Hiking to Everest Base Camp: things nobody tells you!
Welcome to this Mount Everest Base Camp trek blog. While I wrote this for the first time, I just finished watching ‘Everest’ on board of our flight to Singapore and found myself with tears in my eyes, seeing all the beautiful places that we saw in real life when we were hiking to Everest Base Camp. It’s been just six months since we were there but at the same time, it seems so far away already, even years. As we are currently flying over India, I see Kathmandu appear on the screen every now and then. From here, it would be a short flight only to the beauty of the Himalayas. Looking back at it, I realized a couple of things about our trek to Everest Base Camp.Things we didn’t know, because nobody told them to us beforehand. So we will tell them now. Just in case you are ever considering hiking to Everest Base Camp and you want to know what you are getting yourself into.
[Note that this Everest Base Camp Trek blog was first published in June 2016 and fully updated in October 2021]
Take Diamox on the Everest Base Camp Trek!
The one thing I was afraid of before starting my EBC hike was the altitude. Although I’m a fan of Scott Fisher’s quote ‘it’s attitude, not altitude’, the altitude can kill you. Litterally. We had read up on it before departure and I just a week and a half before we went to Nepal, I found myself stuck with a really bad bronchitis.
So bad, I had to go and see a doctor. Not only did she give me Prednisone and Antibiotics to get me better in time, but she also prescribed me Diamox, a medication against altitude sickness symptoms. I did not actually plan on taking this but figured I’d bring them just in case. She told me to take two pills a day in case I needed them. However, upon arrival in Lukla, our guide Jangbu asked if we wanted to consider taking Diamox. I told him I had 10 pills with me in case I needed them, but he told me that once you think you need them, you are already too late.
You should take Diamox as a prevention, not to cure the symptoms of altitude sickness. I was in doubt because I didn’t really feel like doping up my body that was slowly recovering from the medication against my bronchitis. However, if I wouldn’t take it and be unable to make it to Base Camp, I’d feel sorry forever. So I decided to go ahead and start taking them from Namche Bazar at 3.440m.
I can’t tell if it was the Diamox or other circumstances, but the altitude didn’t make us feel sick for one single second. Sure, we did have an occasional headache and we were short of breath most of the time, but that can’t be prevented. However, we never felt nauseous or sick like we saw other people feeling sick. If I would have followed the doctor’s advice to take them when needed, I may not have reached Everest Base Camp nor finished my EBC trek.
We are not doctors, and there for can’t tell you what is best for you, however, when you are trekking to EBC, consult your guide or a local pharmacy about what is good for you! We ended up taking 10 pills each, over the course of 10 days, so one pill each day, one half in the morning with breakfast and the other half during the evening before going to bed. Ofcourse, there are also some side effects that you have to know of, one of them is tingling limbs. My doctor told me that it would be my hands, but I ended up having tingling feet, toes, head, fingers and arms. Nothing to worry about, but slightly annoying and somewhat scary if you don’t know what’s happening…
Take enough tissues!
Anything is for sale along the way when hiking to Everest Base Camp but at a price. We had brought a lot of tissues from home, but as I got really bad stomach issues for nearly a week, we finished them pretty fast. The tissues that are for sale there are rubbish and expensive. One blow from the nose into it and it already got torn. As I always have a running nose while hiking, I truly hated it and not having tissues at my convenience. Ofcourse, it was unforeseen, but the ones I bought there were pretty expensive and crap. If you decide to hire a porter to carry your luggage, I can definitely recommend adding some extra tissues. Wet wipes may come in handy, too!
There is wifi for sale everywhere!
We already wrote it in another blog, however wifi can be found at nearly every teahouse along the trek. At a price of course, but it was not as expensive as we thought it would be and in some places, it even was pretty fast. If the guesthouse doesn’t have wifi, you can buy a card from Everest Link and use that to update your social media channels. On the internet I couldn’t find much about it before, so we wrote a full bog on where to find wifi on Everest Base Camp trek and what the cost was.
Bakeries are your worst enemy!
The biggest mistake we made, was going to a bakery and eat food that isn’t fresh. After three days of trekking and eating teahouse food, we found ourselves in Namche Bazar where they had all kinds of shops and bars. As we heard good stories about the local bakeries and were craving a piece of cake, we headed over and had (I have to admit) a delicious piece of pie each.
However, the day after I got sick and our guide asked us, if we happened to have been to a bakery. As we confirmed, he looked at us, worried, and told us that’s where I probably caught the food poisining. Those bakeries are notorious for keeping food out of the fridge for too long, sometimes even days, so you end up eating food that may taste OK but that is in fact full of bacterias.
I asked him why he didn’t warn us and his answer was that he used to tell his clients but nobody ever believes him. People see western stuff and assume that it’s automatically safe to eat it, but no less is true. Our advice is to go to bakeries, but inquire if the food you are having is fresh. If not, you should not take it, even if it looks divine. I ended up hiding behind rocks and trees for nearly a week on the trek. Just so you know…
The EBC hike is easy!
The trail to Everest Base Camp is easy, however the trek is not. Do you get what I’m trying to say here? I’ll explain it to you: the trail is pretty straightforward, well laid out and fairly easy. Even the glacier crossing we did was easy, we even did it without crampons.
What makes hiking to Everest Base Camp hard, is the altitude and the climbing you have to do. It’s nothing technical and basically, most people in a decent shape should be able to do it. However, most people have to turn around because of the altitude, because that is what making them suffer. The only technical part of the trek was in fact the trek across Cho La Pass (which is optional and should not even be considered if you have a fear of heights) and the crossing of the Nzogumpa Glacier, because there is no evident trail and people who don’t have a guide, can easily get lost there since there are no trailmarkers. However, if you plan on hiking the regular route and are used to hiking in the mountains, you should be fine, technical wise. Altitude wise, that’s a whole different story!
Frequently asked questions
I’ll end this article with some frequently asked questions. This post has been online for about six years now and over the past years I’ve received many questions from you guys. So here goes:
How high is Everest Base Camp?
The Base Camp Everest height is located at 5.364 meters above sea level.
Can you see Mount Everest from Everest Base Camp?
No you cannot see Mount Everest from Everest Base Camp. You can see Mount Everest from various other parts of the trek as well as from Kalapathar.
Should I go to Everest Base Camp with a guide?
Yes, absolutely! I cannot mention this enough. Your guide will help you find accommodation, make sure you are well and is there to guarantee your safety. I do not recommend going without a guide, despite other travel bloggers telling you to do so. Without my guide I would not have been able to make it across the Everest Trail.
Find options for guided tours below:
Where to stay in Kathmandu before and after your trek?
I usually stay in Kathmandu Guest House, located in the heart of Thamel but a quiet oasis in the middle of the city. I’ve always felt very welcome there and can truly recommend this place after each of my treks in Nepal. Check availability and rates here.
Conclusion and disclaimer
If I’d have known these things before hiking to Everest Base Camp, I would have come better prepared and may not have caught the food poisoning that kept me from hiking up to Kalapathar and Gokyo Ri. Looking back at our adventure, I can still say I’m proud of making it to the Base Camp, given the shape I was in at some point. Hiking to Everest Base Camp is serious business and should never be underestimated.
Planning a trip to Nepal? Make sure to order your copies of Lonely Planet Nepal and Trekking in Nepal here.
Looking for a nice accommodation in Kathmandu after your trek? I can personally recommend Kathmandu Guesthouse. Located right in the heart of busy Thamel, this is a true oasis of quiet and calm before and after your trek. I stayed here both before and after my trek and truly enjoyed it! All other suggestions for accommodation in Kathmandu can be found here.
I hope you found this article useful and that you enjoyed reading my Everest Base Camp blog! If you want to read more Everest Base Camp stories, go here to find all my articles!
Are you still in doubt which trek to make? Then check out this article about Everest Base Camp vs. Annapurna Base Camp.
Such a great read and useful information. Hiking to Base Camp is definitely something I want to do someday. Interesting that the most challenging part is the altitude, not the trek itself. So sorry you got food poisoning during the trip. I’m impressed you went on!
Thanks Jen, I really hope you will get to to it someday, it’s such a rewarding experience!
I never did the hike to EBC, but I did do the Anapurna trek and I climbed Kilimanjaro. I never took Diamox because of the possible side effects, but if I read your story, perhaps I should have, because I also got sick on my way up Kilimanjaro, I threw up like 8 times or so. Good advice!
Ahh that is such a shame. You can never know if you will get sick, somehow I’m happy I took the Diamox because I can’t have known how I would have felt when I wouldn’t have taken it, yet I saw people that got incredibly sick and I felt so bad for them. Did you make it to the top of Kilimanjaro?
I haven’t done EBC but did Inca Trail. Aren’t you supposed to take Diamox a few days before you hit the high altitudes?
Your guide can tell you all about this, I’m not a medical doctor so won’t be able to officially advise you…
I’m going next month. Really undecided regarding diamox. I’ve got some but unsure. Did it make you go to the toilet a lot? Was it then a problem to stay hydrated?
Nope but I got a stomach bug that did. My partner didn’t feel anything of it. I drank a lot and it was no problem for me at all!
Do we need to pack crampons for EBC? Would Yaktracks sufice? Going on 17/3/2018. Thanks
Ehm, depends on which ones. I had to google yaktracks but they seem like the rubber crampons that they sell in Kathmandu. I did it on those and was just fine. Unless there is a lot of snowfall, but you can never know in advance. I’d say you’d be fine with those though. Have an awesome trip!
Thanks for al the tips ! we just booked our trip for oktober 2018 and we are super excited !!!!
You’re welcome, happy to hear and have so much fun. Good luck on the preps as well!
I’ve never hiked or climbed before.Nor has my wife.Is this something you would recommend for inexperienced people as ourselves.And just to base camp.Im sure I would turn back or die trying to climb to the very top for sure.
I think yes, I’ve heard from more people that they hiked to EBC without proper experience. However I’d recommend you to get in shape before you will do this. Base Camp would be far enough for you I think, most people can’t continue beyond that. If you have enough will power and are in a decent shape, I’m sure you can do it, with the right mindset!
Dallemand i Thailand
Thanks for the info.
Im living in Thailand at the moment and thinking about going to Nepal for a few weeks. The thing is, that i have fear of heights. When trekking the EBC you must pass the high bridges, right? Do you think it would be better to for me to do the annapurna base camp trek?
I can walk in the mountains – its just the high bridges and if its too close to the edge of a steep mountain – then my fear is crazy
Hello! Yes there are many swingbridges to cross indeed. On Annapurna Basecamp as well, but not as many, only a few. However, don’t let this disencourage you, your guide can help you through it! It’s usually across a river and you can hold on to the railing so you should be fine, trust me, it’s worth it! Take care and I hope this helps!
Your blog is incredibly well-written and packed full of useful information. My husband and I have booked to trek it in the last week of May this year. We are excited as its the number 1 thing on his bucket list. I’m just really worried about a ton of things: I’ve heard that some of the suspension bridges have planks missing; melting glaciers; poor airline safety, overcrowded on the Nepal side etc. Would you have any comments on those and anything else you can think of that could help us better prepare ourselves? Also, was it wet when you were doing the hike?
Good advice! I will be going to Nepal and was wondering about if I could handle ebc. I do not have much trekking experience at all but I’m 25 in decent enough shape I know this will be a very difficult task for me, but without experience do you think it’s doable?
Douglas W. Hodgson
Wow, glad I read this! I would surely have raided the bakeries! Planning EBC this year. On Kilimanjaro we had a group of 4. Two of us took Diamox and two did not. The two who did reached the summit. Happy to say I took the Diamox!
Oh really? Happy to hear because I received quite a bit of negative comments about advising Diamox. Am hoping to do Kilimanjaro with a friend in the next few years btw!
how high can you go through the everest with bronchitis on you? i have bronchitis too, i need to take some counter measure if someday i will go there, someday, can you explain to me how to keep on going on with your bronchitis?
I went across Cho La Pass and to Everest Base Camp without too much bronchitis issues. Cho La is 5.420m and EBC is 5.360m. I used my Ventolin a few times but other than that, I was fine. I could not foresee how things would go for you, however if you are planning on hiking here, always use a guide service. They will look after you, make sure that you take enough time to acclimatize and notice the first signs of altitude sickness. I would never hike here without a guide. I don’t think you need to take any counter measure, just make sure you are fit and healthy before you leave. It’s all about acclimatizing and if you do that well, you should be alright!
did you stay in the base camp? and not going on until you reach the mountain top?
Nope it was not in trekking season so there was no possibility to stay there
I hiked Kilimanjaro 4 years ago with my husband. There were 8 of us in the group. 7 of us were taking Diamox from the get go (1/2 pill in morning and 1/2 pill before bed), while one guy chose not to. End of Day 1, all of the 7 of us were fine, but the one guy who didn’t have diamox with him was sick. We all pitched in and helped him by sharing for the balance of the trip and we all made the summit successfully. Did a subsequent trek to Machu Picchu. Flew from Lima to Cusco and felt ill right away at the airport in Cusco as we landed. Sick for the first three days in Cusco, even though we started taking diamox once we got into Cusco the first evening. I highly recommend taking diamox BEFORE you reach high altitudes.
Yep, same. I took it while hiking to Annapurna Base Camp as well and would totally do it again … not worth feeling sick on such an important trek. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂
Enjoyed reading your comments on EBC. Went to ABC this May with my son. Planning to EBC next May. Really want to trek Gokyo Lakes via Cho La Pass. Can trek without a guide? I know many like yourself, recommend going with a guide. If so possible to get one just to cross the CL Pass?
Hey! I just did ABC and loved it! EBC was a little better though 😉 ehm yes you can hire a guide at the village below Cho-La Pass. I forgot the name, but it’s after Gokyo. From here you cross a glacier (which can be tricky as it’s not marked path, make sure to follow other hikers with a guide if you can!) and then that village, there are guides available for the day. I hope this helps, have a great trek!
Ive always been curious but for somone scared of heights do you think they could do Everest base camp
Yes I think you could. However, it depends on your stamina and also how serious your fear of heights is. You will have to cross various swing bridges, if they are a no-go for you, then this trek will not be possible unfortunately. Good luck!
Hi, I really want to do EBC via the cho las pass to ensure I can experience as much as possible and to see more of the beautiful scenery. However I have a fear of heights and wondered how bad the cho la pass is and if you describe the ascent and decent as I can’t find anything descriptive about it.
hi Debbie, Well I have a little fear of heights too but I made it fine. Make sure to go with a guide who can help you up and down the trail, that really helped me a lot. Gokyo is so well worth all the effort so definitely consider!
Did you book through a specific company for your EBC trip? Any that you would recommend or suggest to avoid?
I used Rural Heritage – they are part of Himalayan Encounters. Let me know if you want to receive the details of my contact person there and I can get you in touch – I go with them for the third time in two weeks!
Trekking Trail Nepal
So True !!! These are the 5 topics often forget by the trekkers and guides being lazy to remind on every trip.
Nepal is different than the country you belong to. The air, water, the environment is hostile for newcomers. There’s a high chance you may get some allergies or health issues. As a travel expert, I recommend you to immunize yourself before you travel to Nepal.
Wow, the post contains all of the information regarding the trek. Thank you for posting such an informative essay about the Everest Base Camp Trek. Visit Everest Base Camp with us to take in the surroundings and take in the amazing vistas of the world’s highest mountain.
Thanks for the Blog. I also read your article about the Wifi. I’m pretty relieved now. I’m doing the trek in autumn this year and was really nervous because I’m doing it alone, without my husband. If it’s like this, I can contact him now and then and everyone is happy:)
Regarding the Diamox. I think it also depends a bit on genetics. I did a lot 2500m, 3000m mountains and also summited Kilimanjaro. I never took it, but drank minium 3liters everyday, that helped a lot. I only had a headache for 2 hours on Kilimanjaro at 4600m, but not in the summit night. Also taking painkillers like Ibuprofen and medicine against nausea and vomitting like Paspertin with you, could help. But I only take it, if there are symptoms.
But everyone is differnet, so i can only speak from my experiences.