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Everest Base Camp Trek – Complete Guide (2023 update)

The Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek is a spectacular high-altitude trek in the mountains of Nepal. Prepare for jaw-dropping scenery and a unique cultural experience exploring the challenging trekking routes around the highest mountain in the world. Doing the Mount Everest Base Camp trek, hiking on the Khumbu glacier through small villages over many suspension bridges looking at Mt. Everest and the Khumbu Valley is a fantastic round trip. This fascinating EBC trek combines both Buddhist and Tibetan culture following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary. Local culture can be seen in sherpa villages and Buddhist monasteries. Don’t miss the fascinating Tengboche Monastery. 

Everest base camp Nepal
Everest Base Camp, Nepal

We have done a lot of trekking in Nepal including two treks to Everest Base Camp (EBC). In this post, we discuss cost, itinerary, guides, porters, altitude sickness, how to get to EBC, and give packing and money-saving tips.

Everest Base Camp Trek Overview

  • Distance – 120 km/75 mi
  • Days required – 12 days
  • Total ascent – 6015 m/19 734 ft
  • Total descent – 5821 m/19 097 ft
  • Highest point – 5640 m/18 500 ft Kala Patthar
  • Difficulty  – difficult 
  • Permits – Local Government fee (NPR 2000/US$17 pp.) and Sagarmatha National Park permit (NPR 3000/US$25 pp.) is required. No TIMS card is needed for the trek.
  • Cost per day – US$29 (without flights) $58 per person per day including permits and transportation.
  • Guide – not compulsory
  • Accommodation – guest houses

Important Updates – There have been some important announcements regarding guides 2023.

Is a Guide Mandatory to Trek to Everest Base Camp in 2023?

The Nepal Tourism Board (March 2023), announced that all tourists visiting Nepal will be required to hire a licensed guide or porter before trekking. However, the municipality under whose jurisdiction the Everest region falls subsequently decided not to comply with this decision and that solo trekking will still be allowed in the Everest area. See The Kathmandu Post Article – Nepal ends solo trekking era. Everest region is an exception. So the additional cost of hiring a local guide is not compulsory.

Where is Everest Base Camp (EBC)?

Everest Base Camp is a camp where climbers stay and prepare before starting to climb the world’s highest mountain. There are actually two base camps for climbing Mount Everest, the North Base Camp in Tibet and the South Base Camp in Nepal. The Nepalese camp is the Everest Base Camp that most people refer to. Mount Everest and EBC are located in Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving Himalayan flora and fauna.

EBC is located about 150 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Kathmandu in the Khumbu region of Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 meters

How to hike to Mount Everest Base Camp?

You have three main options on how to do the trek to Everest Base Camp, you can either do a package tour through an agency, do it by yourself (no group or guide) but hire a porter or guide, or do it completely independently. 

  • Doing an organized tour through an agency is a good option if you are alone or not confident to do the trek unassisted, it is an easier but more expensive option. 
  • Finding porters and guides in Kathmandu is easy, just go to any local agency they will assist you to organize staff for your purposes. The Sherpa guides usually know the trail, best views and area very well. 
  • Doing it yourself is not hard and plane, bus, or jeep tickets from Kathmandu to Lukla are the only thing that you have to organize. You follow a very clear main trail, everybody stays in the same little “towns” with many tea houses enjoying sherpa culture, and it is not necessary to book anything.

We have done the EBC trek independently twice, trekking independently on a fairly frugal budget our cost was $645 (including the flight) beginning and ending in Kathmandu in March 2020. You can see our optimized Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary we recommend.

Organized Everest Base Camp Trek

For some great treks with reputable international companies take a look at these great tours.

If you are trekking in season escape the crowds by hiking the more quiet way and experience unreal views of famous mountains such as  K 43,  Taboche, Cholatse,  Nuptse, and Everest. Climb the tough Gokyo Ri peak for spectacular panoramic views, and check out this awesome 16-day trek itinerary, hiking to EBC via Gokyo Lakes!

How Much Money Do I Need for Everest Base Camp Trek?

For a complete cent-by-cent cost breakdown of our trek to Everest Base Camp in 2020. Cost of trekking to EBC in different ways in a nutshell:

  • Package tour EBC trek with international agency $1700
  • Package tour EBC trek with local agency $1600
  • Independent EBC trek with a guide and porter $1370
  • Independent EBC trek with a guide $1085
  • Independent EBC trek with a porter $930
  • EBC Trek completely independent $645

If you budget around $700 for an independent 12-day EBC trek you should have sufficient money for the trek including flights, food, water, tea, snacks, and accommodation. The biggest possibility to save money is to go to Lukla overland instead of flying, we discuss this later in the post.

There are only 2 places where you will find ATMs on the Everest Base Camp hike that is Lukla and Namche Bazaar.

everest base camp trek
Campbell and Alya trekking to Everest Base Camp

Accommodation on the Everest Base Camp Trek

Accommodation on the Everest Base Camp trek is in Teahouses. Teahouses are bed and breakfast lodges designed to host trekkers. EBC teahouse accommodations in Nepal are simple, clean, and comfortable. It is great that you can check in and have an early start the next day with a good breakfast hassle-free. 

Cost of tea house accommodation – price varied between free and $3 as long as you order food at the teahouse.

The walls are thin and the outside and inside temperatures are about the same. You do get blankets at the teahouse and sleeping in a thin sleeping bag in our clothes under the blankets provided was sufficient at the higher altitudes when it got very cold at night.

Shower on EBC Trek – Everything gets more expensive as you ascend. From Namche Bazaar we had to pay for hot showers. The average cost of a hot shower was NPR 500 and after a long day walking it is definitely worth it! If you trek early in the season the water is often frozen in the pipes and you can only have a bucket shower, a bucket filled with hot water, which is fine, but in February at Gorkshep it is just too cold. We packed Wet Wipes and did a ‘dry shower’. Pack hand sanitizer for washing hands when water or soap is not available.

Charging – there are lights in the rooms, but no plugs at most tea houses and you have to pay for charging in the communal area, usually 200 NPR per item or per hour.

There are no electricity sockets in the bedrooms, charging is available in the dining room at extra cost.

The tea house usually has a large dining hall where you eat and relax with other guests. In the center of the dining room is a fireplace that burns wood and yak dung.

At all the lodges we stayed there were now Western toilets. You have to take your own toilet paper.

There are nice lodges available in some of the villages ($20 -40) see the itinerary later in the article.

Food on the Everest Base Camp Trek

The tea houses sell nice meals and most people eat 2 or 3 meals per day at the tea houses where they stay. It is expected that you will eat dinner and breakfast at the tea house where you overnight, if you don’t you are charged a lot more for accommodation ($15 instead of $3).

You can eat well if you budget about $25 per day ($8 per meal).

See our detailed article on Food on the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Dhal Bhat is the staple many people live on during the trek and the porters always eat this. At most places it is ‘bottomless’, when your plate gets empty they will refill your dahl, rice, and potatoes if they don’t offer just ask!

We usually had a late lunch when arriving (15:00) and not too long after a fairly early dinner (19:00), leaving the following day. We do not drink the water from the taps on the EBC trek, you can buy a water bottle at each teahouse, we prefer to use our Lifestraw Bottle to make tap water potable.

Flights to Lukla, the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek

Book your flight from Kathmandu to Lukla with Tara Air Here.

The easiest way to start the trek is to fly from Kathmandu to The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla. 

Flights from Kathmandu to Lukla were suspended in 2022 due to maintenance with only flights from Ramechap being available. Flying from Ramechap Airport to Lukla is still possible and is a very short flight. Tara Air is flying again from Kathmandu to Lukla at the time of writing, in July 2023. Changing the flight dates is easy and free even while trekking. Our return date changed during our trek and we phoned Tara from a tea house on the way to change our date. I will always recommend you reserve the first flight in the morning since flights from Lukla get canceled due to wind very quickly, we have been stuck here for days due to weather conditions.

You are allowed only 10kg of luggage, hopefully, you were not planning to carry more! If you are traveling with more luggage check that you stay somewhere in Kathmandu that will store your luggage safely without charge.

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

Our YouTube video of the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla

Hiking to Lukla from Kathmandu

Lukla is high in the Himalayan mountains with no roads reaching all the way here, most people fly from Kathmandu to Lukla to start the EBC trek. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla has one of the scary landings in the world with the Lukla runway on an incline (fun/interesting land). The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is expensive.

The biggest possibility for saving money on the Everest Base Camp trek is by going from Kathmandu overland and skipping the flight. This is also a good way to experience local cultures.

Flights between Kathmandu and Lukla often get canceled due to wind and I have heard many stories of trekkers spending a couple of days waiting in Kathmandu to fly out or in Lukla to fly back. Our flight from Lukla to Kathmandu was canceled the first time we trekked to EBC.

We walked from Lukla to Salerri (2 days) and took an uncomfortable jeep journey from Salerri to Kathmandu for $20.

Coming from Kathmandu you can do the reverse and take a jeep from Kathmandu to Salleri. Salleri is 265 km away from Kathmandu. The ride is about 8 hours costing about NPR 1,100 ($10) for Buses and NPR 1700 ($17) for Jeeps,  buses go daily from Kathmandu. You can walk from Salleri to Lukla in 2 or 3 days.

Another option is to take a bus to Jiri taking about 9 hours, from here the trekking route does not pass through Lukla to EBC, it goes as follows Salleri – Ringmo – Kharikhola – Puiyan – Phakding – Namche, joining the main route after 5 days at Namche Bazaar so there is an extra four days of trekking.

A good way to hike is walking the Jiri to Namche EBC route on the way up and taking the route to Salleri on the way down.

Everest Base Camp Trek Permits

Two permits are required a national park permit and a trekking permit, both can be bought on the trail while trekking.

Everest Base Camp permits required in 2022

Local permit  cost NPR 2000 ($20) in Lukla. – All foreign nationals can buy the Khumbu Rural Municipality Permit, which cost NPR 2,000 per person for the first four weeks. After four weeks, the cost of the permit goes to Rs. 2,500 per person. The permit office lies on the trail in Lukla.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit (NPR 3000/$25 + 13% Govt. Tax) are available at the entrance gate in Monjo or at the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) counter at  Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu.

Do you need a TIMS permit to trek to Everest Base Camp?

In the past, a TIMS ( Trekkers’ Information Management Systems) card was necessary for trekking in the Everest region. The TIMS card is no longer required for the Everest Base Camp Trek.  The TIMS card has been replaced by the local area permit. TIMS might be required for other regions such as Annapurna or Langtang

If you hike from Jiri or Salerri to Lukla you pass through areas controlled by different local governments and a TIMS might be necessary.

Yak walking over a suspension bridge trekking to EBC
Trekking at high altitude there are many yaks on the route, carrying everything the tea houses need, from building supplies to food.

Insurance for the Everest Base Camp Trek

Everest Base Camp is a high altitude trek and altitude sickness can happen. Evacuation by helicopter is the most common way to get off the mountain if you have an emergency. Travel insurance that covers you for hiking to an altitude of 6000m is a ‘yes’ for Everest Base Camp at 5364m. Insurance can be purchased for your whole trip or only for the duration of your trek.

Want to know how much insurance will cost? Get an instant online quote here!

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How Difficult is the Everest Base Camp Trek?

For a person of medium to good fitness level, the Everest Base Camp trek is of medium to strenuous difficulty. You walk 4 to 6 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 easier. No technical climbing skills are required. Irrespective of how fit you are, climbing too fast can result in altitude sickness. In some parts of the Everest base camp trek route, the trek is a steep climb to higher elevations. 

Our EBC trek was 120 km/75 mi, so you walk more or less 15km per day for about two weeks. It is not a flat walking surface and typical of treks in Nepal there is a lot of going up and down. The distance you cover does not require super fitness, the altitude does however make it quite tough, you start at 3000m and climb 2400m further to reach base camp at 5365m. The difficulty of the Everest Base Camp Trek is influenced by;  your pack weight, a porter can make it much easier here and season, if you are cold and miserable it is definitely harder.

Stingy Nomads at Everest Base Camp
Alya at the Everest Base Camp sign.

Best time to trek Everest Base Camp

There are two main seasons for trekking to EBC. The best months to trek to Everest base camp are in the pre-monsoon season through March, April, and May or in the post-monsoon season from late September, October, and November. It is not pleasant and can be dangerous to hike in bad weather. Hiking is possible in the Winter months (Dec-Feb) but it is very cold, up to -30C at night! Sometimes a lot of snow falls on the trail, and passes might be closed. 

See our detailed article on choosing the best time to do the Everest Base Camp trek.

Everest Base Camp Trek Tips

Where to stay before and after the EBC trek?

We’ve stayed at several hotels in Kathmandu in different parts of Thamel and preferred the location Keshar Mahal Marang Street. A small and quiet dead-end street in Thamel with only hotels, hostels, restaurants, and coffee shops. The street is a 5-minute walk from the main touristy area with hundreds of shops and agencies. There are a couple of great restaurants and coffee shops nearby.

We had a good time staying at Aryatara Kathmandu Hotel, a nice place, with big rooms, comfortable beds, good breakfast (included), a great hot shower, AC, wi-fi, TV, etc. The room price includes free airport pick-up (for international flights only). Helpful and friendly staff. We stored our extra luggage here every time we went hiking for free without any problem.

More options in the same street

Porters carrying equipment to Everest Base Camp
Porters working hard carrying supplies to Everest Base Camp.

Guides and Porters on EBC

Hiring a porter and guide in Kathmandu is more common than doing this in Lukla. You do get approached by touters or guides themselves in Kathmandu, but the safest way of doing this is by going to a local agency. This way you do have someone to turn to if there was a problem, your guide cannot just disappear.

Some agencies in Kathmandu organize that you meet your guide in Lukla while some prefer to send a guide with you from Kathmandu, in this case, you will have to pay for the guide’s flight, Nepalese citizens fly at a reduced price of $100 for the return flight. You do not have to pay for food or accommodation for your guide, they get this for very cheap at the tea house or for free for bringing you to the teahouse.

I will recommend that you meet with the guide before, check if he speaks good enough English if you trust him and if you get along. I have met guides that have climbed Everest, some of these guys are extremely knowledgeable.

  • Make sure you are using a registered guide
  • The guide should be insured

Two people can thus share a porter as long as you don’t make him carry too much, I would say a maximum of 15kg for a porter, but many companies let the porters carry 20 kg.

You can budget $30 per day for a guide, which can be shared by up to four people, and $20 per day for a porter.

Tipping the porter and guide on EBC

Please keep in mind that a good tip for the porter/guide is expected. These guys are unreal and work very hard. Tipping is a big part of their income.

Risks During Everest Base Camp Trek

Altitude sickness (AMS) is the biggest risk during the Everest Base Camp trek. Other risks are stomach problems (diarrhea) and flight problems landing at Lukla airport, rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

yaks carrying supplies to EBC
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.

Stomach problems on the EBC trek

Meat is carried by porters and not always refrigerated, try being vegetarian. The biggest chance of an upset stomach comes from water. Filter your water, it is a good idea to carry a lifestraw bottle, buying plastic bottles everywhere costs a lot and is very bad for the environment, ending up in a landfill somewhere in the mountain or getting burned.

Preventing Altitude Sickness (AMS) during the hike.

Altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is caused by ascending too quickly, climbing slower to prevent it. When we walked to EBC the second time we had a spare week before our flight to Lukla and decided as training and acclimatization to do the Langtang trek. By the time we started the EBC trek, we were used to hiking at that altitude. The highest altitude on the EBC trek is 5,364m (17,598ft) above sea level, you will spend most of the trek at lower elevations. 

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.

During our first trek to EBC, we were feeling very strong and did not stop to acclimatize at Namche Bazaar, when we got to Tengboche we had headaches during the night, staying a second night did not make AMS symptoms disappear and we turned around and walked back to a lower altitude, descending 600m. This worked and we started ascending again a day later without any further problems. We stick to the rule of thumb now, not ascending more than 600m per day.

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

During our last trek to Everest Base Camp we did acclimatization stops at Namche and Dingboche and never had any problems. These acclimatization stops were nice rest days relaxing at the guest house and enjoying good food and reading during our free time. 

Hydration – Drink enough! Very important to stay hydrated.

Trekking Pace -Don’t go too fast, not more than 600m increase in altitude per day.

Drugs

Many people take Diamox. At high altitudes the air pressure is low and less oxygen available, Diamox prevents AMS by acting as a respiratory stimulant.

We took Diamox along in our first aid kit but did not use it. We met several other trekkers that were taking Diamox they did not have AMS or any bad effects from taking the drug, one of the guys said he had some ‘needles and pins’ feelings in his fingertips when he started taking Diamox, but it got better with time.

Contraindications Diamox is a diuretic so you constantly have to urinate, I believe it is a pain to go to the toilet in the cold at night. Needles and pins (paraesthesia) in hands in feet are experienced by some people.

AMS Symptoms

  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping
Namche Bazar acclimatizing day
Namche Bazar is a very popular acclimatization stop on the EBC trek. Coffee, wifi, and amazing views from our tea house.

If you have only 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.

You should never be too fixed on an itinerary, walk at a comfortable pace, and if you don’t feel well rest.

Everest Base Camp Trek Map

Everest Base Camp Trek Alternative Routes

There are many amazing trekking routes and peaks to hike and climb on this amazing mountain. These are some of the most common hikes and climbs trekkers do around EBC.

  • Lukla to Salleri – it is possible to take a bus from Kathmandu to Salleri and walk from here to Lukla, no flights are required to trek to EBC! This hike is great for acclimatization and will save you a couple of hundred dollars on flights!
  • Hike to Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Lakes – Add three or four days to your EBC trek by trekking to Goyo Lakes, six spectacular glacial lakes, located between 4,700m and 5,000m. Beautiful panoramic views of famous mountains such as  K 43,  Taboche, Cholatse,  Nuptse, and Everest and the famous glacial lakes, cross the beautiful and challenging Cho La Pass.
  • Climb Island Peak (6,189m/20,305ft) – It is a real climb, serious mountaineering, meaning it is not trekking. Learn the required skills and conquer a 6000m peak! Usually done as an extra 3 days with an EBC trek.

Packing Tips

We have done several treks in Nepal see our complete Everest Base Camp trek packing list and video to see what we packed for this trek.

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Cathi

Wednesday 1st of May 2024

Hi, thanks for the report. Can you tell me how many people are in the base camp during high season? Thank you

Stingy Nomads

Friday 3rd of May 2024

Hello Cathi, this varies from year to year. In October which is the busiest month up to 10 000 trekkers can do the trek per month. Trekkers do not stay at EBC, the highest village with tea houses is Gorak Shep, from here you walk to Everest Base Camp and back. A couple of hundred people stay in each tea house village. Only about 4000 people have actually climbed to the summit of Everest, but I have heard that in peak season there can be up to 1000 people at Base Camp, mostly climbing teams and climbers preparing for the climb staying in tents at Everest Base Camp.

Motookiii

Friday 3rd of November 2023

Thank you for the very very beneficial information of solo hiking in EBC. I could enjoy it without the guide and the porter in October 2023.

Stingy Nomads

Friday 3rd of November 2023

Hi, thanks for reading and for letting us know. Glad you had a good trip!

Doug

Monday 10th of July 2023

Very useful

Sahil Nawaz

Monday 15th of May 2023

Hey, Is it possible to complete the EBC without the guide or porter as you have also mentioned that some government of Nepal didn’t agree on making it compulsory. Please do let me know

Stingy Nomads

Monday 15th of May 2023

Hello, thanks for reading. As I mentioned in the article, according to the Kathmandu Post, published on 14 March, solo trekking is still allowed in the Everest region. We do link to the article in this post, please follow the link and read the article for more information. I will recommend you confirm with an official source before making any plans. Safe travels

Sam

Wednesday 5th of April 2023

Hello !

Just an update on the 2023 solo trekking rules, though Nepal Tourism board has made it mandatory to hire guide for the EBC trek. The local authorities in the Khumbu region have decided not to follow this.

This can be viewed on their Facebook page ‘Khumbu Pasanglhama Rural municipality’ which has an official document published on April 2nd. The municipality will now issue a TREK card for Free Independent Travellers(FIT) in the Everest region which will begin from April 14 on Nepali New year.

Chelsea

Tuesday 18th of April 2023

@Sam, thank you for the info. I am planning to do the EBC trek for a second time, but the Gokyo route and then also climbing Island Peak. It feels silly to hire a guide when I have already done the trek, so it sounds like I just need to have the TREK/FIT card. Great. I will of course, be hiring a company for the Island Peak part of the hike!

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 6th of April 2023

Thank you, Sam, that is great to hear! thank you for your message. It is the same that happened to the TIMS permits in the past. Nepal Tourism made it mandatory to have a TIMS for the EBC trek, but the local authorities in the Khumbu region decided not to follow this. If you inquired in Kathmandu they told you the TIMS is required, but on the trek, it was never checked. I will wait for official sources to confirm this.

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