We just got back from a 2 weeks trek to Everest Base Camp and it was such a fantastic and unforgettable experience! Here’s what to expect if you’re planning on trekking to Everest Base Camp too!
Training & preparation for the trek
To be honest, I don’t think you can ever be 100% prepared for it. But for us, we mostly did a lot of stairs training, cardio and strength training. In Singapore the places that we can trek are quite limited and even then, nothing could prepare us for the high altitude and freezing temperatures. Check out how we trained for our EBC trek!
Flying into the world’s most dangerous airport
The first challenge of the trek is actually flying into the world’s most dangerous airport. Some locals often joke that the most dangerous part of EBC trek is the flight itself. It really takes a lot of skills and precision to land accurately and safely on the really short (500m) and treacherous runway that’s situated on a steep cliff. There’s a reason why this airport is renowned for being the world’s most dangerous airport!
Actual trek & terrain
The terrain is actually mostly flat, with only some steep inclined slopes on some days. On an average, we trekked about 5-7 hours every day. Majority of the trek for the day would be “flat” by Nepali standards (they call it “Nepali Flat“) as even though they claim it’s flat, it’s still undulating.
Tip: We strongly recommend to get a pair of hiking poles to help ease the pressure off your knees. They also come in really handy in helping you with your balance when clambering over loose rocks! (We got ours at Kathmandu!)
The difficult part of the trek is that it’s a multi-day hike. Most of the other treks that we did such as Mount Kinabalu or even Mount Rinjani, they were only for a few days. But EBC will require at least 14 days to complete; it was definitely not easy battling the cold, altitude sickness and fatigue for a prolonged period.
Health & altitude sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is real and should be taken very seriously. It can hit anyone regardless of your age, fitness level, etc. I was hit really badly by AMS and had completely zero appetite for almost 7 days of the trek! Hardly ate anything during this period and really depended on my chocolate bars and mental strength to eventually make it to EBC. It was so bad that my guide seriously considered to use heli-evacuation to get me down to Lukla :/
Tip: To be safe, just take Diamox pills before your trek till you’ve eventually descended to a lower altitude. Trust us, this will save you from a lot of pain.
Please bring along all the medication that you will need, unless you’re comfortable with popping local pills. We brought only the bare minimum, but on hindsight, we would bring medicines for all of the following sicknesses:
- Altitude sickness – Diamox (check with your agency, some do provide them.)
- Sore throat & cough
- Antibiotics (for any kind of bacteria infection like food poisoning, or throat infection, etc)
- Panadol (or Ibuprofen for those that prefer without caffeine)
Amazing views of the Himalayas
A multi-day trek is not easy but at least you get to enjoy the majestic view of the Himalayas while you trek. The views along the way are absolutely breathtaking and the weather is also perfect for trekking, at least for most of it till it gets way too cold at the top.
Water & food
Bring along water purification tablets for your drinking water. Our agency were pro-environmental and preferred for us to not purchase the plastic bottles of water. For those curious, the tablets didn’t really have any strong aftertaste and it was quite neutral actually. We used a 2.5 litres water bag and filled up at least 2 litres of water each time. You can easily refill your water along the way or at your lunch place. Drink lots of water, it will help reduce your chances of altitude sickness!
Tip: You can get your water purification tablets at the big supermarket in Kathmandu, much cheaper!
The menu is almost identical at all teahouses and restaurants. Be prepared to see the same food choices for every single meal. The food isn’t that bad though, some of our favourites include chop suey (crispy noodles), Rara or WaiWai noodles (instant noodles, WaiWai noodles is the spicy version), spaghetti (avoid those with cheese though unless you’re a fan of yak cheese), fried rice or chow mein (fried noodles).
Tip: If you can, choose to avoid meat totally throughout the trek. Most of the meat (especially from Namche Bazaar onwards) are not air flown and instead are being carried by the porters which can take days to reach their destination! So usually the meat will remain frozen for several months in the mountains. My food poisoning could partly be due to the meat too.
Bring along chocolate/energy bars and other snacks to fuel your body for the trek! This was a life saver for me, when I had absolutely no appetite, at least I could still munch a little on these snacks which gave me the energy to carry on! You could of course buy them along the way, but bearing in mind that the cost increases exponentially with the altitude. Snicker bars, vacuum packed bakkwa and nuts worked for us! Sweets are also good for energy boost while trekking.
Tip: Please remember to zip up your bag where you keep your snacks to prevent rats from stealing your food! We left our duffel bag opened and to our horror, we found holes in our food packaging that were happily gnawed by fat rats. It was a very sad day for us. Since then, we never go to sleep with our bags unzipped! Also, we could hear rats scurrying around our room at night :S
What to pack
Please do not over pack, most of the time you will only need half of what you actually packed. Check out our ultimate full packing list for EBC trek! If you’re going with an agency, check with them if you will be having a porter. Our agency provided us with 2 porters for the 3 of us. The agency will usually provide you with a huge duffel bag where you can throw in most of your stuff. So don’t over pack if not the poor porter has to be the one that carries your bag all the way to EBC! Usually it’s around 9-10 kg per porter.
You will only need to carry a small day backpack (20-30 litres is sufficient) while trekking for things that you will need during the day, ie. snacks, water, some warm clothing, etc. Once you reach the teahouse, the porter would already have left your duffel bag in your room.
Click here to see our ultimate packing list for EBC!
Showers and personal hygiene
Don’t expect to shower every single night during your EBC trek. For us we only showered twice throughout the entire 2 weeks; both times at Namche Bazaar. Hot shower is still available at the higher altitudes, just that it will be more costly and torturous as the air is so cold that the moment you turn off the hot shower, you will shiver like crazy!
Tip: we used disposables for our intimates, most convenient and fuss free. Wet wipes and baby powder will be your next best friend too. For those with oilier scalp, you can consider using dry shampoo too.
At higher altitudes, there will not even be any running water from the tap as it will all be frozen if there was any. You will need to get water from the restaurant for you to wash your face and brush your teeth. Don’t forget to bring your hand sanitiser (2 bottles at least), you will definitely need it, a lot. Bring toilet paper too, they usually don’t provide it at the teahouses.
Most of the accommodation will be basic teahouses with private rooms, some with en suite bathroom. The rooms are not heated and you will need a very good sleeping bag to keep you warm at night! If possible, avoid rooms right next to the shared bathroom, you wouldn’t want to keep hearing footsteps at night while you’re trying to sleep!
Tip: Especially at higher altitudes, it’s definitely worth it to buy a flask of hot water for you to drink at night before you sleep or in the morning. Some people also fill their own bottles with hot water and place it in the sleeping bag for more warmth.
Money & tipping
Bring spare USD$ for just in case. We ran out of cash and had to withdraw from the ATM at Kathmandu which charged us $5 transaction fee for every 10,000 rupees withdrawn 🙁 There’s still a ATM machine at Namche Bazaar, but once you go higher, it will be quite impossible to get money already.
Usually the agency will cover most of the basic expenses during the trek, but you will still need some extra cash if you wish to buy snacks, water, hot shower, etc. Don’t forget to put some cash aside for tipping your guide and porter too! Chocolates probably cost $2-4 per bar and hot water costs $3-5 per litres, depending on where you are at.
The usual standard of tipping would be 10% of the total trip cost, but it really depends on you. The best is to tip with your heart 🙂
Which agency we chose
We did the 20 Days Everest Base Camp + Gokyo package with Mosaic Adventure. Our trip included a city tour of Kathmandu and for the trek, we had 1 guide and 2 porters.
Madhav from Mosaic Adventure responded really promptly to our emails and helped us with all our questions before the trip. What we really liked about them is that they usually organise smaller groups which meant more flexibility and it was so much easier to manage compared to larger groups.
Our guide Parvin was very fun and took very good care of us, helping us book really nice teahouses that were comfortable and had good food! Our porters, Gorei and Gopal, they were like supermen! Both carrying at least 20kg up to EBC! No wonder they often compare Nepali men to “men of steel”!
Try to choose a local agency which will in turn help the local economy as they will be hiring local guides and porters.