Many people ask ‘how difficult is the Everest Base Camp Trek?’ The answer to this question depends on a number of factors.
Do you like walking?
First of all, ask yourself the following question – do I like walking? Because if the answer is no, then the trek probably isn’t for you. Yes you’ll still feel the same accomplishment of getting there, but if you don’t enjoy the journey it’s probably not worth it.
If you’re not sure if you enjoy walking, try it out at home first. Find some hills, and go up and down them. Okay, the views won’t be the Himalayas, but it’ll give you a feel for whether you’ll actually enjoy yourself on a trek.
Similarly, if you have never done multi day walks, perhaps start out something easier, e.g. Poon Hill, before signing up for Everest Base Camp.
Are you ‘mountain fit?’
If you have lots of hill walking experience, and can quite comfortably do lots of up and down, then the trek will be easier. Bear in mind being mountain fit is different to other kinds of fitness. Running is probably easier for most people than slugging up and down mountains with a 10kg backpack at altitude. That said, any aerobic fitness will be more helpful than none.
If you do have a good level of fitness, the trek should not be too challenging. On the EBC trek the days are short (sometimes only 2-3hours) so there is lots of time to rest. Of course these timings are subjective, and it will take some longer than others.
Carrying your own pack or hiring a porter
Another deciding factor is whether or not you hire a porter. Carrying your own pack will make it more difficult, but I managed and am not extremely fit. The key thing is to keep the weight of your pack low, and only take bare essentials.
If you are likely to struggle, or are even slightly worried about carrying your own pack, a porter is a worth while investment. You can hire one on your arrival in Lukla for around $10 a day. They work hard and do deserve a good tip at the end.
Effects of altitude
This is a tricky one to prepare for, especially if you’ve never been to a high altitude before. Altitude sickness can effect anyone and is not dependent on fitness. If you are effected by altitude you will find the trek more difficult. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to acclimatise properly. If you know you’re susceptible to altitude sickness, allow more time and consider hiring a porter to reduce your level of exertion.
The lack of luxuries
This one is less about physical fitness and more about coping with life on the trail. It’s often difficult, and very expensive, to get a hot shower, so baby wipe bathes are common. Similarly laundry services are few and far between, meaning you wear the same sweaty clothes day after day. The food is basic and the menus repetitive. The bedrooms in tea houses are very cold. If you have the gear and the mentality to deal with this lifestyle, you will be fine. But there are always a few slightly high maintenance people on the trek who struggle.
All in all I would recommend the trek to anyone who has a good level of fitness, enjoys walking in the hills and doesn’t mind roughing it for a few days.