Just about everyone all over the world will have heard of Mount Everest. A name that conjures up so many stories of human endeavour – from hard gained success to harrowing failure. The mental imagery of what it must be like is unimaginable without seeing it for yourself.
Without question, the Everest region of Nepal is a true bucket list quest for trekkers and travellers all over the world, more a pilgrimage than a holiday, that draws in the crowds of people every spring and autumn.
The number of travellers descending on the trails that lead to Everest Base Camp dwarf that of other mountainous regions in Nepal and its popularity continues to rise in the wake of the 2015 earthquake. Visitors are once again returning to the greatest mountains on earth and for good reason.
Excitingly enough we have come up with five ways that you can trek to Everest Base Camp, escaping the crowds, enjoying the trails and mountains in resplendent bliss and harmony.
1. Follow the route via Gokyo
The classic base camp trek follows an out and back trail, a super small highway of trekkers travelling in opposite directions – ‘Are you going up or down?’ is a fun question to be asked by fellow mountain friends, often displaying grubby sun tans suggesting they have been in the region longer than you.
A crucial piece of advice is that by following the lesser visited trail via the Gokyo Lakes, looping majestically over the Renjo-La pass, will gift you extraordinary scenery that is missed completely by a big portion of those that travel along the classic route.
It also means you can make a complete loop of the Everest region, barely treading on the same cobbled stones twice.
2. Trekking in March is a WINNER
The official or ‘best’ time for visiting the Everest region is in April & early May, the days are growing longer and spring is slowly arriving in the Khumbu region. This is the busiest time of year for Everest, many major expeditions travel through the valleys at this time of year as they prepare to summit the worlds highest peaks. Throngs of travellers will follow hot on their heels to get a good slice of the pie too.
The beauty of travelling in March is that the trails are much quieter and a majority of the teahouses are lodges are open and ready for business.
Whilst a little chillier, it’s worth the effort to have the trails to yourself.
3. Hit the trail early in the day
Trekking in the Himalayas is tiring. After a nice day walking, snuggling up next to a hot fire and reading a book is a sure way to pass the time. That said there isn’t a huge amount to do in the evenings and you may find you retire to bed at 8 pm.
The joy of early nights is that you rise very early.
Most people begin their day's trekking after 8 am once they have had breakfast and packed up their packs and belongings.
A perfect solution is to get up and out between 06:00 – 07:00 am, the majesty of the mountains at that time of the morning is impressive, watching first light cascade down into the valleys while you are walking your way along the trail.
Chilly yes, but worth every effort in order to get the most out of the mountains.
4. Climb Kala Patthar at Sunset rather than Sunrise
You may not realise this, but you cannot see Mount Everest from Base Camp.
Instead, a very popular side excursion from the hamlet of Gorak Shep is to climb the nearby hill (5,000m+!) of Kala Patthar which rewards you with famous views of the highest mountain on earth.
Most people will look to climb the hill first thing in the morning so that they can watch the sunrise over Everest.
We recommend considering heading up at sunset, a much quieter time on the hill and equally as rewarding.
5. Taking a chopper from Lukla to Everest Base Camp in time for breakfast
OK, we admit it – this isn’t our ‘preferred’ option as we love to tread the trails and work hard for our prize. However, for a good chunk of money, it is possible to take a helicopter from Lukla Airport directly to Kala Patthar in time for breakfast.
It’s a very fun thing to do, missing all of the trails and trekkers as you soar high and above the worlds very best mountain scenery.
A short-lived landing with usually 30minutes only on the ground - unsurprising given the lack of acclimatization you will have made (travelling from 1,800m – 5,500m in a very short space of time!).
Still, it’s a bit of fun and suitable for those with good budgets and short on time.