Contrary to what many websites suggest, the Everest Base Camp trek is a very straight-forward trek and, as such, even for a moderately experienced solo hiker, neither guide nor porter is necessary.
What documents/permits need to be arranged in advance: TIMS (get it on the spot in Kathmandu), National Park Fee (in Kathmandu or on the trail).
Getting there: The trek starts in Lukla (plane from Kathmandu). It is also possible to walk in from Jiri (12 hours bus-ride from Kathmandu and an additional 5-6 days hike).
The trail: Is like a highway. Up and down valleys bordered by 6000+ meters high mountains. On the standard route to Everest Base Camp I would say it is impossible to get lost. If crossing the three high passes more care may be needed.
The backpack: Pack light, though remember temperatures may drop to minus 10 degrees or more and snow may be encountered at any times: Down jacket, shell jacket and pants, sturdy hiking boots. Consider a four-season down sleeping bag. Consider hiking poles. A backpack with all this equipment need not weigh more than 7 kg.
The teahouses: Are widely distributed. They all serve food and beverages and sell snacks. The accommodation is basic, blankets will be provided, however heating is only available in the dining room. The last teahouses before Everest Base Camp, mainly in Gorak Shep may be full, in which case accommodation will be in the dining room.
Electricity: Sporadically available after Namche Bazaar. I brought solar panels. Note that when temperatures are below zero, the iPhone looses battery power rapidly.
The altitude: Altitude sickness is the major danger. The recommendations from the Himalayan Rescue Association is a maximal daily ascent of 3-400 meters after 3000 meters. As it takes only 1,5 hours to ascend 300 meter and many people are impatient, I saw many guided tours ascend too rapidly with their parties. I saw helicopter evacuations every day. Some recommend intake of Diamox for prevention, however this is, in my opinion, not an alternative to ascending slowly.
The weather: May shift at any time. Above 4500 meter it gets very cold, especially when the sun is not out. Pack accordingly.
The Most Memorable Moment:
Hiking up the Kongma La Pass at 5535 meter I was surprised by a heavy snowstorm, a genuine whiteout, at about 5400 meter, just below the summit. As I could see nothing I had to turn back down the valley, the track being obliterated I had to find my way down scrambling off-track for 6 hours until I reached Dingboche:
- Generally, the really spectacular scenery opens up above the tree-limit around Pheriche and the most spectacular scenery was around Chhukung and Kongma La pass.
- Watching the porters carry impossible loads on their backs and still walking past me.
- Everest Base Camp itself. Walking around the camp thinking about the history. When I was there the camp was empty as expeditions had been abandoned after an ice avalanche caused the death of 16 nepalese a couple of weeks earlier.
Itinerary (as walked in April 2014):
I planned to hike over The Three Passes, however after I was forced to descend the Kongma La Pass by a snowstorm, I walked the ordinary route up via Pheriche and back.
Lukla-Benkar-Namche Bazaar-Tengboche-Pangboche-Dingboche-Chhukung-Kongma La (return)-Dingboche-Dughla-Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp-Pheriche-Namche Bazaar-Lukla.