Everest Base Camp & Kathmandu, Nepal

Mount Everest is not only one of the world’s most treacherous mountains to climb, but one of the most extraordinary. It’s name comes from the apprentice of a British surveyor, Sir George Everest, and is the only mountain within the Himalayan range to be named after a person. The mountain was closed off to the public until 1921, when the first Renaissance Expedition took place. After many failed attempts, Sir Edmund Hillary, along with his Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, finally reached the summit on May 29, 1953. It was a huge victory and paved the way for climbers and trekkers to come.

More interesting historical facts about Everest can be found here.

Kathmandu also comes with its own set of wonders, and we’d highly recommend spending a few days there to understand the Nepalise culture before heading out on your trek. From stupas, pottery and art, to the history of karma sutra, it’s a city not to be missed!

Everest Base Camp Trek

Booking your trip

If you’re interested in organizing your trek through a tour company, we’d highly recommend going through Ace the Himalayas. We had a wonderful experience with them, and they went out of their way to accommodate us. In addition to a collection of memories you’ll savor for a lifetime, they also top off your trip with a certificate of accomplishment at the end, as well as a thoughtful farewell dinner.

Sights & Things to make sure you stop to see along the way

If you’re going with a tour company, you’ll likely have all of these sights included as part of your itinerary but if you’re venturing out on your own, we’d highly recommend stopping to take in some of the local sights along the way.

  • Sherpa Museum in Namche Bazar. This is more of an outdoor exhibit with a monument dedicated to Tenzing Norgay (the first Sherpa to summit Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953). There are plaques surrounding the monument outlining all expeditions and awards that have been awarded through the years. A wonderful quote you’ll find on one of the plaques as well is Tenzing’s mantra, “Be great… Make others great”. There is also a building on the premise that will take you through the Sherpa culture, from it’s origin to present day. There are also samples of apparel that the early Sherpas and climbers wore.
  • Liquid Bar in Namche Bazaar. Liquid Bar is a small, but popular spot in town where you can go for a drink (or a highly recommended hot chocolate!), free wi-fi, and a free movie. They usually screen movies daily at either 2pm or 3pm, and it’s a great little place to meet other trekkers on their way to Base Camp as well.
  • Everest Art Gallery in Namche Bazar. This gallery sources work from five local artists. All oil on canvas. All scenes from the Everest Base Camp trek. The paintings are beautiful, and you can usually work out a deal with them as well. (Phone: +977-038540195, Namche Bazar, Everest Region, Nepal)
  • Buddhist Monk ceremony in Tengboche. Held daily at 4pm in the famous monastery atop the hill, this is a majestic experience that transports you into the world of a Buddhist monk. For two hours, you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of a traditional Buddhist ceremony, with the boom from handmade leather drums, long brass horns, and bells ringing throughout the small room. The walls are covered in ornate tapestries and paintings, with the monks sitting on wooden benches, draped in cloaks, with all focus toward a gilded Buddha at the head of the room.
  • Sherpas. Most commonly thought of as the people who guide you on your trek to Base Camp, these people are rather a culture of their own, meaning East People, originating from Tibet, who have grown to adapt to the harsh living conditions of the mountain region. You’ll often pass them along the trail, carrying large baskets overflowing with goods or materials, or in the fields farming. They are a nomadic group as well, commonly having up to three basic residences in different altitudes to follow the farming seasons. Do make way for them as you see them on the way as their load will surely be much heavier than yours!
  • “Nepali Trains”. You’ll most certainly see these at various points during your trek. Made up of 15-20 yaks or horses, all laden with kerosine, rice or other good, weighing up to 100 kilos.
  • Tibetan prayer wheels. You’ll also see these scattered around most villages, and along the trail. Spin them clockwise three times to purify your soul (and for good luck!)
  • Tea houses. You’ll likely stay at tea houses along the way. All have wood burning stoves that you and other trekkers can pull up chairs next to, to warm up after a chilly day amidst the elements!
  • Phakding. There is a sweet little bar in Phakding called, Reggae Bar. It’s a great spot to hang out at to unwind, and they serve free popcorn and offer free pool.
  • Memorial stupa on the outskirts of Namche Bazar to honor Tenzing Norgay.
  • Memorial on the way to Gorgashep commemorating all explorers who have summited Everest, but passed away in their efforts to return. A truly humbling and moving sight to experience on your attempt to simply reach Base Camp. One girl, born in 1983, fell victim to the Earthquake on Christmas Eve (December 24th), 2015.

Cuisine to try

  • Dal Baht. This is a local Nepalese dish, consisting (in its most basic form) of white rice, lentil soup, and curried vegetables. All the locals eat this, so it’s a sure bet as you’re trekking as well. The popular phrase that accompanies this dish is, “dal baht for an hour gives you 24 hours power,” (and we certainly found this to be true!)
  • Garlic soup. You may grow tired of this quickly, but it truly helps with acclimatization.
  • Ginger tea. This is available at all tea houses, and is another remedy for acclimatization.
  • Tibetan Bread. This is a sweet bread that takes up the majority of your plate. Looking almost like a pretzel, but tasting more like fried dough, this is a local Tibetan treat that comes with peanut butter, jelly, and honey for you to add as you please.
  • Yak cheese. Beware of this. This is used for everything from pizza to artisanal cheese. When melted, it throws off a wretched smell, so we’d caution ordering a pizza while on your trek! If you do want to taste proper artisanal yak cheese, wait until you’re back in Kathmandu, and head to a bakery.
  • Meat. We were strongly advised to avoid meat along the trail as it takes roughly fifteen days for the meat to be carried (by a local Sherpa) to it’s destination. It then sits until ordered, so can often turn, causing an awful case of food poisoning. Vegetarian is the way to go while on your trek!
  • Water bottles. If you’re playing it safe, you can buy water bottles (versus using water purification drops/tablets) during your trek. The price will vary from $2.50-$3.50 USD / water bottle.

Getting your Gear

If you have all the necessary trekking gear, great! If not, you can find all the gear you’ll need, all knock-off North Face, at Kallapather Trekking Store, in Kathmandu (PAN: 302164873). If you’re going with a tour, ask your guide to take you as you’ll certainly get a deal. We were lucky to get all of our gear for a little over $100, which included 1 pair of hiking boots, 2 pairs of trekking pants, 1 dry-fit long sleeved shirt, 2 pairs of gloves and glove liners, 1 fleece beanie, 1 trekking hat, 1 Gore-Tex rain jacket, 1 pair of waterproof rain pants, 2 cotton neck warmers, 1 pair of all-weather socks, and 2 pairs of walking poles.

What to pack

Packing lists fall specifically to the individual as everyone treks differently, but given our condition (we had a porter but were limited to 15 pounds), we found the following list of things to pack to be spot on:

  • Trekking pants, waterproof pants, leggings/tights (you can put these under your trekking pants when it gets cooler), 2 dry-fit short sleeved shirts, 1 long sleeved shirt, 1 pair of hiking boots, 1 pair of flip flops (for the showers), 1 pair of sneakers (to wear around the tea houses after you’ve finished trekking for the day), 1 pair of gloves and glove liners, 1 warm winter beanie, 1 trekking hat/baseball cap, 1 Gore-Tex rain jacket, 2 cotton neck warmers, and 2 pairs of all-weather socks
  • Walking poles
  • Sunglasses (this will vary based on the time of year you go. If you trek during the winter months, you’ll likely need glacier glasses)
  • Winter jacket (rented)
  • Sleeping Bag (rented)
  • Medicine: Excedrine, Advil, Hydration Salts, Vitamin C tablets, Pepto
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • 3 rolls of toilet paper (will double for tissues)
  • Water purification tablets* (we packed these as a backup, but were able to buy water bottles everywhere along the way)
  • Solar powered battery (charging your electronics will cost you between $2-$5 USD on the trail, so having a solar powered charger will help save you on that cost!)
  • A pillow cover

Note for the ladies: Within the materials we received from our tour company, we read that it’s inappropriate to simply wear leggings/spandex as some of the women along the way find them to be offensive. Trekking pants are more acceptable. If you don’t have them, or prefer not to invest in them, you can find a good pair (that will get you through the trek) for $6-$7 USD at the store in Kathmandu, mentioned above.

Insider tips:

  • Depending on your tour company, you can likely rent a sleeping bag and winter jacket if you don’t have them on hand, or prefer not to pack them yourself. Each item should cost about $25 USD to rent.
  • Bring a t-shirt or a flag to sign to hang on the wall on your decent.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu is every trekker’s jump off point for all treks and climbs in the area. Before you depart on your adventure, you can spend a day taking in the sights and beautiful culture of the Nepalise people in and around Kathmandu. We’d recommend the following:

  • The Great Boudha Stupa – World Heritage Site. Insider tip: Make sure to visit a shop where master artisans, intermediate painters and students alike are actively canvassing the famous Mandala painting as well as other Nepalese pieces.
  • Bhaktapur: Dattatraya Temple in Dattatraya Square, Pottery Square, Til Madhab Narayan Temple in Taumadhi Square, and the Siddhi Laxmi Stone Temple and The Golden Gate in Durbar Square
  • Pashupati Area Development Trust in Devapattan. This is one of the holiest places in Nepal. Famous for being the site where Nepalese, rich and poor, go to cremate their loved ones to then pour their ashes into the river that flows into the Ganges, it also houses the Pashupati Temple, which is the destination for Hindu pilgrimage to this day, for many people across both India and Nepal.