Q. Is there a more comprehensive way to prepare for this expedition?
Got a question about this trip? Ask away, we'll email you with an answer and add it to the list here.
We've teamed up with a superb trekking preparation company called 'The Fresh Air Learning Company'. Their aim is to prepare you across a weekend with orientation, training and advice to help prepare you and give you a boost of confidence for your upcoming expedition. Based around a day walk on the Saturday and a dark-through-dawn walk on the Sunday morning, a typical programme covers:
Self-management and safety
Cost effective clothing and equipment
Dealing with heat, cold and altitude
Health and hygiene
Hydration and nutrition
Supportive group dynamics
Working with porters
For more detailed information visit their website at www.freshairlearning.com
Q. How many snacks should I bring with me?
You should bring enough snacks for the first few days and only your favourites as you will be able to buy most additional snacks en-route and this can help save on weight. You will also be provided with one choccy bar a day by your leader so bare this in mind when packing snacks.
Q. Where will we make our stops? Do we need to bring money to buy tea and pack snacks?
A typical trekking day involves 360-paid-for stops for a tea-house brew, a lunch, an afternoon brew and finally supper. The need for snacks is minimal as these can be sourced locally as well as being brought along from UK by you.
Q. What sleeping bag do I need to bring?
Please read carefully the kit list for this trek as bringing a substandard sleeping bag can result in some cold and rather unpleasant nights on the mountain. If in doubt email or ring the 360 office, we will be happy to answer questions.
Q. Is it necessary to bring snacks, toilet paper etc. from the UK. Won’t this take up room/weight in my luggage?
Choccy bars, toilet paper and additional drinking water can be bought at every tea-lodge en route. You don’t need to take bring all of this but you might want to bring a few favourite treats from home.
Q. Can I check-in online?
Yes, online check-in is available. However, times vary for when online check-in opens. This is noted on your e-ticket but airlines do change this from time to time.
Q. My passport runs out 3 months after the trek, is this OK?
Your passport should be valid for 6 months after the date the trek starts. If it runs out before you may be refused entry. It is also advisable to have a couple of photocopies of your passport in case of loss.
Q. Do I need to book my own flights to Nepal?
360 Expeditions will be booking flights on your behalf. We provide confirmation of flight times and departure terminal approximately eight weeks before your departure date. Please be aware that flight schedules are subject to change. Please ensure that you have checked flight details before setting out for your flight.
Q. Will I have my own room?
Most altitude related symptoms manifest themselves at night. We therefore recommend room sharing from the onset of all our expeditions. Room share is always organised according to sex and where possible age groups. Obviously if you are climbing this mountain with a friend or partner then share rooms with them. If you have joined the team by yourself then it is highly likely that you will be sharing a room with your pre-assigned room buddy unless prior arrangements have been made.
Q. What kind of accommodation is there on the trek?
The teahouses vary in their quality and style depending on their location. Generally they have a communal room downstairs, with one or two bed bedrooms above them. Some have shower facilities, some will just have a stand pipe, and there are shared toilet facilities. They use a type of wood burning stove in the main communal area. Other rooms are generally unheated.
There are no facilities for changing money in the teahouses. We recommend that you organise sufficient cash Kathmandu, your local guide can advise on this.
There is electricity in many of the teahouses at lower altitudes, but not when you get higher and the teahouses become more basic. A top tip for making your batteries last a little longer is to put them in the inside pocket of your coat or under your pillow at night. Cooler temperatures drain battery life so keeping them warm will ensure they last longer!
Q. What is the celebration meal in Kathmandu? Is it included in the price?
The celebration meal is not included. This is a boozy meal at the end of your trek. Get your guide to tell you about options for this meal but the place we always suggest for a great time is ‘Dwarikas’. This is an amazing restaurant that will serve you a 16 course Nepalese meal.
Q. You mention bringing money to tip the crew, how does this work?
The crew that will be with you will make your expedition. They will tell you their stories of Nepal and they will work tirelessly to make sure you have a great time. They are awesome folk. Whereas we insure all our crew and pay them well they will greatly appreciate any tips you feel you can give at the end of the trip. Each porter or crew member never works for himself they all work to help school their younger brothers and feed their extended families. It's incredibly humbling. Please do remember to keep back some dollars for them so as this can be presented to them at the end of the expedition along with any kit you don't want to carry back to the UK. This "thank you" happens in Lukla not Kathmandu. There is a bank in Lukla so again don't worry but I was caught out on this.
Q. Do I bring trainers for the evening or will crocs work instead?
Please take a pair of comfy trainers with you. Each night when you come into "camp" (arrive at your tea house) you will love the feeling of changing into your cleaner "evening" socks and popping on trainers. Crocs are another great alternative. Make sure you pack these away in their own bag each morning (plastic bag is fine) as this again will keep your other kit clean.
Q. Have you any other tips to keep on top healthy form?
Vitamins: I swear by Borocca. Always a good boost each morning! Talking of boosts... you will be given a chocolate bar each day so don't go mad on bringing your own. A good few bags of favourite sweets and energy bars though are ideal.
Q. Can I have a shower each evening in the tea houses?
Once you leave Namche showers aren't free. You will have to pay a small price to use the shower and to charge your ipods / phones and cameras. Don't panic about this as the likely hood that by the time you arrive in "camp" you won't want to strip down and have a shower as it will be getting chilly outside (very chilly.. even my toothpaste froze inside the tea houses!!). Baby wipes are the way forward!! and for girls dry shampoo.
Q. Can I buy loo roll on the trail?
Yes you can. The further you go up the more expensive it becomes. I always had packs and packs of tissues (the pocket ones) I had them everywhere. Also remember your hand gels.. X 3 will be ideal. Pop these in similar places to your tissues. I was never ill and I put this down to being vigilant in using this stuff! (after tying shoe laces and so forth). Don't become obsessive…just be sensible.
Q. Will we have a training weekend before we go?
Training weekends are great - in particular because the group can meet each other and start to build each other's confidence before you all head out. They're also useful because we can show you the sort of training you should be doing in the months before you leave. We can also discuss clothing and kit and help you make cost effective choices before you spend too much money. We will also discuss what it's going to be like, and cover off health issues such as how to manage the effects of altitude, heat and cold; and the importance of nutrition, hydration and hygiene. We try to balance relaxed instructional sessions with spending as much time out of doors walking and talking. We ensure the weekends are great fun and that you head for home clear about the expedition and confident that you will have an awesome time.
We have a training partner in the UK that runs a programme of pre-expedition training weekends around the UK. Check out www.freshairlearning.com for details. They are also happy to run bespoke events for groups which we will join in with too.
Q. What happens if I am unable to summit due to ill-health or altitude sickness?
Unfortunately people can get ill on the mountain. Your expedition leader is constantly monitoring your health and should you get ill with either altitude sickness or any other illness that is impinging on your or the groups’ safety he will be discussing your options with you from an early stage. Should it become apparent that you are unlikely to be able to summit (without it being a life-threatening situation requiring a medevac) you will be turned around and accommodated as appropriate whilst being accompanied by one of our experienced local staff at all times until the group rejoins you. As this is outside the itinerary you would need to meet any additional costs incurred as a result.
Q. Is there mobile phone reception on the Everest base camp trek?
For the initial day or two there is mobile phone coverage but this weakens to almost non-existent above Namche Bazaar, despite what recent reports might suggest. Your 360 leader will have a satellite phone that is used in emergency situations. You can borrow the sat phone for important calls, the cost is £3/minute to use, but we need to conserve the battery for emergency situations so you’ll be encouraged to make it quick!
Q. What additional spending money will we need?
The amount of money you will need depends on how many presents you wish to buy or if you want to purchase soft drinks on the trek. As a basic rule of thumb $200 USD should be more than adequate for any expedition spending. Nepal is a relatively cheap place and when indulging in the local custom of haggling goods can be bought for excellent value for money. Your 360 leader will be happy to point out the relative bargains, suitable prices and where to get find the best value for money. The only cash you'll need to consider taking with you on trek is the local crew tips that are presented to them before we fly from Lukla. (See local tips and tipping.)
Q. You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it have in it?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the trek. If you have a blister developing for example then please stop take off your boot and treat it before it becomes a problem. Your own first aid kit should contain: A basic blister kit, band-aids, sun-protection, your own personal medication (sometimes your porter might get to camp after you and if he is carrying your medication you may not be able to take it according to the regime you are used to), basic pain relief (aspirin and Ibuprofen,) a personal course of antibiotics if prone to illness etc. Foot powder in your socks every morning is great for preventing blisters. Generally the best approach to take when packing your first aid kit is to include such basic medications as if you would on a family or personal holiday.
Your 360 expedition leader and/or a local porter (we call the ambulance man!) carries a very comprehensive first aid kit which contains a wide range of supplies and medications. They are fully trained to use whatever is needed for any emergency that may arise. We advocate keeping this in mind when packing your own first aid supplies and keeping your own FA kit as compact and light as possible.
Q. Money.... am I correct in thinking we only need to take American Dollars with us?
American dollars are readily recognised and are easily converted to the local currency. Upon arrival there will always be a bureau the change at the airport. Generally these provide a better rate of exchange then your hotel. For most situations when buying gifts or small goods such as drinks or snacks etc. the use of small denomination US ($) dollars is not a problem. Getting change for a $20USD bill when buying a $1 USD coke will be a problem. Larger bills are good for tipping your porters at the end of the expedition and a sufficient amount should be carried with you. Your 360 leader will advise you in the pre-expedition brief as to what is the correct amount to take on the trip with you.
Q. Do we need a travel adaptor for the plug sockets in the hotel or are they the same as UK?
The voltage is 220v / 50Hz like the UK. Rectangular or round three-pin plugs are used. It is possible to recharge your electronic items and batteries for a small cost at all the lodges.
Q. Do I need to take Malarial drugs?
The Malaria protozoa generally do not survive over an altitude of 1,500m so once we have started the trek malaria poses no threat. (Lukla is at 2,700m)
When visiting the lowland regions of Nepal or going to India it may be advisable to seek advice about if and when to take the malarial prophylactics. When visiting these places the chances of contracting malaria can be reduced by standard precautions such as sleeping under mosquito nets, applying insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts and trousers.
We advocate you visit your local doctor before departure to get the latest advice, MASTA Travel Health clinics, or many larger local hospitals have travel clinics.
Q. What clothing is suitable for when we come back from the mountain?
Kathmandu is at a relatively low altitude and daytime temperatures are warm. When in Rome do as the Romans. Shorts and T-shirts are fine to wear during the course of the day. Evening wear generally tends to be casual with long trousers and casual shirt appropriate for all hotels and restaurants. Nepalese are generally quite conservative in their dress code and are generally well dressed despite their situation in life. Your town and party clothes can be left in a safe lock up at the hotel and do not need to be taken up the mountain.
Q. Do I need a visa to get into Nepal?
Visas are compulsory for entry into Nepal for all foreign nationals. Although these can be acquired relatively easily at the border (Kathmandu international airport and all land borders) for a fee of $40 USD, we recommend that you contact your nearest Nepali embassy (call 360 for details) to avoid queuing, unnecessary delays and potential clearance problems.
Q. How much do we tip our local crew?
Our local crew work extremely hard to assure that your expedition runs well. Although tipping is not compulsory once someone sees how hard the crew work and realises the minimal relative salaries they get paid tipping will seem the least they can do to say thank you. Our tipping recommendations are provided with our joining notes but as a general rule we suggest around $100 USD per client for the entire local crew to be shared amongst them. For the leader this is your call.
Q. How cold can it get?
The temperature at the top of Kala Patar can vary widely. Sometimes it is only a degree or two below freezing, but trekkers should be prepared for possible temperatures as low as minus 25 Celsius, especially in conjunction with wind chill.
Q. Is it possible to rent equipment before I go?
It is possible from our local ground crew but we advocate testing and trying personal equipment before leaving home whenever possible. This is particular important for the use of boots and high altitude clothing. You can also rent gear from our partners at Outdoor Hire: www.outdoorhire.co.uk
Q. What happens if there is a problem on the trek?
All our guides are in communication with each other by phone and radio. In addition the national operates a rescue service. This service is linked by radio to the park headquarters. In the vast majority of cases of emergency rescue the problems can be attributed to altitude and if so the solution is immediate descent to lower altitudes. Our local mountain crew are all experienced in dealing with any problem that might arise. Our guides are either doctors or hold the highest standard of wilderness first aid qualifications and can handle any emergency to the highest level of competency, rarely requiring national park assistance.
Q. What is the best time of the year to do the Everest Base Camp trek?
The optimal climbing seasons are late March through to early June when the daytime temperatures are the warmest and there is a reduced cloud cover. Late September through to December is also good as the daytime conditions are generally cooler but still clear.
Q. How can I best train / prepare for this trek?
The 360 Expedition physical training programs have been devised to be expedition specific. Use these as a guide but also feel free to contact us for individual advice on how best to incorporate a suitable fitness program with your own lifestyle.
If you are struggling from day one then you will not enjoy the rest of the trip. Physical preparation does not have to be Herculean: concentrate on cardio-vascular exercise during the week by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on long duration walks ( longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 10kg.
This kind of regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition it will help break in your boots and get used to your equipment. In combination this will pay dividends when you reach Everest Base Camp because even though you can’t train for altitude your body will be ready for arduous days and you will be familiar with how to best use your equipment, both adding to you being able to enjoy and appreciate the mountain all the more. Please also see the recommended training program for the Everest Base Camp trek.
We would also recommend attending one or more training weekends such as those provided by our UK partner The Fresh Air Learning Company. Check out www.freshairlearning.com for details. They are also happy to run bespoke events for groups which we will join in with too.
Training weekends are great - in particular because the participants can meet each other and start to build each other's confidence before you all head out. They're also useful because we can show you the sort of training you should be doing in the months before you leave. We can also discuss clothing and kit and help you make cost effective choices before you spend too much money. We will also discuss what it's going to be like, and cover off health issues such as how to manage the effects of altitude, heat and cold; and the importance of nutrition, hydration and hygiene. We try to balance relaxed instructional sessions with spending as much time out of doors walking and talking. We ensure the weekends are great fun and that you head for home clear about the expedition and confident that you will have an awesome time.
Q. How warm does my sleeping bag need to be?
They should be rated within the -15C comfort zone. From the night upwards it is not unusual to experience frosty nights and a good night sleep is important to giving you the best chance to do this trek. Ensure you get a sleeping bag that has this temperature rating at this comfort zone rather than its extreme zone.
Our guides take sleeping bags rated to well below -10C to ensure that they are warm at night. 3 season sleeping bags can be enhanced by using on inner silk sheet (or similar). The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible for the night and henceforth to ensure plenty of sleep for the arduous days ahead.
It is important to remember that down sleeping bags work by your own body heating the down that's inside the bag. Once you have warmed up the bag the down will retain the heat and ensure that you sleep at body temperature. For best results it is best to wear as little as possible when inside your sleeping bag. Our guides will often only wear a set of thermals in their bag. It is important for the bag to trap the heat. By wearing multiple layers of clothing your clothing will trap this heat and your bag will not function properly.
Q. What should I carry inside my daysack?
A daysack is worn at all times during the trek. The content of this is mandatory and should include: a fleece (for when taking breaks or weather changes) a full set (top and bottom) of waterproofs, sufficient water for the day, snacks, camera equipment, personal medication and a head torch.
Q. What clothing and footwear is appropriate when staying in the Tea houses and lodges?
There is no electricity above Lukla and lodges are heated by a pot-bellied stove fuelled with either wood or yak dung. These provide adequate warmth for the dining rooms but are not connected to the bedrooms. A thick fleece or light down jacket provides adequate warmth for inside the buildings.
For footwear we suggest using either trainers (sneakers) or crocs. It is nice to get out of your trekking boots and to have something light to wear for the evenings.
Q. What is the best type of footwear to use?
Because of the huge variety of terrain encountered when doing this trek it is very important to wear the right footwear. Boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. A range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found on-line or at your local gear store. To do this trek it is not necessary to buy technical boots with crampon clips as crampons are not used at any time.
Q. What clothing should I wear on the mountain?
We advocate the beg, steal and borrow principle for first timers, instead of buying brand new stuff that may never get used again. The cost of equipment is usually a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place.
Kathmandu has literally hundreds of gear stores selling stuff at very cheap prices. A majority of them sell imitation clothes and equipment but 360 Expeditions guides will be on hand to show you the shops selling the good quality stuff.
Our guides usually start the walk wearing long, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts. Long trousers are recommended as a deterrent to insects, stinging plants and to act as sun protection. Shorts can also be worn on the initial few days of the trek as the temperature is usually warm. Ensure that you apply sun-protection frequently, or buy a once a day product such as P20 if you’re not very good at remembering to apply it.
The prevailing conditions on the mountain will dictate what you will wear: if it is cold when you leave the camp in the morning then wear your fleece. As things warm up take advantage of the zipper system which most trekking clothing has - open and close the zips to adjust to your own preferred temperature. If you get too warm then take a layer off.
As we gain altitude it gets cold and daytime temps of -10 to -15 C are not unusual.
For our ascent of Kala Patar our guides wear 2 sets of base layers (long Johns) a fleece layer (top and bottom) and then on the legs waterproofs whilst on the upper torso a down jacket is worn. As the wind picks up near the summit ridge our guides will put on their wind proof layer to ward of the wind-chill. On their hands they'll wear a thin layer of working gloves over the top of which is a thicker set of “ski gloves” or mittens.
Their heads are covered by a thermal “beanie” hat and the hood of their down jackets. On their feet the guides wear one pair of thin socks and one pair of thick.
Water proofs: are needed on hand at all times. It is not unusual to be caught out in an afternoon rain or snow storm. Waterproofs should be Gortex material or similar. On Kala Patar summit day waterproofs are used as an invaluable wind shield to protect you against the effect of wind-chill when a strong wind blows.
Q. How often is fresh water available for replenishing during the day?
Before leaving the lodge in the morning you will fill your water bottles or camel bladder. If this runs low you will have ample more water to replace it with. For most walking days water can be replenished at the lunch time site.
Q. Where does the drinking water come from?
For the first days bottled drinking water will be used (up to Namche Bazaar). At the higher lodges we will use locally sourced drinking water from streams or springs. These are usually fresh being topped up from melt water above or by rainfall but we also increase their purity by treating the water with purification tablets and by boiling it. We always ensure that our drinking water is 100% bug free.
Q. What is the food like on the Everest base camp trek?
We stay in lodges known locally as tea houses and these have basic kitchens. Apart from generators there is no electricity in the Khumbu region and the food is usually cooked on big stoves and ovens fuelled by wood or yak dung. Despite this the range of food produced is fantastic and the menu are very comprehensive. The majority of the meals focus on fuelling the hungry trekker by providing plenty of carbohydrates. Pastas, rice based dishes, spring rolls and pizzas are the staples. Every single ingredient is brought up either on a yak or by a porter and as such the menus get a little simpler as you get to the higher lodges. Most of our midday meals are also eaten at trailside restaurants and are usually accompanied by a hot drink or two.
On top of well-balanced meals clients are provided with coffee, tea and snacks upon arrival into the lodge and at all mealtimes.
Clients are invited to bring along any of their favourite snacks and goody bags from home as buying additional snacks from the lodges can be expensive. Concentrate on high energy food-stuffs such as Jelly Babies to give you that little boost on an arduous day.
Q. What do the porters carry? What is the correct porter weight?
Your porter bags should be off a soft material “duffel bag” or rucksack variety and should not be a suitcase or hard bodied metal case. Furthermore they should weigh around 15 kg when packed for the trekking phase of the trek. On all our Island peak treks we have found this weight to be ample and usually everybody can plan to take only enough clothes and equipment needed for the mountain. Please bear in mind that on top of your load, porters will also have to carry a share of the food, kitchen equipment, camping equipment and their own survival gear.
Inside the porter bag should be a change of clothing, your clothing for higher up the mountain, a sleeping mat (thermarest), sleeping-bag, personal toiletries etc. (see equipment/clothing list). Also take a pair of light footwear to wear at camp at night (crocs etc.) and consider bringing a book or playing cards.