After the famous flight into Lukla with it's stunning panorama view of the Solo Khumbu Himalayas you will trek into EBC to stand under the Highest mountain in the World!
Day 1: KATHMANDU – LUKLA - PHAKDING • Altitude at Start – 2840m/9320ft • Altitude at Finish – 2610m/8560ft • Distance – 8.5km/5.3 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 4 Starting the day from KTM you fly to Lukla airport (built by Sir Edmund Hilary’s Himalayan Trust in 1964). Lukla is a very busy village with many hotels and shops selling trekking gear to tourists flying in on up to 20 flights in the mornings in the tourist season. You will be met by the sirdar (guide) who leads the agency crew. There will be time for tea and photographic opportunities. Leaving Lukla, you will trek by a fairly easy steady descent through a pretty valley to Sagarmatha National Park. After approximately 45 minutes you reach the village of Chheplung. The trail now goes through a forested area crossing over swaying steel suspension bridges spanning the rivers and tributaries in Khumbu. Arriving at the steel box bridge over the roaring Thado Kosi you have reached the half way point to Phakding. The trail starts to rise steeply – you will hear the roar of the Dudh Kosi below and pass small villages with tea houses where you can stop for lunch – the specialty being Nepali or Western style food using fresh organic ingredients from local gardens. Whilst enjoying a home cooked meal enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and gorges. Continuing on the trail from here you pass several prayer wheels, drums, mani walls and also small shrines, and a large white chorten. This is a place full of religious symbolism. Finally the trail descends almost to the river then rises sharply to Phakding village. Here there are lodges with lawned areas for camping. An extra excursion could be a short 30 minute climb to Pema Choling Gompa and the villages of Sanop and Thulo Gumela to see the peak of Thamserku and fabulous views of Kusum Kanaguru. If time allows there is a further climb (4 hours) to the Pangjung viewpoint to see the wide panoramic scene of snowy peaks. Day 2: PHAKDINBG – NAMCHE BAZAAR • Altitude at Start – 2610m/8560ft • Altitude at Finish – 3440m/11,280ft • Distance – 10.5km/6.5 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 5 Leaving Phakding after breakfast, we walk on the hillside of the west bank of the river, passing farms and fields. The trail ascends gently then descends, crossing a small wooden bridge and on to the small village of Toktok. Crossing another bridge by a spectacular waterfall you reach Waterfall Rest House – a possible stop for light refreshments or a meal, sitting on deck chairs under large umbrellas. After the waterfall, the track climbs steeply with breathtaking views of Mt Thamserku. Next you drop down to Benkar village. This is a pretty village with shingle-roofed stone houses and lodges with restaurants. The winding stony path, past fields of potatoes and cabbages, leads to the Dudh Kosi river, where you cross over another steel suspension bridge. From here you can see the Kumbila peak. A gentle climb takes you to a charming village, Chumoa, surrounded by pine trees and rhododendron bushes (the Nepali national flower). A tributary of the Dudh Kosi flows through the north end of the village. The route descends steeply from the village to the Kyashar Khola bridge. At the side of the stream is a watermill inside a stone hut, which grinds flour. On to a large village called Monjo after a sharp climb, here you will see wheat and millet fields and the Kumbila peak. Climbing further upwards you pass many lodges and open air restaurants. Following the trail winding its way between a bluff and the steep sided east bank you reach the entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park and check-post then trek on to the village of Jorsale which is reached by crossing a cable suspension bridge. You are half way to Namche Bazaar! After Jorsale you cross the river via a steel bridge and trek close to the roaring river. Suddenly appearing ahead and high above the river is an amazing bridge. This was built by the Swiss in 1989 and is called Larja Dhoban. It is quite an experience crossing this bridge! The Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi meet at this point. There is now a final steep ascent which can be tough and tiring to Namche Bazaar (2 hour hike up?). Altitude sickness can be experienced at this point so take the climb slowly. After climbing 230m/750ft and if there are no clouds, you may stop to admire the view of Mt. Everest for the first time on this trek. Namche Bazaar is only a short way from here through pine forests. This is a bustling town of shops, restaurants, bakery-cafes and lodges as well as having internet facilities and telephone booths should you need them. There is also a bank and an ATM counter and several snooker tables (imagine carrying a snooker table up here!). Day 3: NAMCHE Rest day! It also helps with acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. There are short gentle walks and climbs to take in the area and enjoy the wonderful views and explore the surroundings. One walk will take you onto the curving path above Namche. To the west is the snow covered Kwangde with further peaks coming into view as you walk around the circuit. Another path goes to an army post and the Sagarmatha National Park headquarters with lovely views of Mt. Everest and the Khumbu peaks, Kwangde range, Kusum Kanguru , Thamserku, Kangtega, Khumbila peak and Thankge Ragi and Pharchamo. Khumbila is sacred to the Sherpas. If you wish to go further you can join the Chorkhung trail to climb up to Syangboche airfield. This airfield was built specifically for guests of the Everest View Hotel. Ascending even further you can reach Syangboche Panorama Hotel. These are both superior hotels with excellent facilities. Namche holds a big weekly market on Saturday’s selling a number of goods from the lowlands. Villagers from the surrounding areas wear traditional costume to do their shopping, however on all other days of the week in the tourist season, Tibetan markets are held. Day 4: NAMCHE – KHUNDE • Altitude at Start – 3440m/11,280ft • Altitude at Finish – 3840m/12,600ft • Distance – 2.5km/1.5 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 2.5 On this day you are able to further acclimatize to the altitude and get a feel of Sherpa life. The trail goes out of Namche up into the surrounding hillside and after a short ascent the Khumbila massif range is visible. Follow the trail to a Chorten where you will see Tangi Ragi Tau and Pharchamo to the west. A little higher is Syangboche airstrip with views of the very tips of Ama Dablam and Taboche. The height gain has exceeded 1000ft but it is advisable to stop for a rest at this point before moving on to the villages of Khunde and Khumjung. The Khumjung path takes a grassy slope to a viewpoint for Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar peak. There is a descent to Khumjung which passes the Hillary School, one of a number of schools built in the 1960’s by the Hillary Trust. If the Khunde path is taken, you will pass the Government Yak Farm through a wooded part of the hillside. Khunde can be seen below. The local Sherpa’s say Khunde is the oldest village in the area gaining from tourism over many years. Sir Edmund Hillary set up major projects in the 1960’s one of which was the Khunde Hospital. Up to 2002 this was staffed by doctors from New Zealand and Canada. A distant relative of Tenzing Norgay, Dr Kami Temba Sherpa, now heads the hospital assisted by another medic. Outpatients come from as far as Phakding. Treatment is virtually free for locals and there is a charge for foreign trekkers. All homes have a large central hearth with a chimney out through the roof of the house. This is where food is cooked, meat smoked and preserved, clothes are dried and the room is heated. It may be possible to meet and talk to a local family and sample the thick salty Tibetan milk or butter tea. Day 5: KHUNDE - TENGBOCHE • Altitude at Start – 3840m/12,6000ft • Altitude at Finish – 3860m/12,660ft • Distance – 10km/6.25 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 6-7 The trail leaving Khunde lies level with Ama Dablam as the back-drop. A short detour takes in the first Hilary School to be built in the Khumbu. It has a computer classroom, an adult education centre and an art gallery. However affluent Sherpa parents send their children to be educated in Kathmandu. Khumjung has several lodges and is much larger than Khunde. The Everest Bakery is great for coffee and baked dishes. In a cedar grove in the upper part of the village stands a gompa (monastery) with the image of Guru Padmasambhawa who helped establish Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayas. You may be interested to visit the gompa and see a preserved skull believed by the lamas to be that of the yeti (the abominable snowman). However this has been disproved by scientists in the US. Leaving Khumjung, you will see the great monastery of Tengboche perching on the ridge. Soon the path divides with the lower trail heading down through a forest of rhododendron and birch trees. Ama Dablam appears in front and above the trees and Thamserku to the right. Now the path reaches a major junction at Sanasa. The main Namche-Tengboche path follows the deep gorge of the Dudh Kosi river. The gorge then widens to a canyon with the trail descending rapidly through rhododendron forests. You will see the steep zigzagging trail to Tengboche. This area has interesting wildlife and musk deer, herds of blue sheep and the Himalayan goat (tahr) can often be seen. In the village of Tashinga most of the inhabitants are Tibetans who line the route with trinket and souvenir stalls. Leaving Tashinga the trail begins a long and rapid zigzag to the Dudh Kosi river and a small settlement called Phunki Tenga. From this point there is a steep climb of 2,000ft to Tengboche after passing a row of water driven prayer wheels. This is a challenging 2-3 hour climb, the toughest part of the trail so far, made easier by the beautiful scenery as you ascend through rhododendron and juniper bushes. The peak of Kangteka comes into view. Kangteka means ‘snow saddle’ obvious by the shape of the mountain. Climbing a little further Tengboche is reached. Sir John Hunt who led the ascent of Everest in 1953 thought Tengboche to be “one of the most beautiful places in the world”. The most magical time is on a full moon day when the panorama is quite magical with the snowy mountains glowing in the darkness. There is a monastery, one of the largest in Nepal. This can be visited if time allows. Day 6: TENGBOCHE – DINGBOCHE/PHERICHE • Altitude at Start – 3860m/12,660ft • Altitude at Finish – 4360m/14,300ft • Distance – 8.5km/5.3 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 5 The morning views from Tengboche take your breath away as the entire lower and middle Khumbu peaks rise above – Kangtega, Thamserku, Ama Dablam, Taboche, Kwangde, Tengkangboche; the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge on the northeast with Everest just visible. This is where food is cooked, meat smoked and preserved, clothes are dried and the room is heated. Tengboche holds a Mani Rimdu Festival in the Autumn where masked dances are held in front of the monastery over a period of 3 days. The climax of the festival is on full moon night when the gompa is illuminated with electric lights. From Tengboche you leave the Dudh Kosi behind and now follow the Imja Khola upstream. This is a lovely walk as the views for a change are looking down below as you descend rapidly to the river bank. A short distance is Deboche a peaceful, calm small hamlet nestled amongst the woods with a Buddhist nunnery and new health post. Then onwards to Milinggo just one mile from Tengboche. This is a quiet hamlet and refreshments can be bought from one of the few tea houses. You will see long rows of mani walls alongside the path. Now a gentle climb through the valley as it narrows into a gorge. The river is traversed here by a steel box bridge there are great views of Kwangde and Tengboche sitting at the base of the mountain. Ama Dablam peak is seen in front. Ascending from here you pass by a few chortens. This is a place of religious significance to the Sherpas – the story goes that Sangwe Dorjee the 17 century saint who helped strengthen the Buddhist faith has left a footprint in a rock here. The large village of Pangboche is ahead (2.2 miles from Tengboche). The village is split into two – the older upper quarter and below, the newer and larger quarter where the lodges are situated. The population is 600 in total and here you will see cultivated fields of mostly potatoes along the riverside. From upper Pangboche there are spectacular views of Ama Dablam and the Cholungche Khola stream dropping steeply to meet the Imja Khola. The oldest Khumbu monastery, Riwu Gompa is here in Upper Pangboche, built in 1667 and believed to have been established by Sangwa Dorjee. Leaving Pangboche you will see the village of Shomare below the enormous Lhotse-Nuptse ridge, the next village on the trail. There is a steep path up to Rala Kharka, a yak pasture. Climbing upwards you reach Shomare, a peaceful pastoral village and a good place to stop for refreshments. This is 3.4 miles from Tengboche. Leaving Shomare the land becomes dry and barren alpine scrub and few trees and the trail takes you up a rolling arid stretch with isolated pastures and fields. A little further along the Sunrise Lodge is seen sitting in a yak pasture and the peak of Pumori emerges in the distance. Imja Khola is on your right and on the opposite bank lies Rala Kharka. At Tsuro Wog the trail splits to Pheriche and Dingboche. To reach Pheriche you will take the upper path climbing steeply past a teahouse and on the crest of the ridge Pheriche can be seen in the valley ahead. The view of Ama Dablam no longer looks like an ‘armchair’. The descent down the steep hillside now is rapid and exposed and brings you to a bridge over the Khumbu Khola. The valley soon widens giving a wonderful view of snowy mountains. To the left in the distance can be seen Cho Oyu, the planet’s sixth highest peak. Reaching Pheriche you will see it is a cold and windy place. There are lodges, restaurants, shower facilities and access to international calls via satellite link. Pheriche also has the Himalayan Rescue Association base here – a supported medical post with one or two western doctors usually in attendance. The clinic is well equipped especially for treating altitude sickness. Now you move on to Dingboche via a rather steep climb with spectacular views of the Khumbu Khola valley, Cho Oyu and the Taboche and Cholatse peaks. On the ridge-top you get a full panoramic view including Makalu the world’s fifth highest summit and Lhotse the fourth highest. Three highest peaks seen from one place! As you descend gently down, the houses of Dingboche can be seen below in the Imja Khola valley. Day 7: DINGBOCHE - PHERICHE This is a rest and acclimatization day. It is drier and a little warmer at Dingboche than Pheriche. There are wonderful views of Ama Dablam, Lhotse and numerous other peaks to see whilst enjoying breakfast, or climbing the ridge to the north of the village. The Imja Khola valley and Dingboche’s fields and pastures look a picture from this point. Day 8: DINGBOCHE – LOBUCHE • Altitude at Start – 4360m/14,300ft • Altitude at Finish – 4940m/16,210ft • Distance – 7.5km/4.7 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 5 This is one of the best walks on the trek. You climb the ridge above Dingboche before descending to the wild desolate terrace above the Khumbu Khola valley. There are wonderful views all around. Surrounded by mountains and snowy peaks, you are in the midst of the Himalayas. Below in the valley is Phulung Karpo the site of one of the camps on the 1953 Everest expedition and to the top of the valley you can see the blue waters of Chola Lake. You will descend to the valley below, crossing a small wooden bridge and then ascend to Dughla. From here you will see the tip of Nuptse. A break could be taken for lunch at Dughla before moving on to Lobuche. After Dughla there is a steep moraine of the Khumbu glacier. The ascent is by a boulder strewn slope to the ridge top at Chupki Lhara. Now you drop down to the Khumbu glacier moraine and ahead can be seen Khumbutse, Lingtren and Pumori on the high ridge, the Mahalangur Himal. This marks Nepal’s border with Tibet. You are now in the Everest area but still not able to glimpse the great mountain. You may start to get a little out of breath due to the high altitude but only a short trek now to Lobuche. Lobuche has six lodges and some interesting western style dishes can be eaten at the Eco Lodge. The other lodges are more basic. This village is rather cold and bleak but can be pleasant when the sun shines. Nuptse towers above the village and there can be wonderful sunsets. If an extra day is required for a rest, walk up to the Pyramid Research Station. This is the world’s highest research station set up by the Italians. In the afternoon take a leisurely walk up behind the lodges to three pinnacles. Nuptse at sunset is spectacular. Day 9: LOBUCHE – GORAK SHEP • Altitude at Start – 4940m/16,210ft • Altitude at Finish – 5170m/16,960ft • Distance – 3.7km/2.3 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 3-4 The trail to Gorak Shep follows a gully with the lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier on the right hand side and rising on the left is the terminal moraine wall of the Lobuche glacier. This widens out to a broader valley where you will see the whole snowy range which is the Tibet border. You will be walking on grassy level land with a few boulders. A mile along the trail is a steep climb ahead over a boulder strewn slope up to the top of the lateral moraine wall of the Changri glacier. The trail now crosses the moraine of the Changri glacier and up and down several low boulder-filled ridges. This difficult and challenging moraine to cross is helped by the sight of the fabulous snow range of Pumori-Lingtren-Khumbutse and Nuptse mountain. From here you descend and then rise up a steep slope. This is a long climb at the top of which you will see Kala Patthar lying beneath Pumori mountain and below Gorak Shep, with its four lodges. Soon you will reach this small hamlet. It is extremely cold here and can be windy but the scenery makes up for that – you can even see the tip of Everest just left of Nuptse. Tibetan snow-cocks and big dumpy partridges are seen all around this area. A refreshment stop could be taken here and then head for Kala Patthar in the hope of seeing Everest in the golden light of the setting sun. However, it could be wiser to do this the following day as the view can be clearer in the mornings. Day 10: GORAK SHEP – KALA PATTHAR & BACK The climax of this trek is to see Everest. This is the day for a fine view of the magnificent mountain. Follow the trail over the wide sandy bed of the dried-up lake at Gorak Shep, zigzagging steeply up the Kala Patthar ridge. Pumori is in view ahead as you take the climb slowly c.330 ft. The climb then winds up a gentle slope and you can a pause to get your breath back. A little further on Everest begins to emerge between the West Shoulder crest and Nuptse. Once again the climb becomes harder with views of Khumbu glacier and the Nuptse massif. Avalanches often crash down the Nuptse slopes. You will be gaining height all the time and then have to negotiate the rocky outcrop of Kala Patthar by scrambling over boulders to reach the summit. The thin air makes it a slow tough climb. The gale force winds are strong on the summit so stop and catch your breath whilst taking in the awesome views of Everest as it emerges further and marvel at what you have just achieved. Time for photographs! You are 18,000 metres above sea level so doing anything is an effort. Everest often has a plume of snowy spindrift trailing from its crest. Nuptse seems to tower above Everest due to its closeness. Down below can be seen the coloured tents of Everest Base Camp and the crevasses and seracs rising above the camp. The Pyramid Research Centre has set up observational instruments below the Kala Patthar viewpoint and readings from here are analysed at the Lobuche centre to study air quality, earthquake activity and climate in the Everest mountains. Day 11: GORAK SHEP – EVEREST BASE CAMP – LOBUCHE • Altitude at Start – 5170m/16,960ft • Altitude at Finish – 5300m/17,400ft • Distance – 8km (+ 3.7km)/7.3 miles • Time trekking in Hours – 6.5 (+ 2.5) The trail to EBC heads past the remnant of the Gorak Shep lake, with Changtse looming ahead above Lo La, soon reaching the lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. It is a little treacherous scramble over boulders and rocks. The ‘organ pipe’ designs on Nuptse ice-walls tower beyond. The next stretch is easier and approximately 3km/2 miles from Gorak Shep you will drop steeply down a hillside eventually reaching the glacier. With its glacial pools and exposed icy walls it is a harsh, eerie stretch. The indistinct trail appears to be heading into a snowy cul-de-sac and the peaks of Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse, Lingtren and Khumbutse seem very close. Finally you reach Everest Base Camp. Numerous mountaineers colourful tents brighten the uninspiring cheerless boulder and rubble base set in the shadow of the mountains all around. It is here you can appreciate how hazardous the route Everest climbers take on the Khumbu ice-fall ascent. Day 12-15: LOBUCHE – LUKLA The return journey is much shorter, mostly the same way back and possible to do in only 3 days! It is mostly downhill and you have already acclimatized. At Dughla to Pheriche it is a lovely green stretch weaving through bushes and crossing burbling brooks. You see many yaks grazing and birds circling above. The blue tin roofs of the houses in Pheriche can be seen glinting in the sun. You pass through a yak herdsmen’s settlement at Phulung Karpo and 1.6km/1 mile on you reach Pheriche. The lodges here have sun rooms where you can stop for lunch. After Pheriche you cross the Khumbu Khola river and ascend to the top of a mound. After admiring the great views you descend to Tsuro Wog then continue on to Shomare. This could be a night stop if wished otherwise carry on to Pangboche passing the juniper grove and chortens beside the gompa. At this time a decision can be made as to which route to take before reaching Lukla. If the route via Kyangjuma is preferred, you wind your way through the steep wooded slope through several bends. Hopefully you may see the Himalayan tahr (wild goat), various species of birds and musk deer. About 2.5km/1.75 miles later you reach a chorten where Lhotse and Ama Dablam can be seen behind and the village of Monjo in front. Further on you will see Namche’s army camp hill ahead and looking back, Lhotse, Tengboche and the tip of Everest for the last time. Just 1km/0.6 miles you reach Namche Bazaar. Lunch and a shower could be taken here before moving on for a night stop at Chumoa, Monjo or Jorsale arriving at Lukla the following night. There are many lodges at Lukla and some luxury hotels. Book a room as soon as you reach Lukla to be sure of a bed for the night. Flights will depend on the weather conditions so be prepared for delays to return to Kathmandu.