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I trekked to the bottom of the top of the world - here's what you need to know to do it too

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

The decision to head to Nepal after five wonderful months in Europe was somewhat of a spontaneous one. A bucket list destination due to it being the location of my parent's 'meet-cute' back in 1987, I booked my flight while sitting at the dinner table with my wonderful Workaway host family in Trondheim, Norway.


Before booking the flight, I had told a friend I was considering Nepal as my next stop, and upon her utterance of "oh, I think I know someone who has just been there and hiked to Everest Base Camp", my decision was solidified: I would fly to Everest, and I would trek to Everest Base Camp.


Nangkartshang Peak, day 6, 5100m

As someone who usually adopts quite a blasé, 'see how things pan out' approach to traveling, the preparation required for this trip was quite a shock! With an Aussie friend on board with the trek, we were having to think about travel insurance, trekking companies, weather forecasts, trekking gear, routes, money needed and everything else in between. Here's what we figured out:



Travel insurance

I went with True Traveller - they have specific coverage for trekking in Nepal and trekking up to 6000m (you get up to 5555m on the Everest Base Camp trek if you choose to go up Kalapathar).


Trekking companies

After commenting on a post on a Everest Base Camp Trekking Facebook Group (hot tip: join Facebook groups - there are soo many out there and they offer a lot of really useful information), a trekking company, Spiritual Excursion, reached out to me on Facebook to discuss organising our trek. After confirming that they are indeed a local Nepalese company (please don't support an international company when there are soo many local ones that know what they're doing), and being offered what we understood to be a very competitive price, we decided to roll with them.


Weather forecasts

You can never trust the forecast when it comes to the mountains, but in the week leading up to our trek there was torrential rain, avalanches and all sorts of bad weather news to make us anxious about our upcoming trek! You can look at the forecast all you want, but be prepared for all seasons! Generally, October-November and March-April are the best months to do this trek. At this time, you should get nice, clear weather.


Trekking gear

I was pretty happy with what I took with me, so here's the extensive list!

Big things:

  • 1x 40L trekking backpack (we didn't use a porter, and though it was a tight fit, everything of mine fit in my 40L bag, but anything up to 55L would work).

  • 1x -20*C sleeping bag (I hired this from Kathmandu for about 1000 rupees).

  • 1x sleeping bag liner (nice to have your own if you're hiring a sleeping bag).

  • 1x set of hiking poles (I also hired these in Kathmandu - you can hire them from most trekking stores for about 100 rupees/day. It was my first time trekking with poles but I found them to be super useful for my old lady knees).

Clothes:

  • 1x trekking pants (nb: in Nepal, if you want to wear shorts, they should be just above the knee. It is not culturally appropriate to wear short shorts, for both men and women. The jury is out for whether wearing tights/skins is appropriate... we opted for the safe side and did not wear these while trekking either. It's important to be respectful).

  • 1x waterproof pants (you never know what the weather is going to be like in the mountains! Though it didn't rain for us, I used my waterproof pants as my end-of-day pants = the clean clothes I put on after a day of trekking).

  • 1x waterproof rain coat (^^)

  • 1x set of 100% merino wool thermals (long-sleeved top and leggings. Wool is king! Make sure you have a good woollen base layer to stay warm up there. We used our woollen thermals as pyjamas).

  • 1x quick-wicking t-shirt (I opted for a polyester-blend t-shirt, but wish I went for wool. Wool is not only good at keeping you warm, but also regulates heat and doesn't stink too much when you sweat - important!)

  • 1x quick-wicking long-sleeved top (good for sun protection, an alternative top so you don't stink out the other one, and mine also had a hood, which was a nice addition).

  • 1x polar fleece (needs to be light and warm).

  • 1x down jacket (people had some pretty big and thick ones. Because I had a good woollen base layer, and a good polar fleece, my small down jacket did the trick).

  • 1x buff (keeping your neck warm helps you stay healthy on the trek).

  • 1x beanie

  • 1x set of woollen gloves

  • 3x pairs of socks (two for trekking, one for night-time. Go for wool if you can).

  • 4x pairs of underwear (I ordered woollen ones but they unfortunately didn't come in time... something that is quick-drying is handy as you can wash as you go).

  • 2x bras

  • 1x hiking boots

  • 1x sandals (it's nice to put on a different pair of shoes at the end of the day).

Other things:

  • Crampons (you'll need these if you're going over Chola Pass)

  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, bar of shampoo (which also doubled up as basic soap and washing detergent), wet wipes, moisturiser, lip balm (spf - burnt lips are not nice), sunscreen.

  • Technology: camera (+ charger and spare battery), kindle (+ charger), portable charger (+ charger), phone (+ charger).

  • First aid: bandaids (if your boots aren't well worn-in, then blisters may very well be on the agenda), paracetamol and ibuprofen (I had a headache most days above 4000m, so these were useful in combatting that), cold and flu medicine, diamox (or some other kind of altitude sickness medication, just in case. We didn't take it though), hayfever medication, tweezers, nail clippers and hydralyte (I think these nice tasting hydration tablets are the reason I was able to drink 4L of water a day!)

  • Snacks: before flying to Nepal, I bought 26 protein bars - budgeting for two a day! Though adding quite a bit of extra weight, we loved having the extra snacks.

  • Essentials: passport, trekking permit, money, water bottles (I took a 700ml LifeStraw filter bottle, and a 1L bottle. I usually carried 1L on me at a time - there are lots of places where you can fill up)

  • Additional: journal and pen, period products if you're unlucky with your timing!

Day nine, on the way to Dzongla (with my full backpack!)

Route

My lovely Aussie friend and trekking buddy, Jasmin, ran full speed into trek planning and determined our route. There are lots of different ways to do it, but here's what we did (13-25 October,2022):


Day 1

  • Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (during the busy season you usually need to fly from Ramenchap Airport instead, which is a 4 hour journey from Kathmandu. We were lucky enough to get a helicopter flight from Kathmandu after our Ramenchap flight was cancelled - I don't have any insider knowledge as to how we did this, as our trek organisers sorted it for us!).

  • Trek from Lukla (2860m) to Phakding (2610m), 7.8km

The trek:

Mostly 'nepali-flat' (70% flat, 30% uphill), the day one trek is a beautiful way to ease into the journey. You get your first views of the white-capped mountains, colourful prayer flags, suspension bridges, prayer wheels and these ginormous half yak/half ox animals lugging all kinds of things up and down the mountain.


Day 2

  • Trek from Phakding (2610m) to Namche Bazar (3400m), 11km

The trek:

The first half of the day was once again 'Nepali-flat', while the second half brings about your first major uphill - a climb of about 600m. The views are quite similar to day one, with white-capped mountains, colourful flags, prayer wheels and big yak-type creatures meeting you at every turn. Arriving in Namche Bazar is special - it's a really exciting and unique village, and is probably bigger than you'd expect!


Day 3

  • Acclimatisation day hike from Namche Bazar (3400m) to Everest View Hotel (3800m)

The hike:

Acclimatisation days are really important when it comes to avoiding altitude sickness, and this one is a great one as you get your very first view of Everest! This Everest sighting happens at a statue of the great Tenzing Norgay, who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, were the first people to summit Everest, or Sagarmatha, as it is known in Nepal, meaning "Goddess of the sky". Following this first look at Everest, you head up to Everest View Hotel, where you can have a cup of tea and soak up the view (and allow your body to get used to this new elevation). On your way down from Everest View Hotel, stopping by the waste museum, Sagarmatha Next, is an absolute must. It teaches you a lot about how waste has been managed on this world-famous trek, you can see some cool art, and there's also a brilliant virtual reality headset that you can try, which puts you on top of Everest itself! Not one to miss.


(NB: a trek is when you walk from point A to point B, while a hike is in-and-out)


Day 4

  • Namche Bazar (3400m) to Debouche (3700m), 10km

The trek:

The beginning of this day was one of my favourite moments from the trek, and is probably where you get the longest viewings of Everest itself! A beautiful, scenic, Nepali-flat walk through a valley with Everest views up ahead, it's a special one! After about 1.5 hours, you enter into a shady forest and are faced with a solid downhill, followed by about 400m up! When you reach Tengboche (which is where a lot of people stop for the night), it's worth giving the monastery a visit - we were lucky enough to sit and listen to monks in prayer.


Day 5

  • Debouche (3700m) to Dingboche (4400m), 9.8km

The trek:

Another relaxing and scenic day. You certainly notice the build to over 4000m, as trees disappear, and the landscape becomes more barren. Like Namche, Dingboche is an exciting village to arrive at, with a fantastic cafe which has great coffee, Western food choices, and some fun board games to play (Cafe 4044).


Day 6

  • Acclimitisation hike from Dingboche (4400m) to Nangkartshang Peak (5100m)

The hike:

I absolutely loved this hike up to Nangkartshang Peak. A solid uphill climb, the hike has seven poles/posts/checkpoints with lots of prayer flags that help to break the hike up in smaller sections - just focus on getting to the next pole! The views were incredible, and reaching the peak (my first time over 5000m), was a really incredible feeling. Some people just get to the third or fourth pole then head back down (any elevation gain will help with acclimatising), but I strongly reccommend pushing to the top! Reward yourself with coffee, cake and a board game at the popular Cafe 4044 afterwards.


Day 7

  • Dingboche (4400m) to Lobouche (4900m), 7.9km

The trek:

Quite an easy trek for day 7, with Nepali-flat to begin with, about 45minutes of rocky stairs uphill to Memorial Hill (where there are memorial stones for all the 'famous' people who have died on Everest), and then just more Nepali-flat! Once in Lobouche, you can do a little walk up to see a massive glacier, which provides some pretty speccy views.

We were warned before the trek that sleeping at Lobouche might be uncomfortable and that you might wake in the night feeling like you are suffocating (!!! no biggie). However, we managed ok, perhaps because we got to 5100m the day before on Nangkartshang Peak. I did, however, have a bit of a pumping headache overnight.


Day 8

  • Lobouche (4900m) to Everest Base Camp (5364m) to Kalapathar (5555m) to Gorak Shep (5100m), 19.5km

The trek:

Day 8 is a pretty massive day if you follow this schedule, however it's definitely worth it, and breaking it into parts helps with the size of it. We left Lobouche early (about 6am) to get to Gorak Shep for a tea and coffee break by about 8.30-9am (part 1 of the day). We then set off on a hike (we left all our heavy gear in the teahouse and just hiked with light packs) to Everest Base Camp and back (part 2). We made it back to Gorak Shep for lunch and a rest, then set off on another hike up Kalapathar at about 3-4pm, timing it for sunset (part 3). A lot of Everest Base Camp schedules get you to go up Kalapathar the following morning around sunrise, but if you go at sunset, you get the most amazing view of Everest, as it glows red and pink in the sun. The most incredible thing I have ever seen, sitting at 5555m above sea level! So definitely face this big day if you can, or, break it up and just get to Gorak Shep in one day, then do Base Camp and Kalapathar at sunset the following day.


Day 9

  • Gorak Shep (5100m) to Dzongla (4800m), 11km

The trek:

Day 9 feels pretty cruisey after the big day 8, especially as you actually go down in elevation for once! I would describe the trek as Nepali-flat, and you walk along a ridge in this massive valley, and are met with the most incredible views. The views you get feel other-wordly, and actually brought tears to my eye at one point! Dzongla is the most remote place you stay on the trek and the whole trek there, and the village itself, certainly feels remote - you feel like the only people in the world. If you choose a route that just goes to Everest Base Camp and back, you miss out on this path, so I really encourage you to include this side route to Gokyo if you have the time. It had some of my favourite sections of the trek.


Day 10

  • Dzongla (4800m) to Chola Pass (5410m) to Gokyo (4700m), 13.2km

The trek:

Day 10 would probably have to win the award for the toughest day - it's another biggie! The first half of the day is all about Chola Pass, which required the use of crampons (or 'mini spikes' that you put over your boots) due to the snow, and was actually easier than I was anticipating! The steep downhill directly after the pass was certainly more challenging, and I'd advise against doing this route clockwise and approaching the pass coming from Gokyo, as it was STEEP! After a lunch break, the second half of the day involves crossing a massive glacier, which is probably more challenging on the mind than the body, as it never seems to end! Of course, it's all worth it by the time you arrive in Gokyo and are met with the beautiful blue water of Gokyo Lake, and the surrounding mountain views.


Day 11

  • Gokyo (4700m), to Gokyo Ri (5357m) to Dole (4000m), 15.6km

The trek:

An early rise to hike up to Gokyo Ri before breakfast is challenging on the body and mind (it's a lot of uphill for about 5 in the morning), but offers some spectacular views. We sat up there for ages, taking it in, before heading down to Gokyo for breakfast. You then have a nice Nepali-flat trek to Dole, in which you pass more of the Gokyo Lakes in the valley (I think you see 6 in all). A really nice day.


Day 12

  • Dole (4000m) to Namche Bazar (3400m), 11km

The trek:

A chill one for day 13 as things really begin to wind down. Majority of the 11km trek is Nepali-flat and goes by fast, meaning you can arrive in Namche Bazar in good time, and once again enjoy the lovely little village!


Day 13

  • Namche Bazar (3400m) to Lukla (3860m), 18km

The trek:

The final day is fairly undulating, but still feels pretty easy-going compared to what the body has been through! The 18km does feel pretty long as you slowly get closer to Lukla, but just think of the beers to be had in the Lukla Irish Pub and the legs will keep moving no problem! Despite how the body and mind might be feeling at this point, make sure to soak it all in - you'll miss these moments!


Money

In an offer of full transparency, here is the price breakdown we were given by our tour company (in USD):

  • Flight ticket: $180 x 2 x 2 (two people, both ways - to start the trek, you either fly to Lukla, or you trek for about three days)

  • Twin sharing basic Kathmandu hotel with breakfast: $40 x 4 (two nights before the trek, two nights after)

  • Twin sharing basic 13 night mountain accommodation: $10 x 13

  • 14 day guide cost: $20 x 14

  • Airport pick up and drop each time by car: $10 x 4

  • Trekking permit: $50 x 2

So we were looking at $715 USD each, when a lot of the companies we found online sold packages for about $1500 USD - we were pretty happy with this!


We also needed to get cash out to pay for meals along the way. We budgeted a generous 1000 rupees per meal (about $10 AUD), so took 3000 per day each for 14 days all up. We figured any money left over could be used to tip our guide.


All in all, I think the entire trip cost me about $1700 AUD, with the biggest costs being the guide (and his tip) and the flight.

View of Gokyo Lake from Gokyo Ri, day 11, 5357m

Conclusion

If you're planning to do this trek during the busy period (October/November), and are new to trekking in Nepal, I would recommend doing it with a guide. We trekked during an incredibly busy period, and those without a guide sometimes struggled to find accommodation. Jasmin and I couldn't recommend our guide, Dibash, more, so if you are interested in doing the trek, I am happy to provide you with his WhatsApp details. Just get in touch!


Also, dal bhat is a famous dish in Nepal, and one you will likely learn to love when you begin trekking in this beautiful country. It's delicious and the best thing about it, is when you've finished your plate you are offered seconds, and sometimes thirds! So my biggest trekking tip is to absolutely smash the dal bhat at the end of the day - your body will need it!



Xxo,

N.

2,764 views8 comments

8 kommentarer


Julio
Julio
13 maj 2023

Thanks for sharing, I'm doing this trek on September and I found it very helpful. Can you please tell me in which month you went?

Gilla
N.Harrison
N.Harrison
16 maj 2023
Svarar

Enjoy your trek in September, I am glad you found my post helpful! I did it in October :)

Gilla

David Triyadi
David Triyadi
05 mars 2023

Hi ! What an awesome journey. My head cant stop imagine how beautiful is EBC. Thank you so much for sharing those tips. If you dont mind, I have a few questions. Im going solo to EBC - Gokyo this mid of April'23 without any guide/porter. Just because of some rumors that Nepal Govn has been Banned the solo trekkers itself, I'm going to find the alternative freelancer guide to cut half of the pricey trekking company.


  1. Why did you say couldnt recommend your guide 'Dipash' at the end of your story?

  2. Did you pay all of your accomodation, meals, flight ticket and permitt by yourself or you just giving the money to your guide in advance (I mean the…


Gilla
N.Harrison
N.Harrison
14 mars 2023
Svarar

Hi David,


So sorry for my very delayed response - I am currently in India and have only just had an opportunity to open my laptop :).


Very exciting that you're heading to EBC and Gokyo this April! It is certainly a shame about the new rules regarding guides - unfortunate timing for you too :(.


In response to your questions:

  1. Dibash was the most wonderful guide. As two young women, we felt very safe in his company (he was super respectful). He had a massive wealth of knowledge, answering any and all of our questions in great detail. He also has won some award or competition or something in regards to being a guide in the Himalayas (I can't…


Gilla

Angie Hough
Angie Hough
22 feb. 2023

Amazing detailed account me and my friend are hoping to do this next year for the first time x

Gilla
N.Harrison
N.Harrison
26 feb. 2023
Svarar

How exciting for you! Enjoy :)

Gilla

Dipanjan Das
Dipanjan Das
12 dec. 2022

Remarkable account of such a beautiful journey. I liked the phrase bottom ofbthe top of the world. Am plannkng to go there in 2023 Oct along with my wife, daughter and friends. Tye details you have provided is incredible.

Gilla
N.Harrison
N.Harrison
28 jan. 2023
Svarar

Hi Dipanjan,


Sorry for such a delayed response on my part! I appreciate your kind words about my blog - it was truly the trip of a lifetime, and it was so rewarding to get my experience down on paper like this. All the best with your journey there in October this year. Thanks,

N

Gilla
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