Trekking to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) with an 11 months old baby and a 3 year old toddler might sound like a crazy idea and just 3 months ago I was thinking the same. However right now after completing this trek as a family I can’t think of a better adventure for a family!
To my biggest disappointment we have met very few families and the youngest person was 6 years old. I think the reason for that is the belief that EBC trek is very challenging and most importantly dangerous, especially for children.
After completing our trek I disagree with this and on the contrary I believe that the EBC trek can be an amazing adventure for families with children.
In this article I want to share our experience of trekking to EBC for 24 days as well as answering major questions regarding this trek, such as:
Original Jiri trek versus mainstream trek from Lukla
What if your flight from Lukla is canceled or postponed?
How difficult is the trek?
Food on the EBC trek
Accommodation on the EBC trek
What to pack?
What is the best time of year to trek Everest?
Is it possible to do EBC trek independently without a tour or a personal guide?
Do you need a porter?
How much does it cost to go to EBC?
Baby products on the trail
Breaking world record for youngest person at EBC,feedback on the trail
Why families should trek to EBC
Why we decided to trek to EBC
Trekking to EBC has been on our bucket list for a long time and being in Nepal we just couldn’t resist the temptation to challenge ourselves.
At the beginning we didn’t even consider the idea of hiking to EBC as a family. The stereotype of the trek being very challenging and dangerous is very strong. We rented an apartment in Kathmandu for a month and thought that we would do this hike in turns.
However we have obviously since changed our mind. The more we read about acute mountain sickness (AMS), the more we realized that it is not as dangerous as people think, granted you take all the necessary precautions.
Another factor that influenced our decision was the research done on our future destination in Ladakh, a province in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh, the main city in Ladakh, lies at 3,500m (11,480ft) and some passes are higher than Base Camp of Everest, 5,380 m (17,600 ft)!
Nevertheless we found blogs of people who traveled Ladakh as well as went over high passes with babies and toddlers. This article was especially encouraging! And these guys went to Ladakh by car, which means they had a few passes higher than the altitude of EBC with their 3 months old baby!
On top of that we have our own experience of traveling the Pamirs Highway in Tajikistan when Lia, our oldest daughter, was just a little bit over 1 year old. That time we went over a pass of 4,600m (15,091ft) and spent a night in a village Murghab that is situated at the altitude of 3,650m (11,975ft) above sea level. That day we gained 1,450 m going from Khorugh (2,200m, 7,200ft) to Murghab in 8 hours by Jeep. Lia didn’t feel good the next day in the morning, she was weak and had troubles breathing so we hired a car and went immediately down to Osh (963m, 3159ft), a city in Kyrgyzstan. As soon as we left high altitude, Lia “woke up” and by the end of the day all the symptoms were gone. It shows once again that if you experience any symptoms of AMS you have HOURS to come back to a safe zone before something bad happens.
More about our trip in the Pamirs read here.
With this information and some medical research done by Jose we decided to try the EBC trek as a family. We couldn’t find online anyone who had completed the trek with a baby or a toddler.
I will be frank with you, Jose and I, were nervous and at times we doubted the sanity of our decision.
Just before taking the bus to Jiri we promised each other that we wont get upset if we don’t make it to Everest Base Camp. We decided to go as far as the children feel well and if we’ll need to turn back we will. With these ideas in mind and focusing on having a good time rather than breaking the world record we started our trip. We actually didn’t find out it was going to be a world record until someone told us 10 days into our trek in Namche Bazaar.
What is altitude sickness and how it affects our body
Altitude sickness was the biggest worry of our trip and the reason why most people don’t even consider hiking to EBC with children. We weren’t the exception at the beginning but doing a more profound research allowed us to change our mind and consequently allowed our family to complete the hike!
I hope you do your own research on the topic. But here are few suggestions where to start:
https://www.babycenter.com/0_altitude-sickness_11223.bc a brief article about altitude sickness, its types, altitude sickness in children and symptoms.
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/two-weeks-mountains-can-change-your-blood-months -this article talks more in details about what exactly happens to your body at high altitudes. Very insightful.
http://vargiskhan.com/log/traveling-to-ladakh-with-children/ This article talks about tips on how to avoid altitude sickness in children.
By any means I don’t want to say that Altitude Sickness is not a real deal or is not dangerous and you should ignore it. No. What I am saying is that altitude sickness is rather easy to prevent. All you need to do is follow a few simple rules and listen to your body/observe your children.
How did we feel during the trek?
Very well! Starting our trek in Jiri definitely helped us to acclimatize better. Moving slowly and allowing us 1 extra day for acclimatization in Kumjung helped as well.
As for the symptoms, in Gorak Shep Jose and I had a headache and once we moved above 4000m we were getting tired much faster. That night in Gorak Shep niether of us could sleep well since we were short of breath even when resting. At the same time children slept well through the night without showing any symptoms.
As for the little ones, they handled it BETTER than us. Lia, the oldest one at 3 years old, can communicate to us if something hurts and she never complained for pain. She mentioned though that she was tired and wanted to rest more often than she usually does at lower altitudes .
Ksenia, our 11 old month world record breaker, felt great all the trek. She ate well, slept well and her bowel movements were as good as always. She slept more too but when she was awake she was eager to play and to walk! Oh yeah, she did her first steps in Namche Bazaar and since then she is unstoppable!
The biggest fear of altitude sickness in very young children is that they cannot communicate if something hurts. Yes, it is true, they cannot TELL you that something hurts but they definitely can communicate it to you in many other ways. You just need to KNOW your baby. We spend with our children 24/7, no babysitters and no nurseries. We KNOW our children. We know the way they breathe, the way they cry and the way they are happy and throughout our entire ascent I was closely monitoring every slight change in their behavior. Since she is in a baby carrier on my chest and sleeps with me at night I can literally feel her breathing 24/7 except when she is playing (clearly a sign of feeling good)
The only changes we observed, such as fatigue and extra fussiness in the mornings after a new rise in altitude, we believe were the minor symptoms of altitude sickness. We allowed ourselves extra rest and extra sleep and after feeling better we kept going.
I want to highlight that all of us experienced these mild symptoms only at the last stretch of the trek, from Lobuche to Gorak Shep and to EBC where altitude is around 5000m (16,402ft).
From the locals who had children over 4,000m (13,123tf) we only heard encouragement and they would tell us that we have nothing to worry about with babies/children. They aren’t even trekking or carrying anything they would laugh while saying. But this is a good point and the cause of altitude sickness is usually related to physical activity at high altitudes where children or especially babies aren’t participating in.
Overall I am really happy how our acclimatization went. Feeling good and not observing any danger for our health and health of our children allowed us to make it to EBC safe and sound. I am extremely proud of us and especially our young adventurers.
You can start your trek by flying to Lukla or by taking a bus/Jeep to Jiri, Shivalaya or Salleri.
We chose the classic Jiri to Everest Base Camp route returning to Salleri, and it took us 24 days to complete the hike, plus 2 days by bus (from and to Kathmandu).
Before starting the trek we have consulted what itinerary (recommended villages to stop overnight and approximate amount of hiking hours) tour companies suggest for their clients. However we were moving at our own speed and more often than not we stayed in different villages from those recommended by tour companies.
Day 0. Bus from Kathmandu to Jiri (1,905m/6,250 ft) 12 hours
Day 1. Jiri to Shivalaya (1,767m/5,510ft), then took a jeep from Shivalaya to Bhandar (2,200m/7,200ft). We paid 1500 for two of us and it took us about 2h. This short ride allowed us to avoid the park permit fee of 2,000 Nepali Rupees per person.
Day 2. Bhandar to Chhimbu (2,300m/7,546ft)
Day 3. Chhimbu to Lodge past Goyam (3400m/11,155ft). We had to break in into a closed lodge because it started raining and it was getting dark. To the next possible open lodge it would take us another 2.5-3h and we were already exhausted. With 2 other trapped Chinese tourists we slept on the floor, cuddling and warming up each other.
Day 4. From the lodge to Junbesi (2,680m/8,850ft)
Day 5. Junbesi- day off. My knee was hurting and we badly needed some good rest after previous night at the abandoned lodge.
Day 6. Junbesi-Taksindu (2,842 m /9,324ft)
Day 7. Taksindu- Kharikola (2035m/ 6,676.5ft)
Day 8. Kharikola- Puiya (2800m/9,186ft)
Day 9. Puiya-Chhuthawa (2671m/8763ft)
Day 10. Chhuthawa- Namche Bazaar (3,440 m/11,280 ft)
Day 11. Acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar
Day 12. Namche Bazaar-Khumjung (3780m/12401ft), just few hours of walking and resting the rest of the day-acclimatization
Day 13. Khumjung-Tengboche (3867m/12687ft)
Day 14. Tengboche-Pheriche (4,410 m/14,46 ft)
Day 15. Pheriche-Dingboche (4349m/14268 ft), 2h walk and rest of the day-acclimatization
Day 16. Dingboche-Lobuche (4940m/16,207 ft)
Day 17. Lobuche-Gorak Shep (5175m/16,978 ft)
Day 18. Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp-Lobuche (4940m/16,207 ft)
Day 19. Lobuche-Debuche (3745m/12,286 ft)
Day 20. Debuche-Namche Bazaar (3,440 m/11,280 ft)
Day 21. Namche Bazaar- Puiya (2800m/9,186ft)
Day 22. Puiya-Jubing (2924m/9593 ft)
Day 23. Jubing- Taksindu (2,842 m /9,324ft)
Day 24. Taksindu-Salleri (2300m/ 7,545 ft)
Day 25. Salleri-Kathmandu by bus 12h.
In general I am happy with our pace. We didn’t rush ourselves, we had many stops so that kids can play and stretch their legs. When we were tired of hiking we always had a break.
I am also happy with how our acclimatization went. I think staying in Khumjung, a lovely village full of lodges and bakeries, was a wonderful idea as well as staying one extra day in Dingboche.
All this was possible because we had a lot of time and I believe having time is crucial for a successful and enjoyable assent. People react to altitude differently and having a couple of extra days might really save your trip, so plan accordingly.
Original Jiri trek versus mainstream trek from Lukla
We chose the original Jiri to Everest Base Camp trekking route that was used by early expeditions. Nowadays very few trekkers take this route mainly due to its duration (adds up to 7-9 days to the mainstream trek) and the possibility to get by bus to the villages that are only 2-3 days away from Lukla. For example right now you can take a bus to Salleri and hike up to Lukla in a mere 3 days.
Nevertheless despite the duration of Jiri to EBC route, I believe it is so worth it!
For the whole week we had an opportunity to hike through beautiful terraced farmlands and forests and we enjoy the hospitality of Sherpa people that are not spoiled/burnt out by herds of tourists that come from Lukla.
The Jiri trail starts at the altitude of 1800m and crosses several mountain ranges forcing you to go down to the river level and then go up to 3600m. Thanks to this intensive one week long hike your body has the time to acclimatize and to get in shape.
Comparing to the crowd that comes from Lukla, people who start their hike in Jiri experience only mild symptoms of ASM or none at all.
Moreover since very few trekkers take this route you can really “have it all” to yourself and be a true explorer. We didn’t meet more than 20 other people on this route during 7 days. Those we met, we had the time toget to know each other, we cheered and supported each other and created really strong connections and stayed in touch when possible all the way to Base Camp.
The people and friends we met/made on this route is one of the best parts of the Jiri-EBC route.
If you fly to Lukla, expect to share the trail with hundreds more trekkers and even “traffic jams” on narrow parts of the trail. The chances of experiencing ASM are also higher however don’t get discouraged. If you let your body properly acclimatize in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche you will be fine.
What if your flight from Lukla is canceled or postponed
If you decide to start and finish your trek in Lukla, schedule a few extra days between your flight to Kathmandu and your flight back home. The reason is due to unpredictable weather conditions flights are often canceled or postponed.
On our way back from EBC the flights were canceled for 4 days and those who had time before their flight home were just hanging out in Lukla but those who had no time had to pay 500$ per person for a helicopter ride. Normally helicopter ride is 300$ but in case of emergency Nepali air companies don’t mind to screw you over a little bit.
Another option is to hike to Salleri and a take a bus or jeep from there. It took us 4 days of hiking and 1 day by bus to Kathmandu. If you are very rushed the trek is possible in 2 days but you will have to trek insane amount of hours, including during the night.
So basically you will have 3 options: wait in Lukla, trek for 2-3 days or pay a lot of money for a helicopter ride to Katmandu.
How difficult is the trek?
I would lie if I say it is an easy trek but at the same time I am 100% convinced that EVERYONE can do it! The most important is that the hike doesn’t require any mountaineering skills: no ropes, no carabineers, and no crampons (unless you hike winter time). That being said you need to just walk…
We had few days when we were gaining a lot of elevation and it was hard. Hiking at the altitude over 4000m is also hard, your body lacks oxygen and climbing every little hill seems like a big deal. But hard doesn’t mean you cant do it! You still can just at your own speed!
Jose had a 15kg backpack and Lia (14kg) was sitting on his shoulders. I was carrying Ksenia (8kg) in my baby carrier and also had a small but heavy backpack, around 10 kg, on by back. We were moving slow…but we were moving and eventually we made it to Everest Base Camp!
We met a 80 year old couple, a family with their 6 year old daughter, a man with a prosthetic leg and without an arm-these people are truly inspirational. So if they can make it-you can make it too!!
Also what makes this hike “easy” is the abundance of lodges and tea houses. At any point of the day you can stop and have a rest or even call it a day and go nap at the lodge and continue your hike tomorrow (if you have an extra day, right? J).
Food on the EBC trek
Good news is that you don’t have to bring food with you and cook it over fire after a tiring day of hiking. All lodges have restaurants.
Bad news is that the choice of food is very repetitive and boring. Lack of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy made it very difficult for us.
The most common dishes would be: fried noodles with vegetables (some green grass and maybe little bit of onion and carrot), fried rice with vegetables, fried/boiled potatoes with vegetables, eggs and momos, tibetan dumplings. At some places there is cheese so you can have “same same” but with cheese and eggs on top. All the soups they have are powdered.
The most famous dish is called Dhal bat, it is basically a lot of white rice, fried vegetables (usually potato with green grass) and lentils soup. If you are lucky you will see few lentils floating sadly in the bowl of flavored water.
For breakfast you can have porridge, eggs (fried, scrambled, omlette), chapatti (flatbread) with honey, butter or jam, Tibetan bread- fried and slightly sweet dough, pancakes (they don’t taste like western pancakes at all) or toast. There is Nescafe coffee and tea of different types, keep in mind all “milk” is a powdered sweetened version.
As for meat we avoided it at all cost. Especially after we saw children carrying baskets full of meat from one village to Namche Bazaar. They were carrying those baskets for 3 days without any portable fridges. And once we even saw crows picking on meat while porters were having rest.
Also, throughout the whole trek there are little shops that sell coca-cola, sprite, chocolate (mostly bars of Snickers and Mars), cookies and beer.
Bigger villages have bakeries.
Food diversity is a little bit better at Namche Bazaar and Lukla but that’s about it.
I must admit that food on the trek was probably the hardest thing to deal with but at the same time we went there because of the experience and unmatched beauty…and if we had to eat fried rice and noodles every day…it was well worth it!!
Accommodation on the EBC trek
The same as with food, there are good and bad news concerning accommodation on the trail.
The good news-there are plenty of lodges all the way till Everest Base Camp, the last village is called Gorak Shep and from there a 2h hike will bring you to Base Camp. So it means that there is no need to carry a tent- you will always have a bed to sleep with blankets.
Bad news is that lodges are very rustic and simple-most rooms only have 2 beds. Also most places have shared toilet and showers. Lodges that situated above 4000m don’t have hot showers at all and it is so cold in the rooms that getting undressed and wet is something you don’t want to do anyway.
If you can bring a sleeping bag-bring one. And not because it is cold but because the blankets are not washed very often. At the same time we haven’t been cold a single time, blankets are very warm and we were always asking 2 extra blankets just in case. Maybe it is because we had children with us but not a single time our request for extra blankets was turned down.
The rooms cost from $1 to $5 if you eat at the same lodge. Showers, electricity to charge phones or external batteries as well as wifi cost extra.
Shower can cost up to $6 and charging facilities about $5 per phone or $12 for an external battery, wifi $5 for 250Mb.
The best accommodation that we found was in Junbensi, Taksindu, Namche Bazaar and Debuche. Those were large rooms with attached toilet and hot showers and electrical sockets inside. All other times we stayed at the ordinary simple lodges.
What can I say…it was nice to come back to Kathmandu J
Another thing worth mentioning is the “need” to book the lodge beforehand. Some people hire guide for the sole purpose to book a lodge for you. From our personal experience you don’t really need to book anything in advance. We did the trek in a high season and there were plenty of available rooms.
The only time when I would recommend to book ahead (to call in the morning or previous evening) is for a room in Lebuche, Gorak Sherp and Namche Bazaar if you want to stay at a nice place.
Staff at the lodge are usually very helpful in booking a room for you, so don’t hesitate to ask them.
What to pack
The most important is to pack light.
What we packed:
- Thermal underwear
- 3-4 Hiking T-shirts (quick dry type ideal and easy to find in Kathmandu) to be able to change them
- Long sleeve fleece shirt 1
- Hiking pants 1
- Shorts 1
- Waterproof pants 1
- A lot of small socks and one warm big pair. This way you only need to change the small socks like underwear and the warm pair never gets dirty
- Hat 1
- Gloves 1
- Scarf 1
- Waterproof jacket 1
- Shoes (Jose and I hiked in simple sneakers and both were fine).
Same as for us but instead of hiking pants, we bought them extra warm thick pants. Remember they aren’t hiking, so while we are sweating hicking up a mountain in 5 degrees they are sitting in 5 degrees.
Extra warm socks
Sun blocking hats as well as warm hats
Snacks like cookies, peanuts, dry coconuts, beef jerky (bought in Kathmandu) instant coffee and powdered milk.
We had formula for children and instant oats in case they go hungry on the trek
Medicine against diarrhea and stomach disorder (a lot of this stuff)
Tiger balm (for sore muscles and bites/bee stings, which I was lucky enough to be stung twice…)
Antibacterial cream for cuts or popped blisters
Toilet paper (you can buy more at any shop or lodge)
Head lamp (never used)
Few toys for children like crayons and note book, magformers (10 pieces)
Extra battery, will save you a lot of money on charging fees since they vary greatly between lodges
UV Water filter (the most useful item on the trek)
Sun lotion cream
Wet wipes (2packs)
Diapers (100 pcs)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Deodorant (Jose went without…)
Facial wash gel
Facial toner (50ml bottle)
Simple nail manicure kit
All these items fit into a 90l backpack and its weight was around 15-17 kg. My smaller bag contained camera, 1-4L of water, extra battery, wet wipes, diapers for a day and snacks, kids toys. The total weight was about 7-9 kg.
What is the best time of year to trek Everest?
Late September-November and February-May are the main trekking months with fairly stable weather conditions, good visibility and warm temperature.
Try to avoid rainy season-late May-mid September.
Check out this month by month guide and see for yourself what fits you better.
We started our ascent 14th of April and broke the world record by getting to Base Camp Everest 1st of May. The weather was good, most of the time even warm. It rained a couple of days at the altitude of 3000m and above 4000 it was snowing pretty much every day in the afternoon. In the morning though the sky was clear and visibility was great!
Is it possible to do EBC trek independently without a tour or a personal guide?
Yes! Absolutely yes! EBC can be done independently. You are not required by law to be part of any group or to have an obligatory guide. You can easily do it solo but of course all responsibility is on you.
We did this trek 100% independently without any guide and not being a part of any tour and I am just so happy about it.
Being completely honest I still don’t understand why you would need a guide on this trek.
Are you afraid to get lost? Well, it is quite hard to do since the trek is like a highway and there are always people around. Plus if you download the application maps.me, that works offline and that has all the trails, lodges, restaurants etc. you won’t stand a chance to get lost.
Some people have a guide so that he can book lodges for you and help to communicate with locals.
As for lodges, you can easily ask around each lodge for prices and availability when you arrive to the village you will stay for the night. You can also ask any lodge you’re staying with to book you a room at the next village you are going to if you fear not having a place (but this is rarely an issue and was never one for us). We booked ahead the last several days before EBC and ended up canceling all our reservations when we arrived. This is because there were other lodges that were nicer with availability. So not only is it easy to find or book yourself we enjoyed so much our freedom to not stay where we didn’t want. When you have a guide he picks the place for you, and while we would all hope they would book the “best” place, they don’t know what you like in a lodge. Or they simply wont care enough to find the best lodge for you.
Regarding communication with locals, all locals working at lodges and shops speak enough English to attend to tourists.
So unless you just need a friend to hike with, having a guide is unnecessary.
The same goes for tours. And more so I would recommend even against tours. Do it better with a private guide in case you are still unsure of doing it independently.
Why say NO to tours? Well, the reasoning is very simple-if there are 5 or more people in the group, you follow the group’s pace and not your own. The secret to complete this trek and even enjoy every bit of it is to listen to your body. Tour operators have their itinerary all set up with accommodation booked up, meaning that any certain day you have to make it from point A to point B, no matter what.
We saw large and small groups and there were always someone for whom the group was going too fast (and people were dying from fatigue) or too slow.
The worst part is that in case you need more time than others to acclimatize, the group might not be able to wait for you and in this case you either will suffer from AMS symptoms or wont make to EBC at all.
Before our trek we checked online a few suggested day-by-day itineraries from tour operators and initially we were thinking to stop at the same villages but we rarely managed to do so. Our pace was slower but we didn’t worry about that. We didn’t have anything booked so we listened to our bodies and did as many rest stops as we needed.
Do you need a porter?
We completed EBC trek without porters and moreover I am completely against the whole idea of having porters.
At the beginning we didn’t have a porter because starting in Jiri it’s not an easy job to find one but then joining the main “highway” Lukla-EBC and seeing porters for the first time I realized that having a porter would simply ruin our journey.
First, porters carry 30+ kg on their backs. A lot of them are underage. It is extremely hard job where people ruin their health and sometimes even lose their lives.
Second, porters are treated as second-class people and that was killing me the whole trip.
They have their own lodges where a western person wouldn’t even set foot. Porters never eat with other tourists and I have seen on many occasions how they are not even allowed to use inside western toilet. I felt like porters were servants of “white” people and this entire situation disgusted me.
One might said that they are paid well and all the money goes to their family and that they are “lucky” to have tourists because thanks to tourists they have a job.
Well, you know that is a bullshit excuse. It is the same as saying that child labor is OK since a child brings money to his family. If you REALLY feel for Sherpas there are plenty of ways to donate money and help them out. And speaking about the money, Sherpas are making $15-$20 per day for this hard work, so no, they are not making a fortune. I have heard from other trekkers that they were paying a porter $30-$40 per day through a travel agency…I haven’t met a single porter who would make that much money.
I don’t wont to lecture you much on this matter. But if you are curious read this article and see what I am talking about.
So please, pack light and don’t support the industry of human abuse. In case that you really really need a porter to complete the hike (such as a disability) try to find him/her directly in the villages and not through a tour company, pay them accordingly and don’t over pack regardless.
How much does it cost to go to EBC?
24 days for 2 adults, 1 toddler and 1 baby we spent $1,300including transport to and from Kathmandu. Compared to the prices offered by tour agencies this is considered “dirt cheap”. The cheapest tour I found on Internet was $850 for a 14 days trek.
Rooms start from $1 IF you eat at the same lodge. For a simple room with shared bathroom the most we paid was $5 at Gorak Shep.
Few times we were lucky to find a nice room with private bathroom, hot shower and charging sockets included. Those rooms cost $10-$30.
At the beginning of the trek an average meal cost $2.5-$4 and up high close to Base Camp the same meal will cost you $8-$9.
In Namche we spent a lot of money on coffee and bakeries. They have some good stuff there! Especially after 10 days of noodles…
Charging phones and external batteries:
$1.50-$5 for a phone and ;12 for a large external battery
Cookies, chocolate, coca-cola $1-$2 each
Bus Kathmandu-Jiri $5 per person
Bus Salleri-Kathmandu $10 per person
Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit $34 per person
Local entry permit $20 per person
Shivalaya to Bhandar park permit, $20 (this is only related to the trek if started from Jiri, those from Lukla don’t need to worry about this)
Note! Permits are no longer acquired in Kathmandu. You purchase them in Monjo at the Park Entrance or in Lukla. If you don’t go to Lukla (like us) there are a few other points on the trail where you can acquire your permit.
Good idea to bring more cash in case you need more time for your hike or you decide to add extra days by exploring Gokyo lakes or other summits. Remember to exchange any extra Nepali rupees to USD before leaving Nepal. Not only is it illegal to take Rupee from Nepal, no one will exchange you for it outside Nepal.
Baby products on the trail
Since we are the first family with young children who has ever made it to EBC we found no blog articles or information of any sort online regarding baby products on the trail.
We didn’t know what to expect so we brought all our stuff (half of the 90L backpack was diapers, wet wipes, formula, instant oats, and clothes) from Kathmandu.
It turned out that in Namche Bazaar you can find anything you need even though prices are much higher and the choices are poor.
However smaller villages don’t possess a good choice of baby products. It cab be problematic to find even diapers let alone formula so I’d recommend to buy all essentials in Kathmandu and only diapers in Namche Bazaar.
- Diapers $20 for a pack of 40 pieces
- Wet wipes $8-$12 for pack of 80
- Formula $15-$20 for a can (very little choice, I would recommend to bring from Kathmandu)
- Instant oats -$5-$6
- NO jar food of any kind
- Pack light
- Bring enough warm cloths, it gets cold up there
- Remember sun lotion
- If you travel with children, remember to check how cold are their feet and hands-it can be more dangerous than altitude sickness
- If you come and leave by plane, plan for 3-4 extra days before your flight home from Kathmandu
- Don’t eat meat on the trek. Just don’t.
- Bring medicine against diarrhea and pain reliever
- Polls for hiking might be a good idea. I didn’t have them initially and it was tough going down, so I’ve got a wooden stick (just like porters have) and hiked with it all the way to EBC
- Bring extra cash just in case
- Drink plenty of water
- Bring UV water filter, can save you a great deal of money
- Bring external battery since it is rather expensive to charge you phone
- Listen to your body and if you don’t feel well, don’t push!
Enjoy your trip! Everest Base Camp trek is something you will remember all your life!
Insurance , why?
While hiking to EBC with kids, no porter, and no guide may seem extreme we found we had the biggest surprised faces if it came up that we didn’t have any travel/emergency evacuation insurance. If you have a similar reaction let me try to explain our reasoning.
First, insurance companies are rich, very rich, and that money comes from us, the people buying insurance plans. Whenever you get insurance you should think of it logically. If insuring your family for an EBC trek costs around $600 and an emergency Helicopter off the mountain costs $1,000 -$1,500, there isn’t much more of a cost to just pay for the helicopter. Now consider that less than one percent of people need a helicopter. Then consider that 99% of those people flown out are on guided tours that require you to have insurance so they can fly you out simply to not worry about you anymore and keep the rest of the group on the path to EBC.
Our insurance costs were very high because of our family age/size, however even if you can find insurance for $100 this is a rip off. If you are going yourself, without guide/group to push you, and have extra days you can simply descend if having any issues. Then have $1,000 hidden in your wallet as your insurance, if you do this 99.9% of you will save $100 J.
Also each village has horses for hire. While these were often used for rich/lazy people to ascend toward EBC they can be used for emergency descent. This will cost you $20 and we know from personal experience in Tajikistan the instant cure to altitude sickness is simply going back down.
We met an Indian tour group that was acclimatizing in Dingboche 4,200m (good idea) and they had one person in there group that was having trouble breathing and felt a lack of oxygen. She was sitting there the whole day suffering until the next day she still felt bad and was taken out by helicopter. This is a sad story not only because she never made it, but more so because she could have easily taken a horse down 500 meters, recovered and been back the next day. But because she was forced to stay with the group and had insurance they just flew her out.
Breaking world record for youngest person, feedback on the trail
I still can’t believe that our daughters are the youngest people who have ever been to Everest Base Camp. I am so proud of us and of them. Who knows maybe this trek will shape their lives.
When we started our trek I feared people’s judgment, I was afraid that the trekker’s community would condemn our act of bringing kids to such a serious hike.
Yes, I was afraid but going against social norms and braking people stereotypes about traveling with children is nothing new to us. So we started our trek anticipating all the negativity. What happened on the trek really surprised us.
People were cheering us and supporting us all the way to Everest Base Camp. Most of them couldn’t believe we hike with our kids and without porters or guides. So many photos were taken of us to show others that it is possible to enjoy this hike with babies in tow. We felt like local celebrities; we would meet travellers who would exclaim: “Are you that Ukrainian-Spanish-American family that hikes to EBC, we have heard about you!”
This support really made a difference. Instead of negativity we received warm welcome from fellow trekkers and it was great!
However, I won’t lie, we met a few people that obviously didn’t approve what we are doing. Mostly it was related to the danger of altitude sickness but others simply hated the idea of traveling with children. I could read it on their faces and well, I feel sorry for them.
But this type of people were a tiny minority and it was easy to ignore them, especially when the kids were dealing well with altitude and the hike in general and we knew that we were doing everything right.
When on 1st of May we broke the world record at Everest Base Camp, our happiness didn’t know the limits! We made it! Ksenia and Lia made it! Everything went even better than we sought! We were welcomed to UKP Indian expedition where we were treated with hot tea and delicious cookies. The leader of the team and the general base camp doctor signed the paper to submit to Guinness book of world records, attesting that they saw us at the Base Camp.
We spent about half an hour chatting with UKP guys but then we needed to rush back to Gorak Sherp, a storm was approaching. On our way back we felt like we had wings, we were simply flying: from happiness that we completed the hike and from coming back to lower altitude.
Now going through our pictures and writing down our story I realize WHAT we did and what an adventure of a lifetime it was!
And by sharing our story I hope to inspire all other families in the world to follow our footsteps for a similar adventure! Or at the very least keep families from restricting themselves from high altitude trips when not necessary J
Why families should trek to EBC
In 24 days we met no more than 10 families on the trek. It is generally thought that EBC is considered dangerous and not a good fit for families. I on contrary believe that EBC trek can be a great family trail, including families with babies and toddlers and here are 5 reasons why:
- Nepal is safe
Nepal is a safe country despite a possibility of an earthquake or other natural disasters. There is no crime at the trail and everyone feels safe to roam freely around in groups or solo. It is also difficult to get lost in the mountains due to well marked trail, abundance of villages and many other trekkers simply won’t let you get lost.
We talked about AMS and if you take the precautions, ascend slowly and let your body acclimatize, there is no danger for your health.
- Unmatched beauty
It is a crime that we don’t bring our children to see this unmatched beauty. High altitude landscapes look like they are from another world. There aren’t many places in the world that can compete for similar views…and letting our children experience this beauty is the biggest gift we can give them.
- Easy to hike
The hike is easy in a way that you don’t need to bring a tent or food. Lodges and tea houses can be found every 2-3 hours maximum. You also don’t need any special equipment for this hike. Just bring yourself and start walking J. We saw people of different age and different physical condition and all of them were heading towards EBC. Only difference was some were faster and some slower.
- Great hospitality
Nepali people love children and since children are rare guests at their lodges you will receive a very special and warm welcome. People were literally coming out from their houses to greet us and to talk to us. Lia and Ksenia received so many gifts (mostly chocolate) that we couldn’t keep up eating it!
Our girls also had great fun by playing with local kids, dogs, goats and chickens. It was fun for them and a well deserved break for us;
If you do this trek independently, you wont break your wallet. The most expensive part is to come to Nepal. Luckily tickets get cheaper every year so if you plan well in advance, you can save a lot. Once in Nepal things are very cheap comparing to Western countries.
Are you still thinking whether you should dare to go hiking to EBC with your little ones? Comment below what is holding you back and we will see what can be done about that!