Everest Base Camp holds a special place in my heart. It was one of my first big treks and it made me fall in love with the Himalayas. Since then, I’ve lived in Nepal, gone on to hike bigger and taller paths, and fallen in love with other mountain ranges. That being said, EBC is one of my all-time favourite treks and even though I’ve already been three times, I would do it over and over again.
I remember before going the first time, I was so excited/nervous about it. I stayed awake reading all the information I could find on it to prepare myself, because damnit, I wanted to get to Base Camp! Unfortunately, at that point, I found a lot of guides, but not so many posts outlining experiences, which is what I was after. That’s what this post is going to be! An Everest base camp blog post.
I had these posts up for a while but they were separated into a million different parts (confusing!!!), so this is them compiled into one long post.
Day 1: Flying into Lukla and Trekking to Phakding
As much as I loved the trek, I’m never doing it again. Maybe a different route, but that was the only time in my life that I will have visited base camp.
As you know, I’ve had to give up on the trek I’ve been lusting over. Instead, I’ve just completed the Everest Base Camp trek for the second time! I thought it would be helpful to create a series to go through the details of the trek & to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know!
Your Everest Base Camp (let’s call it EBC from now on) trek will begin with either a trek from Jiri to Lukla or a flight into Lukla. Most people, including me, fly.
The downside to flying into Lukla’s Airport, the Tenzing-Hilary Airport, is that a couple of years ago, it was named “World’s Most Dangerous Airport.”
But hey, I’ve flown in once and out once and I’m still alive to tell the tale!
Buying Plane Tickets to Lukla
If you’re doing EBC with a guide, they’ll sort out the plane tickets for you.
If you’re going unguided, then you’ll have to buy plane tickets. Go to a travel agent somewhere in Thamel and buy either a one-way ticket into Lukla (for about USD $150) or a round trip (I got mine for $290). If you book a round trip ticket, book your return flight for a few days later than you anticipate your trek to end; you can always change it.
Flying into Lukla
It doesn’t matter if your flight is at 6, the local airport doesn’t even open until 5:30. When you arrive at the domestic airport, you’ll go in and see a bunch of stands with airlines on them. That’s where you check in!
They’ll weigh your bag, then take it, and then weigh you.
After you check in, go through the incredibly light security and to the departures hall. Here, wait for your flight to be called. They may say your flight is going to “Lukla” or “Mountain.”
More often than not, flights will be delayed. This is because they’ll only fly when the sky is clear (which is a good thing).
Once your flight is called, you’ll be taken to a bus, which will take you to a small plane. Sit on the left side of the plane for the best views flying into the Himalayas. The flight attendant will pass out a candy and cotton for your ears (the planes can get a bit loud, especially on the older ones).
The flight to Lukla is about forty minutes. When landing, the pilot may or may not cut the engine. If she/he does, don’t worry! The runway in Lukla is INCREDIBLY short, and the pilot is cutting the engine to ensure you’ll be able to slow down quickly enough to land.
DAY 1 Trekking: Lukla to Phakding
The trek from Lukla to Phakding is mainly downhill! It’s really enjoyable and it only takes about 3 hours! Phakding is a really big town, but I’d push to Monjo or even Jorsalle! Your next day up to Namche Bazar is a bit tough, so it’s nice to trek quite far on day 1.
Day 1 trekking will be filled with plenty of mani stones. Walk CLOCKWISE around these (to the left of the stones). There are also some beautiful suspension bridges that you’ll have to cross! Let the porters, donkeys, horses, and dzos (cross between cow and yak) go first!
Also, as a general rule, when giving way to animals, stay on the side of the mountain, not the side with the dropoff.
Find a teahouse, eat some momos (or plenty of other food), and get some sleep! Enjoy the “warm” weather; it only gets colder from here!
Day 2: Phakding to Namche Bazar
Today is your first glimpse into the uphill bits of misery that you’ll endure going up to EBC. The path to Namche is quite flat until you get a glimpse of the two suspension bridges. From there on up, it’s allllll uphill. It was just switchback after switchback, with a couple bits of stairs and straight uphill walking thrown in for good measure.
On my way up, I met a man named Trevor, who I ended up trekking with for the next few days.
There’s a public restroom about halfway up the hill, where you should definitely stop because A) It’s a break from the uphill and B) It’s your first view of Mount Everest!
After about half an hour more uphill, you’ll come to a TIMS checkpoint, where you’ll be registered into the computer system, and from there, it’s a quick fifteen minutes up to Namche!
Namche Bazar is basically trekkers’ paradise. It’s the best place to relax before the start of your trek, and the BEST return from the top of the mountain (or just base camp 😉 ).
I stayed at the Foot Rest Lodge, which was decent. On the way back, I stayed at the Khumbu Lodge, which I highly recommend.
Day 3: Acclimatisation Day
Today, you’ll have to do an acclimatisation hike, but after that, you’re free! To acclimate, you can head up to the Everest View Hotel, about an hours walk away, or, if you’re lazy, you can just head up fifteen minutes or so to the Sherpa Museum and the Sagarmatha National Park Visitor Center.
I decided to be lazy, so Trevor and I walked up to the visitor centre & museum.
The visitor centre is free to visit! It has a beautiful little museum full of Everest facts, and out back, there’s a statue of Tenzing Norgay!
The Sherpa Museum is 200 rupees to enter, but it’s truly a cute little museum, and it’s definitely worth the two bucks.
After your hike, you have some free time. Definitely check out the Liquid Bar, which plays a mountaineering-based film every day at 3pm. It’s free if you buy a drink, otherwise it’s 300 rupees to watch the film. The owner is absolutely lovely, and the atmosphere of the Liquid Bar is unbeatable.
When I was in Namche, it was St. Paddy’s day, so obviously, I hit up the world’s highest Irish Pub (& got a T-shirt!). Trevor and I met some really great people on a tour and spent until 9pm (late!!!) celebrating with them.
If you’d like to relax a little further, there’s a Finnish Sauna and plenty of spas up at Namche. This is truly a heavenly town on the mountain. Enjoy your time there!!!
Day 4: Namche Bazar to Tengboche
I won’t lie, guys. This day is pretty tough. You walk along the side of the mountain, which is very gradually downhill, before descending down to the river, crossing a suspension bridge, and then heading straight uphill until you reach Tengboche. Yes, only the last bit is uphill, but it’s a BIG uphill.
Trevor and I headed out, enjoying the beautiful views you get from the start of this day.
Remember when passing stupas, to go left around them!
We met up with an Israeli man named Nadav during this bit of the trek, and then joined up with Gabriel, who I had flown into Lukla with. We walked, playing some verbal travel games, which made the day pass quickly… UNTIL THE UPHILL.
This bit is BRUTAL. It seems like the hill will never end. I thought this was one of the toughest days. Going up, we met another man, named Vaughn, who we climbed the rest of the way up to Tengboche with.
After arriving in Tengboche, after what seemed like ages, Vaughn introduced us to his friends, Kelvin and Saroj. Gabriel and Nadav stayed in one lodge (they had guides/porters who have arrangements with certain teahouses), but Trevor, Kelvin, Saroj, Vaughn, and I decided to eat and stay at the bakery. I highly recommend eating at the bakery (the apple crumble is to die for!!!).
At 3pm, head over to the monastery. Let the monks enter before you, then observe their prayer. It’s a beautiful thing to see, but you won’t be allowed to take photos inside.
And wear warm socks, as your feet will get super cold without your boots on!!!
We left at 8am and arrived by 12:30.
Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche
This is a beautiful day! The walk isn’t too brutal! You start with a steep downhill bit to Pangboche, then you gradually head up to Dingboche. You go through a valley, which offers amazing views of the Himalayas. We left at 8 and arrived by 12:30, like the day prior, but according to the lady who ran the teahouse in Dingboche, we arrived about an hour and a half earlier than most people.
We stayed at the SnowLion Lodge, mainly because it has an attached French Bakery (the chocolate truffles are really rich and very good!).
Day 6: Acclimatisation Day in Dingboche
Although you don’t trek to another place today, you’ll definitely get some trekking in!
To acclimate properly, Kelvin, Vaughn, Saroj, two lovely girls, named Emma and Lawrence, who we had met at our lodge, and I headed out to climb a peak! It’s just above our teahouse, and it’s the hike that most people do this day.
This was a TOUGH climb. There are many false peaks, so right as you think you’re at the top, you cross over the last bit, only to see more uphill. It took us a good four hours or so to get up and down the mountain.
The views are beautiful the entire way up, but of course, as soon as we hit the top, a HUGE cloud came by.
I definitely felt the altitude up here. Bring water and take it slow! AMS (acute mountain sickness) is no joke!!!
When you get back, if your headache doesn’t dissipate, don’t worry! See if you sleep it off! Most likely, you will, and you’ll be absolutely fine!
Spend the rest of the day taking it easy, enjoy life & the company around you! The people make the trek 🙂
Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche
This is a lovely day! The beginning of the day is relatively flat, gradually ascending through a valley, and then you once again, go down to the river.
After that, you’ll reach Dhugla!
We took lunch at Dhugla (also called Thukla), then had an ascent up to the memorial for the fallen climbers. It’s a short & steep uphill bit, but it’s definitely worth the view at the top. You get a view of the mountains and LOADS of prayer flags. It’s also really important to see the memorials for those who have died on Everest, including Scott Fischer. It really puts the weight of climbing Everest into perspective.
Continue a relatively gradual ascent up to Lobuche!
Day 8: Lobuche to Gorak Shep via EBC
This is a difficult, very long day.
We left Lobuche at 8, only arriving at Gorak Shep at noon. It isn’t a particularly difficult trek up to Gorak Shep, as you trek through a beautiful valley and it’s initially a gradual ascent. Towards the end of the trek up to Gorak Shep, you’re trekking through rock falls, which means a LOT of up and down. It seems to on for AGES, but after one last uphill, you’ll see Gorak Shep in the distance and it’s downhill from there!
Take lunch at Gorak Shep and head out towards EBC. This is the tough bit, with plenty of up and downs, which means its quite difficult on the way there AND the way back. Watch your step as well, as there are a few points that could be really quite dangerous if slippery. It’s only really awful because of the altitude, but being so close to your goal definitely helps you keep going.
It takes about two hours to get to EBC, and a little less to get back.
Sure, it’s one of the toughest days, but it’s also a super rewarding day. Knowing that you’ve made it to the (bottom of the) top of the world is such an elating feeling.
That feeling doesn’t go away after the first time doing it.
Day 9: Gorak Shep to Namche Bazar
After getting back from EBC, we all sat in the teahouse, absolutely freezing and uncomfortable with altitude headaches. It was then, by the fire, that Vaughn half-jokingly suggested trekking all the way down to Namche Bazar (it usually takes two to four days to get down there), and we were all so uncomfortable that we agreed to at least try!
After a night of no sleep (literally no sleep), we all (minus Emma, who slept in) headed out at 6am, skipping Kala Pattar.
This was by FAR the toughest day. You don’t realise how much downhill you were blessed with on the way up until you’re heading down (which is really up). We arrived in Lobuche by 8:30 and caught up with some friends who we had met in Dingboche, including Trevor! We left by 9:30 and had a tea break at Periche at 10:30, and continued down to Pangboche for lunch. After that, we knew that there was a steep ascent up to Tengboche. I honestly thought it would be so much worse than it was, but that being said, it wasn’t a walk in the park.
After reaching Tengboche, there’s a steep descent down to the river, which is BRUTAL on your knees. It was honestly terrible; I highly recommend using hiking poles if you have them.
After reaching the river, there’s an uphill bit that you’ll have forgotten about. It’s not very nice. It seems to never end. It’s really uncomfortable, especially since we had come from Gorak Shep. Most people would have stopped by this point, which I think is smarter than trying to make it to Namche in one day. If you stop prior to this, I don’t think this bit will be as hellish.
Once you reach the “flat” bit to right next to Namche, you’ll realise that what you thought was flat is actually uphill. At this point, we were all exhausted. My knees were in INCREDIBLE pain, and I was emotionally exhausted from the lack of sleep I had gotten the night prior. I had fallen behind the guys (who were sprinting down), and couldn’t see them, as fog made it impossible to see ten meters in front of you. It was a little scary walking along a Cliffside, as the fog made it impossible to see how far you’d fall, and I was so physically and mentally drained that the possibility of accidentally stumbling off the side of the mountain seemed very real.
I caught up to Saroj and walked the rest of the way with him.
When we had finally made it to Namche, we were all struggling to walk properly. It was truly an exhausting day.
I peeled off my socks and found that the bottoms of my feet were entirely covered in blisters. Needless to say, we had a rest day the next day (excluding Vaughn, who powered through to Lukla). We spent 12 hours at the Liquid Bar, drinking beer, eating popcorn, and celebrating making it down!
Day 11: Namche to Lukla
After spending about 12 hours at the Liquid Bar, we all woke up feeling a little rough.
The boys were full-on hungover.
That meant that the “easy” day walking back to Lukla turned into quite a struggle. There’s a bunch of up and down this day, although with the newly acquired oxygen in the air, it’s not so bad!
The trek to Lukla is only about four or five hours.
We immediately got burgers to celebrate. The boys had been eating meat the entire duration of the trek, but I had always read to avoid it. They were absolutely fine, so I had a chicken burger. I got sick. Stay on the safe side guys, and only eat meat if you have time to spare.
Day 12: Flying to Kathmandu
We woke up at 5:30, paid for our teahouse, and walked to the airport. We were greeted with clouds. Flying didn’t look so promising.
It took an hour for an airline representative to even show up to my check-in area, so there was lots of waiting around. When they did finally come, I checked in my bag and started waiting for clear skies so we could fly!
The sky was supposed to clear for a couple of hours, but by 10 am, it was still hard to see 100 meters in front of us, so we knew we wouldn’t fly.
And to top it off, there was word that a storm was coming in, so if we couldn’t fly out today, we’d most likely be stuck in Lukla for FOUR DAYS.
At this point, the boys and I really just wanted to be down in Kathmandu, so we looked into a helicopter. For 6 people, a helicopter is USD $250 each person.
We found a Nepali guy and a couple from the UK and decided to split a helicopter down to Kathmandu with them.
Getting a helicopter is a struggle, guys. There was lots of waiting around. We were meant to pay in a bank in Lukla for the chopper, but the power went down, so we had to pay in Kathmandu. To ensure we wouldn’t bolt after landing, we handed over our passports to the helicopter organizer, who would give them to the pilot.
After waiting around for about four hours, we learned that the helicopter couldn’t land in Lukla due to the lack of visibility, so we opted to walk downhill for “half an hour.” What the helicopter organizer claimed was a half-hour walk, actually was an hour walk, but luckily it was all downhill.
We met our pilot, who was the same guy I had when flying UP to Lukla for EBC round 1!!!
The helicopter ride was absolutely breathtaking. It was so so so wonderful and fun, and it was definitely worth the $250.
After arriving in Kathmandu, paying for the helicopter ride (and getting our passports back), we checked into the Kathmandu Home Hotel (highly recommend!!!). I went to the tour office where I had bought my ticket to Lukla, and I was able to be refunded the full flight ticket (so the chopper was $100 more than the flight to Lukla would have been).
It was a crazy last day of our trek, but honestly, do you expect anything else from me?
This time going up to EBC was so different from the last, but both were filled with the most incredible people, pure elation, and of course, altitude headaches.
I’ll be back for round three sometime in this crazy lifetime.