Everest Base Camp travel advice

everest base camp travel advice


Tips from our friends in nepal


Kush Hari Phuyal is Nepalese, and has led treks to Everest Base Camp for our supplier Intrepid Travel since 2007. He shares his top Base Camp travel advice:

PREPARATION TIPS


“Before you are physically ready, you have to be ready mentally. Of course, some physical training is good. It would be nice if you are walking two or three hours every day during the month before you start the trip, that will help a lot with regards to trekking the trail. But some people are mentally unprepared. They worry too much about the altitude or it being their first time trekking. Rather than feeling that way they should just be positive, and trust that if they follow the leader’s instructions and listen carefully to his advice, it will be fine. So prepare in a positive way rather than a negative way, expecting bad things to happen.”

RESPONISBLE TOURISM


“When I lead treks, I always encourage my group not to buy plastic bottles of water. You see lots of discarded bottles around. During the main season, more than 700 people go to Everest Base Camp in a single day. If they all buy a bottle of water that’s 700 bottles so it’s really bad for the environment. Rather than that, they should buy purification tablets and they can use the local tap water, purify that and drink. It’s very eco-friendly and easy.”

FAIR TREATMENT FOR PORTERS


“The porters are absolutely key to our expedition. So, of course we love them and personally I behave with them as if they are friends or family. I always take care of them very well. From the leader’s point of view, the support crew and the paying trekkers share equal priority. I always give the trekkers some local phrases and words, so they can have a chat and interact with local people. Normally we also ask them to mind their language. Please don’t use any swear words when on the trail or staying in teahouses. There is also a law in Nepal which means porters cannot carry more than 25kg including their clothes. So on our trips the porter carries two passenger bags, weighing 10kg each, plus his or her own clothes, about 5kg. Different companies have different systems for porters, so check.”

ADVICE ON COPING WITH ALTITUDE


“We have clear information about altitude on the website, but some people don’t read it well. Maybe they’re too excited! As we start trekking and go up higher, some people don’t listen to the leader either, but you must. The leader will give information about how to avoid the symptoms. I would say, though, that it’s not possible to trek to Everest Base Camp without experiencing some symptoms of altitude. You might feel a little tired, and have a little headache, but that’s normal. Altitude can affect everyone and anyone, it just depends on your body, not your fitness. It can even happen to us, you never know, even though we’ve been up there more than 100 times!”
Ralph Foulds, from our supplier Encounters Travel: “The best preparation for hiking at altitude is lots of walking before you arrive. Wear the same boots or hiking shoes you’ll be taking on the trek and try to do as many hill walks as possible. In particular, try and do two walks at the weekends – it's the second day’s walking that really improves your fitness.”

PACKING TIPS


Emma Garrick from our supplier Exodus shares her packing tips for trekking to Everest Base Camp: “Layers are the way to go as opposed to big jackets, certainly for lower altitude treks; I would bring a couple of lighter fleeces and long-sleeved tops and layer up that way. Some people like to use walking poles and I think they’re especially useful on long days of descent as it takes the weight off your knees, though it’s generally people in their 40s and upwards who use them.
There are outdoor shops in Thamel where you can pick up additional trekking kit and clothing for a fraction of the price – I wouldn’t want to guarantee the quality, but there is opportunity to grab something if you forget it. It’s always the case that you don’t need everything you think you will; as a rule of thumb you’ll probably need half of what you originally pack.”

Health & safety at Everest base camp


Travel safely in nepal

Health


Visit your GP or travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before departure to ensure you have all the necessary vaccinations and that they are up to date.

Familiarise yourself with the dangers of altitude sickness. Treks to Everest Base Camp involve one or more overnight stays at over 3,500m, where there is a genuine risk of experiencing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). If left untreated AMS can be life threatening. Most people notice the effects of high altitude, feeling some discomfort and headaches, but some will need extra care and may have to descend. Leaders and local staff on a well organised guided trek follow standard altitude safety measures.

Discuss any pre-existing health conditions, such as heart problems, with your GP. A number of medical conditions and some medications can reduce the body’s ability to acclimatise, affecting performance at altitude and increasing susceptibility to AMS. You may also wish to discuss medication such as Diamox that can help aid acclimatisation.

Don’t attempt to take your children trekking to Everest Base Camp. High mountain altitudes are demanding and tough on even the most acclimatised adults.

Medical treatment is expensive at western travelers’ clinics in Nepal and healthcare is poor in most places outside the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. It may be difficult to get rapid helicopter evacuation if you fall ill or suffer a serious accident in a remote part of the country. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance which includes high altitude trekking and emergency helicopter evacuation and repatriation.

If you do need to receive medical treatment in Nepal, up-front payment may be required even if it is covered by your insurance. So ensure that you have accessible funds to cover the costs.

If you need emergency medical assistance while traveling independently in Nepal, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Only drink bottled, boiled or safely purified or filtered water (using purification tablets or a LifeStraw, for example). Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked, and avoid ice cubes. And do not eat cooked food that is no longer piping hot; cooked food that has been left at room temperature is a particularly common culprit for tummy upsets.

It’s a good idea to go vegetarian, too. Meat served on the trail up to Everest Base Camp has been carried up there by porters and, by definition, is never super fresh.

Both alcohol and caffeine increase dehydration – as does altitude. So limit your intake of both. It’s also a good idea to limit your alcohol consumption in Kathmandu prior to your trip – celebrate your achievements after your trek!

Kathmandu’s polluted air gives many people respiratory infections within a few days of arrival and asthmatics should take particular care. Minimise exposure by staying off the main streets, and think about bringing a filtering face mask if you’re spending much time in the Kathmandu Valley.

Personal hygiene is paramount everywhere in Nepal. Wash your hands often and use antibacterial wipes or hand sanitiser if soap and water are not to hand. Keep any cuts clean and disinfected. Hookworm can be picked up through bare feet, so it’s best to always wear shoes

Safety


The earthquake of April 2015 killed nearly 9,000 people in Nepal and in the Everest region, and it triggered an avalanche which claimed 22 lives at Everest Base Camp. The year before, in April 2014, an ice avalanche killed 16 Nepalese guides in the Khumbu Icefall. There’s nothing you can do to protect yourself from devastating natural phenomena like this, but be aware of the risks before signing up for a trek and understand that while these events are rare, they are potentially devastating.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp takes you through very remote areas. Always use a reputable trek provider, don’t veer off established routes and walk in groups. While it is possible to trek the route independently, it would be extremely risky without an expert leader who can set the pace, minimise the chances of altitude sickness, knows the route and can read the weather patterns.

Pick pocketing and bag snatching are common in Nepal, particularly in airports and on buses. Take particular care in the areas of Thamel, Sanepa and Kupondol in Kathmandu and be mindful that your valuables are not on show. Always use your hotel safe.

The general standard of driving throughout Nepal is poor and badly regulated. Roads are very congested, drivers are not properly licensed, and vehicles are poorly maintained. There are few pavements outside central Kathmandu, but pedestrian right of way doesn’t exist, so exercise extreme caution. Avoid traveling at night and don’t get on a bus if you think it’s overcrowded.

NEPAL TREKKING TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS


RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Everest Base Camp travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Be very careful with what you eat... Maybe bring some food along. Be careful to drink a lot. Don’t overexert yourself. If it takes a day longer, so what? In fact, one should probably plan for an extra day or two, just in case.” – Paul Blank

“Bring lots of warm clothes and sleeping equipment and water purification (buying water becomes very costly and produces many plastic bottles). It is hard some days but so worth it!” – Veronica Baker

“Be prepared physically, and take your time as the altitude makes it quite tough going.” – Leonard Paker

“Make sure you take a sleeping bag that is comfortable to minus 20. Be aware that it is sometimes difficult to get hot water for showering. There is little or no electricity when the sun goes down, so take a head torch and some batteries, then at least you can read your book even if it is dark.” – Lindsay Clarke

“Be in good shape, and be prepared to really "rough it" for an extended time - i.e. not shower for seven days, and use really dingy toilets!” – Craig Lutwyler

“Being relatively fit before keeps it enjoyable, we passed a few that had clearly not done walking before and they were finding it harder!” – Amy Brewer
Photo credits: [Preparation tips: Sam Hawley] [Treatment of porters: Simon Matzinger] [Packing tips: James] [Helpdesk: Olga Danylenko] [Review 1 - Amy Brewer: Stefanos Nikologianis] [Review 2 - Paul Blank: CaptainOates]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
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