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.
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, 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.) are required. No TIMS card needed for the trek.
- Cost per day – US$29 (without flights) $58 per person per day including permits and transportation.
- Guide – not compulsory, can be done independently, with a guide/a porter, or in a group.
- Accommodation – guest houses
Where is Everest Base Camp (EBC)?
Everest Base Camp is located about 150 kilometres (90 miles) northeast of Kathmandu in the Khumbu region of Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 metres
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.
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 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.
- Finding porters and guides in Kathmandu is easy, just go to any local agency they will assist you to organize staff for your purposes.
- Doing it yourself is not hard and plane, bus or jeep 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.
We have done the EBC trek independent twice, trekking independently on a fairly frugal budget our cost was $645 (including the flight) begin and end in Kathmandu in March 2020. You can see our optimized Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary we recommend.
If like for us getting to the top of Everest is out of your budget but you still would like to climb one of the Seven Peaks you might consider conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, or climbing Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe.
Organised Everest Base Camp Trek
For some great treks with reputable international companies take a look at these great tours.
15 day Everest Base Camp trek with G-Adventures starting and ending in Kathmandu. I believe reviews is a very important resource when deciding on an activity and company, with more than 1500 reviews and higher than 90% score this looks like a winner, read some of the reviews. Including local flights, trekking, guides, porters and accommodation.
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, 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 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 ATM’s on the Everest Base Camp hike that is Lukla and Namche Bazaar.
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.
Cost of tea house accommodation – price varied between for 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 on 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, can usually pay for charging in the dining room.
The tea house usually have 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 in 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 you 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).
Some common Breakfast options trekking to Everest Base Camp: Tibetan bread (bit more filling and oily than chapatti), Chapatti, Toast with jam or honey, French toast, Pancakes, Porridge with milk, Boiled or fried egg
Food available on most tea house menus; Thukpa (noodle soup), Momos (dumplings), Sherpa stew, a variety of Soups, Macaroni, Spaghetti, Potato, Pizza, Sandwiches, Yak steak, Rice with curry, Burger with chips, Spring Rolls.
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).
Flights to Lukla, the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek
The easiest way to start the trek is to fly from Kathmandu to The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla.
Cost of Flights to Lukla– we reserved our flights with Tara Air in Kathmandu about two weeks ahead without paying. Flights Kathmandu – Lukla cost $179 one way with Tara airlines in 2022. Changing the flight dates are 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 to get cancelled 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, considered by some as the most dangerous runway in the world.
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 most 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, skipping the flight.
Flights between Kathamandu and Lukla often get cancelled 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 Kathamandu was cancelled 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 Kathamandu. 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
In the past there were 2 permits required to do this trek, a TIMS and a National Park permit. Both permits were still checked at checkpoints along the route when we did the trek the first time. Only the local permits that are sold along the way are however now required on the trek.
Everest Base Camp permits required in 2022
Local permit cost NPR 2000 ($20) 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 government and a TIMS might be necessary.
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 to fast can result in altitude sickness.
Our EBC trek was 120 km/75mi, 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. 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.
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. We have done a lot of trekking in Nepal between February and April. We loved the landscapes on the EBC trek in March and really preferred the spectacular snow covered mountains late February and early March to the landscapes in middle April. This time of the year was however freezing cold. If you want to hike to Gokyo Lakes just be aware that in years with a lot of snow Cho La Pass at 5420m on the way to Gokyo Ri is often closed in February and you might not be able to cross.
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. This is a good season for trekking, but from October it can be crazy busy with packed teahouses, combine this with frozen water pipes can make for some frustrations.
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
Where to stay before and after 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-minutes 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, big rooms, comfortable beds, good breakfast (included), 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
Guides and Porters on EBC
Hiring a porter and guide in Kathmandu is more common than to do 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
- 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 maximum 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.
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. Insurance is very important on any high altitude trek, altitude sickness is very common and since there are no roads in these mountains if you get seriously injured or sick you will have to be evacuated by helicopter which is very expensive. Most travel insurance will not cover extreme activities like high altitude trekking. Get a quote here for World Nomads hiking insurance for Nepal that covers you to 6000m (that is a ‘yes’ for Everest Base Camp at 5364m).
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.
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. If you only take out a policy for your trek duration it is not too pricey, starting in a couple of days? it is not too late
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.
Stomach problems on EBC trek
Meat is carried by porters and not always refrigerated, try being vegetarian. Biggest chance for an upset stomach comes from water. Filter your water, easiest way is 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 (AMS) is caused by ascending to quickly, climb 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 the hiking in the altitude.
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 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.
During our last trek to Everest Base Camp we did acclimatization stops at Namche and Dingboche and never had any problems.
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 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, it 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, experienced by some people.
- 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.
You should never be to fixed on an itinerary, walk at a comfortable pace, if you don’t feel well rest.
Everest Base Camp Trek Alternative Routes
There are many amazing trekking routes and peaks to hike and climb on this amazing mountain. This is 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 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.
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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The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.