The ultimate guide with all the information regarding trekking to the world’s highest peak
The Everest Base Camp Trek is a trekking journey that takes you traveling on trials in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The EBC Trek is a fantastic trekking journey that provides a wonderful experience if you want to learn about Buddhist cultures, observe Sherpa settlements, visit monasteries and look at spectacular views of mountains ranging around more than 8,000 meters of elevation. Journeying to Lukla, trekking to destinations like Namche Bazaar and reaching the base camp of Everest- this is an ultimate cornucopia of information regarding everything you need to know about Trekking to Everest Base Camp.
The Khumbu Region
Everest Base Camp Trekking takes place in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The Khumbu region is also called the “Everest” Region because of obvious reasons- the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, lies here. Located on the northeastern direction of Mount Everest on the Nepalese side, Khumbu is a part of the Solukhumbu district, which in turn is a part of the Sagarmatha Zone. The Khumbu region is a main sub-region of Sherpa settlements in the Himalayas. It includes the town of Namche Bazaar as well as the villages of Thame, Khumjung, Pangboche, Pheriche and Khunde. The famous Buddhist monastery of Tengboche also lies in the Khumbu region. With elevations ranging from 3,300 meters (11,000 ft.) to 8,848 meters (29,029ft.), the Khumbu region includes both the Sagarmatha National Park and the Sagarmatha National Park Buffer Zone that lies between the towns of Lukla and Monju.
The Trekking Trail
In a vast majority of Everest Base Camp Trekking journeys, the trek starts with a flight to Lukla. Usually from Kathmandu, a flight to Lukla takes around 30 to 45 minutes. This short flight presents beautiful scenes of the terrain below, as well as glimpses of mountains. Lukla is a town in the Khumbu region and it is situated at 2,860 meters (9,383 ft.) of elevation. Containing a small airport that services the region (the Tenzing-Hillary Airport); Lukla has a variety of shops and lodges catering to tourists and trekkers, provides western-style meals and supplies trekking items and equipment.
Moving along the Dudh Koshi River, the Everest Base Camp Trek has a trail that goes to the village of Phakding. The river of Dudh Koshi is the highest river in terms of elevation. The name “Dudh Koshi” translates to the “River of Milk”- named so because of the river’s prominent characteristic of extreme white waters. The village of Phakding on the other hand, is a small village that lies in the Dudh Koshi River valley just north of Lukla at an altitude of 2,610 meters. It is one of UNESCO’s Worlds Heritage Sites since 1979. The village of Phakding is often the main stopping point for trekkers on their way to Mount Everest via the Gokyo RI route or the Tengboche route. The primary function of the village is to cater to the tourism industry and consists of a number of guesthouses. The trail on Phakding has an amazing view of the Kusum Kangraru Mountain Peak (6,367 meters). Its name, “Kusum Kangraru” means “Three Snow-White Gods” in the Sherpa language, which refers to the triple summit of the mountain.
As trekkers move forward along the path, the trail presents amazing natural sceneries of verdant rhododendron forests and rivers. Crossing over suspension bridges, view of Mount Khumbila (5,761 meters) emerges into the distance. Walking through small settlements and tiny villages of Benkar, Chumao and Monjo, the trail goes through the Sagarmatha National Park. A protected area in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal, Sagarmatha National Park is dominated by Mount Everest. It encompasses an area of 1,148 km. sq. and ranges in elevation from 2,845 meters to the height of the Everest peak. Established in 1976, the national park became the country’s first Natural World Heritage Site three years after its establishment. The forests of the national park are a habitat to at least 118 species of birds, a great number of rare mammals and insects. While on the trail through the park, trekkers often catch glimpses of elusive animals and birds along with views of snowy mountain peaks.
The village of Jorsale lies ahead on the trail. Lying at an altitude of 2,740 meters, Jorsale is the last settlement before Namche Bazaar. The village lies on the west side of the Dudh Koshi River and, like Phakding, has guesthouses for trekkers travelling to the Everest Base Camp. Further ahead the village of Jorsale is the town of Namche Bazaar. Most of the Sherpa people who are in the tourism industry tend to be specifically from the Namche area. Namche Bazaar is the main trading centre and hub of the Khumbu region. Namche was an important rendezvous point for Nepali and Tibetan traders in ancient times, where the exchange of salt, textiles and dried meat used to take place. According to statistics, Namche is the most expensive place in Nepal, at least thrice as expensive as the capital city Kathmandu. Lying at an elevation of 3,440 meters, Namche Bazaar has amazing views of giant ivory peaks. Namche’s west is decorated with the view of the Kongdi RI Himal (6,187 meters) and the east offers the sight of the beautiful Thamserku Peak (6,623 meters).
The Syangboche Airstrip is located on a hill that overlooks Namche Bazaar. It is no longer used for passenger flights, but is often visited for a panorama of the Namche village. The Syangboche Airstrip is also one of the highest located airports in the world, lying at the altitude of 3,750 meters. Namche Bazaar is the commercial hub of the region and is very popular among trekkers, especially for acclimatization. It is also called the “gateway to Everest”. The town has a number of lodgings and stores catering to the needs of visitors as well as a number of internet cafes. There are various places to visit at Namche as well, like the Sherpa Culture Museum and the Everest Photo Gallery. The museum is built in traditional Sherpa design and architecture. Housing all the old and lost Sherpa artifacts in their original place, the museum resembles the Sherpa way of life in the past, before tourism began in the area.
Just a short distance away is the Hotel Everest View. Hidden on a ridge overlooking the Everest Range, Hotel Everest View presents spectacular sight of its Himalayan surroundings. Opened in 1971, the Hotel has been listed on the Guinness Book of World records (2004) as the Highest Placed Hotel in the world at 13,000 ft. Featured in numerous guide books and having received media coverage, the resort has become a destination in its own right.
The Everest Base Camp Trekking trail continues to Tengboche. A prospering village lying at the elevation of 3,867 meters, Tengboche village houses an important Buddhist monastery. The Tengboche Monastery is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. From Tengboche, panoramic views of mountain peaks like Tawache, Everest peak, Mount Nuptse, Lhotse peak, Mount Ama Dablam and Thamserku peak can be seen. Tenzing Norgay, the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary, was born in the area in the village of Thanti and was once sent to Tengboche Monastery to be a monk.
The trail passes alongside the Imja Khola to the village of Dingboche. The River of Imja is a tributary of the Dudh Koshi and drains the slopes of Mount Everest. The Imja Khola collects water from the Imja Glacier through the Dingboche Valley and trekkers cross the river via suspension bridges. Flowing between the villages of Thyangboche and Dingboche, the Imja River lies at the altitude of 4,360 meters.
The trekking trail to Dingboche is adorned with rhododendron forests. A popular stop for trekkers, Dingboche village is also used for acclimatization purposes. It pivots heavily towards tourism and most of the area around Dingboche is comprised of lodges and tenting areas. The Imja River flows directly east of the village. Also known as “the Summer Valley”, Dingboche has a peculiar characteristic of a kilometer of stone wall built using stones of different sizes that covers the entire valley of Imja. These stones are removed in order to plow the soil and end up being piled one over other that creates the kilometer of wall. It is given the name of the Summer Valley because it receives way more sunshine and is less affected by the icy wind that descends through the Valley of Khumbu. There are no official roads connecting to the village, only trails; and with the exception of some agricultural produce grown around the village- yaks and mules carry most of what is consumed locally. View of the Island Peak can be seen from Dingboche, along with views of other Everest Peaks as well. Trekkers also often hike up to Nagerjun. Nagerjun is a place that lies above Dingboche on the height of 5,100 on a hill at the edges of the Chhukung Valley. From Nagerjun, amazing panoramic views of Lobuche East (6119m), Lobuche West (6145m) and Kangtega Peak (6685m) can be seen. On extremely clear days, the sight of Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth highest peak, can also be looked at from there. View of the Pheriche Valley from Nagerjun is also breath-takingly beautiful!
Finally, after passing through Lobuche and Pheriche villages, the Everest Base Camp lies ahead. The final destination in the Everest Base Camp Trek, trekkers can see the views of the Khumbu Glacier on the right side of the trail. The Everest Base Camp is set at the altitude of 5,364 meters and magnificent views of cerulean peaks can be seen from here. Journeying further to Kala Patthar, fascinating close panoramic views of Mount Everest, Lhotse, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Makalu and Island Peak present a perplexing sight.
Costs and Accommodations
The Everest Base Camp Trekking lasts usually for about 14 days. 16 total days are set aside for trekking in case of any delays or incontinences. The 14 days Everest Base Camp Trek package would cost USD 1,280 and includes food and accommodations, airport transfers, permit fees as well as hotel stays in Kathmandu and flight to/from Lukla during the trek. A special permit is required to enter the Sagarmatha National Park and can be obtained from Kathmandu itself. Clean and comfortable guesthouses serve as accommodations and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food and meals are served throughout the trekking journey.
Best Seasons for Trekking
Usually, Autumn season (September-December) and Spring season (March-May) are regarded as the two best seasons for trekking. With moderate temperatures, clear visibilities and no rainfall, the trekking trails on Autumn and Spring are pleasant and wonderful. The best views of the mountains are rewarding and the trails are ornamented with blossoming trees and verdant woodlands. During these seasons, the temperature rises to an approximate 18° to 25°C in the daytime and drops down to -2° to -6°C in the night. Winter season (December-February) and summer (June to August) are considered “not ideal” for trekking to the Everest Base Camp as the weather during these months generally experience torrential showers and extreme temperatures, but nonetheless, trekking can still be done- just not under the best circumstances.
Physical Fitness for the Trek
Before going on the Everest Base Camp Trek, trekkers have to be well-prepared. Moderate fitness level has to be maintained for the trek. Acclimatization days add to make the trek easy but preparation for the trek beforehand really helps with the journey. Going for long walks many times a week, swimming, cycling, hiking and other regular exercises help to maintain the body for the trekking journeys. Eating healthy also boosts the body’s stamina.
Altitude Sickness during Everest Base Camp Trek
Altitude Sickness is a very liable possibility while undergoing the Everest Base Camp Trek. It is a common trouble that befalls trekkers. A pathological effect of high elevation, altitude sickness is cased because of serious exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen. As you walk up to the higher elevation, the quantity of oxygen in the environment gets thinner. So, there is huge risk of altitude sickness. In a majority of cases however- the problem can be tackled with enough acclimatization days. If someone suffers from altitude sickness, it is advised to walk to lower elevations and look for medical help as soon as possible. In such cases, trained and professional guides and porter’s aid will be necessary and it is therefore recommended to not trek alone to the Everest Base Camp. Emergency evacuation via the helicopter can also be done in case of severe altitude sickness.
Culture and Traditions
For the majority of the villages and settlements along the trail of the Everest Base Camp- the houses and huts tend to be single-roofed. Small traces of modernization are seen, but for the most part, traditional lifestyles and perseverance of age-old traditions are still practiced till date. The inhabitants of the villages still practice their own rituals and the historical and customary niche of the people of the Everest region is still prominent. Farming and animal husbandry are the major source of income for the people, along with tourism. Because of the abundance of Sherpa people in the villages of the region, Buddhism is the main religion. Ancient Buddhist monasteries, chortens, gumbas and stupas are scattered throughout the villages. Mani-stone walls carved with prayers, colorful prayer flags tied at the spires of the gumbas and pious recitation of orisons can be experienced while trekking along the trails.
Flora and Fauna
As a prominent part of the region consists of the Sagarmatha National Park, the Everest Base Camp Trek is ornamented with unique flora and fauna of the region. The woodlands of the park are variegated with pine, juniper, cedar, rhododendron and maple trees. The grasslands and lush forests are a habitat to many endangered species of animals. With a wide variety of both avifauna and land mammals, trekkers can witness glimpses of rare animals along the trails. Some of the endangered animals protected in the park include Snow-Leopards, Himalayan Thars, Langur Monkeys, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, the Musk Deer and Martens among many others. Birds like the Danphe, Blood Pheasants and Red and Yellow-billed Coughs have their habitat in the verdant acreages of the forests. The mystical feel of the trails decorated with the natural patina of jaded lands is hard to miss.
Essential Equipment for the Everest Base Camp Trek
For trekking, there are many types of equipment one needs to take and have in hand. Duffle Bags for carrying necessary items in, Day Packs that are an approximate 2,500 to 3,000 cubic meters, comfortable sleeping bags, well-fitted hiking boots and warm down jackets are a must. Other necessary clothes that will keep you warm and toasty, water-proof gloves and socks and accessories that will help you along the trek like binoculars and hiking poles are also needed. But one needs to make sure that the bag-packs aren’t too heavy for a comfortable and hassle-free trek. The hotels in Kathmandu have the provision of safety storage lockers where people can store their excess luggages that aren’t needed for trekking. In the mountain, usually, porters are capable of carrying around 25 kg of weight per person. So, it is important to have a viable luggage or bag-packs that aren’t too heavy and do not contain excess amount of unnecessary items- as the heavier the load, the more lagging occurs during the trek. Light trekking is the best way to go.
The Everest Base Camp Trekking is a journey that comprises both traditional and natural aspects of the Khumbu region. It is a perfect trekking destination and the rewards throughout the trails are outstanding. It is an ideal trekking journey that has the encompassment of all the best features of the Everest region. Hence, the Everest Base Camp Trek should not be missed out!