What you need to know to do EBC trek independently
We have completed EBC the long way: Jiri-EBC-Salleri. Below are some useful tips on how to plan your itinerary, budgets, etc.
TIMS card (need a picture) - 2000 npr
Everest National Park permit - 3000 npr
Both permits can be acquired in tourist office in Kathmandu or at a checkpoint in Mojo (Just before Namche Bazar)
Cheese Circuit Conservation Area Permit - 2000 npr. If you are planning to walk in from Jiri you will need this one too. Cheese Circuit captures a small section of Jiri-EBC trek between Shivalaya and Bhandar, literally 3-4 hours. There is a permit office in Shivalaya which opens at 8 am, if you avoid it or pass through Shivalaya when the office is closed you won't be asked for that permit again, and you will be out of permit area within a few hours anyway.
Airports: Lukla - up to 20 flights from Kathmandu
Phaplu - 2 weekly flights from Kathmandu
To/From Jiri - 1 bus a day leaving 5 am from Purano/Old bus stand in KTM downtown. Takes about 10 hours. Get tickets at least 2 days in advance. We had to ride on the roof and it's not as fun as it sounds! 550 npr
From Phaplu/Salleri - 1 jeep leaving Salleri at 5 am, takes about 14 hours to reach KTM. It doesn't go to downtown and will drop you on the circuit road. Any guest house in Salleri will be able to book you a ticket for it.
I don't know how to book a ticket for this jeep in KTM, my guess is that you will have to use a travel agent. 1200 npr.
From Lukla to EBC the trail is quite obvious, it's not marked, but it's impossible to get it wrong unless you stray of for side trips.
From Jiri to Lukla it's much less obvious, there some markings but they are sparse and faded. There are a lot of villages on this stretch and your biggest danger is picking up a trail leading you to a near by village or a farm. Be prepared to stray of course a few times, as always friendly locals will see you heading in wrong direction and will point you to the right pass.
GPS is only useful to track your progress and occasionally checking where you. You don't really need it for navigation.
I would advise to buy a large-scale map of Everest from Jiri, which is available from any shop in KTM for 300 npr. It's a good map with a lot of additional information such as distances between the villages in walking hours. A really good way of planning your trek based on the number of hours you would like to do a day. We planned to do up to 10 hours in the lower sections, than reducing it to 5-6 when we get over the 3500 meter threshold in Namche.
We didn't take neither a guide nor a porter, and I can't see why would we want one. The trails are obvious, there are no technically difficult places, you only carry your personal possessions (leave the rest in KTM), it gives you more freedom, keeps your costs really low.
Having said that, if you are planning to deviate from the main trail and go on exploring the places where there is no lodging, need to cross glaciers or attempt summits, having a guide/porter is a good idea if not necessity.
Putting transportation and permits aside, food and lodging are your only costs.
To give you an idea:
Room: 100 per person or free
Noodle soup: 100-150
Dal Bhat: 250-350
Room: 100 per person, (200 at Gorak Shep).
Noodle soup: 200 - 300
Dal Bhat: 450 - 650 (650 at Gorak Shep)
I excluded things such as biscuits, chocolates, bottled water, beer etc, you could buy those at more affordable prices in places that are connected by road, all prices go up the higher you go. You can save a lot of money by buying water purification drops (20-50 npr) and they will last you for ages.
Our budget was 3000 per couple per day. I think we hardly ever went over 2000.==
Local Ncell sim card will give you connection in some areas, signal quality really varies. Lukla and Namche seem to be connected by cable, and generally have good and affordable wifi.
From Namche to EBC almost every place will have a satellite phone and satellite internet. Internet costs go as high as $10 per 10 min.
All the places on EBC trail are supplied either with hydro or solar power.
Until Lukla the electricity is generated by hydro-power and it is usually free to recharge your stuff.
From Lukla to EBC you are normally charged about 100 npr per our to charge your stuff, and the charging rate is really slow.
How are the crowds?
Well this depends on the season. We did our trek early October. General impression: Jiri to Lukla - hardly anyone (Lukla to Jiri no one at all), Lukla to Namche - a bloody highway (horrible), Namche to EBC - OK actually, few people but well space out.
Hard to comment on this one for 2 reasons:
1-we did EBC straight after Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp and were well acclimatized.
2-the Jiri-Lukla stretch takes you over three 3500m+ passes, hence providing some acclimatization.
We were also taking Diamox...
A general rule of thumb is that you should not pic up more than 500m of altitude gain a day. You also should plan for at least 2 acclimatization days: one at 3500m and one at 4500m.
Also there is another rule to follow which is -DO NOT BE STUPID. It gets bad before it gets terrible. If you feel it getting you don't try to suck it up! Just descend!
See this post for an itinerary Read about our EBC adventure here