Hiking to Everest Base Camp: A Day By Day Account

Everest Base Camp. What’s is it  really like each day? Read on…

I did Everest Base Camp (EBC for short) with Yomads, which specializes in  unique travel experiences for the 20s and 30s.  You can read my full review here – hint – I recommend them! Our trip included a couple of days in Kathmandu as well, which I’ll discuss in another post – hint there were monkeys!!!!!

It’s important to note that hiking to Everest Base Camp is not the same as climbing Everest.  Everest Base Camp is where the climbers stay.  It’s their  home base and the beginning of their difficult journey, while it marked  the end of mine.  You can read more about the Business of Climbing Mount Everest here.

While hiking to Everest Base Camp, I jotted down notes in my journal describing how I found each day of the trek.  The intent is to show you how much hiking you do each day so that you can decide if it’s right for you.    This  is an honest day-day account of how I was feeling.  Note:  I suffered from altitude sickness and got sick, and while most people will feel the altitude a bit, a lot of people feel more or less fine and don’t experience it to the extent that I did, so don’t let that scare you:

Day 1: Fly from Kathmunda to Lukla, then hike to Ghat (2530m), ~ 2 hours of hiking.  This was the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen on a flight.  Travel tip:  Sit on the left side of the plane for spectacular views and hang on tight when you land in Lukla – it’s one of the most dangerous airports in the world!  We hang around Lukla for a couple of hours as our guide organized the porters who would be carrying our stuff.  That was followed by two hours of easy hiking and what is known as Nepali flat, i.e. lots of up and down, but nothing too strenuous. It was by far the easiest day. We stayed in one of Yomads permanent camp sites, which were very clean.

Lukla airport, one of the most dangerous in the world!

Lukla airport, one of the most dangerous in the world!

 

Day 2:  Hike from Ghat (2530m) to Namche (3440m), ~4-5 hours of hiking but I took 6. At 900m of elevation gain it was one of the steepest days, and crossing the really high suspsension bridges is exhahilarting – especially if it’s windy.  I felt really good, until about the last 30 minutes.

Yaks crossing one of the many suspension bridges en-route.

Yaks crossing one of the many suspension bridges en-route.


Day 3:  Rest Day in Namche.
 One thing you quickly learn about rest days, is that they’re not rest days at all.  They’re a chance for your body to adjust to the altitude and follow the advice hike high, sleep low, meaning you hike to a higher elevation, then return to sleep at a lower one. We did a 2 hour hike up with ~300m of elevation to Hotel Everest View, a lodge where we had some tea and  as the name indicates, a view of Everest.  Ironically it’s one of the few places along the trail that you can actually see Everest.  Afterwards we hiked down to a village that is home to the Edmund Hilary School.  I started the feel the elevation here, but as it was a rest day, I hiked slow and was fine. Travel tip:  I really recommend hiking slow on your rest days.  Safe your energy for the days that count. It’s 12 days of hiking, so you really need to pace yourself.

Me and Mount Everest!

Me and Mount Everest!


Day 4:  Namche (3440m) to Deboche (3770m), ~ 5-6 hours of hiking, but my actual hiking time was less than 4 hours.
And don’t let the elevation fool you, there is lots of  up and down, so you’re actually doing about 800m of ascent.  This was one of the most scenic days of hiking.  You have the option of taking the shorter but steeper or longer but more gradual way up a large hill – I did the former and was fine.  Your rewarded with a beautiful monastery, that if you’re lucky you’ll be able to enter.  It has strange opening hours, but I was fortunate enough to be there at the right time.  Some of our group who arrived later were not so lucky. I felt great, but noticed that it felt much colder, even though it wasn’t that much higher.
Entrance to a monasteryDay 5: Deboche (3770m) to Dingboche (4360m), ~6-7 hours of hiking.  It was my first night in Deboche when I was tucked into my tent that I woke up having difficulty breathing.  I panicked for a minute, then slowed my breathing. It was also here that I noticed the landscape started to change.  Trees were replaced with low scrub and a desert feel.   I loved seeing the landscape changes, but trying to hike when you feel you can’t breathe isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I started Diamox (altitude sickness medication) on this day.

The trees are all gone at this point along the EBC trail in Nepal.

The trees are all gone at this point along the EBC trail.

Day 6: Rest Day, which we all know is not a rest day by now, so we did a 400m ascent acclimatization hike. Our guide said it would take 2 hours to get up, but even in my weakened, slowed condition, I made it up in an hour.  It was absolutely gorgeous as it had snowed the night before and we had snow-covered views of the entire valley!

Snow covered valley near Dingboche, Nepal.

Snow covered valley near Dingboche.

Day 7: Dingboche (4360m) to Lobuche (4930m), ~ 6 hours of hiking, but I did it in 4 1/2.  A fairly easy day in theory, but I struggled with the altitude sickness, which the pharmacist on our trip, now said was also combined with a lung infection and bronchitis.  The views kept me motivated!

Prayer flags on a memorial for famed mountaineer Scott Fischer.

Prayer flags on a memorial for famed mountaineer Scott Fischer.

Day 8: Lobuche (4930) to Gorak Shep (5288) and Everest Base Camp (5360), ~7-8 hours of trekking.  I struggled for the first hour with altitude sickness, but felt better after that, I think the fact that I knew today was the day that we were finally going to Everest Base Camp was excellent motivation!  The anticipation grew as with each step, I got closer and closer.  Yellow specks appeared on the horizon, which our guide said were the climber’s tents.  Upon arriving, the mood was celebratory!  No one broke out the champagne though – drinking alcohol at high altitudes is not recommended, so we celebrated with Pringles bought along the way.  Unbelievably I also witnessed an avalanche right above EBC, but thankfully this was wasn’t deadly as the one in April had been.

Small avalanche at Everest Base Camp

Small avalanche at Everest Base Camp

Day 9:  Gorak Shep (5288) to Dingbouche (4330m), ~ 7-8 hours of trekking.  This was the day we had to decide whether to hike up to Kala Pattar (5548), which offers the best views of Mount Everest.  If you would have asked me before the trip I would have given you an unconditional Hell ya! What’s s a few more hours in the grand scheme of things? But given my weakened condition, difficulty in breathing, the 5:00 am wake-up call and extra few hours of hiking it would have added to the day, I surrendered to just descending – as did the rest of our 14 member group.  It seemed like such a shame, but after seeing a lady carried down on a stretcher, and hearing about a helicopter rescue earlier in the day, I think it was a smart decision given my condition.

Scenes from the EBC trail.  You meet a lot of yaks along the way.

Scenes from the EBC trail. You meet a lot of yaks along the way.

Day 10: Dingbouche (433m) to Debouche (3550m), ~4-5 hours of trekking, but I did it in 2 1/2.  I was still feeling bad, but descending to the lower altitudes allowed me to quicken my pace.  But the best part of the day?  I had my first shower in five days!!!! Until you’ve gone five days without showering, you can not imagine how good it felt!

One of the many prayer wheels seen en route.  I turned every one I saw - for good luck!

One of the many prayer wheels seen en route. I turned every one I saw – for good luck!

Day 11: Debouche (3550m) to Monjo (3440m), ~6-7 hours of hiking, but I took 7 1/2 hours.  I finally woke up feeling better than I had in days!  It turned out to be a good thing since it was a really long day and I didn’t arrive until 3:30.

Day 12: Monjo (3440m) to Lukla (2800m), ~4-5 hours of trekking.  I was so lucky with the weather.  It didn’t rain…until today, the last day.  As a result, it felt longer than it really was, but I was thankful that it had held off until the end of the trip.  One of the highlights of today was meeting this adorable cat locked out in the rain and of course, arriving back in Lukla!

Arriving back in Lukla, Nepal after 12 days of hiking to EBC.

Arriving back in Lukla after 12 days of hiking.

I had done it!  I had  finished the Everest Base Camp trek!

 




Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.
2016-01-16T22:29:55+00:00

20 Comments

  1. Emma July 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    What an amazing experience – the scenery (and your pictures) are just stunning! Emma 🙂

  2. Candice @ The Let's Go Ladies July 15, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    A whole 12 days of hiking? I don’t think I’ve got it in me. Looks like you had an amazing time, though! Those pictures are beautiful.

  3. Freya July 16, 2014 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Hi Laurel, congrats on reaching Base Camp. Looks like you had an amazing trek.
    I’m still sorry I missed you there.
    It is for sure an experience of a life time.

    • Laurel November 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Freya,

      Thanks so much. I know, I really wish we could have met up. How cool would that have been?

  4. Lisa Goodmurphy July 17, 2014 at 12:16 am - Reply

    What an incredible experience, Laurel – the photos are amazing! I can’t believe that you were able to hike to Everest Base Camp with altitude sickness, bronchitis and a lung infection – impressive determination!!

  5. Suresh Rathore December 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Hi
    Nice to read your experience. I do not know that I will be able to go upto EBC ever. I am having bronchitis/asthama problem to some extent. Can I take this trek…?

    • Laurel December 18, 2014 at 9:25 am - Reply

      @Suresh – Mmmm, not sure, that’s a question for your doctor. You definitely want to be safe.

  6. Subigya December 12, 2014 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Congrats on reaching the base camp! I am sure it was wonderful as it had been for us long back. The photos are stunning!

    • Laurel December 18, 2014 at 9:24 am - Reply

      @Subigya – Thank you! It truly is an incredible experience, glad you were also able to do it.

  7. Jenna Clark January 29, 2015 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the breakdown, because I’ve been teeter tottering on whether or not i want to do this or just a simple five day trek. So to be clear, you get to base camp and then walk back to the original starting point???

    http://www.passportandlenses.com/

    • Laurel February 2, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      @Jenna – Yep it’s 8 days to get there and four to get back. As long as you’re in decent shape, it’s not hard hiking, (the most elevation gain we did in a day was 1000m, most days are less), the challenge is hiking with altitude sickness if you get it. I got it, but still managed to complete the trek and am so glad that I did.

    • Hali November 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      You don’t necessarily need to do it this way. I combined the Everest Base Camp trek with Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri, crossing over at Chola Pass. This does however require extra days. We did it in 16 days I believe.. Chola Pass taking 2 days itself. Gokyo Ri and Chola both hit very high altitudes ( 5357m and 5420m respectively; EBC is 5364), however the views are even more breathtaking than that of EBC and very much worth it!

      Amazing photos Laurel! 🙂

      • Laurel November 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm - Reply

        @Hali – That also sounds like an incredible way to do it, thanks for sharing!

  8. antonette - we12travel September 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Yay – getting even more and more excited about it! Which month did you trek?

    • Laurel September 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      @Antonette – I did it in April – great time to do it!

  9. Linda September 22, 2016 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Hiya, Laurel. Just reread this as I am going trekking in Nepal in November …. not to base camp, nor as high, but am very excited! Couple of questions: 1. Do you know if it’s advisable to begin with Diamox or other altitude sickness meds before setting out? And 2. What sort of facilities do you get in the lodges? You mention showering for the first time in 5 days, and I am prepared for that, but can you dry your hair for instance? Truly not asking because of vanity but because my hair takes a long time to dry and wondering how practical it is to even wash it!

    • Laurel September 26, 2016 at 10:33 am - Reply

      @Linda – 1) No one in our group started Diamox before, and you may not need it. I’m not a doctor, so you should check to be sure, but I think you’re fine to wait and see if you need it.

      2) There’s usually 1 or 2 shared toilets, there won’t be any hairdryers. There may or may not be a shower. Our guide recommended against showering since the cold at higher attitudes can make you sick. I’d plan that you won’t be washing your hair and bring dry shampoo instead. Enjoy!

  10. Shankar Banjara February 1, 2017 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Awesome article with day to day itinerary with description and pictures of Mount Everest trekking area Khumbu

    • Laurel February 6, 2017 at 10:12 am - Reply

      @Shankar – Glad that you enjoyed it.

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