Everest base camp treks are an adventure many visitors have in mind when visiting Nepal. In fact, usually it is this very adventure that brings visitors to Nepal, and more specifically the Khumbu, or Everest, region. Everest base camp treks are more than just hiking trips. They require specific preparation for a successful journey, and even after these preparations are strictly adhered to, there is no way to know for sure how a person will react to the great differences in altitude. But there’s only one way to find out.
When speaking of Everest Base Camp it’s important to be clear on which base camp you plan to arrive at. South Base Camp is in Nepal, reached by the southeast ridge, and North Base camp is on the opposite mountain side within Tibet and reached by hiking the northeast ridge. Both offer a rewarding experience when trekking Mt Everest. The south camp is about 500 feet farther up than the north, at 17,600 feet. Expect hiking to either one to last about two weeks or so depending on the type of group or guide you’re traveling with.
The best times of year for Everest base camp treks are between March up to the end of May and again between early September and mid-November. The winter months bring much harsher conditions with difficult pass beyond Tengboche on the south side with a majority of lodging closed up for the season. Cloudy and wet, summer creates undesirable visibility conditions with soggy paths for hiking. Seeing the famous Everest rhododendrons, trees, and hedgerows blooming in April and May is worth the reward of spectacular mountain colors, but is a compromise as well—heavy dust carried in from the Indian plains can affect visibility.
Everest base camp treks end at a basic campsite on the side of Everest utilized by climbers ascending and descending the mountain. The break at this point is essential for success. Porters or Sherpas supply the camp with the help of mountain animals. During the summer, North base camp is reachable by vehicle. The number one use of Everest base camp is to stop and allow the body to acclimatize. This adjustment period generally lasts several days and greatly reduces the severity and risks of altitude sickness. Base camp is just that, a base. It is as basic as they come, with tent upon tent equipped with lights, blankets, and food. Internet via mobile phones has been possible since 2010 thanks to a telecommunication company in Nepal.
The vast number of guides offering Everest base camp treks is almost staggering. Many climbers take recommendations from friends, other travelers, or distinct companies. The route leads through magnificent scenery, passing remote mountain villages, stunning mountain passes and valleys, and alongside incredible monasteries. These areas provide scenic and peaceful places to rest, eat, and revive before trekking on. There are also local guesthouses and hotel-type accommodations throughout many regional areas. While some companies offer this type of trek, others rely solely on tent camping. Whatever the case, expect rustic lodging, not five-star hotels. Trekking companies offer both basic treks or treks with everything—entry fees, lodging, flights, food, sightseeing, porters etc—included.
The attractions before, after and during Everest base camp treks are amazing to say the least. On the southern side of Kathmandu Valley is Dakshinkali Temple, a dedication to the goddess Kali. The Buddhist monument Bodhnath is a gleaming, alabaster stupa topped by a gold spire. Mount Everest also offers a look at immensely rich Chitwan National Park, awe inspiring Himalayan ranges, and a close look at the hearty, spirited people living on the mountain year round.