The highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest lies on the border between China and Nepal, in Southeast Asia. Known in Nepal as Sagarmatha and in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region as Qomolangma, this massive peak has been the pinnacle of mountaineering for more than half a century, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in both Tibet and Nepal.
First climbed in 1953, the slopes of Mount Everest straddle the Sino-Nepal border, with the northern slopes of the mountain in Tibet and the southern slopes in Nepal. And with two ways to reach the peak of the mountain, mountaineering base camps have been well established in both Nepal and Tibet. Popular tourist and trekking attractions, the base camps lie at altitudes above 5,000 meters and are as different in every way as it is possible to be.
Distance from Kathmandu to Mount Everest Base Camp
On the southern slopes of the mountain lies the Southern Everest Base Camp (EBC), set far from the Nepali capital of Kathmandu and accessible only by a long and arduous trek. Located at an altitude of around 5,364 meters, the base camp in Nepal sits at the foot of the mountain, in the shadow of Mount Lhotse, and has no view of the summit of Sagarmatha.
In stark contrast, the Northern EBC lies on the northern slopes of the mountain, and is easily accessed by road, which makes it the most popular tourist attraction in Tibet. Situated at the end of the Zhufeng Road at an altitude of 5,180 meters, the base camp has one of the most stunning views of the summit of Qomolangma that can be found anywhere.
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal lies in the stunning Kathmandu Valley in central Nepal, and is one of the most exotic cities in Asia. As the main departure location for trekking trips to the southern EBC, it is a major tourist destination, and is the most popular location in Nepal for tourists from around the world. It is also possible to reach both base camps from Kathmandu, and the Nepali capital lies exactly 161.2 kilometers from the summit of the massive peak, as the crow flies. Reaching Lukla, the start of the EBC trek in Nepal, can only be done by flight from Kathmandu, and is a distance of around 139 kilometers. By trek, the southern base camp lies around 62km from Lukla, and can only be reached by trekking along the Everest Trail.
The northern base camp in Tibet lies at the end of the Zhufeng Road, and can easily be accessed from Kathmandu by driving across the border at Gyirong Port into China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, and following the major roads to Tingri, from where you will turn south to reach Rongbuk Monastery and the northern EBC. Driving direct is not possible, and you do need to be on a pre-arranged tour with a registered Tibet tour operator for the section of the trip in Tibet. However, the total distance from Kathmandu to the northern EBC by road is around 504 kilometers.
Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp in Nepal
Getting to the southern EBC in Nepal can only be done by taking a flight first from Kathmandu to Lukla, and then by trekking the entire length of the route from Lukla to EBC itself, as there are no roads that reach the camp. It is not even possible to drive all the way to Lukla, which makes the flight the fastest and easiest way to reach the famous Tensing-Hillary Airport.
Kathmandu to Lukla by Flight
To get to Lukla, the start of the amazing EBC Trek in Nepal, you need to take a flight to the Tensing-Hillary Airport, which lies halfway up a mountain at the small Sherpa village of Lukla in the Khumbu Region of Nepal. There are only two flights to Lukla daily from Kathmandu, which depart at 7:25am and 8:30am respectively. The flight takes around 30-35 minutes to reach the village airport, and costs from around 180 US dollars per person. Once you arrive at the airport, most trekkers make the start of the trek immediately they have gathered all their gear together, to get to the first overnight stopping point as quickly as possible.
One can take the daily flight to Lukla from Kathmandu.
Trek from Lukla to EBC in Nepal
From Lukla, you will need to trek for around 9-10 days to reach the southern EBC, 62 kilometers to the northeast. The first day takes you from Lukla to the small village of Phakding, where you will stop for the night before continuing to Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital in the Khumbu Region. Most trekkers spend the day at Namche acclimatizing to the increased altitude, before continuing Day 4 to Tengboche, and after an overnight stop, Pheriche. Pheriche is used as the second acclimatization day, and by Day 7, you are ready to move on. The next two days are spent trekking to Duglha and then to Lobuche, and on Day 9, you will finally make it to Gorak Shep, the last stop before reaching EBC.
We are ascending a slope along the EBC trekking route in Nepal.
From Gorak Shep, trekkers normally spend the afternoon on the short climb up to the ridge of Kala Patthar, which has the only decent view of the summit of Sagarmatha in the area. On the following day, you will make the short trek to EBC itself, across the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier, and then head all the way back to Lobuche for the night, which is an easier trek than on the way up. The last two days are spent trekking back through Dingboche to Lukla, and the end of the trek.
Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp in Tibet
If you are planning a trip to EBC in Tibet, then you have two options for getting there, by traveling overland across the border at Gyirong Port, or by flying to Lhasa and taking a tour from the Tibetan capital to the base camp in Western Tibet. Both routes require tourists to be on a pre-arranged tour of the region with a registered Tibet tour operator, who will handle all of the details of the trip, including permits, accommodation, and passes into the Qomolangma National Nature Reserve.
Permits Required to Visit Everest Base Camp in Tibet
Aside from the visa that you will need to get into China, you will also need a number of permits in order to reach Mount Everest and the famous northern EBC in Shigatse Prefecture of Western Tibet. The visa is not a normal Chinese Entry Visa, and is issued once you reach Kathmandu. Known as the Chinese Group Visa, it can only be obtained by the tour operator once you reach the Nepali capital, using your original passport. Processing time is normally around three working days, so you need to be in Kathmandu at least five days before your expected date of travel.
Once you have booked your tour, we will make all the applications for the permits and passes you will need to travel from Kathmandu to EBC, and all the permit requirements are necessary, even if you are flying across the border to Lhasa before heading for EBC. The permits you require include:
● Tibet Travel Permit – This is required for entry to Tibet and to travel around in the area of Lhasa. https://www.tibettour.org/tibet-travel-permit/tibet-permits.html
● Aliens’ Travel Permit – Required for travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet outside Lhasa, including Shigatse.
● Frontier Pass – Since you will be crossing the border into China, either overland or by flight, the Frontier Pass is required for all tourists traveling in the areas of the Chinese border with India, Nepal, and Bhutan, which includes Mount Everest.
All of the permits are required to be completed and approved before you depart from Kathmandu for Tibet, and we will ensure that they are all ready before you arrive in the Nepali capital.
Overland from Kathmandu to EBC via Gyirong Port
Heading overland from Kathmandu to EBC is one of the most amazing overland adventures in Tibet, and will leave you breathless with the stunning landscapes and beautiful scenery that you will pass through on the way to the world’s highest mountain. An amazing driving tour that takes you from the exotic Nepali capital to the famous mountain and then on to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, the highest capital city in the world, there is no better way to explore the Tibetan plateau and the famous base camp than by traveling overland. The route to EBC and Lhasa starts by departing from Kathmandu with your driver by car to reach the Nepali border port of Rasuwa Gadhi. From there you will cross the Resuo Bridge into Tibet, and pass through immigration into Gyirong Port, the Chinese border checkpoint from Nepal.
Gyirong port is the newly-opened border crossing point between Nepal and Tibet.
You will then meet your guide, and they will drive you to Gyirong Town for the night, before taking you to EBC the following Day. You will stay overnight at the Rongbuk Monastery, and explore the base camp fully the following day, before heading for Tingri to stop for the night. On the following day, you ill head for Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, where you will explore the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. Then it is on to Lhasa, via Gyantse, the home of the famous Kumbum Stupa, the largest stupa of its kind in Tibet, standing 32 meters tall at the peak.
The only way to make this trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa, via EBC, is to be on a pre-arrange tour, and we have a wide number of tours to choose from, including our signature Kathmandu to Lhasa overland tour that gives you all the time you need to spend at EBC taking photos, and gives you the opportunity to visit some of the other amazing sites along the route from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa and then Overland to EBC
If you are thinking of flying in to Lhasa and taking the tour in the opposite direction, we can easily cater for that for you as well. One of the most popular ways to travel to Lhasa from Kathmandu, as well as traveling back overland, this is an amazing adventure that has an added bonus – you can get a good view of the summit of Mount Everest on the flight ,as the flight plan runs directly over the peak of the mountain on the way to Lhasa. And we can make the arrangements for a tour of the exotic city of Kathmandu before you depart for Lhasa, which has some of the most awesome temples and sights in Nepal.
Once you arrive in Lhasa, a flight of around 90 minutes, you will be met by your guide and driver and taken to your hotel to rest, as you will need to acclimatize to the higher altitude of the Tibetan capital. The first two days are spent touring around the capital while you adjust to the altitude, and includes visits to the Potala Palace and the sacred Jokhang Temple.
One can visit the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Kumbum Stupa during the road trip from Lhasa to EBC.
Once out on the road, the route is the reverse of the previous tour, taking you first to Gyantse for the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Kumbum Stupa, and then on to Shigatse for the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery. From Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, you will travel to Rongbuk Monastery, crossing one of the highest passes in Tibet, the Pang La Pass at 5,050 meters above sea level. After staying overnight at Rongbuk, you will get to travel by eco-bus or trek to EBC, just a short distance away, where you will spend most of the day, before departing finally for Gyirong Town, on the road to the border with Nepal. After departing from Tibet the following morning at Gyirong Port, you will cross the border and meet the driver who will transfer you back to Kathmandu, through some of the most stunning scenery in the amazing Langtang National Park.
With two base camps to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. While it can be hard to decide whether to visit the northern or southern base camp, you should take into consideration whether you are able and prepared to make the long trek to the southern EBC or not. Whichever base camp you choose to visit, both can easily be done from Kathmandu, and as a major tourist destination in Asia, this exotic city can be the start of one of the greatest adventures of your life.