Everest Base Camp - Trek vs Helicopter Tour

  • Last Updated on Oct 7, 2022

Everest base camp helicopter tour is a short excursion to Kala Patthar and Mount Everest base camp by helicopter with landing. It offers the momentary experience in the Everest mountain region with scenic views of skyscraping mountains, hills and alpine forests, valleys, streams and rivers, settlements, and so on. This helicopter tour to Mount Everest base camp lasts for 4 to 5 hours early in the morning. Within this brief, you will have the fortuity to land at the highest viewpoint of Everest region - Kala Patthar, helicopter landing at one of the most dangerous airports of the world - Lukla airport, breakfast at the highest placed hotel of the world - Hotel Everest View, and a fly over the base campsite of Everest Himalaya.

Everest base camp trek is the long-distance trekking journey towards the base camp of the highest peak of the world - Mount Everest (8848.86 meters). It covers the walking trail from Lukla to Everest base camp / Kala Patthar covering the places like Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Lobuche, Gorakshep, Kala Patthar, and Pheriche depending upon the designated itinerary. The EBC trek lasts for 12 to 20 days and the travelers have to dedicate 3 to 7 hours of hiking per day, looking over the difficulty level of the route. In the trekking to base camp, you will be accompanied by guides and porters in order to help you throughout the trip.

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Everest base camp trek versus Everest base camp helicopter tour

There are many differences between these two itineraries, the EBC Heli tour vs the EBC trek. Where Everest base camp helicopter tour completes with a full circuit by helicopter. Maximum 5 people can fly in 1 helicopter. It's a very short and beautiful tour that can be done within 4 to 5 hours of a day. It is a completely effortless tour activity. You will be able to see the Kathmandu valley and Mount Everest by the aerial view. Also, there is no need to plan the trip in advance. An individual can join our daily departure group tour or can rent a private helicopter for this tour. It is a 100% safe tour because it flies only in the beautiful weather of Kathmandu, Lukla, or the Everest region.

Standard or regular Everest base camp trek needs a minimum of 12 days starting from and ending at Kathmandu. That means, altogether a vacation of 14 or 15 days is needed for completing this trek with spare days. It provides the beautiful experience of meeting a couple of hundreds of hikers, local Sherpa people, learning the sherpa culture of Nepal, and more. You can interact with local guides and porters as well.  

Comparing the Everest base camp trek and Everest base camp helicopter tour, both are dominant in their own ways. With the Everest base camp trek, you will fly with a small aircraft flight, whereas, with the Everest base camp helicopter tour, you will fly with the helicopter following the most scenic views of the natural environment. Similarly, with the Everest base camp trek, you will pass through Lukla - the gateway of Everest, by foot, but with the Everest base camp helicopter tour, the visuals of the gateways and trails are only the things to cherish. No physical intactness is possible.

Looking over one of the major attractions of the Everest region, Tengboche Monastery - with the trek to base camp Everest, you will have a stopover at Tengboche on the fourth day. On this day, you can roam around the local markets, pray inside the monastery and listen to chants of the Lamas. It can be one of the great religious moments for travelers and ‘Buddha’ believers. Well, it’s not possible with a direct helicopter tour to Everest base camp / Kala Patthar. You will only have the up-side-down view of the monastery, markets, people wandering around, and the day-to-day busy life.

Namche Bazaar is the trading hub in the Everest region of Nepal situated at an altitude of 3440 meters. Here, the Everest base camp trekkers reach on the second day with a hike from Lukla to Phakding to Namche Bazaar. It is one of the popular and suitable acclimatization points on Everest, where you will spend the third day of the trek. On this day, you can have side hikes to neighboring villages like Khunde, Khumjung, Thame, Syangboche (Hotel Everest View), etc, or simply roam around the ancient town, and cope well with the Himalayan environment. However, it is not the case with the Everest helicopter tour. You will not get the chance to land at Namche, as you will simply fly over Namche Bazaar from Lukla with a peregrine view of the town and surrounding mountains, and reach further destinations.

Dingboche is another stopover point in the Everest base camp trail and the second acclimatization point of the trek. While going for the Everest base camp trek, one can explore the lush green forests, steep rocks, monasteries, Mani Walls, etc in the way of Dingboche. Similarly on the acclimatization day, one can explore the village with Ama Dablam and Imja Khola site and the hike towards Nagarjuna Danda. All these allures are for Everest trekking to base camp. However, with the Everest base camp helicopter tour, it is not possible, as you will be flying over towns and hills compassing Dingboche.

Similarly, strolling around the places like Lobuche, Pheriche, Gorakshep, Pheriche by foot remains the major attraction of the Everest base camp trek. Exploring around easily covers 12 days during the trek. Nonetheless, Everest base camp helicopter tour offers 4 to 5 hours of air flight with direct views of mountains, hills, lush forest, clusters of settlements, campsites, and so on, enfolding the 12 days’ trekking into 4 to 5 hours of Everest helicopter ride.

For more about the benefits and drawbacks of Everest base camp helicopter tour and Everest base camp trek, we have listed the pros and cons below:

Pros of Everest base camp helicopter tour

  • Scenic helicopter flight over Kathmandu valley towards the Everest region of Nepal.
  • You will be in the Everest region within just 1 hour and complete the Everest round trip in only 4 to 5 hours.
  • Step over at the highest viewpoint of the Everest mountain region - Kala Patthar (5644 meters) in the shortest possible time.
  • Fly over the Everest base camp located at an altitude of 5364 meters below Kala Patthar and Mount Pumori.
  • The opportunity of getting both aerial and terrestrial views of the high Himalayas like Mount Everest, Cho-Oyu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cholatse, Gauri Shankar, and more.
  • Breakfast at the height of 3880 meters on the highest placed hotel in the world - Hotel Everest View with a front-eye view of Mount Everest.
  • Guaranteed Everest flight by helicopter in all seasons even in the low visibility.

Cons of Everest base camp helicopter tour

  • You will not be able to go through the off-the-beaten yet crowded trekking trails of rudimentary Mount Everest base camp route, filled with glimpses of mountains, forests, suspension bridges, ridges, streams, cascades, monasteries, local hotels and lodges, hospitals, and health posts, local markets, Mani and prayer walls, memorials, etc.
  • Missing out the full-on interaction with the local people, their lifestyle, cultures, traditions, norms, and values.
  • Skipping the exotic Himalayan-styled breakfast, lunch, and dinner at different stopping points of the Everest region like Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, etc.
  • The pilot will be the default guide for you, but, if you want additional guides, the costs will be additional.

Pros of Everest base camp trek

  • Budget-friendly flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and Lukla to Kathmandu in a small aircraft.
  • You will be able to walk through the trekking trails covering the fabled places like Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Lobuche, Gorakshep, Kala Patthar, Everest base camp, Pheriche, etc. (depending upon the itinerary).
  • Full-fledge encounter and interaction with the Sherpa people (and Tibetan and Buddhist individuals) throughout the trekking course.
  • There will be 2 or 3 days of acclimatization days during the base camp Everest trekking, which will help the travelers to cope with the height and weather.
  • Various changes of side hikes or short excursions around the acclimatization points.
  • One guide (or, guide cum porter), and one porter (sharing 2 guests) will be inclusive of the total trekking package cost.

Cons of Everest base camp trek

  • You will be flying from Kathmandu to Lukla in a small aircraft, thus, there will not be the chance to get a more pristine aerial view of mountains, valleys, and the surroundings.
  • Breakfast at the highest altitude hotel in the world - Hotel Everest View (3880 meters) is not incorporated in the regular itinerary. However, the trip to Hotel Everest View can be managed from Namche Bazaar (as a side tour) at an additional cost.
  • Missing out of the aerial panorama of Mount Everest and encompassing peaks and ranges, from the window seat.
  • With the small aircraft flight, the regular flights remain uncertain (even in the main season) because of fluctuation in weather and climatic conditions of the mountain region.

Everest base camp trek with helicopter return - Best alternative option

Besides excluding both options, if you want to have both trekking and helicopter tour experience, Everest base camp trek with helicopter return can be the alternative choice for you. It enables you to trek for some time and complete the Everest journey with the helicopter tour. Or, you can fly to some point on Everest by helicopter, and then continue the trail by hiking around.

Everest base camp trek with helicopter return is a 9 days trek in the Khumjung region of Nepal. It is a one-way ascending trek up to Everest base camp from Kathmandu (via Lukla). After conquering the base camp and reaching Gorakshep, you will fly out to Kathmandu by helicopter. That’s why this trek is known as the Everest fly-out trek.

As we offer both-way helicopter ride services for the sector Kathmandu to Lukla and Gorakshep to Kathmandu in this itinerary, Everest Heli Trek is an ideal choice for travelers who are seeking 9 to 10 days of Everest base camp trekking in Nepal. Additionally, this Everest journey combines the cinematic views of the Himalayan ranges and provides a cross-cultural experience of the Sherpa people.

Similarly, particularly designed Everest helicopter treks are on the hoist. They promise you the best experience of both trekking and helicopter (return) flights for completing the venture via Everest base camp trek and fly back by helicopter. With these trekking outlines, you will explore both wander around the trekking passages and undergo helicopter round trips. Some of the most famous itineraries include the following:

All the packages mentioned above have their own beauty in certain ways. Some are short-term with eye-catching views, some are long-term with both physical warm-ups and dramatic vista, and some are of moderate level with all the attractions that one trip can offer.

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Manju Mahato

Manju Mahato

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