Trekking to Everest Base Camp with Kids

Julie Nepal 16 Comments

Trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC), a bucket list item for many travelers, is not just an adventure for twenty or thirty year olds. It is possible to trek to Everest Base Camp with kids, as we proved in October 2014.

Tyler and Kara were 10 and 11 years old when we trekked to Everest Base Camp. Kara had turned 10 just three weeks before our trek. With no extra training or preparation, Tyler and Kara walked the entire 83 miles round trip from Lukla to EBC, and most of the time made it look easier than their parents.

If you have been wondering if trekking to EBC is right for your family, keep reading.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp with Kids

How long does it take?

Suspension Bridge

Trekking to Everest Base Camp with kids takes a minimum of 11 days round trip. On average, it takes eight days to reach EBC from Lukla. This allows plenty of time for acclimatization to the higher altitudes as well as ample time to hike the necessary miles everyday.

In general, once you ascend higher than 2700 meters, the chances of getting altitude sickness become much higher. Past this altitude, you do not want to ascend any more than 500 meters per day. Even adding an extra 100 meters increases your chances of getting altitude sickness. This rule goes for people of all ages, not just children.

There were two occasions during our trek where we did break the rule and go a little higher. The main reason for this is the spacing of the popular teahouse towns. We made up for it by climbing higher later in the day or adding an acclimatization day.

Our eight days out to Everest Base Camp included six days of trekking and two days of acclimatization. This length of time was perfect for our family. For people prone to altitude sickness or those traveling with children younger than ten years old, one more acclimatization day may not be a bad idea. For our schedule and experience climbing to Everest Base Camp, click here.

Kara Rivenbark

The Optional Climb to Kala Patthar

One of the optional things to do once in Gorak Shep, the last town on the way to EBC, is to make the early morning climb up to Kala Patthar. From Kala Patthar you get the best views of Everest and the surrounding mountain region. Believe it or not, Mt. Everest cannot be seen from Gorak Shep or EBC as it is hidden by the neighboring mountain, Lhotse.

Climbing Kala Patthar is very difficult. Kara did not want to hike up Kala Patthar, so I stayed back at the teahouse with her while Tim and Tyler attempted the climb. Unfortunately, Tyler got altitude sickness just below the summit and had to be rushed back down the mountain by our guide.

From our personal experience, climbing Kala Patthar with kids under the age of 12 can be very difficult. There was another family with a twelve year old at Gorak Shep while we were there, and that family didn’t even try to make the climb. Now, if your kids have other climbing or mountaineering experience, this climb may be a great idea. You have to know your child and what they can handle.

Trekking Back to Lukla

We had planned for a four day trek back to Lukla from Gorak Shep.  The walk back to Lukla is mostly downhill with several climbs along the way.  Once we started headed back down from the high altitude all four of us felt amazing.  We walked an average of ten miles a day for three days and reached Lukla a day early.  By this point in time all four of us were ready to return to Kathmandu.  This made our trek last a total of eleven days.

How to plan the trek

On the EBC Trail

There are several options for planning your trek. We chose to book a tour with a tour operator (Nepal Social) located in Kathmandu. This tour covered our guide, porter, and the majority of costs along the way. Nepal Social booked our flights, applied for our trekking permits, made sure we had rooms in the teahouses every night, and all meals were included. All we had to worry about was getting from point A to point B. It was a huge relief to not have to worry about finding accommodations along the way.

Our guide, Indra, had lots of experience and was great with Tyler and Kara. He kept us all happy and well fed, took us on our acclimatization hikes, and kept us healthy. Tyler and Kara now miss the songs he sang while trekking and the ringtone of his cellphone that played so many times.

You can also hire a porter and guide once you arrive in Kathmandu. Technically, you do not need a guide for the trek. The route is straightforward and easy to follow. But by hiring a tour company, everything is prearranged, saving you from having to search for teahouses with vacancies, booking your flights, and finding quality places to eat. It’s more expensive, but the convenience is worth it, especially when trekking to Everest Base Camp with kids.

Living Conditions along the route

We stayed in teahouses along the trekking route. A teahouse is a very basic hotel with just the bare minimum for comfort. The rooms are furnished with a platform bed topped with a foam mattress. On this you sleep in your sleeping bag and can use the provided pillow and blanket.

In some teahouses you may have your own bathroom with running water, but once you get to Tengboche there is usually only one communal bathroom for an entire floor (10-15 rooms of people). These places usually do not have running water so conditions can get to be rather unsanitary.

The only room in the building that is heated is the dining room and this room is also the place where almost everyone socializes together after a day of trekking and before going to bed.

The bedrooms can be very cold at night and during the first week of October, room temperatures in Lobuche got down into the high 30’s (Fahrenheit).

Electricity and water are luxuries and everything has a price. The closer you get to Gorak Shep, the more things cost. In Gorak Shep a roll of toilet paper cost $5 and a bottle of water cost $3.

Hotel Hill-Ten

What types of food are available?

The teahouses provide meals three times a day. The menu does not change much along the way but there are plenty of options to keep everyone satisfied.

Dal bhat

Dal Bhat

All food is carried by porters and the food is not refrigerated while it is being transported. The general rule is to avoid meat above Namche, and we cut out cheese at this point, also. The cheese served is yak cheese, something Tyler and Kara did not like. Pizza is an option on the menu, which is really just flatbread, ketchup, and yak cheese. There are much tastier options for dinner other than yak cheese pizza.

Every place offers dal bhat, a traditional Nepali meal of lentil soup and steamed rice, but you can also always find noodle soups, fried rice or fried noodles, and some version of fried potatoes.

Tyler has a peanut allergy and there was never a concern of peanuts being used in the cooking during the trek. Our kids mostly ate toast, soup, fried rice, and potatoes.

Spinning Prayer Wheels

How hard is it to trek to Everest Base Camp?

Honestly, it was a little tougher than I was expecting. Tim and I are relatively fit, as we have both completed Ironman triathlon races, and both Tyler and Kara participate in extracurricular sports. We have hiked several places around the world, such as Norway, Italy, Turkey, Peru, and the US (before this trek). Tyler and Kara’s longest day hiking was 23 kilometers (14 miles) in Norway. We felt like we were well prepared for EBC and knew that Tyler and Kara would be able to handle it.

Rocky Trail to EBC

We walked an average of five to six hours everyday, usually with a break for lunch halfway through the day’s journey. This includes the acclimatization days, as well.

The higher in altitude we got, the harder the trekking got as well. As the air gets thinner there is less oxygen available to the working muscles. Climbing even small hills had us breathless. Larger hills had us feeling exhausted. By the end of the day we were all feeling very fatigued. Tyler and Kara seemed to handle the fatigue and steep climbs better than we did.

Almost at EBC

What About Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness is a very real concern when trekking to Everest Base Camp. Children are no more likely than adults to get altitude sickness, especially children ten and older. When doing my research during our trip planning, most trekking companies would accept children aged eight or older.

The best advice on how to avoid altitude sickness is to take your time while walking from Lukla to EBC. I would recommend taking at least eight days to walk the entire distance from Lukla to Gorak Shep. Any less than this and you may run into trouble.

EBC

What is the youngest age recommended to hike to Everest Base Camp?

Kara and Simba

In my opinion, and I am no expert on trekking at altitude, eight would be the youngest that I would recommend to make the trek to EBC. A strong eight year old with experience hiking long distances should be able to walk all of the way to Everest Base Camp.

Your child needs to be able to express accurately how they are feeling and needs to be able to hike day after day after day.

Remember, it’s not just the daily hiking but also the cold sleeping quarters, less than ideal bathroom facilities, and repetitive meal options that make this trek difficult. These last three things were harder for our family than the actual effort it took to walk to Everest Base Camp.

Tyler and Kara were the youngest kids we saw on the trail and they got tons of attention and support from other adults making the trek. The positive encouragement really helped to keep our kids going and helped them realize what a special thing it was that they were doing.

EBC with kids

What do we need to bring?

Cold weather gear is a must: down jacket, good quality sleeping bag, hats and gloves, and a warm under layer is a good start. One or two short sleeved shirts and two long sleeved shirts, two pairs of long pants, a rain coat, and even rain/wind pants are good to have. Many of these things can be rented or bought at very cheap prices at one of the many trekking stores in Kathmandu.

Other good things to bring are a headlamp, snacks, water purifier (SteriPen or chlorine tablets), deck of cards, and extra cash for purchasing toilet paper, bottled water, and extra food along the way. And don’t forget your camera!!!

Khumjung High School

When is the best time to trek to EBC?

The two big seasons are in the fall and the spring. October and November have clear, crisp skies with great views of the mountains all around. This is also peak season so expect to share the trail with many, many other people.

The second biggest season is in the spring during the months of April and May. This is also the season where climbers are attempting to summit Everest, so if you go now you will be able to see tents set up at EBC.

We chose to go during the end of September, taking our chances on monsoon season. We did have a rain delay at the start of our trek, but the trails were fairly empty the entire way to EBC. On the way back, in early October, we saw the first of the huge numbers of trekkers heading towards EBC, and knew we made the right decision on going a little early.

Above Namche

Any other questions about trekking to Everest base camp with kids?

Hopefully this answered any questions you may have had about trekking to Everest Base Camp with kids.  If not, feel free to contact us and we are happy to answer any other questions you may have!

tyler rivenbark

Post Updated June 2017.


Want to learn more about traveling in Nepal? Check out our Nepal Travel Guide.

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everest base camp with kids

Comments 16

  1. I am experienced In trekking in Nepal but I have never climbed and by climbed I mean crampons, ropes, ladders that sort of thing. Does the route to EBC require climbing?

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      Author

      No, there is no climbing involved. It’s hiking the entire way, no technically difficult sections. So no ladders, no crampons, no harness…just a lot of perseverance. – Julie

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      Author

      Hello, the cost changes every year. If you are interested, you should contact some trekking companies in Nepal to get updated prices. – Julie

  2. When I finally reach base camp and climb onto the glacier at the foot of Mount Everest you’ll be rendered speechless. Probably the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, it took you 10 days of walking every day to finally get here and then, there it is, the tallest mountain on earth staring right back at you – amazing.

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  3. Excellent article, thank you. I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to trek EBC with us. It’ll be a while–they’re only 2 and 5–but we’ll have fun building up stamina in other parts of the world while we wait. ?

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      Author

      Get them started now! 🙂 Hiking is such a great way to see the world and so much fun to do as a family. Consider going to the Dolomites in Italy in a few years. This is one of our favorite hiking spots in the world. There are a good range of hikes to do, plus you get to eat Italian food and enjoy the very scenic Dolomites. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi Julie,
    I am trekking in Nepal and on my way I saw many kids from 4 to 11 who were trekking the ABC. I was excited and came up with the idea to trek the EBC with my daughter who would be 1 month past 7 by the time I plan to go(the third week of September this year).

    I searched information and saw your writing about your experience. It’s a great help for me to understand everything. Thanks a lot.

    I noticed the age line you cautiously recommended and it becomes a concern for me. As parents, my husband and I are marathon runners and we tried high altitude trekking. Our daughter, she hiked almost every weekend for 6-8 hs. The longest hiking distance was 15km when she was 6. I was thinking the altitude might be the most uncertain part because she never tried high altitude. Anyway, we may plan a test trekking before we make the final decision.
    Any advice would be helpful. Thank you!

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      Hello Peggy. I think it is great that both you and your daughter have a lot of long distance hiking experience. That will help you out a lot. If you are trekking the ABC, then you know about the difficulties trekking in Nepal, such as the living conditions, the higher altitudes, and the challenges of hiking day after day. From my research, the youngest age most trekking companies would accept is 8 years old. It is a challenging trek in many ways. As you get close to EBC, you really feel the effects of the altitude. We saw numerous helicopter rescues for altitude sickness once we reached Dingboche. One year in age makes a huge difference. Any chance you can wait one year until your daughter is 8? It may be a better experience for you and for her if your daughter is old enough to handle the daily trekking, living conditions, and the high altitude of the trek. Cheers, Julie

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  5. Hi,
    My ex wants to take my eldest boy who is 10yo, turning eleven on the 20th of July 2016, to everest base camp in March. I do not feel this is responsible and have taken to researching this topic. My boy is a little solid. He plays cricket in summer and rugby union in winter. He is not a natural sports person, but gives it a go. As my ex was planning to go he is very fit and exercises and plays active sports. My son has not trained at all. What are your thoughts on this?

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      Author

      Hello Tania,

      That’s a good question. You know your son better than we do but here is what I think. The trek is challenging, in more ways than one. He will have to be prepared to hike for five to six hours per day (some days are shorter than that but some days are longer) for at least 11 days straight. The hiking is not that challenging. There are only a few big, long climbs that anyone of average fitness can do as long as they take their time. Your son doesn’t have to be an “athlete” to complete the hike, he just has to be able to hike day after day. The hard part is the daily hiking, and later, dealing with being at higher altitudes. Honestly, the hardest part for us was dealing with the living conditions in the teahouses along the way (the cold temperatures, the cleanliness, so on). That being said, if your son is relatively fit (which it sounds like he is) and excited about making the journey, he will probably do great, much better than you expect.

      Our daughter had turned 10 just one month before making the trek. She had a hard time in a few spots but overall did fantastic (and better than many adults). Our son, who was 11.5 years old, did awesome. Prior to the trek, our kids had done several long distance hikes over 15 km. Since we had been traveling for three months before the trek, all of their exercise came from walking with very little running. I would say they were of average fitness.

      I know why you are concerned and you should be. It’s a big deal hiking to EBC, not only for kids but for adults too. I know I didn’t give you a definite answer, but hopefully some of this information helps you to make the right decision.

      Cheers! Julie

  6. Julie, thank you for this honest account about what to expect on such a journey. You didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be due to the high altitude and poor living conditions. Thanks for the education!

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