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The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular and iconic treks in Nepal.
Home to four of the six highest mountains in the world – Mt. Everest (8,848 meters), Mt. Lhotse (8,516 meters), Mt. Makalu (8,470 meters) and Cho Oyu (8,201 meters) – the Everest (or Khumba) region affords trekkers the opportunity to hike in one of the grandest and most awe-inspiring trekking areas in the world.
Trekkers get to retrace the footsteps taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their historic Everest expedition in 1953.
In this detailed Everest Base Camp trek article you will find information on the typical route and it’s variations; a day-by-day itinerary breakdown of the trek; practical information on accommodation, meals, permits, equipment and insurance; as well as guidance on the best time to trek Everest Base Camp.
Highlights on the trek include: unforgettable mountain views from Kala Patther, including Mt. Everest; the chance to see the famous Everest region Sherpas and Sherpa town – Namche Bazaar; sightseeing in the Sagarmatha National Park – a World Heritage Site; glimpses of the highest Buddhist monasteries in the world; and a sneak preview into the inner workings of the base camp to the world’s highest mountain.
The Everest Base Camp trek is situated in the Everest, or Khumba region of Nepal (see map). It is the most popular trek in the region, if not the country.
This map is one of the better representational schematics of the Everest Base Camp trail (we believe it is from GlobeTrekker but can’t be certain as their are many scattered across Google Images).
The map shows the classic Everest Base Camp trek running up from Lukla to Namche Bazaar and then veering North-east up to Pheriche / Dingboche. From Dingboche / Periche the trail turns North-west to Lobuche before heading north gain to Gorak Shep. From here Everest Base Camp can be seen to the East and Kala Pattar in the North-west.
Please note: The map is not to scale and should not be used as an accurate representation of the Everest Base Camp trek route. We provide links below to excellent maps of the Everest region.
Most trekkers fly from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport to begin their Everest Base Camp trek. The ‘classic’ or typical route follows straight up the Khumba Valley and through the Sagarmatha National Park to Everest Base Camp.
Variations via Gokyo Lakes or Chhukhung Valley are also popular (see the variations section below).
The typical Everest Base Camp trek duration is between 14-16 days (including transfers between Kathmandu and Lukla). The trek itself (excluding sightseeing in Kathmandu and transfers) usually lasts about 12 days with acclimatisation days at Namche Bazaar and Pheriche.
Here is a brief overview of a typical itinerary on an Everest Base Camp trek, with approximate trekking times and altitudes.
Arrive in Kathmandu. Rest and tour Kathmandu (often your tour operator will have pre-organised tours around Kathmandu).
Here are the best places to visit in Kathmandu.
Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla (expect a slightly scary landing at Lukla but rest assured the pilots are very experienced!). Weather can sometimes be a problem so delays are common. The flights affords great views of the Everest region so have your camera ready. Try to sit on the right side of the plane to see Mt Everest. Upon arrival you will be transported to the trailhead and take a relatively easy trek from Lukla (2,800 meters) to Phakding (2,652 meters).
Phakding (2,652 meters) to Namche Bazaar (3,440 meters) via Monjo (2,840 meters) and the beginning of Sagarmatha National Park. Weather permitting you might get your first glimpses of Mt Everest from the steep trail to Namche.
Usually a rest acclimatisation day in Namche (3,440 meters). If you are lucky enough to be in Namche on a Saturday then make sure to visit the weekly market. Most operators will encourage you to take an acclimatisation trek to the Everest View Hotel (3,880 meters) where you can have lunch and capture views of Mt. Everest.
Trek from Namche (3,440 meters) to Tengboche – also written Thyangboche (3,860 meters), home to the largest gompo (a Buddhist ecclesiastical fortification of learning). The trek is an undulating one which provides great views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Some treks go via Thame to visit the Thame Monastery, before continuing to Tengboche.
Trek from Tengboche (3,860 meters) to Periche (4,280 meters) via the town of Pangboche. The Himalaya Rescue Association are based here and it is well worth visiting them if your operator hasn’t already organised a tour.
Periche (4,280 meters) is usually used as the location for your second rest and acclimatisation day. Depending on your operator you will likely visit the Tshola Tsho Lake and then take a short trek towards Dingboche (4,360 meters) where you will get great views of the south face of Mt. Lhotse and Island Peak.
A fairly long and steep trek from Periche (4,280 meters) to Lobuche (4,940 meters) via the Khumba Glacier. You will see Sherpa Memorials built of stone cairns in remembrance to the many Sherpas and climbers that have died climbing Everest.
Trek from Lobuche (4,940 meters) to Gorak Shep (5,170 meters) where you will have lunch and then onto Everest Base Camp (5,364 meters). Most treks are not allowed to stay at Everest Base Camp without specific permission. The rules and regulations have changed around this issue over recent years so it is worthwhile checking with your tour operator. Visits to the icefall require mountaineering permits and are usually not part of a standard Everest Base Camp trek. After visiting Everest Base Camp you will return to Gorak Shep for the night.
A trek from Gorak Shep (5,170 meters) up the steep slopes to Kala Patther (5,554 meters), a peak west of the Everest Base Camp which affords the best views of Mt. Everest, Nuptse Nup II and Changtse; as well as the northern flank and summit of Lhotse. You will leave Gorak Shep early to reach Kala Patther before the clouds roll in. On a typical Everest Base Camp trek, Kala Patther will be the highest altitude you will reach. It is also home to the worlds highest webcam – Mount Everest Webcam. From Kala Patther you then descend all the way back to Dingboche (4,360 meters)
Trek from Dingboche (4,360 meters) to Namche (3,440 meters) via the rhododendron forests around Tengboche.
Trek from Namche (3,440 meters) all the way back to Lukla (2,800 meters) – a long and tiring walk to finish what is an incredible Himalaya trek.
Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu
Here is an altitude profile chart for a typical Everest Base Camp trek.
The Gokyo Lakes or Gokyo Ri Trek is a fantastic variation on the Everest Base Trek. The route begins in Lukla and follows the traditional EBC trek itinerary for the first three days up to Namche Bazaar. Here it veers off to the North-west via the towns of Dole and Machemo, up to the stunningly beautiful Gokyo Lakes. The trail then ascends Gokyo Ri (5,483 meters) and traverses Cho La Pass (5,420 meters) before joining back up with the classic base camp trek at Lobuche.
The variation adds 2-3 days to an average Everest Base Camp trek but provides an excellent opportunity to avoid the crowds on the busy everest trail, as well as gives one the opportunity to trek up and down on different routes.
Read more about the Gokyo Lakes Trek here.
The Chhukhung Valley sits east of Dingboche and provides an alternative and longer passage to Lobuche than the traditional Everest Base Camp trail. Trekkers stay a night in Chhukhung (4,730 meters) before returning to Lobuche via Kongma La Pass (5,535 meters) – see map above.
Island Peak is one of Nepal’s 33 trekking peaks. Standing at 6,189 meters, Island Peak is a real challenge in terms of altitude, but only requires beginner level climbing skills (you will need to be comfortable with ice axes and crampons though). Most climbers use the traditional Everest Base Camp trek to acclimatise for Island Peak. Returning from Everest Base Camp you can either trek to Cchukhung via Dingboche from Lobuche or veer South-east from Lobuche traversing the Kongma La Pass to Cchukhung (4,730 meters). From here you can trek to Island Peak Base Camp (5,120 meters) in preparation for their trek / climb up to Island Peaks summit. The summit typically takes 2 days and the total trip, including Everest Base Camo, between 18-20 days.
Read about climbing Island Peak here.
A great video overview of the Everest Base Camp Trek by Gareth Leonard. It’s just under 7 minutes long and worth every minute.
The classic trail itself is well-worn, but there are many smaller yak trails that can confuse people.
We recommend taking a detailed trekking map. The region is sparse and it is possible to get lost in the many valleys that lie on either side of the main trail. The most recent Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya provides the most up to date information and maps of the region.
Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons’s book: A Trekking Guide to Everest is also rather good.
For a more general guide to Nepal you may want to check out the Nepal Lonely Planet Travel Guide.
Like many treks in Nepal, there are three ways you can plan your Everest Base Camp trek. For a detailed breakdown on the cost of an Everest Base Trek, see our Everest Base Camp Trek Cost article.
1. Independent trekking: Here you organise your trek. You will need to get yourself from Kathmandu to Lukla (a flight is the fastest and easiest; there are buses but these are rather unpleasant). You can employ the services of a porter or guide in Lukla or indeed in Namche, but it is important to note that as an independent trekker it is illegal to use a guide or porter that is not licensed as a trekking agent through TAAN, or affiliated with a licensed trekking agent. You will need a Green TIMS card (costing NPR 2,000), money to buy food and water, a reliable and accurate map, and negotiations skills to book teahouse accommodation. Estimated cost for an independent trek excluding flights: $500-$800
2. Local tour operator: There are many local tour operators in Kathmandu who organise guided Everest Base Camp treks. Generally local operators are quite good. You will join a group of trekkers (up to 15 people) and have a team of porters, assistant guides and lead guides (who can speak English) of a similar size to the trekking group. It is important to check that your local operator is a licensed trekking agent. We recommend shopping around and asking for recommendations from other trekkers. The cheap local operators tend to be the least reliable, often only providing tent accommodation or access to old and poorly run teahouses. Their ethical standards towards staff and the local environment may not be to the highest standard as well. Estimated cost for an Everest Base Camp trek organised by a local tour operator: $700-$2,000.
3. Western run / operated tours: There are many Western run companies that offer Everest Base Camp treks. Most of these Western companies have their own ground teams or strong relationships with the best local tour operators who they outsource their on-the-ground operation to, whilst managing the overall tour experience. The best Western companies own their on-the-ground operations. Expect a well run tour with either a Western guide or a very well trained local guide who understands the subtle service nuances expected of a Western trekker. Estimated cost for an Everest Base Camp trek organised by a Western run tour operator: $1,200-3,000.
A fourth option of joining a Everest climbing expedition is also possible. Major climbing operators like Adventure Consultants, Jagged Globe or Alpine Ascents usually offer Everest Base Camp trekking spaces on their Everest climbing expeditions. Securing a trekking space a can be a little pricey but offers one an incredible insight into an Everest expedition as well as the chance to spend a night or two at Everest Base Camp.
Yes, there are two permits you require for standard treks from Lukla to EBC. They are:
1. Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS Card)
TIMS cards are issued by the Tourism Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN). There are three different types:
2. Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit (USD 30 + 13% Govt. Tax)
The Sagarmatha National Park or Solukhumbu is the region through which the EBC trek runs. A National park entry permit is required to enter Sagarmatha. Permits can be acquired at the first checkpoint along the route, north of Lukla called Monjo. The cost is US$30 + 13% tax for trekkers using a trek operator or agency, as well as for independent trekkers. Permits can also be acquired in Kathmandu, but we recommend getting it in Monjo as it is more straightforward.
For treks from Jiri to Everest Base Camp, there is another permit required called the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Project permit. It costs US$20 (no discount for independent trekkers or SAAEC nationals). The checkpoint is at at Shivalaya (just after Jiri). We recommend getting the permit in Kathmandu before departing as the cost is double if they have to issue the permit in Shivalaya.
As a rule of thumb we recommend bringing at least 4 passport size photographs for all your permit requirements.
The best time to trek Everest Base Camp is during the dry and warm months of September through November of March through late May / Early June.
The monsoon rains arrive in mid-late June and get into full swing for the months of July and August (as seen in the average rainfall map below). The route is really too wet for trekking and you would be better placed to explore treks in rain shadow areas like the Upper Manang, Mustang, Annapurna or Dolpo region.
December, January and early February are very cold. Treks run during these periods but be prepared for freezing temperatures and possible snow flurries. The upside is that the route is a lot quieter than in the peak seasons.
The chart shows average temperatures and rainfall in Nepal (data from 1960-1990 compliments of the Climate Change Knowledge Portal at the World Bank)
An Everest Base Camp trek takes one from a moderately high altitude, 2,800 meters in Lukla, to high altitude, over 5,300 meters at Everest Base Camp and over 5,500 meters at Kala Patthar. At these higher altitudes the body needs to have acclimatised to the lower saturation of oxygen in the air in order to avoid the symptoms of altitude sickness (or what is sometimes referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness – AMS).
The good news is that a typical Everest Base Camp trek has a slow ascent profile which maximises the amount of time available to acclimatise. Nonetheless, every year 100s of people suffer altitude sickness symptoms and some need to cut their trek short due to more severe complications.
We highly recommend you take some time to read our guidance on Acclimatisation and Altitude Sickness in Nepal.
Firstly, it should be noted that the Everest Base Camp trek requires no climbing expertise and there are certainly no technical climbing sections. With determination and a basic fitness level, you should be able to trek the route. We have seen old and young, overweight and underweight complete the trek – all with a smile on their face!
With that being said, there are certainly some factors that should be considered prior to your trek, such as altitude, length and training that will enable you to better understand what you are getting yourself into before deciding.
See our detailed article on Everest Base Camp Difficulty here.
One of the most frequent questions that we get asked is what gear should be packed for an Everest Base Camp trek.
To make your life a lot easier we have written a very detailed Everest Base Camp packing list article. The list is fairly exhaustive but includes all the absolutely necessary items of clothing and outdoor gear that you should bring with you.
You will have the opportunity to either buy or rent gear in Kathmandu, Lukla or even in Namche Bazaar, but in general we recommend you bring with you the main items (i.e. hiking daypack, hiking boots, warm down jacket, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, trekking poles, appropriate trekking clothes, headgear and headlamp and gloves etc.)
Trekking Everest Base Camp comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel and trekking insurance for all treks in Nepal.
On the Everest Base Camp trek you will reach a maximum altitude of 5,416 meters, so it is important you choose an insurance package that covers you up to that altitude.
In our detailed trekking insurance article you will find the key things you need to consider in terms of travel and trekking insurance, as well as a useful insurance calculator which provides an immediate quote based on your country of origin and period of travel.