15 Tips For Your Trek To Everest Base Camp
Here’s our top 15 Everest Base Camp Trek Tips to help you have a great adventure to Everest Base Camp.
They’re tips we think will make your trek more enjoyable and that little bit easier but remember it’s only our opinion.
So as they say, in no particular order, here they are….
You know how we said there was no particular order to these tips, well there’s not but this should be your top priority when trekking at altitude.
If you’re going on an organised trek to Everest Base Camp then the organiser will build in rest days to acclimatise to the altitude but it’s also down to you to give the altitude respect and notice how you are feeling and report back to the trek leader.
If you are trekking individually then you need to set out an acclimatisation strategy so that you keep yourself safe and healthy.
There is no shortcut to acclimatizing but you should research as much as you can so you have a really good idea about what to look out for and expect.
We’re not going to tell you how best to acclimatize, that’s something you need to research for yourself but please please take it very seriously.
2) One Step At A Time
This ties into tip one but it’s also a stand-alone tip.
What do we mean by one step at a time, well with something like trekking to Everest Base Camp it’s very easy to become fixated on just reaching base camp at all costs.
We found that by just taking one day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time we didn’t feel the pressure of having to get to base camp.
Sure it was our goal of course but what if we hadn’t of made it. We wanted to make sure it was a brilliant trek despite how far we might have got.
Getting to base camp can preoccupy your thoughts and it becomes such a huge pressure on yourself that the whole trek becomes unenjoyable.
So we decided to just think about the day instead and where we would stop for lunch or where we would sleep that night and forget about how close we were getting to Everest Base Camp.
There are loads of things to enjoy on the trek, the views, the other trekkers, the wildlife, the food.
Enjoy the journey and don’t just focus on the destination.
Way To Go, Literally
3) Use Good Footwear
This may sound obvious but we would suggest everyone wears footwear made for trekking.
That means a trekking boot or trekking shoe with a good sole and preferably waterproof.
We had trekking boots so that our ankles were supported on the rocky ground.
You’d be surprised how many people we saw with just trainers or even fashion boots which they may have no problem with but if the conditions change and it gets really cold, snowy and icy or it gets very wet then it can be a problem with wet cold feet etc.
Your footwear also needs to be comfy and not brand new as they may give you blisters and that’s enough to ruin your trek.
4) Take Locals Time Estimates With A Pinch Of Salt
Now it’s known that people who live in the Everest (Khumbu) region are going to be way faster walking than you as they are used to the altitude and they’ve been walking these trails all their lives.
So there is the Nepalese time and a trekkers time for getting from one place to another.
But here’s the thing
As we were walking independently there were several occasions when we asked locals how long the walk would be to so and so and they would say a time and we’d say yes but for us how long, so we got a better evaluation.
So we took their estimate for us and added more and we were still taking much longer.
One example was when we walked from Kunde to Namche Bazaar.
We asked some ladies in Kunde how long it would take for us to walk to Namche which is up over a pass and down into Namche.
They told us it would take 15 minutes.
We joked that it would take us longer but they seemed to think that was a good estimate for even us.
Over an hour later we’re still walking and I think it took in total about an hour and 15 minutes.
Now we know locals are fast but not that fast.
So what was going on?
We learned later on from a very reliable source that the local people have a different perception of time to us and that they will just guess a time that it seems like to them.
That’s not the same in all cases but it explains a lot.
So just be aware of that if you’re asking someone how long a walk will take.
5) Stock Up On Toilet Tissue
When space in your backpack is at a premium the last thing you want to do is fill it up with toilet tissue but it’s worth it.
Stock up before you leave Kathmandu to start your trek and it will save you money later on.
Lodges on the trek sell tissue but as you go higher so does the price.
You may not mind paying a premium but we were trying to do the trek on a budget so every penny was important to us and why pay out more for something like tissue.
There’s always lots of awkward spaces in bags that can be stuffed with tissue:)
6) Be Organised
We found that the more organised we can be the better the experience we had.
By organised we mean getting a routine going of arriving at a lodge, setting out sleeping bags ready for the evening, knowing where everything is, packing in the morning etc
Knowing where everything is in your pack saves a lot of time, like for example if it starts to rain you can quickly get to your rain gear or if you get cold your warm clothing is accessible.
Being organised is also about knowing where you are walking to that day, the name of the village or the altitude you will be climbing too etc.
It just helped smooth things over rather than everything being chaotic.
7) Pick You Lodge
So if you’re on an organised trek then you won’t have to worry about this one but if trekking independently then we would say, don’t go for the first lodge you see when you arrive in a village.
We would arrive then have a look around several. It can be a bit of a chore as all you want to do after a long day trekking is crash or eat but it’s worth taking your time and looking around a few.
On the whole, lodges are similar but there might be one you like over another.
Some are cleaner than others, have better prices, better food menus, better views etc
We liked having a triple room so we might have to look around for that or go for two separate rooms.
Some lodges were even free if you ate their food which was the case usually anyway.
Some might have an inside sink with water, some were outside.
It was definitely worth taking some time to look and get the best deals.
The View Of Gorak Shep From Kalpathaar
8) Stay Out Of The Way Of Yaks
Yaks are beautiful creatures but you don’t want to get on the wrong side of them, literally.
You’ll know a Yak train is heading your way by the approaching sound of yak bells.
The Yak herder is on a time frame, ferrying equipment and supplies to expeditions and lodges higher up or going back down to load up the Yaks for another trip.
He is not interested in slowing his herd down for you so you better get out of the way of the horns when they come thundering past.
If they are going uphill then chances are they will be travelling at quite a slow pace but coming down that can move fast.
You don’t want to find yourself on the edge of a big drop with an approaching Yak ready to knock you into oblivion.
Even if the Yak goes around you the pack it’s carrying can knock you flying.
Always go on the inside of the trail so that you don’t get knocked off and if you can get higher up off the trail then all the better.
We had some close shaves with Yaks on our last trip and it wasn’t pleasant.
But they are lovely creatures and if you get to see calves then they are adorable.
Yaks On The Everest Base Camp Trail
9) Fill Your Water Bottles Up In The Evening
Little tip but worth its weight in gold.
You’ll drink lots of water as you trek.
We had water purification tablets with us but we didn’t really want to use them and we don’t like the idea of buying single-use plastic bottles so we found that if we got the lodge to boil us a big flask of water last thing in the evening we could fill our water bottles ready for the next day.
A bonus to this is that if you know your bottles definitely don’t leak then you can put them inside your sleeping bag to keep you toasty during the night.
We could refill them at a lodge when we stopped for lunch then that took us around to evening again.
10) Take Wet Wipes
Wet wipes or baby wipes are a great way to stay at least half clean and nice smelling while you trek.
Wash facilities are few and far between on the trail.
At some lodges, you can pay to have a shower which usually means the owner will heat up a bucket of water for you and there may be some sort of outhouse where you can wash with it.
I think we did this once as we were trekking 27 days and it was inexpensive as it was below the main Everest trail.
As you go higher it gets colder and the last thing on your mind is stripping off to wash and to be honest everyone is in the same situation so it’s not a time to worry about vanity.
A good once over with wet wipes can make you feel 100% better and ready for the day ahead.
That hot bath or shower back in Kathmandu will seem like heaven.
11) It’s Not A Race
Sometimes there seems to be a lot of competitiveness between trekkers but this is not the place for ego.
Altitude sickness is a real danger and pushing yourself is one of the sure-fire ways of becoming ill.
The order of the day is taking it slow even if it feels like you are plodding along and you could go faster, don’t.
You’ll give yourself a much better chance of reaching base camp if you go slow, stop and look around with regular breaks and let others pass you if they want to.
I think this is a bigger problem if you’re in a group of trekkers as you may feel you need to keep up or if you’re more experienced you feel you should be out front.
Let that all go and just enjoy your walk with like-minded trekkers.
You’ll always get those people on the trail who feel like they have something to prove by racing along, well just let them.
Beautiful Himalayan Scenery
12) Stay On The Main Trail
Obviously, this doesn’t mean, don’t explore something just off the trail like a stupa or village etc but it’s more where the trail is a bit exposed with big drops or forest etc.
People do go missing, not so much up higher where the trail is pretty well-trodden but lower down if you walk in from Jiri or Salleri there are posters of trekkers who have gone missing.
So just use your common sense and don’t go off scrambling down mountainsides.
13) Eat Simply
Lots of people get tummy troubles on the trek but luckily all three of us stayed healthy and we think that was down to diet and acclimatisation.
There are plenty of choices of food at the lodges you’ll stay at with the menus being wide and varied but try and eat the simple things.
Altitude does funny things to our body systems and the last thing it wants to do is try and digest certain foods.
It’s also best not to eat too much at one time as again it’s hard to digest.
The Yak steak and chips might be tempting but you might be much better off with the local Daal Bhat which the locals will eat for breakfast lunch and dinner.
We stuck mostly to fried rice or noodle dishes, Daal Bhat, soups and breakfasts of porridge, rice or toast.
One thing we stayed well away from was any meat while on the trek.
Just think how far that meat has had to travel up the trail in hot conditions and even if it’s fine your body won’t like digesting it at altitude.
Yes, you may get fed up with Daal every day but just think what delights await once you get back to your hotel in Kathmandu.
If you do fancy something a little different then lodges usually cook pancakes which are awesome.
A Typical Lodge Meal Of Daal Bhat
14) Protect Your Head And Face
It’s your lucky day, you get three tips for the price of one!!
Wear a hat, buff and suncream.
The sun is very powerful at altitude so you need to protect yourself from burning (says the man who got sunburnt in Namche Bazaar)
After that I got myself a knock off North face cap to protect my tender scalp.
Hats aren’t my thing but it’s totally worth it unless you want a really painful head.
Although lower down on the trek we used umbrellas to protect ourselves, higher it gets windier so it was difficult to keep them up.
A buff is a Godsend.
If you pull it up over your mouth and nose it will not only protect your face from burning but will keep out all the dust that’s being kicked up on the trail.
Obviously, a good high factor suncream for any exposed skin is essential too.
All Covered Up To Keep The Wind And Sun Off
15) Have Fun And Enjoy It
Lastly, because it seemed apt is to have fun and enjoy every moment.
We can get so lost in trying to achieve the goal of Everest Base Camp that we miss everything else the trek has to offer.
The achievement is the whole experience not just arriving at the goal.
You’ll see beautiful views of mountains, rivers, forests.
You’ll get the chance to meet locals and talk with the Sherpa people of the region as well as meet fellow trekkers and climbers.
One of the most memorable things for us was meeting the Gurkha Everest Expedition who were going to climb the mountain itself.
You may be surprised at what experiences seem the most important to take away from your trek.
Reaching Everest Base Camp