Did you know that you don’t have to be a professional mountaineer to see Mount Everest? Here are various ways to get to Everest Base Camp.
Mount Everest has drawn the interest of adventure travelers since it became known as the world’s tallest mountain. Legendary mountaineers such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay have put the beast of a mountain on the map. Ever since, a string of adventurers have followed in their footsteps to conquer the summit of the world’s highest mountain.
These days, you don’t need to be a professional alpinist or mountaineer in order to experience what it’s like to be on Mount Everest. The Everest Base Camp has become an achievable goal for many — especially on the Tibetan side where a road leads all the way to the base camp. This guide will show you how you can get to the Everest Base Camp.
Table of Contents
- Everest Base Camp
- Mount Everest: World’s Tallest Mountain
- The Dangers of Mount Everest
- Visiting Everest Base Camp
- How Accessible is Everest Base Camp?
- Everest Base Camp in Nepal vs Tibet
- Nepal: South Base Camp
- Tibet: North Base Camp
- Comparing Everest Base Camp: Tibet vs Nepal
- Combining Tibet & Nepal in 1 Trip
- Things to Know Before Visiting Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest: World’s Tallest Mountain
Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain, with its peak at 29,029 ft (8.848m) above sea level. Located in the Himalayas Mountain range, the mountain straddles the border of Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
In Nepal, the mountain is known as Sagarmatha; in Tibet, it has the sacred name of Chomolungma. The rest of the world knows it as Mount Everest, a name given by the Royal Geographical Society. They named the mountain after Sir George Everest, a British geographer who served as the Surveyor General of India.
The Dangers of Mount Everest
Mount Everest attracts many experienced mountaineers from all over the world. There are two main climbing routes, one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal (known as the “standard route”) and the other from the north in Tibet.
Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, extreme weather, and wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu icefall. As of 2017, nearly 300 people have died on Everest, many of whose bodies remain on the mountain.
Visiting Everest Base Camp
There are several base camps on the climb up to Mount Everest. They have always acted as rest steps for mountaineers reaching the world’s highest mountain.
“Everest Base Camp” generally refers to Camp 1, which is the lowest camp and is the one that’s accessible by most travelers and avid hikers. Beyond that, only professional mountaineers with years of experience can venture further and attempt to climb to the summit.
How Accessible is Everest Base Camp?
Everest Base Camp, as its name implies, is no where near the summit of Mount Everest, but it’s still close enough. Since the Chinese built a fully-paved road to Everest Base Camp in Tibet, it is accessible to almost anyone, including the handicapped. You don’t need any sort of fitness level to get there. However, Tibet travel isn’t easy as independent travel is not allowed and you do need to book an organised tour to visit the region.
But if you are doing the Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal, then you’ll need to have some trekking experience and a certain level of fitness. It is achievable for most people. According to the records, the oldest person who has reached Everest Base Camp is 80 years old and the youngest is just four! That said, it is not a walk in the park and many people suffer from bronchitis or broken ribs during the trek.
Everest Base Camp in Nepal vs Tibet
There are two base camps: one on opposite sides of Mount Everest.
South Base Camp is in Nepal, standing at an altitude of 17,598 ft (5364m).
North Base is located in Tibet at 16,900 ft (5150m).
These camps are rudimentary campsites on Mount Everest that are used by mountain climbers during their ascent and descent. Here we’ll compare how difficult/easy it is to get to each of the base camps.
Nepal: South Base Camp
The South Base Camp in Nepal is the most popular option, despite the long trek to get there. The 130km round-trip Base Camp trek is a popular addition to many people’s Nepal itinerary. Most people take nine days to trek and spend three days acclimatizing.
There is also the danger of the Khumbu icefall that is above the Base Camp, where a portion of the glacier collapses every now and then.
How to Get to South Base Camp
To get to South Base Camp, most people fly from Kathmanu to Lukla Airport, rated as the most dangerous airport in the world. High winds, cloud cover and changing visibility make it very difficult to successfully land at the airport.
From there, most people start their climb to South Base Camp. Trekkers tend to walk around three to six miles everyday and have rest days in between to acclimatize to the high altitude. Namche Bazaar is a popular stop for acclimatisation. The trekking route is well marked and there are plenty of guest houses along the way.
Trekking to South Base Camp
At the moment, it is still possible to trek independently to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The Nepal government is considering making the hiring of a guide compulsory this season, after the disappearances of some trekkers and the death of a Belgian trekker in June 2012.
There is the option of heading to Lukla yourself and then hiring a guide there. Hiring a guide or porter has many advantages: for US$10 to $20 a day you’re giving someone a valuable job and in turn you will learn plenty about the local culture and natural environment.
A trekking company offers the advantage of having everything arranged for you, including airport transfers, accommodation and porters and/or guides and their insurance. You’ll pay significantly less by booking in Kathmandu – ensure they’re registered with the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).
Check out 15-day G Adventures’ Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. The trip includes internal flights, experienced guides and porters, and accommodation. I have traveled with G Adventures on 10 trips and highly recommend them!
Itinerary for Everest Base Camp, Nepal
- Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu where you will spend the night.
- Day 2: Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, then walk to Phakding – 9 km (4 hours)
- Day 3: Trek from Phakding to Namchee Bazaar – 12 km (6 hours)
- Day 4: Acclimatization day. No walking except maybe a quick hike up to the Everest View Hotel.
- Day 5: Trek from Namchee Bazaar to Tengboche – 10 km (6 hours)
- Day 6: Hike from Tengboche to Dingboche – 12 km (6 hours)
- Day 7: Acclimatization day in Dingboche. Explore the area.
- Day 8: Trek from Dingboche to Lobuche – 12 km (7 hours)
- Day 9: Hike from Lobuche to Gorak Shep to EBC and back to Gorak Shep – 15 km (8 hours)
- Day 10: Hike from Gorak Shep up Kala Pathar and then to Pheriche – 13 km (7 hours)
- Day 11: Trek from Pheriche back to Namchee Bazaar – 14 km (8 hours)
- Day 12: Hike from Namchee Bazaar to the airstrip at Lukla – 15 km (8 hours)
- Day 13: Fly back to Kathmandu
- Day 14: Leave Kathmandu
Tibet: North Base Camp
The North Base Camp in Tibet is surprisingly much easier to reach than the one in Nepal as there is a well-paved road leading all the way to the camp. However, there are also risks involved as altitude gained on a vehicle is much faster (which increases your chances of having altitude sickness). There are also no helicopter rescue teams here, that are available on the Nepalese side.
Another major difference is that tourism is highly restrictive in Tibet and independent travel is not allowed. You have to book a Tibet tour in order to enter Tibet and attempt the climb. We offer regular Tibet tours to the Everest Base Camp.
New Changes to North Base Camp
Recently there are misleading information regarding the Tibet Everest Base Camp closure. The tented camp for tourist has been closed due to the mounting waste problem. But it IS still possible to visit the Everest Base Camp region in Tibet. The ban means tourists can go as far as the Rongbuk Monastery, which is just 4km from Everest Base Camp. Mount Everest is in very clear sight from Rongbuk and honestly just as impressive as from the viewpoint at Base Camp.
Tibet Everest Base Camp tours are still running and travelers can stay at Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse instead of the tented camp. The guesthouse is clean but basic. Rooms are not heated, but have plenty of thick, warm blankets.
Check out this 8-day Tibet Everest Base Camp tour! I have successfully run tours to Tibet and continue to work with my local partner, that is an established Tibetan-owned tour operator. They are one of the most experienced in the industry.
How to Get to North Base Camp
It’s important to know that travelers cannot travel Tibet or Everest Base Camp Region independently — only those who have pre-arranged organised tours are allowed in. There are NO exceptions.
In other words, the only way to get to North Base Camp is to book a trip with a local tour operator. They will arrange the requited Tibet travel permit, alien permit to enter the Everest Base Camp region, as well as tour guide, transportation and driver. Authorities are starting to issue Tibet permits in March and tours are running earlier than usual in 2019.
Most travelers also need a Chinese visa in addition to a Tibet permit — except citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan. Make sure to get your Chinese visa at least a month before your Tibet trip. Read my post on things to know before your trip to Tibet.
The Journey to North Base Camp
The Everest Base Camp Region is around 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. If you book an Everest Base Camp tour, you’ll be visiting many sights on your way to the camp.
These sights include the beautiful Yamdrok Lake, the historical towns of Gyantse and Shigatse and many spectacular Tibetan monasteries along the way. Typically, a journey going from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp and back to Lhasa takes between 8 and 12 days.
The drive to Everest Base Camp involves several switchbacks and hairpin bends that climbs all the way up to over 16,400 ft (5,000m). The views along the way are spectacular and you start to get views of Mount Everest quite early on the drive.
Itinerary for Everest Base Camp, Tibet
You’ll be traveling around on a vehicle so distances below are driving distances and times stated are the duration of the drive including sightseeing stops. This is one of the most popular Tibet itineraries.
- Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa and spend the night.
- Day 2: Explore Lhasa and its old town
- Day 3: Visit Sera and Drepung Monasteries outside of Lhasa
- Day 4: Drive to Shigatse and visit Yamdrok Lake and Karola Glacier enroute — 350km (7 hours)
- Day 5: Drive to Rongbuk Monastery at Everest Base Camp – 350 km (7 hours)
- Day 6: Head back to Shigatse visiting Gyantse on the way – 350 km (7 hours)
- Day 7: Drive back to Lhasa — 280 km (6 hours)
- Day 8: Leave Lhasa
Trekking to Everest Base Camp, Tibet
For those who prefer to experience trekking in Tibet and not just drive up to Everest Base Camp like most tourists do, consider doing the Everest Kangshung Face trek. The 9-day Everest trek starts from the Kharta Valley and brings you up the spectacular Kangshung face of Mount Everest.
The 34-mile (56 km) trek is one of the most unusual and interesting approaches to Mount Everest following a more remote and different route. It usually takes eight days to complete and the highest point reached is at 17,486 ft (5,330m) in altitude.
Comparing Everest Base Camp: Tibet vs Nepal
It really depends on whether you are looking for the trekking experience or not. If you are not an experienced trekker, then definitely go for the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal.
The journey is a challenging but spiritual and rewarding one. Days are filled with walking past colorful prayer wheels and crossing swing bridges straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, while evenings are rewarded with hot food and conversation with like-minded people around the dining-room fire. The dramatic landscapes and a personal sense of achievement, as well as warm Nepalese hospitality from the Sherpas, make the Everest Base Camp trek one of the best treks in the world.
Everest Base Camp in Tibet, on the other hand, is so easily accessible that you won’t have much of an immersive experience. You’ll only be able to stay at Rongbuk Monastery for a night and there isn’t much culture to experience. On my recent trip there, I was also surprised to find other travelers who were clearly not dressed for rough terrain or high-altitude conditions (imagine leather boots and skirts) snapping selfies and chatting way too loudly at the Base Camp.
However, views from the Everest Base Camp in Tibet are clearer and less obstructed as you’ll get to see the whole mountain standing tall and lonesome in the valley. From the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, you see a more scenic and varied landscapes, with Everest backdropped by jagged peaks and snow-capped mountains. It is more colorful and dramatic though, in comparison with the Tibetan side that is grey and rugged.
Combining Tibet & Nepal in 1 Trip
If you have the time, I would suggest visiting Everest Base Camp from both sides! Tibet and Nepal make a nice travel pairing as they are close enough to visit on one trip and each offers a very different experience, especially culturally.
After the 2015 earthquake, the Tibet-Nepal border was closed for an extended period of time, however it has now recently re-opened making an overland trip from Tibet to Nepal accessible once again. You can easily book a Lhasa to Kathmandu overland trip, which will be similar to a Tibet Everest Base Camp tour, except that you’ll continue driving onto the Nepal border instead of turning back to Lhasa.
From Everest Base Camp in Tibet, you’ll slowly descend to Gyirong Valley, where the altitude is lower and the climate is sub-tropical. The tour concludes at the Tibetan-Nepalese border at Gyirong. Though your Tibetan guide is unable to cross over towards Kathmandu with you, they will assist you with this process to help ensure that this process is a breeze.
Things to Know Before Visiting Everest Base Camp
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Everest Base Camp is from March to May and from September to October. It gets hot in May, just before the monsoon season. Be prepared for possible rain. It would be too cold visit after October, although it is still possible and there are fewer trekkers.
Trekking in Everest requires good fitness condition, good preparation and strong perseverance. I wouldn’t advise beginner hikers to attempt trekking in Tibet. You need to have at least some multi-day hiking experience and preferably experience traveling to high-altitude regions before you attempt a trek here.
Nothing can really prepare you for the trek’s extreme hills and altitude of up to Everest Base Camp. ‘Slow and steady’ is the key to achieving, and enjoying, your trek. Prepare with cardiovascular training several times a week: cycling, swimming, hill climbing and lots of walking. Aim for a five-hour walk once a week. Seek out hills or find a tall building and repeatedly walk up and down the stairs.
Preparing for Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness can affect anybody – even the extremely fit. That’s why it’s extremely important to acclimatize. All of the Everest Base Camp Treks in Nepal includes acclimatisation days. For those visiting Everest Base Camp in Tibet, make sure you spend 1-3 days in Lhasa to acclimatise.
Watch for signs of altitude sickness: symptoms include headaches, dizziness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and breathlessness. Bring a supply of the medication Diamox for treatment; if symptoms persist, descend.
Getting a Fully-stocked First Aid Kit
If you’re trekking, it’s essential to pack a robust first aid kit to sustain your trek up to Everest Base Camp. Your first aid kit should include medication for diarrhoea, antibiotics for a chest or sinus infection, and adhesive bandages for blisters. Visit your doctor for vaccinations before the trip. Using two 1L water bottles with water purification tablets is a reliable and safe way to drink water – and more environmentally friendly than buying bottled water from lodges.
Packing for Everest Base Camp
Regardless of the time you’re traveling, you’ll need to bring warm clothes as the Himalaya gets cold above 3000m any time of the year. Pack lightly especially if you are going on a trek – aim for 10 to 15kg. Consider your porter’s load before you include that extra fleece or jeans. Refer to this detailed packing list for the EBC trek.
I recommend wearing 4 layers: thermal underwear, t-shirt, fleece and a down jacket. It’s not essential to bring hiking poles, as your tour operator will most probably provide them. You can also rent thick sleeping bags from them (usually at $10 for the whole trip) and save you the hassle of carrying them.
1. Long Sleeve Moisture Wicking Tees: The key to staying warm while trekking in Tibet is layering. Bring some long sleeve t-shirts that are great for hiking, that you can easily remove throughout the day. I brought three of them for my one-week trip.
2. Fleece-lined Long Sleeve Thermal Underwear: Mine turned out to be very useful and I wore it several days in a row. Temperatures can dip below zero at above 4,000m – they are particularly useful and comfortable to sleep in when camping.
3. Fleece Base: This is my favorite gear for cold climates. It’s thick but lightweight, and keeps me warm even in sub-zero temperatures. Plus most fleece are cheap and easy to find everywhere. I usually get one that can be zipped all the way down, so I can easily remove layers when I’m warm.
4. Waterproof Jacket: It may be heavy and a pain to travel with, but you’ll need it for the weather. Don’t skimp on a quality coat as it’ll keep you comfortable.
5. Quick-Dry Pants: These are something I wear on almost every trip. They’re lightweight, thin, comfortable and waterproof. I can wear them in winter and summer, without feeling too warm or cold. If you feel cold in them, you can always wear your leggings beneath.
6. Fleece-lined Leggings: For ladies, these are brilliant to keep warm and comfortable, being looking too shabby.
7. Beanie:You’ll definitely need something warm on the top of your head at cold temperatures.
8. Ski Gloves: Bring thick ski gloves as they’re good for snow and rain. I would recommend getting a pair of gloves with touchscreen pads so you don’t need to take them off to snap photos on from your smartphone.
9. Wool Socks: Invest in some high quality wool socks that can keep your feet dry and warm when hiking in the snow.
10. Microfibre Towel: You won’t be able to shower during the trek, but a small towel will be useful to freshen up in the evenings. Buy a thin, quick-dry one that can be rolled up into a small bundle.
Did you decide which Everest Base Camp you’re visiting? Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments field below!
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