Himalayan trek to the Mt. Everest Base Camp is one of the most famous hiking routes in the World. There is no wonder! The trail passes through sceneries you won't find anywhere else in the world, you don't need to carry any camping equipment as there are comfortable tea houses in every night stop and upon reaching the final destination you are promised to see the World's highest peak. (If the weather permits) Compared to other popular high elevation hikes, it can be done relatively on a low budget.
Planning your hike
If you have an extra three days add the stop by the Gokyo Lake as that was an absolute highlight of the whole route. If you're up for a bigger challenge you can also take the route through the Renjo La Pass, but that's a difficult one so continue reading to see whether you want to take that on.
There is absolutely no need to book your hike through an agency. Independent guides can be picked up either in advance in Kathmandu, or after on the first day of your hike after landing in Lukla. You'll just need to ask around. This way you save money for the return flight ticket of your guide. A porter for your luggage can be also easily found after landing in Lukla, you'll probably be approached by few just as you leave the airport.
I only hired a porter to carry my big backpack. A lovely Nepali guy, permanently smiling despite the heavy weight on his back. Lokal porters are experienced Sherpa people who know the trek by heart so you don't have to worry you could get lost. The problem is they don't speak English, so have an offline translator at hand. You may also want to consider hiring a professional guide if you don't have much experience hiking in extreme altitudes and are in danger of developing severe altitude sickness.
It was only me, the porter and my Nepali friend - a professional photographer, that's where most of the stunning pictures in this article come from.
You don't need to book your accommodation as there are plenty of options available at each stop. But book your flight tickets to Lukla online in advance as they tend to sell out. All permits can be purchased during your hike.
Day one - Kathmandu - Lukla (2850m) - Phakding (2610m)
The airport in Lukla was named the most dangerous airport in the world. Landing over a steep cliff on a short runway makes you understand why. The views through the flight that takes you here are breathtaking though.
The path to Phakding goes up and down, up and down and you end up at a lower elevation than you started. There are some steep passages but the walk is easy due to the still relatively low elevation. For the night we stayed in a lovely place by the river called the Rock mantras.
Day two - Phakding - Namche Bazar (3443)
I started my morning with a bath in the crystal clear and ice cold river enjoying some mountain sun and the sound of bubbling water. The path was again changing from steep climbs up to coming down but the elevation was still not that high and so it was easy to walk.
We reached the busy mountain village of Namche Bazar in the afternoon. After finding a place to stay we went straight up to the nearby Sagarmatha National Park Visitor Centre for a little aclimatization hike. Namche is full of shops and a perfect place to get any equipment you forgot but expect to pay extra.
Day three - Acclimatization rest day
Second acclimatization hike up to Syangboche (3860m) gave us the first views of majestic Ama Dablam (6812). Namche Bazar is full of great restaurants with long menus but the cheapest and also best choice is always Dal Bhat - a local favourite made of lentils, rice and vegetables. It gives you all you need and although you keep ordering the same dish each place has their own way of making it and so it always tastes differently. I ate Dal Bhat for lunch and dinner every day through the whole trek.
Day four - Namche (3443m) to Thame (3800m)
Today’s hike is an easy one, gaining elevation bit by bit. We stopped for a breakfast at Thamu - a lovely little town surrounded by a perfect view of the snow capped peaks.
We then followed with an early lunch in the beautiful little village of Thamo and chose the Tashi Dele restaurant. We ordered Dal Bhat as usual and the lovely Sherpa lady that runs this place just popped in the garden to collect most of the ingredients straight from the ground. Food doesn't really get fresher than this. Make sure to visit the buddhist nunstery ( monastery for women) that sits at the very top of the village. The views from the main gate are just spectacular.
After reaching Thame - the final destination for this night - we did the obligatory acclimatisation hike to the nearby monastery and then returned for the night. Notice the names of the places we visited today: Thamu, Thamo and Thame. :)
Day five - Thame to Lungden (4380m)
The fifth day starts with a lovely hike passing a big Stupa. Walking is easy, following a river until we reach the first village and have lunch. The terrain gets quite steep in the last kilometres before reaching Lungden. The air is thin, the breathing gets gradually more and more difficult and we’re ascending slowly.
In the afternoon, we took some time to rest in our tea house and then continued with another challenging hike to the top of a nearby mountain to acclimatise. We stayed at the top as long as we could but it was very windy and eventually started to snow which made us come back quickly. Even though I was exhausted it wasn’t easy to fall and stay asleep. I was starting to feel the effects of the altitude.
Day six - Lungden - Rejno pass (5345m) - Gokyo (4790)
Beautiful sunny morning quickly turned into a heavy snow storm. It was not supposed to be snowing this time of the year and it made us all worried a bit. The hike ahead was going to be the most difficult so on this hike. There is no place to stop for rest and some warm meal between Lungden and Gokyo and to cross the highest point of the Renjo La Pass you have to climb all the way up to 5343m.
I did not sleep very well, my body was tired and I had to regularly stop to catch my breath. This was going to be a long day.
The show was getting heavier and heavier, the cold wind and white fog made it hard to see further than a few meters ahead. With higher altitude my backpack started to feel like it was filled with stones. My muscles felt stiff, my legs heavy and my head started to spin. Few meters higher I got this familiar headache. Strong pressure in my forehead. My body was fighting for some extra oxygen but couldn’t find any. We walked very slowly and the top of the pass was still far away. I was worried we may not make it to Gokyo before dawn but decided to keep my slow pace to prevent myself from getting even sicker.
I could already see the Tibetan flags marking the highest point of Renjo La Pass up in the distance when I started to hallucinate. Colorful rainbows were flashing in front of my eyes. Everything suddenly looked more vivid. I looked up and saw streams of warm sunlight coming down from the sky. It was completely overcast though, there was no sun. I collected all the last bits of energy and started to walk faster until I reached the top of the pass. I don't even have a photo here as, without even stopping to enjoy my moment of victory I headed straight down to decrease the elevation as fast as possible and take the pressure off my head. After a while most of my symptoms were gone and I started to walk as fast as I could. It was still a long way to Gokyo and we couldn't afford to lose any time.
We started today's hike at 5am and reached Gokyo at 5pm, just one hour before sunset. 12 hours of continuous walking in an extreme altitude and a heavy snowstorm. I was done.
Day 7 - Gokyo to Macchermo (4470m)
We started our day with a morning hike to the top of Gokyo Ri (5380) from where we enjoyed spectacular scenery of the lake. This place is among the most beautiful views I have ever seen!
Today, we were supposed to take a one day break at the Gokyo village and then continue ascending through the Chola Pass (54200) all the way to Lobuche. This day was supposed to be even harder than the previous one. The snow forecast for the following days didn’t look any better and so after a long thinking I decided to change our plan and come back to Namche Bazar where we started a few days ago and from there just take the regular road to the Everest base camp.
I did not sleep well, the previous night it was freezing inside the room and the altitude made it very hard to stay asleep for long. I could not wait to be lower again and so we started our descent. The trek was made harder by another heavy snowstorm, but today we were walking downhill and compared to yesterday it was a walk in the park.
After reaching our final destination, we checked in to the Lodge in Machermo and enjoyed a very tasty dal bhat and a good night sleep.
Day 8 - Machermo to Phortse (3840m)
This night was even colder than the previous one with the steam coming from our mouth in the morning and the window glass covered in ice from the inside. We got ready quickly and left for what ended up being the most scenic part of the entire trek getting through the valley with an easy and downhill and gradual descent. Without changing our plans and turning back, we would have never seen this breathtaking part. Seeming failure turned into a little victory. :)
We stopped at the Viewpoint lodge for lunch and at the end of the day we chose to stay in Valley view lodge. This was probably my most favourite accommodation through the whole trek. Place run by a lovely lady, with beautiful and warm rooms, great view and very good food.
Day 9 Photse to Somare
This was another stunning day with perfect views of the breathtaking Ama Dablam. Easy gradual hike through Pangboche leading to the lovely village of Somare where we checked in the Pasang Lodge and restaurant.
Day 10 Somare to Dingboche (4410m)
Day 10 started to be a bit harder as we were gaining some elevation again. We stopped for a rest and delicious food at the café 4410, and then continued to the village of Dingboche. After dinner, we hiked a nearby peak above the 5000m to acclimatise and admired two beautiful stupas on the way.
Day 11 Dingboche to Lobuche (4910m)
Although I could feel the altitude the first part of today’s hike until Thukla was quite easy and gradual. After lunch we took off for the most challenging part of the standard Base Camp trek - the Thukla pass. The terrain was very steep and I was sometimes running out of breath, but it was actually not as difficult as I expected it to be and although I was moving very slowly, the steep part was over quite quickly.
From here, another two hours of a gradual ascend. On the way to Lobuche you’ll pass all the graves of people that didn’t make it back from their attempt to reach the top of the highest mountain of the World. Some of them were still in their 20s and reading the messages of their loved ones was heartbreaking.
Following the advice of my Porter, we walked even a few kilometres past the Lobuche village and stayed in a lovely place called the Pyramid. It is a science station that also has rooms and offers some additional comfort and luxury like the hot showers or heating in the rooms. That definitely helps to get a good night's sleep before the final, and most important day.
Day 12 Lobuche - Everest Base Camp (5365m) - Gorak Shep (5140m)
With the help of my cbd oil, I managed to sleep very well even at such high altitude. I woke up, feeling great, full of energy and ready to reach the Base Camp. From the Pyramid to Gorak Shep it was an easy gradual hike with stunning views. What was making it difficult was mainly the rising altitude.
After a lot of rest and a Lunch at Gorak Shep we started the final two hours of ascent. Gradual walk on the top of a glacier with glorious views. Scenery unlike anything I have seen before. And I could already recognise the yellow tents of the Basecamp in the distance.
After enjoying our moments of victory, we departed on our way back. It will take another four days of hiking until we reach the airport in Lukla returning the way we came up.
Return flight ticket Kathmandu - Lukla: 360 USD
Porter: 300 UDS including tip
Accommodation: 4USD per night
Food: On average 12 UDS per day
Hot Water (to drink and for the hot water bottle at night): on average 4 USD per day
Permits: 20 USD
Total cost: Around 1000 USD
(All mentioned prices are for the year 2022, they may be different at the time of planning your trip, so alway double check.)