An Everest Base Camp Trek has become a feasible goal for people from all walks of life. Yet, hiking 125 kilometers and ascending 2,500 meters is no walk in the park, either, and you’ll have to quickly adapt to the challenges of high altitudes and cold temperatures as well as deal with Nepalese infrastructure.
For the most comfortable Base Camp experience at the top of the world, follow these eight tips to plan for your memorable expedition of a lifetime.
Gear and equipment
You can travel to Nepal with everything you need for your trek, but it all may cost you more in excess baggage, let alone hauling it half way across the world. With that in mind, you can rent or buy the necessary trekking equipment upon arriving in Kathmandu and find brand name stores in the city’s tourist area of Thamel.
What are the essentials for a Base Camp trek:
- trekking poles and boots
- hats, gloves, and socks
- down jacket
- thermal wear
- sleeping bag
- duffle bag
- day pack
If you have a Sherpa porter, the maximum weight he’ll carry is 20 kilos.
Cost and time
The best seasons for a Base Camp Trek are from mid-February to mid-June and from mid-September to mid-December. Travelers can obtain a multi-entry visa for Nepal upon arriving at Kathmandu’s airport at a cost of $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, and $100 for 90 days. Visitors can pay in US dollars, British pounds, or in euros. Two passport photos and a blank passport page are also necessary.
Of course, it’s possible to do the trek alone, but booking a package with a guide provides you with in-depth knowledge and enhances the special experience. The average cost for a package, which also includes a well-experienced trekking guide, Sherpa porter, transportation, trekking permits, accommodations, and food at lodges and tea houses, is about $1,350 for 14 days. The typical amount spent during that time is approximately $2,000, but the total sum depends on the length of stay and type of traveling you prefer.
Please remember that it’s not a competition to trek the Base Camp, and no one will judge you on how slowly you do it. It’s best to acclimatize properly, drink plenty of water, and be safe.
Trekking for up to six hours per day can take a lot out of you, especially when you gain altitude. If you need to take any extra days to rest, then don’t hesitate to tell your guide and porter. They’ll be glad to work with you, and they won’t mind if you want to hire them for additional days; it’s your holiday, so enjoy it.
Bring USD and rupees
There are no ATMs in Lukla or Namche Bazaar, and the overall exchange rate in the Everest region is poor. So, it’s better to exchange your currency for rupees in Kahtmandu or bring US dollars, and cash is always best.
Also keep in mind that prices for items increase the higher you trek. Therefore, consider $200 worth of rupees for incidentals like Internet use, laundry, battery charging, as well as buying snacks and water to get through the day.
At higher levels of altitude, your body dehydrates much quicker than at sea level. So, make sure you drink plenty of water to compensate and to avoid getting headaches. Always keep a full bottle of water as a spare too. You’ll also want to focus on eating healthy food, including nutritional bars and snacks. Chocolate and candy will also help sweeten the way.
Due to the fact that it’s not allowed to harm animals in Nepal, most meat products come in either by plane or by road. Then, they’re transported by yak, and in most cases the meat isn’t stored in a cooler. Therefore, you’ll find it safer to eat vegetarian meals. Who needs food poisoning to spoil or shorten your trip?
Altitude and temperature
Due to the high elevations, you may easily suffer from altitude sickness. This can affect any person despite perfect health and fitness. Insomnia, headaches, dizziness, hunger, and shortness of breath are all indicators of altitude sickness. Always be aware of the weather, and wear warm clothes when temperatures dip.
Furthermore, the higher you go up in elevation, the more you’re exposed to UV levels. The sun is more brutal that what you’re used to on a daily basis. Plus, solar radiation can cause skin disease, so be prepared with sunscreen. You should always have a first aid kit on hand.
Help save the environment
Mount Everest has inspired and attracted many people from all over the world ever since the 1920s. The enormous increase in visitors to the region has resulted in severe and negative effects on its sensitive environment.
There’s currently no functioning waste management system in place, and there’s little local knowledge or experience on how to handle such large amounts of rubbish in an environmentally sustainable way. Therefore, the waste you generate should be disposed of properly.
Appreciate the local culture
Beyond admiring the awesome scenery and being ecologically friendly, trekkers should also be culturally responsible. Visitors to the Everest region have the chance to experience special Sherpa culture as well as visit monasteries and museums along the way. Showing respect for local cultures and traditions makes the Nepalese happy. For example, when entering a monastery, please take off your hat and shoes.
It doesn’t hurt to learn the local language, either, and you’ll have more fun conversing with the locals. Basic phrases, like “namaste,” which is “hello,” and “dhanyabad,” which means “thank you,” are commonly exchanged between locals and trekkers alike.
Leave extra days for the return-trip home
After your trek, give yourself a few days before you have to fly home, and be prepared to make other plans, or take another route to return to Kathmandu. Flights may be delayed or cancelled for days due to bad weather, so it’s recommendable to book a morning flight, as delays and cancellations during the day occur more frequently.
Amos Neupane is a trekking consultant and tour operator at The HIMALAYAS Trekking and Expedition in Nepal