Everest base camp is one of the most favorite and challenging treks for adventure seekers all over the world. Anyone who has the passion and determination to conquer at least the lap of Mount Everest knows how fun, exciting, and challenging the trek really is. It is not an easy feat to reach the base of the highest peak in the world at 5634 meters. The difficult terrain along with the rising altitude poses a serious threat even to the best of experienced trekkers. To help you accomplish the awesome and unforgettable journey to the lap of Mt. Everest, we present you 15 Tips for Everest Base Camp Trek to ensure an adventurous, fun, and successful trip.
1. Train! Train! Train!
This is a suggestion that cannot be stressed enough. Anyone who has been a part of EBC trek would tell you to start training 6 months prior and to keep doing so regularly. When the difficult terrain and the high altitudes hit you, training is the one thing you wish you had done more. Training can include going for regular walks or hiking in your local area.
The difficult terrain of the trek can be battled with proper hiking experience in uphill and downhill hikes and rocky trails. As you will have to carry a backpack up to 20 kg, it would benefit to include weights in your exercises and gradually increase them to improve your strength and stamina. The four major physical aspects to focus on are cardio training, stamina, flexibility and leg strength. With 5-6 hours of trekking every day for about 9 days straight, you are required to be fit, healthy and flexible. There is no other way to make the trip easier than to train yourself to beat the majestic challenge that EBC trek is.
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2. Rent or Buy Gears in Kathmandu
EBC is a formidable, long trek that requires a lot of baggage. However, you do not need to buy everything and carry the heavy luggage from your home country. Everything that you could possible need in the trek is available either in Kathmandu or in Namche Bazaar.
While it is better to bring essentials like socks, innerwear and broken-in boots of your own, you can buy other articles of clothing in the shops of Thamel in Kathmandu and then rent expensive gears like poles, sleeping bags, down jackets, etc that you might only need for this trek. While many of the things are high–quality knock-offs of the originals, they are cheap and good enough to last the duration of the trek. You can research on your own or refer to other trekkers for the shops with the best quality and inexpensive products.
3. Hire a Guide or Porter
There is no greater achievement that accomplishing your goal on your own – however, a little help from your friends always makes the experience better. For experienced trekkers, it is easier to carry the baggage and complete the entire trek without much difficulty, for novice trekkers and others with health issues, hiring a porter and a guide is highly recommended. For trekkers that are new to the high altitudes and tricky, icy trails, a guide can provide assistance with the techniques and routes to make the trip more comfortable.
A porter can help with the luggage that can otherwise delay your pace or even cause unnecessary fatigue thus hampering your entire experience. Friendly Sherpa guides and porters are easily available in the area who are always ready to make your trip easier and fun. In many instances, they have even proven their bravery by saving lives of the fellow trekkers.
4. Bring Enough Cash
Though you will receive enough facilities and assistance during the entire trip, ATMs are one thing that you can’t find everywhere especially when you really need one. The hills and mountains still lack ATM facilities and are the places where you actually need cash the most. You should bring enough cash to last the entire trip and then exchange for Nepalese rupee when you get to Kathmandu.
You are allowed to bring US $2000 without declaration at the customs. There are money exchange centers, banks and some hotels and restaurants also provide the service for their customers at cheaper rates. Having cash-in-hand ensures that you can buy anything or get any service wherever and whenever you want without any hassle.
5. Pack the Right Gear
There are a number of essentials that you need for EBC trek to ensure a safe, comfortable, and successful trip. But these are a few items that are of utmost importance.
Trekking Boots: With long hours of trekking every day for almost 2 weeks, you need to make sure your feet are dry and comfortable. For that, you need proper, waterproof, trekking boots to protect from the cold and rocky trails along with woolen-blend trekking socks to keep them dry and comfortable. Get yourself best hiking boots for plantar fasciitis if you suffer from it.
Down Jacket: The destination of the trek, base camp, at 5364 m is cold at any point of the year. So, cold is a major hurdle that can hinder the trek. Nothing helps beat the cold like a high-quality down jacket. You can bring your own or buy one from one of the original stores in Kathmandu.
Other essential include water bottles, sun hats, sunscreens, sleeping bags, medication, personal health requirements, and many others.
6. Do not Underestimate the Cold
Even if you trek during the warmest months, the teahouses you stay in at such high altitudes will be very cold. Once the stoves are put off after dinner, the lodges or teahouses get very chilly to a point you can’t bear. So it is always a good idea to make preparations and carry certain items to avoid cold, health issues, frostbites, and many other serious problems. Make sure to include gloves, hats, warm and comfortable innerwear, 2-3 layers of clothes in addition to your down-jacket, extra blankets, and hot water bags to take to bed/sleeping bag.
7. Keep Hydrated
One of the biggest problems you can face during the trek is dehydration. With uphill and downhill treks taking a toll on the energy levels, hydration is the only way to compensate the loss and keep going. 5 liters per day is an ideal amount to keep the body fit and moving forward. The trick is to keep boiled water in the bottle at night and try to finish it the next morning or throughout the day. Even if you lose your appetite, water can help you maintain the temperature and energy levels. You can also take tea-bags or juice powders (Tang) for flavors.
8. Avoid the Sun and the Wind
The lower elevations can get very warm during the day. The uphill climbs and the stress can also be very hot. So, it is obvious for trekkers to tone down to half-sleeved shirts. However, the sun can cause dehydration and serious sunburns. It is very important to keep drinking water regularly, wear hats, sunglasses and use sunscreens at all times to avoid sunburns that could cause problems later on. As the trek gets windy, it is better to put on moisturizers and windcheaters to protect your skin and body from the cold.
9. Slow and Steady Wins the Race.
There is always a temptation to reach to the base camp for the majestic views of the mountain and to conquer the expedition. However, EBC is a race where the slow and steady truly win the race. The quick shift to high altitude requires that there is a slow ascent as one acclimatizes at the lower elevations. Trying to quickly ascend in the first few days can lead to serious altitude sickness that could even be fatal.
There is a scheduled duration for everyday treks that is easy and adaptable to all kinds of trekkers that have been tested by many trekkers who have successfully completed the trek. Keeping a steady pace and even taking extra days to rest, save energy and prepare yourself is the best way to make sure you enjoy the trek as well as complete it. So, do not rush and pressure yourself in any way. Slow and steady might not be the first but will definitely complete the trek when it comes to EBC.
10. Bring Treats
As you are completing the daunting trek at such a high altitude, your appetite might not always be normal. You might not like the food being served at certain places or your body might be rejecting foods due to exertions or other reasons. However, it is very important to keep eating to replenish the calories you burn throughout the day. Keeping a pack of treats (chocolates, protein bars, snacks) that you like can come handy in such situations. Not only do they provide you energy, they always lighten up your mood during the tiring days. While you should not carry too much as all sorts of food options are available up in the mountains, you should have something you like to cheer up your spirit as well as your stomach.
11. Research About the Places and People
As you enter the Khumbu region, you are entering a land of local people and wildlife that had been left untouched before international tourists were allowed in the area. It is better to learn about Sherpas and other locals, their lifestyles and culture before you start the trek.
It would help you have a good rapport with your guide or porter as well as the people you meet on the trails, teahouses, and lodges. The trek is so much about the people and the cultural experiences as you get to experience true mountain lifestyles. Keep in mind not to insult the people and their culture which would leave a bitter memory of the place.
There will be suspension bridges, prayer flags, yaks and mules commuting with the local people in the trails that follow certain rules and beliefs that you might not have experienced before. Finding out about all these in advance would prepare you better for the trip ahead.
Sagarmatha national park is famous for protecting the endangered plants and wild animals in the region. But the tourists crowding the region for the treks, tours, and other trips have been polluting the area with the wastes they create. You can help in their conservation by following proper rules, regulations and safety measures to keep the beauty and grandeur of the place intact.
12. Bring Maps and Lonely Planet and Books
The maps and other guide books are constant companions that give you extra information about the places you are in, the people and the culture, or any symptoms of altitude sickness that you might be having. They mention the details about the sights and sites and make sure you do not miss out on the highlights of any place. You will have a proper idea about where you are going and what is to come. The books can keep you company during rest days and keep your spirits up. If you are a novice trekker, the books can be your guides into the mystic and majestic mountainside.
13. Bring your Own Personal Items
While most of the essentials can be bought in Kathmandu or Namche, it is better to carry your own personal belongings. Things like hand sanitizers, band aids, toiletries, hand towels, sanitary pads, batteries, cameras, etc might not be of your preference while buying them in Nepal. It makes your travel even easier to know that you have everything that you need.
14. Control your Diet
Once you reach Namche, the altitude increases from the usual sea level and that has an impact on our body and its metabolism. There will be changes in your appetite, water intake, sleep cycle, and many others. There is a huge chance of having an upset stomach. While it is very important to keep eating to maintain the calories and energy levels, you have to be very careful to not eat anything you can find.
Try to get mineral water or boiled water wherever you can to ensure you don’t get diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. Some of the Nepali food or even regular western food might not agree with your stomach. So to avoid any serious health issues or embarrassments in the trek, make sure to have a proper amount of the right food so there is no delay in the completion of the trek.
While there are so many things to consider, be aware of, and strictly follow during the trek, it is important to keep in mind that after all, you are on a vacation. You will be traveling through one of the most scenic trails of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Make sure you do not miss the spell-binding mountain views and the serene landscapes. Have a good rapport with your fellow trekkers and porters so you can build friendships for a lifetime.
Try to experience the local culture and lifestyle and absorb all the differences and authenticity whether you are in the busy life of Kathmandu or the quaint villages of Khumbu. Having an open mind to accept the difference in culture and lifestyle can help you have a better understanding of the mountain world. Having an open mind and spirit helps you relax and stay positive even in the worst days of the trip as you realize that the destination is only a few days away. So relax as often as you can and fully take-in the beautiful experience that EBC really is.