Everest Base Camp Trek is not a joke, at least not in usual sense. Just because you are not putting a foot on Mount Everest, do not think that the trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) is a facile undertaking. It’s so tough that at times you questions own sanity and why you ever decided to do it. But at the same time, you look at the scenery that’s so stunning. It changes from lush green farmland, dense forest, and crystal clear water rivers to barren land as you climb higher – than you realize it was a stupendous decision. It’s one of the hardest physical and mental challenges you will ever face in your life but on reaching base camp, will turn into the gratifying moment.
Mt Everest (8848 m) as seen from Kala Pathar
It all started somewhere in mid-Jan 16 when I started planning for the Everest base camp trek. All the tour packages were highly overpriced (around INR 70,000- 90,000). Eventually, I decided to do the trek unaided. I started exploring all the do about’s for the trek. After a lot of google search, I finally made my itinerary for the trip and started buying all the necessary gears required for the trek. Also, a prior booking of flight is needed from Kathmandu to Lukla. The actual trekking starts from Lukla airport. For flight booking visit Tara Air.
As the trek is not an easy undertaking, you need to keep yourself physically fit. I started cycling to the office, ran into few marathons and trekked few small peaks of Maharashtra in order to build up good stamina.
Finally, the day arrived and I along with my 3 friends was ready to depart for one of the most adventurous trips of our life. We took a flight from Pune to Delhi and then a train from Delhi to Gorakhpur. For train availability check IRCTC.
Gorakhpur railway station
The platform at Gorakhpur is the longest platform in the world. From Gorakhpur, the cheapest way to reach Sonauli border is to catch a local to Nautanwa and then a shared auto to Sonauli. Sonauli is India/Nepal border crossing. After crossing the border, firstly we exchanged our INR to NPR and then took a taxi to reach Kathmandu. It’s about 4-5 hour drive from the border.
Sanouli border crossing
INR to NPR
How best to describe this crazy city? Chaotic, dirty, loud, but in many ways, beautiful. We stayed in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu, a very popular backpacker area of the city. Many other people staying here are preparing for their Himalayan trekking adventures. This is a great place to buy trekking gear at very cheap prices. Experience nightlife in Thamel as there are a hell lot of pubs and bars, almost the same kind of feeling you experience in Goa.
Cute kid of Nepal
Places of Interest
Pashupatinath Temple, Thamel Chowk, Durbar square, Boudhanath stupa. Most of the places are damaged due to severe earthquake. Renovation work is under progress.
Everest Base Camp trek Journey
Day 1 – Kathmandu-Lukla-chumoa(2650m)
The actual Everest Base Camp trek starts from Lukla after a flight into the world’s most dangerous airport. Leaving from Kathmandu airport, you’ll brave an early morning flight to Lukla. It’s a small aircraft with seating capacity as low as 16 and one of the scariest flight you will ever take. The pilots have years of experience and seeing them eating chakna stuff during the flight made me feel more comfortable. Try to sit on the left side of the plane for some spectacular views of the Himalayas. This was the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen on a flight.
Himalayan range as seen from Flight
After a 40 minute of flight, we landed on to Lukla airport -world’s most dangerous airport. The runway is mere 500 meter and is built on a slant to help slow on landing and speed up on take off. The end of the runway is either cliff or mountainside.
Kathmandu-Lukla Tara Air Flight
Lukla airport (2845m) and Runway is 527 m
After exploring Lukla for a couple of hours, we headed for Phakding. It takes around 2-3 hours to reach Phakding and the trail is mostly downhill. We were enriched with some breathtaking views all along the trail which added to our excitement and apparently we decided to trek further.
Sometimes earning is tough
Beautiful Dudh Koshi River Everest Base Camp Trek
Trekking for about an hour, we reached Chumoa where you need to obtain a mandatory Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS card). The guy working at TIMS office was very friendly and he suggested us to stay at his lodge as it already started getting darker.
If you need more info you can refer to Trekker’s Information Management System website.
One of the many suspension bridges en-route Everest Base Camp Trek
Day 2 – Chumoa to Namche Bazaar(3440 m)~5-6 hours of hiking
After having breakfast we headed for Namche. Near about 20 min walk from Chumoa, we arrived at Sagarmatha National Park entrance permit office from where you need to obtain permits to go further beyond.
For more details on entry fees, you can refer official tourism website for Nepal.
Around 800 meters of elevation gain, it is one of the steepest days. Crossing the high suspension bridges is exhilarating. Those who have watched the 2015 Everest movie will recognize these suspension bridges. It is the higher of the two bridge that is operational.
The higher suspension bridge is operational
On the way to Namche Bazaar, we got to witness the first view of a highest physical structure on planet earth-Mt. Everest (8848m)
Mt Everest (8848 meter) -Highest physical structure on planet earth
After a tiring 2 hours of only uphill trek, we finally made it to Namche Bazaar, one of the larger villages in the Khumbu region. It’s where trekkers and tourists refuel and get last minute gear.
Trekkers have their own ways to enjoy at Everest Base Camp Trek
For the first time, hikers experience the altitude of around 10000 feet. It is highly advised to spend a rest day here to acclimatize our body for such high altitude. Avoiding acclimatization may lead to signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) like dizziness, nausea, breathing problems, headache or fatigue. Also, you would hear from many people that hike high, sleep low, mean you hike to a higher elevation, then return to sleep at a lower one.
An evening view of Namche Bazaar on Everest Base Camp Trek
Lodge dining room with Chimney
Day 3 – Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3860 m)~4-5 hours of hiking
As we were short of days for the whole trek, we skipped the rest day and headed for Tengboche the following morning. The first half of the walk is fairly simple. On the way you come across superb views of Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Ama Dablam and close up view of Thamserku. After a tiring hike of 4-5 hours finally, we made it to Tengboche.
In route to Tengboche on Everest Base Camp Trek route
Salute to this guy, almost 150 kg at back on such a terrain and low altitude
Tengboche is a midway station on the trail to the base camp. In the village is an important Buddhist monastery – Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. Lodge stay at Tengboche was awesome as the owner’s son was huge Bollywood fan and he was very happy to serve us. Charging a phone here would cost around 200 bucks and he didn’t ask for a single penny. Bhakthi (owner’s son)-we loved your kind nature boy and will remember you for entire life.
Best location to relax and a tea could be icing on the cake
Day 4 -Tengboche to Pheriche (4243m)~ 4-5 hours of hiking
Now as we proceed further up the trail, grassy lands now started turning into barren land with snow everywhere. Trekking now starts becoming more tougher and tougher with decreasing oxygen levels. Our plans for today was to make it to Lobuche but with plummeting strength levels we decided to hang our boots at Pheriche itself.
Sit back and relax Everest Base Camp Trek
It was an amazing evening at Pheriche as we experienced the first snowfall of our trek and indeed I saw first of my life.
Snow all around at Pheriche on Everest Base Camp Trek
Day 5 – Pheriche to Lobuche (5164 m)~4-5 hours of trekking
Trek from Pheriche to Lobuche is not that steep but high altitude and low oxygen start taking a toll on your body. I felt a severe headache and as a safety measure took Diamox – a medicine to diagnose from altitude sickness. After a tough hiking for about 4 hours, we reached Lobuche.
You make friends all the way on Everest Base Camp Trek
Day 6 – Lobuche to Gorakshep(5164m) and evening hike to Kalapathar (5545 m)
We started very early in the morning as it was a long trekking day going ahead. After hiking for 2 hours we arrived at Gorakshep. Reaching Gorakshep is an achievement in itself. It’s the last village before basecamp, where you can find lodges to stay. A Dal Bhat here would cost around 750 NPR and a water bottle would be around 300 NPR. The only reason being that all raw materials are brought here by sherpas on their back, who walk for days to reach here.
A milk tea 150 bucks only at Gorakshep on Everest Base Camp Trek route
Gorakshep – last village before Everest Base Camp
After having breakfast, we decided to hike to Kalapathar. Kalapathar is the highest peak you can scale on an Everest base camp trek. From Kalapathar top, you can witness stunning view of the sunset, when plummeting sun rays falls on Everest summit giving it an orange color. But you need to be lucky for such view and pray for the weather to be clear which was not in our case. It was much to my disappointment after trekking so hard for 4 hours. I decided to trek Kalapathar again early morning to have a view of sunrise.
Kalapathar Top -5545 meter
Day 7 – Hike to Kalapathar (5545m) and then to Everest Base Camp (5348m)
We started around 4 am carrying the head torch with us. It was extremely dark and chilly out there. After a difficult 3 hours of trek all uphill, we reached the top of Kalapathar. It was an astonishing view of Everest from there and cannot be described in words. People won’t think of doing Kalapathar once as its that tough at such altitude and depleting oxygen level and doing it twice made me feel gigantic.
Mt Everest (8848 m) as seen from Kalapathar
After coming back from Kala Patthar, it was time to fulfill one of my dreams, a final stretch from Gorakshep to Everest Base camp. We started somewhere around 11 and made it to base camp around 1:30. A scream of relief came out. We couldn’t believe we finally made it. We were so proud of what we had accomplished. Our reaching to Everest base camp dream finally came true.
Yellow specks appeared on the horizon, which was the climber’s tents who were attempting to summit this year. They stay here at base camp for around 6 weeks to acclimatize to such high altitude.
Everest Base Camp
There were few Indian Army tents at Everest Base Camp and around 15 of Army guys were planning for the summit this year. Meeting them was one of the best feelings I ever had in my life. They offered us to lunch at their tents and guess what, we got chapati after so long. They also gave us some chocolates, juice, biscuits, and medicines. It was an amazing time spent with the army and after wishing them good luck for the summit, we headed back towards Gorakshep.
With Indian army at Everest Base Camp
Day 8 – Gorakshep to Dzongla (4843 m)~6-7 hours trek
Most of the trekkers after reaching base camp follow the same trail all the way back to Lukla. But we planned to do one of the passes known as Chola Pass from which further west is Gokyo. It took five hours and we were in Dzongla. There is really nothing more than a yak grazing place with two small lodges and limited camping at Dzongla. But the surrounding views were breathtaking.
Dzongla at an altitude of 4843 meter
Day 9 -Dzongla -Chola Pass to Dragnag (5025 m)~ 5-6 hrs trek
Early morning, when we woke up, we realized Dzongla was entirely covered with snow, not the best conditions for crossing the Cho La Pass. I was a little bit nervous as high mountain passes are not something to be taken lightly. At 5420 meter the Chola pass can be challenging to get through and can be extremely dangerous in poor weather. But we had no other option but to continue our journey. After trekking a huge mountain we reached a giant glacier(Chola Pass). The sun gleamed off the snow and ice. It was an astonishing view.
Chola Pass (5420 meters)
We trekked further down west for about an hour and a half and reached Dragnag. Our plan for today was to make it to Gokyo but the weather had some other thoughts. It started snowing heavily and we had to end our day at a lodge in Dragnag.
In route Chola Pass on Everest Base Camp Trek
Snowfall at Dragnag
Day 10- Dragnag to Gokyo(4750m) and then to Phortse Thanga(3600m)~8-10 hours
We started early morning as we wanted to trek the mountain Gokyo Ri. The trail from Dragnag to Gokyo is very confusing and we lost our way. Also, there was no one around whom we could ask for the correct trail. Generally, these passes are offbeat and you find fewer trekkers, porters, and guides compared to the main routes.
The lost trail didn’t lead to any disappointment as we were blessed with some incredible views of sunrise on snow-capped mountains. Later, when I checked on GMaps to find out where exactly we were lost, I was amazed to see that it was somewhere close to China border. Maybe just a few mountains were separating Nepal and China border there.
Gokyo route Everest Base Camp trek
Finally, after getting strayed for around 3 hours or so, we found out the correct trail that leads to Gokyo. On the way, few of the mountains were horrifying as huge stones were continuously tumbling. Luckily we were unhurt and made it to Gokyo. We were greeted with a splendid view of Gokyo lake. Sadly we couldn’t make it to Gokyo Ri due to the lost time.
Gokyo Lake-Water is so crystal clear
Gokyo Lake Everest Base Camp Trek
After witnessing some stunning and thrilling views at Gokyo, it was now time to start descending all the way to Lukla with 2 more days left. We did not had the set itinerary on how long it would take to descend. We just wanted to push ourselves as much as we could.
Day 11 – Phortse Thanga to Chumoa ~5-6 hours of trekking
The walks were becoming more enjoyable with every inch we were descending. It was much warmer and oxygen level was up to necessity. Also after trekking so hard at such altitude, trekking down seems to be a piece of cake.
Cute Nepali Kids on Everest Base Camp Trek
Day 12 – Chumoa to Lukla ~5-6 hours of trekking
It was the last day of our trekking. We were enjoying each and every moment on the trail and feeling accomplished. The fatigue, headaches and general feeling of being unwell were all a past.
That’s how different is life for some kids
Day 13 -Lukla to Kathmandu
We were up early morning and waited at the airport. After security check, we boarded to same exciting Tara Airways Flight. And 45 minutes later, we were back in Kathmandu, bringing back with us triumphant moments and photographic memories.
Reaching Everest Base Camp will forever be one of the greatest achievements of my life
Everest Base Camp Trek Route
Do you have a place in mind that you visited was so beautiful ?? For me, it’s the Himalayas. Not many people can say that they have stood half way towards the top of the world and if I can do it, maybe you can. The Everest Base Camp trek is incredible and the experience of a lifetime. I recommend it to anyone looking to challenge themselves physically and mentally.
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Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my post on What’s in my Backpack.
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