The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Trekking Everest Base Camp

At 8,848 meters, 29,029 feet above sea level, Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, towering over the surrounding peaks in the Himalayas mountain range on the border between Nepal and Tibet.

A horizontal image of Himalayan mountains covered in snow on a blue sky background.

Even if you’re not a diehard mountaineer, you can still explore this beautiful region of Nepal with a trek to Everest base camp (EBC).

Not only will you get lifelong bragging rights for completing the trek to base camp, it’s also a beautiful trek in its own right, passing through the Sagarmatha National Park and the awe-inspiring Himalayas.

Although the trek takes about two weeks, it’s surprisingly accessible and has been completed by many first-time trekkers.

Everest Base Camp: A Brief Overview

Since the first successful summit in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the imposing peak has attracted decades of adrenaline-seekers wishing to add their name to the list of successful summiteers. A good portion of these climbers never returned.

Despite the intimidating statistics, the sister trek through the picturesque Khumbu Valley to the base camp used by professional mountaineers is an attainable goal for many people.

A horizontal image of a hiker with snow-capped mountains, with a blue sky background.

Located at an altitude of 5,361 meters, 17,590 feet above sea level, you don’t need fancy equipment or mountaineering skills to reach EBC, just a positive attitude and a reasonable level of fitness.

There’s a sense of camaraderie and a tangible buzz in the air as the adrenaline of the would-be Everest summiteers infects everybody around them.

The scenery at these altitudes is breathtaking and varied, ranging from rhododendrons and pine fields to rivers; suspension bridges strung with prayer flags; glaciers, lakes, valleys, high mountain passes, and finally, the spectacular Himalayan mountain peaks!

A close up horizontal image of a sign in the Himalayan mountain region.
Way to Mt. Everest Base Camp signpost in Himalayas, Nepal

The Sagarmatha National Park is home to rare animal species such as snow leopards and red pandas – though it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter them. You’ll frequently have to step aside (to the uphill side!) as you encounter yaks on the trail.

Whether you choose to follow the traditional EBC route or one of the alternative trails, it’s guaranteed to be an experience you’ll never forget.

In contrast to most multi-day treks where you’d be camping in a tent, trekkers to base camp stay in cozy tea houses, available in a range of budgets, which serve the dual function of being both hotels and restaurants.

The trek is dotted with Buddhist monasteries and tiny villages almost all the way up. The relaxed pace of the trek allows plenty of time for you to explore the villages and get to know the local Sherpa culture.

Mt. Everest is increasingly covered in garbage left behind by the hordes of people who have set out to conquer its lofty heights. When you go, please respect the environment and do your best to minimize waste.

When to Go

The most popular time of year to do the Everest base camp trek is between February and May – the pre-monsoon season.

A horizontal image of sunrise over the himalayas.

During these spring months, the weather is typically warm and dry and the mountains will be ablaze with colorful rhododendrons.

This is also peak season and while you’re unlikely to have the trails to yourself, you’ll enjoy a buzzing atmosphere at the tea houses on the way. This is also when most Everest climbers make their summit attempts.

The summer months bring the monsoon rains, resulting in slippery trails and a heightened risk of landslides. If that doesn’t deter you, the leeches and foggy weather might! It’s not recommended to attempt the trek in the summer.

It can also be difficult to fly into Lukla during the monsoon, so this is a good time to pick the Jiri trek over the classic EBC trek.

A horizontal image showing the runway at Lukla airport, Nepal.

If you want fewer crowds, try going in September or October, the post-monsoon months, when you have the highest chance of clear skies, although temperatures are slightly colder.

You can even do the trek in the winter, but be prepared for sub-zero temperatures most days and lots of snow.

Whenever you go, make sure you pack for unpredictable weather in case a snowstorm takes you by surprise.

Trekkers interested in the local culture might want to plan their trip dates around traditional holidays with celebrations in Kathmandu, such as Holi (February/March) or Indra Jatra (September).

Another thing to consider when planning your trip is flight prices, which can vary considerably. Check flights before booking as this might have a huge impact on when you want to go.

Lastly, be aware that it might be harder to find tour operators who provide treks in off-season months, and some of the paths might be closed.

Conversely, if you want a stab at actually sleeping in Everest Base Camp with the would-be summiteers, late spring is your best option for finding one of the rare tour operators who might be able to wrangle this.

Everest Base Camp Packing list

If this is your first multi-day trek, don’t forget to budget for all the equipment you’ll have to take with you.

A horizontal image of a view from Namche Bazaar, a village in Nepal with mountains in the background.

You can choose between renting or buying your gear. Hikers who plan on doing more multi-day treks might want to invest in their own equipment.

If you’re doing a two-week trek, it makes more sense to rent your sleeping bag and down jacket. For trekkers who plan on trekking for a whole month, it makes more financial sense to buy.

The neighborhood of Thamel in Kathmandu offers plenty of options for buying and renting, although the products on offer may be of questionable quality.

Further on, Namche Bazaar is a last-resort option if you find you’ve forgotten to pack any essentials. If you keep your receipts and talk it over with the shop when buying, some shops will buy your gear back from you at the end of your trek for a reduced price.

Almost everything available for sale along the trek has been carried up the mountain, either by yaks or people. This means things get more expensive the higher you go.

Packing strategically will mean bringing the items you can’t live without, without overloading your backpack. Whether you hire a porter or decide to go solo, somebody will be lugging your things up the mountain, so think twice before including unnecessary items like an extra book or five spare shirts!

Aim to pack around 10kg if you’re carrying everything yourself, and 20-25kg if you’re getting help from a porter. Don’t forget your water will add extra weight, so try packing your bag with full water bottles included to get a more accurate idea of how much you can bring.

This list is aimed at trekkers who will be sleeping in tea houses every night. Be aware that if you don’t book early enough, it’s possible the tea houses will be sold out in high season.

If you think you might end up having to camp, you’ll need more supplies not covered on this list, like a tent, sleeping pad, etc.

What to Wear

The clothes you pack will depend on which season you’re visiting in. Make sure you have enough clothing to keep warm, especially in the evenings.

A horizontal image of a hiker trekking in the Himalayas with Kala Pattar in the background.

Layers are crucial, as temperatures and weather conditions will change drastically between day and night and as you ascend and descend in altitude.

Tea houses often only heat the common areas, and then only in the evenings, so bring warm clothes for lounging around at night.

The higher you get, the less likely you are to have power in your tea house, or only for a few hours as they’re run off solar power.

Base layers: Your base layer should be comfortable and moisture-wicking. Stay away from cotton; go for merino wool or synthetics.

Pack a long-sleeved shirt (avoid short sleeves as you’re more likely to get sunburnt) and long underwear, if only for the cold evenings.

Fleece mid-layer: You’ll probably be putting this on and taking it off with every mountain pass, so try to find one that will fit easily into your day pack.

Outer layer: Get a down jacket with a good warmth-to-weight ratio, as you’ll be carrying it much of the time.

Waterproof windbreaker and pants.

Hiking pants: Well-insulated trekking pants, or trekking pants that can turn into shorts. 

Waterproof hiking boots: We can’t stress enough how important it is to break your hiking boots in properly before your trek.

Don’t forget to bring a pair of comfortable sneakers or sandals for the evenings and for bathroom runs.

Socks: Woollen hiking socks are worth the investment – bring a few pairs that can handle very cold temperatures for the higher altitudes, and look for flat seams and padded spots to reduce blisters.

Sock liners and Vaseline are two other good ways to prevent blisters. You should also bring a pair of warm socks for base camp.

Gaiters: These will be especially useful during the rainier months.

Gloves: Pack a thin pair of “inner” gloves and a very warm pair of outer gloves. There will be at least one or two days where your fingers will freeze otherwise – for example, the day you summit Kala Patthar.

Scarf/balaclava/buff: The trail to EBC gets infamously dusty, provoking the “Khumbu cough” that plagues many hikers. A buff or something similar will keep you warm as well as provide you with a layer to breathe through to minimize the amount of dust in your lungs.

Beanie and sun hat, preferably with neck cover, to protect against the sun.

Underwear and sports bras: You’ll probably be reusing these, so get good-quality, non-cotton ones.

Accessories

Drinking water: Most tour operators provide purified water. Avoid bottled water, as this is expensive on top of being an environmental disaster.

A close up horizontal image of two sherpas trekking in Nepal carrying heavy loads.

We recommend bringing two big reusable water bottles (or a water bladder for drinking on the go). Tablets take a while to work and it’s nice to have one water bottle ready to drink while the other one is getting purified.

You can also fill a bottle with hot water and sleep with it in your sleeping bag if you’re cold during the night. Bring your own water purification tablets or a Steri-pen (but remember, these need charging, and charging on the trail costs money) if you’ll be purifying your own water.

You may wish to add flavor enhancers to your water. Unfortunately, at Gorak Shep the water is very mineralized so you’ll need to buy bottled water.

Showering: Whether or not you shower is up to you – you can expect to pay around $5 for a hot shower. Some people rely on wet wipes instead, especially since wet hair is no fun in negative temperatures!

Sunglasses: The combination of snow and altitude is brutal on your eyes, so invest in good polarized sunglasses with wraparound arms.

Sleeping bag: The teahouses will provide blankets and pillows but you’ll want your own sleeping bag and pillowcase.

Find a mummy sleeping bag rated to -20° C – or colder, depending on the season. Consider bringing a silk liner, especially if you’re renting your sleeping bag.

Toiletries: Sunscreen, SPF chapstick (this is better than lip balm as there’s no need to smear it on with your grubby fingers), quick-drying towel, tissue, baby wipes, period supplies, toilet paper (remove cardboard and keep in ziptop bag), hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.

Always bring toilet paper with you. Most bathrooms are squat toilets and are located only in villages.

Tip: wet wipes are more expensive than toilet paper on the trail, so if you have to choose, stock up on wet wipes and buy toilet paper when you run out.

Shewee: Ladies, you’ll be glad not to have to pull your pants down in the freezing high-altitude weather. If you get your period on the trail and you’re not comfortable with using the DivaCup, another good option is to keep used pads/tampons in a ziptop bag and dispose of them in the next garbage can.

Personal first-aid kit: Bring diarrhea meds, altitude meds, antibiotics, ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin, bandaids, blister plasters, tape/trekker’s wool, Vaseline, cough drops (to beat the Khumbu cough), cold medicine, rehydration salts.

Tour operators should provide the rest. Don’t forget to get your travel vaccines before you go.

Padlock for your luggage.

Backpack: What you pack your gear in will depend on whether you’re using porters. Most porters prefer you to pack your things in a soft-sided duffel bag – check with the tour operator in case they provide these for you.

If you have a porter, you’ll only need a daypack for yourself. If you’re not hiring a porter, bring a collapsible daypack anyway in addition to your backpack, so you can leave your big backpack in the tea house during the one-day acclimatization hikes.

A horizontal image of a man carrying trekking poles pictured with prayer flags and mountains in the background.

Try to get a backpack with straps for hiking poles and zippers to open it from the sides, so you don’t have to dig everything out of your bag whenever you want to access something.

Dry bag or plastic cover for your backpack and daypack to prevent water ingress.

Hiking poles: These are a must! All the treks listed here will take you uphill, downhill, uphill and downhill again. Hiking poles will save your knees, and they’ll come in handy on the slippery trails during the wet season.

Headlamp or flashlight: You’ll be glad to have this in the evenings after the power goes out, and during early-morning or late-night hikes. Remember to bring extra batteries.

Trekking map: If you’re going independently, a good trekking guidebook is essential – Lonely Planet is highly recommended.

Ziptop bags: These always come in handy for protecting electronics, etc.

Camera or GoPro with memory card and extra batteries.

Money: There are ATMs at select points such as Lukla and Namche Bazaar, but these have low daily withdrawal limits and high commission rates, and have been known to take money out of your account without actually dispensing it to you.

Since currency exchange rates on the trail are sky-high, the best option is to bring a stash of local rupees with you. You’ll need rupees to pay for meals, showers, tips, etc.

Wi-Fi: A good option for staying connected is to buy a local sim card, which will give you data to about 4000m altitude, and sometimes in EBC itself.

You can also check Everest Link for Wi-Fi data packages – the connection is supposedly available in most teahouses along the way, but it can be slow and unreliable so don’t depend on it too much.

Top Tip: Beware of phone updates that will eat through your Wi-Fi and data limits before you realize what just happened!

A horizontal image a man hiking in the mountains pictured on a blue sky background.

Entertainment: EBC treks usually only schedule a few hours of hiking a day, to allow you time to acclimatize. Bring books or a Kindle, cards or other games for the many hours of down time, as well as a journal so you can remember this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Solar charger: Many teahouses offer power points where you can charge your devices for a nominal fee – don’t forget to bring an adapter. It’s a good idea to bring your own solar-powered charger and extra batteries to minimize costs.

Tip: Keep batteries, base layers and anything else you don’t want freezing in your sleeping bag with you overnight. Keep your phone in flight mode to save power.

Important documents: Bring printouts of your travel insurance information and make sure one of your travel buddies knows what to do and whom to contact in case of an emergency.

You’ll also be bringing your passport, visas, money, etc. – I always keep these documents in a ziptop bag.

Safety whistle, compass, pocket knife, duct tape: You may wish to bring these items if you’re trekking independently, especially on the less-crowded trails.

High-calorie snacks: These will make a huge difference to your experience. Snacks are exceedingly expensive on the trail, and they provide welcome calories on tough trekking days.

You’ll have to decide how many you want to bring and which ones you want to buy along the trail.

Cloth bags: Many trekkers use these to separate dirty laundry and organize different outfits.

Earplugs: You’ll be glad for these when the tea houses are alive with the sound of Khumbu coughs.

A Note on Trekking Insurance

Be very careful when purchasing travel insurance, because regular policies usually stop covering you once you ascend higher than 3,000m/9,840ft.

A horizontal image of a track on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas.

At these altitudes, you have a higher chance of getting Acute Mountain Sickness, and there’s also a pretty good chance you’ll have to be airlifted out to a hospital for injuries that might not have been so serious closer to sea level, like a pulled muscle or a twisted ankle.

Because of these higher costs and risks, insurance companies will charge you a premium for high-altitude trekking insurance.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of insurance companies that offer travel insurance specifically tailored to Everest Base Camp trekkers.

When purchasing a policy, make sure you’re covered for trekking up to altitudes of 6,000m/19,685ft as well as search and rescue costs, preferably by helicopter.

Don’t forget to check if you’re covered for different travel-related illnesses (and make sure you get your vaccinations before going!).

It’s also nice to have compensation for delayed or canceled flights and repatriation in case of death (hopefully you won’t be needing this one).

Check the clause about lost, stolen or damaged luggage to see if it will cover most of the cost of your hiking gear.

Lobuche village, small village in Everest base camp trekking route surrounded by Himalaya mountains range, Nepal, Asia.

If you’re traveling in winter or shoulder season, check for trip cancelation insurance to ensure you’ll still be covered in the event that your trek is canceled due to weather.

You’ll likely have other considerations depending on your personal situation. Don’t just take our advice for it – remember to do your research, ask questions and read the fine print of your travel insurance policy before you purchase.

I always keep my travel insurance information handy while on the trek, and pass it along to someone else in my group so they know whom to contact in case of an emergency.

Some travel insurance providers require you to confirm with them before ordering a helicopter. Check out our page on getting trekking travel insurance for more information.

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness

Most tour operators organize a relaxed trekking schedule and follow the mantra “climb high, sleep low” to avoid the risk of altitude sickness.

A horizontal image of a group of people backpacking in Nepal pictured on a backdrop of mountains and blue sky.

Take it slow – once you finish hiking for the day you’ll have a lot of dead hours in the teahouse, so there’s really no point in racing there.

It’s important to respect the acclimatization days. The acclimatization hikes are designed to help you adjust to tomorrow’s altitude.

Try to drink 3-4 liters of water a day, as dehydration will make the altitude sickness way worse. It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink caffeine or alcohol or smoke during your trek.

If you can, cut out these vices about a week before you start hiking, so that you won’t suffer from withdrawal headaches.

Many people swear by Diamox as a preventative drug against AMS. It’s your choice whether to take this or not – I personally found the tingling fingers and toes to be very off-putting, but it probably helped me acclimatize.

Altitude sickness is unpredictable and doesn’t discriminate based on fitness or age. Listen to your body and descend immediately if you think you have signs of Acute Mountain Sickness.

Check out our article on altitude sickness for a more detailed overview.

Choosing a Tour Operator

Every year there are rumors that the Nepali government will make it compulsory to go with a guide, but so far it’s still possible to undertake the trek to EBC on your own.

A horizontal image of monasteries in a Nepalese village surrounded by snow capped peaks and alpine vegetation.

Unless you’re going in high season, you’ll probably be able to drop in at tea houses and ask for a bed without having to book in advance.

Independent trekkers can choose whether to hike all by themselves or choose between hiring a porter, a guide, or a guide and a porter. A guide will speak some English and can help with booking accommodation, whereas a porter probably won’t speak English and will only carry your bag.

You can also hire one person who acts as a guide and a porter. Another upside to hiring a guide is that you’ll be providing someone with a job, and in turn, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the Nepali culture.

Alternately, you can opt to join a guided trek with a tour operator. While this will raise prices, it’s a good choice for people who have never done such a long, high-altitude trek before.

A horizontal image of yaks carrying loads in a valley in Nepal with mountains in the background.

Tour operators typically arrange flights, airport transfers, accommodation, visas and permits, porters and guides. Western tour operators will usually charge more, but provide a more trustworthy service. You can expect to pay about twice as much for a Western tour operator.

Check to see if your tour operator is registered with the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN). TAAN regulates trekking agencies in Nepal to ensure fair treatment of employees, respect for local communities and preservation of the environment.

The International Porter Protection Group has laid out guidelines for fair treatment of guides and porters.

Please make every effort to ensure the porters and guides on your trek are dressed properly, stay within the weight limit including their own luggage, have adequate sleeping arrangements and insurance, and are paid a fair wage.

It’s better to go with companies that employ their porters and guides full-time instead of freelance, because there’s a better chance the company is providing them with benefits, sick days and health insurance.

Tipping is always a tricky subject and suggested rates will depend on whom you ask. Aim for around 15 percent of salary (if you’re traveling in a group, this number refers to the total pooled tip) per porter and/or guide, and adjust accordingly.

Routes

The classic Everest Base Camp trek winds through the Khumbu valley; once reaching Everest Base Camp, you’ll retrace your steps back down to Lukla for the return flight to Kathmandu.

A horizontal image of Mt Pumori pictured on a blue sky background.

If you’re interested in escaping the crowds or doing circular routes that don’t involve retracing your steps, there’s a variety of alternate routes to choose from.

You can also opt to tack small detours onto your classic EBC trek. This is especially doable if you’re traveling independently or in a small group.

You shouldn’t have any trouble booking your trek, even on the classic EBC trek.

Classic Everest Base Camp trek

The classic Everest Base Camp trek takes about 14 days, including time in Kathmandu before and after.

From Kathmandu, you’ll fly into Lukla Airport (2,860m/9,383ft) with its famously short runway – try to sit on the left side of the plane so you can catch your first views of Mt. Everest.

It’s a good idea to leave yourself a few buffer days, as Lukla flights are often delayed due to weather. Flights should be included in your tour price; otherwise they’re about USD 300, plus USD 100 for your guide’s ticket.

From the airport, you’ll trek to Phakding for the night.

The next day you’ll set out from Phakding and follow the Dudh Koshi River, crossing suspension bridges and pine forests until you reach the Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,286ft), in the Sagarmatha National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Namche Bazaar is the region’s principal trading point, so take the opportunity to stock up on any supplies you might have forgotten and don’t miss the market if you’re there on a Saturday. From here you can also catch a peak of Everest.

You’ll take a day to acclimatize in Namche Bazaar – you can make the most of the Wi-Fi, stock up on any supplies you forgot, check out the Sherpa museum or just tool around the village.

The day after you’ll follow the former Tibet-Nepal trading route via Thame to Tengboche, legendary for its views, where you’ll visit one of the region’s biggest monasteries.

Next you’ll hike to through Phangboche to Pheriche while admiring the views of Ama Dablam. You might be interested to know that Pheriche is where the Himalayan Rescue Association makes its base – but hopefully you won’t need to use this information! 

Most people stay in Pheriche for a day to acclimatize and visit local attractions like the Imja Lake or Dingboche village, which boasts views of Lhotse and Island Peak.

Now that you’re rested, you’ll be ready to tackle the trek to Lobuche, which features a 600m/1,969ft elevation gain. You’ll skirt the perilous Khumbu Glacier and witness the many memorials to sherpas and climbers who perished in their attempt to climb Everest.

From Lobuche you’ll set out towards Gorak Shep, which is the world’s highest permanently inhabited village.

Finally, it’s time to push on through the moraine towards Everest Base Camp! Since actual summiteers of Everest have priority, don’t expect to spend too long there or even be allowed inside the base camp itself.

But don’t worry, the adrenaline-filled atmosphere extends all the way down to the trekker stop point! From here you’ll go back down to Gorak Shep for the night.

You can’t actually see the peak of Mt. Everest from Everest Base Camp, so the next day you’ll make a steep ascent up to the summit of Kala Patthar (5545m/ 18,192ft) to catch amazing views of Everest, Nuptse (7,861m/25,791ft) and Lhotse (8,516m/27,940ft).

Most groups try to do this at sunset on the same day as they reach EBC, or at sunrise the next morning, when Mt. Everest sometimes turns pink in the early-morning light.

Forging on ahead, you’ll descend to Dingboche or Pheriche, and from there past Tengboche and back to Namche Bazaar the next day. Keep an eye out for the massive fields of wild rhododendrons if you’re visiting in the spring!

Your last day of trekking will take you back to Lukla, where you’ll spend the night before catching the flight to Kathmandu.

  • Pros: Comparatively gentle altitude profile, can be done independently
  • Cons: Have to retrace steps on the way down, can be crowded
  • Length: ~130km (12-14 days)
  • Highest point: Kala Patthar (5545m/ 18,192ft)

Gokyo Lakes Trek 

The Gokyo Lakes Trek is popular for its beautiful glacial lakes, nestled in the quiet Gokyo valley.

Like the classic Everest Base Camp trek, the Gokyo Lakes trek starts at Lukla, breaking off towards the northwest at the Namche Bazaar.

This trek is considered slightly more challenging than the classic EBC trek, with steeper ascents and more time spent at high altitudes.

It takes 2-3 days longer, detouring around some of the most crowded sections of the classic base camp trek but still finishing at Everest Base Camp.

You’ll see glacial lakes and summit Gokyo Ri (5,357m/17,575ft) where you’ll earn views of Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu (8,201m/26,906ft).

Fly into Kathmandu, spend a few days acclimatizing and then take another flight to Lukla. The next day, you’ll trek down through the Dudh Koshi Valley to Phakding past several Buddhist sites.

Hiking through pine forests and along the Dudh Koshi River, you’ll cross several suspension bridges including the Hillary Suspension Bridge. After entering the Sagarmatha National Park, you’ll continue hiking until the Namche Bazaar.

You’ll then separate from the classic EBC trek and head northwest towards Dole along the Dudh Koshi valley. You’ll get some of the first views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam today.

The next day brings a steep climb towards Machhermo, which populated with yaks in the summer.

After a day to acclimatize and enjoy views of the Ngozumpa Glacier (the biggest glacier in the Himalayas), you’ll trek to the Gokyo lakes, eventually reaching the village of Gokyo where you’ll bed down for the night.

This is another popular time to take an acclimatization rest day and explore the surrounding lakes, or summit Gokyo Ri, which stands almost 5,500m/18,045ft above sea level.

Stop to take in the stunning views of Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu, then continue back down to the Ngozumpa glacier and on into Dragnag.

The next day is a tough one. You’ll traverse Cho La, one of the “Three Passes” (5,420m/17,782ft), cross a glacier and then spend the night in Zonglha. 

Joining up with the classic EBC trek, you’ll stop for a moment of reflection at the memorials to sherpas and climbers who perished in their attempts to climb Everest, and then continue on to Lobuche for the night.

From Lobuche, you’ll skirt the Khumbu glacier, hiking up past Gorak Shep and finally you’ll reach Everest Base Camp! Enjoy it while it lasts, because the priority at EBC is the Everest summiteers, especially in the spring months.

You’ll hike back down to Gorak Shep alongside views of the Khumbu icefall. Part of the highest glacier on Earth, the icefall’s deadly crevasses, unstable seracs and unpredictable avalanches have taken dozens of lives.

The next day you’ll hike up Kala Patthar, with more views of Everest and the neighboring mountain peaks, and then down to Dingboche along the classic EBC route.

It’s time to return to Namche Bazaar. The day after you’ll hike back to Lukla through the Dudh Koshi valley, and then fly into Kathmandu.

Because the trek is longer, expect to pay more than you would for the classic EBC trek. Trekkers are advised not to attempt this trek independently, due to the increased difficulty and the fact that there are fewer people on the routes.

Like the classic EBC trek, the best time to go is during spring or fall. Because the trek isn’t as popular, you shouldn’t have to worry about crowds for most of the way, so feel free to go during peak season.

  • Pros: Fewer crowds, more challenging, more sights, get to summit a peak, see the world’s highest freshwater lake system, prettier landscapes than classic trek, circular route so no need to retrace steps
  • Cons: More expensive than classic EBC trek
  • Length: ~220km/136 miles (16-17 days, including a few days in Kathmandu before and after)
  • Highest point: Kala Patthar (5545m/18,192ft)

Jiri to Everest Base Camp 

This old-school route mirrors the route taken by the first Everest summiteers in the 1950’s, starting with an 8-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Jiri instead of flying into Lukla.

From Jiri, you’ll pass through the towns of Sete, Junbesi and Numtala in the Solu Khumbu region.

After reaching Lukla, you’ll join up with the classic EBC trek, passing through Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Pheriche and Gorak Shep.

In total, the Jiri route takes about 5-6 days longer than the classic route.

Jiri route trekkers will have the chance to spend a lot more time with the locals. You’ll also spend more time at low altitudes – the route starts at just 1,800m/5,905ft above sea level – meaning landscapes will forests and streams with actual running water.

Much of the trek is off the beaten path, with fewer crowds than the EBC classic trek.

Tool around Kathmandu for a day and then take an 8-hour (190km/118 mile) bus ride, following the Sun Koshi River to Jiri and then Shivalaya.

The next day, you’ll cross a suspension bridge over the river and then explore several tea houses. Go through the Deorali Pass, taking a moment to check out the prayer flags and decorated walls, and then head down to Bhandar for the night.

From Bhandar, you’ll walk through fields and forests before embarking on a steep descent towards the village of Kenja. Uphill again, you’ll traverse the Lamjura Pass and arrive at the town of Sete.

The next day, you’ll return to the Lamjura Pass and pass through magnificent fields of pine trees, magnolia and rhododendrons as you appreciate the stunning mountain views. Go down the other side and you’ll be at the town of Junbesi.

Back into the forest, you’ll see Mt. Everest for the first time. You’ll then cross the Ringmo Khola suspension bridge and arrive at the village of Ringmo with its gorgeous Tibetan architecture. Another forest and you’ll be at Nunthala.

In the morning, you’ll head out towards the Dudh Koshi River, crossing another impressive suspension bridge on your way to Bupsa.

The next few days will take you to higher altitudes as you pass through forests with monkeys and several small villages.

Arriving in Lukla, you’ll join up with the classic EBC trek. After reaching Everest Base Camp, you’ll summit Kala Patthar for the obligatory views of Mt. Everest at dawn and then return through Gorak Shep, Namche Bazaar and finally Lukla, for your flight back to Kathmandu.

Like the classic Everest trek, the Jiri route is best undertaken in spring or fall. Caution: some parts of the Jiri trek may be closed in the winter, so we don’t recommend going during this season.

The Jiri route is only slightly more difficult than the classic Everest Base Camp route, due to its longer duration.

The average day of hiking comprises 5-6 hours, covering about 15km/9 miles. On the bright side, due to the more gradual ascent compared with the classic trek, you’re less likely to get altitude sickness.

  • Pros: More authentic, less touristy, chance to see Solo Khumbu landscapes (terraced farmland, forests, Dudh Koshi river, sherpas), gradual acclimatization
  • Cons: 8-hour bus ride (but scenic!)
  • Length: ~250km/155 miles (22 days, of which 18 days of trekking)
  • Highest point: Kala Patthar (5,545m/ 18,192ft)

Three Passes Trek 

As you might infer from the name, the Three Passes trek takes you across three high mountain passes (all higher than 5,000m/16,400ft), making it more difficult than the classic EBC trek.

After reaching Namche Bazaar, the Three Passes trek splits off from the classic trek, taking you towards Thame and the Nangpa Valley. The trek takes around 19 days in total, of which 14-15 will be spent trekking. Getting a guide is highly recommended.

After flying into Lukla from Kathmandu, you’ll work your way down to Phakding.

The next day will take you across several suspension bridges on the way to Namche Bazaar for a day of acclimatizing, after which you’ll split off from the classic EBC route and head to Thame.

Crossing the Bhote Koshi river, you’ll reach Lumde and catch your first good views of the mountain peaks. The next day, you’ll tackle the first pass.

The Renjo La (5,360m/17,585ft) lies near the Dudh Koshi valley and will reward you with views of Everest. Then you’ll pass the Gokyo lakes and the village of Gokyo, where you’ll summit Gokyo Ri and catch sight of Cho Oyu.

After spending some time acclimatizing in Gokyo, you’ll walk across the Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal’s largest glacier, and then spend the night in Dragnag.

The next day is notorious. You’ll traverse the next pass, Cho La (5,420m/17,782 ft), which has a glacier and prayer flags at the top. On the other side of the pass lies Zonglha.

Joining back up with the base camp trek, you’ll visit Lobuche and Gorak Shep and take in views of the Khumbu Glacier, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse.

You’ll explore Everest Base Camp and summit Kala Patthar before retracing your steps back through Gorak Shep and Lobuche.

The trek keeps on going, past the Kongma La pass (5,535m/18,159ft), down into the Chukkung valley and up to the summit of Chukking Ri (5,550m/18,209ft) with more mountain views.

You’ll trek through Dingboche, with its views over the Khumbu Valley, and then keep trekking down through the rhododendron fields and the village of Khumjung back to the Namche Bazaar.

From here you’ll cross the Dudh Koshi, following the classic EBC route back down to Lukla.

This trek can also be done backwards; it’s up to you whether you want to head clockwise or counter-clockwise after the Namche Bazaar.

Many people recommend doing the trek counter-clockwise so as to avoid crossing the difficult Renjo La Pass right off the bat.

You’re best off doing this trek with a tour operator, as it’s quite off the beaten path.

  • Pros: See a little bit of everything, uncrowded trails, challenging elevation profile
  • Cons: Riskier terrain than classic EBC trail, long stretches with no facilities
  • Length: ~21 days (150km/90 miles)
  • Highest point: Chukking Ri (5,550m/18,209ft)

Island Peak (Imja Tse)

Experienced trekkers who wish to try their hand at mountaineering might be interested in summiting Island Peak (6,189 m/20,305 ft).

A horizontal image of two climbers on the side of Island Peak mountain.

To master the glaciers and icy headwall during the ascent of these peaks, you’ll need to use crampons, an ice ax and potentially a ladder and ropes to cross the crevasses, depending on the weather.

Tour operators claim you can learn these skills on the fly, but it’s better to have some prior mountaineering experience before you tackle these routes, which are significantly more challenging.

That being said, Island Peak is a relatively “easy” climb as far as climbs go, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to expand your repertoire. 

Since a detailed itinerary of Island Peak is outside the scope of this article, be aware that the general packing list doesn’t include the specialized mountaineering equipment you need for this trek.

Likewise, ascending Island Peak takes you above 6,000m and will probably not be covered by standard travel insurance providers, so check with your local mountaineering association for options.

Practical Information

What will I eat? How much will the trip cost? These are the questions most frequently asked.

Food

As a general rule, the tea house lodgings themselves are very, very cheap with the condition that you eat dinner and breakfast in the same lodge.

This is where your costs will really add up – food is very expensive – so check with your tour operator when booking to see if meals are included.

Food on the trek is repetitive but nourishing. The meals are carb-heavy – think pasta dishes, dahl baht or “sherpa stew” with veggies and noodles.

What other trek offers the convenience of stopping in at a tea house or bakery for a hot lunch or freshly baked pastry? Just be prepared for stretches where you won’t see a tea house for several hours.

Hot drinks are readily available, and a popular treat is a deep-fried Mars bar. Don’t leave without trying one!

Most people recommend going vegetarian during the trek. Sagarmatha National Park has a no-kill policy so all meat has to be carried up by porters or yaks and is never very fresh, so there’s a real risk of getting sick.

Much of the garbage that’s disposed of in the villages ends up getting burned on-site, which really makes you consider the impact of your waste.

Before wantonly throwing plastic into the garbage cans, try to reduce what you use and pack out as much as you can.

Budget

The budget for your trip will vary widely depending on whether you’re trekking independently or going with a tour operator.

If you are booking with a tour operator, the flight price and permit prices should be included – usually you’ll have to pay for your guide’s flight as well.

Tour prices run from about USD 1000 to 3000 depending whether you go local or get a Western tour operator.

Budget around USD 400 for the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport, including your guide’s ticket. If you go independently, consider getting help from a local agency for buying your flight tickets.

Flights have a way of being overbooked and you’re more likely to get on the plane if a local agent is vouching for you. On this note, factor in a few buffer days for your flight from Lukla back to Kathmandu, in case of weather or overbooking delays. 

Nationals of all countries except India will need a visa to enter Nepal, which costs USD 25 for 15 days, USD 40 for 30 days and USD 100 for 90 days.

You’re best off getting the 30-day visa even if your trek is only scheduled to take two weeks, as weather and other factors might extend the trip unexpectedly. For the most part, you can get your visa when you land in Nepal.

It used to be mandatory to purchase a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card, but the laws on this are constantly changing and there is a new local tax being charged, so check before you go unless your tour operator is arranging paperwork for you.

You will need a Sagarmatha National Park entry permit, which you can get ahead of time or at Monjo, when entering the park.

The price of the permits will normally be included in the trip price if going with a tour operator. Bring several passport photos for the permits.

All Set: Are You Ready?

The name “Everest” may sound intimidating, but this is actually one of the more approachable multi-day treks out there.

A horizontal image showing a view of Mt Everest from Gokyo.

If you have a reasonable fitness level and are comfortable walking uphill for several hours a day carrying a heavy backpack, then you should be able to complete the trek. The key is to go slowly to avoid altitude sickness.

You don’t need special mountaineering know-how or an incredible level of fitness. The hike to EBC is a relaxed one, as hikes go.

The pace is slow, to allow you the time to acclimatize, so you’ll have plenty of free hours to peruse the village cafés, tuck into a slice of apple pie and snuggle up with a good book or make friends over a game of cards back at the teahouse.

That being said, of course it’s a good idea to prepare for the trek by hitting the gym in the months prior to your departure, and plenty of practice hikes starting two months before you go.

Don’t forget to practice hiking with a heavy backpack on! Check out this article for more tips on preparing for an uphill hike.

In total, the trek is around 130km/81 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of 2,685m/8,809ft between Lukla (2,860 m) and Kala Patthar (5,545 m).

It’s usually done in just under two weeks, including rest days for acclimatization. The outward leg will take longer and you can expect to trek 5-6 hours per trekking day, covering an average of 15km/9 miles.

The hike from EBC back to Lukla will go much faster since you’ll already be acclimatized.

Plenty of people with no prior trekking experience manage to complete the EBC trek and you can too! Like any non-technical trek at altitude, the key is a proper pace, a decent level of fitness and most of all, a good attitude!

Have you been trekking in Nepal? Let us know about it in the comments section below!

Disclaimer: This post is for information only and is not intended to replace the advice of an experienced guide. Always do your research and check with local weather stations, etc. before attempting to undertake treks in the wild. Distances are approximate and routes may vary depending on your tour operator.

Photos via Depositphotos.

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