There are two base camps at the opposite side of Mount Everest. One in the south lies in Nepal and the other in the north lies in Tibet, China. Both the base camps are open for tourists and many wonder which is better. Here are some comparative information on the two places for your own judgment.
- Travel Ways
It is much easier to reach the North Base Camp. One can drive all the way there. You first drive to Rongbuk Monastery with the massive northern face of Everest already in the background. From there, the destination is only a little away. Trekking is a viable option as it is neither very far nor technical in any way. If not, you can take a bus right up to the base camp.
The South Base Camp in Nepal is comparatively difficult as it requires 10-12 days of hiking. However, the effort is rewarded along the way by the view of other high peaks, friendly locals and their colorful culture. Most trek starts from Lukla but you could extend it by starting from Jiri or cut it by taking another flight to Syangboche from Lukla. If you do not want to trek but still want to see the Everest, there is a Mountain Flight and Everest Helicopter Tour services. In Helicopter Tour, you fly to the Base Camp! However, trekking is the preferred way and among the treks available in Nepal, trekking to Kalapathar of Everest Base Camp is most popular.
- View of Everest
The northern face of the Everest is magnificent and one can see the whole of its giant frame. The southern face is equally gorgeous. Its whole structure, from base to the peak, is visible from Kalapathar, a little ways from the Base Camp. Everest’s peak is not visible from the base camp itself but you come much closer to Everest from south than from North.
There is so much more to see along the way to South Base Camp. Not only mount Everest, you get to see other high peaks such as Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dabalam, Changtse, Imja Tse and others. From the lower valley to highland scenario with glacier lakes, glaciers, ice falls the Memorial Park etc., the route is full of breathtaking sceneries, colorful prayer flags, Mani wheels, monasteries and chortens.
Most trips begin from Lhasa in the north. From Lhasa to Tingri, you pass through remote landmasses, glaciated lakes, monasteries and dry deserts making for an exciting trip. Then the view of Everest itself is so different from the southern view.
In Nepal’s side, the highlight is sunset that reflects off the Everest gold and pink. On the Tibet’s side, it is the sun rising from the east that turns the peak into beautiful golden.
Acute Mountain Sickness is the major threat in high altitude trekking. Neither side has any technically difficult hurdle to reach the base camp so the other threat would be occasional accidents.
There is a modern and well equipped hospital in Lukla, the starting point in Nepal. Another hospital, a rudimentary one that opens during peak seasons, is in Pheriche. If something were to happen in higher altitude, a helicopter evacuation service is available.
In Tibet, the nearest hospital is in Tingri, only five hours away. You will be driven there.
You can camp overnight at the base camp in Tibet side but not in Nepal unless you are climbing Mount Everest. Some agency just might be able to get it for you though. But that is a lot of work.
It is easier to enter Nepal and trek to Everest. Acquiring permits from China is comparatively a hassle.
There is a post office “China Post” at the North Base Camp that provides a commemorative postmark service.
Honestly, the best thing to do would be to visit Everest from Nepal first and then go on to see it from Tibet because the experience is vastly different from each other and has their own pros and cons. If that is not possible, you be the judge on which side to choose.