How Much Does the Everest Base Camp Trek Cost?
Current as of November 2016
How much does the Everest Base Camp trek cost? Anything from $400 to $20,000. There really is that much variation.
Everyone has to buy a Sagamartha National Park Permit – 3000 Nepalese Rupees ($28) – and a TIMS card – US$20 paid in Nepalese rupees if independent, or US$10 in NPR if part of a group. What you pay above that depends on the route you’re doing and your requirements for porters, food and comfort.
WHAT THE EBC TREK COSTS FOR SHOESTRINGERS
The Everest Base Camp trek can cost $400-$450 for shoestringers who walk in from Jiri, then straight in and straight out to Everest Base Camp, unguided, over 24 days or so, assuming you already have travel insurance and all the gear you’ll need for the Everest Base Camp trek. Note that sleeping bags (though not good quality cold-weather sleeping bags) and warm clothing can be hired in KTM.
The cheapest way to do the Everest Base Camp Trek is to walk in to Lukla from Sriwalajaya, near Jiri, which takes six days: accommodation and food costs along this section of the route will be well under $10 a day for most, but you’ll cover an elevation equivalent to scaling Everest from sea level. Returning, you can either take the same route or walk out to Phaplu or elsewhere and pick up a jeep. (For more detail on this, see my Everest Base Camp Trek FAQ.)
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK COSTS – INDIE STYLE
Most people choose to fly into Lukla, which costs $154 each way for foreigners in 2016, and NPR 7035 (around US$65) each way for guides and porters who are travelling with you from Kathmandu. Overseas citizens, though not Nepalis, can now apparently book flights online at Tara Air: their live-chat function operates between 7am and 7pm Nepal time.
Do note that flights routinely get backed up as the planes will only fly when the weather is clear in both Lukla and Kathmandu so you should allow several days’ leeway before your international flight, or, if timing is tight, ensure your travel insurance covers you for helicopter evac.
A porter-guide, who knows the route and speaks some English, should cost in the region of $20 per day, and porters in the region of $10 per day. Guides cost from $40 per day, depending on their skills and experience, and will manage recruitment of other team members if required, although if they’re managing a team as well as guiding, you’ll need to pay them more ($60 and up).
The standard tip is about 25%, and many agencies are happy to arrange guides or porters, giving you an additional layer of protection. A reasonable load for a porter is 15kg: they have to carry their own gear as well. Guides might help you out if you’re struggling with a bag, but will not carry for you. Please be sure to pay porters well: their need is considerably greater than yours.
Most basic lodges on the Everest Base Camp trek cost 200 NPR ($2.20) for a room, or 500 NPR ($5.50) where en suites are available, although you have to eat your meals in the lodge, and food becomes more expensive the higher up the trail you go, as everything has to be brought in. Purifying your own water makes sense economically and environmentally – at higher elevations, a bottle of mineral water can cost almost $5.
As a rule of thumb, shoestringers should be able to fill their daily calorific requirements, which increase, like costs, with altitude, for $15 per day on average on the Everest Base Camp trek proper. Allowing $25 per head will give you a broader range of options, including niceties such as meat, lots of hot drinks and the odd beer, apple pie or bucket of hot water to wash in: if you need candy while you trek, carry it with you from Pokhara or KTM, as a Snickers bar can cost $4 higher up the trail. (For more on food on the EBC trek, read this.)
HOW MUCH THE EBC TREK COSTS – IN “LUXURY”
People who book luxury treks overseas over routes such as the Three Passes often pay ten times that, and sometimes twenty times, for a 19 or 20 day trek. “Luxury” lodges charge from $150-$200 per day, with food prices to match, although there is no such thing as luxury higher up the trail.
If comfort is important to you, this is the primary instance where booking an organised tour can save money, as operators can get discounts on this price. (If you have the money, Adventure Consultants’ top end tour enables you to meet their climbers at Everest Base Camp.)
Camping treks to Everest Base Camp cost much, much more than teahouse trekking as you have to cover the costs of yaks and porters. As these tend to put you up in villages full of trekking lodges rather than, say, at Everest Base Camp, there is very little point in doing one of these on this route.
HOW MUCH THE EBC TREK COSTS – ON A BUDGET WESTERN TOUR
I am not a fan of group tours, but the comments here have shown me that many people value the security of a well-known Western operator and the companionship of a small tour group. G Adventures has some reasonably well-priced trips – usually around $1600 for 15 days out of Kathmandu. Upcoming departures with spaces available include 6, 7, 11, 12, 18, 19 and 27 November; there is a 15% discount on 12 November – to book, click here. You can read their full trip schedule here, which is also a good guide to the basic, in-and-out Everest Base Camp trek route.
WHAT WE PAID FOR THE GOKYO EBC TREK
We spent $1100 per head all-in for nineteen days in the mountain, including flights, food, drink, porter-guide’s fee and tips. We stopped when we wanted to stop, and climbed when we wanted to climb, and only had to get up early when we did the Cho-La Pass.
The total cost of our Everest Base Camp trek, which we did via the much more interesting Gokyo route, was much, much less than the cheapest Western operators charge for tours EXCLUDING food, which was our largest single item of expenditure, and we stayed in the same lodges.
BUT PLEASE DON’T SKIMP ON THIS
You will need adventure travel insurance to cover the Everest Base Camp trek. The best travel insurance for Everest Base Camp, provided you’re not mountaineering, is World Nomads. As always, be sure to read the Ts & Cs (here’s why).
For more on Everest Base Camp see my Everest Base Camp Trek FAQ, or to read my account of doing Everest Base Camp by way of Gokyo start here. We arranged our flights and porter-guide through Trek Around Nepal: they also offer full-service treks.