The Ultimate Guide to Everest Base Camp Tour in Tibet
8,848 meters above sea level lies the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. Known as Mount Quomolangma in Tibetan, which means “third goddess”, Everest is known as the Third Pole in the world. This high mountain lies in the border between Nepal and Tibet, and stands up above the surrounding mountains like a huge, snow-clad pyramid.
One of the famous “once-in-a-lifetime” destinations, Mount Everest’s peak may be out of reach to majority of the world, but the 5,200 meter-high Everest Base Camp (EBC) is not. Easily reached from Lhasa, the Tibetan Capital, by car, and a little short trekking, EBC is the closest one can get to the mountain, and the views from the site of this famed base camp are spectacular.
Why to Visit the Northern Side of Mount Everest in Tibet
No tour of Tibet would be complete without a visit to Mount Everest. It would be like visiting New York without going to the Statue of Liberty or London without seeing Buckingham Palace. Everest is the pinnacle of any Tibet tour, and is an achievement in itself just getting there. Standing in the base camp, gazing at the mountain as close as possible to get without being on a climbing expedition, is an amazing feeling and a humbling one too. This high mountain, which has taken so many lives over the last hundred years, is a breathtaking sight, and one that should not be missed when traveling in Tibet.
Everest also has a base camp on the southern side as well, in Nepal. And while the views are very similar, it is a lot harder to get to the Nepal base camp than the Tibet base camp. That is mainly due to the fact that you can drive to the northern base camp, while the journey on the Nepali side is much longer, taking 12 days of hard trekking to get there. And then you have the problem that you cannot see the mountain from the base camp, and have to ascend a hill some miles away to get a good view. In Tibet, the view of the mountain from the base camp is spectacular, and there is the added advantage of being able to ascend to the northern Advanced Base Camp, if you are an experienced mountain trekker.
Travel Permits Required for Everest Base Camp Tour
As many people know, traveling to Tibet requires several permits, as well as registered tour operators, an organized tour, and a private guide/driver. Aside from the normal Chinese Entry Visa, which you can obtain from the Chinese Embassy in your home country, you also need other permits to travel outside Lhasa and to get to Mount Everest.
The first permit you will need is the Tibet Travel Permit. This is the permit that allows you to get to and be in Tibet, and it cannot be applied for personally. As all tours need to be organized, the permit is arranged by the tour operator once you have booked your tour. The application is simple, and only requires a scanned (color) copy of your passport. Once the processing has been complete, which takes from seven to ten days, your tour operator will deliver it to your hotel in China, ready for you to board the train or flight. Note that you cannot board without the permit, so make sure you keep it with your passport in a safe place on your person.
Once you are in Lhasa, you will also need the second permit, the Alien’s Travel Permit, in order to travel in regions outside Lhasa. The permit is obtained by your guide when you get to Lhasa, and requires your original passport, your Tibet Travel Permit, the tour guide’s certificate, your itinerary and the Frontier Pass. While it is processing, you get to spend time visiting the highlights of Lhasa, such as Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
Finally, in order to get to Mount Everest, you need to have the Frontier Pass. This is applied for by your guide, once again, from the Armed Police Tibet Frontier Corps in Lhasa. Access to both Mount Everest and the border crossing to Nepal require this permit, so it is important that you keep it safe. Lose it and you will not be able to get to EBC. Application only takes a few hours, and needs your Chinese Entry Visa, your Tibet Travel Permit, a copy of your passport, and your tour itinerary and liability statement.
Best Time to Visit Mount Eeverest Base Camp in Tibet
The best time to visit Everest Base Camp is from April to June, or September to January. Although the latter part of the year is colder in the western areas of Tibet, it is ideal for traveling to EBC, since it is the dry season. The weather is clearer at these times of the year, and gives a better view of the mountain. Even in the winter months from November to January, you can still go to EBC, since there is not that much snow in the region in winter, it is just very cold. July and August, the peak summer months for tourism in Tibet, are not a good time to visit Everest Base Camp. It is the rainy season in Tibet, and the mountains are often shrouded in mist and clouds.
How to Get to Tibet Everest Base Camp
Everest is reached by driving along the Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway, from Lhasa to Rongbuk. The route takes you through Gyantse, the home of the famous Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum, as well as Shigatse, where you can visit the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. After Shigatse, it is a long drive to Old Tingri, the closest town to Everest, and then the famed Rongbuk Monastery, with its spectacular view of the mountain.
The Cheapest Way to Go to EBC in Tibet
Traveling to Tibet to get to Everest can be expensive, especially if you are traveling alone. The cost of an individual tour is high, but worth it. However, there are ways to make it a little cheaper, so that it can fit your budget better, or to save money for more souvenirs to take home.
Joing in a Tibet group tour is the best way to go when traveling through from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp at a cheaper price. While an individual tour will give you the best experience, with your guide having more time to spend explaining the delights of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, group tours can be much more fun. You get to meet great new people, have company on the tour to experience the thrills and delights of Tibet with, and can reduce the cost of the overall tour by sharing the costs of some of the expenses, such as the guide, driver, and gasoline.
Popular Trekking Route from Old Tingri to EBC
The trail to EBC from Old Tingri is an average high-altitude trek with elevations ranging from 4,400 meters to as high as 5,300 meters. As you cross the expanse of Tibetan Plateau, you will see a host of wildlife that thrives in this high-altitude region, such as onagers and gazelle, and if you are lucky, Tibetan brown bears.
The trek covers a distance of 70 kilometers over four days, and is done on foot, with the tour vehicle meeting you at the base camp itself, while you camp for the three nights of trekking. On the route to the base camp, you pass through some stunning valleys and see some of the world’s highest mountain landscapes. While it is not as hard a trek as the EBC trek in Nepal, it is an adventure for the trekking beginner, and is a great way to see the countryside and landscapes without the restrictions of the car.
More Travel Tips for EBC Tour
What to Pack
At almost any time of the year, warm clothes are a necessity in Tibet. While it might get quite hot in summer, the nights can still get a little cold, so some warm clothes would be required. Moreover, the higher the elevation, the colder it can get, and the temperature can drop dramatically at EBC at night. For trekking during the day, light clothes are sufficient, with a windproof jacket. It is also a good idea that you bring certain items with you, for safety’s sake. A first aid kit, water purification tablets and sun lotion are recommended. You would also need to have a sleeping bag, comfortable hiking boots and socks, water bottle, toilet paper, a suitable backpack, hat, gloves, dust mask and sunglasses.
Altitude sickness affects even young and healthy people and is a genuine problem in the Himalayas. If you feel dizzy, suffer palpitations or severe headaches, return immediately to lower altitude. Do not take altitude sickness lightly as it can and does kill. Initial symptoms of altitude sickness are: loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; insomnia/sleeplessness; dizziness, light headiness, confusion, and disorientation; persistent headaches; weakness, fatigue, lassitude, and heavy legs; breathlessness and breathing irregularities.
Getting rest and taking oxygen can help you to stave off the effects of AMS. However, if you get any of the symptoms mentioned, tell your guide, and if the symptoms get worse, move to a lower altitude immediately. Certain medications like Diamox can help in the treatment and prevention of altitude sickness, but you should consult your doctor before you leave about the possibility of using such treatments in high altitudes.
Learn More about the Everest Base Camp Tour in Tibet by Real Photos
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