Mt. Everest is the main destination that travelers in Tibet go to. The Tibet-side of Everest offers an amazing view of the world’s highest peak.
Tibet-side Everest Base Camp
For a reputable and affordable travel agency recommendation for going to the Tibet-side of Everest, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For many people, the main reason that they go to Tibet is to see the amazing view of Everest’s famous North Face. The view of Everest from the Tibet side gives a clear, sweeping view of the mountain. I receive more emails about the Everest region that any other region of the Tibetan Plateau. I have been fortunate enough to go to the Tibet-side Everest Region around 15 times over the years. In this post, I will answer some of the most common questions I receive regarding the world’s highest peak.
1. How do I get to Everest Base Camp?
As everyone should already know, the only way that foreigners can go to the Tibet side of Mt. Everest is by arranging an organized tour through a travel agency. There are NO exceptions. In order to go to Everest, you need to contact a travel agency, preferably owned by Tibetans and based in Tibet, and have them arrange the required travel permits, tour guide, private vehicle and driver. You cannot use public transportation (ie. buses) to travel to Everest. For recommendations on which travel agency to use to go to Everest or other regions of Tibet, send me an email at email@example.com.
2. How long does it take to get to Everest from Lhasa?
Everest Base Camp (EBC), elevation 5200 meters, is nearly 800 kilometers (500 miles) southwest of Lhasa. Because of the distance and the high elevation of EBC, 3 or 4 days are normally taken to drive there from Lhasa. Most people prefer to visit the many amazing sights along the way to EBC such as Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse and Sakya Monastery. For a suggested itinerary from Lhasa to the Nepal border via EBC, read the following link:
3. How long is the hike to Everest Base Camp?
Unlike the Nepal side of Everest, no hiking is required to reach the Tibet side of Everest. You can drive all the way to Everest Base Camp. If you wish to trek there, I recommend starting from Old Tingri and going to EBC from there. The trek normally takes 3 days.
4. What types of accommodations are available at Everest Base Camp?
During the high season (May through mid October) there are 3 main places to stay in the Everest Base Camp area. The first place is the Rongphu Government Hotel. This ugly looking hotel is way overpriced for the services it provides. It is located about 350 meters away from Rongphu Monastery and about 8 kilometers north of Everest Base Camp.
The second option is the simple guesthouse run by the monks of Rongphu Monastery. They offer simple rooms for a very minimal price. The advantage of staying at the monastery is the excellent view of Everest viewed from just above the monastery.
The third place to stay in the area is at the “tent hotels”, which are about 4 or 5 kilometers past Rongphu Monastery and about 3 kilometers before Everest Base Camp. This is the closest to the mountain that you can sleep without having a climbing/trekking permit. The “tent hotels” are a group of about 30 traditional yak wool tents that local Tibetans turn into guesthouses. The tents are all basically the same with beds, lots of blankets and serving hot drinks and simple Tibetan and Western food. These tents are not available during the low season.
Without a climbing or trekking permit, it is not possible to actually stay at the official Everest Base Camp. The “tent hotels” are the closest place you can stay. The elevation of Rongphu Monastery (4950 meters) and the “tent hotels” (5050 meters) are both very high. If you feel ill due to altitude, an alternative to staying in the Everest region is to stay in the lower elevation villages of Tashi Dzom or Basum. Both of these villages lie below 4300 meters, considerably lower than the places near base camp. Both villages offer simple Tibetan style guesthouses with meals. Tashi Dzom is more popular because it is bigger, but Basum is also a nice place to stay. From Tashi Dzom and Basum, it takes about an hour to reach EBC.
5. Is Rongphu Monastery located at Everest Base Camp?
No, Rongphu Monastery is located about 8 kilometers north of Everest Base Camp (EBC). The road to EBC goes right past Rongphu Monastery so the monastery is impossible to miss. All travel agencies will make a stop at Rongphu along the way to EBC.
6. When are the best months to see a clear view of Everest?
The best months to see a clear view of Everest are from April through early June and again from late September through early to mid December. During these months, the weather is usually clear offering excellent views of the mountain. I have been to the Everest Region more than a dozen times during this time frame. Only once (January 2004) have I not had a crystal clear view of the mountain.
Though the peak high season for travel in Tibet is during the summer months from June through early October, the views of Everest are often not good in the middle summer time. Don’t expect clear views of the mountain in the summer, especially in July and August.
7. Is Everest Base Camp going to be covered in heavy snow?
Though EBC sits at 5200 meters, it is relatively rare to see heavy snow on the ground in the area. While snow does fall in the region, the strong rays of the sun quickly melt away the snow. In all of the times I have been to EBC, I have never seen more than 100 mm (4 inches) of snow on the ground there. Most of the times I have been there, there hasn’t been any snow on the ground. However, do keep in mind that you are in the Himalayas at very high elevation, so anything can happen! In October 2013 there was an unexpected heavy snow storm that dropped nearly 1 meter of snow in some places on the Tibet side causing a large group of travelers to become stuck at the Everest Base Camp region (these travelers were completely safe at base camp, but the road leading out was closed). This group was not stuck for too long as the government cleared the road the best they could to get all the travelers out of the region. I contacted many of the travel agencies who had clients there and all of them did an excellent and professional job in assisting their clients.
8. Is it possible to go to Everest Base Camp in the winter?
Yes, you can go to EBC in the winter months. The road to EBC usually doesn’t receive heavy snow, so getting there is no problem. The “tent hotels” are not open during the winter months and the Rongbuk Government Hotel is also usually closed. The Rongphu Monastery guesthouse usually remains open as do the guesthouses in Tashi Dzom and Basum (both a little over an hour north of EBC). Tibet is closed each year in February and March so it is not possible to go to Everest or any other area of Tibet during that time.
9. Can you see Everest from the main road that connects Lhasa to the Nepal border?
Yes, there are a few places that you can see Everest from the main road, but none of the views are amazing. In order to really get a good view of Everest, you will have to take the cut-off from the main road. From the main road, the road to Everest Base Camp is around 100 kilometers. The road is dirt, but is in good condition.
Many people ask me if it is worth it to take the 170 kilometer detour (100 kilometers to EBC and another 70 kilometers along the back road to Old Tingri) to see Everest. If it is during the months when the weather is clear, it is absolutely worth it! The views of Everest from base camp are so much better than the views from the main road.
10. Is it possible to trek to EBC?
Yes, trekking the Everest Region is quite popular. The best time to go is in late April and then from mid-September to late October. There are 2 main routes to take. The first is from the village of Baber (often referred to as “New Tingri”) to Everest Base Camp going via the villages of Chay, Tashi Dzom and Basum. This route usually takes about 4 days. In my opinion, this is not a very good route as the views of Everest and the rest of the Himalaya’s are not that good until you get closer to Rongbuk Monastery (the exception being the amazing sweeping view of the Himalaya’s from the Pang La pass).
A more interesting route in my opinion is trekking from EBC to the small town of Old Tingri. This route is about 70 kilometers long and can be done in 3 or 4 days. There are several small villages along the way and in addition to seeing good views of Everest, you can also get excellent views of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak in the world.
As with all treks in the Tibet Autonomous Region, treks in the EBC region need to be arranged in advance through a travel agency. Even if you have an organized tour, you cannot decide to do a trek at EBC once you arrive there. It must be arranged prior to you arriving in Lhasa.
11. Is it possible to trek higher than Everest Base Camp?
Yes, though it is not often advertised on travel agency websites, many Lhasa-based companies can arrange treks up to Advanced Base Camp (ABC). ABC sits at 6400 meters. From EBC, it takes 4 days to trek to ABC and back down to EBC. Usually this route is free of ice and snow meaning crampons and ropes are not required. ABC, which requires an additional permit, is the highest you can go on Everest without a climbing permit.
12. Can I go and talk to climbing expeditions while at EBC?
No, if you don’t have a trekking or climbing permit that allows you beyond EBC, you will not be allowed to interact with climbing teams. Climbing teams almost always base themselves 500 meters to 2 kilometers beyond EBC. Military personnel patrol the area and will not allow anyone beyond EBC who does not have the proper permits. Trying to sneak past the military will result in a fine of 1500 RMB ($240) or more and will cause your guide to get into serious trouble.
13. How much are the entrance fees for visiting EBC?
In order to enter the Everest Region, you not only need to purchase an entrance ticket, but you also need to purchase a vehicle entrance ticket. The price of an entrance ticket is 180 RMB ($29) per person. You (or your group) are also responsible for purchasing a ticket for your guide. In addition to this, you also have to purchase a 400 RMB ($65) vehicle entrance fee which includes the fee for the driver. Be advised that these prices are scheduled to be raised by summer 2016.
During the main tourist season (late April through mid/late October), vehicles can only drive to the “tent hotels”, which are located about 5 kilometers past Rongphu Monastery and about 3 kilometers before EBC. In order to get from the “tent hotels” to EBC during the tourist season, everyone must buy a ticket for the bus that travels these 3 kilometers. This “environmentally friendly” bus costs around 25 RMB ($4) per person for the roundtrip journey and leaves about every hour or so. You will also have to purchase a ticket for your guide, who has to accompany you to EBC. During the low season, this bus ceases to operate. Your driver can drive all the way to EBC during the low season.
14. Which travel agency should I use to arrange my tour to Everest Base Camp?
Send me an email and let me know how long you plan to be in Tibet and what areas you want to go to. I will gladly get back to you with a recommendation on which travel agency to use. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a question about the Everest Region that I didn’t answer? Send me an email with your question and I will add it to this list!