WHAT'S AN EVEREST BASECAMP TREK LIKE?

What to expect from an Everest Basecamp Trek with True Summit Adventures

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True Summit Adventures' CEO Oliver Browne has spent a significant amount of time on Everest's slopes. He first completed the Everest Basecamp Trek in 2021, before going on to lead a TSA expedition to Everest Basecamp and Lobuche in 2023. Expedition leader is a role he continues to hold alongside his responsibilities as company CEO.

Here Oliver answers your questions on what to expect on an Everest Basecamp Trek with True Summit Adventures.


How do you get to Everest?


Generally speaking expedition members fly to Kathmandu via Delhi, since there are no direct flights between Europe or the US and the Nepali capital. The return flight from London costs around £900. It’s 8hrs to Delhi and then 2hrs to Kathmandu with a 5hr layover. I flew with one of our expedition members and we talked non-stop so the flight was fun and went fast!

As an aside, I recommend bringing some cash (in US$) for your Nepali visa on arrival. $50 gets you a 30 day stay; $125 gets you 90 days in the country. 


Where do you stay in Kathmandu?


I usually spend the first nights at Aloft Hotel in Thamel, the centre of the tourist industry in Kathmandu. Aloft is a great hotel, popular with climbers and lots of my friends stay there or pass through.

It's a comfortable and fun hotel, but for True Summit Adventure expeditions we use the Hyatt Regency, which is one of the best hotels in Kathmandu. It's away from the hustle and bustle of Thamel and set in beautiful gardens with tennis courts and a swimming pool. The restaurants are great there too!


How does the Everest Basecamp Trek expedition start?


We have an amazing day exploring Kathmandu’s cultural sights - most notably it’s incredible temples and the Hindu cremation site on the river. We finish in the Thamel area at the climbing shops for some last minute shopping, then head back to the Hyatt for our welcome dinner and an expedition briefing.


How do you get to the Everest region?


We use Heli Everest to get our clients to Lukla to begin the trek. Lukla is the start of the Everest Basecamp Trek but can only be reached by air as it's beyond the road network in the Himalayan foothills.

Helicopter transfers are safer and much more convenient than flying. Fixed wing flights to Lukla depart from Ramechappe and not Kathmandu - adding a 5 hour drive to expedition schedules which we look to avoid.

The team at Heli Everest include the superelite Italian alpinist Simone Moro as a pilot! Simone has many first ascents of 8000’ers in winter and is one of the best high altitude pilots in the world.


What's the first day of the Everest Basecamp Trek like?


This first day is fairly gentle, and actually sees a net altitude loss as we follow a 6km route to Phakding, which takes around 2hrs 45 minutes. We spend the night at Phakding, staying at the excellent Sherpa Guide Lodge. Its owner, the charming and super-affable Dawa Sherpa has been to the summit of Mount Everest three times. In the evening, members get to enjoy some great food (the dhal bhat is to die for) and play some games such as Jenga to get to know each other better. 



Can you describe the middle of the Everest Basecamp Trek?


The middle of the Everest Basecamp Trek is equivalent to days 2-4. Day 2 is one of my favourites. The path follows a river upwards and the scenery is seriously dramatic! Throw in the big suspension bridges hanging high above the valley and it's quite the thrill! But perhaps the biggest treat comes at the end as Namche Bazar comes into sight. I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world like Namche. The Sherpa town has no roads linked to it, so everything you see is either produced locally or brought in by helicopter (or yak). We try and go for coffee at the world famous Sherpa Barista Cafe, before a drink at the Irish pub! 


We spend two nights in Namche for acclimatisation. On day three, we trek to the Everest View Hotel for lunch, where you guessed it, lunch is made all the more special by views of our ultimate goal (clouds allowing). Afterwards, we hike to Khumjung to explore its monastery and chat with the locals. We finish the day with coffees at Sherpa Barista Cafe and dinner at our excellent tea house.


Day four sees us trek to Tengboche. Here we start to see regular views of the mountains of the Everest region, and the mighty Ama Dablam in particular. The first part of the trek hugs the contours of the mountain. After lunch, we cross the river and ascent 500m to Tengboche. There’s a bakery here, so after a coffee and cake we tour the ancient monastery, before heading down to our tea house. Possibly the best tea house in the whole valley, the peerless Rivendell is complete with en suite bathrooms, plenty of hot water and modern luxuries including heated blankets!


What are conditions like on the Everest Basecamp Trek after Tengboche?


It's fair to say conditions get more spartan from here on in. Dingboche is high in the mountains at over 4000m. From this point, bathrooms are shared and showers (when they exist) are to order. But it’s really no hardship and all part of the Everest experience. We are in a wild and beautiful place - no one is really missing their showers! We start to notice the camaraderie of people on the trek at this point. The evenings are colder so people huddle in the communal areas for warmth and people from all places in the world and all walks of life talk with each other and swap stories. It’s a great time. 


Can you describe the scenery from Dingboche onwards?


BIG. That's the word I'd use. Very big! I remember the first time I went to Chamonix in France, thinking, wow these are big mountains. Then you arrive to the high Khumbu Valley and it’s like nothing you can imagine. The scenery is breathtaking and the mountains are huge. 6000, 7000, and then 8000m mountains loom over you. It's actually indescribably beautiful.


The day you reach Everest Basecamp you launch from where?


We go from Lobuche to Everest Basecamp then hike to Gorakshep. It takes about 9 hours all in all. Sadly this year I didn’t make it to basecamp myself as an expedition member started to show signs of altitude sickness. I stayed with him while a helicopter transfer was arranged with our logistics partner Heli Everest. I'm happy to say he felt better immediately on descending.


How many hours do you trek each day?


With the exception of the last day, when we trek from Lobuche to basecamp and back to Gorakshep, the days are very similar in terms of length and structure. We have breakfast around 7am and try to leave each morning around 8am. We trek for 3hrs and then stop for lunch. Everything is cooked to order so there can be a wait - during which time we serve lashings of hot ginger and lemon tea. After lunch it’s normally another 3 hours to our destination for the night.



What's Everest Basecamp like?


For our expeditions, Everest Basecamp it’s mostly about the photo opportunities. However, on our last trek one of our expeditions members (a tennis fanatic who owns tennis clubs in Indonesia) staged a tennis match which was fun!


After Everest Basecamp, do guests trek back to Lukla?


No. Our trip is an ‘express’ edition. We take the same time to go up as most operators but we whisk people down by helicopter from Feriche. This means guests can get the whole trip done in around 10 days, something our clients are typically after. Those with more time usually opt for more days in Kathmandu at the beginning of the expedition, but many like to fly in and out as they're busy people with limited days off.


Tell us about the food on the Everest Basecamp Trek


I’d describe it as hearty and plentiful! If you have an aversion to fried food then there are steamed and boiled options and lots of things for vegetarians. We provide three meals a day in the cost of the expedition, along with an endless supply of tea.

Menus throughout the expedition are fairly similar. I usually go for eggs in the morning or porridge with honey. This year I was on a bit of a shred after an atlantic row so stuck mostly to the veg sherpa stew and the soups. Garlic is amazing and said to be good for the digestive and immune systems. But there’s also sherpa pizza, fried rice, noodles, pasta, the local speciality of dhal bhat and different curries. The momo (steamed dumplings) are also epic!


Once back in Kathmandu what happens?


We have a big celebration dinner at the Hyatt Regency! I don’t drink but this year there was plenty of whisky doing the rounds. I think everyone had a ball and deservedly so! The next day, or perhaps the day after that, people leave for the airport - their spirits still high after such an amazing experience. I have found this sense of joy and satisfaction can last weeks.


When is the next True Summit Adventures Everest Basecamp Trek?


See the website for exact details. We look to run trips in spring and autumn every year.


Do you do private trips?


Absolutely! Just email us and we will be glad to run you through the options with you.