Before making the trek to Everest Base Camp or even training for it I had a lot of questions about the trip. I read through a lot of trip reports from various bloggers but still couldn’t find the answers to everything I needed to know.
Everest Base Camp Trek FAQ
Q: Is a trek dangerous?
A: Yes and no. Altitude can kill but it isn’t likely. If you take your time and acclimatize properly you should be fine. People have fallen off the trail either by accident or knocked off by a yak but this isn’t a serious concern if you are smart. Always give yaks and other animals the right of way and stay on the inside of the trail to be safe.
Q: Is the trek difficult or easy?
A: It is a moderate level hike. There are easy afternoons of rolling flats and difficult steep climbs but overall it is manageable for someone with little or no trekking experience. With proper training you should be able to complete the trek to EBC. However, even with proper training you can get altitude sickness which means you must return to a lower elevation.
Q: What are the options for trekking for tours?
A: This depends on what you are looking for. I made the trek to EBC with a small group of 6 people, 3 guides, and porters. We had a lot of camera gear, didn’t have much hiking experience, and preferred to work with knowledgeable guides for our trek.
These are your trekking options:
- Private Guide with a Porter
- Private Guide with No Porter
- No Guide with Porter
- No Guide and no Porter
- Porter/Guide Combo
- Small Group Tour with Guide with Porter
What do I recommend? If you are an experienced hiker you will probably want to go solo. If you can carry your own gear do it. Most people hire porters and guides and there is nothing wrong with this. We were shooting a lot of videos and taking a lot of photos. I needed a hand carrying gear and had never trekked days on end with a large pack which why I chose a group.
What I don’t recommend: Large group tours. Running into groups of 15-20 people on the trek was a pain. There will be people of all skill levels in these groups and the pace might be frustrating at times. Waiting for people to catch up or use the restroom and rest.
What I do recommend: Go solo with a guide or porter if you are experienced. Go with a group like Active Adventures if you would like a helpful guide and porters in a small group setting.
Q: Do you need travel insurance for EBC?
A: Yes. Definitely purchase travel insurance and make sure it will cover you at high altitudes. If you need to be airlifted down you will want to be covered by your insurance.
Q: How likely is altitude sickness?
A: Unless you live at a high altitude it is impossible to truly train for the altitude. Altitude sickness (AMS) can strike anyone no matter your fitness lever. The key is to take your time and walk slow. A good rule of thumb is to climb high and sleep low to help with acclimatization. In groups of trekkers there are people who do not make it but my group of 6 all made it. Our most impressive trekker, Bob, was 70 years old and often leading the way. Anyone can make it but take your time on the way up.
Q: Should I take Diamox?
A: You should consult your doctor at home before you leave (even though I did not) to go over the benefits. Many people chose to take it as a preventive measure against altitude sickness. I took a half of a dose in the morning and at night. One side effect is it does make you urinate more than usual. This means there will be some cold wake up calls in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Q: Should I take ibuprofen on the EBC trek?
A: Again, this is completely up to you. Some studies have shown it is just as effective as Diamox. There was even a study going on by doctors at a couple of tea houses along the way to test the benefits of using ibuprofen to prevent altitude sickness.
I took ibuprofen most mornings when I woke up with a throbbing headache. This became common and necessary for me at higher altitudes.
Q: Should I hike in the Spring or the fall season?
A: Both seasons are a great time to make the EBC trek. Snow or rain can hit during either season. Pre-monsoon in March /April and post-monsoon in October/November are the best seasons to trek.
Q: How busy are the trails?
A: During the peak seasons the trails can get a little congested in some stretches. Many guided groups are around 10-15 people. You will pass yaks, porters, and locals along the way as well. However, there are plenty of stretches where it will feel like it is just you and the Himalayas.
Q: How should money should I bring on the trek?
A: If you are traveling with a group like I did you will not need as much money as those trekking solo. Your group should handle paying for meals. You will need to budget for snacks, water (bottled), WiFi and charging devices.
Also, bring cash to tip your porters and guide at the end of the trek. You probably won’t see your porters after you leave Lukla and head back to Kathmandu so you will want to have cash ready for tipping.
See My Tech and WiFi Guide to Everest Base Camp for more info on charging and WiFi prices.
Q: Can I drink the water on the trek or buy it all the way to base camp?
A: You can save money (and plastic bottles) by packing iodine pills to purify your water. This was my method of choice every morning before the trek. I used the tap to fill up my camelbak every morning and again at lunch/dinner. When I was close to Gorak Shep I was told to buy water since the tap water wasn’t quite as clean up there. I followed the instructions of my guide but resumed using tap water on the way down.
Q: How much water should I drink?
A: Water is very important while trekking and at high altitudes. I drank 3 liters before lunch and 3 liters after. I tried to drink less after dinner to minimize cold bathroom breaks in the middle of the night. Getting out of your warm sleeping bag isn’t fun. I recommend drinking at least 4 liters a day but I drank 6 liters daily.
EBC Training and Gear Questions
Q: How do I train for trek?
A: Training should start well before you make the trek. See my guide: How to Train for Everest Base Camp
Q: What gear do I need for the EBC Trek?
A: See my complete packing list for EBC.
Q: Should I buy my gear at home or in Kathmandu?
A: Gear is cheap and fake in Kathmandu. There are some real products but for the most part everything you see in Thamel is fake. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy fake gear but there is gear you will want to buy at home. You want to be protected from the elements and have warm sleeping bag at night. Check out my complete Packing List for Everest Base Camp for more details.
Q: How much should I budget for gear in Kathmandu?
A: Everything is negotiable in Kathmandu. Fake gear is cheap and they will happily tell you it is not the real thing. You can even sell back some of your gear when you are done with the trek for a little extra cash.
Tech Questions on the EBC Trek
Q: Will I get cell service on the trail?
A: If you have international cell service you will have service on the EBC trek. There are two main cell companies and you find 2G and 3G service along the way. Base Camp and Gorak Shep have the best service but the most expensive WiFi.
See: My Tech and WiFi Guide to Everest Base Camp for more info.
Q: Is there WiFi on the EBC Trek?
A: Yes, most tea houses and bakeries have WiFi on the trek. Some will have free WiFi in Namche or free with a purchase of something to eat and drink. The WiFi prices go up with the altitude.
Q: Should I bring my laptop on the EBC Trek?
A: There is no problem with doing this if you have a lightweight laptop but it isn’t necessary. I brought an 11″ MacBook Air. Namche has internet cafes if you must use a computer on the way up or the way down. An iPhone should get the job done for emailing and checking in with family back home if that is your main concern. Keep in mind a laptop is one more thing to charge and charging electronics costs money.
Q: How do I charge my electronics on the trek?
A: Tea houses have charging stations and they charge by the hour for the most part. This price goes up with the altitude just like the WiFi and everything else on the trail. I purchased portable batteries to keep my iPhone and GoPro charged for most of the trip. Check them out in my EBC packing list.
Less Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the bathrooms like on the EBC trek?
A: These will vary a lot depending on your budget for accommodation. In Namche you are likely to have a nice modern bathroom. As you go up you will encounter everything from a hole in a shack to a frozen western toilet. Be prepared for it all and bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Q: Are there bathrooms on the trail?
A: When you stop for lunch or tea during the day there will be bathrooms to use. However, most people go when they have to go on the trail and it is a very common sight.
Q: What kind of snacks are available on the trail?
A: Don’t expect protein bars to be available along the trail. Bring those from home if you want them. Snickers, Twix, and other candy bars are available as your energy source if you don’t pack any from home.
Q: Can I drink beer on the trek?
A: Everest beer is available all the to Everest Base Camp but I don’t recommend drinking it. Altitude and beer don’t mix well and it will only make your trek more difficult. I saved my celebration beers for my return to Lukla and it made the beer taste that much better.
Q: Should I bring my own food on the EBC Trek?
A: Nepalese food is great and you better get used to dal bhat. However, there is a lack of nutritious snacks or protein type bars on the trail. If you don’t want to eat Snickers and Twix for your daily energy boost bring snacks and bars from home.
Q: Are showers available on the trek?
A: Yes, but most trekkers don’t take them. Showers are mostly free in Namche but will cost more the higher you go up. Everyone smells together on the trek so don’t worry. Your biggest concern will be staying warm anyway. Waiting for a hot shower is very rewarding after days on end without them. It makes it feel that much better in the end.
Still have questions about what to expect on the EBC Trek? Leave them below.