The World’s 10 Best Hikes: Everest Basecamp

Potterfield's Picks: The world's three highest peaks, and deep cultural immersion
Staff Writer

Photo by Peter Potterfield

Trek: Everest Base Camp Trek—Lukla to Everest Base Camp
Destination: Nepal
Distance: 70 miles, 16 days
Difficulty: Strenuous

Arguably the greatest of all high-mountain journeys, this stroll through Nepal’s Khumbu district lets you see the three highest peaks on Earth in one glance, and dozens more Himalayan giants along the way. My favorite is the view from Thyangboche, called by Bill Tillman the greatest view in the world. This is not a wilderness excursion, but it is a deep immersion in the Sherpa’s Buddhist culture that will bring you back for the friendly villages, the monasteries, and the polyglot scene of world travelers who come for the high-octane pilgrimage to Everest.

The unique factor is that one must go slow on the way up. Healthy hikers could cover most 35 mile routes in two days, but the need to acclimatize means you’ll take 10 days on the trek in to Everest but only three on the trek out. The enforced downtime allows you to savor the experience, the views, and the people who live here. It changes the character of the walk.

You’ll carry only a day pack with camera and jacket as you tick off the famous landmarks: the landing strip at Lukla, the monastery at Thyangboche, the iconic view of Everest from Kala Patar. The rest of your gear comes along behind on yaks or the backs of porter, making this mountain journey irresistible.

When to go: Pre-Monsoon (March or April) gives you the rhododendrons in bloom and lots of climber action, but Post-Monsoon (November) gives you drier weather.

Logistics: Everest Base Camp trekkers arrive in Kathamandu, where a few days of sightseeing are mandatory to recover from jet lag before the flight into Lukla, the tiny airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary that is now a paved and busy runway.  The 35-mile walk from Lukla to base camp can be done either fall or spring:  Pre-Monsoon (March or April) gives you the rhododendrons in bloom and lots of climber action, but Post-Monsoon (November) gives you drier weather. 

Adventure journalist Peter Potterfield has hiked more than 10,000 miles in search of the greatest backcountry routes on the planet. As he researches his iconic hiking books, such as Classic Hikes of the World, Potterfield is always on the lookout for the best hikes on all seven continents. Here, just months before the release of his next book, Classic Hikes of North America, Potterfield offers up his current list of favorite hikes. 

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