While trekking to Everest Base Camp on the south side of Mount Everest, you will follow in the footsteps of climbing legends, including Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who made history in 1953 as the first people to reach the summit of the world’s tallest peak.
Along the way you will travel on a bustling path that immerses you in the local culture. You’ll pass by monasteries, cross suspension bridges adorned with colorful prayer flags, enjoy hot meals in cozy teahouses and gaze upon some of the world’s tallest peaks, including Ama Dablam, Lhotse and Nuptse.
To get to Everest Base Camp, most people travel through Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. From Kathmandu, you will fly to Lukla, a small city situated at 9,383 ft., where the real trekking begins.
The following article provides information, tips and a detailed packing list to help you prepare for a trek to Everest Base Camp.
Everest Base Camp Pre-Trip Planning
Physical preparation: The path from Lukla to Everest Base Camp is only about 40 miles long, but you will gain more than 8,000 ft. in elevation as you make your way to Base Camp at 17,598 ft. For a successful and enjoyable trip, it’s important to be in excellent physical shape and to move slowly up the path. It’s common to take 8–10 days to make the trek from Lukla to Base Camp in order to give your body time to acclimate to the altitude.
Health considerations: Before traveling to Nepal, make sure you’re up to date on routine vaccines and talk to your doctor about other vaccines and medicines you may need. Visit the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and see our Health Concerns for Travelers articlefor more information.
Post-earthquake travel considerations: Due to the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, you should anticipate that certain historic sites and neighborhoods in Kathmandu that you may have read about in guidebooks will be inaccessible due to the damage. A qualified guide company will help you navigate the impacts to the cities, towns and trekking route.
Everest Base Camp Trek Guides and Fees
The Nepalese government requires that all trekkers have a professional guide, however, it’s unclear how consistently this law is enforced.
You can arrange your trek with a local guide in Kathmandu or Lukla, or go with one of many guide companies in the U.S. Most reputable guiding outfits in the U.S. charge $3,000–$5,000 for a trek to Base Camp, depending on the route, length of trip and quality of accommodations. Be wary of outfitters offering extremely low prices. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A benefit of going with a guide company is that the company will generally arrange most of the logistics for you, such as finding porters, handling airport transfers, booking lodging, getting permits, preparing meals and providing group gear. Airfare to and from Kathmandu is not included, while airfare to and from Lukla sometimes is.
Tipping guidelines: Gratuities to guides and climbing support staff are not included, so bring cash if you’d like to offer a tip. Tipping is voluntary and you can do so at your own discretion, but as a general guideline, plan on the following (per trip member):
- Trip leader: $55–$60
- Sirdar (trip manager): $40–$50
- Assistant trek guide(s): $20–$28 per guide
- Cook: $30–$40
- Assistant cook: $25–$35
- Cook’s crew: $15–$25 per crew member
- Porters: $8–$10 for each porter
- Yak drivers: $5–$10 for each yak driver
- City tour guide & driver: $10
Nepal Entry Requirements and Permits
Entry Requirements: A multi-entry visitor visa is required to enter Nepal. The cost varies depending on how long you intend to stay; the fee is payable at the Kathmandu airport. This requires one passport photo and the visa application. You can obtain the application at immigrations in the Kathmandu airport (or you can fill the form out in advance by downloading the form). Visit the U.S. Department of State Nepal website for more information.
Trekking Permits: A permit and Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card are required to enter the Sagarmatha National Park and trek to Everest Base Camp. If you’re on a guided trip, the guide company will typically take care of obtaining the permit and TIMS card for you.
You can obtain your TIMS card on your own at offices of the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu or at the national park entrance that you will pass through during your trek. Bring a high-quality photocopy of your passport and two passport photos.
Everest Base Camp Weather
During your trek you will travel from Lukla at 9,383 ft. to Everest Base Camp at 17,598 ft. and experience a mix of weather along the way. At Everest Base Camp, anticipate temperatures being in the 30s during the day and as low as 0°F at night. Snow can fall any time of year above 13,000 feet, so be prepared with warm clothes and waterproof layers.
Everest Base Camp Trek Lodging
You have two primary choices for lodging while trekking to Everest Base Camp: You can sleep in a tent (your own or one provided by your guide company) or stay in teahouses. The benefit of staying in a teahouse is that you don’t need to bring as much camping equipment along, but they can be noisier and busier than tent camping. (If you choose to stay in a tent, you can still dine in the teahouses.)
Packing for an Everest Base Camp Trek
Choosing a duffel: All you gear and clothing should fit easily into one extra-large duffel bag. When buying a duffel bag for this purpose, look for one with about a 100-liter capacity. The duffel should be made from rugged waterproof material and have a durable zipper that can be locked closed with a luggage lock. Avoid bags with wheels and handles, as these make the bags difficult for porters and yaks to carry.
Dividing your gear: When you arrive in Nepal, you can divide your belongings into “trek” and “non-trek” items. Pack your “trek” clothing and gear in large garbage bags before stashing them in the 100-liter duffel to ensure everything stays dry. It’s helpful to bring an additional lightweight duffel bag to store your “non-trek” items while you’re off hiking. Many guide companies will provide secure storage for your belongings.
While trekking, you will typically carry the gear you need for trekking from one camp to the next in a medium-sized daypack (approximately 25–35 liters). You’ll pack things like sunscreen, sunglasses, food, water, money, passport, a camera and extra clothing in this bag. The rest of your clothing and gear goes in your large duffel bag that will be carried by a porter or yak from camp to camp.
Weight restrictions: When flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, there is a weight restriction of 30 pounds per person for checked baggage, with fees for going over that. Check with your airline to confirm weight restrictions. To help keep the weight of your checked bag below the 30-pound limit, consider wearing your hiking boots and any heavier clothing items on the plane. Once you arrive in Lukla you can change and repack.
Carry-on tips: Remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing and medications in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed.
Cultural Tips for Nepal
Nepal is a very old place, and by U.S. standards it is culturally conservative. Himalayan people are renown for their respect of each other and others’ cultures and you’re encouraged to show that same respect. When planning what to bring on your trip, here are a few considerations:
Dressing tips: It’s recommended that women wear pants or a skirt with tights underneath. Tights, shorts and sport tops are not advised unless worn under other clothing. For men, pants are best, or wear knee-length hiking shorts. Men should never go shirtless.
Home visits: Give money or a small gift when invited to a private house.
Everest Base Camp Packing List
The following list is designed for a guided trip to Everest Base Camp. Guide companies will generally include group cooking equipment, tents, sleeping pads, and water filters. Check with your guide company ahead of time to be sure you understand what gear is provided.
The equipment on this list, combined with the gear provided by your guides, will cover the Ten Essential Systems you should have on every backcountry trip: navigation; sun protection; insulation; illumination; first-aid supplies; fire; repair kit and tools; nutrition; hydration; emergency shelter.
Note: There may be overlap with equipment for travel and equipment for climbing. Keep this in mind when choosing quantities.
- Airline tickets (confirmation and itinerary)
- Nepal Visa form (may be obtained at Kathmandu Airport)
- Travel insurance policy documents
- Valid passport
- Copy of passport (2 copies, first page only)
- Passport photos (4)
- Wicking, quick-dry boxers or briefs (3)
- Wicking, quick-dry sports bra (for women)
- Heavyweight long underwear bottoms
- Heavyweight long underwear top
- Midweight long underwear bottoms
- Midweight long underwear top
- Wool or synthetic T-shirts (2)
- Midweight fleece or soft-shell jacket (2)
- Midweight down or synthetic parka with hood
- Convertible hiking pants
- Fleece pants or insulated pants
- Lightweight waterproof/breathable rain jacket
- Lightweight waterproof/breathable rain pants
- Midweight fleece gloves or wool gloves
- Midweight waterproof gloves or mittens
- Liner gloves
- Midweight fleece/wool winter hat
- Sun hat
- Midweight wool or synthetic socks (3 pairs)
- Liner socks (optional)
- Glacier sunglasses
- Neck gaiter, balaclava, Buff or bandana
- Gaiters (for winter; optional)
Many of the following items are optional; tailor the list to suit your personal needs.
- Water bottles (two 1-liter or one 1-liter + hydration reservoir)
- Hydration reservoir (2-liter; optional)
- Water bottle insulating sleeves
- Watch with alarm
- Video / still camera
- Spare camera battery and charger
- Spare camera memory card
- Camping pillow
- Camp towel
- Insect repellent
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- Personal first-aid kit
- Eye shade
- Ear plugs
- Hand and toe warmers
- Small binoculars
- Cash (Nepalese rupees and U.S. dollars in small denominations)
- Credit card
- Cell phone in waterproof case
- Cell phone charging cable
- Local SIM card for cell phone (purchase in Nepal)
- Portable power device (for recharging phone or other electronics)
- Large garbage bags to keep items dry (2; optional; white recommended)
Many of the following items are optional; tailor the list to suit your personal needs.
- Toothbrush (travel size)
- Toothpaste (travel size)
- Toilet paper
- Personal wipes
- Women’s hygiene items
- Pee bottle
- Hand sanitizer
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
- Lip balm (SPF 30 or higher)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Biodegradable soap
- Dental floss
- Razor and shaving cream
- Skin lotion
- Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Non-prescription medications (pain reliever/fever reducer, antibiotic ointment, allergy treatment, etc.)
- Prescription medications; medications for traveler’s diarrhea, altitude sickness
Guide companies generally provide breakfast, dinner and drinking water during your climb. You’ll want to add to this by bringing lunch, snacks, drink mixes and energy foods. Check with your guide company to see what food is provided. You can also buy food locally in Kathmandu, Lukla, or at any teahouse you pass. Selection will be more limited and more expensive as you become more remote.