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How Much Does an Everest Base Camp Trek Cost?

A couple at Everest Base Camp 2019 stone surrounded by prayer flags and a snow capped mountain in the background

How Much Does an Everest Base Camp Trek Cost?

Firstly, we’d like to say that the Everest Base Camp trek is one of the best experiences we’ve ever had. The fact you’re reading this may mean your mind is already made up, but if not, we urge you to give it a go. One of the biggest questions we get asked is how much does it cost to trek Everest Base Camp?

A girl at Everest Base Camp with a stone marking Everest Base Camp 2019 and prayer flags with Himalayas in the background

How Much Does an Everest Base Camp Trek Cost?

The biggest factor affecting price is whether to use an organized tour or to go it alone. Pre-booked Everest Base Camp trek packages will probably set you back over $1,200 (£1,000) per person. This would likely be far more for some of the best Everest Base Camp trekking companies.

The price usually includes accommodation, food, a guide, a porter, and return flights from Kathmandu to Lukla. We met a few people on pre-booked tours on the mountain and the average price was $1,350 – $1,450 (£1,100 – £1,200). However, it is possible to do it significantly cheaper.

Check out the best things to do in Kathmandu before you arrive.

Our original plan was to do it on our own with no guides or porters. But we had underestimated how much heavier the backpacks would feel at altitude! Who’d have thought testing it at sea-level where we live wasn’t rigorous enough?

After some deliberation over a couple of days we ended up going somewhere down the middle. We hired a porter while on the mountain, which worked out perfectly for us. Anyway, let’s get down to business, here is a breakdown of all our costs.

A couple stood in front of an impressive snow capped Himalayan mountain

Getting to the Mountain

A man stood at the tiny runway at Lukla airport which is on a decline

You have two options here, by air or by land. We decided to take the nail-biting flight into Lukla airport. It’s the quickest way to get up there from Kathmandu but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You really have to see this runway to believe it. It’s short, sloped and there’s one incredibly steep drop on the bottom end. Add high winds to the mix and you have yourself a runway that makes most lists about dangerous airports.

We chose to fly both ways, however there are pros and cons to both. Travelling over land means more days of trekking and some long bus or jeep journeys. On the other hand, flying is expensive and weather dependent. It was foggy on the morning we were due to fly back, which meant a long wait in the airport with a lot of groggy people. Some people choose to fly up and go back by land, but this is completely up to you. The flights have a fixed price of $179 one way. So, in total we spent $358 per person on transportation from Kathmandu.

Permits

You need two different permits to make trekking Everest Base Camp possible. One is a municipality permit, and the other, a national park permit:

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit – This is the national park which includes the summit of Mount Everest and stretches along the northern border with Tibet. The permit costs 3000Rs (around $23) and can be bought at Monjo (just north of Phakding).

Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit – which costs 2000Rs (around $15) and can be bought at Lukla just after leaving the airport.

Accommodation

A girl stood in a village in the Himalayas

The cost of accommodation can be a bit misleading because it’s incredibly cheap to stay at most of the tea houses on the mountain. But the small catch is that you’re usually required to buy dinner and breakfast there.

You’ll also quickly notice that as the altitude increases so too does the cost of everything! It makes sense since everything has to be transported by yaks, donkeys, or people in this part of the world. A room in a tea house ranged from 200Rs down at Phakding to 700Rs near the top at Lebouche. Our total cost for 12 nights was just 2400Rs per person!

Food and Drink

A couple eating noodles at a restaurant in the Himalayan mountains

Food and drink contributed to the majority of our cost on the mountain, but it can still be pretty cheap. Local vegetarian food like noodles, rice, curry or sherpa stew were usually around 500Rs lower down and 700Rs nearer to Base Camp. Western food like pasta and pizza were of course a bit more expensive. A plate like that would set you back you around 700Rs lower down and 1000Rs higher up.

Sherpa stew was a personal favorite of ours. It’s good to order it in various places as it’s so different everywhere. Sometimes a thick creamy soup, other times more a broth. It usually has something hiding at the bottom like noodles, pasta, or rice. Seems like a lottery and without too much entertainment on the mountain it adds a fun twist to food!

We avoided spending our money on fizzy drinks and chocolate bars as they can be pretty expensive and so we ate 3 meals a day and drank lemon tea or water. Overall, we spent 19750Rs per person on all of our food and drink. This could be a lot higher if you give in to temptation easily! But it’s worth noting that on a pre-booked tour, treats wouldn’t be included either so that wouldn’t make a difference.

Guides and Porters

A line of yaks carrying food up to the villages near Everest Base Camp followed by a girl

We decided after our third day of trekking to hire a porter from Namche. You can easily arrange this by asking your guesthouse owner. Most places offer this service. Our porter cost $20 a day for 8 days so that’s 9000Rs each.

It’s important to pay the porters and guides a fair price on the trek. There are stories of porters being exploited and underpaid, so it might be worth looking somewhere else if your guesthouse quotes significantly less than this. Also don’t overload them with too much weight. We saw a lot of this on the mountain and it’s not fair. The area is very poor and all of the local people that we met were very polite and reserved. All of this means they are unlikely to refuse, even when it’s exploitative. So, it’s important to make sure you travel responsibly and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

If you decide to go for a guide A qualified guide costs around $30 a day and you should ask to see their license or documentation.

Rental

A girl trekking through a snowy, rocky terrain

It’s possible to rent or buy all your hiking gear in Kathmandu. You’ll actually find you’re overwhelmed with choice as there are so many shops in the Thamel area. Unfortunately, most sell knock off versions of decent brands like North Face and Patagonia. However, the quality isn’t great and it might not hold out under some of the extreme conditions. Due to this and the cost we decided to rent second-hand equipment. We thought it was more likely to be genuine brands, plus it was really cheap. The quality turned out to be very good, so it may have been the case.

We rented from a little shop called Kala Pattar, which we can’t recommend enough! We rented 2 jackets and 2 sleeping bags with a really low temperature rating. It cost us $0.50 per day, per piece. So, overall, we spent $30 for 15 days of rental for all 4 items!

Insurance

Okay here’s where we didn’t cut costs and we’d advise everyone not to because Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be very dangerous if it develops into one of the more severe forms HAPE or HACE (High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema or High-Altitude Cerebral Edema). If that were to happen it’s possible you would need to be airlifted by helicopter off the mountain, which as of now, costs around $10,000.

It’s important that you get specialist insurance as most insurers will not cover over 4,000m and even those that do sometimes don’t include Nepal. We used True Traveller and it cost us $240 for 22 days.

A herd of donkeys in a Himalayan village with a girl petting one

Medicine

We left it a little late to do our research on this trip and so we didn’t get the Altitude Sickness medicine upfront. The generic drug name is Acetazolamide, but it’s most commonly referred to as Diamox which is one of the brand names. You can get this on prescription in the UK and over the counter in the US. If it’s not available in your country or you fail to get any in time, it’s possible to buy it in pharmacies in Kathmandu and on the mountain. It cost us $3 for 20 in the little pharmacy in the middle of Namche. At the risk of sounding like some snake-oil salesman the drug was nothing short of a miracle for us.

We delayed taking it as it does have some side effects, the worst probably being that you need to pee a lot and that can involve getting up in sub-zero temperatures with a head torch to pee multiple times a night. The other common side effects include tingling in your hands and face and what must be the strangest side effect: experiencing the most mundane dreams you can imagine. One friend we made on the mountain had recurring vivid dreams of sitting through a particularly long and boring sales meeting at work! This was, however, heavily outweighed by our constant numbing headaches and nausea disappearing. Also, we suddenly had the ability to sleep much better (aside from getting up to pee!)

Total Cost

Based on the average cost of a 14-day Everest Base Camp trek at $1,500 per person, the trip would have cost us $3,000 as a couple.

So, the total cost for our Everest Base Camp trekking trip for accommodation, food and drink, AMS medication, transportation from Kathmandu, equipment rental, and insurance for two people was… drumroll please… $1,561! (£1,298)! Saving us around a whopping $1,439 (£1,062) compared to a pre-booked guided tour. So now you have the information to make a more informed decision of whether the guided or unguided option is for you.

Tour = $1,500 per person / Total $3,000

Non-Tour = $780.50 per person / Total $1,561

SAVINGS = $719.50 per person / Total $1,439

We’d just like to add that the cost should not be the defining factor in your decision. If you feel uncomfortable about attempting it without the experience of a local company/guide, then it’s probably best not to. Why not go on a guided tour, and give yourself the peace of mind? Of course, if you’re the kind that likes to do their own thing and you can sleep easily at night without a plan, then it’s probably going to be the unguided option for you.

If you do decide to go it alone, here’s our guide to the Everest Base Camp trek itself.

A couple at Everest Base Camp 2019 stone surrounded by prayer flags and a snow capped mountain in the background

More Nepal Trekking Options

There are options to extend your trek around the Khumbu region. One common addition to the trek is to summit Kala Pattar – a nearby mountain with a great view of Mount Everest’s peak. Did you know, you can’t actually see Everest from the base camp? Kala Pattar offers an unrivalled view of the highest summit on earth.

Gokyo lakes is another potential detour before you leave the mountains. The bright blue, glacial lakes scatter the nearby valleys at around 5,000m altitude.

Those wanting to take things to the next level might be tempted by a more technical climbing challenge, rather than a trek. A great introduction to this is an Island Peak climbing trip. Island Peak stands at 6,476m above sea level and requires much more training and experience than the treks.

Whilst Everest and the Khumbu region are by far Nepal’s most famous destinations, the country has many more beautiful places to offer. Another popular destination for trekking tourists is Annapurna. Here you have options to do an Annapurna Base Camp trek, the Annapurna Circuit Trek, or to combine both in one longer hike.

Any Questions?

We’ve already had so many questions about our Everest Base Camp trek through Instagram. Most people probably don’t know anyone who’s been there and there’s not a lot of detailed information on certain aspects of the trek. So, for any budding trekkers out there please feel free to ask us any questions in the comments below. We’ll try our best to give you all the information we have or point you in the right direction.

HOW MUCH DOES AN EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK COST?

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