Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Look out for the signboard. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 20 to 30 minutes. A briefing given by trek leader is scheduled for the late afternoon. He will discuss our trekking program and co-ordinate any last minute arrangements. The evening is free, but usually our leader will organise an evening meal (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants. Alternatively you can enjoy a dinner at the hotel.
In the morning you will be explore Kathmandu on an organised sightseeing tour. We visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where we observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. We also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here we see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats. The rest of our time in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration. In the late afternoon you will be given departure information for the next morning... Meals included: 1 breakfast
In the early morning we take the spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (2827m), flying parallel to giant Himalayan mountains bordering Nepal and China (Tibet). The flight time is about 40 minutes and we land at an airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpas in the mid-1960s. After landing we have time to explore the village while our Sherpa crew sort and load our trekking equipment. In the afternoon we begin our trek by descending towards the Dudh Kosi River where we join the main trail to Namche Bazaar, located just above Chaunrikharka (2713m). The walking is easy and after passing through the small village of Ghat (2550m), it is a short walk to Phakding. Meals included: 1 breakfast
From Phakding we cross the river and head up the valley, following porters from the south that are ferrying supplies to Namche Bazaar. The trail keeps close to the river valley and is lined with beautiful blue pine and rhododendron forest that is very spectacular in the spring months, when the flowers are in bloom. We cross the Dudh Kosi River at Benkar, where there are tantalising glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Kusum Kanguru (6369m) and Thamserku (6623m). From here it is only a short walk to Monjo (2835m), where we arrive in time for lunch and for stay.Evening we go for a side walk for acclimatization.
From Monjo it is a short walk to the entrance of the national park, before we cross the Dudh Kosi River to Jorsale (2805m). The trek continues upstream on generally flat terrain, crossing back to the right bank to the confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Dudh Kosi Rivers, where we start the steep climb to Namche Bazaar. After crossing a large and stable suspension bridge high above the river, we slowly ascend at a steady pace. There are some fantastic photographic opportunities as the peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Taweche (6542m) come into view for the first time.
We remain at Namche Bazaar for a second night to allow for proper acclimatisation to the altitude. Namche is a prosperous village situated in a large protected hollow. It gained its importance during the period when Tibetan salt was traded for the lowland grains of Nepal. Today a limited amount of trade still exists at Namche and Tibetans are often seen in the village trading rugs and Chinese-made goods, clothing, salt and dried meat. The stunning vista includes a superb panorama of the Khumbu peaks and great views of Everest. After breakfast, a variety of options exists. Perhaps a walk towards Thami (3810m) above the beautiful Bhote Khola River Valley or a visit to the national park headquarters to see the interesting displays of Sherpa lifestyle and culture. There is also a mountaineering display and information on the park’s flora and fauna. Your guides are on hand to offer advice and escort you on walks.
From Namche, we ascend to the airstrip at Shyanboche and then to a lunch spot in Khumjung - the largest village in the region. Towering above Khumjung is the sacred rocky peak of Khumbilya (5761m). It is the home of the guardian goddess of the region, often depicted in religious paintings (or thangkas) as a white-faced figure on a white horse. The trail contours around Khumbilya's lower slopes, passing through beautiful birch forest and then climbing on to treeless, grassy slopes to a stupa on top of a rocky ridge (3992m). Once again the views of the surrounding mountains are magnificent. Phortse can be seen across the valley - a picturesque village set in a patchwork of stone-walled fields. We overnight at the cluster of lodges on the saddle, known as Mongla.
From the stupa we descend 300 metres on a series of switchback trails to the Dudh Kosi River at Phortse Bridge. The trail to Gokyo is deceptive and we can ascend too quickly if we do not plan our trekking days sensibly. So, in the interests of acclimatisation, we take three days to reach Gokyo. Leaving Phortse Bridge, we ascend steeply at first and then contour high above the valley, enjoying excellent views of Kantega, Thamserku and Ama Dablam (6856m). About an hour's walk from Phortse Bridge, we gain our first views of the mammoth Cho-Oyo (8153m) at the head of the valley. We are now trekking beyond the tree line and pass some imposing waterfalls en route to the yak herding settlements of Tongba (4015m) and Gyele (4050m). From here it is a short distance to Dole (4084m), where we spend the night. After lunch we can explore the upper Dole Valley, returning via a high ridge above the lodge to enjoy fantastic views of Cho-Oyo and Gyachung Kang (7922m) to the north, and Taweche (6542m) and Cholatse (6440m) across the valley to the east. We are now at higher altitudes and it is important to take notice of our trek leader’s advice and recommendations regarding rest and fluid intake.
Today is another short day starting with a climb out of the small Dole Valley before ascending more gradually up the Dudh Kosi Valley, high above the river. The walk is easy though we will feel the effects of altitude on even the smallest hill. The barren alpine scenery with only small clusters of scrub juniper is a stark contrast to the snowy white peaks and deep blue skies. After two hours we arrive at Luza (4360m) and, after a further hour's walk, we reach our lodge at Machhermo (4465m) where we spend the evening. After lunch there is an option of taking an excursion across rocky moraines to the base of Kyajo Ri (6168m) and Machhermo Peak (6073m). However, keep an eye open for the yeti! It was here in 1974 that three yaks were killed and a Sherpa girl injured when trying to fight off a hairy, ape-like intruder!
A short, steep climb leads from the Machhermo Valley on to the steep grassy slopes of the Dudh Kosi Valley. Keep an eye open for the colourful Tibetan snow cocks, often found in this area. The valley widens as we pass through Pangka (4390m) and on to the jumbled, terminal moraines of Ngozumbu Glacier, the largest in Nepal and the source of the Dudh Kosi River. Climbing steeply over a rocky trail we keep to the western side of the glacier to reach a small lake at the head of a wide valley and then pass a larger lake at Longponga (4690m), before following the lateral moraines to the third lake at Gokyo (4750m). Gokyo consists of a number of stone dwellings surrounded by stone-walled yak pastures. Our lodge is located close to the lake and, if there are no clouds around, the sunroom can be distinctly warm in the afternoon. For those feeling energetic, it is worth ascending to the ridge at the back of Gokyo for views down to the mighty Ngozumbu Glacier.
We rise early for an ascent of Gokyo Peak (5360m) - a straight-forward but steep climb and tiring due to the altitude. The walk up will take just over two hours and the reward is one of the best panoramas in the Khumbu. From the rocky summit, four 8000-metre peaks can be seen -Everest (8848m), Cho-Oyo (8153m), Lhotse (8511m) and Makalu (8481m). Countless other towering snow-capped peaks and rock spires fill the horizons including Gyachung Kang (7922m) to the east of Cho-Oyo, Cholatse (6440m), Taweche (6542m) and Kangchung (6103m). In addition, there’s a bird's eye view of the Gokyo lakes and the huge creaking Ngozumpa Glacier, now cutting halfway across the world and snaking its way down the valley far beneath. We descend back to Gokyo for a late breakfast. And spend day with free for rest.
After breakfast we retrace our steps back to the snout of the glacier and continue down the valley back to Machhermo. It is surprising how easily and quickly we cover the return route, now that we are well acclimatised.
A leisurely start to the day takes us down valley to Dole, where we enter forest to continue the descent to Phortse Bridge. Keep an eye open for musk deer, which are often seen on this section of the trail. Here we take lunch and branch off the main trail to Namche to cross the Dudh Kosi and ascend to the village of Phortse. Phortse is one of the more traditional Sherpa villages in the Khumbu region, but surprisingly few trekkers stop here on their Everest trek. The dramatic mountain views and peace and quiet of this village are sure to be one of the highlights of our trek.
Our morning's walk first heads across a ridge and then descends on an exposed trail to the Imja Khola. Keep an eye open for Himalayan tahr - these mountain goats are often seen on the crags high above the trail. We meet the trail coming from Tengboche by the suspension bridge and from here we gradually ascend to the village of Pangboche, where the peak of Ama Dablam dominates the skyline. We take lunch here and have the opportunity of seeing the beautiful monastery that once housed a legendary yeti scalp. After lunch our route follows the trail high above the Imja Khola, passing the tea houses at Orsho, before again crossing the Imja Khola and old glacial moraines to our lodge in the settlement of Dingboche. Here we find a beautiful patchwork of small fields enclosed by stone walls protecting the crops of barley and potatoes from the cold winds. The scenery is once again spectacular and although Everest has disappeared behind the Lhotse-Nuptse Ridge, the huge peaks that tower above the eastern end of the valley are ample compensation. We are now almost completely above the tree-line. In clear conditions, look out for spectacular sunsets here and on Ama Dablam, the south face of Lhotse to the north, and also Island Peak in the centre of the valley.
In the morning we ascend the small ridge behind the village above Pheriche Valley. From the chorten at the top, Taweche and Cholatse (6440m) make for a striking scene, as they seem to lean forwards from across the valley in the west. To the north, Lobuje Peak (6119m) and the snowfields of the Cho La dominate the skyline. The walking is now generally flat on wide-open fields, but do take your time and ensure you are well hydrated. Late in the morning we cross the Khumbu Khola at Dughla (4620m) and take a light lunch at the foot of the huge terminal moraines of Khumbu Glacier flowing off Everest. In the afternoon, there is a solid and quite steep climb on a rocky trail to the top of the moraines. On the crest of the ridge we pass a line of memorial cairns, built in memory of the Sherpas and climbers who have died on various Everest expeditions over the last fifty or so years. From here the view is spectacular - Pumori (7145m), Lingtren (6697m), Khumbutse (6623m) and across the border in Tibet, Changtse (7550m), are seen at the head of the valley, whilst Everest is hidden behind the towering walls of Nuptse and Lhotse. We then follow the valley stream to our lodge at Lobuje, arriving early afternoon. Today is a tiring day but the fantastic scenery makes it all very worthwhile. In addition, our time spent at higher altitude in the Gokyo area will doubtless have helped our acclimatisation process.
DAY 16 : Gorak Shep (5160m) - Everest Base Camp(Trekking: approx 3 hours to Gorak Shep, 5 hours round trip to Everest Base Camp)
As the trek to Gorak Shep is relatively short, we have the opportunity for a leisurely breakfast before beginning the day’s walk. From Lobuje we follow the broad valley that runs parallel to Khumbu Glacier. A gradual ascent enables us to build the slow, steady rhythm required when walking at high altitude. When we reach the moraines of Changri Nup Glacier, we make a series of small ascents and descents over a rocky trail lined with cairns that leads eventually to the surprising glacial sands of Gorak Shep (5160m) - reached after about three hours of walking. After a quick bite we gear up accordingly to head off towards the Everest Base Camp. The trek to the base camp can be achieved in around three hours and if trekking in the popular climbing period of March to May, we will almost certainly encounter yaks and porters supplying food and equipment to expeditions here. From Everest Base Camp we do not get views of MountEverest, but we are able to see the notorious Everest Ice Fall that flows from the Western Cwm, which is regarded as technically the hardest and most dangerous section of the mountain. The return journey from the Base Camp to Gorak Shep takes the same amount of time. We have an early dinner so that we are able to get up early the next day for awe-inspiring views of the Himalayan giants from Kala Patar.
We wake up early the next day for the trek to Kala Patar (5545m) to experience sensational sunrise views from this amazing vantage point. From the lodge the ascent is quite steep, so start very slowly and try to ascend at a steady rhythmic pace. Kala Patar is the rocky hilltop below Pumori. It is a tough walk because of the altitude, but the view from the top surpasses the wildest imagination. It will probably take a good hour and a half to reach the summit from Gorak Shep, although lower viewpoints can provide views that are almost as good. Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam, Taweche, Kantega and Everest, the highest mountain in the world, surround us. About three kilometres away and some 200 metres below, the area of the EverestBase Camp can be seen in a bowl at the bottom of the Khumbu Ice Fall. For many trekkers, reaching Kala Patar is a very emotional experience and it is worthwhile spending as long as you wish in order to savour this special moment. The descent back down to Gorak Shep is easy and once back at the lodge we have a quick drink and head off to the rooms to pack our kit bags whilst breakfast is being prepared. After breakfast we set off to Lobuche and Thugla, where we stop for lunch. After lunch we cross the Khumbu Khola and head down the valley below Cholatse to Pheriche, where we stop for the night.
From Pheriche we cross the Khumbu Khola River and ascend a short steep trail to the top of a small ridge for great views of Imja Valley, Ama Dablam and Kantega. We then descend to the small settlements at Orsho and Shomare before passing through Lower Pangboche to reach the suspension bridge over the Imja Khola River to ascend back to Tengboche. According to legend, Tengboche Monastery was founded in the 17th century by Lama Sange Dorjee, who came from Tibet’s Rongphu Monastery. Tengboche was destroyed by an earthquake in 1933, rebuilt and again badly damaged by fire in 1989. Construction of the present monastery was completed in 1992.After it lunch we rest for a while and in the evening we visit the monastery and the nearby museum. There is a small entrance fee for the museum and a small donation to the monastery is appreciated.
In the morning after breakfast we descend steeply through beautiful forest of juniper, rhododendron and fir to Phunkitenga. After a welcome break and perhaps a hot stimulating cup of tea we cross the Dudh Kosi River and ascend to Trashinga. From here the trail contours high above the valley through Shanasa and on to Namche Bazaar, where we spend the night.
We enjoy a leisurely departure from Namche Bazaar with a final opportunity to visit the shops in the bazaar before we descend steeply down to the large suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi River. We follow the trail through Jorsale and back to Monjo, where we take lunch. In the afternoon it is a short walk via Benkar through blue pine and rhododendron forest, with great views of Kusum Kangaru, back to our lodge in Phakding.
This is our last day of trekking, where it is only a short walk on the valley before making the final climb up to the airstrip at Lukla. We then take lunch at our lodge and the afternoon is free to wander around, relax or perhaps enjoy a hot shower! In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a few celebratory drinks and dancing with our Sherpa companions.
We rise early in the morning to be ready for the arrival of our aircraft for the flight back to Kathmandu. On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred back to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to do souvenir shopping or further sightseeing. Located in the south of the city, Patan is also worth a visit with its own Durbar Square full of historic structures and statues of past
Our trip ends today after breakfast and you are transferred out to the airport for your flight home or your onward journey.