Trekking in Nepal’s Himalayas is one experience that had been sitting on our bucket list for a long time. Finally, getting the chance to walk among the highest peaks on the planet, we can honestly say it has been one of the top hiking journeys of our lives. Facing high altitude, steep terrain, and unpredictable weather, we pushed our limits.
Moments of exhilaration and agony were common and this range of highs and lows combined with the unpredictable mountains is exactly the challenge we were hoping for. In the end (big spoiler alert coming), we didn’t get to hike to Gorak Shep, Everest Base Camp, and the much-anticipated Kala Patthar hike because Teo had a scary episode of altitude sickness.
In the whole scheme of the trek, this setback turned out to be very minor. Taking an extra day to adjust to the altitude turned into redemption when we crossed the 5420 meter Cho La Pass two days later. And two days after that we made our way to summit of Gokyo Ri (5360m) on a fresh layer of snow and ice.
For anyone interested in hiking to Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes via the Cho La Pass, we hope that our recent experiences will help shed some light on what you can expect to encounter (click here to read about our EBC and Gokyo Lakes itinerary.)
Total Amount Spent: $1452 USD for 2 People
Number of Days: 16
Average Daily Expenses: $91 USD
Prices listed are for two persons. These costs include round-trip airfare from Kathmandu to Lukla and everything we purchased on the trek itself. Also included are permit fees, gear rental, and equipment, food, toiletries and medicines we specifically purchased for the trek, not including cost of items we were already traveling with.
Transportation: $591 USD
Two round trip flights from Kathmandu to Lukla. Booked online with Tara Airlines. The biggest expense of the trek.
Food: $560 USD
Everything we bought to eat and drink from the moment we landed in Lukla to the moment we flew out. We are still completely blown away by the high cost of food on the EBC. To put it into perspective, we were spending about $19 per day per person on food. Main dishes started at $3 (breakfast items) and most were $5-7. A bottle of water ranged from $1-3. A cup of tea averaged $1. Gourmet coffee/slice of cake $3.50
Trekking Gear: $118 USD
We rented two down jackets in Kathmandu for 60 cents per day. We also purchased 3 trekking poles ($4.50 each), 2 pullover fleeces ($4.50 each), 2 fleece pants ($12 each), 2 windproof pants ($5 each), 2 windproof gloves ($4 each), 1 long sleeve technical shirt ($12), 1 Nalgene water bottle ($15) and 2 pairs of microspikes ($7 each). All items purchased at Shona’s Alpine in Thamel, a fixed price gear shop run by an expat and his Nepali wife. Highly recommended you buy what you need here.
Fees/Permits: $105 USD
There are two permits/fees for the EBC trek. One is an entry fee to the Sagarmatha National Park, the other is the TIMS card. Independent trekkers can get these in Kathmandu at the Nepal Tourism Board office very close to Thamel area. They took our pictures (free) and made a copy of our passport. Having both permits is required and you will be asked to show them at multiple locations during the trek.
Miscellaneous: $57 USD
Snacks, medicines, groceries, toiletries and other miscellaneous items we purchased specifically for the EBC trek prior to the trek. For example, candy bars, dried fruits, nuts, powdered drinks, antibiotics, Diamox, wet wipes, baby powder, Tiger Balm and toilet paper. This does not include camping gear or personal items we already were traveling with.
Accommodation: $25 USD
Sleeping in tea houses is the least expensive part of the EBC trek. The tea houses (guesthouses) make their money selling food at 5-10 times the price you’d pay in Kathmandu. Charging electronics is also a big money-maker for them (expect to pay $1-$5 per item or even per hour). Most of the tea houses we stayed in gave free accommodation with the promise we would eat all our meals there. The criteria we used for choosing a guesthouse was based on looking at the menu and recommendations from other travelers.
For reviews of the tea houses we stayed in during the trek click here.
Flying in and out of Lukla to start the trek was a huge expense. The only way around this is by taking a jeep/bus from Kathmandu to either Jiri or Salleri and begin trekking to Lukla from these locations. We did not do this, but according to people who had, you’ll need to add 5-7 days one way from Jiri, and 3-4 days one way from Salleri. Prices were $25-30 USD one way from Kathmandu. The extra days hiking didn’t fit with our overall itinerary for Nepal and fifteen days of hiking proved to be enough for us to bite off at one time.
Food on the EBC is expensive and we spent an average of $19 USD per person per day. With all the trekking your body craves calories, and conveniently many tea houses have bakeries filled with sweets and gourmet coffees. We indulged in expensive deserts only a handful of times, and believe us when we say we could have eaten three slices of cake each per day.
The guesthouses make their money off selling food, which is why accommodation is either free or cheap. Expect lower prices at the beginning of the trek increasing as you ascend (with some exceptions). The best deal is ordering dal bhat, a combination of lentil stew, vegetable curry, rice and an assortment of sides. This is what guides and porters eat and free refills are included, mind that you will often have to ask for this, but really it’s all you can eat. Sherpa stew is also filling and reasonably priced.
We brought along nearly 6 pounds of dried fruit, nuts, bars, chocolates, candies, powdered drinks and other snacks. We ate it all. A Snickers bar is $3 in Lobuche, in Kathmandu only 75 cents. We purchased most of our snacks in India for 30-40% less than Kathmandu prices.
We travel with a water filter and already had Aquatabs as a second layer of safety. We saved a ton by filtering/treating all of our water. To stay hydrated we were tossing back 4-5 liters per person per day. A liter of water is 80 cents in Lukla, increasing to $3 USD at higher altitudes (compared to 25 cents everywhere else in Nepal). At the same time, we didn’t contribute any plastic bottles to the ever-worsening trash problem (don’t get us started on this one!). Aquatabs can be purchased in Kathmandu for $3.
Known as a playground for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, we did not find Nepal nor the EBC trek to be budget friendly. At least not compared to its Asian counterparts. We arrived in Nepal after skipping around South and Southeast Asia for 6 months, and to us the prices were staggeringly high, especially for outdoor activities.
We had anticipated the EBC trek would be expensive for our budget style and spending about double our normal daily budget on the trek was a bit painful. That’s not saying it isn’t worth going, it’s worth it, totally worth it.
We’ve included all expenses here to provide prospective travelers with the most up to date pricing information. Our budget is by no means the cheapest, bare bones way to trek the EBC, but it is fairly typical for independent and unguided trekkers. To bring costs down skip the flights and hike in and out and carry a lot of food. Both of these options will add considerable time and pack weight.
Nepal Trekking Tips Part 1: How Much It Costs To Trek EBC is part 1 of a 4 part series about our experience trekking in Nepal’s Himalayas.
Click here to read part 3: Everest Base Camp Trekking: Altitude Sickness and Other Annoyances
Click here to read about our Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes Itinerary: Trekking Unguided in the Himalayas.