Hiking to Everest Base Camp is one of the most epic things I’ve ever done in my life. It took my over a month after arriving home for me to process the trip and and get back into the swing of normal life.
Everything at home seems to be too much. Too overwhelming. Too loud. Too fast. On the trail everything is simple, calm, and you’re only doing the necessities.
I had no idea what to expect when hiking to Everest Base Camp. I did plenty of research on safety, training, and what to bring, but the day to day schedule I tried not to look at it too much as I like to go with the flow when I hike.
Hiking to Everest Base Camp has changed the way I see the world; the way I go about my life on a day to day basis. I try to be more aware of whats going on around me, to take in all in. Nepal is like no other place I’ve ever visited, and a part of my heart will remain in those mountains forever.
With that being said, there are a few things I wish I had known before hopping on that plane to Lukla to trek to Everest Base Camp. Little things that I think others would find helpful along their journey.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Don’t eat the Meat
I love meat. I’m sorry if you feel I shouldn’t, but for me it’s the best part of any meal. Yes, there is meat along the trail, but where is it coming from?
Most of the meat you’ll find on the Everest Base Camp Trek gets carried in. If you’re on day 1 or 2 of the trek, you should be OK as majority of supplies and food get carried in from Lukla – where most hikers start their journey.
Luckily, I got this Everest Base Camp tip early on and I didn’t eat any. I overheard stories of people getting food poisoning several days into their trek and it completely ruined their adventure. Can you imagine vomiting for a few days at altitude? It sounds like a nightmare.
My advice is bring things like beef jerky, salmon jerky, or anything that’s going to help supplement that protein loss in your diet. I had a small bag of beef jerky, but it only lasted until day 8 (of 12) and I really wish I had a second bag.
The same can be said for dairy. You don’t know where it’s coming from or how long it’s be sitting. Boy did I miss cheese! At the end of the journey, I ate a pizza. It was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten because I missed cheese so much – in reality it was a mediocre pizza. 12 days of hiking to and from Everest Base Camp will do that to you.
Things I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: The terrain was moderate, but the trek was mentally difficult
I don’t think most people go into an epic trek like Everest Base Camp thinking it’s going to be easy. (At least I hope not!) Every hiker should train for being at altitude by doing plenty of cardio and strength training. I personally recommend practicing yoga to anyone who hikes on a regular basis or is in training.
Many of the days on the way to Everest Base Camp are what is known as “Nepali Flat.” This loosely means rolling, sometimes steep, hills and lots of them. There were only a few strenuous uphills that I thought would never end, which is strange considering how high up into the clouds they trek take you. However, the trek was a mental challenge. Hiking for 12 days can be difficult back home in Vermont, but add altitude into that and you’ve got a mental game like no other.
I found that hiking and chatting helped with this at times. Or, if I didn’t want to talk, knowing someone had my back made all the difference. There were a few days I hiked in silence and cried. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to the next village.
The afternoon we headed to Everest Base Camp I hiked with my friend Angie. Neither of us spoke much with the occasional, “We can do this.” We traded leading positions often. Knowing she was there helped me get to Everest Base Camp. Upon arrival, I saw some other members of the group, ladies from WHOA Travel who I have hiked with before, standing with outstretched arms. They hugged me as I cried tears of joy.
read more: Tips for Backpacking in Southeast Asia
What I wish I knew before trekking to Everest Base Camp: Bring small Nepali bills
Whether you get cash from an ATM or money exchange upon arrival in Kathmandu they always give you big bills – 1,000 and 500 rupees. Once you get on the mountain those bills are very difficult to change as the only large village is Namche Bazaar, which most hikers spend days 2 and 3 in, but still tend to have difficulty using their large bills during their time there.
Do yourself a favor while shopping, eating, and paying for hotels in Kathmandu, use your larger rupee bills to pay for items and keep the smaller notes to bring on the trek. You might end up with a large stack of cash, but the smaller the bill the easier it will be to use when purchasing much-needed snacks along the trail. To keep all your cash, passport, and phone from getting wet (you should have seen the rainstorm I hiked in on day 2) have a small waterproof bag to take with you in your backpack.
If you don’t do this before you begin trekking to Everest Base Camp, say good-bye to that delicious looking can of Pringles you’ll be craving along the trail.
Things I wish I knew before trekking to Everest Base Camp: Items I should have brought with me
I’m pretty good when it comes to packing light, and on this trek you’ll need to follow whatever guidelines you’re trekking company provides you with for the weight of your duffel bag, but I’ll admit there were a few things I needed and didn’t have during my trek to Everest Base Camp.
Here is my list of a few things I wish I had brought with me:
Thera Flu: Someone brought a nasty cold with them on the trip and everyone got it. Need I say more?
Multiple Buffs: I had 2, and wish I had at least 1 more. They became very smelly, full of dust, and having several will allow you to wash and dry them as you trek.
More wet wipes: I ran out around day 9…things got a little gross after that.
Throat Lozenges: With the cold going around and it being dusty this would have made my throat so happy.
Extra bandana: They can be used for anything. I use mine as a handkerchief.
My lovely Mithini, Rita and I.
What I wish I knew before hiking to Everest Base Camp: Swearing
Confession, when I’m not working, I have a foul mouth. Some of my favorite words can’t be used in the company of people I don’t know well.
Swearing in Nepal, any swearing, is very rude. We learned this pretty quickly seeing the shocked looks on our Nepali trail family’s faces when someone in the group would drop a curse word.
Please remember that you’re a visitor in this beautiful country, and sticking to the cultural norms while there shows respect to the people that call it home. While it might be a challenge, be courteous and keep the swearing to a minimum.