The Everest Base Camp trek was one of the most challenging, rewarding, life changing adventures we have ever experienced. If you’re thinking of doing it, don’t hesitate, just book it. But before you head off, check out our top tips!
1. Guide and porter vs a tour group
We made a decision early on that we would trek with just a guide and a porter rather than booking in with a group. I was worried about feeling pressured to walk faster if I was in a group. It turned out to be the right decision. We were able to extend the trek by a day as we got food poisoning, we could walk at our own pace and we could make snap decisions easily. For example we were so keen to get to Lukla on the descent that we motored down and took three days as opposed to the scheduled four. It was also much easier for our guide to change flights for the three of us than if we had been in a group. We had a fabulous experience with Trek Around Nepal. Narayan organised a flawless trek and our guide Bhim and porter Ramesh were both friendly, knowledgeable, organised and kind. We would recommend them without any hesitation.
2. Nab a seat on the left…
If you want a view of the Himalayas as you fly into Lukla, try and nab a seat on the left hand side of the plane. Your first glimpse will take your breath away.
3. 95% of your gear you can buy or hire in Kathmandu
You can save yourself a fortune by buying and hiring most of your gear in Kathmandu. With the exception of boots, water bladders, and a merino each, we purchased all the gear we needed for the trek at the legendary Shona’s on Jyotha Rd in Thamel. These guys are brilliant. They will tell you what you need and give you both cheap and expensive options. We spent roughly $100AUD each and were fully kitted out. This included a walking pole each, hiking pants, head-torches, mid-layers, socks, a duffle bag, a day-pack plus everything else. We also hired sleeping bags (rated to minus 20 degrees celsius) for 100NPR/$1.30AUD a day, down jackets for 60NPR/$0.80 a day and a silk liner (for the sleeping bag) which was a one off cost, for 150NPR/$2.00AUD. All the gear we hired was exceptionally clean.
4. Ziplock bags are the only way to pack
We shared a duffle bag between us and used ziplock bags to compartmentalise all our gear. It was the way to go. We had a bag each for our toiletries, camera gear, medicines, clothes for the evenings, socks, clothes to wear during the trek and underwear. It made unpacking and packing each day a breeze!
5. Pack charcoal tablets
We both got food poisoning whilst in Namche Bazaar but were able to recover enough after 24 hours of rest to continue with the trek. The life saver? Charcoal tablets. Once ingested, toxins bind themselves to the charcoal and it helps you get rid of bugs quick smart. We usually found we were throwing up within minutes of taking the tablet. We used this brand.
6. Buy all your medicines in Kathmandu
Again, you can save yourself a fortune if you buy your medicines in Kathmandu. We asked our hotel for a reputable pharmacy (we used the newer looking one located at the corner of Naya Bazaar Marg and Leknath Marg in Thamel) and purchased Diamox (approximately $6AUD for both of us for the whole trek), painkillers, plasters, antihistamine and electrolytes for a fraction of the cost in Australia. We bought our Aquatabs in Australia (if you buy them in Kathmandu you have to wait about an hour for the water to be safe to drink as opposed to 30 minutes).
7. They’re awful, but ‘Crocs’ are really handy…
Your feet have been in hiking boots all day so you want something comfortable and easy to slip into once you get to the village. Crocs. Or faux ones from Big W ($5). They’re also ideal when you need to get up and use the bathroom at night. Plus they’re light, you can wear socks with them and they’re waterproof.
8. Use a water bladder/Camelbak on the trek!
When you’re about to embark on a two hour climb, there is nothing worse than the thought of having to constantly reach into your pack to take out your water bottle. Having a water bladder meant we were constantly sipping and keeping our hydration levels up. It was really easy to drink 4-5 litres a day like this. We cannot underestimate how useful we found this. We used this Osprey hydration pack.
9. Don’t under estimate the power of snacks
It’s safe to say we struggled with the food. We aren’t picky eaters (we eat EVERYTHING) but the combination of altitude, the lack of fresh vegetables and fruit and the blandness of the food was hard. We chose to go vegetarian for the trek so mainly ate pizza, pasta, fried rice, dal bhaat, fried noodles or potato based dishes. Tomato and chilli sauces are the usual condiments you’ll find at the tea-houses and you’ll find yourself drenching your food with them. So, snacks like salty, roasted nuts, jerky and chocolate become pretty important. You can also buy snacks along the way but keep in mind the prices rise as you get higher (a tube of Pringles at Dingboche costs about $6AUD).
10. Stop and enjoy the view
The ever changing terrain means that you really have to concentrate on where you put your feet. But don’t forget to stop and take in the view. It changes rapidly and is breathtaking. And remember, it’s not a race. Once you reach your destination at the end of each day, there really is not much to do. The villages are small and it doesn’t take long to explore them so don’t feel like you’ll be missing out if you take an extra half hour along the way. Besides, walking slow helps you acclimatise!
We hope you find these tips useful. Feel free to ask any questions in the Comments section below and we’ll get back to you! Want more? Check out our video of the trek here…
Photographs: Thomas Southam
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