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!
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.
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!
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.
Day 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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 after 12 days of hiking.
I had done it! I had finished the Everest Base Camp trek!