Everest Base Camp Trek on a Backpacker budget
Everest Base Camp Blog Last update 10.04.2017
Everest base camp trek Our story mixed with tips for doing this beautiful hike in Nepal cheap and easy. Mistakes that we made during our EBC trek (don’t do the same!). All costs involved. The route that we followed and tea houses we stayed in.
HOW TO HIKE EVEREST BASE CAMP
You have three main options on how tho do the trek to Everest Base Camp, you can either do a package tour through an agency, hire a porter and/or guide or do it yourself.
– Doing an organized tour through an agency is easy but expensive and you will probably be in a big group with someone carrying your bag and organizing where you stay.
-Finding porters and guides in Kathmandu is easy, just go to an agency. We did not find this necessary, you follow a very clear path, everybody stays in the same little “towns” with many tea houses, it is not necessary to pre-book anything.
-Doing it yourself is not hard and plane tickets from Kathmandu to Lukla is the only thing that you have to organize.
HOW HARD IS EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK ?
You walk 4 to 8 hours a day for 12 days, with a resting day or two for acclimatization. If you are reasonably fit you should be able to do this carrying your own backpack. Having porters make it even easier.
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK TIPS
HOW TO GET TO LUKLA, WALK OR FLY
The biggest possibility for saving money on the Everest Base Camp trek is by going from Kathmandu to Lukla overland (mainly on foot). Flying costs about $165 one way (we flew to Lukla and ended up walking back). An alternative is to do this overland. You can take a bus to Jiri (9 hours) combined with a five day walk to Namche Bazaar. Resulting in an extra four days of trekking. You can do the same back or you can walk from Lukla to Selirri (2 days) and take a back breaking jeep journey to Kathmandu for $20.
The Tenzing-Hillery Airport in Lukla is considered by some the most dangerous runway in the world. You can buy a ticket online on Yeti airline website for about US$289-296 return (US$141-148 one way) can be paid by Visa or Mastecard credit card or PayPal. When we did the hike it was still impossible to book a flight online so on recommendation from a fellow traveller we contacted Bikram at ‘Summit Treks & Adventure’ in Kathmandu. Bikram was fantastic and booked our tickets for us one week before. He did not charge us and we paid him on arrival, he also gave very good advice and booked a great hotel for very cheap (contact details below). VERY IMPORTANT: BOOK FLIGHTS FOR 7AM, late flights often get cancelled which is a big problem! I discuss this very common nightmare and how we ended up walking back from Lukla a bit later.
NOTE! You can take no more than 10kg of check-in luggage.
HOW TO ORGANISE A PORTER AND GUIDE
If you organize the trek to Everest Base Camp yourself it is easy to arrange a guide and a porter in Kathmandu. We did not feel a guide would have been an advantage to us at any stage on the trek. You just follow the path and there are many other trekkers on the route and places to stay.
If you feel you cannot carry your own bag you can arrange a porter for your trek for 12$ a day. A porter can carry up to 30kg of luggage, since he put it into a basket anyway size does not matter. Two people can thus share a porter; if you are alone he can also double as company. It is my understanding that you do not pay for meals for the porter; they usually get food if they arrive with you at a guesthouse (for bringing you there), but confirm with the porter/agency.
Please keep in mind that a good tip for the porter/guide is expected. These guys are unreal, we saw a porter, an old man, slip and fall he was sitting flat on his bum with his basket strapped to his forehead, me and Alya together tried to help to his feet, we couldn’t get him up, we had to wait for a third person to get him on his feet, once up he just shuffled on with his 50/60kg basket strapped to his forehead. Bikram can organize porters/guides or a guided tour.
CLOTHES AND GEAR
You can buy all clothes and gear necessary to trek to Everest Base Camp in Kathmandu for very cheap. Most of the stuff is fakes of well-known brands e.g. The North Face but the quality was good enough for the temperatures that we experienced during the Everest EBC trek. There is bedding in the teahouses, but you will need a sleeping bag, I rented one for about 1$ a day, ‘The North Face’ sleeping bag, it looked good but was terrible quality. A sleeping bag rated to 5C shouldby sufficient.
My gear list top to bottom: Beanie, sunglasses, 3 T-shirts short sleeve, 1 long sleeve, waterproof warm jacket, thick windproof gloves, 2 pairs of waterproof trekking pants, thermal underpants, 4 pairs of socks, trekking boots, 1 hiking pole, backpack, flip flops, headlamp, kindle (lots of reading time at night), camera + 2 batteries. (Total weight 12kg) I would recommend that you also buy 2 quick dry t-shirts you sweat going uphill in the sun wearing a jacket and become soaking wet and cold in normal cotton t-shirts.
PREVENTING ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Altitude sickness (AMS) is caused by ascending to quickly, climb slower to prevent it.
Altitude sickness is very common on the Everest Base Camp trek. It can happen to anybody, irrespective of how old or fit you are or if you have previous trekking experience. I have done Kilimanjaro and several treks around Asia and Alya several in South America and we both got headaches. At Tengboche Alya could not sleep and had terrible AMS headaches. We decided to back and down for a day. We believe we got AMS because went up to quick and did not do an acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar (3440m). Acclimatizing at Namche was on most schedules we looked at but we thought it is still quite low and we are still fresh, DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE! We met a couple of people that had problems on route and all had one thing in common – NO REST DAY AT NAMCHE.
Everest base camp trek – Yaks carry big loads at altitude.
Hydration, Trekking pace, Drugs. Drink enough! Very important stay hydrated. Don’t go to fast, not more than 600m increase in altitude per day. Drugs, at high altitude the air pressure is low and less oxygen available, Diamox prevents AMS by acting as a respiratory stimulant. We got Diamox from trekkers on their way down and started taking it, we were both OK from here on, but it could only have been due to going down for a day and then going back up or the placebo effect. Contraindications Diamox, it is a diuretic so you constantly have to urinate, not a problem during the day a bit of a pain to get up when it is freezing at night. Needles and pins (paraesthesia) in hands in feet, I had needles and pins in the soles of my feet, it is not too bad
AMS Symptoms: poor appetite, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, if you have only have mild headaches you should be OK, but be careful AMS is dangerous and trekkers have died on EBC ignoring it and pushing through. You can ask the advice of the experienced sherpas that own many of the tea houses. At Periche there is a clinic with international doctors working there and a daily talk on AMS.
Remember if you keep on pushing through severe symptoms and you do not have insurance a helicopter to take you down can cost a couple of thousand dollars.
ROUTE AND TEA HOUSES
Accommodation on route to Everest Base Camp is very cheap in most tea houses. They all charge 100NPR (1$) provided you eat there, food starts out cheap but becomes expensive with an increase in altitude.
Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary
DAY 1 Kathmandu to Lukla
Fly 30 min, Lukla to Manjo walk 4 hours easy and flat, stay in MANJO GUESTHOUSE, one of my favourite teahouses great food, freshly squeezed juices, hot shower 200 NPR ($2.10) TEMS permit NPR 3000 ($30)
DAY 2 Manjo to Namche (3440m)
2h40min short, hard, steep climb for about 2 hours, pay permit on the way NPR 2000 ($20), stay in Thamsecko lodge
Can buy all gear in Namche but pricier than Kathmandu, decided to buy some more clothes, still good wi fi and watched a climbing movie
DAY 3 Namche to Thengboche (3867m)
3h30min, very steep climb for last 2 hours (600m up) stayed in Thengboche guesthouse, owner very helpful, knowledgeable and gave good advice. Shower – prices gone up now shower is 450 NPR ($4.50) and water 200 NPR (2$)
DAY 4 Thengboche
Acclimatization day, spent most of the day in bed following the adventures of Captain Nemo, reading the classic ‘2000 Leagues under the sea’
DAY 5 Altitude problems
Alya had a bad head ache and couldn’t sleep, we decide to back track to Punke Tenga, sleep a night at lower altitude and go back up.
DAY 6 Punke tenga (3260m) to Pangboche (3930m)
About 4hours, both of us felt great, stayed Budha Lodge, water now $2 for a 1.5L bottle drinking at least 2 a day to prevent dehydration
Day 7 Pangboche to Periche (4200m)
We stayed in Shangri La Lodge, the owner, Tashi Dunder Sherpa is a very helpful and knowledgeable guy, he is a guide and built his own lodge
Day 8 Periche
Acclimatization, I woke up with a head ache, Alya was running around feeling great, decide have enough time, my turn to slow us down, spend another day in bed following Captain Nemo’s undersea adventures and playing battle ship (remember to pack playing cards)
DAY 9 Periche to Labuche (4910m)
About 5 hours, Periche was the coldest place on our trek, lots of snow, amazing trek, snow whole way, we were feeling great.
DAY 10 Labuche to Gorakshep (5180m) 3hours, nice walk but had some steep climbs
Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp (5365m) 3 hrs, left at our packs at Gorakshep walked to EBC and back, very nice gradual climb, EBC is being broken down after the climbing season ended with 2 bad avalanches and 18 people dying 5 days ago. There were many Yaks and porters on the trail carrying the gear down. Beautiful view of EBC, mountains and glaciers. Many trekkers – TIP: start at 6 in the morning or after 9 to avoid walking with big groups of trekkers, many people at Labuche and Gorakshep
DAY 11 Gorakshep to Kalapatar (5550m)
1.5 hours up, 45 min down, highest point of our base camp trek. Summit in the dark with headlamps. Amazing view of Everest, started going up at 5 AM first people to summit, very cold wait for sunrise.
Gorakshep to Pambuche 7h15 min (1.5h to Labutsche, 2h15min to Pereche, 2h to Pambuche) Nice, fast, gradual down hill
DAY 12 Pambuche to Manjo
8.5h, steep downhill, tough on the knees. First hot shower in couple of days, AWESOME!
DAY 13 Manjo to Lukla
4 hours, flat easy
FLIGHT DELAYS AND WALKING BACK
We stayed in Lukla for 2 days, good espresso, chocolate cake and hot showers was amazing in the beginning until we realized we were stuck! The delayed flight system is a joke, if your flight gets delayed you are not first inline tomorrow, you get moved on to the delayed list, the delayed list only starts going out the next day after all passengers booked for that day has left, once on the delayed list with one or two days of bad weather and you can be stuck in Lukla for weeks
.Many people cannot afford to sit and drink coffee for days and end up taking a helicopter back. The airline employees sell helicopter flights. We flew with Tara airlines, a terrible airline that hopelessly overbook flights. If you have an afternoon flight you will probably get delayed because it is to cloudy or windy. They assume that as a rich tourist you can just pay for a helicopter. People started getting desperate and the prices for helicopters quickly went up from 300 to 600. We decided screw supporting this ridiculous system and started walking back.
WALKING BACK TO KATHMANDU
From Lukla we walked in rain and hail for two days. We had some interesting obstacles during our trip back. The road was blocked by rivers, we were stuck in the mud and several other interesting events. The walk back from Lukla was actually a beautiful trek. It was not as commercial and overrun by tourists as the normal EBC trek. We we were however not prepared and for usthe walk back to Kathmandu was just moving somewhere. We did not enjoy two extra days on the trail. At times we walked with headlamps at night. If your flight gets delayed and you cancel for this reason you do get a full refund.
No acclimatizing day in Namche Bazaar
Booking an 11:40 am return flight (not 7am). Booking a flight with Tara airlines.
Everest Base Camp trek total cost – $20 per day (excl flights)
Flight Kathmandu to Lukla $165 (one way)
Permits: $30 and $20
Jeep Jirri to Kathmandu 20$.
Everything becomes more expensive as the altitude increases. Water starts at 100 NPR ($1) for 1.5L and is 300 NPR ($ 3.00) at Gorakshep. You can save about a $100 on your trip if you take tablets to sterilize tap water for drinking. You can shower at most teahouses. A hot Shower starts at 200 NPR ($2) and costs 450 NPR ($4) later in the trek.
Cost of some gear in Kathmandu:
Jacket (Fake North Face) (warm, waterproof) $35, Trek pants (supposed waterproof) $10, North face socks $2, quick dry shirts $10, hiking poles $5 per pole, renting sleeping bag $1 per day
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