EBC: Important Tips & Other Information
Planning to do the Everest Base Camp Trek? Get important tips and other information from us including how to plan your trip, how much to pay your porter or guide, which side of the plane to sit, how to choose a hotel and more. While the list is not exhaustive, these will help you to plan your trip well. We hope that our tips will enable you to be better prepared than most other people who do the trek. Also be sure to read our full review of the Everest Base Camp Trek here.
Here is the list in no particular order:
Planning Your Flights
Although everything else along the trek has no bother with time, the weather in Nepal can change as unexpectedly as a politician’s account of implicating events. It is therefore important to ensure that you plan your trip in such a way that you will have enough time before and after your trek, should the weather not be in your favour and you find yourself having to stay a day or two at a particular point.
When we initially landed at Lukla, we had perfect weather and a wonderful trek. However, on our way back the clouds came rolling in, and by the time we came to Lukla we heard the airport had been closed for 2 days already. Fortunately the airport opened the next morning, but there were trekkers who got stuck at Lukla for 2 extra days.
You should therefore add extra days to your trip, or book flexible airplane tickets for going back home, which will allow you to change your dates if need be.
How High Altitude Affects You
One of the most important things to know is how high altitude affects your body. We have put this page together [All About High Altitude and High Altitude Sickness] with a chart of the changes in altitude you will experience, together with how it works and what you can do to counter it.
Get Your Visa Before You Go
At the time of this writing, citizens of India do not need a visa to enter Nepal. It would be best to check with your local travel agents to see what the visa requirements for your country are. As a general rule, most travellers can apply for a visa upon arrival.
However, getting your Nepal visa from your local embassy might be a smarter thing to do. Even though you can obtain a visa upon arrival, there is a chance that the airport could be extremely busy when you land. If this is the case, you will regret having to stand in a long queue and wish you rather got one at home.
The Airport At Kathmandu
The toilets are less first world than on the flight. You may want to use the bathroom on the plane before you land, rather than to use the toilet at the airport. However, in comparison to some of the toilets on the trek, the toilets at the airport is a treasure island.
Make sure you have the number of the company/hotel/agency that will be picking you up. If anyone outside the airport asks which hotel you are going to, don’t give them the name. If you tell them the place you are going to, they will simply tell you that they have been sent to pick you up. Once dropped off at your destination they will demand payment while your actual lift will probably still be waiting for you at the airport. Instead, respond by asking which hotel they are driving, and if it isn’t your destination then simply decline.
When your driver has managed to find you, don’t give your luggage to anyone to carry to the taxi unless he personally hands your luggage to someone. Locals flock around you just because you look different and will shrewdly provide a service to you and then demand payment. This happened to us: our guide spotted us, took Lynn’s luggage from her to carry to the car. Then another guy (whom we thought was driver or co-driver) took Hank’s luggage from him, carried it to the car, and then demanded payment. We never knew he was not ‘with’ the guide.
Internet Access In Nepal
You can find free internet almost anywhere you go in Kathmandu and Pokhara. It’s a different story when you go high up in the mountains, but in the city free WIFI is available at almost any coffee shop, restaurant or hotel. However, when we arrived in Nepal we didn’t see any free WIFI at the airport. This might have changed since.
Voltage And Plugs
The Nepalese power voltage is 230V 50Hz; The plugs that are supported are Plug Types C & D.
Charging And Maintaining Battery Life
The one thing you don’t want to miss out on is taking pictures, whether that be with your phone, your GoPro or any other camera. The one thing that happens often is battery life that abruptly ends. The reason for this is the cold weather. You might think you still have enough battery power to last you a day, but the cold could drain it within minutes. The key to maintaining your battery life is to keep your device and spare batteries as close to your body as possible. Use inside pockets from your clothing during the day. At night you may want to keep your batteries inside your sleeping bag. It is uncomfortable, but you gave up comfort long time ago when you decided to do the trek, right?
You will be able to charge your devices, but know that it comes with a price. You could easily pay around 1,000 Rs (about 10USD) to charge a device, and as you get closer to Everest Base Camp charging becomes more expensive as well. You really want to preserve your battery life as best as possible.
We took 2 power banks with us. During the trek, we only recharged our power banks, which allowed us to charge our devices more than once. This turned out to be more cost effective, although some tea houses charge more if they see you want to recharge a power bank. We really like the power banks from the Romoss range. It is a compact design, and with this one you can recharge an iPhone x or Samsung Galaxy S8 approximately 2.3 times (exposure to cold weather might affect this).
However, you should always do your own research on what will work best for you.
Apps To Install Before You Go
For Nepal there are two types of apps you can install on your phone which we believe are vital for your trip.
The first one is a health monitoring app. The one we installed for the Samsung Galaxy range is called “iCare Health Monitor” and it measures your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. If you read our account of our experience of the trek, you will know the app came in handy on Day 2 when Hank was able to see that his oxygen levels were dangerously low. Normally your oxygen levels should read between 98% and 100%. Anything below 95% is considered critical.
Hank’s oxygen levels were 95% at the time, and we could make an informed decision not to go higher for the day. The app also detected very high blood pressure, for which Hank took an aspirin which helped.
Another app to have is the “MAPS.ME” app. This is a great app for the time spent in the city. Download the app together with an offline map of the area you are visiting. The app makes use of your cell phones location instead of the internet, and it can navigate you around even without any internet access or airtime.
Choosing A Hotel In Kathmandu
If we were to go back to Nepal, we would most probably return to the same hotel where we resided a few days before and after the trek. While accommodation in Nepal is ample, what we truly appreciated about our hotel was how accommodating they were as well as the fact that we were only a 5 minute walk away from Thamel Square.
It was very convenient to stay close so to Thamel Square. We were able to take our time wandering between all the different shops looking for the best deals. We had time to compare prices between the different shops, and enjoyed trying out various restaurants.
If you are unsure about where to stay before and after your trek, you might want to consider Moonlight Hotel. It has to be one of the best hotels in Nepal, well located and well priced. A friend of ours who did the Annapurna Circuit stayed at the Nirvana Garden Hotel. This hotel is only an 8 minute walk from the Moonlight Hotel, and also 5 minutes from Thamel Square. You can use the search form below to see prices and photos.
One thing to know about the good hotels like Hotel Moonlight and Nirvana Garden Hotel is that they will allow you to store some of your luggage while you are away on your trek. This comes in really handy, since the luggage you need during the trek could be significantly different from what you need during other parts of your trip.
Take A Photo Of Your Hotel
The first thing you should do when arriving at your hotel is to take a few pictures of the building and the name. This could come in handy when you walk around the city. Should you become lost (which can easily happen), and should your MAPS.ME app not be able to navigate you back, you can always show the photo of the hotel to someone and ask them for directions.
The great thing about the photo is that even if a person does not understand your language, they might recognise the hotel from the picture and point you in the right direction.
Fermented Food / Yogurt
Suffering from diarrhoea is one of the worst things that could happen to any person while on the trek. Since you are going to an unknown country with unknown bacteria, it is likely that your system will be susceptible to some form of diarrhoea.
One of the best tips we got was to eat food that would typically contain bacteria own to Nepal. We were advised to eat yogurt or some form of fermented food upon arrival just so you can have an encounter with the bacteria before you start with the actual trek.
The key is to get the timing right as to when you will eat something with bacteria. You should not do this when you have a whole day of traveling or touring still ahead without restroom facilities. Your body will respond to the bacteria probably within 8 hours and it could continue to respond for 48 hours.
While we were still on the plane flying in to Kathmandu we were served curd as part of our breakfast on the plane. Curd is a type of dairy and quite common in Nepal. This did the trick, and (fortunately for us) it happened while still at the hotel before we left for the trek.
Don’t Explore The City Without A Buff
If you plan to walk around in Kathmandu, be sure to have a buff to cover your mouth and nose. Kathmandu is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and we quickly learned that you cannot walk around without filtering the air you breath. If you are doing a trek you should already have a buff, but if not you should be able to find one quickly in a nearby shop.
Where To Sit On The Plane
Flying in to Lukla is a whole adventure in itself. You have the excitement of flying with a small plane with “Electrolux” engines… and landing at what is arguably the most dangerous airport in the world. On top of that, you will be able to have a wonderful view of the Himalayas in the distance… that is, if you sit on the LEFT side of the plane.
Seats are not allocated beforehand and are occupied on a first come basis. You will have to outsmart the other passengers to get a seat on the left side of the plane, but you will be most ecstatic that you did. On our plane the seats on the left were single seats, whilst the seats on the right were 2-seaters. For the best possible view we would recommend row 2 and 3 from the front, since row 1 doesn’t allow you to look forward (unless you can see through the pilots’ windsceen), and the wing which restricts your view in row 4 and further back.
However, when returning from Lukla to Kathmandu you will want to be cognizant of which seat to get, only on the RIGHT side this time. It is an amazing farewell to the mountain range which you just came from, and you will have reason to be disappointed if you sit on the “wrong” side of the plane.
For Men: Consider A Haircut Before You Go
Hank decided to keep his hair a bit longer with the hope that it would add warmth while trekking in the cold. This was a bad idea. Because of the strenuous exercise, he ended up with wet hair on a regular basis which had the exact opposite effect of what he was hoping to achieve.
Lynn with her long hair didn’t have this problem, so if you have really long hair you should be fine.
For Women: If You Take A SheeWee
For ladies considering to take a SheeWee to assist during your bathroom breaks, it is highly recommended to practice using it at home first. It is very risky to You should also practice using it while layered with lots of clothing.
Tip: You may want to practice in the shower before you attempt it over the toilet
When it comes to purifying your drinking water, there are a few methods to choose from. However, the important thing is that you do purify your drinking water. Like we mentioned in our account of our trip, there is a sign at Namche Bazaar warning tourists that there is cholera in the water.
On our trip, we used a manual micron filter to purify our drinking water. This worked very well, except that it was time consuming. We would spend a considerable amount of time every evening to ensure we had clean water the next day. A better option might be to use an inline micron filter, which should be less time consuming.
A friend of ours told us she purchased bottled water for her entire trip instead. She was happy to do this because she wanted to support the community, but do know that the water becomes excessively expensive the higher you go.
It is also important to note that you should try to avoid drinking water from the main river. While you would expect it to be clean, we constantly came across people washing their clothes in the river. This occurred all the way to the top and we therefore advise against it. The nice thing about the Everest Base Camp Trek is that you find tap water all the way to the last village, which you can then clean yourself.
If you want to explore the different options for purifying water, you can read our blog on [Water Purification Tips]
How Fit Should You Be?
Getting fit before your trek is of utmost importance. You should know that the trek is not easy, and you need to be strong as well. We recommend strength training combined with High Intensity Interval Training. Ideally you should find someone who can work out a programme for you a good few months in advance. You might also want to see a doctor to make sure you are good to go.
Snacks For The Trek
Chocolates like Mars bars are available on the trek. However, if you go during a busy season there is no guarantee what supplies will look like. It is always best to be prepared. Our biggest concern was protein, and more specifically meat. Apart from eggs for breakfast, it is not advised to eat meat on the trek.
What worked for us was to take vacuum packed beef jerky and sachets of tuna with. We also took packets of instant oats, which we were able to mix with hot water during breakfast.
If you are a big meat eater, then something like beef jerky and sachets of tuna will be the proverbial life-saver for you.
Tips For The Porter And Guide
When we planned our trip, we heard everybody say that upon completion of your trek you should give a tip to the porter as well as the guide. The one question nobody could give us an answer to was, what would constitute a reasonable tip? That was until I had a conversation with a Nepalese business owner who owns a trekking company.
At first he also didn’t want to tell me, but after I pressed him for an answer he reluctantly told me that a porter would expect a tip of at least 10,000 Rs (Nepalese Rupees). He also said that a guide would expect at least 20,000 Rs, but it should always be double of what you give to the porters.
This was in December 2016. Depending on when you are reading this, this might have changed.
If there is anything here we didn’t cover but you would like more information on, please feel free to ask. Also, if you have done the Everest Base Camp Trek and have specific helpful information, also feel free to add your comments below.