A Complete Guide To Trekking Nepal Everest Base Camp Independently : Everything You Need To Know

Everest Base Camp doesn’t really need an introduction! The trail to EBC is one of the most iconic treks in the world. Not only are you going to reach the base of the highest mountain in the world but you are going to retrace the footsteps of pioneer alpinists, the most famous of whom is, of course, Sir Edmund Hillary.

This teahouse trek takes you into some of the highest villages in the world and lets you explore the culture and traditions of the Sherpa people. The landscape you will pass through includes lush forests, icy rivers, rough moraine tracks, yak grazing pastures, and glaziers. All in a short space of time. Witness many of the highest mountains, and ascend Kalapatthar, also known as the viewpoint for Mt Everest for a 360 degree view of this majestic mountain.

You start off by flying into the high altitude airport at Lukla from where you start trekking straight away. This is quite a challenging trek in terms of length, altitude and overall difficulty. However, I have seen people from all walks of life and of all ages doing this trek. Going slowly and acclimatizing is the key and I recommend at least two acclimatization days. And of course, get yourself ready before you come by upping your fitness routine.

As you will see below there are different trekking routes that can be done as well as the classic 12 days Everest Base Camp Trek.

Getting There

Kathmandu Lukla Flight
Lukla airport – one of the most dangerous airports in the world

The starting point of this trek is at Lukla. The tiny Tenzing Hillary Airport is not much more than a landing strip squeezed between the mountains. At 2860 m you are already landing way above sea level. As it is in the mountains, flights can only take place when the weather is clear – at both ends and in the middle! So expect delays at certain times of the year. However, there are flights every day. You must book ahead and in case of delays plan to have at least two nights extra in Kathmandu as a contingency in case your flight out of Lukla is delayed. If you don’t want to fly, you can start your trek from Jiri, which is a long bus ride from Kathmandu.

Note: Please be aware that with new regulations, your flight to Lukla might depart from Manthali Airport in Ramechap District. This is more likely in the high season of April-May and October-November. Please check at the time you book your tickets. Flying from Manthali means driving four hours from Kathmandu in the middle of the night to reach there in time for the early morning flight. There is very very limited and basic accommodation in Manthali so do not go there ahead of time.

Should You Go With Or Without A Guide?

While some treks, such a Manaslu and Kanchenjunga, require you to have a guide, Everest isn’t one of them. So the choice is yours. Having said that, the route on the normal Lukla to EBC trek is pretty straightforward and there are lots of good teahouses on the trail for food and accommodation. For some of the other routes in the region, such as Gokyo Chola Pass to EBC or the Everest Three Passes Trek I recommend you take a guide. And if this is the first time you have trekked at altitude, I highly recommend you take a guide, just in case you have any adverse reaction to the altitude.

Mount Nuptse viewed from Kalapatthar

If you were to book a package to trek to EBC, it usually includes the flights, permits, guides, porters, food and accommodation. That will cost you somewhere between USD 1400 to 4000 depending on the trekking company and level of ‘luxury’. Please note, apart for 3 or 4 luxury hotels on this route, everyone is basically eating the same food and sleeping in the same teahouses. No business class section on the flight either!

Everest Base Camp Trek 12 Days Itinerary

Close view from Kalapatthar
Everest view from Kalapatthar

This classic and iconic trek will take you 12 days Kathmandu to Kathmandu, including two acclimatization days. Do not try to miss out these acclimatization days as they are vital to prepare your body for the high altitude. After coming all this way, you don’t want your trek to be ruined by altitude sickness right?

My suggested itinerary from Lukla to EBC and back to Lukla is below:

Day 01 Kathmandu To Lukla Flight & Trek to Phakding: 20 – 40 Minutes Flight (Depending On Departure Airport) 3 – 4 Hours Trek

Lukla Everest Region
A coffee shop in Lukla

This is an easy day in terms of walking; not too long and not too strenuous. However, if you have had to fly from Manthali you might not have had any sleep the night before. Keep that in mind! With Lukla being at 2850 m and Phakding 2600 m it is a mainly downhill trek today. If you want you can continue on to Monjo, another 2 – 2.5 hours walk, for the night.

Day 02 Phakding To Namche 3440 m 6 Hours

Khumbi Yula Mountain Khumjung
The holy mountain of Khumbiyula

Today’s trek will take your around 6 hours. Be aware the last part of the trek is steep, and you will gain approximately 800 m in elevation. On the way there is a viewpoint where, if the weather is clear, you will get your first glimpse of Everest.

Day 03 Acclimatization Day

Namche Bazar Aerial View
West corner of Namche Bazaar

It’s highly recommended you take an acclimatization day at Namche. In this way your body will get used to altitude. Even if you think you are not noticing any affects, if you push on you will regret it later. There is a reason we say, ‘trek high, sleep low’. Meantime there is plenty to do around Namche.

Khumjung and Khunde Village
Khumjung village

You can trek to Khumjung Village where Sir Edmund Hillary set up a school for the Sherpa children. While there you can have lunch at the Everest View Hotel. The view from the hotel terrace is there in the name!

Day 04 Namche To Tengboche 3856 m 5 – 6 Hours

everest and lhotse sunrise
Sunrise over world’s highest and 4th highest mountain (Everest to the left, Lhotse to the right)

Tengboche houses the largest monastery in the region and has astounding views of the mountains as well as fascinating Buddhist structures and prayer flags.

Day 05 Tengboche To Dingboche 4380 m 4 – 5 Hours

Ama Dablam Sunset
Ama Dablam’s main summit

Dingboche is the highest village in the Everest Region. Again, it is highly recommended you take an acclimatization day here. On the way you will follow a river, cross fields, and see great views of Ama Dablam.

Day 06 Acclimatization Day

Khumbu to Gokyo Valley
Taboche peak – natural border between Khumbu valley & Gokyo valley

Not only is it recommended to acclimatize here, it is crucial for your health. Seriously! Again there are things to do and see.

Dingboche acclimatization day
Island Peak at the far end

You can trek to Chukung (4700 m). East of the valley, Chukung is the last settlement of the eastern Everest Region. Alternatively hike to Nagarjun Hill, north of Dingboche. This option, at 5000 m, offers better acclimatization. It also offers stunning views of Ama Dablam!

Day 07 Dingboche To Lobuche (4950 m) 4 Hours

Thukla Everest Region
Another view of Ama Dablam

This looks a short day but remember you are walking at high altitude now. Even a short walk is more challenging. Today you pass a memorial of a climber who died on Everest – a solemn reminder that the Himalayas are not to be taken lightly. The trail starts off gently today and then takes you over the Thukla Pass where it is more difficult. Stop for lunch at Thukla and push on to Lobuche. Since it’s not a very interesting village, you may as well climb a small ridge to the north of the village to get a view of a glacier. A glacier before dinner – why not?

Day 08 Lobuche To Gorakshep & Day Trip To Kalapatthar 2 – 3 Hours Plus 4 Hours

yak everest base camp
A herd of yaks carrying expedition’s equipment

At 5100 m Gorakshep is home to the last teahouses on the northern tip of Everest. The trail takes around 2 – 3 hours to reach Gorakshep where you should stop for lunch before heading up to Kalapatthar, or Everest Viewpoint as it is sometimes called. The sunset view is astounding!

Pumori Mountain Kalapatthar
Kalapatthar hill with Pumori at the back
View from Kala Patthar
Sunset from Kalapatthar Hill (from left to right: Lho La, Everest & Nuptse)

Don’t forget to bring a torch to get back down! The return trip from Gorakshep to Kalapatthar will take around 4 hours. You are going to sleep at Gorakshep because this is also the starting point to reach base camp.

Day 09 Gorakshep To Pheriche And Morning Trip To Everest Base Camp (5380 m)

everest base camp
Everest Base Camp

In the morning hike to EBC. Please note you cannot go into the camp of any expeditions that are set up there for their bid to summit Everest. Please be respectful of this. But you will have the same atmosphere and superb views. You have made it! During the peak season base camp may be quite a busy place, but in the off season it will be much quieter.

It takes around 4 to 5 hours to trek Gorakshep to EBC and return to Gorakshep. Collect your bags and push on after lunch to Pheriche.

Day 10 Pheriche To Namche Bazaar 7 – 8 Hours

Namche Bazar at night
Namche Bazaar at night

This is a long day of walking. You will be descending a lot and the closer you get to Namche the greener the landscape is. But at least at Namche you know you can finally have that bottle of beer you have been waiting for! As a side note – it is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitude!

Day 11 Namche to Lukla (2860 m) 7 hours

post card from top of the world
Last tea before leaving Lukla

This is the final day of your trip and it is another long one! You will have to sleep in Lukla in order to get the flight out as they only fly in the mornings.

Day 12 Lukla To Kathmandu

All flights depart in the morning for Kathmandu.

Note: Contingency days should be planned as flights can get cancelled or delayed. I recommended you have a minimum of two nights in Kathmandu planned before leaving for any international flight.

Everest Base Camp Trek Permits

Sagarmatha National Park’s head quarter in Monjo village

You will need two permits for the Everest Region – Sagarmatha National Park Permit and a Local Municipality Entry Permit.

  • Sagarmatha National Park Permit
    • Rs 3000 per person
    • Obtainable at Monjo
  • Municipality Entrance Permit
    • Rs 2000 per person
    • Obtainable at Lukla

Note: The previous TIMS Card is no longer required. Both the above permits can be obtained on the trail as mentioned above. No need to buy in Kathmandu.

Best Time To Trek In The Everest Region

Lhotse Wall
Lhotse wall

The most popular times are March to May and September to November. These are the peak seasons and are very busy. The reason being these months see the best weather, perfect for trekking and less flight delays. It is possible to trek during the winter but you should be experienced in snow and be prepared for freezing, very low temperatures. Monsoon (June to August) is tricky as the trails will be slippery and flights will be frequently delayed or cancelled.

How Difficult Is It To Trek In The Everest Region?

memorial in everest on thukla
A tribute to a climber who lost their life on the way to Everest summit

As long as you are in good physical shape and increase your fitness routine before you come, you should be fine. It doesn’t really require any previous trekking experience and mountaineering skills are not required. People from all walks of life come to trek here. I have seen people of all ages too. Although it is not recommended to bring small children.

Thamserku Mountain Sunset
Mount Thamserku

The whole trek from Lukla to EBC and back to Lukla is 130 km. With an average of 5 to 6 hours walking per day, you will cover around 15 km each day. The hardest part is the altitude. So that is why it is really important to take acclimatization days. I cannot stress this enough. Aim for a gradual ascent and use the acclimatization days to let your body adjust to the altitude.

Food And Accommodation

everest base camp trek food
Some typical dishes on the menu

You might imagine you are going off into the wilds and accommodation will be rough. Not so! As this is an extremely popular trek the food and accommodations is well established and the hoteliers are used to foreign tastes and requirements.

bakery in everest region
Yes! You can still find bakery items till this altitude

Apart from at Lobuche and Gorakshep the accommodation on this route is good. Not just good – you can also have luxury if you want! Up to Namche Bazaar there is a chain of luxury resorts! Then above Namche there is also a five start hotel, one of the highest in the world! More likely you will stay in something in between.

Food is good. Plenty of vegetarian options. I would recommend that we all become vegetarian above Tengboche as there is not good storage facilities for meat (no electricity) beyond this point.

Everest Base Camp Trek Cost

Ama Dablam Camp II
Ama Dablam

An organised trek to EBC will cost you anywhere between USD 1400 to USD 4000. If you travel independently, the 12 days trek will cost you in the region of USD 800.

Cost Breakdowns As Follows:

Permits USD 50
Flights USD 340 (KTM LUKLA KTM)
Food and Accommodation USD 30 per day or USD 360 for 12 days **

** The better the accommodation and the more you eat and drink will increase this amount, but this is an average.

Everest Region Trek Map

There are many alternative trekking routes in the Khumbu (Everest) Region. Aside from the very popular Lukla to EBC to Lukla trek, there are treks to Gokyo Lake, Gokyo and Everest via Cho La Pass and the Everest Three High Pass trek. I have included details of these trek itineraries here for your convenience in deciding where you want to go.

Meantime, you should get a good map of the Everest Region in order to plan your trip.

Everest Base Camp Trek Route Variation

Here are details of some other routes you can take around Everest Base Camp. Apart from the Everest View Trek, I highly recommend you take a guide or go on an organised trek for these.

Everest View Trek – 7 Days

Ama Dablam Mountain
Ama Dablam

On this trek you follow the same route as for the Everest Base Camp Trek up to Tengboche. And return the same way.

This seven day trek from Kathmandu to Kathmandu is recommended for those less physically fit or unable to hike for long hours at a time. Or for those with less time.

Here is my recommended itinerary:

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Gokyo Lake Trek – 11 Days

Thamserku Sunset
Mount Thamserku

This trek follows the same route as the EBC Trek up to Namche Bazaar when the trail heads north. There are four lakes to explore – Gokyo I, Gokyo II, Gokyo III and Gokyo IV. Imaginative names right?

Hiking up to Gokyo Ri is the highlight of the trip. From here you can see four eight thousander mountains. These are Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu.

Here is my recommended itinerary for this trip:

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Gokyo Chola Pass EBC Trek – 13 Days

Sunrise over the Himalaya

On this trek you will visit the Gokyo Lakes and Everest Base camp but go via Cho La Pass. Actually you can go either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Visiting either Gokyo then crossing the pass to EBC or vice versa. This trek is two days longer than the regular EBC Trek, being 14 days.

Here is my recommended itinerary for this trip:

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Everest Three Passes Trek – 16 Days

Lhotse Wall Chukung
Lhotse Wall

This is the ultimate trek in the Everest Region since it covers the whole area. But as the longest and toughest trek, I recommended it only for those who have a good level of fitness and who have trekked at altitude before. And I also recommend you take a guide on this trip. This trip can be done clockwise or anti clockwise.

Here is my recommended itinerary for this trip:

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