Trekking literally means ‘ going on a long journey, typically on foot ‘. Nepal a naturally beautiful country, has established its recognition in trekking the beautiful Himalayas that surrounds the country from the mountainous north, and has attracted trekkers from around the world since the 1960s when the first commercial trek organized by Col Jimmy Robert.
Among the ten tallest mountains in the world, Nepal has eight of them that are above the height of 8000 m. Trekking has been the leading activity of tourists in Nepal providing employment opportunities to many local residents and skilled manpower, providing services and guiding to the tourists, some doing a few days of hiking while others taking on a month long trek through valleys and high mountain passes.
Two of the most popular trekking regions are the Everest and Annapurna. The diversity of trekking trails in Nepal cannot be found in any other part of the world. In fact, the lowest point in Nepal is 59 m above sea-level in the Terai region while the highest point is Mt. Everest, 8,848 m above sea-level, the two points being only 200 kilometres apart.
Every year thousands of tourist from around the world visit Nepal to climb and capture the alluring beauty of the world’s tallest mountain Mt. Everest. The Everest Base camp is one of the most recognized and famous trekking journeys in Nepal.
Base Camp is located at 17,600 feet, below the peak of Everest, that is 29,000 feet. It is Base Camp where planning to summit, spend weeks acclimatizing and preparing for their journey is carried out. It is also the furthest you can go using only your legs, before ropes and ice picks and other equipments get involved.
The majority of visitors to Nepal come in through the Tribuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. The trekkers acquire their permits and other documents, either from a trekking agent or from the appropriate offices in Kathmandu.
The documents are to be carried with ownself for they are checked along the trekking route. For those with little time on hand can visit half-day hikes from Kathmandu to witness breathtaking Himalayan views. Less than 70% people make it into Everest Base Camp.
So, picking the best itinerary with the best acclimatization is must.
Journey from the Base Camp
The journey to Base Camp begins at 9,300 feet, in the small Nepalese mountain town of Lukla. Base Camp rests on massive glacier. There are no roads to Lukla. It is accessible only by a 30-minute plane ride from Kathmandu.
After landing, you’ll find the area crowded and bustling, filled with locals selling blankets and outdoor gear, which feels as if hundreds of trekkers are preparing for their climbs.
From Lukla, you will wind your way up across dangling suspension bridges, stepping aside for herd of yak and the other domestic animals, as you walk further and further into remote areas.
The trekking trail then proceeds to go through villages like Phakding, Monjo, the Sagarmatha National Park, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche and Gorakshep before finally reaching the Everest Base Camp. Yet, it won’t feel that remote as you’ll find the local people to be way more hospitable in the small towns greeting you all the way up. You can find lodges to stay in.
There are restaurants and bars. The world’s highest Irish pub and the world’s highest bakery can be found on your way to the Base Camp as well. There’s even a North Face store at one of the larger town, Namche Bazaar. In these towns, dozens of miles from the nearest road, all food and supplies are brought in by helicopter, porter or animal.
In addition to breathtaking, views of the Himalayas, intricated Buddhist monuments lie along the entire route. Along the trial, boulders and colorful (structures meant to bring good Karma) stupas that are painted in elaborately, wrapped in multicolored prayer flags are found.
Best time for Everest Base Camp Trekking
There are two definite trekking seasons. The best months to trek to Everest base camp are pre-monsoon (February, March, April and May) and post monsoon (late September, October, November and December) It is possible to make the journey in February and early September but the most preferable is the above for the treks into Everest base camp.
You can trek to Everest Base Camp in January and February but it can be very cold higher up (-20C/-4F to – 30C/-22F) It can snow on the trail at any time of the year. In case you are planning on trekking to Everest Base Camp in these months, you are definitely going to need more time for weather delays. Weather conditions can be really challenging in these winter months.
Essential trekking equipment
You need to make sure that you have the correct equipment that is required in the journey before starting. You can rent/hire them. The essential trekking equipments for Everest Base Camp are proper trekking boots, sleeping bag, duffle bags, hiking poles and appropriate hiking clothes.
Your hiking boots are probably the most important item to bring on your Everest Base Camp trek as your feet are what get you to base camp and back. The wrong size boot will result in painful blisters, lost nails and sore feet. Beside these, Hydration Bladder, Headlamps and Sunglasses are also to be carried along.
The appropriate way to go is to pack a Duffle bag that does not exceed the weight of more than 12 kg because a porter is capable of carrying up to 25 kg of weight between two people. Carry Down jackets or Hardshell Jackets according to the varying temperature and climate. You can pack a map and EBC trekking book to reference regularly, check altitude sickness, illness, route and what to expect.
Acclimatization is critical to success.
The biggest mistake that people make in their preparation for Everest Base Camp is that they fail to have enough acclimatization at the critical parts of the trek. Most people are try arriving in Everest Base Camp on day 6 or 7.
This is not the way to go. The best way is to go sow and steadily in your own comfortable pacing. You need 8 days minimum before reaching Everest Base Camp. It is recommended to spend 3 nights in Namche Bazaar at 3,500m/ 11,500 feet.
Acclimatize well lower down so your body can adapt easier high up and you can avoid altitude sickness. Most people ignore this advice, as it sounds simple, and suffer the consequences.
You need to be drinking 4 to 5 liters of water per day on route to Everest Base Camp as hydration is critical in lower environment. If you fail at drinking enough water you also limit your chances of success. Hydration should start weeks before you go to the Himalaya’s.
You should be training hard for 3 to 6 months preceding your trek.
Training depends on a wide range of factors. It is necessary to consult with your doctor first before even considering making this journey. You then need to speak to professionals about how you should approach your training and need to take the preparation seriously.
You can also be doing multi-day hikes or longer training sessions towards the end of your training. You need to be training with a weighted back pack and train 10+ hours per week, building your strength, endurance, cardio and making your body able to cope better with hiking up and down hills with less oxygen.
Food and Accommodation during journey
The trail of Everest Base Camp is overflowing with accommodations from friendly tea houses to luxurious hotels. With the growth of trekking industry, the accommodation services have also improved.
The types of accommodations during Everest Base Camp Trek are hotel/lodges accommodation, Tea-house accommodation, Camping accommodation. Generally, the trekkers share twin-sharing, Lodge-to-Lodge accommodations, and even share room (of the same gender) with other trekkers.
As you reach at high altitude from lukla, Namche Bazar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Lobuche, and Gorak Shep, above 4,500 m the villages and settlements become smaller and smaller. Also, the accommodation becomes limited. Electricity is available at all guest houses and some guesthouses even have Wi-Fi service.
Most tea houses have various fruit flavored powders that are mixed with hot water and served. Hot lemon and hot orange are common. Hot water and sliced ginger can also be helpful if things aren’t quite right with your stomach.
Most tea houses offer a set breakfast which usually consists of toast, eggs, potatoes, and tea or coffee. It gets pretty monotonous but it’s a fairly good meal to provide you energy for keeping you trekking few hours. In some tea houses you can get freshly made Rotis instead of toast, which is a nice change of set.
Jam and honey are usually available. . Porridge is another breakfast item. Meat is not a good option to include in your meal as it has chances of being stale.
It would be convenient if you bring cash USD and Rupees. There are no ATMs in Lukla or Namchebazaar. Exchange rates are also very dismal. So bring rupees with you at least $ 200 worth. There are many money exchange centers in Kathmandu where you can exchange your foreign currencies.
Sometimes when the altitude gets to you, the only thing that can make you feel good is chocolate. It is a good idea to have some with you and you can buy it in Kathmandu.
Trekking for several days can be a little bit boring at times. You may only have the energy to lay in bed and read a book. So, you can buy some good books at Kathmandu and Namchebazaar.
The risks of the trip lies in very unexpected places. The flights to and from Lukla are the most dangerous part of the journey. The plane ride is beautiful, with mountains on all sides, but the landing is enough to put even the fiercest adventurer on edge.
A standard runway is between 6,000-8,000 feet long. Lukla is only 1,700 feet long. It’s slopped upward to help slow the plane before it hits the solid rock wall waiting at the end of it. There’s a 2,000-foot drop at the other end.
Buy your gear in Kathmandu
Trekking poles, hats, gloves, socks, down jackets, sleeping bags etc. everything is cheap. Sunglasses are also a must. There are fake, good quality North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and Marmot clothing. There are also authentic stores for proper mountaineering equipment.
Mountain Hardware and North Face authentic store that offers great deals. Everything you could possibly need to climb to Everest Base Camp is available in Nepal. If you need it or forget it, you can get it.
Have a good first aid kit
Altitude sickness is commonly faced by the trekkers as it gets higher and higher, and the air gets thinner. Diamox is a must to be carried for altitude symptoms. Follow the directions and take 1/2 of a 500 mg tablet twice a day.
Make sure to have decongestants, pain reliever of your choice, lip balm and sunscreen. There are chances of your nasal cavities drying out and nose bleeding. Therefore, always carry a lubricant.
The Everest Base Camp Trek provides an opportunity for regular hikers to approach a viable portion of one of the most iconic climbs in the world. Anyone in good physical shape could do it as the terrain itself is not as difficult as people expect.
The inclines are relatively moderate compared to other challenging hikes. This trek has panoramic views, alluring beauty and peculiar experience of hiking through these remote mountain towns. It is not the scary unnerving experience that people imagine it to be, but is actually a lot of fun.
The clouds roll in quickly making the panoramas mysterious. You can see Everest from a few points on the Everest Base Camp trek. From Namche Bazaar and at Tengboche are two awesome sites. Take your photos early for memories to last forever.Nepal being rich in diversified culture, traditions, geography, flora and faunas etc. has so much to offer to the visitors that are looking forward to spending a quality time travelling with groups or individual.
Due to its richness in natural resources, tourists can take immense pleasure exploring the beauty of this country. Tourism industry is booming in Nepal and people are being more conscious about preserving the cultures and the nature.So tourism is a potential industry here. Nepal once is not enough!