Everest Base Camp (5150m) is 4km due south from Rongbuk Monastery. There’s a bus, but the walk alongside the river through the boulder-strewn landscape and past a small monastery on the cliff is glorious and the route fairly flat. Base camp is often a bit of a surprise, especially during the climbing seasons (March–May, Sept & Oct), when you’ll find a colourful and untidy tent city festooned with Calor gas bottles and satellite dishes. At other times of year it’s almost completely deserted, save for a perpetual detachment of Chinese troops keeping an eye out for potential “trouble”.
Don’t be surprised if you suffer with the altitude here – breathlessness and headaches are the norm. However well you were acclimatized in Lhasa, base camp is around 1500m higher, so be sensible and don’t contemplate a trip here immediately after arrival up on the Tibetan plateau.