The Gokyo and Khumbu Valleys are arguably the most dramatic and interesting of the Everest region. This trek explores friendly Sherpa villages, visits monasteries, seeks wildlife and unveils dramatic mountain scenery. We have two days in Kathmandu to experience one of Asia’s most fascinating cities before flying to Lukla, the starting point of our trek. We follow the Dudh Kosi Valley to Namche Bazaar and then trek into Gokyo Valley. The trail ascends gradually and we enjoy a series of short trekking days to ensure proper acclimatisation, walking beside the moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier and turquoise lakes to reach our lodge in Gokyo. From here we can climb Gokyo Ri (5360m) to a view of all of the region’s 8000-metre peaks including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu – a breathtaking panorama. From Gokyo we trek via Phortse and Dingboche to rejoin the main trail to Everest, which we follow to Gorak Shep. It is from here we make the round trip on a rugged trail to visit Everest Base Camp. However, to get a better view of the mountain and a 360-degree panorama of many other Himalayan peaks, the short but steep climb to Kala Patar is the highlight for many on this trek. Here the climbing route up the mountain can be seen, showing the immense scale and difficulty involved for any climbing team attempting to climb Everest. Our return route heads back to Lukla via the beautiful Thyangboche Monastery.
RETURNING TO NEPAL:
Thank you for choosing to visit Nepal. It is a decision you can be proud of because by visiting you are helping Nepal get back on its feet after the devastating earthquake of April this year. The following trip notes reflect our itineraries before the earthquake occurred. As Nepal rebuilds, there are likely to be changes. We may not be able to visit some destinations and sights, some accommodation may be closed and some activities may not be available. We are working closely with our operations team in Nepal to finalise as much as we can.
We will be able to let you know about some of these changes in advance before you travel. Others may need to be communicated to you by your tour leader once you are already in the country. We ask all our travellers to be flexible, patient and understanding both as you prepare for your travels and while on your trip in Nepal.
Why we love it
- The Gokyo and Khumbu Valleys are arguably the most dramatic and interesting of the Everest region.
- This trek explores friendly Sherpa villages, visits monasteries, seeks wildlife and unveils dramatic mountain scenery.
- Enjoying two days in Kathmandu experiencing one of Asia’s most fascinating cities before flying to Lukla.
- Following the Dudh Kosi Valley to Namche Bazaar and then trekking into Gokyo Valley. You will walk beside the moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier and turquoise lakes to reach the lodge.
- Climbing Gokyo Ri (5360m) to a view of all of the region’s 8000-metre peaks including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu – a breathtaking panorama.
- Trekking via Phortse and Dingboche to rejoin the main trail to Everest, which leads to Gorak Shep, and make the round trip on a rugged trail to visit Everest Base Camp.
- Getting a better view of the mountain and a 360 degree panorama of many other Himalayan peaks, by taking the short but steep climb to Kala Patar. This is the highlight for many on this trek.
- Using the incredible vantage from Kala Patar to see the climbing route up Everest. This highlights the immense scale and difficulty involved for any team attempting to climb it.
- The return route back to Lukla via the beautiful Thyangboche Monastery.
Day 1 - Kathmandu (1360m)
- Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The airport representative will be waiting outside the airport terminal a few metres from the exit door. Look out for the Peregrine signboard. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 20 minutes.
- A briefing given by the group leader is scheduled for the late afternoon. He will discuss your trekking program and co-ordinate any last minute arrangements.
- The evening will be free, but the tour leader will usually organise an evening meal (optional) at one of Kathmandu’s fine Nepali restaurants. Alternatively you can enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Shangri La Hotel or similar
Day 2 - Kathmandu (1360m)
- In the morning you will explore Kathmandu on an organised sightseeing tour. You will visit Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you can observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa. You will also visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Here you will see Hindu holy men (sadhus) meditating, pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats.
- The rest of your afternoon in Kathmandu is free for further sightseeing and exploration. In the late afternoon you will be issued with your Trek Pack and departure information for the next morning.
Shangri La Hotel or similar
Day 3 - Phakding (2652m)
- In the early morning you will 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 you will land at an airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpas in the mid-1960s. After landing you will have time to explore the village while the Sherpa crew sort and load your trekking equipment.
- In the afternoon you will begin your trek by descending towards the Dudh Kosi River where you will join the main trail to Namche Bazaar, located just above Chaunrikharka (2713m).
- The walk is easy and after passing through the small village of Ghat (2550m), it is only a short walk to Phakding. (Trekking: approximately 3 hours)
Day 4 - Namche Bazaar (3446m)
- From Phakding you will cross the river and head up the valley, following porters from the south that are ferrying supplies to Namche Bazaar.
- The trail remains close to the river valley and is lined with beautiful blue pine and rhododendron forest that is especially spectacular in the spring months, when the flowers are in bloom.
- Next you will cross the Dudh Kosi River at Benkar, where you will catch 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 you will arrive in time for lunch. In the afternoon the walking is a little tougher and includes the steep ascent to Namche Bazaar.
- From Monjo it is a short walk to the entrance of the national park, before you 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 you will start the steep climb to Namche Bazaar. After crossing a large and stable suspension bridge high above the river, you will 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. (Trekking: approximately 7 hours)
Day 5 - Namche Bazaar (3446m)
- (Acclimatisation Day) You will remain at Namche Bazaar for a second night to allow you to properly acclimatise 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.
- It is recommended that you take the opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset views from the national park headquarters above the village. The stunning vista includes a superb panorama of the Khumbu peaks and great views of Everest.
- After breakfast, a variety of options are available. 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.
Day 6 - Mongla (3970m)
- From Namche, you will 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. You will stay overnight at the cluster of lodges on the saddle, known as Mongla. (Trekking: approximately 4 hours)
Day 7 - Dole (4038m)
- From the stupa you will descend 300 metres on a series of switchback trails to the Dudh Kosi River at Phortse Bridge.
- The trail to Gokyo is deceptive and you can can ascend too quickly if the trekking days aren’t planned sensibly. So, in the interests of acclimatisation, you will take three days to reach Gokyo. Leaving Phortse Bridge, you will 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, you will gain our first views of the mammoth Cho-Oyo (8153m) at the head of the valley. You will be 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 (4038m), where you will spend the night. After lunch you 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.
- You will be at higher altitudes today so it is important to take notice of the trek leader’s advice and recommendations regarding rest and fluid intake. (Trekking: approximately 4 hours)
Day 8 - Machhermo (4465m)
- Today will be 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.
- Though the walk is easy you 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 you will arrive at Luza (4360m) and, after a further hour's walk, you will reach the lodge at Machhermo (4465m), where you will spend the evening.
- After lunch there is an option to take 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! (Trekking: approximately 3 hours)
Day 9 - Gokyo (4720m)
- 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 you pass through Pangka (4390m) and on to the jumbled, terminal moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal and the source of the Dudh Kosi River.
- Climbing steeply over a rocky trail you will 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. The lodge is located close to the lake and, if there are no clouds around, the sun room will be lovely and 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 Ngozumpa Glacier. (Trekking: approximately 3½ hours)
Day 10 - Machhermo (4465m)
- You will rise early for an ascent of Gokyo Peak (5360m) - a straightforward but steep climb and tiring due to the altitude. The walk up will take just over two hours; 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.
- You will descend back to Gokyo for a late breakfast and then retrace your steps back to the snout of the glacier and continue down the valley back to Machhermo. It is surprising how easily and quickly you will cover the return route, now that you are well acclimatised. (Trekking: approximately 4 hours)
Day 11 - Phortse (3810m)
- A leisurely start to the day will wind you down valley to Dole, where you will enter the 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 you will take lunch and branch off the main trail to Namche, crossing the Dudh Kosi and ascending 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 the trek. (Trekking: approximately 5 hours)
Day 12 - Dingboche (4360m)
- Your morning's walk will take you across a ridge before descending 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.
- You will meet the trail coming from Thyangboche via the suspension bridge and from here you will gradually ascend to the village of Pangboche, where the peak of Ama Dablam dominates the skyline. You will have lunch here and have the opportunity to see the beautiful monastery that once housed a legendary yeti scalp.
- After lunch you will follow the trail high above the Imja Khola, passing the tea houses at Orsho, before again crossing the Imja Khola and old glacial moraines to the lodge in the settlement of Dingboche.
- Here you will find a beautiful patchwork of small fields enclosed by stone walls. These walls protect 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.
- You will be almost completely above the tree-line here. In clear conditions, look out for spectacular sunsets at this point, and on Ama Dablam, the south face of Lhotse to the north, and also Island Peak in the centre of the valley. (Trekking: approximately 6 hours)
Day 13 - Lobuje (4930m)
- In the morning you will ascend the small ridge behind the village above the Pheriche valley. From the chorten at the top, Taweche and Cholatse (6440m) make for a striking scene; 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 will now be fairly flat on wide-open fields, but do take your time and ensure you are well hydrated.
- Late in the morning you will cross the Khumbu Khola at Dughla (4620m) and take a light lunch at the foot of the huge terminal moraines of the Khumbu Glacier flowing off Everest.
- In the afternoon, there will be a solid and quite steep climb on a rocky trail to the top of the moraines. On the crest of the ridge, you will 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), can be seen at the head of the valley, whilst Everest is hidden behind the towering walls of Nuptse and Lhotse.
- You will then follow the valley stream to the lodge at Lobuje, arriving early afternoon. Today will be tiring but the fantastic scenery makes it all very worthwhile. In addition, your time spent at higher altitude in the Gokyo area will doubtless have helped the acclimatisation process.
Day 14 - Gorak Shep (5160m) - Everest Base Camp
- As the trek to Gorak Shep is relatively short, you will have the opportunity for a leisurely breakfast before beginning the day’s walk. From Lobuje you will follow the broad valley that runs parallel to Khumbu Glacier.
- A gradual ascent will enable you to build the slow, steady rhythm required when walking at high altitude. When you reach the moraines of Changri Nup Glacier, you will make a series of small ascents and descents over a rocky trail lined with cairns that eventually leads to the surprising glacial sands of Gorak Shep (5160m) - reached after about three hours of walking.
- After a quick bite you will gear up appropriately and 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, you will almost certainly encounter yaks and porters supplying food and equipment to expeditions here.
- From Everest Base Camp you will not get views of Mount Everest, but you are able to see the notorious Everest Ice Fall that flows from the Western Cwm. It 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. You will have an early dinner so that you are able to get up early the next day for awe-inspiring views of the Himalayan giants from Kala Patar. (Trekking: approximately 3 hours to Gorak Shep, 5 hours round trip to Everest Base Camp.)
Day 15 - Kala Patar - Pheriche (4270m)
- You will wake up early today 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 will surpass your 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, will surround you. About three kilometres away and some 200 metres below, the area of the Everest Base 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 when you arrive back at the lodge you will have a quick drink and head off to the rooms to pack your kit bags while breakfast is being prepared.
- After breakfast you will set off to Lobuche and Thugla, where you will stop for lunch. After lunch you’ll cross the Khumbu Khola and head down the valley below Cholatse to Pheriche, where you will stop for the night. (Trekking: approximately 8 hours)
Day 16 - Namche Bazaar (3446m)
- From Pheriche you will 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.
- You will 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 Thyangboche for lunch.
- According to legend, Lama Sange Dorjee, who came from Tibet’s Rongphu Monastery, founded Thyangboche Monastery in the 17th century. Thyangboche was destroyed by an earthquake in 1933, rebuilt and again badly damaged by a fire in 1989. Construction of the present monastery was completed in 1992.
- You will spend a bit of time after lunch visiting 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 afternoon you will descend steeply through beautiful forest of juniper, rhododendron and fir to Phunkitenga. After a welcome break and perhaps a cup of tea, you will 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 you will spend the night. (Trekking: approximately 7 hours)
Day 17 - Phakding (2652m)
- You will enjoy a leisurely departure from Namche Bazaar with a final opportunity to visit the shops in the bazaar before descending steeply down to the large suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi River.
- You will follow the trail through Jorsale and back to Monjo, where you will stop for lunch.
- In the afternoon it is only a short walk via Benkar through blue pine and rhododendron forest, with great views of Kusum Kangaru, back to the lodge in Phakding. (Trekking: approximately 4 hours)
Day 18 - Lukla (2800m)
- This is your last day of trekking, where it is only a short walk in the valley before making the final climb up to the airstrip at Lukla. You will then have lunch at the lodge and the afternoon is free to wander around, relax, or perhaps enjoy a hot shower!
- In the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a few celebratory drinks and dancing with your Sherpa companions. (Trekking: approximately 3½ hours)
Day 19 - Kathmandu (1360m)
- You will rise early in the morning today for your flight back to Kathmandu. On arrival in Kathmandu you will be met and transferred back to the starting hotel. The rest of the day is free to do some 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 kings.
- Your final night in Kathmandu offers you the chance to go out on the town and enjoy a final dinner (optional) with your travelling companions and new-found friends.
Day 20 - Kathmandu (1360m)
- Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast. Your leader will be on hand to advise and assist with your onward travel arrangements. A departure transfer to the airport is not included. Kathmandu has so much to offer and occasionally flights from Lukla can be delayed, so we recommend that you consider booking pre-tour or post-tour accommodation and a departure transfer before you commence your travels.
- At the end of your tour please consider donating to the KEEP Porters Clothing Bank. As you will have come to realise on your tour, porters play a vital role in the tourism industry enabling tourists to visit Nepal’s most picturesque and difficult terrain. The majority are subsistence farmers who travel from lower areas of Nepal to the higher elevated trekking routes to find employment. Contrary to the belief that porters are well-adjusted to the cold and altitude of the Himalayas, every year many porters suffer from a variety of illnesses such as altitude sickness, snow blindness, hypothermia and frostbite and some even die as a result. The Clothing Bank was set up in 2009 to provide ill-prepared porters with better clothing suitable for trekking in a mountain environment and reduce the number of unnecessary illnesses and fatalities which occur each year.
- Usually donations of used jackets and trousers/pants from Westerners do not fit Nepali porters who tend to be smaller. However donations of other clothing items such as socks, boots, sunglasses, warm gloves and sleeping bags are always welcome. Your leader can ensure that your donation is passed on.
- If you would like to make a financial contribution to KEEP please do so through the Intrepid Foundation and we will match your donation dollar for dollar.