Everest Base Camp - you can trek in 11 days and 10 nights
Disclaimer: This guest post is written by Kathamandu Adventure. This trek is only available on selected dates and has a limited offer due to the weather condition and seasons to visit the Himalayas.
The Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal is one of the most desirable treks on the Planet. Hiking in the high altitude of the Himalaya Mountains, taking you closer and closer to the clouds and to your final destination: The top of the world!
If you've been dreaming about this extraordinary experience, but are short on time (the average of 20 days needed to hike to the EBC and back), this is the perfect opportunity for you. Challenge yourself with a trek to the Everest Base Camp with an option to take a helicopter back to the city.
First of all - how to choose a good guide and tour company
The first decision you will need to make is picking a tour company. This decision can be tricky since there are so many options available. I have hiked with Kathmandu Adventures, and I am planning my Everest Base Camp for 2020 with them.
Besides using local guides with great knowledge of the area, they take care of all the travel arrangements such as transportation, hotels, and meals.
One thing I value most about Kathmandu Adventures is that they give a percentage of their proceeds to local communities and charities. They help in many areas such as social work for girls and women to get an education in Nepal, an orphanage for the blind and building schools in rural areas.
Last but not least, I have another good news for you. If you book your trek with Kathamandu Adventures through my blog, they will give an exclusive 30% discount with the promo code PPP30. Pretty awesome, right!?
Day 1 - Arrival in Kathmandu
Upon arriving at the Kathmandu airport, the first thing to do is the immigration and customs formalities (Visa, etc.). After you pick up your luggage you will meet your guide, who will be holding a board at the exit of the arrivals area. Your guide will take you to the hotel, and in the evening you will be treated to a Nepalese dinner and cultural show.
This first day is your initial acclimation to the altitude in Kathmandu.
- Overnight: Kathmandu
- Included meals: Dinner
Day 2 - Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla then trek to Phakding (2,652m/8,700ft)
3 to 4 hour trek: Distance 14.3 km, approximately 20,000 steps
Let the fun start! Your guide will pick you up from the hotel and drive to the domestic terminal of the Kathmandu airport for an early morning helicopter flight to Lukla (2,800m/9,186ft). This is the gateway where our trek begins.
After an adventurous 40 minute flight above the breathtaking Himalayas, you will arrive at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla.
This is one of the most beautiful air routes in the world culminating in an exciting landing on a hillside surrounded by high mountain peaks. Upon arrival at Lukla, you will meet your local guide and will have breakfast.
You will start the trek from the village of Lukla, along imposing green valleys crossing multiple streams. Your trek will be accompanied by water rushing ever downward from the snow-capped mountains above until you reach the village of Phakding.
To assist in acclimatization, you only have a short hike. However, if you are interested in additional activities, you can take a side trip to a nearby Thaktul monastery.
- Overnight: Phakding.
Day 3: Phakding to Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,280 ft)
5 to 6 hour trek: Distance 11.3 km, approximately 15,500 steps
You will start your day with a walk through a beautiful pine forest. The trail leads you along the Dudh Koshi River over many suspension bridges, one of which is the famous Hillary Suspension Bridge. But first, you will catch wonderful views of the glistening Mt. Thamserku (6618m).
Through the settlements of Benkar, Chumoa, and Monjo, you come to the check post and entrance to Sagarmatha National Park, and you will pass through the last village of Jorsale before reaching Namche Bazaar.
The trail climbs through forests and over bridges until you reach the confluence of the Dudh Koshi and Bhote Koshi rivers. After a final steep ascent of about two hours, you get your first sight of Mt. Everest peering over the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge.
At this juncture, you can stop at Chautara to admire the view - but you still need to hike about 1.5 hours to reach Namche Bazaar, the gateway to Mt. Everest and main trading center of this region.
- Overnight: Namche Bazaar.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar for aclimmatization and rest day
2 to 3 hour trek: Distance 6.2 km, approximately 8,500 steps
This is the first of the two days set aside for “acclimatization”. Health experts recommend to stay active and moving during the rest to give our bodies the best chance of acclimatizing correctly. You can read my Fitness Guide Preparation for the hiking high altitudes here.
You can either spend the day taking a hike to Thame or visiting Khunde or relaxing and exploring Namche Bazaar itself.
Namche Bazaar is the main center of the Everest (Khumbu) region and has government offices, ATMs, Internet cafes, shops, restaurants, a bakery and a colorful market each Friday evening and Saturday. If we trek a few hundred vertical feet during the day, it will help us to properly acclimate.
You also have the opportunity to go to the Tourist Visitor Center near the headquarters of the Sagarmatha National Park where you can see displays related to the first Everest ascent, Sherpa culture and learn about the various plants and animals of the Everest region.
- Overnight: Namche Bazaar.
Day 5: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,870m/12,694ft)
5 to 6 hour trek: Distance 10.4 km, approximately 14,000 steps
After breakfast you set out towards Tengboche, enjoying superb views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Ama Dablam and close up views of Thamserku.
This trek follows a smooth trail with a few ups and downs that should not bother you as the magnificent view of the Himalayas keeps us company all through the day. Along the way, you can spot many species of native wildlife such as: musk deer, Himalayan Thar, and multicolored pheasants.
The trail goes gradually down to Kayangjuma. The path eventually reaches Sansa, which is the major trail junction to Gokyo valley and Everest Base Camp.
The track continues through the pine forests and after we cross a prayer flag festooned bridge over the Dudh Koshi River, we reach Phunki Thenga, a small settlement with a couple of teahouses and a small army post amidst the alpine woods.
After having a relaxed lunch at Phunki Thenga, it is time to gear up for a slightly tougher climb through the pine forests before reaching Tengboche.
You may start to feel the effects of lower oxygen levels so pace yourself, or as the locals say "bistari, bistari" ("steady, steady"). Tengboche is a great place for close up views of Mt Ama Dablam, Mt Nuptse, and Mt Everest, and it has the biggest Buddhist Monastery of the Khumbu region.
You can visit the monastery the same day at around 3 pm to witness a ceremony in the principal and popular monastery of Everest region.
Day 6: Tengboche to Dingboche (4,360m/14,300ft)
5 to 6 hour trek: Distance 14.5 km, approximately 20,000 steps
With mountains as its backdrop, the monastery at Tengboche looks more spectacular in the morning, so there will be opportunities for photographs before the day trek starts.
The upper trail on leaving Tengboche allows to enjoy the magnificent views along the way to Pangboche village and pass through several Chortens, Mani walls and small villages.
Time for a lunch pause, where not only serves delicious food but also allows a fantastic close-up view of Mt Ama Dablam.
In the afternoon, you will walk north to Pheriche or take the eastward trail beneath the towering north face of Mt Ama Dablam. From here the walk is fairly moderate as you enter the Imja Valley that gradually unfolds as we approach the confluence of the Lobuche River.
Time to descend to the river and begin the last and steepest climb of the day up to Dingboche. On arrival at Dingboche, you can see a beautiful array of fields enclosed by stone walls to protect barley, buckwheat, and potatoes from the cold winds and grazing animals.
- Overnight: Dingboche.
Day 7: Dingboche (4,360m/14,300ft)
Acclimatization Day : Distance 8.1 km, approximately 10,500 steps
This is the second day of acclimatization at Dingboche. Enjoy a refreshing breakfast while admiring a looming Ama Dablam (6856m/ 22493 ft) to the south really is fantastic.
An ideal acclimatizing excursion is to climb the ridge on the north behind the village to get a better appreciation of Mt Ama Dablam, Mt Lhotse and numerous other peaks visible from Dingboche.
Upon reaching the ridge, we can see three of the world’s six highest peaks, Mt Lhotse, Mt Makalu, and Mt Cho Oyu. To the west, loom the towering peaks of Cholatse (6440m/21,126ft) and Taboche (6542m/21,463ft). As you look northwest, you see an array of peaks rising at the head of the Khumbu Khola valley.
The Lobuche West and Lobuche East peaks are most dominant along with Lhotse which stands over 8500 meters (8501m/27,890ft). From the vantage point high on the ridge, you can scan the sweeping Imja Khola valley as well as the picturesque fields and pastures of Dingboche.
Day 8: Dingboche to Lobuche (4940 m/16,207ft)
2 to 4 hour trek: Distance 8.4 km, approximately 11,000 steps
Beyond Duglha, you will climb up the steep terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier and pass through boulder-strewn slopes as we ascend Chupki Lhara, an eerie ridge top with dramatic mountain views.
At the top of the ridge, we will find an array of stones with prayer flags used as memorials to Scott Fischer (American mountaineer) and 10 times Everest summitter Babu Chiri Sherpa (a Nepali mountain guide) who perished on a mission to climb Everest. As the trail drops to the Khumbu Glacier moraine, you will face several great peaks – Khumbutse, Lingtren, Pumori and Mahalangur Himal.
Here you will be in the vicinity of Everest but the great mountain still remains elusive. Mt Nuptse towers to the right as the trail crosses the Khumbu Glacier. As you pass along a murmuring stream leaving the Khumbu Glacier behind, you start to enter the higher altitude and may start to feel the effects.
- Overnight: Lobuche.
Day 9: Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5,170m/16,961ft) to Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,594ft) to Gorak Shep
8 to 9 hour trek: Distance 13.0 km, approximately 17,500 steps
The trail to Gorak Shep goes ahead through the lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. As you pass through the pyramid sign post, ahead on the trail we see the crest of the north ridge of Mt. Everest along with Mt. Pumori, Mt. Mahalangur, Mt. Lingtern, Mt. Khumbutse, Mt. Nuptse, etc.
A small ascent would take us to Thangma Riju from where you have a 360-degree vista of snowy peaks. Climbing steeply up to the top through the torrent of Changri Glacier, we catch our first glimpse of Kala Patthar, a grey-green knoll beneath the Mt. Pumori. As you reach Gorak Shep, you will find snow-capped mountains looming all around including the top of the world – Mt. Everest.
Time for lunch and some short rest, then ready back to take the trail to Everest Base Camp through the once vast Gorak Shep Lake. Continuing straight ahead comes through the Indian army mountaineers’ memorials.
Only upon reaching the Everest Base Camp you can really appreciate the Everest climbers who brave the hazardous route through the Khumbu icefall. Mountaineers' tents stand out in bright colors against the monotony of gray surroundings (especially in the Spring). Nuptse, Khumbuste and Pumori are the mountains you can view from the base camp. Everest actually is not visible from this point, and here you will achieve the ultimate objective of your trip.
It is time to celebrate the big achievement and the classic pictures to be taken, then it is time to head back down to Gorak Shep.
Overnight: Gorek Shep.
DY 10: Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5545m/18,192ft) then Helicopter flight to Kathmandu via Lukla
2 to 3 hour trek: Distance 2.0 km, approximately 3,500 steps
Today is the climax of the trip. Starting early in the morning to catch the dramatic views from Kala Patthar and witness the first light of day caress the peaks of the mountains, particularly Mt. Everest.
However, you will need to be prepared for an early morning departure, amid predawn darkness and cold temperature (-10C to -14C) and there is always the potential for chilly winds Familiar peaks such as Lingtren, Khumbutse, Changtse tower to the east even as Everest begins to reveal itself.
During the ascent to Kala Patthar, you can pause to catch your breath at several outstanding viewpoints from where we can snap great pictures. After several hours of ascent, it is time to reach Kala Patthar.
From Kala Patthar, you will scramble up to the top of a rocky outcrop marked by cairns and prayer flags. Mind-blowing Himalayan panoramas unfold before your eyes as they wander from one mighty massif to another.
You can and should take as many pictures as you want with your camera, but don’t forget to imprint the view into your mind’s eye so that it lasts a lifetime.
It is time to head to the Helicopter landing zone and await your ride and head back to the city.
Day 11: Farewell Friend
Time to say good-bye to the mountains!
There is nothing to do but trade emails with travel companions and organize the photos. If you have more time you can do some shopping or sightseeing.
On your way home you’ll have plenty of time to plan your next adventure in the wonderful country of Nepal.
Ethical Travel Tips in the Himalayas
- NO PLASTIC: Visitors can create huge amounts of rubbish, particularly plastic packaging. Please dispose of your rubbish thoughtfully and carefully, use recycling bins where available, reuse plastic bottles and carrier bags, avoid taking disposable items with you and buy items that have minimal packaging.
- RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT: When trekking or walking do not wander off the trails, keep as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the habitat, do not remove plants or animals, and purchasing products that further endanger threatened species and habitats
- NO SOUVENIRS: As tempting as it is to collect items from buildings, sacred sites and so on as souvenirs, resist all urges, leave it behind.
- SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES: Support the local economy by buying local brands and eating local food.
- RESPECT THE LOCAL CULTURE: Ethical travel is also about minimizing cultural impact, therefore please respect the culture and customs and do not partake in any activities that may be deemed as culturally inappropriate.
- RESPECT LOCAL PEOPLE: Whilst taking photographs, check with a local person whether it is acceptable and consider people’s privacy.
“Take only photographs, leave behind only footprints”