Complete guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC) independent including a break down of the cost, the route that we followed and tea houses we stayed in. We discuss guides, porters, altitude sickness and give packing and money saving tips
How to hike to Mount 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, do it by yourself (no group or guide) but hire a porter or guide or do it completely independent.
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.
Agencies normally charge $1500 and more begin and end in Kathmandu.
Finding porters and guides in Kathmandu is easy, just go to any local agency.
Doing it yourself is not hard and plane tickets from Kathmandu to Lukla is the only thing that you have to organize. You follow a very clear path, everybody stays in the same little “towns” with many tea houses, it is not necessary to book anything.
Trekking independent on a tight budget our cost was less than $600 begin and end in Kathmandu.
Everest Base Camp Trek Cost
- EBC trek total daily cost – $20
- Food $13
- Water $2
- Accommodation $1
- Snacks $2
- Miscellaneous $2
- Flight Kathmandu to Lukla – $165 (one way)
- Permits – $50
- Jeep Jirri to Kathmandu $20
- 15 days x $20 +$165 +$50 + $20 = $535
- TOTAL COST $535
- $35.60 per day each
Everest Base Camp Trek Daily Expenses
Food on EBC
Food in the Tea houses were good and not too expensive, we did not eat a lot of meat since this gets more expensive the higher you go. I treated myself to a Yak steak one night, it was terrible. We spent between $8 and $15 each on food per day.
Breakfast we had eggs and toast, porridge or pancakes.
Lunch was mostly a snack (chocolate), sometimes we had momo’s or bread and soup.
Dinner there was a choice twe ate a lot of dahl, rice, vegetables, chicken and potato but there are many things available like noodles, soups, pancakes and even pizza
For snacks we ate mostly snicker bars, there was cake and pastries available at some of the tea houses, not too get scurvy we bought a couple of apples on the way.
Water during EBC trek
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.
We could save $50 to $100 on the trip by sterilizing drinking water. this can be done with chlorine pills our favorite Lifestraw or a use a Steri Pen UV water sterilizing device, much better without that ‘swimming pool water’ chlorine taste.
Accommodation on EBC Trek (Tea houses)
- Accommodation on route to Everest Base Camp is very cheap in most tea houses. They charge about 100NPR (1$) in low season, in high season about $3 to $5.
- This is the price provided you eat there, $10 for accommodation if you do not eat there.
- There are nice lodges available in some of the villages ($20 -40) see in the itinerary later in the article.
- We showered once or twice it gets more expensive as you go up, charging of devices, medicine, toiletries.
Flights to Lukla, the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek
The best way to start the trek is to fly from Kathmandu to The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla.
You can buy a ticket online on Yeti airline website for $166 one way or $330 return (2018) can be paid by Visa or Mastercard credit card or PayPal.
We recommend booking your flight for take off before 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.
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, considered by some as the most dangerous runway in the world.
Hiking to EBC from Kathmandu
The biggest possibility for saving money on the Everest Base Camp trek is by going from Kathmandu to Lukla overland (mainly on foot).
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is half the cost of the trek. Going overland obviously saves you a lot of money.
Lukla is in the mountains, there are no roads, you will have to walk this stretch, we flew to Lukla and walked back to Kathmandu.
We walked from Lukla to Selirri (2 days) and took a back breaking jeep journey from Selirri to Kathmandu for $20.
Coming from Kathmandu 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.
Everest Base Camp Trek Permits
- There used to be 2 required permits, a TIMS and a park permit, this is changing in 2018, please confirm this in Kathmandu, this in proccess.
- Everest Base Camp permits required from 2018
- Local permit cost NPR 2000 ($20) in Lukla.
- Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit (USD 30 + 13% Govt. Tax) available in Kathmandu or Monjo
How hard is the 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. If you’re looking for more walks in Nepal Annapurna Base Camp is another great hike to do.
Best time to trek Everest Base Camp
There are two distinct 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, November.
Pre monsoon (Feb-May) the weather should be largely stable and dry, great for trekking, but it can be very busy with many hikers.
Post monsoon (late Sept-Nov) with less haze and clouds in this period it will normally provide better views of these spectacular mountains. This time is colder but a great time to hike to Gokyo Lakes.
Dec-Feb Hiking still possible but very cold, up to -30C at night! Some times a lot of snow falls on the trail, passes might be closed. Avoid the crowds but bring proper equipment!
Everest Base Camp Trek Tips
Best hotel before and after EBC trek
Hotel Buddha – Looking for an awesome place, clean, neat, super friendly staff, great restaurant, helps with everything from luggage storage to visa printing, close to airports (airport pickup). Return to a nice place with satellite tv and good wi fi after your hike! $45 for double room.
On a budget? The Sparkling Turtle Backpackers Hostel Nice vibe, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable staff. Good place for before or after the trek, luggage storage. $5 for a dormitory bed, $12 for a double room.
Organizing a porter and guide for the EBC Trek
If you organize the trek to Everest Base Camp yourself it is easy to arrange a guide and a porter in Kathmandu. We did not feel a guide would have been an advantage to us at any stage on the trek. You just follow the path and there are many other trekkers on the route and places to stay.
If you feel you cannot carry your own bag you can arrange a porter for your trek for 15$ 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 the porter and guide on EBC
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.
Insurance for the Everest Base Camp Trek
We try not to think about what can go to wrong too much when attacking a new adventure. Hiking at high altitude in a remote location, there are obviously very real risks and evacuation and treatment can be expensive. When you feel your life is in danger cost is usually not a huge concern and the trip can become very expensive. For piece of mind do the sensible thing and have proper insurance. Get a quote here for World Nomads hiking insurance for Nepal that covers you to 6000m. Doesn’t matter where you live or where you are at the moment, it takes less than 2 minutes to get a quote and you can buy it online even if you are already traveling. Always read the small print and be sure you buy the correct policy. Be properly covered for injury, evacuation, gear loss, trip cancellation and trip delays.
Preventing Altitude Sickness (AMS) during the hike.
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. We have experience at altitude but still 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.
Hydration – Drink enough! Very important stay hydrated.
Trekking Pace -Don’t go to fast, not more than 600m increase in altitude per day.
Many people take Diamox. 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, it is a pain to go to the toilet in the cold 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
- Poor appetite
- 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.
Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary
DAY 1 Kathmandu to Lukla, Lukla to Manjo
Flight to Lukla 30 min
Lukla to Manjo
Duration – walk 4 hours
Difficulty – easy and flat day
Teahouse – Manjo Guesthouse, one of our favourite teahouses great food, freshly squeezed juices, nice view
Notes – took a hot shower 200 NPR ($2.10), TEMS permit NPR 3000 ($30)
Want to book a night accommodation in Lukla? stay at the highly recommended Khumbu Lodge $10 for a basic room or $30 stay in luxury.
DAY 2 Manjo to Namche (3440m)
- Duration – walk 2 hours 40 mins
- Difficulty – starts of easy and flat until after suspension bridge – 2 and a half hours then hard, steep climb for about 2 hours
- Teahouse – Thamsecko lodge
- pay permit on the way NPR 2000 ($20)
- Namche is still a big town where you can buy gear, watch a movie in a restaurant and get wi fi
- Want to book an awesome place, nice beds, your own bathroom, good coffee, heated beds? book the Panorama Lodge a bargain at $44 a night
- Our recommendation- Stay at Namche 2 nights for acclimatizing.
DAY 3 Namche to Thengboche (3867m)
- Duration – walk 3h50min
- Difficulty – start the day climbing out of Namche, long flat walk, end the day first going down to the river followed by a steep climb for almost 2 hours to Thengboche (600m vertical climb)
- Teahouse – Thengboche Guesthouse, owner very helpful, knowledgeable and gave good advice.
- Alya took a shower – prices gone up now shower is 450 NPR ($4.50)
- Thengboche monastery is very nice to visit, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Sherpa community. Well known site, Tenzing Norgay, the first to summit Everest with Edmont Hillary is from the village. Everest climbers visit the monastery to light candles and seek blessings.
DAY 4 Thengboche
Acclimatization day, spent most of the day in bed reading the classic ‘2000 Leagues under the sea’. Awesome that I packed my kindle, light to carry and I read more than one book on the trip!
DAY 5 Altitude problems
Alya had a bad headache and couldn’t sleep, AMS. We decided to walk back down to Punke Tenga, sleep a night at lower altitude and go back up. We walked the whole 600m back down again.
DAY 6 Punke tenga (3260m) to Pangboche (3930m)
- Duration – 4 hours
- Difficulty – Steep up for 2 hours, flat and down hill from Thengboche
- Teahouse – Buddha Lodge, very basic, food was good
- Notes – very cold here, felt great, water price went up
Day 7 Pangboche to Periche (4200m)
- Duration – 2 and a half hours
- Difficulty – short day, easy slope
- Teahouse – Shangri La Lodge, the owner is a very helpful and knowledgeable guy, some our friends recently stayed in Pumori Lodge another basic tea house, with friendly owners.
- Note – Periche is a small settlement, poplar with trekkers, it has a basic hospital with volunteer international doctors, the place to go if you have AMS problems.
Day 8 Periche
- Acclimatization day, spent most of the day reading and playing cards.
DAY 9 Periche to Lobuche (4910m)
- Duration – 5 hours
- Difficulty – steep climb through the Thukla pass after Dugla. After our acclimatization/resting day we were feeling fantastic, I had to try to keep Alya back, she was walking at her ‘normal’ pace, way to fast.
- Teahouse – Peak XV lodge
- We had a cold day here with lots of snow.
- At the top of Thukla pass there is an Everest Memorial Site, for people that died on Everest including Scott Fisher and others of the 1996 disaster
DAY 10 Lobuche to Gorakshep (5180m) to Everest Base Camp (5365m)
- Duration – 3 hours to Gorakshep + 3 hour round trip to EBC
- Difficulty – Flat first hour then some steep climbing and scrambling, leave your bag at Gorakshep, easy hour and a half to EBC!
- Teahouse – Buddha Lodge, basic tea house, gets very full with groups, felt very touristy but had a nice vibe with many trekkers, here we were happy that we were doing it on our own 🙂
- Left at our packs at Gorakshep walked to EBC and back, very nice gradual climb There were many Yaks and porters on the trail carrying the gear down. Beautiful view of EBC, mountains and glaciers. Many trekkers
- TIP: go to EBC very early in the morning to have it almost to yourself, most people head to Kalapatar.
DAY 11 Gorakshep to Kalapatar (5550m) to Pangboche
- Total 8 hours + 1 hour breakfast
- 1.5 hours to the top of Kalapatar, 45 min down
- Gorakshep to Pangboche 7h15 min (1.5h to Lobutsche, 2h15min to Pereche, 2h to Pangboche)
- It is a tough steep climb up Kalapatar the highest point of the trek. We started at 5am with headlamps and raced up, Alya won!
- Getting to the top so early it was freezing while waiting for sunrise.
- Sunrise and the views of Everest, Lhotse etc. was spectacular.
- Note – Going back from an altitude hike it is always amazing how easy it is going down! We were looking forward to proper coffee!
DAY 12 Pangboche to Manjo
- Duration – walk 8.5 hours
- Difficulty – Steep downhill, tough on the knees
- Tea house – Manjo Guesthouse, awesome to stay again in one of our favorite tea houses, nice food.
- Notes – took first shower in couple of days 200 NPR ($2.10), awesome!
DAY 13 Manjo to Lukla
- Duration – 4 hours
- Difficulty -flat and easy
Want to book a night accommodation in Lukla? stay at the highly recommended Khumbu Lodge $10 for a basic room or $30 stay in luxury.
Flight delays and walking back
Our flight from Lukla to Kathmandu was delayed due to wind, after 2 days of good espresso, chocolate cake and hot showers we were getting annoyed. 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.
Your options to get back to Kathmandu are: wait, a helicopter taxi or walk back.
Helicopters Everest to Kathmandu
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 to rather walk back.
Lukla to Jiri to Kathmandu trek
The walk back from Lukla was actually a beautiful trek. It was not as commercial or touristy as the normal EBC trek. We walked from Lukla to Jiri it took 3 days where some sort of road starts, from here we had a 4×4 ride 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. We we were however not prepared and for us the 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.
- Water is very expensive, you have three options to sterilize tap water and drink
Check out this test of lifestraw, you can find many funny ones on Youtube, the point is this is a cheap, safe way to get good quality water out of taps and streams on the hike.
- Pack a BUFF Multifunctional Headwear – protects your neck and face from sun burn, wind and weather.
You have to pay to charge electronics at the tea houses. Charge your phone, kindle, Go Pro any USB device with a portable charger. Luxtude 13400mAh Waterproof Portable Charger
- Travel wet wipes are very handy if it is to cold (or expensive) to shower, we have been sitting in our tent ‘washing’ with these on countless hikes, a must on your EBC packing list.
- Hand cleaner easier than finding a tap and soap to wash your hands if you want to eat.
- I am so glad I had a kindle! Awesome to read in bed on acclimatizing days. Was reading 2 different books, weighed almost nothing.
- Microfibre towels take almost no space, are light and dry easy so that they won’t get moldy and start smelling. Share one towel if you are a couple. Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel
- We have been using our Petzl’s for ages, the electricity in the tea houses is not always on at night, a headlamp is handy Petzl Actic 300 Lumen waterproof headlamp
- It gets very cold inside the tea houses at night. Stay warm in sub zero temperatures. Down is awesome, you won’t regret it! Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag
- A good waterproof, windproof jacket – super important! Wearing this and layering with a fleece and thermal vest when very cold was perfect for me. The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket
- Down Jacket, light, warm, pack-able, breathable, look at this top rated waterproof, 650 down filled with built in stuff-sack Outdoor Research Men’s Transcendent jacket
Clothes and Gear for sale in Kathmandu
There are many shops selling the necessary clothes and gear to trek to Everest Base Camp in Kathmandu. Mostly fakes of well-known brands like The North Face. Many people buy the fake gear, obviously the quality is inferior and real brand names are not cheap here. You can rent gear in Kathmandu, usually fakes. You are not climbing Everest so you probably wont die of cold in a fake jacket. Having something that fits, lasts and keeps the wind and rain out is just nicer and will improve your chances of finishing the trek successfully.
Everest Base Camp Blog
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