Want to go to Everest Base Camp?
Mar 03, 2003
Want to go to Everest Base camp? Planning, preparing for and affording the trek is surprisingly easy. Here's how to do it.
A) Be somewhat fit. You don't have to be an athlete, but should feel comfortable walking distances.
But... isn't there a war going on?
Yes there is, and during this trek you will walk through rebel held territory. However, the tourist run-ins with the rebels have almost become a joke. "I got held up by Maoist rebels and all they stole was this damn t-shirt...." As far as I know, no tourist has been injured or killed in the civil war. There are occasional strikes, but the biggest effect the war will likely have on your trek is that it will be more enjoyable due to the fewer number of tourists you'll be sharing the mountain with. For a bit more on the Maoists, read this journal entry: Lynn and the Maoists"
About the trek
The first week of the trek is constant steep hills. Be prepared for burning legs on the way up and sore knees on the way down. Before reaching Namche Bazaar you will have done over 29,000 feet of climbing and 25,000 feet of descending.
You can fly into Lukla, but unless you're in a big hurry, it will be a terrible mistake. The first week is beautiful - green hills, rivers and valleys and rhododendron forests. Also, the trek is going to be much more rewarding and meaningful if you walk the entire way.
After Namche Bazaar the path becomes easier. Your new challenge is going to be the extreme altitudes. The guidelines for avoiding altitude sickness are to spend 2-3 days between 6500 feet (2000m) and 10,000 feet (3000m) and then only gain 1000 feet (300m) a day per day and take a rest day with no altitude gain every 3000 feet (1000m). This is just the guidelines - If you have any signs of altitude sickness then you should not go higher until they subside. Bring diamox (see packing-list) for emergencies. I'd also recommend a couple of aspirin a day which will help your body adjust.
There is no need to camp. There are guesthouses at regular intervals along the entire trek. You'll rarely find luxury, but you'll get a decent bed at a very reasonable price. The food isn't great either, but there's usually a great quantity of it which you'll need after a day of trekking.
You don't need a guide. The route to base camp is a well worn, easy to follow path.
The weather, at least when I was there in Spring, is varied and moderate. At times in the lower valleys it was sunny and hot. Some days were cold and windy and there was an occasional minor snow storm, but in general the days were pleasant. The thin atmosphere makes for a hot, bright sun which cancels out the chill at altitude.
At night is does get cold, but rather than carrying extra cold whether gear you just crawl into your sleeping bag early.
It is possible to fly into Lukla, but I wouldn't recommend it. The hills, valleys and rivers of first half of the trek were just as enjoyable as the high elevations of the second half. If you're short on time, tired, or your knees don't feel ready for 29,000' feet of descending then you can book a flight back to Kathmandu when you get back to Lukla.
A link to the photos from my trek: Photos
Flights to Kathmandu are a expensive. Look instead for cheap flights to Bangkok. After you've found one, go to thorntree.lonelyplanet.com and ask on the 'Thailand' branch for the current prices for Bangkok - Kathmandu flights. Biman (Bangladeshi) Airways usually has the cheapest flights. You will have a one-evening layover in Bangladesh but they put you up in a hotel and you get to see a bit of Dhaka.
You don't need a guidebook. Here's everything that you need to know to get as far as the start of the trek.
Trekking in the Everest Region is a fantastic trekking guide that gives you detailed maps and info for the entire trek, and interesting side trips. Buy it now - It'll get you excited about going.
When to go: Sept - Nov is great. Dec - Feb is too cold. Mar - May is great. June - August is too wet.
Bangkok : You arrive in Bangkok. Change some money or get some from one of the ATMs in the airport.
Just outside the international terminals you'll find an airport bus that goes directly to Khao San Road. It's 100 Baht ($2.50). Khao San Road is the tourist center for cheap hotels. There are hundreds of cheap hotels and scores of travel agencies within a five walk from where the bus drops you off.
Put Khao San Rd. map here!!
Take a look at hotels until you find one that you like. Hotels around Khao San Road are priced between $2 and $20. You should Spend a couple of days here - getting over jet lag, sightseeing and purchasing your onwards flight to Kathmandu. Go to the tourist information booth and get a free map of Bangkok. I rarely recommend people going to big tourists sites, but if you're in Bangkok for a few days getting over jet lag you might as well see them. The things to see in Bangkok are the Royal Palace and Reclining Buddha (Wat Po). You can walk to them or take one of the tuk tuks (three wheeled taxis). The tuk tuk driver will overcharge you, but they are an experience and you'll only be ripped-off for about a dollar.
Kathmandu : Once you land in Kathmandu take a taxi to Thamel, it's the tourist area of Kathmandu. In Thamel, you'll find fewer hotels than Khao San Rd, but more than enough. You also have tons of trekking shops selling and renting all the gear that you could ever need for a small trek or a serious mountaineering expedition. Once you've settled into your hotel, take this packing list and go shopping. Once you've finished shopping buy a bus ticket to Jiri - you'll walk from there.
Any trekking equipment that you don't own you can purchase cheaply in Kathmandu.
If you're flying in for this trek, most of the gear that you don't already own you should purchase in Asia. The prices are a fraction of what you'd pay in the US or Europe. You really could go with nothing and buy it all there.
If you're traveling through the warmer parts of Asia, then wait until Kathmandu to get cold weather gear. You can rent some of it. Otherwise you can sell or donate your gear when you're done with your trek.
You can read a day-by-day account of my trek through the Everest Region: [ here ]
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