Want to Trek Everest Base Camp without Guide? Possible in Nepal but not in Tibet

Last updated: September,30 2020

There are two base camps at the foot of Mount Everest, one in Tibet and one in Nepal. Both of these base camps have treks that can be taken to get to them, though they are very different in both the terrain the treks run through and the location of the base camp itself in relation to the actual mountain. They are also very different in how to get there, with Nepal’s trek being able to be done alone, while in Tibet, you need to have a guide and a pre-arranged tour.

Trekking Everest Base Camp in Nepal Without a Guide

The trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal is one that can be done without the need for a guide and without all the red tape that exists in Tibet. The trek, which takes around 12 days to get to the base camp, is one that takes you through some of Nepal’s most stunning landscapes, crossing bridges that span deep valleys, and climbing over high passes to get to the famous EBC. And with the trekking route being very popular with foreign trekkers and the huge number of teahouses and lodges to stay at along the way, it is easily possible to make the journey to EBC alone, without the need for a guide. The trail is very well marked, and well-trodden too, which makes it harder to stray off the beaten path as long as you only travel during the daytime.

Recommended EBC Trekking Routes for Trekking Without Guide in Nepal

Contrary to popular belief, the trek to EBC in Nepal is not that hard and can be done easily by even a novice trekker, though it is recommended to use a guide if you are not familiar with trekking at high altitudes. For those with experience at trekking at the higher altitudes of EBC, the trek is one that can be done relatively easily, as long as you follow the basic rule of ascending gradually and taking advantage of the acclimatization days.

There are actually four separate routes to EBC, although only three of them start at the usual EBC trek starting point at Lukla. The main route, and the one that is more popular with trekkers to EBC, is the one that starts in Lukla, and takes the most direct route to EBC. Taking the trail from Lukla, the route takes you through Namche Bazaar, Pheriche, Lobuche, and Gorak Shep, ending at the base camp itself. It does require two rest days for acclimatization along the way, which are normally taken at Namche Bazaar and Pheriche. However, this trek, like all the treks to EBC in Nepal, does not give you a good view of the mountain when you get to the end. The summit of Everest is obscured by the mountain ridges from the base camp, and to get the best view, there is a small side trek to Kala Patthar from Gorak Shep, which gives you the best views of Everest, Nupte, and Lhotse in Nepal.

1. Gokyo Lakes Trek

The first variation of the EBC trekking route is the one that takes you to Gokyo Ri before heading to the base camp itself. Known as the Gokyo Lakes trek, this route starts in Lukla, but veers off to the northwest after Namche Bazaar. Following a well-trodden route through the towns of Dole and Machermo, you soon reach the stunning lakes of Gokyo, before heading to the peak of Gokyo Ri to the north. A smaller trekking peak, Gokyo Ri is an easy climb that leads you then on to the Ngozumba Glacier, and the Cho La Pass, before rejoining the classic trekking route at Lobuche. The detour adds around 2-3 days to the classic trek but is worth it for the amazing views and the less crowded route in the peak trekking season in Nepal.

Gokyo LakesThe view of Gokyo Lakes

2. Scenic Trekking Route from Jiri to Lukla

The second alternative to the classic route is one that allows you to trek to Lukla first, without having to take the flight into the town that lies on the side of a mountain. Trekkers on this route normally get a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri, where the trek starts, and follow a well laid out trail through some of the stunning valleys and forests of the lower slopes of the Himalayas. This scenic route to Lukla adds around 6 days to the classic trekking route and gives much more exposure to the local Tibetan and Sherpa cultures that can be found in the region. The route works its way up to Lukla, where you join the classic route to EBC. Considered to be one of the easiest long treks in Nepal, it is easily manageable without a guide, even for an inexperienced trekker.

3. Three Passes Trek

The last route to get to EBC in Nepal is known as the Three Passes trek, and while an experienced trekker at high altitudes may not have a problem, it is not recommended for novices and even second-time trekkers to travel without a guide. The route is much tougher than the classic route to EBC and involves crossing three very high passes along the way. This variation starts in Lukla and branches off to the west towards the remote Nangpa Valley after Namche Bazaar. The first pass, Renjo La, offers some of the best views of Mount Everest and the Himalayas and then descends to visit the Gokyo Lakes. At Cho La, the second pass, the trail is steep and icy, and you will cross a small glacier at the top before descending to the main EBC trail to climb to Kala Patthar. The third pass, Kongma La, brings you to the summit of Chukking Ri, giving you some amazing views not visible from the classic route, before descending to the EBC trail and following it back to Lukla.

Travel Tips for Trekking EBC Without a Guide in Nepal

If you do insist on traveling without a guide, then there are a few things to remember about trekking alone in the wilderness of the Nepali Himalayas. Safety is of primary concern here, and it is in your best interests not to try anything that looks too hard or would take you out of your depth. There are many variations to the classic EBC route that are all harder than the main trek, and it is easy to get in over your head and get lost, or worse. You should also make sure that you have adequate insurance for your trek, as there are always chances of accidents and many people get airlifted off the mountains every year. You should make sure that your insurance cover is comprehensive to cover all possible hospital bills and includes at least a 50-thousand-dollar helicopter rescue clause, as getting airlifted out is extortionately expensive.

Food and accommodation along the route can be obtained at one of the dozens of teahouses and lodges that can be found along the classic route to EBC. These teahouses only offer basic meals once you get past Namche Bazaar, and this often means local cuisine. If you are not a fan of Nepali food, then it is a good idea to pack enough packet foods and cup noodles to last for at least two weeks, which is the length of the normal trek. The teahouses and lodges can provide boiled water for your meals.

Nepali foodThe Typical Nepali food

Accommodation at the lodges and teahouses can be very basic, and there is no heating in any of them, except the stove, and no hot running water. Some do not have running water at all, and water comes from either the stream outside or from a deep-well. If you are trekking in the peak season in Nepal, then you may need to bring a tent with you, as the lodges and teahouses are often full at this time of year.

The peak season for trekking in Nepal runs from February through to May and is the most popular and busiest time of year. Summer is not the best time to go, due to the monsoon rains that make trekking in the region hard, and even impossible in some places. The spring weather is dry and stable, with clear skies, though still cool enough to need plenty of warm clothes. If you are not a fan of crowds, and the EBC trek in Nepal does get crowded in the peak season, then you can try taking the trip from September to October, when the route is less busy. The weather is comparable to spring, though a little more humid, and the vegetation is greener and thicker after the rainy summer.

Knowing what to take with you can be a problem, especially if it is your first time to trek at high altitudes. There are a lot of things you can buy in Kathmandu before you leave, but if you are only traveling for trekking, then you can bring your own gear within the airlines’ normal weight limits. Clothing should be suitable for colder weather, with plenty of thinner layers to be added or taken off depending on the temperature and how hot you feel. Avoid cotton shirts as they will soak up any sweat. Polyester or nylon is the best material for trekking. A good fleece or down jacket for when you stop is useful too, as it can get cold at night.

Good hiking trousers can be bought for a reasonable price, and act as waterproof trousers as well, and you need to have a good quality pair of hiking boots. It pays to wear them in for a couple of months before you travel, as new boots can be uncomfortable at first and cause blisters over long distances. Bring a waterproof shell jacket, just in case it does rain, and a good hat, to keep the sun off your head and keep it warm when it gets cold. Gloves should be insulated against the cold, yet thin enough to handle the sticks that you can bring with you to aid walking.

Your pack should be large enough to carry all your gear, but not too heavy that you cannot carry it over long distances comfortably. Only pack what you need and leave any unnecessary items at home or in your hotel, so that you can travel as light as possible.

Trekking Everest Base Camp In Tibet

On the north side of the mountain lies the Everest Base Camp in Tibet, which is much easier to get to than the one in Nepal. Trekking to the base camp is possible, despite there being a road that takes you all the way there, and the normal trek takes you from Old Tingri to EBC. The route covers around 70 kilometers and takes about four days of trekking to complete.

Trekking Everest Base Camp in TibetTrekking Everest Base Camp in Tibet

A Local Guide Is Required For Any Trip In Tibet

Unlike in Nepal, you cannot make the trek to EBC without a guide tagging along. Individual travel in Tibet is prohibited, and you need to have booked your entire Tibet tours of the region through a registered tour operator like Chinatibettrain.com. Once you have booked your tour with us, we will provide you with a guide, driver, and private vehicle for the duration of your stay in Tibet, and your guide will accompany you on the trek from Old Tingri to EBC.

Permits Required For Trekking EBC In Tibet

There are also several permits required for those wishing to trek in Tibet, which include the permits required to even get to the region in the first place. To get into Tibet, you will need the Tibet Travel Permit, and to get to Everest itself you will be required to have the Alien’s Travel Permit, and the Military Permit, as well as tickets to the Qomolangma National Park, where Everest is located. However, all of these are arranged by us once you have booked your trip, and we only require a scanned copy of your passport and Chinese Entry Visa.

Popular Trekking Routes in Everest Areas in Tibet

The most popular Tibet Everest trek tour is the one that starts in Old Tingri, and takes you over 70 kilometers to EBC, taking around four days. The most popular route in the region, it takes you to EBC via the stunning Ra Chu Valley, with its beautiful scenery and expansive meadows. It is not an easy trek, and requires some fitness and stamina to complete. But the challenging trek is worth the effort at the end, when you finally reach EBC and get to view the mountain in all its glory.

The trek to EBC from Old Tingri is not the only trek in the Everest region of Tibet. For those that are a little more experienced, there is the Advanced Base Camp trek, which climbs from EBC up to the Advanced Base Camp at more than 6,000 meters above sea level. Not for the faint-hearted of inexperienced, this arduous climb does not require any knowledge of mountaineering, but it does require a certain level of fitness and stamina and should not be attempted by novices.

There are also >several trekking routes in the Gama Valley on the eastern slopes of Mount Everest. Rated as being one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, this high-altitude valley has several trekking routes along it, that take you through some of the most stunning scenery in Tibet, from grassy riverbanks to primeval forests. An almost untouched wilderness, the Gama valley treks are some of the most rewarding treks in Tibet.

Travel Tips for Trekking EBC Without a Guide in Tibet

When taking the trek to EBC in Tibet, it is advisable not to carry too much equipment with you. The private vehicle supplied can carry the things you do not need for the trek, and will meet you at EBC.

Make sure to take sunglasses, a good hat, and sun cream with you, as the sunlight on the plateau is much harsher due to the thinner atmosphere.

Trekking at high altitudes can lead to altitude sickness if you are not careful. Always follow the general guide of ascending gradually and acclimatizing as you travel, and do not over-exert yourself on the early days of the treks. A measured pace can help to keep going for longer.

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