Enjoy this opportunity to know the local Sherpa people in a meaningful way. We visit the famous local market of Namche Bazaar and some beautiful monasteries such as the one at Tengboche. We'll hike steep trails to climb Gokyo Ri and Kala Patter. Both peaks are over 18,000 feet - although not technical, the climbs are steep! Spring weather is milder (not as cold) than in the fall, but can have some rain or snow. Blooming Rhododendrons are the ultimate high altitude delight! An extremely enjoyable experience if you like physical activity and the outdoors. You will enjoy the challenge of this trip creating many fond memories and great pictures. It's the experience of a lifetime!
Pre Trip Days: In transit from your home. Fly to Kathmandu, usually changing planes in Bangkok or Singapore. Your guide will meet your flight at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu (elevation 4,428 feet) after you get your visa, collect your luggage and pass through Nepal customs.
Day 1: Your group leader and local guide will meet you at the Tribhuvan Airport and take you to a delightful smaller hotel in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu. Our hotel offers comfortable rooms with attached bathrooms (good hot showers), telephones, email, faxes, laundry service, a free safety deposit box and luggage storage. With the hotel's location and friendly staff you can always relax in the roof garden, enjoying views of the surrounding mountains and city skyline.
Take a walk or ride to enjoy the late afternoon light at the Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath. Swayambhunath is also known as "the monkey temple" because of the large band of monkeys that make it their home. At one time the Kathmandu Valley was a huge lake. Legend has it that the hill on which the monkey temple stands was an island. There is evidence that the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site 2,000 years ago. Later enjoy a traditional Nepalese style dinner.
Day 2: Enjoy guided sightseeing in the Kathmandu Valley. Places of interest include the Hindu temples and ghats of Pasupatinath and the nearby Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath. Ghats are steps leading up from a river. Bathing ghats are where people wash themselves and their clothes. Burning ghats are where Hindus cremate dead bodies in readiness for disposal in the river. There is also an important Shiva temple at Pashupatinath. Shiva is the great destroyer and creator God of the Hindu religion.
From Pashupatinath, we continue on to the nearby Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath. Bodhnath is an impressive site where pilgrims pray by circumambulating the large all seeing eyes of Buddha. Today is a good introduction to both the Buddhist and Hindu religions. Dinner at an Indian restaurant.
Day 3: Flight to Lukla and trek to Phakding. The flight is spectacular. From Lukla, we soon join the trail coming from the road at Jiri. We continue north through Choplung, a newly built town, and past the tributary of Kusum Khola. The beautiful peak at its head is Kusum Kangguru, which means "pure mountain house of the three Gods". From the tea shop where we rest, the peaks of Kusum Kangguru dominate the sky. Continue through the village of Ghat and you can see evidence of the landslide and flood caused by an earthquake years ago — the remains of the destroyed village lie on the other side of the river. In Phakding we spend our first night of trekking at a cozy, local guest house. Approximate hiking time: 3-4 hours. Climb: 500 feet. Distance: 5 miles.
Day 4: Trek to Namche Bazaar. We cross the suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi and continue through blue pine and rhododendron forests to the village of Benkar. We continue up the Dudh Kosi for a short amble to Mondzo and then another brief jaunt to Jorsale to cross a large suspension bridge. We cross the Dudh Kosi (9,325 feet) one final time on a new bridge and then begin an abrupt 2,000 foot ascent towards Namche Bazaar. The trail weaves back and forth along the crest where Everest can be seen behind the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. The remainder of the climb to Namche Bazaar (11,300 feet) is not as steep. You are now in Khumbu.
Sherpas run the stores, hotels and restaurants. We climb to the very top of the hill, a section of the village known as Chorkhang ("thieves den"), where we will be staying at a very pleasant sherpa–run guesthouse. It's a great place to relax to enjoy the clean air, good food and impressive views. Approximate hiking time: 4-5 hours. Climb: 2,600 feet. Distance: 6 miles.
Day 5: Rest Day in Namche. In the morning we'll do some shopping at the colorful and interesting Saturday Market at Namche Bazaar. Tourism keeps the town thriving as you'll find at the market. Along with local products, you'll find western goods such as chocolate bars and toilet paper, that are resold in the lodges and small shops. This is a good time to stock up on snacks for the trek! You may prefer to rest or visit the headquarters of the Sagarmatha National Park, perched on the hill to the east. There, you'll find a museum and fabulous panoramic views of Everest and surrounding peaks.
Optional Day Hike: Enjoy spectacular scenery on our hike up the Thame Valley. Climbing up the valley we can see forests, Danphe Pheasants, a tree nursery, open fields and a small village school. Many residents here are refugees from Chinese occupied Tibet. Approximate hiking time: 5-8 hours. Climb: 500-1,500 feet. Distance: 5-10 miles.
Day 6: We'll continue today to Kunde and Khumjung. The trail that winds through Namche and beyond requires one to two hours — while short, it is a steep climb. Kunde is at 12,600 feet and is the site of the Kunde Hospital, built by the Himalayan Trust established by Sir Edmund Hillary. Khumjung is located at 12,400 feet and the home of a famous local Sherpa artist. These smaller villages provide a chance to see how Sherpa people live. Approximate hiking time: 2 hours. Climb: 1,500 feet. Distance: 2 miles.
Day 7: From Kunde and Khumjung we climb for about two hours. At the crest of the trail (13,000 feet) we discover a stupa symbolizing the five elements: The base stands for the earth, the dome for water, the parasols for fire, the moon and sun for air, the flame on top for ether (the upper regions of space). Building a chorten involves numerous rituals and ceremonies. Often they are built to obtain merit for the deceased. For example, one of our guides built a chorten in his village honoring his father who had died a few years before. Descending sharply, our trail approaches the river.
We follow the path to Phortse and continue our journey northward below silent, frozen waterfalls and deep, moss-covered woods, occasionally glimpsing Musk Deer. Emerging from the woods, the trail passes several yak herder's summer huts including Tongba, Gyele and Dole (13,400 feet). Nearby, we will spend the night. Approximate hiking time: 6 hours. Climb: 3,700 feet. Distance: 10 miles.
Day 8: Trek to Macherma - an easy amble. We climb gradually, moving up the river valley passing Lhabarma and Luza to reach Macherma (14,650 feet). We have plenty of time, but at our lofty altitude it's best not to climb further. In the afternoon we can enjoy a short hike up a pretty glacial valley, climb 3,250 feet up to a perch on Macherma Peak for exciting views of Mt. Everest or we can have an option to simply relax! Approximate hiking time: 3 hours. Climb: 1,700 feet. Distance: 4 miles.
Day 9: Trek to Gokyo. We climb steeply out of the village, gradually climbing up through Pangka (14,925 feet). Before descending to follow along a glacial river, our trail emerges at a the first of several small lakes. We may catch a glimpse of the golden ducks who live on the high alpine lakes above 14,000 feet. Continue past a second lake to a third and to the village of Gokyo (15,720 feet) on its eastern shore. Tonight we stay at a comfy resort!! Later, we can hike up to a small ridge overlooking the Ngozumpa Glacier.
Spend time relaxing and absorbing the beauty of the glacier. Warmed by the sun, the ice usually seems to change before your eyes — cracking and crumbling. Approximate hiking time: 6 hours. Climb: 1,700 feet. Distance: 7 miles.
Day 10: Climb Gokyo Ri. Breathtaking panoramic views include Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse and beyond to Makalu, we'll travel northeast — ascending the summit of Gokyo Ri (17,990 feet). Approximate. hiking time: 4-5 hours. Climb: 2,700 feet. Distance: 2 miles.
Day 11: Descending from Gokyo we'll choose a path less-traveled. This trail is a beautiful, desolate route perched high above a ravine. We cover a lot of ground with Thamserku (21,675 feet) and Kangtega (21,925 feet) directly in front of us. We soon reach Phortse (12,467 feet), a spot where we'll spend the night. Approximate hiking time: 7-8 hours. Climb: 1,800 feet. Descend: 4,800 feet. Distance: 10 miles.
Day 12: Trek to Dingboche. From Phortse we amble a high trail above the Imja Khola to approach the village of Pangboche (12,800 feet). The Gompa (Buddhist monastery) is the oldest in Khumbu and interesting to visit. We continue northeast along the Imja Khola, to a mani wall at 13,725 feet, where our trail divides. We'll follow to the village of Dingboche (14,270), where we spend the night. This route offers a chance to see the Chukhung Valley with a stunning panorama of Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Approximate hiking time: 7-8 hours. Climb: 3,360 feet. Distance: 10 miles.
Day 13: Trek to Lobuche. From Dingboche our route follows a ridge with great views. At first, we reach a crest, then descend to cross a glacial stream and finally ascend to Dugla (15,075 feet). The trail steers to Lobuche (16,175 feet). A climb up the ridge to the west, rewards us with magical views — especially at sunset. Approximate hiking time: 3-4 hours. Climb: 2,700 feet. Distance: 5 miles.
Day 14: Day hikes from Lobuche. Make an early start for our three mile hike to Gorak Shep (17,000 feet) where it's all uphill to the summit of Kala Pattar (18,450 feet). Views from Kala Pattar include Everest Base Camp and Mount Everest. We have a close view of the Ice Fall and the South Col. Kala Pattar ("Black Rock") is a spur of Pumori, a beautiful peak whose Tibetan name means "Daughter Peak." Approximate hiking time: 7-8 hours. Climb: 3,000 feet. Distance: 8 miles.
Day 15: Trek to Thangboche. We return through Pheriche Village, home of a medical clinic run by the Himalayan Rescue Association. We then follow the Imja Khoala down to Pangboche. After crossing the river, we make a short climb up to our pleasant lodge, situated just below Thangboche at about 12,400 feet. Approximate hiking time: 7-8 hours. Descent: 4,000 feet. Distance: 10 miles.
Day 16: Trek to Jorsale. The famous Thangboche monastery is found on a saddle under the mighty Kangtega and Thamserku mountains — a short climb up from our guest house. Much of the gompa was destroyed in the fire of 1989 and has been rebuilt. We plan to visit the gompa and the Sherpa Cultural Center. From Thangboche, the trail descends through a rhododendron forest to the small village of Pungo Tengo where we find several mills and a series of water-driven prayer wheels. The trail ascends to join another at 11,800 feet and contours high above the Dudh Kosi and the park headquarters. We descend steeply through Namche and down 2,000 feet to the village of Jorsale (9,100 feet). Approximate hiking time: 7-8 hours. Climb: 2,000 feet. Descent: 4,000 feet. Distance: 10 miles.
Day 17: Trek to Lukla. We follow the Dudh Kosi to Choplung and continue to a small ridge. We ascend to reach Lukla (9,350 feet). Lukla means "place with many goats and sheep," but it might be renamed "place with many trekkers waiting for a plane". Frequent weather changes here can cause flight delays of several days. Weather permitting, your stay here will only be overnight! Approximate hiking time: 5-6 hours. Climb: 1,000 feet. Descent: 1000 feet. Distance: 9 miles.
Day 18: Fly to Kathmandu. After a short yet spectacular flight, we return from Lukla to Kathmandu. Free time in the afternoon allows for relaxing and showering. Be sure to leave your laundry at the front desk so you can take home some clean clothes! Dinner is also on your own with good neighborhood restaurants.
Day 19: Depart Kathmandu. You may have a few hours for last minute shopping and a farewell garden brunch. An option many travelers enjoy, is to stay in Nepal extra days to enjoy a jungle safari in Chitwan National Park!
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