Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Self Guided

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Are you thinking of hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp? THINK NO FURTHER.

You may have seen that we have officially made it to Mount Everest Base Camp, what a great feeling to finally be able to say that! It’s an incredible experience to say the least.

In this blog, I am going to give you the ULTIMATE run down on what you need, best route, whether to do the trek guided or by yourself and what to expect. I hope this helps you out, please leave us a comment below if it does.

Skip to:

Route  | Apps | Budget | Cash | Accommodation | Toilets | Showers | Food | Guide or no guide | Staying Connected | Altitude Sickness | What to take | Shoes | Top Tips

Route

Okay so here is a full break down of the route we took. You can change the route a fair bit as there are tea houses in every village on your way up and down. But the route we took is fairly popular.

Kathmandu to Lukla – you fly to Lukla from Kathmandu which takes about 30 mins. 

Lukla to Phakding – Day 1:  3 hour walk from the airport.

Phakding to Namche Bazaar – Day 2:  8 hour walk – one of the hardest days of the trek… If you can complete this day you’ll be fairly prepared for the rest. Side note: Once you enter the national park, there isn’t anywhere else to eat until Namche, so once you are in the next village after the entrance, grab lunch. 

Namche Bazaar – Day 3: Climatisation day. Hike to Mount View hotel, it’s about 400m higher than Namche Bazaar. It’s so important you do this to help avoid altitude sickness.

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche – Day 4: About 5.5 hours of walking. The day starts nice, then you have to go down 500m and back up 500m through the forest, this is another hard day but not as bad as day 2.

Tengboche to Pheriche – Day 5: 6 hour trek. 

Pheriche – Day 6: Climatisation day. When you are here walk to the viewpoint on maps.me. It’s up a few steep hills but there’s some amazing views up there.

Pheriche to Lobuche – Day 7: 5 hours today. Another pretty tough day, but you are almost there!

Lobuche to Gorakshep – Day 8: ITS BASECAMP DAY. It will take you about 3 hours to get to Gorakshep & then the hard part is all over! The walk to Everest base camp takes 1-2 hours but is nothing like the walk you have already done. You will find it a breeze!

Gorakshep to Pengboche – Day 9: Around 8 hours of walking, not the most common route on the way down but we wanted to cover as much as possible. It’s about 20 km but mostly downhill.

Pengboche to Namche Bazaar – Day 10: 6 hours today, time for another beer in the world’s highest Irish bar.

Namche Bazaar to Lukla – Day 11: 8 hours and a really hard day BUT you have just completed a 130 km trek to and from Everest Base Camp. Congratulations!

Apps

Maps.me – You need to download the app and download the area you are trekking before you start the trek. This app is a lifesaver anywhere in the world.
Currency converter – you can use it offline so you’ll be able to check prices quickly.
Spotify/music apps – will help you out with walking for sure!
All Trails – Another great hiking app.

Budget

The amount you spend daily during the ebc trek, is entirely up to you. Accommodation is the cheapest thing ranging from 500-700 (£3.50-£5) per room per night.

Meals range from 500-1000 (£3.50-£7). Note that the meals are quite big, so you can share with someone and still be pretty full. This is what we have done the higher we have gone.

The price to and from Lukla is approx $135 USD (£108)  each way. This is the most expensive thing we have had to pay.

You need 2 permits (which you can get either at the beginning of the trek in Lukla, or before you enter the national parks). One costs 2000 (£14) and the other 3000 (£21).

Charging costs! If you want to charge your phone most places charge per hour, this ranges from 200-400 (£1.40 – £2.80) the higher you get. For a full charge on a power bank, it can cost up to 2000 (£14).

Showers cost! Baby wipes will become your best friend! If your travelling as a couple you can get away with sharing a shower for 500 in some places.

In total we have spent approx 2500 – 3000 NPR (£17 – £21) per day per person, not with the strictest budget but being careful with spending.

Cash

Cash is one of the most important things throughout this trip. You can get cash out up until Namche Bazaar, after that there are no ATMs and if you get stuck you’ll be paying 15% extra for cashback.

Throughout Nepal, the charge for taking cash out is 500 rupees (£3.50) and a lot of ATMs only let you take 10,000 (£70) per transaction, so check out a few ATMs to see where you can get more and pay fewer fees. This is the same when you are trekking to Everest Base Camp.

The more cash you have with you the better. You can pay by card in some areas but the card readers aren’t always connected so you need to be more prepared than we were. The card transactions cost 5-6% extra. I’d recommend having 40,000 rupees in cash per person.

Any money you have leftover from the trip make sure you get changed back into your currency before leaving Nepal, as you can’t change Nepali rupees anywhere else in the world.

A side note about cash… please be careful and check your accounts after. We went into a bank because there were issues taking money out in Lukla, and they charged us twice but the second transaction was after we’d flown back to Kathmandu.

Accommodation

Accommodation to and from Everest Base Camp is not bad. I mean, it’s not luxury by any means but it’s fine. Make sure you rent a sleeping bag from Kathmandu and have your own sleeping bag liner to go inside, and you’ll be sweet.

Most of the accommodation is in tea houses. Normally 2 single beds (you can push them together easily if you want to). Depending on how far into the season you are trekking will depend on how clean the sheets are. We finished our trek at the start of the season so the sheets were clean until we got to Gorakshep. We had our sleeping bags though so wasn’t too much of an issue.

The rooms in the tea houses are 500-700NPR (£3.50-£5). 1000NPR (£7) will get you a room with a bathroom in it.

I will recommend 2 tea houses, one in Pengboche called Buddha lodge. & Another in Namche called Footrest. They were pretty clean and offered free charging for us. Most of the tea houses are very similar but don’t usually offer free charging.

Toilets

Toilets, always an interesting topic. Try to use the toilets at the tea houses and where you stop for lunch… Otherwise, you may find yourself behind a rock in the nature …
The toilets in the tea houses are normally western toilets, where you stop for lunch and whilst on the trek, you will find squat toilets or you may have to just embrace the outside.

Make sure you take your own toilet paper from Kathmandu. The higher up the mountain you go the more expensive it is to buy. We had to buy some on the way which cost about £3.50. Higher than that can cost up to £5. If this isn’t an issue for you then don’t worry, but if you are on a budget like we are, stock up before you leave.

Showers

Everyone loves a hot shower after a day of sweating right?? But at £3.50-£7 a go you’ll start to go a few days without one . Don’t worry, we are all in the same boat. Make sure you take plenty of baby wipes with you and have a shower every few days.

We were washing our underwear in the shower too. Side note: you can get laundry done in Namche but it’s expensive. You’ll pay around £10 for a kilo of washing, maybe even more. So wearing dirty clothes will happen.

Food

Dal bhat will be your best value for money. Dal bhat is a vegetarian curry, lentil soup, rice and poppadoms… It’s also all refillable at no extra cost. So you’ll pay around 700 rupees and can get 3 or 4 servings of it for free. The best option for your lunch.

The local guides have a saying ‘dal bhat power, 24 hour’ meaning it will give you enough energy for the rest of the day and it’s delicious.

If you are a meat eater, I and the local guides, strongly recommend not eating meat on your way up to base camp, here’s why…

The meat is ported up (carried by a porter on their back) through the sun, rain, you get the picture. The porters walked passed us with it and it smelt really off. Like hot raw flesh? If I can paint a picture here .

We don’t eat meat anyway but we saw a guide tell a westerner to change their order and not to eat the meat. Saying that, we’ve met other people who have eaten it and they have been okay. Everyone’s different but you’ll be avoiding food poisoning for sure if you just eat veggie whilst trekking up to Everest base camp.

Guide/No Guide

Guide or no guide?

Okay, this is totally your preference. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. A guide will help you and give you a proper structure to your trip. They will pre book your accommodation which is a huge bonus in high season. Some packages include your food as well so you don’t need to worry about taking loads of money. Some tour companies include a porter, so you won’t have to carry a heavy bag, someone else will carry it for you. Also if you fall ill, having a local to arrange an emergency chopper flight for you is also a huge bonus.

Having a guide does give you the security that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make sure you are okay at all times and someone who keeps a close eye on your general well being. As a local they have plenty of experience in the mountains and can spot the early signs of altitude sickness. If you are going solo, and/or are really nervous about the trek, then a guide would be a really good idea.

A guide will cost approx $25 USD per day, just for the guide. The rest of the price depends on whether you get food included or accomodation or both? Also if you have a porter, that will bump the price up too, and some tour companies include your flights from your home country and from Kathmandu to Lukla & back.

Self Guided

We did the trek alone, without a guide and didn’t have any issues whatsoever. The reason we decided not to have a guide for the most part was: budget, privacy, and not feeling pressured. As you may know already, it’s not a secret that I HATE WALKING. Haha. So the thought of having someone there who is kind of pushing you along and trying to get you places for certain dates/times, was just a bit too structured for me. I wanted the flexibility of being able to stay wherever, whenever. In saying this though, for some people this is exactly what they want. Everyone is different. If we had any questions throughout the trip we asked other guides or locals we walked passed and they were more than happy to help us. 

Staying Connected

It’s something a lot of us ask, how am I going to keep in contact with my friends, family, updating instagram, you get the picture. So staying connected up the Himalayan mountains isn’t as much of a problem as first thought. 

Option 1: Get a sim card. You can pick up a 16gb sim card from Kathmandu for about £10. This will keep you connected pretty much until you get to Everest base camp. There are 3 places though on your way up where you wont get any data connection and that is, Pheriche/Dingboche and Lobuche. When you get to Gorakshep (the final stop) you will get data, even on Mount Everest Base Camp you will get connected… crazy right?

Option 2: Buy an Everest Link internet package. This costs about £14 and means you can connect to every tea house’s wifi on the way up. Although, I am pretty sure, the places we couldn’t connect to data, people also couldn’t connect to the wifi, so it’s probably still better getting a sim card in Kathmandu.

Altitude Sickness

This is a really tender subject at the moment. When we arrived back in Lukla the weather was so bad no helicopters or airplanes could take off or land at Lukla airport for 8 days. Meaning that people that had fallen sick doing the Everest Base Camp trek, and had died. 5 people in total, whilst we were waiting in Lukla, passed away within 5 days.

I don’t want to scare you, but altitude sickness is so much more serious than you could imagine. We didn’t even realise, until we heard the awful news of people, both young and old, passing away when we were back in Lukla. The youngest was a girl in her 20s, and the oldest I believe was 49.

It is rare, that the helicopters can’t fly due to bad weather. We did the trek just as the high season was starting, which is when clouds are more common. During the peak of the high seasons, although its colder, the skies are much clearer… The peak seasons are from late September to December and March to May. We completed the trek mid September. 

Symptoms you need to look out for are:

Headaches – The locals and guides said if the headache is at the back of your head, it’s altitude caused, but if it’s at the front, it’s not.
Difficulty sleeping.
Dizziness or being lightheaded.
Fatigue.
Headache.
Loss of appetite.
Nausea or vomiting.
Rapid heart rate
Shortness of breath
Chances are, you will have a few of these symptoms, but if you start feeling really uneasy, speak to a local or guide for advice and if it’s best to stop, stop. It is seriously not worth risking.

It’s hard to avoid altitude sickness, and you are never going to know what your body is really like until you start this trek. Take each day as it comes and listen to your body.  If you don’t have a guide, your tea house will be able to arrange a chopper for you. Drink more than enough water and make sure you do the extra climatisation treks.

What to take

A few top tips for anyone doing the trek are: Don’t bring anything cotton, they will get sweaty and won’t dry in the cold weather. Pack as lightly as you can taking the bare minimum. Don’t worry about having smelly clothes, everyone is in the same boat and you’ll be a million times more comfortable with a lighter backpack.

Clothes:
Female

3/4 pairs of comfy underwear (I took thongs which are good and bad, good for drying out quickly when you wash them, but my bum cheeks were cold 90% of the time hahah)
1 breathable t-shirt
Hiking trousers – I got mine in Kathmandu, the bottom of the trousers zip off so they can be shorts or trousers (if you unzip them you can tuck the bottom parts into your socks to save taking your shoes off to take them off)
1 sports bra
3/4 pairs of merino wool socks – these socks are amazing, they don’t hold sweat or water so stay fresher for longer and dry quickly.
Waterproof Jacket – try get a jacket that is slightly warm too, not just a really thin pack-a-mac.
Jumper – I packed a hoodie, but wished I packed a fleece/sports jumper as its easier to layer.
A ‘dry’ outfit – I had one outfit I wore every evening. Once we finished trekking we either showered or baby wipe ‘washed’ and then put our dry clean outfit on. This included a long sleeve thermal top, sport leggings and a bralet.
1 thick scarf/blanket – we got these in the north of India and they were amazing. 

Male

3 pairs of quick drying pants
2 sports t shirts
1 long sleeve sports t-shirt
1 thin fleece jumper/sweater
1 thermal sport leggings
1 gym shorts
1 thin tracksuit bottoms
1 waterproof jacket
3/4 pairs of merino wool socks
1 thick scarf/blanket – amazing for the evenings.

Equipment/other bits

Sunglasses – make sure these are either polarized or propper UV protective, not fake Ray Bans, you want proper protective sunnies.
Hat – we had caps in the day and wooly hats in the evening
Sleeping bag – you can easily rent a sleeping bag for 100 rupees per day, they normally take a deposit of like 8000 and deduct your total bill when you return it. Make sure you get one that can go up to -20, as a lot of them aren’t genuine its better to go for higher and always be warm.
Sleeping bag liner – for inside the sleeping bag as they aren’t always clean.
Water bottle – you can fill your bottle up basically anywhere and you just need to add a purification tablet to each litre of water. 
Dry bag – if it start tipping it down, you can protect your electronics.
Waterproof bag cover
Hiking sticks – we had 1 each but if we were to do it again, I’d get 2 sticks – we borrowed these from our hotel so you may not need to buy them.
Gloves – waterproof are better but we made do with wind stopping ones, they were fine. 
Speaker – This was a god send and really helped get us going
Head torch – not everywhere has lights at night so grab yourself one of these!
Cameras – Do not take a drone, they are banned in the national park.
Solar panel –  to charge a power bank
Power bank – this needs to be a decent, quick charging bank

Medication

Diamox – Altitude sickness pills, although have really rubbish side effects, so only take them if you really feel you need to. 
Electrolytes – These come in for many things! You sweat a lot on the trek, so these really help rehydrate you. If you get a bad stomach or food poisoning, again these are great.
Charcoal pills – if you have a dodgy stomach. Any ‘bad stomach’ pills would be fine.
Water purification pills – Not medication but you’ll need these so you can drink water on the trek. Save money and using plastic. 
Paracetamol/Ibuprofen – The only thing we both took, we had one each when we started getting a headache and was fine after that!

 

Shoes

Shoes are without a doubt one of the most important part of your trek. I know when we were deciding on shoes we had so many questions! Boots? Trainers? Price?

We both decided on different things and here’s why:
I chose the Asics Gel-Sonoma 3 G-TX trail runners with arch support. I have flat feet so arch support is even more important for me. In my mind I was thinking that, because we are travelling around & not just going to Nepal to do the trek, I needed a ‘suit all needs’ kind of shoe, so I tried on boots and trainers (boots being more comfy for sure) but because of the nature of our trip, I went with the trainers.

Sam went with Inov8 Roclite 325 GTX, which are like high top trail runners, very similar to mine but with extra ankle support. Probably your ideal ‘meet in the middle’ choice. 

Both of us were happy with our choice throughout the trek and even now the trek has finished. If you are going to Nepal and home again straight after the trek, I would suggest looking in to getting actual hiking boots because you do get the extra support, however if your planning to travel more or if you think you’ll only use the boots once, get trainers. Just make sure they are extremely waterproof or advertise having a Gore Tex structure (Gore Tex also keep your feet warm).

Top Tips

1 – Take your time, I really mean this, there is no rush.
2 – Eat plenty – Big breakfasts are the one!
3 – Water is life, drink 3-4l per day
4 – Use a bum bag
5 – Keep an eye on your body temperature, you don’t want to sweat too much and dehydrate
6 – Don’t drink alcohol on your way up (a beer in Namche is fine but don’t go wild, high altitude and beer is just not a good idea – Sam will tell ya)
7 – Start your day fairly early so you have plenty of rest time and you’re not trekking at the hottest time of the day.
8 –  Hiking poles are such a help, especially going up.
9 –  Take loads of pics!
10 – Enjoy! You’ll feel crap sometimes and think ‘why am I doing this’, but it will be worth it and you will feel soo accomplished.

Thanks for reading!

If you are heading to Nepal to conquer the ALMIGHTY Mount Everest Base Camp trek or if you found this blog useful, leave us a comment below!

Peace & Love as always!
Lozza 

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