Almost every trekker is haunted by this question once in their life – how long is the journey from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp? As you will learn in this article, there are different answers depending on how you do it. Last year, I did the trip in 45 minutes. Of course I had help from a chopper. So let’s talk about my own trip and several ways you can reach the base camp of the world’s highest mountain from Kathmandu, the capital.
To be exact, I was at the Tribhuvan International Airport at 7 am. I had my helicopter boarding pass, and it took about 30 minutes to pass all the checks and a short ride to the helipad. So, we lift off at around 7.30. After that, it took merely 45 minutes to reach the Base Camp. Surprisingly, this also included two short stops at Lukla airport and Dingboche for refueling and load transfer.
From Kathmandu(27.7382,85.3198), Everest Base Camp(28.0259,86.8469) is 269 Kilometers (167.14 Miles). The Himalaya (Great Himalaya Range) spreads across the northern side of Nepal, bordering Tibet. Everest spans the highest point of Mahalangur Range along with Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse and other giant ice rocks in the region. Kathmandu is the only international entry point in Nepal via air, and most trekker’s journey to the base camp starts from here.
Growing up in Kathmandu, I often found myself staring at the northern horizon, often wondering how those mountains looked up close, and how far they must be. Everest often camps up in text books and media, since she encompasses the tallest point on earth. And one question I pondered was which one was Everest among the several ones. Up until a few months ago, I was doubtful if Everest could be seen from Kathmandu, since Langtang Range stands directly up north from Kathmandu, and people had mixed answers. The COVID-19 lockdown and clean air answered that question pretty well.
Technically speaking, you can see Mount Everest from Kathmandu, along with various mountains from Mahalangur Range to the north-east, Langtang Range to the north and shadowy blue Annapurna / Dhaulagiri Range to the north-west.
On the other hand, it is quite difficult to see Everest due to the air pollution that’s persistent on the valley unless there was a lockdown and the weather was unbelievably clear. I think the right question is do we deserve to see Everest from Kathmandu? A few days ago, we did, and it was beautiful.
During my Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour last year, I was able to see Everest several minutes after the flight. As soon as the helicopter lifted, the whole northern range was visible through a bird eye’s view, and to be honest, I wasn’t too successful to locating Everest on her own, as it is the same as differentiating different sea from the same chuck of one large ocean – given you go high enough. Everest is reasonably shy when it comes to dominating the landscape. Even from the base camp, her siblings Lhotse and Nuptse protect her in the back obstructing views. Kala Patthar hillpoint is hence famous as it gives a better view of Everest.
Well, this is a tricky question, since this trip can be done in various durations based on interests and time. With our standard Everest Base Camp Trek journey, it takes 8 days to reach the camp from Kathmandu. However, the whole trip lasts for 15 days considering the return trip. The first day’s journey is essentially a domestic flight to Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla.
If you calculate the trek from Lukla, it now takes 1 less day to reach the Everest Base Camp, i.e 7 days. Again, this is considering two days that we have to acclimatize on our way.
There are various factors that we need to take into account beforehand in order to better understand the time it takes to reach the Base Camp from Kathmandu. Let’s have a look at several of them.
Kathmandu lies at the altitude of 1400 meters (0.87 miles) above the sea level. Once we land at Lukla, our altitude changes to 2880 meters (1.8 miles). From here, it only gets higher. Hence, the need for acclimatizing is necessary. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is something we should be aware of, before trekking in high altitude.
Namche Bazaar, which stands at (3445 meter / 2.14 miles), is definitely the first spot to acclimatize. Acclimatizing translates to “climb high sleep low”, meaning that we will take an alternate hiking during the day and return back to the town for sleeping. This activity exposes the lungs to higher altitude and provides enough time for it to rest during the night.
The second acclimatization can be done between Dingboche and Tengboche (4360 meters / 2.7 miles). Hence, we spend a total of two days acclimatizing. So, for a sherpa, it would take 2 days less than compared to an untested trekker, to reach Everest Base Camp from Lukla, given that they trek for the same distance each day.
Acclimatization is not necessary, for example, for the heli tour, similar to the one that I did. However, you can still feel drowsy when you get off the chopper. As you are directly taken from a lower altitude to a high altitude. However, you should feel comfortable for a few minutes on the base camp, Kalapatthar, and a breakfast at Hotel Everest View.
This one is a no brainer. It is easy to overestimate our skills and push us harder once we are on the journey. However, this might turn counterintuitive. Here, I want to discuss two factors that are more significant.
In order to counter AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), it is also equally important to break the days into short bursts of hiking rather than otherwise. The common symptoms of AMS include feeling tired, fatigue, drowsy, and so on, which can all be triggered by pushing the body to her limits.
All High altitude treks carry some risks, including AMS (which we described in length), natural calamities, sickness and injury. That being said, you should be aware that there are various measures that we can take to ensure safety in advance. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Buying a travel insurance with emergency evacuation cover ensures that you are picked up by a helicopter to a modern hospital back in capital, no matter what your location in the region.
Regular Exercise and Physical Fitness will ensure that you can take on the journey head on. This also prepares you mentally during the parts of the trip where you essentially need to put one foot in front of the other.
Following the guidelines of trekking Leader will not only ensure your, but also the whole team’s safety as well as success. Normally, we don’t recommend doing this trip by yourself unless you are a vetted individual that can take on anything. With a guide, many things will become easy. Read why you should hide a guide to trek in Nepal.
The mountains are best avoided during harsh winter and rainy seasons. You can learn more about trekking season in Nepal and how you can better travel in those seasons.
At Hiking Adventure, we ensure that our trips are comfortable to our clients. This is a dynamic process since every traveler is unique. Some people can, in fact, endure to walk for more distance and stay immune to AMS. But this is not an excuse, since getting sick in the remote mountains is the last thing we all want in our itinerary.
Based on average human walking speed, it technically should take about 60 hours to cover the distance of 269 kilometers from Kathmandu. Of course this isn’t practical. Learn more about Trekking in Nepal.
Okay, I think this article gives you a good perspective of how long it should take you to make a trip from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp. You should get a better perspective by having a look at various trips listed in the Everest Region Trek section of this website. If you fancy a short trip, like the heli trip I did, take a look at Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour as well as Everest Base Camp Trek with Heli Return. So the question is, how long do you want to take to reach the Base Camp? I did it in 45 minutes.