Anyone planning on braving through the Everest Base Camp will undoubtedly be doing a tonne of research. And with any good research comes a million questions swirling in your head. Starting right at the logistics to the physical demands that the trek requires you to meet, right up to the final planning, this adventure is no small feat.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll address the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that pop up in the minds of those planning to embark on the Everest Base Camp and three passes trek. We’re here to provide valuable insights and practical tips to make your expedition smoother.
Starting right from the best time to go to the necessary permits you need to have, the required physical training, the necessities you can’t pack, or just about everything else running on your mind, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a lot better equipped and at ease with undertaking your expedition.
1. How to reach Kathmandu Airport from the hotel?
Most of the accommodations in Kathmandu are located in the Thame area. There are no direct bus services between Thame and the Kathmandu Airport. The best way to commute to and from the airport is by downloading the InDrive app from the App Store or Play Store. The cabs are affordable and operate 24/7.
2. How to purchase a SIM card in Nepal?
The airport is the best place to buy a SIM card in Nepal. To know what documents are required, the best network operators, and more, visit the detailed SIM card guide explaining everything.
3. Where should you buy the trekking gear?
Numerous trekking, hiking, and mountaineering gear shops are lined up at Thame, Kathmandu, and Namche Bazaar. Furthermore, the prices are quite affordable when compared to other countries. But make sure to check the originality of the brand and test the quality of the products.
The North Face has official stores both at Thame and Namche.
Flying Between Kathmandu And Lukla
4. How to book flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and vice versa?
Some airlines operating flights between Kathmandu and Lukla are Summit Air, Sita Air, and Yeti Air (Tara Air). You can visit their official website to book the plane tickets. The airlines fly only in the early morning hours when the weather is clear. It is better not to book from any third-party apps as cancellations are frequent, and you might have to deal with the refunds.
5. Do the flights to Lukla get canceled frequently?
Touted as one of the most dangerous in the world, the Lukla Airport has a short runway, which is quite small. The airplanes flying to and fro the airport will proceed to take off only after receiving the weather report. The frequent cancellations are due to the region’s bad and unpredictable weather.
6. On what day should I book the return ticket?
It solely depends on the route that you choose. It is better to plan a rough itinerary before deciding on the exact dates. We booked the return tickets after landing in Lukla, ensuring that at least we had one of our flights as planned or not delayed. Also, when we rescheduled the air ticket, Yeti Airlines did not charge us extra, and their customer service was really good.
7. Are Lukla flights diverted during peak season?
During peak seasons, which fall in May, October, and November, flights to and fro Lukla don’t depart or land in Kathmandu due to heavy traffic from international airlines. They’ll depart and land at the Ramechhap Airport instead. You’ll have to travel by jeep between Ramechchap airport (Manthali) and Kathmandu, which usually takes about 4 hours by road.
8. If the flights to Lukla get canceled, how to reach Lukla or Kathmandu by road?
There are no paved roads that exist all the way between Lukla and Kathmandu. You have to either fly or trek. From Kathmandu, take a bus or a shared jeep to Salleri. Spend a night there, and the following day, catch another jeep bound for Khari La (Tham Danda). From Tham Danda, set out on a trek to Puiya or Paiya, where you’ll find a cozy place to spend the night. The next day, continue your trek to Phakding, and from there, you can choose to stick to the classic route or explore other routes. Just a heads up, those Jeep rides can get pretty bumpy, so brace yourself for the ride!
Also, note that you’ll not reach Lukla but Phakding which lies 8 Km ahead.
9. How much does a Helicopter ride cost between Kathmandu and Lukla?
Opt for a helicopter ride from Gorakshep to Lukla for a breathtaking aerial view of the landscapes on your return journey. This will shorten your trek by 3 days. If you’re looking to make your trip a bit shorter, the helicopter ride’s got to be your go-to. The helicopter ride will cost you $350 – $500 per person if shared among 5 people, while a private charter costs $2000 – $2200. You can book via Nepal Helicopters.
10. Where to withdraw cash or exchange currency?
We would highly recommend that you exchange to the local currency of Nepali Rupees (NPR) or withdraw cash from the ATMs in Kathmandu. And if you can’t do that, try your luck after landing at Lukla or Namche Bazaar. However, be warned that the ATMs at Namche Bazaar might run out of cash or simply won’t work. Better to get yourself stocked while in Kathmandu.
11. Can I find ATMs along the trail?
You can find ATMs at Lukla and Namche Bazaar. Note that there are no ATMs or currency exchanges along the trail after you cross Namche Bazaar.
12. Are Dollars or Euros accepted on the EBC trail?
No, Dollars or Euros are not accepted anywhere at tea houses, shops, and restaurants. Only the Nepalese Rupee (NPR) is accepted.
13. How much cash must I carry for the EBC trek?
This is a very tricky question to answer. It depends on your spending habits, the time of the year you’re trekking, the number of days you’re trekking for, and the services you’re using at the higher altitudes. We have explained all our expenses with a complete cost breakdown in a separate blog. Refer to the blog to get a better idea.
14. Are credit/ debit cards accepted?
Few tea houses accept credit and debit cards, and they charge extra. Having enough cash with you while trekking in Nepal is always better.
15. How to do the EBC trek on a budget?
We only spent around 525 USD for 3 persons to complete the whole EBC and three-pass trek, which means 175 USD per person, excluding the flight services between Lukla and Kathmandu. We know that the numbers are shocking, but it is profoundly true. We drank a hot drink every day and ate at least two times a day. We have shared the money-saving hacks in a separate blog. Give it a read to know the secrets! Hush now!
Acclimatization & Altitude Sickness
16. What are AMS, HAPE & HACE? Is there any possibility of getting on the EBC trek?
The three main types of altitude sickness are Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Especially HACE and HAPE are dangerous diseases that can end fatally. Here are the symptoms for each of them.
The probability of getting altitude sickness differs from person to person. During the EBC trek, you gain an altitude as high as 5500 m. So, there is a high chance of getting AMS.
17. How to prevent altitude sickness while trekking?
The rule of thumb for trekking has been listed below. Make sure you do not break them!
1. Do not ascend more than 300-500 m per night.
2. Include a rest day every 3-4 days for every 800 – 1200 m.
3. Hike high, stay low.
Stay hydrated. Drink at least 3-5 liters of water daily and pee often. Eating sugar or sugar-rich chocolates also helps. Avoid alcohol and smoking. Also, climb slowly and at your own pace.
18.When to consume Diamox or Acetazolamide?
When you consume Diamox or Acetazolamide, drink lots of water, at least 3 liters a day. We didn’t take Diamox on our EBC and three passes trek.
19. Why are acclimatization hikes important?
Acclimatization hikes are important to prevent altitude sickness. Hiking up to a higher altitude and sleeping at a lower altitude help your body adjust to low oxygen levels.
20. What are the oxygen levels along the trail?
The oxygen level decreases with altitude. Here are oxygen saturation levels at different altitudes that you’ll come across on the trail.
At the sea level – 97 to 100 %
1350 m (Kathmandu) – 90 to 95 %
2800 m (Lukla) – 92 to 93%
3400 m (Namche Bazaar) – 85 to 90%
4000 m (Tangboche) – 80 to 85%
5000 m (Lobuche) – 75 to 80%
5500 m (Kalapattar/ EBC) – 70 to 75 %
21. How much altitude will I gain on the EBC trek?
The trek starts from Lukla and ends at the Everest Base Camp (one-way). The lowest altitude is measured at 2520 m or 8268 feet and goes to a whopping 5364 m or 17598 feet above sea level. So, the altitude gain on the EBC trek is about 2844 m or 9330 feet!
22. How difficult is the EBC trek?
The difficulty level is highly dependent on your fitness level. We would rate the Everest Base Camp trek’s difficulty level as moderate while the three passes trek as difficult. Although there is no technical climbing or mountaineering involved, the altitude makes everything harder.
23. I have zero experience in high-altitude trekking. Can I do the EBC trek?
Yes. We recommend you do extensive planning though, be mentally and physically prepared, and leave a buffer of at least one day while planning the trek, just in case you like to slow down or your body needs rest because of the altitude. Educate yourself on topics like medications, first-aid, and offline trail navigation.
EBC and the three passes trek is our first high-altitude trek. The three passes trek is more challenging than the EBC trek. You can join a group or hire a guide if you’re concerned about safety or not confident enough.
24. How does fitness impact your trek experience?
EBC and the three passes trek is one of the most challenging treks in Nepal that require a good amount of fitness. It impacts the overall experience you have on the trail. If you’re fit, you can trek comfortably, soak in more views, and enjoy the trek thoroughly. So, train well before you plan for the trek. A little training and planning goes a long way.
25. How do you train for the EBC trek?
Preparations are necessary before pursuing high-altitude trekking like EBC. Breathing and endurance should be your priority. Include cardio in your workouts and strengthen your shoulders, back, legs, and calf muscles. Hiking outdoors to any hills or mountains is one of the best things you should consider doing. Swimming, cycling, climbing stairs, and running are also good alternatives to the gym. Start slow and work your way up!
26. How to handle menstruation while trekking?
It is safe to carry pads/tampons/menstrual cups. As there are restrooms at tea houses, you should be able to manage the EBC trek without any hassle. Read the tea houses blog that explains toilet situations and what to expect at the tea houses!
27. Will I get menstrual pads in shops?
We could find menstrual pads at shops in Phakding, Namche, and Dingboche. If you’re concerned about specific brands, it is better to bring them yourself. The next best option is to buy your supplies from Kathmandu before starting the trek.
28. How to take care of your hair?
Long hair is challenging to maintain while trekking. Being unable to wash your hair for a long time makes it dry, frizzy, and full of dandruff. We suggest dry shampoo! This comes in quite handy during your trek. Also, try braiding your hair and wearing a cap. Let your hair dry when at the tea houses. And if you’ve got any better tips, ensure you leave them in the comment section below!
29. What are the food options at tea houses? Do I get only Dal Bhat?
The tea houses serve a variety of dishes. Dal Bhat just happens to be a popular dish served in unlimited quantities. It is available in all the tea house restaurants. Apart from Dhal Bhat, the menu generally comprises pasta, bread, dishes from potatoes, sandwiches, pizzas, teas, soups, pancakes, porridges, etc. The local cuisines are affordable and a chance to savor authentic Nepali dishes.
30. Why is meat not preferred on the EBC trek?
Sticking to only vegetarian food is advised as the meat is not well-preserved. People carry them over long distances or by mules and yaks for several days. So, avoid consuming them on the trails to save yourself from indigestion or stomach upset.
31. What are tea houses? How do they work?
The accommodations found along the trekking trails in Nepal are called tea houses. They usually come with restaurants to serve the staying guests. They also sell snacks, bottled water, beers, tissue paper and toilet rolls, energy bars, and chocolates, to name a few. In short, they are your safe havens!
The tea houses usually have a free common restroom and a paid shower room. Most tea houses have charging sockets and also offer Wi-Fi services, which can be used at an additional cost. For more information on tea houses and how they work, refer to the Nepal tea houses blog, which explains everything in detail.
32. Is prior booking needed at tea houses?
Pre-bookings at tea houses are not mandatory. However, pre-booking is advisable during the peak season months of May and October as nearly 700-1000 people flock daily to stay at the tea houses in each village. The group tour operators book the tea houses for their clients in advance. So, it is better to pre-book your next stay, at least when you reach the previous village. Pre-booking is not required during the off-season months, but take decisions depending on the demand and crowd.
33. What is the toilet situation at tea houses?
Two types of toilets are available at the tea houses – Western and Indian squat toilets. Having a flush in the western type toilets is rare and a luxury. There will be water filled in large containers. No toilet rolls or tissues are placed. A waste bin is kept to dispose of the used tissue papers and menstrual pads. Indian squat toilets are usually clean and well maintained, but the western toilets do not get flushed properly when water is poured, even in large amounts. So it does smell and is sometimes dirty. Be warned!
Indians Visiting Nepal
34. Where to cross the India-Nepal border by land?
All tourists visiting Nepal by land can enter through any of these entry points on the India – Nepal border.
35. Do I need a VISA to visit Nepal?
Both the Indian and Nepal governments signed the treaty of peace and friendship in 1950, which allows the free movement of people and goods between the two nations. So, Indians don’t need a VISA to travel to Nepal.
36. Can I travel without a passport to Nepal?
A valid Indian passport or the original Indian voter ID with the photograph issued by the Election Commission of India are the only two valid documents accepted to enter Nepal. Downloaded or online prints of the Voter ID card, Aadhaar card, PAN card, or driver’s license are not accepted. Also, if you’re visiting Nepal for trekking, a passport is mandatory to get the permits. We highly recommend you take a valid Indian passport while traveling to Nepal.
37. Are Indian currencies accepted in Nepal?
As of 2023, the Indian Rupee (INR) is not accepted anywhere in Nepal, even at the currency exchanges. It is better to have a few USD cash with you to buy SIM cards and other immediate needs after landing at the airport. The ban happened after the demonetization in 2016.
38. Are SAARC discounts valid in Nepal for Indian citizens?
As India is one of the SAARC nations, a 50% discount is applicable on entry fees of tourist places in Nepal, including the Sagarmatha National Park entry.
This is not all! We have covered the rest of the questions in part 2. Do check it out. If you find this blog helpful, comment below and share it with your friends. Do support us by following us on our social media platforms – Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest!