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The Everest Base Camp comprises two base camps, each on opposite sides of Mount Everest. South Base Camp is in Nepal at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,598 ft) ( ), and North Base Camp is in Tibet at 5,150 metres (16,900 ft) ( ). These camps are rudimentary campsites on Mount Everest that are used by mountain climbers during their ascent and descent. South Base Camp is used when climbing via the southeast ridge, while North Base Camp is used when climbing via the northeast ridge.
Supplies are carried to the South Base Camp by sherpas or porters, and with help of animals, usually yaks. The North Base Camp has vehicle access (at least in the summer months). Climbers typically rest at base camp for several days for acclimatization to reduce the risks and severity of altitude sickness.
The Everest Base Camp trek on the south side is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Himalayas and is visited by thousands of trekkers each year. Trekkers usually fly from Kathmandu to Lukla to save time and energy before beginning the morning trek to this base camp. From Lukla, climbers trek upward to the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar, 3,440 metres (11,290 ft), following the valley of the Dudh Kosi river. The village is a central hub of the area,
This takes about two days. Typically at this point, climbers allow a day of rest for acclimatization. They then trek another two days to Dingboche, 4,260 metres (13,980 ft) before resting for another day for further acclimatization. Another two days takes them to Everest Base Camp via Gorakshep, the flat field below Kala Patthar, 5,545 metres (18,192 ft) and Mt. Pumori.
As of 2010, a visit to the North (China-side) Base Camp required a permit from the Chinese government, on top of the permit required to visit Tibet itself. At this time such permits must be arranged via travel companies in Lhasa as part of a package tour that include hiring a vehicle, driver and guide. The North Base Camp is accessed by vehicle through a 100 km road branching to the South from the Friendship Highway near Shelkar. The "tourist Base Camp" is located about half-way between Rongbuk Monastery; the actual climbers' Base Camp is at the foot of Rongbuk glacier.
A view of Everest North (Tibet-side) Base Camp looking west, August 3, 2002. The permanent structure at left is for mountain climbers, central-left structure is for pit toilets, while the temporary wood-frame, plastic tarpaulin-covered structures below and right are for other visitors and support people