With an elevation of 8,848.86 m (29,031.7 ft), Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world among the 14 highest mountains that exceed 8000 meters above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, a massive mountain range. This mountain is located at the Nepal- China border. Mount Everest is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepali and Qomolangma in Tibetan. The Everest Base Camp(EBC) trek is a glorious high altitude trek in the mountains. You will get to explore beautiful scenarios and challenging trekking routes around Everest.
Standing tall as the highest mountain in the world, the snow-capped Mount Everest attracts many climbers from around the world, among them most are highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main climbing routes to approach the summit of Mt. Everest: one from the southeast of Nepal, and the other from the north in Tibet. Both are popular among trekkers and mountaineers. There is a big difference in the experiences in both south and north Everest base camps in Nepal and Tibet due to the complicated locations, changing climates and varied terrains, etc.
EBC Nepal vs EBC Tibet
Many trekkers plan to visit Everest base camp but get confused in base camp Nepal and Base camp of Tibet. Both of these treks are amazing in their own way. They offer diverse adventures with several experiences. You will get the opportunity to explore and learn about the unique nature, culture, and traditions along the way to the base camp. The experiences of both treks are completely different and have their own pros and cons.
Mt. Everest lies in the territory of both China and Nepal and hence is governed by both country’s governments. Because of the locations, the north part of Everest in Tibet is known as the North Slope and the south part of Everest in Nepal is known as South Slope. Hence the climbing route from the north side of Tibet is typically called Northeast Ridge whereas the route from the south side of Nepal is called Southeast Ridge.
Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side is slightly at the lower altitude of 5200m (17,060ft). There is a post office, the China Post Office, in the base camp area where you can send postcards to your friends or family with the Mountain Base Camp Postmark. The elevation of Tibet is a lot less than in Nepal as Tibet is already located at a high altitude. The Rongbuk Monastery is located near the EBC and is a popular stop point at an elevation of 4,980 meters. Even when travelling from Lhasa, which is at 3,490 meters, the increase in altitude is far less than in Nepal.
There is a lot more increase in altitude to the Everest Base camp in Nepal than in Tibet. The start of the trek being from Kathmandu of 1,400 meters then the base camp being at 5,364 meters and the highest point of the trek at Kala Patthar at an altitude of 5,545m., there is a large increase of elevation along the trail. Hence the trek requires you to have two separate days for acclimatization at different points, normally at Namche Bazaar (3,440m.) and Periche (4,371m).
The view along the way to the base camp at Nepal is more colourful than the Tibetan side because of the low altitude and southwest monsoon. You will get to see temperate hillside forests, ravines, the red earth of terraced farms, and small villages surrounded by huge mountains. After reaching an altitude of 3,800 m (12,500ft), at Khumjung, you will see various highland scenarios of bare rock and earth above the snow line surrounded by snow-capped ones.
You will get to see an amazing view of the mountains Ama Dablam, Pumori, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, etc. As you mount towards the camp and get near Mount Everest, your level of excitement increases. From the south side of Nepal, the sunset view is the biggest highlight. You will see the sun rays reflect off the summit forming a mindblowing picture of gold and pink light on the milky-white snow. The best view of Mt. Everest peak can be witnessed from Kala Patthar, which is several kilometres away from the base camp.
The Northern Tibetan side of Everest is a kilometre wide U-shaped valley area. There are a lot of beautiful scenarios you will enjoy seeing and Tibetan culture to experience on the way to Everest on this side. The landscapes in China are different from those in Nepal, it is much drier, browner, and many of the mountains are less jagged. After you cross the high passes (above 5000m) that take you down into the Qomolangma National Park. Layers and layers of undulating brown hills comprise the Tibetan foothills of Everest, and then there it is imposing, and impressive. You can get there through the paved road that leads right up to the base camp.
You will get an amazing view of the north face of Mt. Everest along other highest mountain peaks such as Makalu (8463m), Lhotse (8516m), and Mt. Everest (8844.43m), Cho Oyu (8201m), along with the Great Himalayas at Gawu La Pass(5198m). Aside from these, the sunset at this side is also a highlight of this base camp trek. The sun setting from the west side shines on the snow-capped mountain summit making a view of a golden triangle, that is often seen from afar, and also from the Everest base camp.
Variety in itinerary
The Nepal side of Mt. Everest is the most popular for summit ascents. It falls in Sagarmatha National Park, which contains the most popular trekking trail of the Himalayas, Everest Base Camp Trail. The journey starts from Kathmandu. From there you take the flight to the infamous airport of Lukla (one of the dangerous airports in the world) at 2,840 meters and then start a 14-days trek to Everest Base Camp and back. Trekkers cover short distances every day and allow acclimatization between the days at places like Namche Bazaar. You will pass through interesting villages along the way like Tengboche, Dingboche, and Lobuche and then head towards Mt. Everest Base Camp.
Along the route, you will explore various beautiful forests of pine, oak, juniper, and, in spring, vibrant coloured rhododendrons; streams, rivers, diverse wildlife like mountain goats, red panda, snow-leopard, birds, yaks, etc. You will get to see welcoming Sherpas, their culture and visit many Buddhist monasteries along the way. You will witness many interesting and beautiful views all the way up to the base camp. For people with a short time and flexible budget, can take a scenic helicopter flight from Kathmandu.
To get to the EBC Tibet comes different sets of considerations in Tibet. There are three base camps on the Tibet side of Everest. On the North Col climbing route to the mountain, there are two base camps: Everest Base Camp and Advance Base Camp. The third route is rarely used by trekkers as it is dangerous. From the main city, Lhasa the main Everest Base Camp, near Rongbuk is 2-3 days of the drive. The roads in this path are very good, so you will have a comfortable journey, although it might belong.
You will go from Lhasa to Gyantse, then to Qomolangma National Park to Rongbuk (EBC). The landscapes along the way are very different from that of Nepal. They are dry and brown with few dazzling turquoise lakes making good stops along the way. You can drive all the way up to EBC Tibet but many trekkers prefer 2-3 hours of hiking at the end of paved roads. It is important to spend at least 2-3 days acclimatizing at Lhasa before heading to Everest. There are many natural and cultural sites you can see in Lhasa and all the way to Everest which includes monasteries, lakes, and wildlife.
Best Season to Trek Everest Base Camp
The season in the Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side is not as cold and harsh as in the summit of the peak, with daytime temperatures above freezing from spring to fall. So the best time to visit the EBC Tibet is during spring and autumn, from April to May and September to October. These are the ideal time to visit Mount Everest as the snow melts by the afternoon, the temperature is above freezing point and it hardly rains.
These periods have the clearest days giving us the chance to get the best view of the peak. You will witness the spectacular view of the stars in the sky during clear weather. Although the basecamp can be visited at any time of the year. For camping and hiking, the dry season is the best. The right time to travel depends on you and when you want to come.
The higher sections in the EBC region in Nepal are extremely cold and have diverse weather. conditions. There are times throughout the year where the weather stabilizes and tends to be very mild, which is perfect for trekking. The best season for trekking to the EBC Nepal is during spring (March-May) or autumn (October- November). The EBC trek is popular in Nepal and is very crowded during this season. Although Helicopter Tour can be done throughout the year, anytime the weather is good. As long as you are prepared for cold weather, winter is also a great time. You won’t meet large crowds and get a clear mountain view.
Documents are different for people travelling to different base camps. In Tibet, you first require to get a Chinese entry visa from the Chinese Embassy and then book an organized tour from a licensed tour agency. The tour agency will then arrange Tibet Travel Permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau and then your guide will sort out the Alien’s Travel Permit and Military Permit required for you to be able to travel outside Lhasa and then to EBC.
Independent travel is not allowed and you must always be accompanied by your guide outside the city of Lhasa. If you travel Tibet from Nepal, you are not required to take a Chinese visa in your passport. Send your passport scan copy by email to the registered travel company. They will make require travel permits. They also require your original passport once you arrive in Nepal. Nepal is the key route of Tibet Tour. It is only 6/7 hours driving route from the capital to meet Tibet immigration.
There are different requirements for Nepal. There is no requirement for an organized tour and you can trek and travel independently. Aside from a visa to enter Nepal, there are certain permits required for the trekking at Everest. The most important requirement is the TIMS Card. For safety, all trekkers in Nepal must acquire a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) Card before trekking.
This card is mandatory to ensure the safety and security of trekkers in general trekking areas. A permit for the Everest area is also required. Both TIMS and permit can be obtained from the tourist office in Kathmandu or on the way at checking point. Cost of the permits buying on the way your trek is the same cost as buying in Kathmandu office. No need to pay double of the cost for Everest National Park permit.
Local people and culture
Nepal is predominantly Hindu, although, in the mountain areas, there are more Buddhists. The local customs and traditions are not very different between these two religions. Many of the traditions, religious beliefs, and activities are combined in the two religions so it is hard to tell Hindus from Buddhists. The Sherpas are the main people in the Sagarmatha region. They are very unique traditional people. They are well suited for high-altitude life and many are engaged in mountaineering. They are adapted to cold and high altitude environments. They are very friendly and welcoming people. You will get to see them and explore their culture while trekking to the base camp of Nepal.
Mount Everest Tibetan side is a predominantly Buddhist region, with a little Hinduism, Jainism, Bonism mixed together. People here are very tolerant of each other’s religions. Tibetans are friendly people who are devout in their religious beliefs and apply them in their everyday life. The religions and culture of people here is very intertwined, there is no telling where the religion ends and the culture starts.
Which is the most difficult route, the EBC Nepal or EBC Tibet?
Everest Base Camp is a difficult trek but not the most challenging when it comes to walking distance and trail conditions. Among the EBC Nepal and EBC Tibet, the EBC Nepal trek is more challenging than EBC Tibet. In the Nepal side EBC, you will trek through mountains, forests, rivers, and traditional villages all the way up to the base camp, acclimatizing yourself along the way. It is a long journey but the experiences and memories you will get are worth it. But in EBC Tibet, you will travel to the base camp by 2-3 days of the drive. You can drive all the way up the base camp or hike for 2-3 hours to the base camp after the paved road ends if you prefer.
Which is one of the more crowded routes? EBC Nepal or EBC Tibet?
Everest Base Camp Nepal is more crowded than Everest Base Camp Tibet because of its popularity. During the peak season, it is more crowded because Nepal has more reliability in trekking. This route is perfect for trekking. EBC Tibet is more popular during the summer. This route is preferable for people who have less time or only want to enjoy the view. Tibetan basecamp is popular for the monasteries and plateaus.
Having an opportunity to reach the Everest Base Camp and be able to have a view of Mount Everest summit from up close is a different kind of experience. You will get to trek all your way up through beautiful forests, witness splendid scenarios, natural beauty, and diverse flora and fauna. The route will be challenging but it will be worth it when you reach your destination. It is an intense feeling of achievement to even reach the base camp of the highest mountain on the earth, Mt. Everest.
You can look up agencies that provide packages for Everest Base Camp from Nepal or Tibet, whichever you want to. As EBC is a challenging trek you should be careful while booking your package, make sure to book from experienced and licensed agencies. They are the only one that provides you experience guiding team and provide a proper plan as per your interest. The two routes will offer you different opportunities and experiences but the decision depends on what you are looking for in the trek.