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Essential Everest

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 13 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 8 people
Destination(s): Nepal  
Specialty Categories: Hiking & Trekking   Cultural Journey  
Season: October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 1350 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1350 US Dollar (USD)

Overview: This trip is designed to allow people to enjoy the views and culture of this fascinating area with less effort than our other Everest treks. With plenty of time to relax and sightsee in the Kathmandu Valley you'll be well rested when you arrive in the spectacular Khumbu region.

In the company of our professional yet friendly staff, you will trek through the Everest region at an easy and enjoyable pace. All nights are spent at local guest houses, providing modest lodging and hot meals. Outdoor latrines and shared hot shower facilities are standard throughout this area.

Most people find the simple comforts and warm hospitality of these small family run hotels delightful. However, you must be prepared to "rough it," as conditions can be as variable as the topography. Be prepared for weather changes, limited toilet facilities and rigors of this wilderness.

Our relaxed schedule will give us plenty of time to interact with the Sherpa people. With a positive and flexible attitude, you will enjoy the challenge of this trip creating many fond memories and great pictures. It's the experience of a lifetime!

Leadership: The Trek Leader is Gary Loth. Gary is an experienced leader, backpacker and climber with training in first aid. In addition to the Everest region, his trekking experience includes the Annapurna, Langtang and Humla regions of Nepal as well as the Ladakh and Sikkim regions of India and Tibet.

Previous groups have enjoyed his extensive knowledge of Buddhism, which comes from years spent as a monk studying Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition. His popularity with our staff and the monks in the local monasteries centers on his warm personality, organized leadership and command of the Tibetan language.

Tour Itinerary

Pre Trip Days: In transit from your home (Americans lose one day crossing the international date line). Fly to Kathmandu, changing planes in Bangkok or Singapore. Your group leader or guide can meet your flight at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu (elevation 4,428 feet) for your scheduled arrival. They must wait for you outside the customs hall, so we meet after you get your visa, collect your luggage and pass through Nepal customs on your own.

Day 1: Amber, your guide, will meet your flight (if arriving today) at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu. He must wait for you outside the airport building so you will need to get your visa, collect your luggage and proceed through Nepal customs on your own. You transfer to our Guest House — a delightful smaller hotel in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu.

If you arrive before the start of the trip, we can offer our Guest House for a discounted price of $35 per night (single) or $40 per night (double). Airport pick-up for early arrivals are $10 per person. Our hotel offers comfortable deluxe rooms with ensuite bathrooms (and that means good hot showers), telephone, fax, room service, laundry service, free safety deposit box and luggage storage.

After time to settle in, we'll soon enjoy the late afternoon light at the interesting 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 once an island. There is evidence that the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site 2,000 years ago. Later today, we enjoy a traditional Nepalese dinner. (Dinner, Day 1)

Day 2: Bodhnath & Pasupatinath. Morning visit to Bodhnath, the largest stupa in Nepal. It is also the religious center for Tibetans living in Nepal. Morning prayer services in the Gompas (a Tibetan Buddhist monastery) surrounding the stupa include monks chanting. We move on to the Hindu temples and burning ghats of Pasupatinath on the holy Bagmati river. Ghats are steps leading up from a river.

There are, for example, bathing ghats where people wash themselves and their clothes. Burning ghats are where Hindus cremate dead bodies in readiness for disposal in the river. It's time to relax and absorb the local scene including countless monkeys that flock to the temple at mid morning to eat up leftover offerings. Afternoon and evening are available to visit nearby carpet factories and shops.

Day 3: Flight to Lukla. This is one of the most spectacular flights in the world. We'll leave the lush green valley farmland behind us to journey through increasingly rugged terrain. Suddenly the plane turns and follows a deep valley upwards to the high peaks. Cho Oyu (26,742 feet) Everest (29,020 feet) and Makalu (27,798 feet) are directly front of us.

With a final turn, we approach the air strip (really just a field). Yaks, dzums (yak/cow cross-breeds) and other grazing animals may have been herded away as a loud piercing whistle announced our arrival to the small Sherpa town.

After a hearty lunch (altitude and fresh air make a ravenous appetite), we take an easy walk towards the trekking peak of Mera for impressive views and a trekking introduction. Tonights Lodge is large, clean and comfortable. Todays 1 hour, 2 mile hike climbs 200 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 9200 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 4: Trek to Phakding. From Lukla, the trail descends at first and soon we join with the trail coming from the road at Jiri. We then continue north through Choplung (a newly built town) and past another tributary (the Kusum Khola at elevation 8850 feet) with a beautiful peak at its head (Kusum Kangguru, meaning "Pure Mountain House of the Three Gods", at 20,895 feet).

We are rewarded with views of the three individual peaks from the tea-shop where we stop for a break. Our steps continue through the village of Ghat (8350 feet). You can see evidence of the landslide from the earthquake some years ago with the remains of the demolished village on the opposite side of the river. The trail (which used to cross the river in Ghat before the earthquake) now continues on the east bank to the village of Phakding (8700 feet).

In Phakding we spend our first night of trekking at a cozy Guest House. The comfortable dining room is warm and friendly with its large pot belly stove and spectacular panoramic views. The lodge owner is a Sherpa woman who is a great cook. Todays 3 hour, 5 mile hike climbs 500 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 8700 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner).

Day 5: Trek to Namche Bazaar. We cross a suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi. Here we often spy large beehives across the river high in the cliffs above us. If we're lucky there may be ladders set up, used by the "honey hunters" to harvest this delicious treat.

We continue on through blue pine and rhododendron forests to the village of Benkar (8875 feet). Spectacular Thamserku Peak (21,679 feet) rises prominently in front of us. Soon we cross another bridge back to the east side of the Dudh Khosi and to the village of Chumowa with its vegetable farms.

Moving up the Dudh Kosi for a short walk we reach Mondzo (9300 feet) and soon after to Jorsale (9100 feet), where the trail crosses a large suspension bridge. Jorsale is the entrance to the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. Portions of the trail north of Jorsale were rerouted following landslides a few years ago.

The trail continues on both sides of the river, occasionally climbing over small ridges where it cannot follow along the river bank. We cross the Dudh Kosi (9325 feet) a final time on a new bridge and then begins a very steep 2000 foot ascent towards Namche Bazaar.

As we continue, the trail moderates and meanders up the ridge. Halfway up we reach a spot where Everest (29,035 feet) can be seen behind the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. Water has even been piped to this point!

The remainder of the climb to Namche Bazaar (11,300 feet) is not as steep. You are now in Khumbu where Sherpas run the stores, hotels, and restaurants. In the autumn of 1983 a small hydroelectric generator began producing electricity and now the various lodges and homes in this town use electricity for lights and music as well as cooking.

We will continue to the very top of the hill, a section of the village known as Chorkhang (thieves den) where we will stay at the very pleasant Hotel Sherwi Khangba (Sherpa's Old House). What makes this hotel so special is its Sherpa Cultural Center. There is also a photo museum on the ground floor of the hotel and in the dining area are books, magazines, and a video library. You'll see photographs of all the Nepali men and women who have climbed Mt. Everest.

It's a great place to relax, breathe clean mountain air, and savor good food and impressive views. Today's 6-8 hour, 6 mile hike climbs 2,600 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 11,500 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6: Rest Day in Namche. First thing this morning we'll shop at the famous Saturday Market at Namche Bazaar Ñ a cacophony of colorful sights and smells. Namche Bazaar was a trading center where grain from the south was exchanged for salt from Tibet. It remains a trading center even though the salt trade ended when the Chinese closed the passes to the North.

Now tourism keeps the town thriving and the market has adjusted. Along with various local goods (once again allowed to be brought in from Tibet) there are western goods like 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 also want to just rest or visit the headquarters of the Sagarmatha National Park, perched on a hill to the east. There's a museum and fabulous panoramic views of Everest and surrounding peaks Our sleeping elevation is 11,500 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7: Hike towards toward Thame. We will enjoy spectacular scenery on our hike up the Thame valley. Climbing out of the village we pass through a small forest. This is a good region to spot Pheasant and the Danphe, the colorful national bird of Nepal. We continue past a tree nursery, some fields, a hydroelectric project and a small village school.

On the return we'll visit an interesting nunnery. Most attention is paid to the larger monasteries in the area but this small nunnery is one of the friendliest we've visited. Many residents are refugees from Chinese-occupied Tibet. Today 5-8 hour, 5-10 mile hike climbs 500 to 1500 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 11,500 feet. Distance on this day will depend on the interest of the group. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8: Trek to Tangboche. Our day begins by hiking up and down along an exposed ridge high above the Dudh Kosi. Here are frequent sightings of Himalayan Tahr (a large shaggy mountain goat). Passing tea shops in about two hours, the trail now intersects with another from Kumjung.

There are souvenirs for sale against the amazing backdrop of Ama Dablam. Moving onwards the trail descends to Phunki Thanga at 10,600 feet, where we rest for a light lunch of noodle soup. Here are a series of interesting water driven prayer wheels.

After time to relax in the sun in pleasant surroundings, we climb up to Tangboche. It usually requires about two to three hours of slow walking. If we're lucky, this forest of Pine, Fir and Black Junipers is a wonderful place to see musk deer. In Tengboche you will often see Blood Pheasants. Tengboche Monastery sits in a clearing surrounded by dwarf firs and Rhododendrons.

The view first thing in the morning is incredible! All the famous peaks are visible: Kwangde (20,299 feet), Tawachee (21,463 feet) Everest (29,035 feet) Nuptse (25,850 feet) Lhotse (27,890 feet) Kantega (22,240 feet), Thamserku (21,680 feet) and most spectacular of all, Ama Dablam at 22 493 feet. Ama Dablam means "mother's charm box" in the Sherpa language.

Most people come to Khumbu focused to see Mount Everest but leave surprised, realizing that other mountains are even more spectacular. Much of the Tengboche Monastery was destroyed in a fire that took place in January of 1989 but has since been rebuilt. We'll visit the new Gompa and the Sherpa Cultural Center if it is open. Today's 5-6 hour, 8 mile hike climbs 3,000 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 12,887 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9: Trek to Kunde/Kumjung. From Tengboche it's a steep descent to return to the river, then a hard climb back to the point where the trail to Khumjung splits off at the tea shops. We'll stay at a small and pleasant lodge right in Kunde (near a Hospital built by the Himalayan Trust established by Sir Edmund Hillary).

We'll catch up on all the latest climbing news here and visit a local artist. Today's 4-5 hour, 8 mile hike climbs 2,000 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 12,600 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10: Kunde/Kumjung to Phakding. After a short downhill walk to Namche we retrace our steps, descending steeply to the Dudh Kosi then down stream past Jorsale (9100 feet), Mondzo (9300 feet), Chumowa and Benkar (8875 feet) back to Phakding (8700 feet) and return to our Lodge where we stop to spend the night. Today's 6 hour, 8 mile hike descends 4,000 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 8,700 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11: Trek to Lukla. From Phakding we continue downstream to Lukla. Passing Choplung we climb a small ridge (8775 ft). Taking the left fork, we rise a few hundred feet to reach Lukla (9350 ft). Lukla means "place with many goats and sheep", but it seems it should be renamed "place with many trekkers waiting for a plane."

There aren't always enough flights out of Lukla to prevent bottlenecks, while bad weather can also cause delays. Weather willing, our wait will only be overnight! Todays 3 hour, 5 mile hike climbs 1,000 feet. Our sleeping elevation is 9,700 feet. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12: Fly to Kathmandu. After a short but spectacular flight, we return to Kathmandu. A free afternoon lends itself to reflection, sightseeing and showering. Be sure to put your laundry in at the front desk so you can take home clean clothes! Tonight's dinner is on your own with many good restaurant choices in the neighborhood. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 13: Depart from Kathmandu at midday. Time for last minute shopping and a garden brunch. Depart from Kathmandu at midday. (Brunch)

Post Trip: Same day return date for Americans crossing the international date line — to arrive home about midday after a stop over in Bangkok. A dreamy day filled with wonderful memories — vignettes of new faces, places and friends you'll never forget!

Important Note: This itinerary is designed only as a general trip guide to the schedule of our days. Changes may be made at any time as we go along and our flexibility will depend upon local conditions. Consider that it is possible to have additional free time by foregoing some of the day hikes or activities.

Daytime temperatures will be very warm while the evenings are cool enough for a light sweater in Kathmandu. At altitude, it is always chilly at night, but in October days are warm.

Good health, physical fitness and a positive attitude are necessary ingredients to make this easy trek an enjoyable one. Be prepared for possible light rain at any time. All areas we will visit are remote.

Travel Details: We will automatically send you an air itinerary after we receive your application form and passport photo copy. Inexpensive and reliable service to Nepal is available on Thai Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines and other air carriers.

Ask our ticketing agent to book a room should you have an overnight stopover. You are welcome to travel early or stay for extra days at the end. We can arrange additional nights at any of our hotels or guest houses for you.

The cost is approximately $35 per night (single) or $25 per night (sharing a double room) with comfortable deluxe rooms with attached bathrooms, telephones, room service, laundry service, a free safety deposit box and ample luggage storage. There are convenient, inexpensive internet cafes within a leisurely two minute walk from our hotel.

Airport pickup for early arrivals is $10 per person. For late departures you can take a cab to the airport or have us arrange an airport transfer for $10 one way ($20 for round trip).

Expenses: Additional travel-related expenses include: Your flight to the trip starting point of Kathmandu, Visas ($60 for Nepal, $50 for Tibet) plus $180 for your in-trip flights from Kathmandu to Lukla and return. This internal flight will be booked separately through our agents in Nepal.

We also recommend that you purchase travel insurance (at an approximate cost of $340) which includes coverage for trip cancelation and emergency evacuation. We offer many other levels of trip insurance starting at $50.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

- Trip Deposit: $250 USD
- Trip Price (Land Cost As Described): $1350 USD
- In-Trip (Round-Trip) Airfare Estimate: $180 USD
- Trip Difficulty Rating: Mild
- Maximum Group Size: 8.