Nepal’s trekking infrastructure makes it an attractive destination for independent trekkers. The trails are well laid and marked in most places. Almost all big treks have a network of tea houses, where you can stay and get fresh cooked meals. So, if you are fit and confident about directions, you can trek solo on a lot of trails, without a guide or a porter.
If you are planning a solo trek to Everest Base Camp, you need to plan your expenses carefully. The ease of access comes with the disadvantage of a lot of temptations, when it comes to food, beverages and facilities – usually at inflated costs.
This guide demystifies the expenses for this trek. We have broken down the expenses into these subheadings for each trek – travel, accommodation, food, drinking water, wifi and charging, SIM cards, guides/porters and trek permits.
Planning your travel
Lukla is the starting point for the Everest Base Camp trek. To get here, you first need to reach Kathmandu. From Kathmandu, the only viable option to go to Lukla is a flight since the road journey takes over four days.
A return flight ticket from Kathmandu to Lukla costs Rs.14,000 to Rs 15,000 depending on when you book.
It is very normal for flights between Kathmandu and Lukla to be be cancelled or rescheduled. So make sure you keep a couple of days as buffer before booking your onward journey from Kathmandu.
Tip: Do not hesitate to reschedule your return flight to Kathmandu if you finish your trek earlier than planned. Given the unpredictability of weather there, airlines do not charge for a reschedule.
You stay in tea houses on the Everest Base Camp trek. These are small lodges that can accommodate 20-30 trekkers. Fresh food is available in all tea houses.
A room in a tea house costs NPR 400 – 450 per day (1 NPR is approximately 0.62 Indian rupees) . At higher altitudes, it can even go up to NPR 1,000 if the demand is very high. As you can see, room rates are not very high. However, you are obliged to have your meals at the same place that you are staying, especially dinner on the night you arrive and breakfast on the following morning.
Tip: Request the owner of the tea house from where you are starting to book a room for you at your next stop. Share a room to bring down the cost.
Food is perhaps the most expensive component of your trek in Nepal. You get everything from sandwiches to dal-bhaat to pizzas and desserts in the tea houses. But they all come at a cost.
Here are some prices at Namche Bazaar to give you an idea –
– Dal-bhaat meal – NPR 500-700
– Breakfast – NPR 450 – 800
– 2 boiled eggs – NPR 500 at higher camps
– Tea – NPR 80-120
The prices of food increase as you go higher on the trek, peaking at Gorakshep.
Tip: Stick to dal-bhaat for your main meals. The food is wholesome and the servings are unlimited. Carry plenty of nuts and dry fruits to avoid buying overpriced snacks.
Inside picture of a Restaurant (Hotel Kamal) at Namche Bazar. Picture by Vijesh
Tap water is safe to drink at all tea houses. However, this is not the case at Gorakshep. Here, you need to buy drinking water at NPR 350 a litre. The water here is otherwise dirty.
Tip: If you have a water purifying bottle, use it at Gorakshep to avoid paying for drinking water.
Wifi and charging
Use of charging points costs NPR 200. Tea houses also charge for wifi. It costs NPR 500 to purchase 300 mb of data.
Tip: Namche Bazaar has restaurants that provide free wifi if you eat there. Finish all your calls and messages before starting from here.
You can purchase a local NCell SIM card for NPR 500 and recharge it for making telephone calls. Around 30 minutes talk time to India will cost you around NPR 50. Network is available up to Dole. Trekkers usually reach Dole on the fourth day of trekking.
Tip: The call costs less if you add 0124 to the Indian number that you dial.
You need a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card to do the Everest Base Camp trek. This costs NPR 600 and can be collected in Kathmandu. In addition, you also need to buy an entry ticket to get inside Sagarmatha National park, the trail is located within this national park. Citizens of SAARC countries can collect this from Monjo. This is close to the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park. You can go here after you reach Phakding from Lukla. Other citizens can get this at Kathmandu. The entry costs NPR 1,600 for SAARC citizens and NPR 3,500 for others.
Guide and Porter
It is possible to hire a guide and a porter before you begin the trek. You can do this either in Kathmandu or in Lukla. Guides charge NPR 1,700 per day and porters charge NPR 1,500-1,600 per day. If they are local guides and not hired through a company, you will need to pay them in cash.
If you decide to hire a guide or a porter after reaching Lukla, ask around in hotels to find them.
Tip: It is possible to do the entire trek on your own and avoid this cost altogether. It is more expensive to hire guides and porters through a company than on your own.
How much cash should you carry on the Everest Base Camp trek?
Most places in bigger cities such as Kathmandu accept Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards. However, once you begin your trek, you will have to make all payments in cash. Tea houses do not accept cards.
Indian and international debit cards work in Nepal in select ATMs. Visa, Visa Electron, Plus, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus international debit cards work at SBI ATMs. Plus, Visa, Cirrus and Union Pay debit cards work at Siddhartha Bank ATMs. SCT and Visa cards work at Everest Bank ATMs.
The charge for withdrawing cash varies depending the bank. Withdrawing money from an SBI Nepal ATM using an SBI debit card from India has a transaction fee of Rs.35. You can also use your credit card to withdraw money from ATMs. However, this is quite expensive as there is a charge of NPR 500 for every transaction. So, it is best you carry sufficient cash with you.
If you go with just basic requirements (see table below), you will need at least Rs.1,280 per day of the trek. Assuming you book your return tickets to Lukla in advance, you will not be required to spend on travel. If you factor in the charges for trek permit and additional cash for emergency use, you will need to take at least Rs.32,000 in cash with you. This amount will be higher if you decide to hire a guide or a porter so plan accordingly.
Keep in mind that in addition to this amount, you will also need to budget for at least 2 days of stay in Kathmandu. You will spend at least a day each here on your way to and return from Lukla.
Estimated Cost per day: the bare necessities
|Activity/Expense||Cost (in NPR)|
|Bed in a room||250|
|Water at Gorakshep (4 litres)||1400|
At current exchange rate, expect to spend at least Rs.1,350 per day on the EBC trek, with basic food and accommodation. This will be Rs. 2,250 on the day you are in Gorakshep.
We hope these budgeting tips come in handy when you plan for your trek. Do comment below with some of your own tips that could help others.
Points in this article were shared by Sourav Mandal, who trekked to EBC independently in October 2017 and Indiahikes Trek Leader Abhirup Paul. Cover Image of Chola Pass taken by Abhirup Paul.
What you should do now
1. If you want more information about this trek: Check our Everest Base Camp Trek page here with detailed information on trail routes, things to take, pictures and much more.
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