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.

Everest Base Camp Trek
Alya and Campbell at Everest Base Camp.
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.

Everest base camp trek, Nepal. Top 5 hikes
Everest base camp, this is where the trek to Mount Everest starts. You can see the little yellow tents.
 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.

A porter hard at work heading to EBC.
A porter hard at work heading to EBC.

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.

Tenzing Hillary airport in Lukla
The sloping Tenzing Hillary airport in Lukla, considered by some as the most dangerous runway in the world.
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.

TIPPING

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.

Everest base camp trek. The Porters at EBC carries heavy loads.
Porters hard at work. Everest base camp trek.
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.

AMS prevention check list at the clinic.
AMS prevention check list at the Everest base camp trek  clinic.

 

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 HIKE
At higher altitude donkeys are replaced by yaks, for transporting food, building material and other goods up the mountain. Some times you have to wait for a while for a train of these beasts, loaded with cargo to pass on the narrow paths.

PREVENTING AMS

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

Everest base camp trek.
Porter carrying building material up the mountain to build a new lodge. Everest base camp trek.

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)

Everest Base Camp Trek.
The town Namche Bazaar, Everest Base Camp Trek.

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 ($4.50) and water 200 NPR (2$)

 Everest base camp trek
A prayer wheel at a temple on the mountain close to Tengboche. Everest base camp trek

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

Sunrise over Everest, the view from Kalapatar. Everest base camp trek
Some awesome landscapes heading towards EBC.

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

Yaks carrying luggage up to EBC.
Yaks carrying luggage up to EBC.

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

#Everest Peak
An ice cap cloud cover above Everest on a very cold morning. Everest base camp trek

HELICOPTERS

.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.

Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest Base Camp Trek
MISTAKES

No acclimatizing day in Namche Bazaar

Booking an 11:40 am return flight (not 7am). Booking a flight with Tara airlines.

Costs:

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.

Everest base camp trek
A group hiking through the snow during the Everest base camp 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

 LIKE IT? PIN IT!

everest-base-camp-pin

Bikram, Summit Treks & Adventure (P.) Ltd.
Hiking & Adventure Holidays in the Himalaya
P.O. Box: 10218, Chhetrapati, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel:+977-1-4260970, 4266217
Cell : +977-9851084249
website: www.summittreks.com

ANY COMMENTS?

We would love to hear from you, so don’t be shy to comment give suggestions or ask questions!

Everest Base Camp Blog

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25 Comments

  • Great report. Many thanks.
    Two short remarks:
    (i) I did Langtang (in autumn 2014, before the quake), ABC (in spring 2015, during the quake) and Annapurna Circuit (in spring 2016) without a sleeping bag. A liner or single bed cover (for hygienic reasons) was good enough. All tea houses and lodges supplied clean and thick duvets/blankets.
    (ii) I have just bought tickets Kathmandu – Lukla (and return) over the internet, only two days ago. I went directly to the website from Yeti Airlines. It was US$ 148.- one way (US$ 296.- return); payable by credit card or PayPal. It worked and I received immediately printable e-tickets. They charged my Visa card US$ 296.-, at no extra costs.

    • Hello, Matt! Thank you for reading and providing updated info!
      Concerning sleeping bags we were very cold last two nights before reaching the Base camp and we had many blankets and sheets but slept in all our clothes and sleeping bags. It was below C0 inside the room, water froze in our bottles.
      It’s a good upgrade from Yeti that you can buy a ticket online now, it wasn’t possible three years ago when we did the hike. Thank you we’ll update it in the article.
      We really enjoyed your site you have great photos, very catching and inspiring!
      Good luck in your new Nepal adventure!

    • Hello Lita, thanks for your question. You can take a minibus or bigger bus from Kathmandu to Jiri. We went in the opposite direction, from Jiri to Kathmandu by Jeep. This is what I get from forums regarding Kathmandu-Jiri: Departure in the morning from south of Ratna Park (in the middle of station) Usually 6 and 8 o’clock. Buy tickets the day before (by noon is fine), same place. You can choose your seat number. It took us 3 days to walk from Lukla to Jiri, I think the opposite direction should take you 3 to 4 days.

  • Alya, Campbell. Thank you for the great info.

    I am heading to EBC on 1 Apr 2017, and wanted to ask you about booking a guide/porter. If you book your porter in Kathmandu, are you expecting to pay for his airfare to Lukla? Or is it fairly easy to find a porter in Lukla? There are two of us, and we plan on organizing independently, by booking our flight KMT-LUK, hiring some porter help and not bother with a guide, for the same reasons you described above.

    Also, given that April is the beginning of high season, do you think there would be a problem with finding a room in a teahouse without booking in advance?

    • Hello! Thank you for your question! We didn’t have any guide or porter but if you need one you can book it in Kathmandu through an agency (check the one that we used to book our flight) it’s very likely they have some contacts in Lukla and can arrange a porter from there. As you say April is a high season so with finding a porter in Lukla. We heard some people hired porters in Kathmandu and paid for their tickets to Lukla but being locals they pay less for the flight. One porter should be enough for two people they carry up to 15kg. You can’t really book tea houses in advanced but we did a hike in April as well and never had any problem with finding place to sleep. For our hike we didn’t book anything in advanced except tickets to Lukla and it worked out good.
      If you have more question we’ll be happy to answer them!
      Good luck!

  • Hi Alya and Campbell thank you so much for sharing your experience!!!! Since I’m also a backpacker traveling around the world trying to spend as little money as possible I found your content very helpful!:)
    I am actually thinking to do the same, gonna trek back from Lukla to Jiri and you said it’s two days? How many hours a day you hiked? Is the path well signed? And will I be able to find tea house or anything on the way? Also is it always easy to find jeep head back to Kathmandu from Jiri? Thank you for your time and best luck for your upcoming travels!!!!

    • Hello Stephanie,

      Such a nice and simple information by both of backpackers , even I am planning to do the same trek in this April , if you have any such plans , do let me know .

    • Hi Stephanie, thanks for your question! We walked about 9 hours a day for 2 days and then another day in the jeep. There were many jeeps going from Jiri when we arrived. There were not too many markings on the trail, but it was easy to follow. Tea houses were few, but they were right on the trail. Another money saving tip, take a little stove, tea and oats and cook your own breakfast. Take water purification tablets and drink tap water. Pack a chocolate for each day, they get expensive as you go higher.
      Safe Travels
      C + A

  • Hi, this is really nice blog. Helping fellow trekkers planning to go EBC. I am planning to go EBC independently starting from Feb 1st week 2017. is it require to book the lodges upfront or will I get one when I reach there ? Also, if I find difficulty at some part of trek, will it be possible to hire guide for that particular part ? My plan is to go overland from Jiri to Lukla. I heard that most of the trekkers directly fly to Lukla. So is the path from Jiri to Lukla clear and will I get lodges in this path? Please help me.

    • Hello, Naresh! Thank you!
      February is out of two main seasons (October-November and March-April) so there will be few tourists and most lodges will be empty you don’t need to book anything beforehand. In fact you can find a place to stay even in high season. We never needed a guide because there were always many people to follow and the trail was very clear but I think it’s possible to find a guide for a particular part in one of the teahouses/lodges. Be ready that in February it’s colder up there so you need proper warm clothes and sleeping bag. And there won’t be many other travellers.
      We walked back from Lukla to Jiri and from there took a jeep the trail was clear with several teahouses where you can stay and buy food.
      If you have more questions we’ll be happy to help!
      Good luck!

        • Yes, you can rent or buy both in Kathmandu but don’t take very fake things they will fall apart in one or two days. We rented one sleeping bag it was cheap and fake and after one night it was broken (the zip and the stitches). Good luck!

          • I read on Internet that temprature can fall down to -20c during February and I planned to go in same month. If I carry sleeping bag range upto -5c, will it be ok?

            • Hi, Naresh!
              We were there in April and in last two huts before the Base Camp it was very cold almost as cold as outside, during the night water in our bottles got frozen. But our sleeping bags weren for above 0C. In all huts you get many blankets especially in winter and some nights we slept in all our clothes (hiking pants, fleece, jacket, beany etc.). But in general February is a good month for Nepal there are no big crowds.
              Good luck!

    • Hi Tammy, yes those guys are unreal. We couldn’t believe all the cargo humans were carrying at that altitude!

    • Thank you Lulia. We did it in mid April, the weather was great. We had a little bit of snow at altitude and no rain on the trek itself, it started raining when we walked back to Kathmandu.

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