Advice & Overview for Nepal & The Everest Base Camp Trail:
The recent Earthquakes in Nepal have numerous towns and villages in Nepal & along the EBC trail. For more information about the Nepal Earthquakes please click here.
***Volunteer listings are found at the bottom of the page
Airport: All foreigners except Indians need a Visa to enter Nepal and if you have not received your visa beforehand, you can purchase one at the airport. You need two passport size photos for Nepali Visas, however they have a photo booth at the airport that may... or may not be working. Fill out a Visa application (if purchasing at the airport) before going to the counter. You will then queue in the corresponding line based on your Visa status. Make sure to have your international currency available (US Dollars, Euro's, Japanese Yen, British Pounds, Swiss Franks). Check if your currency is valid prior to getting in line. There is an ATM at immigration however it may be out of order so PLEASE have your currency ready before hand to avoid any delays. Officials may allow you to use other ATM's located in the airport for Visa fees. Visa Rates are as follows: $25 (15 days), $40 (30 days), $100 (90 days). For more information about the Trubhuvan International Airport click on the link: Arrival.
For more information about the Lukla Airport click on the link: Getting to/from Trailhead.
Money/Costs: Make sure you bring all your cash with you before leaving for your trek. You can either carry most of your money with you from home or withdrawal money in various ATM's in Kathmandu. However, you can typically only withdrawal $300 US dollars per day and will be assessed an ATM fee. The only working ATM we found on the trail was in Namche Bazaar, a 7-10 day walk from Jiri & two day walk from Lukla. Also, the ATM in Namche Bazaar may run out of cash towards the end of the day. There are ATM's in Lukla but they were out of order/out of cash in November, 2013. Most banks will only allow you to withdrawal US $300 per day in Kathmandu. It gets more expensive the higher you go on the trail. We averaged around US $10 - $20 per person, per day prior to Ghat. After Lukla & Ghat you will spend closer to US $30-$40 per day per person, however you may spend less or more depending on your appetite & choice of lodging. Most Lodges only charge you 100-200 Rs ($1-$2 US dollars) for basic accommodation as long as you eat all your meals there. Your lodging costs will rise significantly if you don't eat meals at your lodge. The fancier the lodging in Lukla or Namchee Bazaar, the more accommodation costs.
Take a Bandana or face cover: Not for modesty, rather to block dust/dirt kicked up by donkey's, & Yak's especially when the trail gets crowded from Lukla - Phortse Tenga. Bandanas also help you soak up sweat. Also, BRING SUNGLASSES with UV PROTECTION. Snow blindness is not fun and is a very real danger in higher altitudes without appropriate eyewear.
Bring Salt: Remember a small ziplock bag of salt in case you have to remove leeches from your skin. Leeches inhabit sections of the lower trail particularly from Jiri-Bupsa, and if it rains, they may hitchhike on your jacket or backpack and attach to your skin. Do not panic as we had a few leeches. Simply apply salt or warm salt water to the leeches and they will fall off within a minute. Leeches do not carry disease but they are gross.
Guides/Porters: We highly recommend using a Nepali guide from a professional and responsible company. Check reviews online and ask around about companies. For our recommendations regarding guide companies click on the following link: Recommended Guide Companies.
Get a sense if the company you are using treats their guides with dignity/respect and reimburses well for services provided. Please avoid random people that approach you on the streets of Kathmandu asking about guide services as the good one's don't advertise in that manner. Although you can navigate the EBC trail starting in Lukla on your own, having a guide has many benefits including local knowledge & comrodery. In addition many guides serve as naturalists and know about many side trips that you many not find on your own. If starting your trek from Jiri, having a guide is almost essential as there are so many side trails and few trail markers that you may get lost several times without one.
Water & Food on the trail: You don't have to be very concerned with food or water sources on the trail, typically because you can't go more than 2-3 hours without passing a village. We suggest buying various snacks in Kathmandu before starting your trek to save money and for hiking "fuel" on the trail. However you can purchase several food items from various lodges/tea houses along the way supporting the local economy. There are plenty of water sources in various sections of the trail but bring Iodine tablets, a Sterilizing Pen (sterilizes with UV radiation), or if you want to carry it, a water purifying pump. We used iodine for most of the trip. However, you do not want to run out of water so always remember to fill up at every opportunity. Keeping hydrated is very important in helping you avoid altitude sickness. For more information about altitude sickness click on the link: Altitude Mountain Sickness
Why are there no distances (km/miles) in your descriptions?
To put it simply distances in relation to kilometers/miles are not documented in available trekking guide books or maps and not appropriate for describing this terrain. Sign posts on the lower and upper trails, although indicating the directions to a village, base camp, or monastery does not give information on distance as it relates to km/miles. The effort involved for each section of the trail is described in units of time rather than units of distance. In addition, most local Nepalis, guides, & porters whom we spoke to always referred to length of time between two points rather then precise distance.
Drinking Water: Unless you have lived in Nepal or India or surrounding countries for several years or your body is used to similar parasites and bacteria DO NOT drink tap or well water in Kathmandu or some of the larger towns as it is usually untreated (unless at a high end hotel) & this is an good way to get dysentery, parasites, or some type of bacterial infection. The tap water in Kathmandu, unless thoroughly treated should not even be used to wash your toothbrush. Domestic waste and untreated sewage in Kathmandu in addition to farm runoff and waste from domesticated animals in the rural sections are a primary source of water pollution in Nepal (www.thewaterproject.org/water-in-crisis-nepal). Although it's safest to drink water treated mineral water from out of hygienically sealed bottles, some restaurants offer treated water. However, plastic waste from mineral water bottles is becoming increasingly problematic in Nepal, especially in rural areas where infrastructure for waste removal is poor. We highly encourage trekkers to bring water bottles & iodine tablets, a steri pen or, water filtration kit with them on their trek having lodges fill up your bottles and sterilizing it yourself. In the higher areas you can typically get your water from streams, being careful of glacial runoff and using sterilization as you see fit.
Vaccines: Getting inoculations (vaccinations) prior to traveling to Nepal is a wise idea, especially if traveling into the countryside in the midlands & Tehrai where you at more risk of malaria and typhoid. Typically people get vaccinated about 1 month before travel however this can fluctuate. In addition, you may be prescribed Doxycycline or another anti-malerial medication by your physician. Please click on links below for more information on vaccinations:
Leave early to avoid large groups: One of the few annoyances on the trail is getting stuck behind large trekking groups, particularly when the trail narrows as some of these groups can be oblivious, unprepared, and SLOW!!! If you are solo or hiking in a small group leaving early (7:00-8:30am) will also provide you with excellent morning light and ensure you don't get shut out of the lodge or your choosing, especially in small towns on popular sections of the trail. Large groups are more prevalent after Lukla and although many are friendly, some can be very oblivious & unprepared or crowd the trail. The same goes for individual trekkers. Don't let groups or other trekkers intimidate you. Just let them know what side you are passing or politely (or bluntly) tell them you are passing.
Volunteering: If you are interested in volunteering your time, there are plenty of great NGO's that help various communities in rural and urban settings in addition to environmental & wildlife volunteer opportunities in Nepal. We have listed a few reputable NGO and volunteer websites below: