During our 18 days on the trail we cross a 17,778 foot pass, visit Everest Base Camp and local monasteries, discover Tibetan Buddhist culture and meet the Sherpa people, who are as memorable and captivating as the Himalayan peaks that tower above their home. Each night is spent at a local guest house = comfortable lodging and hot meals! Outdoor latrines and shared hot shower facilities are standard throughout this area.
This is a strenuous hike but an enjoyable experience for nature and physical activity in the outdoors. With a positive attitude the challenge of this this trip creates many fond memories and great pictures. It’s the experience of a lifetime!
Day 1: Your guide will meet you at the Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu outside the customs hall after you pass through Nepal customs on your own. Transfer to a delightful smaller guest house in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu with comfortable rooms and attached bathrooms (hot showers), telephones, email, laundry service, a free safety deposit box and luggage storage. Once you settle in, enjoy the late afternoon light at the Buddhist stupa of Swayambhunath (a stupa is a large dome and pyramid-like structure containing religious relics). 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: Guided sightseeing in the Kathmandu Valley — Hindu temples and the burning Ghats of Pashupatinath along the holy Bagmati River. Ghats are steps which lead up from a river — bathing Ghats, where people wash themselves and their clothes and burning Ghats where Hindus cremate their departed in preparation for a ceremonial 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. After lunch we visit Bhaktapur and Patan. Today is a good introduction to both the Buddhist and Hindu religions.
Day 3: Kathmandu to Lukla/Phakding (9,184 feet). Morning transfer to the Kathmandu airport for our flight to Lukla at an elevation of 9,400 feet. Lukla airport has been paved and has a small terminal building. With unpredictable mountain weather, delays can occur. With a flight path parallel to the Himalayas, you can see such massifs as Gaurishankar, Melungtse and Cho Oyu to the left of the aircraft. Our Sherpa team will be waiting for us at Lukla and will supervise the loading of the porters and yaks. When all is ready, we will set forth on foot on a broad trail leading down to the Dudh Kosi River and the main trail coming from Chaurikharka. The trail leads along the east bank, gradually gaining elevation to the village of Phakding. Tonight's lodge is large, clean, comfortable and just a few hours away.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar (11,300 feet). A challenging day up the infamous "Namche Hill" — a very steep 2,000 foot ascent. Since we just arrived at altitude, we will proceed slowly with many rest stops. Along the trail are villages interspersed with magnificent forest of Rhododendron, Magnolia and giant Fir trees. Near the halfway point, on the Namche Hill, Mt. Everest (29,028 feet) and Lhotse (27,916 feet) appear to our gaze. The remarkable town of Namche is the largest and most prosperous in the Khumbu, a historical trading center where grain from the south was exchanged for salt from Tibet. Expect a comfortable guest house with showers to refresh. Hiking time today is five to six hours.
Day 5: Namche Layover. Namche Bazaar has a long history as a trading center where grain was bartered or sold for salt from Tibet. Today, Namche remains a brisk trading center — the bustle of tourism is the energy that keeps the town thriving now. Considering acclimatization and energy levels we continue on a trail to Thame (12,925 feet) through rhododendron forests. Kwangde, Kangteiga, and Thamserku — snow covered peaks piercing the sky above us, reach over 20,000 feet. It is in Thame at the hillside gompa (monastery) that the Buddhist masked dance drama, known as Mani Rimdu, depicts the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet by Padmasambhava in the eighth century. Today our trek is four to five hours with lots of climbing as the trail undulates both up and down.
Day 6: If the group is acclimatizing well, we'll continue on today to Kunde and Khumjung. The trail that winds through Namche and beyond requires one to two hours — depending on how people feel. Kunde lies 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 are more tranquil than Namche, providing a better chance to see how Sherpa people live. Approximate hiking time: 2 hours. Climb: 1,500 feet. Distance: 2 miles.
Day 7: Kunde to Dole (13,300 feet). The trail up the Dudh Kosi River transports us to summer yak-grazing country. Today's hike is a long one and includes two long ascents (over 1,000 feet) as well as one long descent. On average, we should accomplish it in about six to seven hours.
Day 8: Dole to Macherma (14,650 feet). We'll take a break today with a short day on the trail — just about two hours of hiking. Because of our altitude gain, we won't go higher or push harder. We'll have most of the day to explore remote spots to the west, climb into the craggy mountains or simply 'kick back' surrounded by a blissful panorama.
Day 9: Macherma to Gokyo (15,720 feet). We amble along the banks of a glacial river that snakes down the west side of the Ngozumpa Glacier. As we pass two small, deep–blue glacial lakes, we finally reach the yersa of Gokyo — poised on the stark eastern shore of the third lake. These are the rough stone huts that are the summer homes for the herders. Todays hike usually takes about five hours.
Day 10: Gokyo Layover. This is a spectacular place to enjoy short hikes with incredible views. We will attempt a three–to–five–hour hike. Ascending a northeastern ridge we reach a small summit (17,990 feet) which offers an broad skyline from Cho Oyu, to Everest, past Lhotse, and all the way to Makalu.
Day 11: Gokyo to Chugima (16,174 feet). Crossing the Dudh Kosi, we hike within clear sight of the terminal moraine of Ngosumpa Glacier before climbing up to the pass. We are hiking in the very rare air between 15,000 and 16,000 feet for six to seven hours through breathtaking hanging glaciers and astounding 360 degree mountain vistas. We walk purposefully as our eyes take in the amazing contrasts of earth and sky which surrounds us.
Day 12: Chugima Pass to Dzongla (15,889 feet). Today your focus is aided by good sunglasses as we ascend a 17,778 foot pass across blindingly–bright snowfields. We pass close views of hanging glaciers above us as we continue on a steep descent through loose rock and large stone slabs. Later we arrive at the yersa of Dzongla — perched on a shelf of land sporting fine views in every direction. Our hiking time should be about five to seven hours of challenging effort.
Day 13: Dzongla to Labuche and Gorak Shep (16,175-17,000 feet). We descend past lush alpine pastures and temporary summer villages. In summer, villagers from lower altitudes bring their stock here to graze as well as cultivate several crops nearby. Soon we turn north to Lobuche (16,175 feet) and Gorak Shep (17,000 feet) three miles further.
Day 14: From Gorak Shep it's all uphill to the summit of Kala Pattar ("Black Rock" at 18,450 feet). Views from Kala Pattar include Everest Base Camp and Mount Everest, with a clear close view of the Ice Fall and the South Col. Black Rock is actually a spur of Pumori, a beautiful peak whose Tibetan name means "Daughter Peak." Continue across the glacier for more inspiring views at Everest Base Camp before returning to Gorak Shep to spend the night.
Day 15: Gorak Shep to Dingboche. Downhill hiking under majestic Tawoche (21,462 feet) to the beautiful stone village of Dingboche (14,250 feet) where we will lodge for the night.
Days 16-17: Chhukhung (15,535 feet). The trail travels east to cross numerous streams flowing from the Nuptse and Lhotse Glaciers at Chhukhing. Here we gaze on the east face of Ama Dablam (21,964 feet). This hike is a gentle uphill grade and should require less than three hours. We can amble to some of the smaller peaks for close-up views of the limestone bands on the Lhotse-Nuptse Wall, Baruntse and Island Peak.
Day 18: Chhukhung to Pangboche (12,800 feet). We make a long but moderate five to six hour descent to Pangboche, the highest year-round settlement in the Imja Khola Valley. Above the main village is the gompa, built some 300 years ago as Buddhism was introduced into the Khumbu. According to legend, the large black juniper trees that surround the monastery sprouted from the hairs of an old lama who tore out his hair and cast it around the gompa. Years ago, you could see relics of the Yeti or abominable snowman.
Day 19: Pangboche to Thangboche (12,670 feet) and Namche (11,300 feet). Our trekking starts with a two–hour hike and a short–but–steep climb bringing us to Thangboche (12,670 feet). The prominent monastery is the spiritual center of the Everest region and enjoys stunning panoramas of the Himalayas. The main gompa burned in January 1989, but was beautifully reconstructed. We continue hiking about five more hours to Namche, where we are grateful for a comfortable guest house.
Days 20-21: Namche to Lukla. We return to familiar territory as we head "down the hill" to the airport in two easy days or one long day of hiking. Don't forget there is one last steep climb up the hill into Lukla. Once we arrive, we'll enjoy a fond farewell dinner accompanied by our Sherpa staff. It's time to prepare our selves and baggage for tomorrow's early morning flight.
Day 22: Lukla to Kathmandu. With unpredictable mountain weather actual flight departures can vary but we hope to arrive in Kathmandu before noon and transfer to our hotel for showers, leisure and independent activities.
Day 23: Free day in Kathmandu today. Nepal's capital is a delight for the senses, the imagination and the heart. For centuries Kathmandu was forbidden to outsiders. Since it was opened to the world in the early 1950s, it has been one of the most eagerly sought travel destinations. Walk to Durbar Square on your own and bargain for a rickshaw ride back to the guest house. Our group dinner is at a neighborhood Tibetan restaurant.
Day 24: Depart Kathmandu. We have an early Breakfast and transfer to the airport for your departure. Options include remaining in Kathmandu for more sightseeing, exploring the Taj Mahal in nearby India or a visit Nepal's Chitwan National Park for an exciting jungle Elephant Safari.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Nepal Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey