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Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp travel guide

Everest Base Camp is the best way for non-elite climbers to get close to the world's highest mountain, plus it's a great insight into Sherpa culture and the high Himalaya

Very few of us will ever get to stand on top of Mount Everest – expeditions to the top of the planet’s highest peak (8,850m) take around 70 days, costs in excess of £30,000 and require a special blend of fitness, skill and insanity.

However, the trek to Everest Base Camp (5,340m) is a much more achievable goal for those hiking in the Nepalese Himalaya – and almost as rewarding.

The classic Everest Base Camp trek takes about 14 days from Lukla, the remote mountain airstrip that provides a gateway to the region. During those 14 days you will hike by the Kosi River to the thriving hub of Namche Bazar; you’ll trek through the Sherpa heartland, passing vibrant monasteries; you’ll spend days acclimatising to the thin air; you’ll ascend the Khumbu Valley to reach Everest Base Camp itself; and you’ll retrace your steps back down again, buoyed by the buzz of having seen Everest at extremely close quarters.

It is a strenuous trek. You’ll be walking for around three to six hours a day, at high altitude. Hiring a porter and/or guide will ease the strain, and is recommended, not least to provide vital employment for locals. Although independent trekking is permitted on the Everest Base Camp route, paying a tour company to organise the details for you (flights, teahouses etc) will leave you freer to relax and soak up the magisterial mountain views.

The trek to Everest Base Camp is not a wilderness expedition. The trail is dotted with teahouses, tiny villages and prayer-flag-flung monasteries, adding a fascinating human element to this great outdoors. There will also be plenty of other trekkers – the Everest Base Camp trek is one of Nepal’s most popular.

Don’t let the human traffic put you off, however. There are plenty of opportunities for escaping the crowds (try a range of side walks off the trail on your acclimatisation days). And, people or no people, this is one of the most accessible and spectacular ways to get a glimpse of the top of the world.

Wanderlust editor Phoebe Smith visited Everest Base Camp in April 2013. Check out her tour of the iconic campsite in this exclusive video. Find out more in the June issue of Wanderlust magazine.

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