Our ultimate guide in how to prepare for Everest Base Camp will have you covered: When is the best time to go trekking, do you actually need climbing experience, where to buy trekking gear and what are the daily costs are just a few of the things you need to be aware of before heading to the base of the highest mountain in the world.
Best Time to Trek Everest Base Camp
If you are brave enough to face the freezing nights and morning walks, choose to hike in November and you will not regret it. From day 1; all the way from Lukla to Everest Base Camp, we had the most beautiful, crystal clear weather. The views of the Himalayas are superb and would be a shame not to see it in fully.
We know people that have trekked in April/May and September/ October. While some had fantastic views, others not so great. But we had the best weather imaginable. According to travel books, the best time to go trekking is during the dry season, from October to May, and the “worst” time is from June to September, during the monsoon.
Let me break it into sections:
October and November: is the best time to go trekking for good views of the mountains but is also the busiest time. However, even trekking independently, we never had issues with accommodation.
December, January and February: Superb visibility but the freezing temperatures during the day at higher altitudes it’s not for everyone. The use of crampons in some of the passes are recommended.
March to April: This is the second-best season to go, temperatures are warmer but the chances of hazy visibility are high.
May to September – Although this is officially the lowest season to go trekking due to the heavy rains (monsoon), some trekkers choose this time of the year due to fewer people on the trails.
Everest Base Camp Preparation
Do we need to be super fit? Is training beforehand necessary? How many years of climbing experience do we need?
These were the questions we typed several times even before agreeing on trekking to Everest Base Camp. Now, after finishing it we are definitely able to answer these questions: No. No. None!
Let me explain.
Although being reasonably fit will help, people don’t have to have ran marathons and finished the Iron Man challenge! I am not into fitness at all, and definitely not into exercise, and I managed to do it.
From the teenager to the elderly, from the overweight to the super fit…we saw it all. And because we had read about it, we thought “Well, anyone else can, why can’t we?” I remember at dinner time looking around the teahouse, observing everyone and asking Thomas: “So every single person here is super fit, a marathoner or a gym fanatic?”. Nope, I don’t think so.
After all it’s not about training or actually being fit, it’s about being mentally capable of facing challenges and maybe having a Porter to carry your backpacks.
As for climbing experience, this one is a big round ZERO. Unless people are summiting different peaks like Ama Dablam, Island Peak, or obviously Mount Everest itself. Trekking to Everest Base Camp is a walk and we never had to climb at any point
Trekking Gear in Kathmandu
Thamel is an area west side of Kathmandu where the majority of people stay and spend time indulging in western food and buying their trekking gear. Overwhelmed with the variety on offer, searching for trekking gear can be a daunting task. Some shops sell poor quality equipment/gear and the prices are ridiculously high. Because we knew that we wanted to keep our things, we bought majority of our clothes and equipment.
Read our Packing List for Everest Base Camp article.
Also, as we stayed in Nepal for over a month before our trek, we followed our friend’s advice, who happens to be a Sherpa and has connections on a shop owned by a Sherpa family. The owner has been to Everest Base Camp hundreds of times as a Guide and has been as far as Camp 4, the last camp side before the Summit of Mount Everest. The shop is called Ama Dablum Trek Shop, located in Jyatha (North side of Thamel, next to Hotel White Rose).
Other recommendation would be KEEP’s office (Kathmandu Environment Education Project), the Manager is very helpful and is happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding Everest Base Camp, all free of charge! They also sell some second-hand maps, trekking poles, water bottles (non filtered).
How to get to Lukla
For people absolutely terrified of small airplanes and not wanting to face Lukla airport, one of the most dangerous in the world due to its short uphill runway leading to an abyss, the only option is to walk! For that, apart from the huge savings on the flight (USD$340/GBP£265), return per person), people must add an extra 3-4 days to reach Lukla by foot. Buses leave City Bus Station in Kathmandu very early in the morning towards Jiri. We did consider at least taking one flight, instead of two, but adding the extra four days would be too much. And now having come back from the trek I can honestly say thank goodness we didn’t consider the walking-option.
The flight to Lukla
We were both very excited to be taking the flight. Although researching about it on Google and Youtube didn’t help, because the horror stories are enough to give you nightmares. But guess what? We had the smoothest flight ever! The views of the Himalayas were superb (recommendations to sit on the left side), the weather was beautiful, no wind and no clouds. Better than that is impossible!
Necessary documents to Trek Everest Base Camp
The information below is regarding trekking to Everest Base Camp from Lukla ONLY. Other routes, please contact Nepal Tourism Board.
Anyone trekking in Solukhumbu, Everest region, all the way to Everest Base Camp need to obtain two different documents:
T.I.M.S – Trekker’s Information Management System (Registration Card for Individual Trekkers)
National Park/Reserve Permit – Entry Fee for trekking through Sagarmatha National Park
There are two ways of getting both documents; giving all the information to the Guide/Agency and they will sort it out (this option will cost Rs1000/USD$10/GBP£7) or like us, if you are trekking independently, just go to Nepal Tourism Board (located near the City Hall) and get them on the same day at no extra charge.
Nepal Tourism Board
The office hours are between 9am-7pm. They will provide the registration form and a pen.
- Passport & Nepali Visa
- 2 Pictures
- Trek Entry/Exit Point
- Route of Trekking
- Emergency Contact Details:
Contact in Nepal – Guesthouse/Agency
Contact in home country – Family/Friend
- Insurance Policy Number & Medical Emergency Contact
Cost per person: Rs2000/USD$20/GBP£15
The office hours are between 10am-2pm.
Passport & Nepali Visa
Cost per person: Rs3390/USD$30/GBP£25
On our backpacks, we had each a folder with the following documentation:
- Passport/Nepali Visa photocopies
- Insurance details (Insurance Policy Number & Medical Emergency telephone number)
- Trekking Route
- Emergency Contact Details in Kathmandu
- Flight Details
- Everest Region Map
Travel Insurance for High Altitude
We never travel without travel insurance, and no one should. If doesn’t matter how careful you are, accidents do happen. And it’s better safe than sorry.
Forking out an extra hundred pounds each wasn’t ideal but was the only option to have us thinking that regardless what could happen at 5,000 meters of altitude, our insurance would have us covered.
Unfortunately, trekking at high altitudes was not included in the existing policy, so we had to add the following – Level 3 – Trekking up to 6,000 meters on recognised routes (UK Citizens or Residents only).
How Much Money do I need?
Unfortunately, we failed miserably in this section. Budgeting went terribly wrong and nearly had us turning back half way to Everest Base Camp.
As we chose to trek independently, food, accommodation and other extras had to be paid as we went along. The average daily cost per person is Rs1500-2000 (USD$15/GBP£10).
Note: The ATM’s in Kathmandu allow only withdraws up to Rs35,000 (USD$320/GBP£250), a day. So, in case you need withdraw more money, we suggest doing it a few days in advance.
Read our article: How Much Does Trekking to Everest Base Camp Cost
What are the Trekking Options?
Organised Tour/Guide/Porter or Independently
The information below is based on our own experience and from the people we met during our trek.
There are many reasons why we chose to trek to Everest Base Camp, but the fact we could do it independently was amongst one of them.
During our travels, we can actually count the number of times we joined tours. Why? Because we prefer it that way: no schedules or time limit, no waiting for people or having people waiting for us and most important of all, flexibility.
After reading about the trek and knowing it was going to be challenging, there was no way we were going to make people wait for us or having Guides telling us to walk faster. We wanted to it but on our terms.
One of the issues that majority of trekkers have during the trek is Altitude Sickness, and that can occur if the person ascends too fast and the body does not acclimatise properly. And ironically, the people that often suffers from Altitude Sickness are the ones that trek on a group. Which in my view happens because people join these massive groups, and everyone on it have different fitness levels. There is always the one person that is left behind and tries to push harder to make it on time. That person, would have been me.
Having a Guide, from our view now that we have finished it, it’s not necessary because it’s nearly impossible to get lost. From the people we spoke with, the Guide will tell you more about the history about Everest and the name of the Peaks, will lead the way, but ultimately it is up to him to choose your accommodation. The positive side about hiring one is that you don’t have to worry much about money, because the money agreed back in Kathmandu will cover the food and accommodation.
As per having a Porter, even though we have done it independently and are very proud of our achievement, if I had to go back I would consider hiring one. Having someone carrying your backpack must be amazing and the people that had one walked so much faster!
Regardless which option you chose, below are some suggestions:
Tours – If not sure about your fitness level and who’s in the group, choosing a smaller group, 4-6 people, might be better.
Guide/Porter – Meet with the Guide before going on the trek and agree on the route. Meeting him on the day might be a disaster, some people hated their Guides. Also, it is important that he speaks your language, or at least have a good understanding of English. Please DON’T treat your Guide as your servant! It was awful seeing some people demanding this and that at the teahouses, and we even saw a Guide pouring sugar on the client’s tea. If hiring a Porter make sure if from a reputable agency either in Kathmandu or Everest region. The last thing you want to never see your backpack again! A Guide can cost up to USD30/GBP£25 and a Porter USD20/GBP£15 per day.
Independently – Do your homework: route, where to stop, acclimatisation days and make sure to bring more money than you need! When in doubt, ask. We met lovely people along the trek and had tons of good advice for the best guesthouses, food, etc. Trekking independently does not mean you are alone, at all. There are so many other people doing the same. For us, this option worked out much better because we walked at our own pace, chose our rest days when we wanted, chose our guesthouses and ended it up until meet a lot more people than people that were in their own groups.
Further reading: Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya (Travel Guide) is a complete and all-inclusive guide for those wanting to experience and explore Trekking in the Himalaya. We strongly recommend reading this guide as it helped us planning our own trip. Happy Travels!