Overwhelmingly beautiful mountains, other-worldly landscapes and that flight to Lukla… the hike to Everest Base Camp has become a pilgrimage for adventure lovers and appreciators of the great outdoors. It will take you to what feels like the ends of the Earth and back, all in a 12 day hike. But there’s a few things you’ll need to know before you go, even if you are going with an organised trip (recommended!).
In this post I’ll cover everything you need to know before you take on the Everest Base Camp hike including what to expect from the accommodation, top tips for things to take with you and even the basics like when and how you’ll be taking a shower and access to safe drinking water to help you plan your trip efficiently.
What’s the Accommodation like?
Tea houses, not camping… Tea houses are very basic. Expect nothing fancy and sometimes you might be surprised. Each room usually has twin beds, and as you ascend they usually provide duvets and blankets. You will still absolutely need a sleeping bag. Even with the duvets and blankets! And if you feel the cold, a thermal sleeping bag liner is also recommended.
The main part of the tea house will have a communal dining room, usually with a log burning fire right in the middle of it (which you’ll love!). It’s the done thing to eat dinner and breakfast at your tea house. If you don’t eat your meals there, they will charge the additional cost of a room. This is just the way it is in the Himalayas. If you’re lucky though, you might get a pretty nice view…
Safe Drinking Water
When it comes to purifying your water, you have 3 options.
- Chlorine based water purification tablets
Either buy them from your home country or you can also buy them in Kathmandu.
This is a UV pen which requires batteries. It’s easy to use and just needs swirling around in 1 litre of water for 90 seconds to make it drinkable.
The brand of bottle, LifeStraw, offers a filter which promises to make tap water drinkable, even in Nepal.
NOTE: Water boils at a lower temperate at altitude, meaning that boiled water isn’t necessarily free of bad bacteria.
WiFi & Electricity…
…Is mostly available, but at a cost!
WiFi is available at tea houses along the way but for a cost. As you are lower in the valley, you’ll be charged for the use of WiFi alone which will cost you anything from 300 to 500 NPR (about £3 – £5 GBP respectively). But as you get higher, you’ll be charged by how much data you use. If you are going to want to use WiFi be sure to budget for it. In Namche Bazaar, most of the coffee shops have free WiFi, try the Himalayan Java Cafe and the German Bakery.
Electricity also comes at a cost too; we payed 300 NPR (about £3 GBP) to charge a camera battery for one hour. Bring a power bank to reduce the need to use electricity excessively.
Taking a Shower
Seems so simple I know, but sometimes it’s a mission in the mountains, so here are your options:
- Hot Showers
Like WiFi and Electricity, hot showers will cost you. Up to 500 NPR per shower (about £5).
- Wet wipes
Who doesn’t love a wet wipe shower? I know we do! We found some large size wipes in Namche Bazaar that were perfect for all over wiping, otherwise just get hold of anti-bacterial wipes from your home country.
This is the best invention in the world. You just add water to the cloth, rub it all over yourself, then towel dry. It’s as easy as that!
What to wear
This is a guideline to give you an idea of the general weather conditions. The weather in the mountain is always changing but the most important thing to note is that it can get VERY HOT at lower altitude in the sun.
Shorts, lightweight leggings and merino t-shirts. It is hot in the sun as you are hiking, especially in the mornings when the cloud cover is low. We didn’t expect it to be so hot for so much of the journey! But it was. So make sure you have a high factor sunscreen for any showing skin, and protective sunglasses (preferably polarized). My favourite brand are Meller who offer reasonably priced Polarized sunnies.
Fleece lined trousers and a mid layer down jacket are a must along with your protective shell. Make sure you have merino thermals (top and long johns or leggings) for sleeping in. I swear by merino layers! These will keep you warm and you can sweat in them EVERY DAY and they still won’t smell gross at the end!
You are most likely to experience symptoms of altitude sickness which include headaches, loss of appetite and nausea. It is not a subject to be taken lightly. But also not one to scare you out of your trip! Making sure you drink plenty of water along the way is important along with hot soups (some swear by garlic soup but I wasn’t brave enough for garlic burps…!). I experienced symptoms but nothing more than that, and I made the decision not to take Diamox.
You should always consult with your doctor first if you think you’d like to take Diamox (a blood thinning medication which helps your body acclimatise). For more information on altitude sickness you can see the NHS advice here.
My Top Tips for a successful adventure!
- Sleep on your clothes
Put them under your sleeping bag to keep them warm as you sleep. It’s like a homemade radiator!
- Bring glucose tablets, sweeties & high energy snacks
Like trail mix or nuts and dried fruit mixes. Bring them from your home country if possible as the selection isn’t as wide in Nepal. If you need to buy snacks then head to Shop Right in Thamel, Kathmandu. My personal energy boosting fave are Jelly Babies.
- Bring cold & flu provisions!
Cold & Flu tabs, strepsils, paracetamol, ibuprofen and rehydration sachets. You WILL get a cold, cough or snuffly nose. This is your ultimate survival kit when it comes to staying comfortable on the mountain.
- Hand sanitiser
You’ll need this, trust me. There isn’t always sinks outside toilets in the mountains. Some tea houses might have sinks if you’re lucky but most of the time hand sanitiser will be the only way you can wash your hands…
- Bring a book and a pack of cards
You will have spare time in the afternoons and this helps take your mind off the cold!
- Take cash with you
There’s an ATM in Namche Bazaar but it doesn’t always work. Prepare for the worst and bring all the cash you’re going to need in Nepalese Rupees.
Reducing your plastic consumption
Mount Everest itself has past been described as the “world’s highest rubbish dump”. Mainly due to all the human waste at Base Camp and empty Oxygen cylinders left across the South Col that amassed after the commercialisation of Everest. This is all after Everest Base Camp territory but you get the idea.
Therefore it’s especially important to make sure we reduce our waste as hikers. And one of the best ways to do that is to reduce our plastic consumption. Here are a two easy ways we helped reduce our plastic consumption:
- Bring a refillable water bottle to avoid buying plastic bottles
- Use a canvas tote bag at the supermarket and small stores
Most importantly, have a rad time!
Not what you were looking for? Leave me a comment below and I’ll try to help!