December is one of those months when the volume of trekkers on the Everest Base Camp trail starts decreasing and the trails become quieter. Planning an Everest Base Camp Trek in December can be a great option if you seek peace and quiet while trekking. With the winter season making a comeback, the days get shorter and colder. The mountains are blanketed with fresh piles of snow and the entire landscape turns snowy in the upper reaches. If you can battle the cold, EBC can be a great place to celebrate a white Christmas and ring in the New Year.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp in December
- Fewer people on the trail
- Easy to get accommodation
- Dry weather. No rainfall or humidity.
- Crystal clear view of mountains
- No need to go to Manthali Airport. Lukla flights operate from Kathmandu.
- Extreme cold in the higher reaches
- Days get shorter
- Sometimes, trails get snowbound due to heavy snowfall
- Risk of avalanches
- Teahouses start closing down for the off-season
One of the advantages of trekking to Everest Base Camp in December is that flights to Lukla operate from Kathmandu, saving you the hassle of getting to Manthali Airport. The off-season starts in December, so congestion at the airport eases, enabling airlines to operate flights to Lukla from the domestic airport in Kathmandu. Because of low precipitation, instances of flights getting canceled due to bad weather also become less frequent.
The weather remains generally dry, with abundant sunshine in the daytime. However, as soon as the sun sets, the temperature plummets and it gets chilly pretty soon. Especially in higher elevations, the temperature drops below freezing point at night.
In Lukla, the maximum average temperature remains at 12°C while in Namche, it hovers a little below at 9°C. As you go higher, the mercury takes a nosedive, with Lobuche and Gorak Shep recording maximum temperatures as low as one and zero degrees—the minimum average temperature in Lukla hovers at 0°C and in Namche at -4°C. At Lobuche and Gorak Shep, one can expect the mercury to dip as low as -16°C.
What to pack for your trek in December?
Since it's going to be pretty cold, you need to pack a lot of warm clothes and inner layers. Carry a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and toasty on freezing nights. Here's a tentative list of what you should carry during your trek.
- A large duffel bag or rucksack
- A light daypack
- Hiking boots with good grip
- Inner layers to provide insulation
- Buff or woolen scarf
- Beanie or fur-lined winter cap
- Winter gloves
- Down jacket
- 4-season sleeping bag
- Woolen socks
- Down booties
- Trekking pants and T-shirts
- Flip flop to wear in the bathroom while showering
- Toiletries - moisturizing cream, sunscreen lotion, lip balm, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, wet wipes, tissue, toilet paper roll, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Gadgets and accessories – sunglasses, head torch, batteries, power bank, etc.
- Trekking poles
- Gaiters and microspikes
- Local currency to last you for the entire trip
- Medicines(Diamox, paracetamol, painkiller, anti-diarrhea pills, antibiotic, throat lozenges, band aid strips, etc)
If you are planning an Everest Base Camp Trek in December, then you should be prepared for extreme cold. There is a danger of snowfall and avalanches and the trails getting blocked. To battle the cold weather, you should pack warm clothes that will keep your body properly insulated. Since teahouses and lodges along the trail don't have central heating, you will be sleeping in rooms as cold as ice. Layer your sleeping bag with the blankets provided by the teahouse to keep yourself warm.
Altitude sickness is always a concern during a high-altitude trek like an Everest Base Camp trek. You should take utmost care to keep the symptoms at bay by drinking water and fluids regularly. Dehydration invites AMS. Therefore, you should keep yourself hydrated. Drinking ginger tea and taking Sherpa garlic soup helps a lot. Try to have enough sleep and abstain from drinking alcohol and smoking.
December is a cold month, and the temperatures dip below freezing point in the higher reaches. You may have to walk on snow and ice to reach your destination. Sometimes, the trail gets snowbound, and you may have to turn back. Keep yourself mentally prepared and respect the forces of nature. Do not try to persist and go ahead in inclement weather or when you are feeling unwell. You should be sensible enough to know when to give up. The mountains can be a death zone if you don't take the necessary precautions.
Having travel insurance that covers rescue and evacuation above 5000 meters is a must for this trek. Please read the coverage plan of the insurance before buying it. Most travel insurance does not cover high-altitude rescue and evacuation. Therefore, you should check the fine print properly before buying your insurance.
You can skip the Lukla flight and take the classic route to Everest Base Camp via Salleri or Jiri. The route from Jiri was used by early Mount Everest expedition groups. Though this will add a couple of days to your itinerary, the experience of walking through the lush lower hills of Solu Khumbu is rewarding enough. As Solu has a mixed population of Rai, Sherpa, Chettri and Tamang communities, you will get to experience a diverse culture. You can also fly into Phaplu and head to EBC via Nunthala, Bupsa, and Cheplung.
You can also try exploring some of the rarely explored Sherpa villages in the region, like Phortse, Thame, Thamo, Pangboche, and Kongde. The villages of Thame and Thamo are home to several Everest Sherpa legends like Ang Rita Sherpa, Apa Sherpa, and Kami Rita Sherpa, whose daring feats have been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp from Pangboche also serves as a great detour.
There are helicopter tours available that allow you to fly over EBC and Kala Patthar. Heli treks offer you the option of flying into Namche from Kathmandu and starting your trek from there. You can also book a heli return flight from Gorak Shep after trekking to Everest Base Camp. This way, you can break the monotony of the return trek.
Udhauli Parva – This is a festival observed by the Kirat community living in the eastern foothills of Nepal to mark the winter migration of birds, animals, and humans to the warmer valleys and plains. This is a community festival where the whole community congregates in open fields and meadows to worship Mother Nature and their ancestors. They perform the ‘sakela’ which involves forming a circle and singing and dancing together, carrying leaves and branches.
Tamu Losar – Tamu Losar is the 'New Year' for the Gurung ethnic community living in the Annapurna hills. They celebrate this festival by being together with their families and friends and enjoying a large feast. There's singing and dancing with people dressed in their traditional finery. In the villages, traditional dances like 'Ghatu' and 'Kaura' are performed by women.
Christmas—While Nepal's population is mainly Hindu, there's a small percentage of Christians living in the country. In Kathmandu and Pokhara, the streets in the tourist districts of Thamel and Lakeside are decorated with colorful lights and Christmas trees. In Thamel, musical performances are held on the street and clubs and restaurants hold X-mas-themed events.
December can be a great month to take to the Everest trails, provided you can withstand the cold and are dressed appropriately for the weather. The early part of the month is quite pleasant and not extremely cold. The days remain sunny while the mercury dips below zero as night falls. It gets pretty cold as the month progresses and the volume of trekkers falls drastically by the end of the month. If you are a solitary soul and enjoy walking on secluded trails, December could be the best month for you. What could be more memorable than walking on empty trails and celebrating a white Christmas at Everest Base Camp?
If you want to make your Everest Base Camp trek a once-in-a-lifetime experience, December could be the month to hit the trail.