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K2 Base Camp Trek Cost: Delivering Value While Maintaining Ethics

k2 base camp trek

Tucked away in the far reaches of the Karakoram range in Northern Pakistan lies the world’s second-highest mountain: K2. 

For people who love trekking and big mountains, the K2 Base Camp Trek is the ultimate bucket list trekking adventure. 

If you have been browsing the websites of different companies, you will see that the K2 Base Camp Trek cost can vary a lot from under $1,500 all the way up to 12,000 USD! 

Below, we provide some insights into the multiple factors that determine our K2 Base Camp Trek cost, some important ethical issues that matter to us (which we also hope to pass on to our community of trekkers!), and a bunch more other musings.  

K2 Base Camp Trek Cost: This is a Real Expedition

The K2 Base Camp Trek is a proper expedition-style trek. This can be summed up by the fact that there are no supply depots, hotels, or points along the trek to accumulate more food or gear. 

Everything must be carried by the porter and mule teams for the few weeks needed to complete the trek. 

That means food, tents, group camp gear (mess tents), tables, chairs, toilet tent, all the kitchen cookware, a generator, food for the porters and other staff, medical supplies, lights, client duffel bags, and the list goes on and on and on. 

The point is, the K2 Base Camp trek requires a lot of human labor. Porters hired from nearby villages make up the bulk of the workforce that makes this expedition possible. 

Factor in the flights needed to get to Skardu from Islamabad, the hotels, all the group food, guide wages, permits, transportation, and jeeps – and it is easy to see that for any tour operator the K2 Base Camp Trek is an expensive logistical operation to run.

k2 base camp trek

K2 Base Camp Trek Cost: Is it Possible to Hike it Cheaply?

For some travelers, budget is the number one deciding factor regarding who they will choose to book this trek with. We get it. Our founders spent years backpacking around the world on a budget before founding Epic. 

We truly believe the spectrum of mountain adventures should be accessible for everyone who is interested and we strive to keep our prices for the various trips we run affordable as much as possible. 

The goal is to strike the balance between offering a competitive experience to cost value while also keeping the standards and ethics we value high as well. 

k2 gondogoro la trek
Many porters and supplies are required for the K2 Base Camp Trek.
k2 base camp trek cost

K2 Base Camp Trek Cost and Local Porters

How to price a trip and ensure the people working on the trip are paid a fair wage?

This is a perennial question in Pakistan for us and an ethical dilemma that Epic as a company has also had to come to terms with. 

One of our biggest concerns has been centered around the wages for the porters. 

For context, standard porter wages on the K2 Base Camp Trek are fixed by the Central Karakoram National Park administration every year at the start of the season. Companies hire porters from the rotating pool of men who put their names in the collective hat to be porters. 

For 2023, the price is set at 1150 rupees ($4) per stage. There might be 2-3 stages on any given day of the itinerary. If a team has 10 paying clients, then there are probably going to be 30-40 porters involved in the expedition including human porters and men who manage the mule porters. 

We find this wage too low for the work involved.

So what are we doing about it? Epic as a company has decided to supplement the standard porter wage amount in the form of tip supplements from our company itself and also by collecting a fixed amount of additional tips from our clients to ensure the porters can take home a fair wage for their efforts.  

It is our hope that eventually we will contribute to changing the porter wage culture in Pakistan.

We also hope to be involved with the national park administration in the future with the goal being that they take some action as various organizations have done in Nepal to secure better working conditions for porters as the new standard. 

Pakistan is not Switzerland. Porters are never going to make $300/day. But they do deserve a better wage than the current status quo – everyone involved in the adventure community can agree on that. 

k2 base camp trek cost
Porters are the essential backbone of any big group trekking expedition in Pakistan. Photo: Jackson Groves

What Pakistan Can Learn from Nepal

When people ask us about some of the differences between the tourism industry and infrastructure between Nepal and Pakistan we tend to say “Pakistan is 30 years behind Nepal”.  

Over the last 3 decades, Nepal has emerged as the global leader in adventure tourism. 

The Nepalis have invested in a ton of tourism infrastructure, training programs (and rules around who can legally guide treks and climbs), and perhaps most importantly – greatly improved the working conditions of porters working on the busy hiking trails in the Himalayas. 

Part of the “rawness” of Pakistan contributes to the magic of the country without a doubt – but the rawness can have various undesired effects of course as well. 

The Nepali government recognized early on that tourism brings big money to Nepal and for some reason the Pakistani government has simply not acted with any degree of urgency with regard to tourism development in the country. 

Pakistan has similar geographical luck of the draw as Nepal; incredible mountains, genuine hospitality, hard-working people, and ancient culture – yet when it comes to building proper tourist infrastructure, maintaining roads to popular trekking areas, setting fair wages for locals, or offering basic guide training courses; it is safe to say that the government falls short in many areas. 

If the government in Pakistan takes some initiative on some of the issues – big and small –  affecting the tourism industry, all companies will certainly be better equipped to safely and responsibly run trips like the K2 Base Camp Trek – which can also help to stabilize the K2 Base Camp Trek cost as well as wages for workers.

island peak climbing nepal
Pakistan has a lot to learn from its South Asian neighbor, Nepal

K2 Base Camp Trek Cost: Prioritizing Team Saftey and Our Staff Costs More

Factoring in what has been said above – you might now be able to understand why Epic trips are priced the way they are. 

We do our best to never compromise the team safety, the wages of our staff, the little extras we provide, or the experiences of our clients. While no one company is perfect and never will be, we truly give it our best effort!

The K2 Base Camp Trek cost is what it is for our clients in order to ensure that we are able to tick all of the boxes that matter to us.

Our guides have years of first-hand experience leading challenging trekking trips in multiple countries and the proper training that comes with it. 

It goes without saying – but these sorts of individuals are the kinds of people you want on your side during a remote, challenging trekking expedition. 

Here are just some of the things you get when you book the K2 Base Camp Trek with us:

  • Two guides: one Western guide and one Pakistani guide

  • A staff that has been trained in basic wilderness first aid and who – with Epic Expeditions management – has developed a comprehensive industry standard risk management plan.

  • Porter staff is paid 4x more on average

  • Guide staff is paid 9x more on average

  • Multiple satellite communication devices including a satellite phone and a Garmin In-reach

  • Pre-tour one-on-one consultations via video call

  • An option to be paired with a nutritionist in the months leading up to the trek (to build probiotic belly health).

  •  A custom food menu 

  • Small group size. We cap all of our treks at 12 members

  • Company values and best practices that support the environment and ethical treatment of local workers. 
  •  Laughs, card games, and damn good French press coffee every morning!

k2 base camp height
Our team at K2 Base Camp!
k2 base camp trek cost
We always pack the tools needed to call for emergency rescue. No exceptions.

What is the Cost of the K2 Base Camp Trek for Pakistani People?

We actually get this question a lot: “But we are from Pakistan, so can we pay $200 USD to do this trek with you?”. We wish the answer was yes!

The short answer is that while Pakistani nationals have slightly less to pay for the trekking permit to enter the national park – all of the over costs and logistics are the same. 

From time to time we do offer discount specials, early bird pricing, etc which are open to everyone – including local Pakistani trekkers!

k2 base camp trek cost
Epic founder Chris Lininger with an all Pakistani team in 2019 - during a trash clean up of a campsite!

Wrap Up: K2 Base Camp Trek Cost

The K2 Base Camp Trek is one hell of an adventure. This trip is our favorite trip we run for a reason. The natural beauty, the raw journey, and the camaraderie of the team all come together to make this journey to the base of the world’s second-highest mountain the trip of a lifetime. 

After reading this blog, you should now be aware of what the K2 Base Camp Trek cost involves, where your money goes when you book, and some of the aspects of the trek one should consider when calculating value vs the kind of experiences you want to have on the trek to K2 Base Camp. 

Life is a balance and so are all the factors that go into a successful trekking expedition. 

It is our hope that the adventure community in Pakistan – made up of both Western and local companies – can unite together to make a much-needed positive change regarding a few of the standards K2 Base Camp Trek and other similar multi-day treks are run.

In the end, we are all on the same team and working toward a better future that benefits the trekkers coming to Pakistan as well as the local communities that make them possible.  

We hope you found this article helpful!

Please drop us a comment below and share your thoughts on some of the issues discussed in this article.

If you have personal experiences doing the K2 BC Trek yourself, please share your thoughts!

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

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Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

Island Peak Climbing Expedition

Next trip: October 14th - 31st, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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