Here are some unique ways to reach Everest Base Camp which will help you avoid most of the crowds and explore Everest in ways that will make this experience even more memorable. These include alternative routes, different types of accommodations and unique modes of transportation.
But before we dive into the details... Did you know that Everest has more than just one base camp? In addition to the famous base camp trek on the Nepal side of Mt Everest, there is a popular base camp in Tibet. And finally there is a rarely visited base camp at the bottom of the sheer East face of Mt Everest, also in Tibet.
Most of this article will be focused on the South Everest Base Camp in Nepal, but there is a section on the other base camps, as well.
#1 Follow an Alternative Route to Everest Base Camp
The vast majority of Everest Base Camp (“EBC”) trekkers in Nepal fly to Lukla and follow the standard trail via Namche Bazaar. You can’t avoid the crowds during each stage of your trek, since there is just one trail on the last stretch to Everest Base Camp, but there are several alternative routes that include more remote trails on some sections of the trail.
Hike in from the Lower Solukhumbu
The 95% of Everest trekkers who fly to Lukla miss out on the beautiful Lower Solukhumbu region, since they fly straight over it towards the higher mountains.
To experience this amazing part of Nepal in the Himalayan foothills, take a jeep from Kathmandu to trailheads in Bhandar or Salleri, or you can fly to Phaplu and start the trek there. Each of these options will let you enjoy the lush valleys, scenic Sherpa villages and Tibetan monasteries. You will need more time (6 extra days from Bhandar and about 4 from Sallerie / Phaplu) before you merge with the main EBC trail near Lukla.
Gokyo Lakes & The Three Passes Trek
Increasingly popular (but still less crowded) variations for the EBC Trek are the Gokyo Lakes and Three Passes Treks. The lower parts of the trek are identical to the EBC trek (unless you combine it with other variations described here), while both routes deviate from the main EBC trail above Namche Bazaar and take you into adjacent valleys and over high passes before joining the EBC trail again close to Base Camp.
Trek via Hinku Valley and Mera Peak over Amphu Lapcha Pass
This alternative route is extremely remote, and very much worth it if you are up for the challenge. This trek is not for the faint hearted since it has you hike through two uninhabited valleys and over the 5800m / 19,000 ft Amphu Lapcha pass. You need about 3 weeks to complete this trek, and you will have to camp along the way, which will require more complicated logistics (some local trekking companies are specialized in this).
This trek passes by two well known “trekking peaks”, Mera Peak (6476m / 21,247 ft) and Island Peak (6189m / 20,305 ft) which you can climb if you have the right permits, equipment, stamina, skills and some extra days. You will join the main EBC trail just 2 days before base camp, and you’ll be so well acclimated by then that you will fly past the other trekkers who are huffing and puffing their way up the normal route.
When combined with the hike-in from Lower Solukhumbu and hike-out via Gokyo and the Renjo La (along the Three Passes Trek) you have the ultimate 4-week itinerary of the Everest Region.
#2 Think Beyond Hiking
Hiking ("trekking") is how most people get to and from EBC. If hiking isn't your thing, or you want to mix it up a bit, here are some other modes of transport that can get you there.
If you are shorter on time than on budget, combining a helicopter ride with a trek can be a great way to get amazing close-up views of Everest. Some trekkers to choose to fly all the way from Kathmandu to EBC and back, but more common (and slightly more affordable) ways to do this are to trek part of the way up and then take a helicopter from Namche or Thame to EBC and back, and possibly skip the hike back by flying back to Lukla where you can catch your domestic flight to Kathmandu.
Motorcycle or Mountain Bike
Motorcycles and Mountain Bikes are not recommended (or not allowed, depending on the latest flavor of the ever changing rules here) in Sagarmatha National Park, on the Nepal side of Mt Everest. So if you want to ride while having epic views of Mt Everest you have a couple of options.
On the Nepal side, you can ride up to Pikey Peak with your mountain bike. It’s a bit farther away from Everest, but offers amazing, expansive views of Everest and other mountains. On your motorcycle you can tour the mountain roads leading to the trailheads in Sallerie and Bhandar, but you won't see Everest from your bike.
An even more interesting option is to ride into Tibet all the way to the Tibetan Everest Basecamp. You can do this by motorcycle and mountain bike.
#3 Stay in Style
Most trekkers stay in standard lodges (so called teahouses), which are usually clean and cosy, and are a great way to socialize with other trekkers. If you value more comfort and perhaps even some luxury, you can stay in more upscale lodges such as Yeti Mountain Home.
You can also stay in tents, which may sound like roughing it, but Nepal style camping treks are more like "Glamping". All equipment and food is usually carried by porters, and your camp will be fully set up by staff, while the cooking team will prepare delicious meals.
#4 Visit the "other" Everest Base Camps
When people refer to Everest Base Camp, most often they refer to the one located in Nepal below the Khumbu Icefall. Not everyone knows that there are two more Everest Base Camps located in Tibet, to the north of Mt Everest.
The second popular base camp, used by climbers attempting to climb Everest via the North Col route, is located in Tibet. There are actually two base camps on this route: one is referred to as “Everest Base Camp” and the other one is called “Advanced Base Camp”. And, there is yet another base camp on the North side in Tibet, located in Kangshung valley, below the sheer east face of Mt Everest. This base camp is seldomly used by climbers since climbing the Kangshung Face is daunting and dangerous (in fact, it has only been successfully climbed twice), but it is a somewhat more popular destination for trekking groups, although chances are you will have the valley to yourself and your group.
Making the most of your Everest Base Camp Trek
As described above, there are many ways to organize your Everest Base Camp experience. Depending on your preferences, available time, and budget, lots of different possibilities exist to make this a truly memorable experience for you. Our network of trusted local operators in Nepal are ready to put together this trip for you tailored to your unique circumstances and desires.