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How to Trek to the Mount Everest Base Camp
By:Elizabeth Smith

The Mt. Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side of the mountain is accessible on foot by experienced and novice hikers. A two-week roundtrip hike will take you comfortably from the village of Lukla to Base Camp and back, and the spectacular mountain views are worth the physical exertion.

Trek Preparation

Book flights. Book a roundtrip flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, the starting point for most Everest Base Camp treks. Make flight reservations as far in advance as possible for treks during the high season, as there is competition for seats. It is also possible to hike into Lukla from Jiri or Hile; check trail conditions before you choose one of these options.

Choose a type of trek. You can do the Everest Base Camp trek in a number of ways: independantly, with a guide and/or porter, or with a trekking group. The best and most economical way to hire a trekking company or guide/porter is in person, in Kathmandu. Talk to your hotel staff for recommendations, and speak with several trekking companies before choosing. If you plan to go alone with a guide and/or porter, make sure to meet the guide before hiring him to make sure you are compatible. If you plan to do the trek independently, you will need to purchase a Sagarmatha National Park permit before setting out. For safety, visit one of Kathmandu's many bookstores for a trekking guidebook and map.

Travel to Kathmandu. Fly in from international destinations, or take the train from India. Be prepared for delays: the weather patterns coming off of the Himalayas can cause fog and other inclement weather.

Confirm flights and shop for last-minute supplies. Kathmandu offers a surplus of brand-name trekking equipment. Watch out for the ubiquitous fake gear, and examine your purchase for quality.

Rest. The trek ahead will be physically and mentally taxing, so take time in Kathmandu to get over jet lag, eat heartily, and meet other trekkers.

On the Everest Base Camp Trek

Start early. Your flight will land in Lukla in the early morning, so you will be able start trekking immediately. During the high season, there is competition for the best lodge rooms, and an early start gives you an advantage. You will also finish your hike before the height of the day, avoiding the worst of the heat and the onset of evening.

Stay altitude-safe. Be prepared for the effects of high altitude sickness, and make sure to descend if you feel any of the symptoms. Take painkillers for headaches, but follow precautions when trekking.

Be health-conscious. Do not exhaust yourself by trekking too fast or too far. Follow the standard trek guidelines, and take an extra rest day if necessary. The effects of altitude increase with exhaustion, so take care early in the trek to stay hydrated, well-fed and well-rested. Listen to your guide and your body.

Network. Trekkers tend to be a sociable bunch. Take time to chat over meals at the teahouses, and you'll meet people of every size, age, and nationality. Descending trekkers are excellent resource for tips and tricks for the terrain ahead. On the trail, speak with passing Sherpas, the friendly and relaxed mountain people.

Enjoy the view. Trekking is mentally and physically exhausting, and the effects on your body are compounded by the altitude. Even when your feet are aching, remember to stop and look around at the Himalayas. Take the extra effort to climb Kala Pattar for amazing Mt. Everest views.

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