What are the differences between the EBC Heli tour and the EBC trek?

  • Last Updated on Nov 27, 2022

There are many differences between these two itineraries, the EBC Heli tour vs the EBC trek. Where the Everest base camp helicopter tour completes with a full circuit by helicopter. A maximum of 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 from 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 14 days starting from and ending at Kathmandu. That means, altogether a vacation of 15 or 16 days is needed for completing this trek with spare days. It provides the beautiful experience of meeting a couple of hundreds of hikers, and local Sherpa people, learning the sherpa culture of Nepal, and more. You can interact with local guides and porters as well.  

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Comparing the trek and helicopter tours, both are dominant in their own ways. With the 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 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 an upside-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 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 on the trek, one can explore the lush green forests, steep rocks, monasteries, Mani Walls, etc on the way to Dingboche. Similarly, on the acclimatization day, one can explore the village with Ama Dablam and Imja Khola sites and 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, and Pheriche by foot remains the major attraction of the trek. Exploring around easily covers 14 days during the trek. Nonetheless, the 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 14 days’ trekking into 4 to 5 hours of Everest helicopter ride.

For more about the benefits and drawbacks of the Everest Trek and Heli Tour, we have listed the pros and cons below:

Pros of 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 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 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 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 on 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 fluctuations in weather and climatic conditions of the mountain region.

Everest Fly Out - Best alternative option

Besides excluding both options, if you want to have both trekking and helicopter tour experience, the 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.

Contact person - Binod Sapkota
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Manju Mahato

Manju Mahato

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