Guide to Everest Base Camp Tour in Winter
EBC tour in winter is an unique experience. The clear winter skies offer spectacular views of the mountain and the surrounding Himalayas, and the snow-covered peaks make a beautiful backdrop to your photography.
Why Winter Is the Perfect Season for EBC Tour in Tibet
Sometimes referred to as North Base Camp, EBC in Tibet is one of the two base camps one can gaze at Mount Everest at the shortest distance. The camp lies on the Tibetan side of the mountain, in direct view of its sheer north face. Despite it being possible to visit the camp without days spent hiking, it is surprisingly undeveloped. The backdrop to this launching off point for climbers, which includes views of Everest’s peak and the North Col Glacier, is arguably more scenic than Nepal’s more renowned South Base Camp.
Apart from April to early June, Sept. to Oct is a great time to tour Everest, since your view won’t be obstructed by dense clouds. The clear winter skies offer spectacular views of the mountain and the surrounding Himalayas, and the snow-covered peaks make a beautiful backdrop to your photography. Possibly the best time of the year to visit, early winter has many other benefits for the adventurous traveler. Not only is it a lot cheaper to travel to Tibet in the winter, but it is the time for many festivals in Tibetan Buddhism, and an unrivalled opportunity to experience the unique Tibetan culture and religion up close.
Travel from Lhasa to EBC
Yamdrok Lake in Tibet winter
Enjoy spectacular view of Mt.Everest from Rongbuk Monastery
Lhasa to Shigatse
After a couple of days acclimatizing in Lhasa, and paying a visit to four of the most spectacular religious sites in the region - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery, and Drepung Monastery - you will leave the region’s capital for the open road, and the drive to Gyantse.
On the way, you will pass over the Gambala Pass, which is the best place to catch first glimpse of Yamdrok Tso Lake, surrounded by many snow-capped mountains. From here, you will have spectacular views of holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar, which is the highest mountain near Lhasa at 7,191 meters. The trip to Gyantse also passes close by the Karola Glacier, one of the most pristine white glaciers in the world, right beside the highway.
Then you will head westward towards the city of Gyantse and drive alongside Yamdrok Tso Lake. Gyantse is Tibet's third largest city, and you will get to visit the unique Pelkor Monastery, which is rare due to it housing three different sects of Tibetan Buddhism under one roof. You will also get to see the Gyantse Kumbum, a giant architectural stupa that stands 34 meters high, and consists of nine floors, each with its own unique chapels, before continuing on to Shigatse.
Shigatse to Lhatse, Tingri, and Finally EBC
After obtaining your Alien's Travel Permit, which is needed to tour this area, you will leave Shigatse for Lhatse, a small town on the G318 road to Tingri. On the way, weather permitting, you will get your first look at the amazing sight of Mt. Everest, or Mt. Quomolangma as it is called in Tibetan. You will also pass one of the most famous markers in the world, the 5,000-kilometer marker of the G318. This mounument was erected at the exact point where the road is 5,000 kilometers from its starting point in Shanghai.
The drive on to Rongbuk Monastery crosses one of the highest passes in Tibet, the Gawu La Pass at 5,198 meters, from which you can see all four of the world's highest peaks such as Mt. Makalu (8463m), Mt. Lotse (8516m), Mt. Everest (8844.43m), Mt.Cho Oyu (8201m) and Mt. Shishapama (8027m). From Rongbuk it is a short 4km walk to EBC, or you can trek to there.
Best Place for Everest Photography
There are several places for Everest photography that are actually better for getting a good shot of the mountain. From the hill near Rongbuk Monastery, you can find the best angle to shoot Mount Everest, and it is accepted by most of the photographers. Moreover, the white tower of Rongbuk Monastery can be used as the foreground to increase the depth of the photos, and add some humanity to the scenery. Gawu La pass is also a good place to get excellent distance shots of Everest, with the increased elevation giving you an almost level view. At Everest Base Camp, you can shoot the mountain without being blocked, but you need to think hard about finding the visual angle to get good pictures of Mount Everest.
How to Plan Your Accommodation for EBC Winter Tour
Guesthouse at-Everest Base Camp
The dinning becomes comes more basic from Tingri to EBC
Accommodation at EBC and along many parts of the route needs to be carefully planned, as a lot of places this far west are closed during winter. The tent guest houses at EBC itself are not open from mid-November until spring, so one option you can take is to stay overnight in Tingri, and then travel to EBC the next morning. With Tingri being at a lower altitude than EBC, it is beneficial to your acclimatization before you ascend to the height of the base camp. And the trip to EBC in the early morning gives you an opportunity to get some early morning sunrise shots from Gawu La Pass. The best hotel to stay in Tingri is the Everest Hotel, which is open all year round.
Another option would be to stay at the small town of Zhaxizong, just outside Lhatse, which is also at a lower elevation. It is relatively close to EBC, and also means a good photo opportunity at Gawu La in the morning. There is also the option of the guest house at Rongbuk monastery, which caters to travelers to EBC as well as being a staging point for summit climbers. Rongbuk Monastery is the closest place to EBC to stay in at this time of year, although it is very basic. The altitude is quite high, being the highest monastery in the world, but it does have a great view of the mountain, especially at sunrise from the hill behind.
Eating in Tibet is always a concern for travelers who do not know what to expect from such an exotic region. However, it is important that you eat a healthy diet while in Tibet to fortify you against the high altitude and cold temperatures. You also want to avoid getting ill from lack of nutrition or contaminated food in Tibet so that you do not have to seek medical care while there.
For this reason, as you travel from Lhasa to EBC, you should choose restaurants carefully and stick to light meals. In Lhasa, you can find different restaurants, offering multiple options such as traditional Tibetan dishes, western and Chinese cuisines. Nepali and Indian food can also be found due to the proximity to Nepal and India. Traditional Tibetan food is quite basic, relying on barley and yak products. Common traditional cuisine in Tibet includes tsampa, a blend of roasted barley, yak butter and tea mixed to form dough. There are also momos, steamed dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables and thukpa, a noodle stew. If you can, try to taste some of the fresh yak milk yogurt.
The closer you move to EBC from Tingri, the dinning becomes comes more basic. If you spend the night at the camping site of EBC, you can have some Chinese and Tibetan food in the tents run by local Tibetans. Unexpected, the price could be a bit expensive, since most of the ingredients are taken to here by truck from Tingri. At daybreak and night, the temperature is extremely cold at EBC. But no worries, the warm sweet tea or butter tea can bring you back to life.
Travel Documents Needed
To make it to EBC, in addition to Tibet Permit, you need Alien’s Travel Permit. Our travel consultants and guide will help you prepare all the Tibet Travel Permit to Visit Mt. Everest.
Some travelers like to take as little as possible when they go on a big journey. Others prefer to take as many comforts from home as possible. For a trip to EBC in winter, the basic is a good start, and you should include some warmer clothing for the very cold nights. One medium-large backpack or rolling duffel and a daypack should be enough for the average 2-week trip. The essentials you need to bring for any trip are:
• 1 pair of Hiking Boots/Sturdy Sneakers
• Sleeping Bag and insulation pad (if camping)
• Ground cloth or tarp (recommended but not required)
• Rain Gear (waterproof pants and jacket)
• 3-5 T-Shirts (long-sleeved)
• 2 Lightweight Fleece or Wool Sweaters
• 2 Pairs of Nylon pants
• 5-7 Pairs of Warm Socks
• 3-5 Pairs of Underwear
• Thermal Gloves and Hat
• Personal Toiletries (you may want to carry your own toilet paper and some zip-lock bags, as bathrooms may not be readily available.)
• Personal Medication
• Camera, Batteries and Film/Digital Memory Cards
• Adapter and Surge Protector (see detail below)
• Light- weight thermal shirts or long underwear ( recommended but not required)
You might also want to invest in a good thick fleece jacket, or padded snow jacket, as it can get cold when standing still for a while taking photos.In winter, Tibet’s temperature difference between daytime and night is large, and you need to bring a down jacket or coat, good boots, thermal underwear, gloves, hats, etc., to prevent colds and upper respiratory infections.Due to Tibet's strong winter sunshine, you need to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm and other protective equipment.
Because of the intense ultraviolet winter plateau, a UV filter should be installed before the camera lens, to avoid bias purple color photographs. Use a backlit scene when shooting people, and use the flash to fill in the light. When shooting plateau scenery, it should be before 9:00am or after 5:00pm, as the light generated by low-angle sunlight often makes the picture quite shocking.
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