Which Trek is Harder: Mt Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp?

by Mike on March 26, 2015

I’ve been fortunate to have successful reach the summit of Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp.  I wrote about what I packed for Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp here and here, respectively.

Kilimanjaro

Now to answer the question: Which Trek is harder?

There is no cut and dry answer as to which one is easier. There are outside variables out of anyone’s control that will make your experience on one trek more difficult than the other such as the weather or how your body deals with altitude on a particular day.

Additionally on Kilimanjaro there are several different route and certain routes are more challenging than others despite going to the same summit. I took the Lomosho route since it gives trekkers time to acclimate to the elevation by ascending slowly, thus proving to have the highest success rate out of all the Kilimanjaro routes. Comparing my experience on the Lomosho route to my experience on the EBC trek, Kilimanjaro seemed more of a challenge. I’ll break down each aspect of both treks.

SLEEPING AND EATING

The facilities between Kilimanjaro and EBC were different, which added to the comfort and convenience factor that ultimately affected moral on the trek. On Everest Base Camp(EBC), I stayed in tea houses and was eating in proper dining tables at kitchens offering a variety of choices. In contrast, Kilimanjaro was all about camping in tents and eating in dining tents. I was properly fed on either trek, but the sleeping quarters on EBC were way more comfortable.

On the EBC trek, there are shower facilities in Namche Bazaar. This is a major village on the EBC trail where one can buy any necessary trekking gear they forgot in Kathmandu. Higher up on the EBC trail, proper showers aren’t available(more like a water spickets), but you’re still have the comfort of just plopping down in a tea house or sitting around the warm stove burning petrified yak crap. In Kilimanjaro everyone gathers in the dining tent for dinner and then it’s off to bed because some nights it’s simply too cold to sit around.

SUMMIT PUSH

The summit push on Kilimanjaro started at 11pm for most groups(it started at 10:30p because we were a slow, but surely moving group) for the 7 or 8 hour return trek from the Barafu camp. The trek was steep, cold, and dark. This part of the Kilimanjaro trek is the most demanding and where most people have to descend either to exhaustion or altitude.  From the following video, you can see my buddy, Andrew’s face and almost feel how cold it is at the summit.

On EBC, the push to base camp started at Gorak Shep in the morning after I was all nicely rested in the warmth of the teahouse. Most the walk was not steep nor was it terribly cold because it was during the day and because the taller peaks block the wind.

DURATION

EBC trek was about 12 days return from Lukla. Kilimanjaro was 8 days return. Despite EBC being longer, there were 2 full acclimatization days in my itinerary where we sat around for most of the day with the exception of a short hike.

On Kilimanjaro, there was about 6 hours hiking each day with the exception of the summit night. The hikes each day didn’t seem like it was terribly long, but when I was leaving Shira 2 I started to feel the affects of the altitude and started taking acetazolomide and contented to take 250mg does once a day.  On summit day, when we had to be up at 10:30pm and be ready to make it to the summit by 6am, I took a 500 mg dose.

FACILITIES

The facilities on the EBC were far better because we were in teahouses where there was plumbing. There were some instances where the tea houses had out houses, but if I recall correctly, most of the ones we stayed at had flushing ones.

Kilimanjaro there were no running water or flushing toilets. Each campsite has it’s own variation of outhouses, but that conditions aren’t that great and most trekkers pay the $100 for a toilet tent to have a cleaner experience while avoiding to trek a little ways to the outhouses.

TRAIL

On EBC, there’s herds of yak carrying supplies on the trail with that said there were heaps(Australian slang) of yak crap every where on the trail. It’s unavoidable as getting wet during a rainstorm. The stink from the crap just lingers around and nauseating sometimes.

Kilimanjaro doesn’t have any yaks or large animals other than body odor that stink up the trail. In this sense, the trail is much cleaner and pleasant for the olfactory.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Both treks are pretty strenuous. It takes a certain level of physical fitness to accomplish either one that said. there was still a wide age demographic on both treks from the young backpacker travelers to the retired folks. For both treks, I did have guides. On Kilimanjaro, guides are mandator, but Everest, one could trek on their own while mapping out their itinerary.  I feel it’s much safer to take a guide on EBC who knows the terrain and language to assist if problems arise.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Yasmin Roberts-Knowles April 22, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Hi there,

If you don’t mind me asking, what company did you use for your everest base camp trek? The idea of not sleeping a in a tent sounds great.
Thanks.

Reply

Mike May 24, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Mountain Monarchs

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Ben January 5, 2017 at 6:38 pm

I would recommend just finding a guide when you get there. Give yourself a few days in town and talk to folks who live there and work in the industry. The online booking companies often contain a 100-500% markup.

In Pokora, I found a fantastic local guide for 9 days on ABC that ran me around 500 USD (this included meals and accommodation on the trail!).It was extremely easy to find a good guide there. I asked two people at my hostel and was able to find someone within a couple hours of arriving.

If you want to spend a bunch of money, your guide can hook you up with a porter, who will haul all of your gear up ahead of you (not necessary for most people). Make sure to tip your Nepali guide well. They don’t make a lot.

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Stephanie April 24, 2017 at 7:23 pm

I went to EBC with REI Adventures in 2013. I thought it was excellent. BTW, we stayed in tents and had 2 nights in the lodges and HANDS DOWN, the tent is way better. It’s misleading when they say “teahouses” and “lodges.” Mostly, you are getting an small, unheated room that is questionable in terms of cleanliness, and has walls so thin you can hear the person in the next room breathing (not snoring….just breathing). No running water anywhere. Our group had a portable hand washing station that was pretty much a jug of water. Additionally, the bathrooms are all disgusting in the lodges so just prepare yourself for that. If you are squeamish about toilets, you’re going to have a bad time. We had a portable private toilet tent just for our group.

Sleeping in tents are the way to go in my opinion. I can’t imagine having to sleep in the lodges the whole time. Plus, in the tent, you get to unzip your tent and immediately have a magnificent view!

What’s great about the lodges is that they all have a common area/dining area where anyone can hang out. It’s typically heated with Zopkio (a yak that is cross bred to handle higher altitudes) dung. Those common areas are ALL awesome and cozy.

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Dr. Chandrashekara K V September 6, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Thanks Mike. I have done EBC last year, and I an gonna climb Kilimanjaro this month (12-17th, Marangu route). Wish me good luck !! By the way, I am 68 y.

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Tara October 24, 2016 at 2:18 am

What tour company would you recommend for Kili?

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Mike October 25, 2016 at 8:53 pm

I used Zara Tours

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Ben November 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Did the Lomoshe route in September 2016. Great route to get acclimatized. Accommodation were tents which the company (GAdventure) provided together with good sleeping maps. Slept great every night. Food was great and enough to keep up your strength to continue. Porters carry most of your load with you carrying about 8 kg. (2-3 kg of water). Each group (no more than 12 trekkers) had about 5-6 guides (one in front and one at the tail end with the rest among the trekkers) and 30 porters for your gear, the tenting and food. There are two hard days, from Shria 2 via Lava tower to Barranco camp and the final ascent to the summit (8 hrs) followed by going down to well below base camp to Millennium camp. Overall a great trek with mostly younger crowd (late 20’s to mid 30’s) with me at 70. Never felt left out, great company and support from them.

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Charlotte Mawdsley January 4, 2017 at 7:44 am

Hi

Thanks for posting this. I sumitted Kili last September and hope to do EBC in may of this year. So excited!
The tea houses sound great although I did love sleeping in a tent in Kili!

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