Sitting right on the border between Tibet and Nepal lies the world-famous Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Known in Tibet as Chomolungma, and in Nepal as Sagarmatha, this massive mountain sits at 8,848 meters (29,029 ft.) above sea level. The international border between China and Nepal runs over the summit point. On either side of the mountain are the Nepalese and Tibetan base camps, famous sites around the world as the places where all the attempts to scale the mountain started.
Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
The southern camp is situated in Nepal, while the northern camp lies in Tibet Autonomous Region, and both campsites are used by mountain climbers on their way up and down the mountain. For tourists wanting to visit one of the base camps of Mount Everest, the northern base camp is better, as it can be visited by road with easier access to the camp without the need to trek. For those that love trekking at high altitudes, the southern base camp in Nepal is ideal, as the awesome 12-day trek to the base camp is one of the country’s most outstanding adventures.
Basic Facts: Tibet EBC vs Nepal EBC
North Everest Base Camp in Tibet
The Tibetan base camp is situated at an altitude of 5,200 meters, and lies just eight kilometers from the famous Rongbuk Monastery, the official highest Buddhist monastery in the world. Lying at the end of the Zhufeng Road, which runs south from Old Tingri on the Friendship Highway, the camp lies around 699 kilometers from Lhasa, along the route that is taken by most tours on the plateau. From Kathmandu, the northern EBC lies only 504 kilometers by road, crossing the border at Gyirong Port.
North Everest Base Camp in Tibet.
South Everest Base Camp in Nepal
The southern base camp, which lies in the Khumbu Region of Nepal, is one of the most popular treks in the country, covering a distance of around 130 kilometers round trip, and ascending by more than 2,750 meters to the highest point of the trek. Inaccessible by road, the only way to get to the base camp is by a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, a small airport at the foot of the mountain, and then by trekking to the base camp itself at 5,364 meters above sea level. It is around 138 kilometers to Lukla from Kathmandu by flight, making the total distance to EBC Nepal from the capital around 203 kilometers.
Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
Best Time to Visit: Tibet EBC vs Nepal EBC
For Nepal, the best time to tackle the long trek to EBC is normally in the spring and autumn months, from March to early May and mid-September to early November. At these times of the year, the region is mostly dry, with almost no rain and with clear skies. Temperatures are not hot, but they are pleasant enough to make the trek without getting too cold, though you may need warmer clothes at night. The EBC trek in Nepal is also possible at other times, including February and December, before the heavy snows of the Himalayas set in and start to make the trekking too cold and harsh. It can be a lot colder than spring and autumn, but it is not too bad that you will freeze to death.
Visit Tibet EBC.
In Tibet, the peak period for visiting EBC is longer than in Nepal, running from around April to the end of October. Through the spring and autumn, from April to May and September to October, it is the ideal time to visit the stunning base camp at the foot of the world’s highest mountain, with clear skies, no rain, and great views of the summit. In the summer, from June to August, it is still a great time to visit, and while there may be a few light showers, this area of Tibet sees a lot less rain in the monsoon season than the eastern areas. You can even visit the base camp in the depths of winter, as the roads to EBC are kept well cleared of snow. The weather in winter may be a little cold, especially at night, but it is pleasant during the day with comfortable temperatures and amazing clear views of the summit.
Travel Documents to Obtain: Tibet EBC vs Nepal EBC
If you are planning to visit EBC in Tibet, then there are a number of documents and permits that you will need for the trip. Aside from the usual visa to enter China, you will also need: Tibet Travel Permit – This is required for entry to Tibet and to travel around in the area of Lhasa. Alien’s Travel Permit – Required for travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet outside Lhasa, including Shigatse.
All of the permits to Tibet EBC, with the exception of the visa for those entering from mainland China, can be obtained by us. Travel in Tibet must be on a pre-approved tour with a registered travel agency, and all the permits and passes required will be obtained using a scanned copy of your passport. The pass to get into the nature reserve around Mount Everest is obtained whilst you are in Shigatse, before heading to the base camp.
If you are planning to take the trek to EBC in Nepal, then you may be surprised at the requirements you will face. While you can get into Nepal with just a passport and visa, which you can arrange on arrival, you do need certain permits to trek to EBC.
The first permit is required for trekking inside the Sagarmatha National Park area, where EBC is located, which can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu or Monjo for a cost of around 48 dollars including tax. If you are planning to include Jiri in your trekking route, you will also have to get the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Permit, as parts of the trek via Jiri fall in this area. The permit costs around 28 dollars from the tourism office in Kathmandu.
The old Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card is no longer required for trekking to EBC in Nepal, as long as you take the route from Lukla to EBC, without trekking via Jiri. If you are planning a trip via Jiri, then you will still need to obtain a TIMS card from the Tourism Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) in Kathmandu.
Nepal Trekking tims card.
Since October 1, 2018, a new permit has also been imposed on trekkers in the Everest region of Nepal. The Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit replaces the need to have the TIMS card, and can only be obtained from the local government offices in the Khumbu Region, which can be found in both Monjo and Lukla. The permit costs around 28 dollars, and is valid only for the trek from Lukla to EBC. If you are taking the route via Jiri, then you also need to have the permits for Jiri and the TIMS card as well.
Accommodation and Dining: Tibet EBC vs Nepal EBC
In Tibet, there are mainly two options for accommodation: the Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse and the Tent Guesthouses at the base camp itself. Both are pretty basic accommodations, with only basic facilities. Both the monastery and tent guesthouses do not have running water or shower facilities, and to wash you will need to use a tub of cold water. Hot water is only available for drinks and snacks, although there are basic toilet facilities, featuring a Chinese squat toilet over a hole in the ground. For those touring to EBC in Tibet, we make all the arrangements for the accommodation for you, based on availability.
Yak hair tent guesthouse at Everest Base Camp.
At the Nepal base camp, there is no accommodation at all, as trekkers are not meant to stay there overnight due to the altitude and extremely remote location. Trekkers to EBC in Nepal can stop in Gorak Shep, which has four teahouses with basic facilities. Trekkers often have to share rooms, as this is the most popular trek in Nepal, especially in the peak seasons of spring and autumn. Accommodation costs usually range from 2-5 dollars per night.
In Tibet, there are normally meals you can buy at both the tent and monastery guesthouses, though they usually consist of basic Tibetan fare, often including yak meat, noodles, etc. If you are not a fan of local food, then you can bring packet, tinned, and dried meals, and you can get hot water to heat and make them at the guesthouses.
In Nepal, teahouses along the trek, including at Gorak Shep, provide a range of foods for all meals, from eggs, toast and potatoes for breakfast to stews, curries, dal baht, and noodle dishes. The higher you get, the more costly it becomes, and at the end of the trek in Gorak Shep, it is best to steer clear of meats that have taken several days to be portered to the teahouses. Most of the food is basic as you get higher, with less vegetables and herbs available at the furthest points of the trek.
Recommended Tour Itinerary: Tibet EBC vs Nepal EBC
Tibet Side: Lhasa to Everest Base Camp by Overland
The best way to get to EBC in Tibet is on a pre-arranged tour, which is actually the only way you can do it. The tour normally includes a couple of days of acclimatizing in Lhasa, and sightseeing too, including the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple. Outside the capital, you will travel through Gyantse to visit the Pelkor Chode monastery and the Kumbum Stupa, and in Shigatse, you get to stop in at the Tashilhunpo Monastery, home of the Panchen Lama.
After leaving Shigatse, the route takes you to Tingri on the Friendship Highway, and then turns south to travel along the Zhufeng Road for 100 kilometers to the base camp. An outstanding trip to get to the world’s highest mountain, our 8-day Everest Base Camp Small Group Tour is one of the most popular tours in Tibet. All your accommodation and attraction tickets are arranged for you, and you get to travel with a professional guide who can answer all of your questions about the plateau region and the mountain itself. Check the classic Lhasa to Everest Base Camp overland tour.
Nepal Side: Trek to Everest Base Camp
For those trekking to EBC in Nepal, you will need to make the arrangements yourself, unless you book a more expensive tour with a local company. The route to EBC in Nepal starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, where the trek starts. From there, the route takes you up first to Phakding, and then on to Namche Bazaar (3,440m) on the second day, where you normally spend a day acclimatizing. From Namche, you continue on up to Tengboche (3,900m) and Dingboche (4,400m), where you will once again stop for a day to acclimatize.
Trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
Acclimatizing to the increase in altitude is important to reduce the risk of severe altitude sickness on the trek. After Dingboche, the trek runs up to Lobuche, at 4,900 meters and then to Gorak Shep, at 5,180 meters. The trek to EBC is normally done on the day of reaching Gorak Shep, and trekkers make the hike to the camp and back to Gorak Shep before it gets dark. The following day, most trekkers tend to make the hike to Kala Patthar, a ridge above Gorak Shep at 5,554 meters that has the best views of the summit. The summit of Mount Everest cannot actually be seen from the base camp, as Mount Lhotse lies in between.
Traveling to EBC in either Tibet or Nepal is an amazing adventure, and there is nothing like standing in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain, just to say you went there and did it. While the trek to EBC in Nepal is an awesome experience, for those that are not into trekking, it is a much more comfortable experience to take the trip across the Tibetan plateau to the northern EBC. A smooth and relaxing ride in comfortable vehicles, with the stunning sights of the plateau landscapes and monasteries along the way, there is no better option than a tour of Tibet from Lhasa to EBC on one of our stupendous Everest Base Camp Tours.