The Everest Base Camp Trek, also known as the EBC Trek, is perhaps the most popular trek in Nepal. It would seem everyone would like to gaze at the world’s highest mountain and follow the footsteps of the great mountaineers of the past, and of today.
We have to say straight away that this is not an easy trek. Although you are in Sagarmatha National Park, this is no walk in the park. Pardon the pun! This is a strenuous trek, with some very challenging sections. That said, it is one of the most rewarding in terms of mountain views and accomplishments.
We recommend anyone undertaking this trek start preparing well in advance. It is not a ‘let’s go next weekend’ type of holiday. Hours spent in the gym and hiking around your locality will definitely pay off.
Preparing your kit well in advance will also pay off.
Overview of Everest Base Camp Trek in March
March is spring in Nepal. The rhododendrons will be in bloom on the lower slopes of the mountains and the weather is not cold. But not exactly warm either. Temperatures in Namche Bazaar can reach around 9oC (49°F) but still fall below freezing at night.
There will still be snow on some of the high passes although it will be disappearing fast so in general you can access all the routes. It is recommended to ask the locals before crossing any high passes, just in case.
Weather and Climate in March in the Everest Region
The weather will be chilly in the mornings and evenings but will be warming up during the day. Dressing in layers is compulsory.
This is the start of the main trekking season because the weather is turning comfortable. However, on the downside, the skies are not as clear blue as in the winter. With the return of the majority of trekkers and the less-than-clear skies, it is possible there will be some delays in flights during this season.
Snowfall in March and its Impact on Your Trek
It is highly unlikely there is any, or enough snowfall to impact your trek during March. But please do check the high passes before heading off.
Pros and Cons of Trekking to EBC in March
If you like company over the dinner table and like to compare notes on the trail, then this is the month for you. With the start of the main season, many trekkers are coming in so there will be plenty of people to mix with. On the other hand, if you like solitude, this is not the best time.
Lodges or teahouses as they are called on the trails, will be fully open and staffed. Goods will be brought in by flight and/ or yak so there will be plenty of variety on the menu again. As it is the start of the season, in the first half of March accommodation is still available as per your choice. As the month progresses, it may be harder to get exactly what you want in the teahouse of your choice. This is not much of a problem if travelling with a guide as he will ensure accommodation is available. This is more challenging if travelling solo.
There are plenty of flights coming in and so seats should be available on the days you want them.
Preparing for the Everest Base Camp Trek in March
Although it is a less challenging trek than during the winter months, you still need to be well prepared.
Physical Fitness and Training for Everest Base Camp Trek
Gym, weight training, Zumba classes and jogging are all good exercises. But the best is hiking or taking long walks. Preferably uphill.
Acclimatization and Altitude Sickness for EBC Trek
Acclimatization is a must on this high-altitude trek. It is recommended on the EBC Trek everyone spends two nights in Namche Bazaar, letting their bodies get used to the less oxygen in the air. Being active is essential to acclimatize well. Going on hikes around the area is recommended. With another acclimatization day at Dingboche, before you head even higher, the purpose is not just for agencies to get more money for more days on the trek. It is for your body to get used to the altitude. This is for your own safety.
For those travelling solo, we highly recommend you do not forget to acclimatize. Even if you feel fine, tomorrow you may not if you are not careful and follow what is pretty much protocol. See how long it takes climbers to summit Everest? It is not just about that final push to the top, it is about the weeks they spend beforehand acclimatizing so their body can take that final push when there is virtually no oxygen in the air.
Altitude sickness is a real danger, and we have detailed information here.
In brief, if you have a headache, do not panic but realise it may be the start of something serious. Pay attention to your body. If you are nauseous, tired, unable to sleep, have a loss of appetite or have dizziness you might be suffering from altitude sickness. Stay where you are, do not go higher. If you still feel unwell the next day, go down. Never go up.
Altitude-related problems are nothing to do with how fit or young you are. They can affect even the most fit mountaineer or athlete and may not affect that older person in the same group! We never know who will face problems. But there are ways to reduce the risks.
Tips to Avoid Altitude-Related Illness for Everest Base Camp Trek
- Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day and evenings. You will most likely feel pretty thirsty in the sun anyway.
- Eat a good breakfast and dinner. If you don’t feel like eating during the day while hiking, bring chocolate or biscuits with you.
- Do not go too high without acclimatizing first – we can not say this enough.
- Do not go too fast as it will dehydrate you and make your body work more than its needs, perhaps resulting in altitude problems.
- Pay attention to any headaches.
- It is quite acceptable and normal to go down if you are unwell. Spending the night at a lower altitude very often will make you feel so much better.
- Anyone can suffer from altitude problems. It’s not a reflection of your fitness status.
Essential Gear and Clothing for EBC Trek in March
Here is an all-season round list of gear you will need. Although it’s spring and warmer at lower altitudes it will still be very cold at night, in the early mornings and in the evenings.
- Four-seasons sleeping bag
- Trekking boots and wear them before you come
- Trekking trousers
- Thermal leggings and tops
- Trekking tops that are easy to put on and take off
- Jackets (both down and fleece)
- Warm socks
- Gloves and a warm hat and a bandana.
- Sun hat for during the day
- Trekking poles
- Sunscreen for that high-altitude sun
- Lip balm
- Thermal flask (great for drinking warm water or tea between teahouses)
- Water purifying tablets or straws for drinking water
- Sunglasses – so much better if they are large and/or wrap around
- Whistle (in case of emergencies)
- Medical kit (including extras of your essential medicines in case of delays)
- Personal hygiene kit: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, sponge, towel, toilet paper
- Washing powder (if you really think you will be washing anything on the way) or use your shower gel
- Notebook and pen, yes we know your use Instagram but WiFi is not always available
- Phone charger and power pack
Obtaining Permits and Documentation
You need two main permits to trek in the Everest :
Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit: Nrs 2,000 per person.
Obtainable in Lukla or Monjo. Not available in Kathmandu.
Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit: Nrs 3,000 per person
The parking permit is obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu or in Monjo at the gate entrance for Sagarmatha National Park. More convenient at Monjo.
Gaurishankar Conservation Area Permit is required if you are trekking in from Jiri at Nrs3,000 per person. Oddly, this is only obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu.
Required documents for trekking permits: you will need a copy of your passport for all. For the Gaurishankar Conservation Area Permit, you will also need to provide two passport-sized photographs. Pay in local currency.
Itineraries and Routes for EBC Trek
Popular Route Options in March
Unless it is a very long winter and you are unlucky, all the routes should be open in March. You can check to be sure once you reach Namche. There you will meet people on the way down from EBC who will have first-hand knowledge of what the trails are currently like.
If you are planning to do the Everest Three Passes Trek or Gokyo Chola Passes Trek, the teahouses at Thagnak and Dhonjila (the settlements on each side of the Chola Pass) should be open again. Again, please check with your guide or other trekkers/ lodge owners before setting out.
Trekking with Helicopter Tour in March
If you would like to reach EBC but would like to trek for a shorter time, there are now options for a 5,6,7,8, 9 days trek with the return journey to Kathmandu by helicopter. It would be good to do this during the first half of March before the majority of trekkers come in and before the climbing expeditions begin to arrive end of March/ April.
Having said that, these tours are available year-round. It is just a bit easier to get your first choice of dates and helicopter seats at the start of March.
Modifications Due to Weather Conditions in March
There really should be no reason to change the route in March due to bad weather conditions.
Major Stops and Highlights Along the Way
There are many great things to see and do on the Everest Base Camp Trek. These are just a few of the highlights:
You start off, really, in Namche Bazaar. Spending two nights here for acclimatization purposes, and most likely you will spend another night here on the return journey, there is the opportunity to explore the town and surrounding settlements and countryside.
Visit the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Heritage Centre at the Sagarmatha National Park Visitors Centre. Opened in May 2023 to celebrate 70 years since the first summit of Everest, here you can find out all about Hillary and Tenzing.
Drop into the Irish Pub for a glass of Guinness and a game of snooker!
Explore the best bakeries in town for cakes, pies and breads.
If you are here on a Saturday, visit the Saturday market for local goods and handicrafts to take home. Not many people have gifts all the way from Namche Bazaar!
Hiking to Khumjung where Hillary set up a school for Sherpa children.
Go bird-watching for Nepal’s national bird, the Danphe.
Hike to Hotel Everest View for a great view of Everest. And some delicious food and/ or hot drinks.
Tengboche is where you will find the highest monastery in the region. Meet monks, light some oil lamps, take in the magnificent views. But please be respectful and make a small donation to the Monastery.
Lobuche is a small settlement at 4,940m/ 16,210 ft. It is from this base that trekkers make their way to Everest Base Camp, which is a morning or afternoon trip from Lobuche.
Everest Base Camp. You make it! Take fabulous selfies for the folks back home.
Kalapattar is the best place to get fantastic views of Everest. Better than base camp even. It takes a bit of effort to climb up to the almost 5,500m height but it is well worth it when you see the panorama of mountains.
Major Highlight in March
There are no local festivals, that we know of, in the month of March in the Khumbu. Before or after your trek you can enjoy several festivals in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. These include:
The Everest region is primarily Tibetan Buddhist in culture and religion, and many of Nepal’s most interesting March festivals come from Hindu traditions, so are not widely celebrated in the mountains.
However, by planning a trek in Nepal in March, you can experience one of the following festivals in Kathmandu before or after your trek. Traditional Nepali festivals, usually follow a lunar calendar, so some festivals that fall in March one year may be in February or April the next. Festivals that often fall in March (or sometimes February – it’s all lunar-based) are:
Maha Shivaratri which attracts sadhus and holy men from all over Nepal and India. This happens at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu where they come to worship Shiva. Best experienced at night for that eerie feel!
Holi is the festival of spring and colour! Water and colour powder are thrown at participants to bring in the spring. If you don’t want to risk being covered in coloured powder or water, stay in your hotel. If you do want this unique experience, Basantapur (Durbar Square) is probably the best place to go. There may be some limited ‘playing’ in some of the larger settlements in the Khumbu.
Other highlights of Trekking to EBC in March Include:
- Sunset or sunrise from the top of Kalapattar – always spectacular as you stand at 5,545m/18,192 ft.
- Your visit to Everest Base Camp is a highlight you will not forget. Towards the end of March, climbing expeditions may be starting to come in adding a different dimension to the place.
- Follow in the footsteps of the great mountaineers and check them and their history out at the new Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Heritage Centre in Namche.
- Simply being among the Himalayan mountains.
- Meeting like-minded trekkers in the lodges and on the trails.
- Great photo opportunities!
Accommodation and Logistics for Everest Base Camp Trek in March
Teahouses and Lodges During the Trek in March
Trekking lodges are known as teahouses in Nepal. They do not just serve tea but are family-run guest houses providing meals and accommodation on the trails. The majority in the Everest Region is quite basic, consisting of twin beds, a somewhat used blanket (bring your own sleeping bag!) and normally do not have attached bathrooms. You will be charged extra (just a few dollars) if you need hot water for a shower.
There are more luxury hotels in the lower regions of the EBC Trek, some with spa facilities. By that, we mean massages, not swimming pools!
Food and Water Availability
Menus are pretty comprehensive considering goods have to be flown in and then transported by yak or manpower. Nepali, Sherpa, Chinese, and continental (mainly we could say pasta dishes and things like omelettes and toast) dishes.
Drinking water is available as boiled water, which you will have to pay for. Do not drink tap or river water – the last thing you need is a stomach problem on the trail. Bottled water in plastic is not available on most of the trekking routes in Nepal as we become more aware of the environment.
Beer and some spirits are available in most places, but we suggest you stick to tea and bottled cold drinks. That sugar spike is not such a bad thing on the trail, whereas a hangover is!
Hiring a Guide and Porter for Everest Base Camp in March
If you chose not to trek through an agency, it is usually possible to hire a guide and/or porter once you are in the Everest Region. March is beginning to get busy so there will be great demand for local guides and porters. It is a good idea to organise that before you arrive. Try contacting lodges in Lukla or Namche or ask around immediately on landing in Lukla as there may be porters who are there seeing off their last guests on the flight out of the region.
Safety and Travel Tips
Monitoring Weather Conditions
It’s challenging to really monitor the weather in the Everest Region. National Geographics has set up its own weather centre – the Everest Weather Station Network. However, this is primarily for very high-altitude locations, specifically on Mount Everest itself. You can check the weather through your phone tho and put the setting to the lowest altitude, 4,000m /13,123 ft.
Otherwise, it’s a case of asking locals what their option for the weather in the next few days is. In March the weather is pretty stable, rain not expected and snowfall rare at the lower altitudes.
Coping with the Weather and Altitude
Above we have given advice regarding altitude. On the whole, please make sure you acclimatize well. This is especially important if you are not travelling with a guide or don’t have pre-booked accommodation. It may be tempting to push on if you are feeling good. Do not do that!
Be aware of any headaches. It might be a simple thing or it might be the start of something more sinister. Altitude sickness is real.
Pack for all eventualities. Pack for very cold conditions, and pack for those warmer moments during the day. At height, the sun is very strong even if it doesn’t feel warm. So for the times, you may be down to a t-shirt, remember the sunscreen. Speaking of T-shirts – dress in layers so you can easily take off and put them on depending on the time of day and location.
Travel Insurance and Emergency Services
Everyone who is planning to trek should be carrying travel insurance. Make sure your insurance covers you up to 5,000m. You don’t want to be refused a rescue because you didn’t read the small print. Helicopter rescues are available but they will want to see you are covered by the correct insurance before coming up. Remember thousands of trekkers pass through the mountains annually. Businesses and locals cannot be held responsible for everyone’s safety and health, regardless of how much they may want to.
Health Posts along the Trail
Himalayan Sherpa Hospital, at Phakding, opened in November 2022 offering outpatient and emergency services to locals in its 15 beds. More information can be found here http://www.himalayansherpafoundation.org/project/himalayan-sherpa-hospital-in-phakding/
Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA), is at Pheriche and is manned during the busy spring and autumn trekking seasons by volunteer doctors. It has been in operation since 1973, as a non-profit organisation with the objective of reducing casualties in the mountains. Their main task is to prevent altitude-related deaths among visiting trekkers and among locals. They give a talk on altitude-related problems every day at 3 pm which you are welcome to attend. As a non-profit, any donation you would like to give is also highly appreciated.
The Mountain Medical Institute (MMI) clinic is found at Namche and Dingboche. Please note the Dingboche branch is closed in the winter months. Staffed by doctors trained in the unique needs of people living and travelling at high altitudes, the clinic in Namche has a basic lab, EKG and ultrasonography.
While these services are available to trekkers also, it is important that you take responsibility for your own health. By that we mean, again we stress, going slowly, keeping hydrated, and going down if you feel unwell. Note: when we say go down in the mountains we do not mean head on back to Kathmandu, we mean go down to a lower altitude lodge and stay one or two days. If you have recovered from your possible altitude-related problem, you can safely carry on with your trek. If symptoms persist or get much worse, then some serious action needs to be taken.
Embracing the Challenges of Trekking in March
While some winter conditions may remain at the start of March, by the end of March it is full-on spring. There will be a huge increase in the number of trekkers on the trails and whether you feel this is a positive or a negative for you personally, the locals are happy to welcome them back and see an increase in business.
Tips for Trekking in March
- Enjoy the changing of the seasons, particularly at the lower altitudes. The skies are still relatively clear and the mountains look glorious.
- Regardless of the season, do not get frustrated if your plans do need to be changed due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Remember that Chinese climber who had to give up his final push to conquer Everest in May 2023 because his Sherpa guide took the courageous step to rescue another climber from the Death Zone (where normally climbers are left to die due to the unforgivable conditions and extremely difficult logistics of bringing down someone who cannot walk)?
- The same applies if you get sick. You may have to go downhill or give up your trek altogether. In which case, enjoy the good hotels and short hikes at lower altitudes or relax and get well back in Kathmandu. The mountains will be there in the future for you.
- Planning is everything! Proper gear, proper insurance and work on your fitness level.
- Relax and enjoy your trek!