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Trekking to Everest Base Camp Independently

Cloudy day at Everest Base Camp
Cloudy day at Everest Base Camp

During my time in Nepal I made it to Everest Base Camp twice. The first time was while I was doing my trek of the Three Passes. The second time was because I loved the Everest region so much that I wanted to go back and see everything I missed the first time.

Everest Base Camp is perhaps one of the most famous hikes in the world. When I was a teenager, I remember flipping through a travel magazine and coming across a story about the Everest Base Camp trek. The photos were insanely gorgeous, and I felt sad thinking that there was no way I would ever have a chance to go to that particular destination. Turns out I was wrong.

What to Know About Trekking Independently:

  • Even if you are starting out by yourself, you are never really alone. This is a busy trek. There are going to be people everywhere.
  • There are villages every few hours. You can adjust your schedule easily depending on if you want to hike more or less than planned.
  • When I did this trek, it was a low tourism year because of the earthquake. I didn’t have any problems finding guesthouses. A guide friend of mine told me that during peak season (October and November) in normal years, he will book lodges days in advance because they fill up so quickly. Once tourism picks up again, you may want to consider trekking off season or having a guide for peak season.

    If you squint your eyes you can see the really high suspension bridge that leads to Namche Bazaar.
    If you squint your eyes you can see the really high suspension bridge that leads to Namche Bazaar.
  • Acclimatization is very important. Don’t try to hike too far in one day because you will run the risk of getting acute mountain sickness. There will be days when you only hike 3 or 4 hours, and that’s OK. Take your time in order to stay healthy.
  • English is spoken everywhere. You won’t have a problem chatting with the lodge owners or getting directions.
  • This hike will take 10-14 days. The hike down is much quicker than the hike up since you no longer need to go slow to acclimate.
  • I met lots of other trekkers who didn’t have guides, but not very many solo female hikers. The locals didn’t seem surprised, but everyday I had other foreigners reprimanding me for hiking alone. When I was joined by my friend Kait for my second hike, everyday men would ask us our destination then tell us we would never make it by sunset (we always made it). Being accustomed to the more liberal American hiking culture, I found these interactions mentally draining and and I got pissy with quite a few condescending guys.
  • Base camp isn’t much to look at, honestly. You can’t even see Everest from base camp. The journey there is the best part. If you want the best view of Everest, hike up Kala Patthar while you are in Gorak Shep. Most people do this as an early morning sunrise hike. It’s less crowded if you go for sunset and you can sleep in the next day!

How Much Money Will You Spend?

I spent $20-25 a day on this trek. This was while trying to be conscious not to over spend. If you eat a lot of food or like to indulge in beer or chocolate often, plan on bringing extra money. There are banks where you can withdraw money in Lukla and Namche Bazaar if you run short, but bring enough cash for your whole hike.

If you fly in and out of Lukla, plan on spending $160 each way. The permits for the region add up to roughly $52.

Ama Dablam Base Camp was one of my favorite side trips.
Ama Dablam Base Camp was one of my favorite side trips.

My Favorite Places on the Trek:

  • After the flight into Lukla, stop at Everest Burger and get a yak burger and Sherpa Brewery’s Khumbu Kolsch.
  • There are quite a few suspension bridges on this trek, but the highest and scariest of them all crosses over the river before the uphill climb into Namche Bazaar. I was halfway across when I noticed that a yak train was about to get onto the bridge. My fear of heights temporarily disappeared as I took off running to get to the other side.
  • Khumjung is village after Namche Bazaar. It’s about an hour off of the main route, so most trekkers skip it. It was my favorite village because it’s surrounded by snow-capped peaks and at night they are glowing with moonlight.
  • The Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Tengboche is open to trekkers and is surrounded by a panoramic view of the Himalayas.
  • I took two nights in Pangboche and did an acclimatization hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp, which was much more impressive than Everest Base Camp. Ama Dablam is said to be one of the most photogenic mountains in the Himalayas, and hiking there was one of the biggest highlights of my trek.
  • As I said before, Kala Patthar is a spectacular hike, as is seeing the sunset hit Mt. Everest.

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