For us, making the decision to tackle the Everest Base Camp trek was a no-brainer. This is one of the most famous treks on the planet. Choosing how we would do the trek and which company to use was a lot more difficult.
Here are a few tips to help you choose a tour company, or make the decision to go solo.
Choosing a tour company
There are over 1000 registered companies that can take eager travellers on any combination of treks to reach the Everest Base Camp (EBC). Working out which one is for you can be an absolute nightmare – it took us a lot of research to choose the company we preferred. We have compared a few of the options below.
Group touring with an international tour company
Most international adventure tour companies will offer some version of the EBC trek at a range of comfort levels. A few of the big names include Intrepid, G Adventures and World Expeditions.
Atmosphere – having a group of like-minded individuals around you for such an incredible experience can form amazing friendships and gives you someone to vent to after a long day on the trail.
Guide – with professional international tour outfits you are going to be given top shelf guides who speak English and excellent support staff.
Reliability – larger group touring companies very rarely cancel their flagship tours such as the EBC trek so you can rest assured that your planned adventure will go ahead regardless of numbers.
Atmosphere – for anyone that has been on a group tour before will know, there is always the risk that you will not click with one or many of your fellow travellers. In a higher stress environment such as EBC trek this can ruin the whole experience.
Price – there is no getting around it, group touring is more expensive than using local companies. You are paying for the pros listed above, added to the fact that these international companies have a hefty profit margin on top of their local costs.
Flexibility – touring in this format commits you to a very strict timeline and itinerary – once you’re on, that’s it. You usually won’t be able to add in any side trips, take a day off or modify the trip in any way.
Private guide with a local company
This is the option we went with for two main reasons: we wanted our money to stay in Nepal and it worked out to be much cheaper than going with a bigger international company. It also meant we had more flexibility.
Flexibility – the best part of booking with a local guide is that you have as much flexibility as possible. You can modify your trek to include whatever you like. Changes to route, length and difficulty are all up to you.
Price & Sustainability – during our research we found that local companies can be up to HALF the price of the major international touring companies! Not only is this a huge saving for you but your money is staying in Nepal.
Guides – having an experienced Nepalese guide can make the trek for you. They can be incredibly knowledgeable about the area and way of life, know a few tricks that foreign guides do not and their familiarity with the trails is uncanny.
Atmosphere – while we were promised other travellers would join our group, this did not end up being the case (we heard similar stories from other travellers). Have your group organised before you contact the company, otherwise expect it to be just you and the guide. The lack of camaraderie and atmosphere can be a major downside. Not having a group to chat with after a long day of hiking can get a touch lonely. Then again, this is exactly what some people love!
Miscommunication – whether it be during the planning process or during the trek, dealing with local staff and guides increases the chance of miscommunication due to potential language barriers.
Dodgy service – with so many tour operators in Kathmandu, there is a small chance that the company may not deliver what they promise and quality can vary. Do your research and check out other reviews.
This option should be for experienced trekkers only. If you have done a bit of trekking in the past, the EBC trek is relatively easy to navigate on your own! The trail is pretty busy, and there are lodges every couple of hours if you want to stop for the night.
Freedom – simply put, you can do whatever you want! You can go where you want, when you want and at your own pace. With a good map and a bit of research the trek is quite easy to follow.
Price – this method is definitely the cheapest way to complete the EBC trek. Not paying any guides or porters will save you a bucket load of cash. You can hire a porter without a guide, but don’t expect them to speak much English or help with route planning.
Experience – hitting the trails on your own and completing a trek using nothing but your own devices is the most rewarding way to experience any trek!
Safety – you don’t have to look very far to find a horror story about trekking gone wrong. With such risks including weather, altitude sickness and injury, safety is always a concern when trekking solo. Do your research on how to stay safe while on the trail and consider finding a trekking partner.
Accommodation – during peak seasons guides often rely on their relationships with lodges to find you a comfortable room. If you’re on your own you may have to shop around a bit more before finding a bed.
Organisation – booking the trek with a company means that everything is organised for you. Having to organise routes, times, weather, air tickets, equipment and the endless list of other details can quickly become tiresome (especially if you aren’t an experienced trekker).
Need more information about what to expect and what to pack? Check out our other Everest Base Camp trek article!