Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest Base Camp Trek
Length: 14–18 days
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging. The main trail is in good condition but the initial jump in altitude to Lukla can be challenging
Starting Elevation: 2,800 meters (9,200 feet) at Lukla
Peak Elevation: 5,364 meters (17,598 feet) at Everest Base Camp
Guiding: Recommended but not required
When to Go: Fall peak trekking season is from October to early December; the spring trekking season is in March and April
Access: Lukla, a 35-minute flight from Kathmandu
Best Viewpoints: Gokyo Ri and Kala Patthar
Paperwork: Entrance to Sagarmatha National Park and the TIMS card can be purchased from the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu or through a registered guide for about $60 total; each requires two passport photos
The Everest Base Camp trek passes through the land of the Sherpas to the foot of the world’s highest mountain, Sagarmatha, Nepalese for Mount Everest. The fullest views of Mt. Everest actually are from the Tibetan side, but this trek is about so much more than one mountain. Multiple 8,000-meter peaks line the Khumbu region, the grandest stage of all for alpine trekking.
The journey beings with the flight from Kathmandu to the hair-raising Lukla airstrip, perched at a lofty 2,800 meters (9,200 feet). Altitude is an important consideration on the Everest Base Camp trek and nearby Namche Bazar (3,440 m; 11,286 ft), the Sherpa village and gateway to the Khumbu region, is often used as an early layover for rest and acclimatization.
From Namche the trek heads upward through colorful Sherpa villages along the Dudh Kosi River. Terraced rice fields and rhododendron forests eventually turn into hardened landscapes of rock and ice. On the approach to Everest Base Camp is the final outpost of Gorak Shep; there are no teahouses at Everest Base Camp so trekkers can either day hike from Gorak Shep or bring camping gear. The scramble to nearby Kala Patthar (5,545 m; 18,192 ft) offers a panorama of Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse that bests the views from base camp itself. The main Everest Base Camp trail is an up-and-back route, meaning you will hike down the same trail you hiked up (to avoid this, see our page on side trips off the main trail).
Everest Base Camp is Nepal’s most popular trek with upward of 30,000 trekkers per year and 10,000 per month during the peak fall season. An upside to the number of trekkers is a well worn trail and facilities are as good as anywhere in Nepal. For those seeking to get off the beaten path, side trips up the Gokyo Valley and Chukhung Valley will greatly enhance the trip.