The Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal is one of the most popular trekking journeys famous all over the world. It takes place in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Thousands of trekkers do the trekking journey every year; the Everest region is quite famed for its amazing mountainous landscapes, Himalayan peaks that are some of the tallest in the world and its rich cultural and traditional prominence. The Khumbu is a prime Sherpa settlement of Nepal and Buddhist culture thrives in the many ethnic villages and settlements of the region. It is one of the best and most beautiful regions of trekking in the country and the terrain is a combination of many different topographical features and attributes. Because of its challenging appeals that pertain to trekkers and travelers of all demographics, the Everest Base Camp Trek can easily be considered as an adventure of a lifetime. It is relatively cheap to do, does not require extensive physical strenuousity and can be accomplished with a comfortable disposition.
Most of the trekking journeys start from the mountain town of Lukla. Flights from Kathmandu to Lukla take place every day at all times of the year and a flight is the best and the fastest way to reach Lukla for the commencement of the trek. The flight is considered a thrilling adventure in itself as well, because of the location of the Lukla Airport. It is situated on a cliff and the runway is the shortest in the world and drops off to the gaping valley below at the end. The gateway to the Everest Base Camp, Lukla is pinned on the orange section of the map. Lukla - where the Tenzing Hilary is airport located – can be reached via domestic flight from Kathmandu.
From Lukla, the trekking trail moves further along to Phakding and then to Namche Bazaar. Trekkers generally stop at Phakding overnight and then pass along many smaller villages along the way to reach Namche Bazaar. The terrain along this route are very beautiful and consist features like the Dudh Koshi River valley, white glacial rivers and gorges that are covered in low-lying trees and pastures. From Phakding, trekkers enter the Sagarmatha National Park at Monjo and continue on the trail through the forests to Namche. Namche is the gateway to the Himalayas and is a popular town of the region. Many trekkers stop here for acclimatization. There is a Sherpa Culture Museum here, as well as an Everest Photo Gallery. A little farther from Namche, is the Everest View Hotel. The hotel is coveted as the highest located hotel in the world and possesses highlights of its own. The panoramic view visible from each window and balcony of this hotel totally justifies its name. Trekkers also hike to the Syangboche airstrip that is located on a hill above Namche for panoramic views of the town and of the Himalayas like the Thamserku and the Kongdi RI.
From Namche Bazaar, the trekking trail moves further along to Tengboche. It is another famous village of the region and holds the Tengboche Monastery- the largest monastery of the Khumbu. The village is surrounded by tall ridges covered in forests; and the monastery is also a great place to look at panoramic views of the Himalayas like Ama Dablam, Mount Everest, Tawache, Nuptse and the Lhotse among many others. The village of Tengboche is a sanctuary of preserved artifacts and antiquities and the existing natural genesis are its perks. At Tengboche, you’ll see Dudh Kohi and Imja Khola merge amidst the serenity of tall hills full of vibrant rhododendron forest. Danphe and Monals reside in the forests of Tengboche and the ambiance is quite serene.
From Tengboche, the trekking trail reaches the village of Dingboche. It is also called the “Summer Valley” of the Khumbu and it takes about 5 hours of hiking to reach here from Tengboche. Dingboche is known for its kilometer long wall that is built to keep out the cold winds that blows through the valley of Imja. It is perfect place for the second acclimatization of the trek. This is a happening place with colorful tin-roofed cottages. There is a famous hill near Dingboche, called Nagerjun, that trekkers sometimes take a side-hike to for panoramic views of the mountain peaks and of the gaping Imja Valley.
After Dingboche, the trekking trail finally reaches Lobuche and then to the Everest Base Camp. The settlement of Gorakshep lies in between these two locations and is used for overnight stays.
The Sagarmatha National Park for the trekking journey constitute of items like sleeping bags, trekking poles, warm fleece-lined clothes, and proper hiking boots and down jackets. There are many shops that sell trekking and hiking equipments in Kathmandu and many trekkers rent or hire the items upon their arrival here. It is also essential to keep in mind that packing light is the best way to go. Many trekkers prefer to hire porters in the mountains for carrying the weight. A porter is capable of carrying a maximum amount of 10 to 12 kg of weight per person, and some even carry up to about 25 kg of weight between two people. Carrying only the essentials and packing light results in fewer hassles and is less bothersome. Other important thing to carry with you is a day-pack for storing your personal items in. The hotels in Kathmandu even provide the service of safety storage lockers for their customers to store extra baggage in, which they can take back once they arrive from the trek.
Most of the accommodations in the mountains while trekking comprise of basic lodge-to-lodge twin sharing rooms. During peak climbing seasons, the accommodations tend to be filled with trekkers and sometimes, you will have to share the room with other trekkers (of the same gender). There are plenty of lodges and guesthouses at the various locations throughout the journey. Usually, breakfast and dinner takes place in the lodges and lunch is taken while trekking from one location to the next in the afternoon. The meals in the mountains are a whole array of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. From noodles, a pancake, pizza and pastas to dumplings and soups, the palate has many options. But the best trekking meals is the staple of the country- Rice and lentils. It is available at all places and is the best option for a fulfilling meal while trekking. For drinking water, the tap waters in the mountains are not suitable for direct consumption. Trekkers can buy bottled drinking water from the shops or can use water-purifying methods like tablets or pumps.
Hot water is difficult to come by in the mountains, although it isn’t entirely impossible. Guesthouses and lodges will charge extra money for hot water. Few lodges at Lukla, Phakding and Namche have western-style toilets. You will need to bring your own toiletries. Laundry services are also a bit of a difficulty, but you can wash smaller and lighter clothes in the lodges.
Being altitude sick varies from person to person. It is important to go slowly and to not rush along the trekking trail to get to the next destination as fast as possible. It is important for your body to adjust to the high altitude while trekking. That is why proper acclimatization time is necessary while trekking. Getting enough sleep at night, eating healthy and full, staying hydrated and taking it comfortably are the key to not getting altitude sick while trekking. Trekkers also sometimes take medicines like Diamox from the very start of the trek at Kathmandu itself in order to avoid symptoms of the sickness. If you get sick however, you can rest at the accommodations until you feel better enough to continue.
The trekking journey can be done at all times throughout the year. But the best seasons for amazing trekking experiences would be the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to December) seasons. The temperature in the mountains lie at an average range and the weather is clear during these months. The clouds disappear and the views of the mountains are magnificent. The only down-side to trekking during these seasons is that they are considered the peak climbing seasons and the flights and lodges tend to be booked a lot quickly and the trekking trails become a bit crowded, but other than that, the autumn and the spring are the best trekking seasons. Winter (January and February) and summer (April to August) trekking can also be done, but these seasons are generally not preferred as much because during the winter, heavy snow sometimes blocks the paths and the temperature ranges on the extreme. During summer, the monsoon clouds cover the sky and rain often occurs in the journey, making for a messy and muddy experience.
The Everest Base Camp Adventure is a journey that really takes travelers out of their comfort zone. Along with an amazing journey, the trek also presents opportunities to get acquainted with the local indigenous mountain of Nepal and to know about their culture and customs. The Himalayan views along the journey are breath-taking, and many trekkers also visit the vantage point of Kalapatthar as well for panoramic views of the entire Mount Everest massif. The Khumbu’s many hallmarks, from the low-lying farmlands and pastures to the snow-covered acreages at higher elevations, are incorporated perfectly in the Everest Base Camp Trek. It is an experience that has to be done at least once in life because if it isn’t, then you are really missing out!