the trek, don’t hesitate to reach out and tell whoever is in charge of your expedition. But taking preventive measures can highly decrease your chances of suffering from it, because no one wants altitude sickness to put a damper on their Himalayan experience!
Cost to Climb Everest Base Camp
While not an inexpensive feat, the Everest Base Camp Trek cost doesn’t have to break the bank. Though climbing to Mount Everest summit is infamously expensive base on some stories we heard (it can run you upwards of $45,000), the cost to climb to Everest Base Camp is significantly more reasonable, especially if you book through a good guide.
In the season we travelled in, Magical Nepal charges $1,340 a person for a 14-day hike. This price includes local flight transfers, your entry to the park, a guide for 12 days, a porter for 11 days, 2 nights hotel accommodation in Kathmandu, 11 nights accommodation in mountain teahouses, 11 days of meals while on the trek, and a farewell dinner in Kathmandu.
You should note that you are required to cover the expenses of your flights to Nepal and your entry visa, personal travel insurance, a few meals in Kathmandu, and personal gear for trekking. However, the package is a great deal as everything is provided, considering that all lodging and almost all meals are included.