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Got your trekking pants on? Good. Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, then start walkin’. Check out Namche Bazaar, have a lil’ look at old Everest, bliss out in the coolest monastery in the world, eat cake, and make the trek all the way to foot of the world’s highest mountain. Who doesn’t want to casually mention one day that they’ve trekked to Everest Base Camp?
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. This Himalayan adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4pm on Day 1 (make sure you’ve got all your important docs and details on you). Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. If you touch down early then there’s heaps of stuff for you to do in Kathmandu, a city of ancient architecture and modern development, whose rich artistic and cultural heritage means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Maybe head out in to the streets of Pashupatinath (home to markets, bazaars, holy men, monks, bicycles, and sacred cows), climb to Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist shrine Swayambhunath or the ‘monkey temple’, or check out the atmosphere in Durbar Square. If you’re super keen and got here a couple of days early, then visit the neighbouring towns of Patan and the ‘City of Devotees’ Bhaktapur.
Early this morning you’ll jump on a plane for a quick journey from Kathmandu to Lukla (approximately 45 minutes). This ain’t no regular flight though – you’ll be flying parallel to the giants of the Himalayas and, if the weather’s good, make sure to grab a seat on the left and stick your face up against the window for amazing views of the mountains bordering Nepal and China. You’ll touch down on an airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpas in the mid-1960s. Then it’s time to meet your porters and take some time to warm up with an exploration of the village of Lukla. After a quick safety talk, gear up and begin your trek to Phakding. You’ll descend towards the milky white waters of the Dudh Kosi River, where you will join the main trail to Namche Bazaar, located just above Chaunrikharka. The walk is easy and after passing through the small village of Ghat, it’s only a short walk to Phakding. Overall trekking time today is approximately 3 hours. Notes: This is a trek that requires an excellent level of fitness as there are plenty of ascents and descents and the walking is very strenuous. The weather can be harsh in December and January, with a combination of snow and frosts. This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this. This trip is lead by an experienced English speaking local guide and two assistants who help with the daily logistics. Though you are expected to help carry your gear, there are porters provided to assist. Details of the trip, which are subject to change due to weather conditions or any other factors outside of Gecko's control, are as follows (please note all trekking times are approximate). Please note that if the weather does not allow for flights you will be accommodated at our Kathmandu hotel at your own expense.
Today you’ll trek around 6 hours to Namche Bazaar, where you’ll spend a couple of days acclimatising to the altitude. You’ll also get your first look at Everest itself – yeah, no big deal then! From Phakding you’ll cross the river and head up the valley, following in the footsteps of the porters loaded with supplies for Namche Bazaar. The trail, lined with blue pine forest, follows the river valley and is especially spectacular in spring when the rhododendron flowers are bright in bloom. Cross the Dudh Kosi River at Benkar, and look way up above 6,000 metres to see the peaks of snow-capped Kusum Kanguru and Thamserku. Press on to Monjo, a good place to break for lunch. From here the walk starts to get a little tougher, with a steep ascent to Namche Bazaar. Enter into the national park, cross the river through the village of Jorsale, and then continue upstream. Cross another spectacular suspension bridge and begin the ascent to Namche Bazaar. Get your camera out as now there will be your first glimpse of the peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Taweche. Namche will be your last chance to check your equipment and hire any additional gear for the high altitudes from Dingboche onwards. Namche Bazaar is also the last chance for a hot shower, to enjoy the local nightlife or take to the pool hall and video parlours.
You’ll stay at Namche Bazaar for another night so that you can properly acclimatise to the altitude. One of the best ways to do this is to take strenuous walk up to a high altitude then come back down to sleep. Remember, it doesn't matter how fit you are, anyone can be affected by altitude, so have a chat to your doctor before you leave to talk about the symptoms and what to expect. So there’s an optional walk above the Bhote Khola River Valley towards Thami. Taking a walk to see both the sunrise and sunset views from the national park headquarters above the village is also a great option. This stunning vista includes a super panorama of the Khumbu peaks and great views of Everest. The national park headquarters are home to interesting displays about Sherpa lifestyle and culture, and the local flora and fauna. Rugs, clothing, salt and dried meat all do a roaring trade in the village centre, so haggle for any extra supplies you might need. Dried goat meat, anyone?
You might come to appreciate the term ‘short walking day’. Today will be just that on the way to Khumjung, the largest village in the region. Stop by the National Park Museum, a walk along the route marked by well-laid stone steps to the Everest View Hotel (at one time said to be the highest hotel in the world), and a visit to a hospital built by Sir Edmund Hilary. Continue the ascent alongside Everest panoramas of towering Himalayan snow peaks. Perhaps visit the nearby small hospital run by Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust. Through a maze of narrow lanes you’ll reach the oldest monastery in the Everest region. For a small donation, the resident monk will proudly show a Yeti skull that is kept securely locked inside the monastery – yep, a yeti! Tonight you’ll stay in a lodge in Khumjung and dream of snow monsters. Notes: Total trekking time approximately 2 hours.
Hit the Everest trail again and keep your eyes peeled for the Danphe pheasant (pretty bird) and Himalayan tahr (goat-like thing). Push on to super-chill Thyangboche. As far as monasteries go, this one takes the cake. If you don't feel a sense of calm sitting at 3,867 metres in Nepal's spiritual centre of Tibetan Buddhism while looking at Mt Everest, then you might be a robot. Perhaps stop off for a hard-earned coffee and cake from the Khumjung bakery. Rejoin the trail to Everest, keeping eyes peeled for Danphe Pheasant and Himalayan Thar. Enjoy views of Kantega, Ama Dablam and Everest. Stay overnight at Thyangboche. Notes: Total trekking time approximately 5 hours.
Everest is so close you could touch it. We know you're excited but pace yourself because altitude sickness can sneak up when you least expect it. Climb above the tree-line and gradually climb to the village of Pangboche, and indulge in lunch where the peak of Ama Dablam dominates the skyline. 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 a lodge in Dingboche. Here you’ll 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 will be hidden behind the Lhotse-Nuptse Ridge, the huge peaks that tower above the eastern end of the valley are more than worthy. If the weather’s right, then there will be ridiculously gorgeous sunsets illuminating the peaks – Ama Dablam, the south face of Lhotse to the north, and also Island Peak in the centre of the valley.
Today is another acclimatisation day, and you’ll stay in Dingboche for another night. There are a few different trails that you can hike, with day hikes to Ama Dablam base camp, Nagarjun Hill or Chukkhung. Ama Dablam is a peak that dominates the route towards Everest base camp, and it’s an opportunity to get off the main trail and explore a quieter area in the Khumbu below one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Nagarjun Hill (5100m) offers amazing views of Makalu, Island Peak and Ama Dablam. The Chukkhung (4750m) walk might be a short one, but it’s the views of surrounding peaks and snowy terrain that’ll have you short of breath.
You’re almost there. Look out for expedition groups on their way to the summit. They're the rock stars of the climbing world (without all the groupies). From Dingboche, ascend the small ridge behind the village above the Pheriche valley. From the stupa at the top, Taweche and Cholatse (6,440m) make for a pretty striking scene; they seem to lean forwards from across the valley in the west. To the north, Lobuje Peak (6,119m) and the snowfields of the Cho La are the kings of the skyline. The walking will now be fairly flat on wide-open fields, but remember that there’s no rush – take your time and ensure you’re well hydrated. Late in the morning you will cross the Khumbu Khola at Dughla and take a light lunch at the foot of the huge terminal moraines (stuff pushed along by the glacier) 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’ll pass a line of memorial cairns (stacks of stones), 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 downright spectacular once again, with Pumori (7,145m), Lingtren (6,697m), Khumbutse (6,623m), and across the border in Tibet, Changtse (7,550m), surrounding you. Then follow the valley stream to the lodge at Lobuje, arriving early afternoon. No doubt you’ll be tired today, but remember that the big one is happening tomorrow – Everest Base Camp.
This is it people, the BIG day of Everest Base Camp. First, you’ll trek to Gorak Shep (where you’ll start the round trip to Base Camp). From Lobuje, follow the broad valley that runs parallel to Khumbu Glacier, with a gradual ascent enabling 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 (5,160m) – reached after about three hours of walking. Now’s the time to grab a quick bite, gear up appropriately, and then head off towards 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 glorious glaciers, lakes, caves, and the notorious Everest Ice Fall that flows from the Western Cwm. It's regarded as technically the hardest and most dangerous section of the mountain. Then you’ll return from Base Camp to Gorak. Notes: Trekking time approximately 3 hours to Gorak Shep and approximately 5 hours round trip to Everest Base Camp.
You’ll wake really early today for the trek to Kala Patar, where you’ll experience sensational sunrise views from this amazing vantage point. Don’t be surprised if you get a little tear in your eye when you soak up the views of Everest. Embrace that emotion and spend as long as you like here to savour this extra special moment. To get there 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’s 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 – they’re all here. 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. Then it’s all downhill from here – the descent to Gorak Shep is easy, then you’ll cross the Khumbu Khola and head down the valley below Cholatse to Pheriche. 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. Descend down to the small settlement at Orsho for the night. Notes: Trekking time approximately 6 hours.
Cross the suspension bridge over the Imja Khola River, where there’ll be great views of the Imja Valley, Ama Dablam and Kantega. Re-trace your steps to Debuche and Thyangboche, then descend steeply through beautiful forest of juniper, rhododendron and fir to Phunkitenga. Then 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’ll spend the night. Notes: Trekking time approximately 6 hours.
You’ve done it, your last day of trekking! Set off on the last, steady 5 hours of the trek. Descend steeply down to the large suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi River. You’ll follow the trail through Jorsale and back to Monjo. Walk via Benkar through blue pine and rhododendron forest, with great views of Kusum Kangaru, through Phakding, then it’s only a short walk in the valley before making the final climb up to the airstrip at Lukla, where you’ll say goodbye to your Sherpa crew. Get together with the rest of your group and pool your tips if you haven't already. Celebrate with a hot shower, a sleep, or with a few drinks with your group. You earned it – you conquered Everest!
Take the short flight from Lukla to Kathmandu this morning (approximately 45 minutes). Return to your accommodation and then enjoy some free time during the afternoon for further sightseeing or shopping. This evening it’s time to celebrate with a tongba (hot millet beer) and a plate of ziva (pastry fingers filled with cheese), while you relax your weary but incredibly toned legs. You don't need to carbo load anymore. But surely another plate of pasta at Rumdoodle couldn't hurt?
The trip ends this morning, but there's plenty more to see in Kathmandu for those who wish to stay on.
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