Melissa’s been fortunate to visit the popular island destinations in the Indian Ocean and shared her thoughts here. I’ve been fortunate to visit probably the two popular mountain destinations in the world, which are Everest Base Camp and Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’ll share my experience on the two treks.
There are several different routes for summiting Kilimanjaro, some are shorter and steeper, while others are longer and have less of a grade. I choose the latter trail to better cope with the elevation change. The specific route I took was the Lomosho route, which took about 8 days from the start to the end.
As for Everest Base Camp(EBC), there really isn’t much variation in the route to the base camp. We started our trek from Lukla after we landed at the notoriously extreme airport. From there’s really only one path to Namche Bazaar, which is the last major village to buy last minute supplies before heading higher up.
There are other points of interest in the Everest Region such as summiting Island Peak(Imja Tse), which would add days to your itinerary than trekking to EBC and back down. On Kilimanjaro, there are other points of interest such as crater camp, which I didn’t do.
THE VIEW FROM THE TRAIL
For me, the scenery surrounding the EBC trek was dramatically more appealing than the Kilimanjaro trek mostly because your surrounded by Himalayan mountain ranges once you’re above the tree line. Don’t get me wrong, Kilimanjaro was still impressive with itss peak towering over you. But on the EBC trek, mountain peaks in all directions dominate the scenery.
One thing I wanted to mention is that guides are not mandatory in the Everest Region unlike Kilimanjaro National Park where guides are mandatory. This is for the safety of all the trekkers. I clearly remember some solo travelers hiking around the Everest Region on their own, which is safe, but guides can be invaluable if you get sick or injured. I didn’t think the guided trek was terribly expensive compared to the Kilimanjaro trek.
If you want a little cultural on your trek, definitely go with the EBC trek. Each teahouse along the trek resides in villages where locals live year round. This gives you an opportunity to meet locals and their children. On Kilimanjaro, it’s virtually all tourist that congregate at the campsites. There are no local villages on the mountain, thus leaving no opportunity to interact with locals other than your guide and porters.
The facilities found on the EBC is much more comfortable than camping on Kilimanjaro. I roughed it and had sleeping pads and a sleeping bag. Some other guide companies actually have taller standing tents with cots. So it all depends on how much you want to pay. On the EBC trek, all my accommodations were in tea houses where we slept indoors on foam mattresses with sleeping bags.
WHICH ONE IS HARDER
There are a few aspects that can dramatically change the challenge on the trek such as weather or acclimatization with altitude. With these variable constant, I feel Kilimanjaro was more strenuous than EBC even with the slow gradual route of the Lomosho Trek. On EBC, there were some steep parts, but there were a lot of switchbacks making it more tolerable. What made EBC even more pleasant was the fact that I slept in teahouses along the way up rather than camping.
On Kilimanjaro, camping got old fast especially when you’re tired and you have to move around in a cramped tent to setup your sleeping pad and bag. There was no running water or facilities to feel properly clean. On EBC, I remember some teahouses had buckets of water indoors to brush your teeth with or wash your hands.
Additionally, the summit of Kilimanjaro was the coldest I ever felt in my life. The winds were howling and I wanted to stay enjoy the payoffs of my arduous trek, but the coldness got to me.
With having more home comforts on EBC, I felt it made it much more comfortable, thus making it easier to endure. For instance, coca-cola, and candy bars were available for purchase at each teahouse.
THE REWARD AT THE END
The end point of EBC is kind of anti-climatic with a vista that’s not entirely self-rewarding. It’s essentially a rock with prayer flags marking the general area where Everest summit expeditions setup camp.
Contrast this to the Kilimanjaro trek, the summit provides a view of the sunrise(assuming you depart for the summit at night). Though, it was too cold to stay at the summit and enjoy the scenery. Despite taking a better part of 8 hours to, I only ended up staying at the summit for 15 minutes.
Here’s a few pictures showing the end point of each trek.