Everest High Passes Trek | Nepal

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  Our epic Everest High Passes trek covers the best of the Everest region, a spectacular lodge trek through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes in the Nepal Himalaya, with the world's highest 8000 meter peaks soaring majestically above. The trek is led by Kim Bannister + Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa, guides who love and live in the Nepal Himalaya, hosted by Sherpas in their wonderful Everest region lodges, and follows our less trekked routes!

Everest High Passes Trek Highlights
3 Climbs: Kala Pattar (5640m), Chhukung Ri (5565m) + Gokyo Ri (5360m)
3 Passes: Kongma La (5540m), Cho La (5370m) + Renjo La (5415m)
2 Base Camps: Everest Base Camp (5530m) + Amadablam Base Camp (4580m)
2 Glacier Crossings: Khumbu Glacier + Gokyo Ngozumpa Glacier

Our Everest High Passes trek begins with the exciting flight to the Hillary Airport in Lukla. Some of the MANY highlights are hiking the Chhukhung valley + climbing Chhukhung Ri for awesome views of Makalu + other Himalayan peaks, the trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp, trekking along the Khumbu glacier to Everest Base Camp + the Everest ice fall, + climbing Kala Pattar for in-your-face Everest views. The remote Kongma La pass with its hidden lakes, crossing glaciated Cho La pass to the sacred, turquoise Gokyo Lakes valley, where colorful prayer flags flutter at the top of Gokyo Ri. Extensive Himalayan panorama from the top of the Renjo La pass, descending into the traditionally Sherpa Thame valley, an ancient trade route to Tibet, and the colorful Saturday market at Namche Bazaar.

The Kamzang Journeys Everest High Passes trek is a window into traditional Sherpa villages and their Tibetan Buddhist monasteries (gompas), their mountain Buddhist culture and the Khumbu Sherpas' sacred peaks and valleys. Renown for the highest Himalayan peaks in the world, the Everest region is a also incredibly spiritual, and we will visit its many colorful Buddhist gompas, and chat with the monks of Pangboche, Namche, Khumjung, Khunde, Thame + Lawudo Gompas.

November and December are the perfect times to trek in the Everest region, the Himalayan peaks accentuated by clear, blue skies, without the large number of trekkers who visit during the peak months. Wildlife such as the Himalayan thar, musk deer, danphe (Nepal's national bird), blood pheasant, Himalayan snow-cock, snow-pigeon and chukkar roam the mountain sides.

Himalayan mountain views don't much any better than the views while trekking in the Khumbu region of Nepal!
Join us for this unforgettable trek through Nepal's spectacular Everest region ...

Why Trek in the Everest Region with Kamzang Journeys?
Kamzang Journeys has perhaps the safest acclimatization schedule in the Khumbu, with both Sherpa and Western guides leading your trip along with the experienced Kamzang Journeys team. Our Everest High Passes trek focuses on cultural immersion as well as Himalayan peaks, and we often visit Sherpa houses for a cup of 'chang' or salt butter tea! Lhakpa + Kim are experienced photographers, and are happy to share tips for photographing in the region. We carry a full medical kit along with oxygen (and sometimes a PAC bag), Kim has extensive medical background and we have a nearly perfect record of mountain safety.

Our Kamzang trekking in the Everest region style means we carry a private heater for cold lodges, a library of books on Everest and the Khumbu region, hot water bottles for your sleeping bag and a colorful caravan of yaks with Sherpa yak drivers to carry your bags (and enhance your photos). Choose from the extensive lodge menus for all meals, which are accompanied by snacks, a candy jar, chocolate, biscuits and other deserts and a choice of herbal teas, hot drinks & freshly brewed coffee. Our water is filtered using the best western gravity filter.

Kim, Lhakpa + the Kamzang Journeys team have 20 years of trekking experience in the Everest (Solu Khumbu) region. Kim first trekked in the Everest region in the 90s, later teaching English in the Everest region. Lhakpa Sherpa (Khumbu Adventures) comes from Thame, his wife Doma's family is from Pangboche, and their relatives own many of the lodges in the Khumbu. We have numerous Sherpa friends + contacts in the region, lots of invaluable support throughout the Everest trek! Our staff all come from the Solu region, along the Jiri to Lukla trail, now known as the Hillary + Norgay Everest Trek.

Customize Your Journey
We are happy to customize your journey to include more days in Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park or Pokhara.
Inquire for HELICOPTER options!

Namaste + Tashi Delek!

Trek

Day 1 - Tuesday, 6 November 2018 - Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 - Kathmandu | Optional World Heritage Sightseeing
Day 3 - Fly Lukla. Trek Monjo
Day 4 - Trek Namche Bazaar
Day 5 - Namche Bazaar | Day Hike Khunde + Khumjung
Day 6 - Namche Bazaar
Day 7 - Trek Phortse
Day 8 - Trek Pangboche
Day 9 - Pangboche | Day Hike Amadablam Base Camp
Day 10 - Trek Dingboche
Day 11 - Trek Chhukhung
Day 12 - Chhukhung | Climb Chhukhung Ri
Day 13 - Trek Lobuche | Cross Kongma La Pass (Optional)
Day 14 - Trek Gorak Shep | Climb Kala Pattar
Day 15 - Trek Lobuche | Day Hike Everest Base Camp
Day 16 - Trek Dzongla
Day 17 - Trek Tangnak | Cross Cho La pass
Day 18 - Trek Gokyo
Day 19 - Gokyo | Climb Gokyo Ri
Day 20 - Trek Lungden | Cross Renjo La Pass
Day 21 - Trek Thame
Day 22 - Trek Namche | Optional Hike Lawudo Gompa
Day 23 - Trek Lukla
Day 24 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 25 - Friday, 30 November 2018 - Trip Ends

Inquire for HELICOPTER options!

Watch the Everest Video!
Everest High Passes Trek | Adam D on Vimeo

Add Ons | Per Person
+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
+ Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
+ Bhaktapur Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$100)
+ Patan Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$50)
+ Extra Day Chitwan (+$125)
+ Everest Sightseeing Flight (+$250)
+ Everest Sightseeing Helicopter Tour (+ $Inquire)
+ Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+ $Inquire)
+ Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Trip Price)

Chitwan National Park | Maruni Sanctuary Lodge
Chitwan + Tharu Villages Wildlife Safari
+ Upgrade to Tharu Lodge Chitwan (+$300 Per Room)

Nepal Modules
Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip!

Travel Advice
+ We strongly recommend keeping an extra day post-trek in Kathmandu in case of flight delays out of Lukla!
+ Purchase travel insurance with helicopter evacuation!
+ Purchase trip cancellation + travel insurance!

Highlights+Reviews

Trek Highlights

  • 3 Himalayan Passes | Renjo La, Cho La + Kongma La
  • 3 Himalayan Peaks | Kala Pattar, Gokyo Ri + Chhukhung Ri
  • 2 Base Camps | Everest Base Camp + Amadablam Base Camp
  • 2 Glacier Crossings | Khumbu Glacier + Gokyo Ngozumpa Glacier
  • Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries | Lawudo, Pangboche, Namche, Thame + Khumjung Gompas
  • Sublimely Beautiful Gokyo Lakes Valley
  • Spectacular High Trail to Phortse
  • Chhukhung + Island Peak Base Camp Valley
  • Traditionally Sherpa Villages in the Thame Valley + the Khumbu
  • Saturday Market at Namche Bazaar
  • Rare Himalayan Wildlife + Birds
  • Wonderful, Warm Sherpa lodges
  • Cultural Immersion into the Tibetan Sherpa Culture
  • Extra Acclimatization + Exploration Days
  • Breathtaking Sunrises + Sunsets over Himalayan Peaks
  • Special Kamzang Menus freshly prepared from the Sherpa lodges
  • THE BEST of Trekking in the Everest Region + the Nepal Himalaya!

Trip Advisor Reviews

Client Highlights
The best in the Everest region! Some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Nepalese Himalayas. A window on the traditional villages of Sherpas and the "gompas" (monasteries), their Buddhist culture of mountains as well their summits and sacred valleys. The Everest area is a very spiritual and colorful place. From November to December 2015, I had the chance to spend a month in Nepal. I first spent a few days in Kathmandu. I walked from Swayambhunath (Temple of the Apes) to Pashupatinath (the temple where the cremation ceremonies take place). I also spent a lot of time strolling through the streets of Thamel, crowded with vendors of outdoor clothing and Nepalese items of all kinds, Buddha statuettes and prayer rolls of all shapes and sizes. Then I flew to Lukla, at the base of the Himalayan mountains, where I spent a little more than three weeks hiking around the world's highest mountains. To name but a few places: Namche, a wonderful mountain perched village, Chuckung, where for the first time I reached the summit of a mountain at more than 5000 meters, Gorak Shep, at the base of Mount Everest and where I climb Kala Patthar (5600 meters), the Cho La and Renjo La ... and much more! Thanks to Kim and the entire team of Kamzang Journeys (kamzang.com) for allowing me to discover this wonderful place!
- Adam D, Everest High Passes Trek 2015
Watch the Video!
Everest High Passes Trek | Adam D on Vimeo

I just returned from the Everest High Passes Trek with Kamzang Journeys in November. AWESOME!! A trek I will never forget, it was for me a dream come true to travel to Nepal and see the beautiful Himalayan Mountains. The villages, customs, food, and the beautiful people of Nepal made it a truly fabulous experience. It was not always easy however very achievable thanks to Kim Bannister, Lhakpa and their team (Junar, Suresh and Yam) from Kamzang Journeys. Their attention to detail made for a very safe and comfortable trek. There was always someone watching over me and giving me support and encouraegement when I needed. Kim's experience in trekking, understanding of the customs and tradition and not to mention her comprehensive medical knowledge was invaluable.
- Diana P (Australia), Everest High Passes Trek 2015

A big thank you to Kim and Lhakpa for another unforgettable trip! This trip was everything and more than I expected. Their local knowledge (we visited and had morning tea at Lhakpa's sister AND his mother's house!!) is outstanding and they seem to know everyone. As usual there were the extra touches that only Kim does - freshly brewed coffee each morning, our own gas heater for the dining rooms, hot water bottles, afternoon snacks, the travelling library and the best rooms at every tea house we stayed in. Envious looks from other trekkers followed us around the Khumbu! I can't recommend Kamzang Journeys enough. This was the third trek I have done with this company and am already booked to do my fourth. Do your research and you will find this is the most organized, value for money, friendly, and most importantly, safe company you can trek with. Happy trekking!
- Lorraine H (Australia), Everest High Passes Trek 2014

Simply the best! As a very experienced Himalayan trekker who just did three straight trips with Kamzang Journeys I can't imagine booking a trek with any other company in the future. Kim and Lhakpa are so experienced, so professional and so much fun to walk with, and their attention to every detail, like hot water bottles for our sleeping bags every cold night on the High Everest trek, is amazing. Even after Kim broke her wrist coming down from the Renja La she was focused on making sure we were all okay. Amazing!
- Tom B (Canada), Wild Ladakh & Zanskar Trek, Upper Dolpo to Mustang Trek & Everest High Passes Trek 2014

A great trek! Kim and Lhakpa are a great partnership, together with their very experienced Nepali support crew they were able to look after every need of the 10 trekkers that completed this journey. They go the extra mile in many different ways: a very good acclimatization programme, coffee, teas & extra snacks before & with meals, gas heater to ensure cold mornings in tea houses were more comfortable, plus incredible support while trekking. This team are very well respected in the Everest region & rightfully so. I would recommend this company and tour to anyone wanting "something more" the standard Everest Base Camp tour offered by so many companies.
- Graham P (New Zealand), Everest High Passes Trek 2014

My walking highlights of the trek are numerous, and not obviously the ones I had identified before the trek: Aba Dablam base camp - what a lovely heat trap and seeing the climbers very near the summit, Cho La Pass, and the Renjo Pass were true adventures especially the glacier of the former, the views from Gokyo Ri, Chhukhung Ri, and Kala Pattar. One of the best treks was that from Thame to Lhakpa's mother's home at Mende and then on to Namche Bazaar. There were fantastic views around every corner, and the potato pancakes were something I shall remember for a long time. Fantastic hospitality as well. I shall also remember my visit to Everest Base Camp, particularly the time down in amongst the ice pillars. Upon leaving the pillars to go back, and standing at the last one, I shall always remember the tremendously loud, deep, resonant 'crack' of the ice moving somewhere that sounded very near to me!
- David Reynolds (UK), Everest High Passes Trek 2012

Thank you for a GREAT TREK! You, Lhakpa and the guides really did us proud! Would I recommend your High Passes of Everest trek to others? A definite YES! You took us to all the best view points in the Khumbu where we had FANTASTIC VIEWS of Everest and so many other beautiful mountains. Your itinerary also gave us longer at the high points (eg Gorak Shep and Gokyo) than most companies. The guides were excellent doing everything they could to make our holiday truly memorable. They were ready to help with an arm when needed and so patient and smiley when we were slow. Lhakpa was always working hard to ensure everything ran smoothly, so much so that it was easy not to notice all he did, which included using his contacts to secure us flights out of Lukla. But, Kim, you made the trek! Once you had had your morning coffee, you were always smiling, working hard, encouraging us and sorting out our various ailments! It was lovely to see you with the locals, including Lhakpa's mother in her traditional Sherpa's house. Young and old they were all so pleased to see you. Apart from the maountains and the views my lasting memory will be of you with your enthusiasm and SMILE!
 - Martin S (UK), Everest High Passes Trek 2012

Read More Testimonials
Trekkers' Comments

Kim Bannister Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Kamzang Journeys | Country + Regional Photos
Kamzang Journeys Photos

Kamzang Journeys Group Photos
Group Photos

Himalayan Photos
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Himalayan Bird Photos

Himalayan Flower Photos

Market + Street Food Photos
Asian Markets + Street Food

Travel Reading | Enhance Your Trip!
Travel Books

Online Articles + Documentaries on Everest Region

Everest High Passes Trek | Adam D on Vimeo

Glacier Works - David Breshear's Interactive Site

Battle of the Himalayas: The Fight to Film Everest - BBC Four Documentary

1953: First Footsteps - Sir Edmund Hillary & Tenzin Norgay - National Geographic Adventure

Sherpas | The True Heroes of Mount Everest - Film

On Mount Everest, Sherpa Guides Bear the Brunt of the Danger - NPR

Lakes Expanding Dangerously in Everest Glacier - BBC

Rivers of Ice - Vanishing Glaciers - BBC

Everest - National Geographic Adventure

Climbing Everest Then & Now - National Geographic Adventure

Everest Revealed: Photos by Renan Ozturk - National Geographic Adventure

Flying a Drone at Everest - Himalayan Aerials

The Everest Avalanche 2014 - YouTube

Living Through the Himalayan Thaw - Himalayan Times

Nepal Quake Caused Minimal Damage to Everest Trails - Reuters

Nepal Before & After the Earthquake - New York Times

Jan Morris: No One Else Needs to Climb Everest - New Statesman

Airport Near Everest is its own Perilous Adventure - New York Times

Sherpa - They Die, We Go Home - New York Times

On Mount Everest - Surviving and Earthquake & an Avalanche - New York Times Lens Blog

Climate Model Suggests Glaciers Could Nearly Disappear - New York Times

Forty Years of Everest - YouTube

Nepal Drains Dangerous Everest Lake - BBC

The Epic of Everest - BBC Four

Date+Price

2018 Dates
6 - 30 Nov
25 days

2018 Trek Price
$3680

Helicopter Options
Helicopter from Namche or elsewhere available. Price dependent on number of passengers

+ Single Upgrade Kathmandu Guest House - $75
+ Single Upgrade Lodges - $250 (Subject to Availability)

Includes

  • Kathmandu Guest House
  • Western + Sherpa Guide | Kim + Lhakpa Sherpa
  • All Trekking Permits
  • All Lodges on Khumbu Trek
  • Group Transportation by Private Vehicle
  • Domestic Flights + Departure Taxes
  • Airport Transfers
  • Kamzang Lodge Trekking | Kamzang Journeys menus at the lodges, a variety of teas (including herbal), French Press organic Nepali coffee, variety of hot drinks, snacks, chocolate & desserts, filtered drinking water, hot water bottles at night, gas heater in dining room, double rooms at lodges, extensive medical kit, satellite & mobile phone, oxygen (PAC) bag, library of Everest books, yaks for portering gear, Sherpa & Western guides and our great, attentive staff!

Safety + Health Precautions

  • Thuraya Satellite Phone
  • Helicopter Evacuation Services - Excluding Cost of Evacuation
  • Oxygen Saturation Monitoring System
  • PAC Bag (portable oxygen chamber)
  • Full Medical Kit, Medical Experience + Stretcher
  • Kayadyn Filtered Drinking Water
  • Safe, sanitary, delicious + plentiful food + drinks

Excludes

  • International Flights
  • Nepal Visa
  • Travel, Trip Cancellation or Travel Medical Insurance
  • Helicopter Rescue Service Cost
  • Helicopter Shuttle Service to-from Lukla (In case of flight delays or cancellation)
  • Meals in Kathmandu (While not on trek)
  • Equipment Rental
  • Boiled Drinking Water
  • Alcohol + Bottled Drinks
  • Showers
  • Battery Charging at Lodges
  • Laundry
  • Tipping + Other Items of a Personal Naature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $250-$300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $250 per trekker into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

Satellite Phone
NOTE: Mobile phones + wifi work throughout much of the Everest region.
We carry a satellite phone with us for emergencies. Send us a free message at the online Thuraya link below. We can call you back or email you back. If you want a return call or email include your contact info. You can send this in two SMSs if needed.

Kim Satellite#1: +88216 (21277980) – Nepal
Lhakpa Satellite: +88216 (87710076)
Thuraya

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades | 3 Nights
Garden Single - $75
Deluxe Single or Double - $3240

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on room rates

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys | Room Prices
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $65
Garden Single - $75
Garden Double - $85
Deluxe Single - $135
Deluxe Double - $145

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Kathmandu
Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Health Information
Nepal Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
We have a full medical kit with us including Diamox (for acclimatizing), antibiotics, inhalers, bandages, re-hydration, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. but please bring a supply of all prescription and personal medications. Kim has First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications as well as many years of experience with altitude in the Himalaya but is NOT a qualified medic or doctor, so please have a check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety.

DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. We have all of these with us but the Western versions are always better than the Indian equivalents.

PAC Bag + Oxygen
We carry a Portable Oxygen Chamber, or Gammow Bag, with us on many treks. There is no charge for use of the PAC bag but oxygen is $300 per canister (cost price, pass on to insurance company).

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Kathmandu

Arrival
You will be met at the airport by the Kathmandu Guest House van or our Kamzang Journeys driver. Look for a sign with your name on it AND the Kathmandu Guest House sign. You will be driven to the Kathmandu Guest House (or the hotel of your choice) where your rooms have been booked for you. Kim will meet you at the Kathmandu Guest House to go over details and get you settled into Kathmandu.

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Temperatures + Clothing
Kathmandu during trekking season, in the spring and autumn, is usually warm (t-shirt, sandals, light pants or skirts) during the day, and gets chilly (light fleece or windproof top) in the afternoon. Nights can be cold enough for a sweater or light jacket, or warm enough for t-shirts. Summer is hotter and wetter; you’ll need a rain jacket and umbrella. The winter months (November – March) are chilly in the mornings and evenings, cold enough that you might start the day in a down jacket, but often warms up enough to wear a t-shirt by mid-day. Nights get cold enough for a down jacket if you’re sitting outside in the spring and autumn, and much colder in the winter when you won’t leave the hotel without your down jacket. It never snows in Kathmandu, leave your snow boots behind. Keens or lightweight sandals great for wandering around Kathmandu, and for trekking in lower altitudes.

Trekking is a mixed bag of temperatures. LAYERS are the key as hot can change quickly to freezing crossing the passes and snowfalls are common. We often have some rain below 3000 meters in the spring and early autumn, and it can rain hard in the summer. Have a wide range of layer-able trekking clothes for summer to winter temperatures. Keep a lightweight down jacket or synthetic jacket with you at all times, available inexpensively in Kathmandu. A lightweight rain poncho and umbrella for trekking recommended spring and summer. Be prepared! See our GEAR LIST for full details on gear, shoes, clothing, electronics and meds for the trek.

There are lots of real gear shops (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Sherpa Gear) and of course many fake ones in Kathmandu, so if you don't think you have the right gear starting the trip it will be easy to pick-up stuff once in Kathmandu. We have sleeping bags, duffel bags down jackets to rent.

Dress conservatively in Kathmandu and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face style duffel bags with Kamzang Journeys logos for sale (XL, orange). They are (mostly) waterproof, mid to lightweight (lighter than North Face) and good quality. Price 4000 NRP (about $40)

Cultural Issues
Nepalis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Nepal more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Nepali's often place their left hand on the right forearm when passing things to others, a sign of respect. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Nepalis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Pampering Yourself in Kathmandu
We’re happy to book your rooms before or after the trek (or upgrade during the trek) at other boutique or luxury hotels in Kathmandu. We recommend Dwarika’s, Shangri-La, Yak & Yeti or Hyatt. We can also direct you to wonderful spa & massage centers in Kathmandu.

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring Nepali Rupees (NRP) with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of Kukure Rum!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 100 NRP to carry bags to/from your room is fine. The women who clean your room will be happy with 100-200 NRP when you leave, and 100 NRP is good for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a daytrip in a car, perhaps 500 NRP. 10% is included in most restaurant and hotel bills in Nepal, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 NRP) but try not to give it out to the street kids who use it for glue to sniff.

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money in NRP as well). There are ATMs in KTM but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash (usually 10-20,000 NRP) so you’ll be best with currency to change. Traveler's checks not accepted in Nepal!

International Medical Center Kathmandu
CIWEC

Kathmandu + Kathmandu Valley Information
Our personalized 'Insider' list of things to do, places to go, what to visit, the most happening restaurants + the best hotels in Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu Valley.
Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings

Gear List

Travel Photography Gear Guide
The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions! One 15 kg (33 lbs) maximum weight limit for the duffel bag for flights. 20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks.

  • Duffel Bag
  • Day Pack (35-45 L)
  • Sleeping Bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Down Jacket
  • Trekking Boots
  • Crocs (evenings + washing) 

  • Trekking Pants (2)
  • T-Shirts (2-3)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirts (2-3)
  • Trekking Jacket
  • Windproof Jacket + Pants
  • Fleece or Thermal Top + Bottoms (evenings)
  • Lightweight Long Underwear (evenings, possibly pass days)
  • Socks (4-5)
  • Gloves (2, light + heavier for passes)
  • Wool Hat
  • Baseball Cap or Wide-Brimmed Hat
  • Camp Towel
  • Trekking Poles (optional, recommended)
  • Down Booties (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (2, recommend extra pair in daypack)
  • Water Bottles | Nalgenes (2-3)
  • Bladder (optional, recommended)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen + Lip Balm (SPF)
  • Watch (alarm)
  • Battery Chargers + Batteries
  • Head Lamp
  • YakTrax or MicroSpikes
  • SteriPen (recommended)
  • Camp Washing Bowl (optional, collapsible for clothes)
  • Laundry Detergent (Kathmandu) or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, camera batteries, Kindles)
  • Book(s)
  • Zip-Lock | Plastic Bags
  • Soft Toilet Paper | Tissues (we supply toilet paper but you will want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-Wipes, J-Cloth or Chux (optional: easy for a quick daytime clean, fast drying)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!
  • Personal Medical Supplies

Available in Namche Bazaar

  • Snacks, chocolate bars, energy bars (Western brands), dried fruit & nuts
  • Laundry Detergent
  • ALL trekking gear (Sherpa Gear, Mountain Hardwear, Tsetang's Gear Shop all have real gear), real & knock-offs.
  • Lemon Tang (for water if you want)
  • Batteries
  • Trekking Poles
  • Micro Spikes

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.
We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in the great, newer lightweight trekking gear available in all gear shops, online or in Kathmandu.

Kim's Gear Suggestions: I generally wear a trekking t-shirt, light trekking pants, a mid-weight shirt, a lightweight synthetic jacket (instead of a fleece) and carry a lightweight wind jacket and pants for wind and rain. If the weather looks stormy, or if it's a pass day, I carry a lightweight down jacket and a storm-weight jacket. I always have a pair of lightweight gloves (heavier ones additionally for pass days), a hat, a baseball cap and an extra pair of socks in my day-pack. I generally trek in low Merrill hiking shoes or Salomon running shoes, and wear Keen boots on very cold days and over passes. I always carry Crocs with me in case of river crossings and to give feet a break at lunch. I carry a 35-40 L Black Diamond or Osprey day pack. On pass days I carry Yak Trax and trekking poles, and I always have an extra pair of sunglasses, electrolytes, my camera, a medical kit, a SteriPen, snacks and water in my day pack. My favorite gear brands available in Kathmandu are Sherpa Gear, Mountain Hardwear and Marmot. I wear a lot of Patagonia gear although it's not available in Kathmandu.

Good trekking boots are essential. High boots are best, but you don’t need climbing or plastic boots (for mini-crampons or micro-spikes). You can also get away with low, sturdy trekking boot. Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which are often steep and icy and for treks with river crossings. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraxs are almost always useful (or essential) for the pass crossings. We will have at least one ice ax with us. It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and to wear in the lodges in the evenings. Tevas take a long time to dry and are relatively heavy.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential. Do bring an extra pair. Don’t forget a sun hat and/or a baseball cap, an extra headlamp and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF! Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is very changeable in the Himalaya! We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & rips.
 
Nights (in the rooms) are cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. Quits are usually provided as well. For your sleeping bag, we recommend a DOWN bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Mine is -20 F. At lower altitudes I open it and sleep under it like a quilt and up higher am toasty warm during the cold nights. Rentals available.

Inside the lodge dining rooms, the wood or yak-dung stoves heat the room very well and you'll often strip down to a t-shirt!

Daypack
We recommend a 30-45 liter daypack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Better to have it too large than too small as on pass days you’ll need to carry more warm gear. Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing.

In your daypack, you will be carrying your camera, 2 liters of water, a jacket, wind & rain pants, hat, gloves, extra socks, sunscreen, snacks, electrolytes, water purifying tablets, filter or Steripen (optional), camera, hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and often a down jacket. I slip my Crocs on the back for lunch. Lhakpa & I carry small medical kits in our day packs.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day. 

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face style duffel bags with Kamzang Journeys logos for sale (XL, orange). They are (mostly) waterproof, mid to lightweight (lighter than North Face) and good quality. Price 4000 NRP (about $40)

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops, and easiest for porters to carry. Inexpensive and decent quality duffels are available in Kathmandu but it’s best to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu at the Kathmandu Guest House storage room free of charge. Valuables can be stored at the Kathmandu Guest House in private safety-deposit boxes for 2 NRP per day.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Gear, Marmot shops in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards.

Everest Region

The Everest | Solu Khumbu Region

Nepal’s Solu Khumbu, widely known as the Everest region, is a diverse region of spectacular Himalayan panoramas, diverse flora including blue pine, juniper and silver fir, rare wildlife and some of the highest mountains on the planet. The Khumbu is the original Sherpa homeland, a region of Nyigma-pa Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, ancient chortens, lung-ta (prayer flags), glaciers, Himalayan passes, high pasture lands and once traditional villages which are now often (but not always) crowded with trekking lodges and colorful shops. The region is dominated by the sacred Khumbila peak, which rises above Khumjung and Kunde, two of the larger villages in the area, with Mount Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam towering over the village from the opposite side. The elevation of the Khumbu ranges from 2840 meters to the 8848 meter summit of Mount Everest.

There are several ways to enter the Khumbu, the most commonly trekked part of the Everest region. Most people fly into the Hillary Airstrip in Lukla (2840 meters), and the second most popular route is via Jiri, a diverse trek of 7-8 days crossing numerous smaller passes and ridges, and trekking through traditional Hindu, Rai and Tamang villages. The third route is via the old mountaineering trail of Shipton, Hillary and all of the original mountaineers starting in Tumlingtar (or before that, way back when), following the Aun River for a few days before veering west and trekking in very hilly, beautiful country through sprawling Rai villages until the Jiri route is intersected. The last route is via the Rolwaling Tashi Laptsa Pass, a challenging six day trek from Barabise and Chariot, through the realm of the goddess Tashi Tseringma (according to Sherpa mythology), which crosses the somewhat treacherous Tashi Laptsa Pass (5755 meters) to reach the Thame valley. The last route is from Tibet, a trail not open to Westerners and often closed even for Nepalis and Tibetans. From the Tibetan side traders cross the Nangpo La (5710 meters) and trek down several days through a glacial valley where Sherpas have their ‘doksas’, or seasonal herding villages, to reach Thame and Namche Bazaar.

The Everest (Khumbu) region is entered through the Sagarmatha National Park at the top end of Monjo (where Kim taught school in 2001). The Sagarmartha National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979, an area of 1148 square meters which ranges from 2840 - 8840 meters. The buffer zone was established in the late 90s to give some income to the villages between Lukla and Monjo. Namche Bazaar is a bustling old trading village at the fork of three valleys, situated in an amphitheater of peaks. The far left valley leads to Thame valley and Tibet, the middle valley leads to Gokyo Lake and the far right valley leads to the Khumbu Glacier, formed during the last great Ice Age approximately 500,000 years ago, and Everest Base Camp. This valley branches off to the right about half way up and leads to the Chhukhung Valley and the base of the Island Peak climbing route.

The Khumbu region, with a population of about 4000, gets from 10-20,000 Western trekkers per year, and probably double that amount of Nepali staff and local porters coming to the markets at Lukla and Namche with their goods to sell.

Mount Everest, also referred to in Sherpa and Tibetan as Chomolungma, was recognized as the highest peak in the world in 1856 by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India (it was until then known as Peak XV). Everest was named after Sir George Everest, the British Surveyor General of India, by the Royal Geographical Society in 1865.

The first mountaineers to attempt to climb Everest were British, and the first attempt made in 1921 from the Tibetan side as Nepal was then closed to foreigners. This 1921 expedition reached 7000 meters on the North Col, the 1922 expedition climbing on the North ridge reached 8320 meters but tragically 7 porters were killed in an avalanche while descending. George Mallory & Andrew Irvine attempted to climb Everest on 8 June, 1924, perhaps even submitting before disappearing. Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 on the North Face of Everest, at 8155 meters; the question of whether or not they summited Everest still remains a mystery.

Nearly 30 years later Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary succeeded in making the first official ascent of Everest, climbing on the southeast ridge route in 1953 to reach the summit of Chomolungma together!

Notable Himalayan peaks include Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Nuptse (7861m), Makalu (8462m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Ama Dablam (6812m), Mera Peak (6476m), Island Peak (6189m), Cho Polu (6735m), Khumbutse (6640m), Kwongde Ri (6187m), Thamserku (6623m), Kang Guru (6981m), Kusum Kanggaru (6367m), Changtse (7580m) & Cholatse (6440m).

Sherpa Quotes + Superstitions
Folk Culture of Tibet -  Norbu Chophel

 - Whistling inside the house, especially in the kitchen and family store-house is absolutely avoided by Tibetans. This is not the place to whistle your favorite tunes because it is believed that whistling causes all the food stuff to run out quickly.

 - Whistling at night is also discouraged because it is believed to arouse ghosts and other nocturnal spirits. If a woman whistled at night she might be accused of being a witch. In general, whistling at night is abhorred. It is believed to invite ghosts and other malignant spirits."

 - Tibetans believe that after eating garlic one is unfit to visit temples, monasteries and other  holy places for 7 days, the length of time it is needed to get rid of the garlic stink.

 - To accidently step on excrement or get in anywhere on one's body, or to be splashed by bird-droppings are believed to be auspicious signs.

 - In all the realms of existence, there is no enemy like a wife, no prison like worldly existence and no watchman like one who is related to you by blood.

Himalayan Photos
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Himalayan Bird Photos

Himalayan Flower Photos

HoneyGuide Apps

Great guide to the Everest region.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m/16,350'
You'll be met at the airport by a representative from Khumbu Adventures, Kamzang Journeys or the Kathmandu Guest House, so look out for a Kathmandu guest house sign when you leave the airport. They will bring you back to the Kathmandu Guest House, where your rooms are booked. Relax in their beautiful, newly expanded garden and recover from your jetlag.

Kim will meet you at the guest house and introduce you to Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. Over dinner we check your insurance details (please have a copy of your travel medical insurance policy with you), go over gear and get to know each other over a beer at New Orleans or another of Kathmandu's many cafes and restaurants.

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Morning meeting at 9:30 AM in the back garden of the Kathmandu Guest House. The day is free to explore Kathmandu, take excursions into the Kathmandu valley, shop, visit the spa, have a massage or just read a book in the lovely Kathmandu Guest House gardens. We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to, and in the evening will head out for dinner of wood-oven pizza at the Roadhouse Cafe.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing | Optional Tours
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Day 3 - Fly Lukla 2850m/9350'. Trek Monjo 2835m/9300'
Just after sunrise we embark on a spectacular 30-minute flight over the Kathmandu valley and along snow-capped Himalayan peaks to the renown Hillary Norgay Airport in Lukla. After sorting out our loads on our dzobkios (a mix of yak and cow) and a hearty breakfast at Eco-Paradise Lodge at the other side of the airstrip we start trekking!

Leaving the bustling village of Lukla, packed with colorful shops, restaurants and bars and still a bit of Sherpa character, we trek north, with snow-capped Karyolung peak in the distance. The quaint village of Chaunrikharka lays below us. The trail takes us above a rhododendron-choked forest, over the school and gompa and past the checkered fields of barley, spinach and potatoes of the village. We are trekking along the Dudh Kosi (river) on a centuries-old trading trail from Nepal to Tibet. It is well traveled by stout, heavily loaded Nepali porters and Tibetan traders (Khampas, most distinguishable by the length of red or black tassel wrapped around their heads) conducting business between the weekly markets of Lukla and Namche with Chinese and Tibetan goods brought over the 5700m Nangpa La (pass) from Tibet.

Half an hour out of Lukla we reach the idyllic hamlet of Chheplung. Up valley rises the sacred peak of Khumbila, a black triangle that dominates the valley. From the small hamlet of Thado Kosi, while crossing the metal bridge, we have our first view the three sister peaks of Kusum Khangkaru to the east. Half an hour of lovely trekking over cobbled trails brings us to Ghat and the best-maintained cluster of mani stones and prayer flags in the Khumbu. The local lama, owner of the Lama Lodge in Ghat, is responsible for this magical setting. Once at Phakding, a lively village a half hour's walk from Ghat, we will stop for lunch at Ang Sani and Jangbu's Shangri La Lodge. Their son, Nawang, has just opened a stylish cafe with great cappuccinos from an Italian coffee maker!

Hiking by the small tea-houses servicing the locals and workers in Phakding, we cross a long suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi and trek above the river, climbing through evergreen forests to reach the first lodge of Benkar. Look up on the protruding rocks for Himalayan thar. Continuing over a small bridge, we continue through larger Benkar, the first village to attend the Monjo school. Another suspension bridge, several small tea houses serving local fare and another climb, and we reach Chumoa, with apple and peach trees which bloom in the springtime. One more small bridge and a last climb on uneven stone steps to reach Monjo, where we stop at Top Hill Lodge for the night, owned by Domey and Pasang Dawa.

Monjo is a small Sherpa village tucked away in the forests high above the Dudh Kosi where Kim taught English years ago, only the newer part of the village visible from the trail. There is a newly reconstructed gompa above the school, and above than a steep drop off and good view of tomorrow's hike. (6 hrs)

Day 4 - Trek Namche Bazaar 3465m/11,365'
After a short walk past the school with Khumbila (or Khumbu Yul La) looming majestically ahead of us, we enter the gateway to the Sagarmatha National Park. Descending steeply on a stony trail to the river, we cross a long suspension bridge to reach the hamlet of Jorsale, and then cross one more long bridge before continuing along the sandy riverside trail, still amongst the pine forest, the shores peppered with large, rounded river rocks. We continue along the river for about 45 minutes, with two large ascents on steep, stone staircases. Hike carefully as these steps are a bit precipitous.

Bring your five-colored Tibetan prayer flags to hang on the long (new in 2013) suspension bridge over the confluence of the Dudh Kosi (milk river) and the Bhote Kosi (river from Tibet) and send prayers out into the Everest region! The steep hour and a half climb to Namche on a dusty, rocky, switch-backing trail is broken half-way up the hill by our first view of Everest, Lhotse & Nuptse. Local women sell delicious oranges at this resting point, which we'll share for sure with other trekkers. Another 45 minutes of climbing, mostly off the main trail amongst the evergreens, we arrive at the old trading village of Namche Bazaar, now a thriving trekking metropolis. We'll have a short tour of the shopping and bakeries in Namche before heading up steep stone steps to our guest house, Natang & Pemba's idyllic Moonlight Lodge, scenically situated at the top of Namche.

Namche Bazaar, once called Nauje and now the most prosperous trading village on the old trade route with Tibet, sits in an amphitheater surrounded by mountains. From Namche we have perfect views of Kongde Ri in front of us, Kangtega, Thamserku and Kusum Khangkuru to the east and Khumbila to the back. Down-valley the hills and valleys along the route from Solu to Khumbu from Jiri sit shrouded in hazy shades of steely-grey and blues. (3 1/2 hrs)

Days 5 + 6 – Namche Bazaar | Day Hike Khunde 3855m/12,638' + Khumjung 3800m/12,465'
We've scheduled an extra acclimatization day in Namche as there is just too much to do in only one free day, and we've found that it helps incredibly with acclimatization. If it's Saturday Market day (which actually starts on Friday, we we will spend the morning exploring the bustling market, a feast of colors, smells and colorfully-clad Sherpa women up from their villages for the weekly event. It’s as much a social gathering as a produce, meat and essential goods market, so the atmosphere is spirited and lively, a great photographic opportunity.

You are free to relax and explore the crowded main streets of Namche, the Sherpa Cultural Center (photographic museum, fantastic), the reconstructed traditional Sherpa house (next door), the National Park Headquarters Museum (where you'll have easy views of Everest, Lhotse + Nuptse++), colorful Namche Gompa with its own new museum and the Tibetan market. The Tibetans are often encamped in the center of town in a muddy bazaar (potato fields in the summer) touting their goods from China. Indulge yourself at one of the many bakeries, shop for some yak bells or hand-woven Himalayan hats, chat with the sociable Sherpas in the village, or just relax in preparation for the trek. There are now new Mountain Hardwear and Sherpa Gear shops as well as Tsedam's Gear Shop with a great variety of real trek gear if you find that you're missing warm clothes. All often have gear on sale, bonus! Watch out for dzobkios and cows wandering the narrow streets.

For some peak-spotting at sunet, hike up ten minutes just past the National Park headquarters. For a higher viewpoint, climb steeply to any of several viewpoint an hour+ walk straight up the ridge (above the huge mani stone at the top of the steps). Continue just past Syangboche airstrip, worth the effort for the panoramic views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Thamserku, Kantega, Kusum Khangkuru, Tarboche and Ama Dablam.

Moonlight Lodge has a great hot shower, a large library, beer and wine in the cabinet and delicious home-cooked food so there is really no reason to leave at all if you're feeling lethargic, or enjoying basking in the sunny dining room. Later in the afternoon you might spot yaks wandering into the back yard of the Moonlight Lodge. They will be ours, with our yak-drivers Pasang & Mingma, and will all accompany us for the rest of the trek.

DAY HIKE KHUMJUNG + KHUNDE
Kim and Lhakpa will lead whoever wants to join on a scenic and cultural high loop through the Khunde and Khumjung valley. Taking advantage of the crisp morning light we hike up the steep hill in back of Namche (the same as towards the viewpoint) towards the lively, old Sherpa villages of Khunde and Khumjung, passing through the old airstrip at Syangboche en route. The first section of the climb is steep and sandy, and we will break the climb with great photos from the large mani stone hung with colorful prayer-flags. On the ridge above the airstrip we climb gradually on tundra to a large, whitewashed chorten to the right of the yak-breeding center. From here we climb briefly to a small hill topped with chulung (memorial chortens) for fabulous views of Kumbila, Tabuche, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kangtega, Kusum Khangkuru, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. We  trek down to Chhukhung along a small, scenic trail through rhododenrons. We may spot Himalayan tahr grazing on the hillsides, and possibly iridescent danphe and chortling chukkars.

Descending into magical Khumjung (marketed as the Green Valley), we walk through the entrance chorten and past a long, beautiful mani wall and the old Khumjung school, established by Hillary in the 70s. We'll contour through ancient rock walls through the lower half of the village to Khumjung Gompa, one of the oldest in the Khumbu (approximately 500 years) and home to the only existing Yeti scalp on the planet.

The adjoining villages of Khumjung and Khunde are some of the original villages of the Khumbu region, both about 600 years old and wonderful examples of local Sherpa architecture with their winding stone walls, yak paddocks, potato patches and wood and slate houses. Perhaps we will run into Sherpa friends who will invite us in for some salt-butter tea, climbing up a wooden ladder over the straw-lined manger to get into the main house on the first floor. Both villages sit below Khumbila, the sacred Sherpa peak surrounded by lhaso (shrines to mountain deities), above a famous rock-mural of Guru Rimpoche. The views of Ama Dablam from this valley are breathtaking. Heading up the valley to neighboring Khunde, we continue to trek through trails lined by lichen-covered stone walls, past traditional Sherpa houses, to Khunde Hospital, where Lhakpa's uncle Kami is the head doctor.

Next door, at Khunde Guest House, we'll have lunch with the lovely owner Doma Tseri and her daugher. Their lodge has expansive mountain views from the warm, glass dining room. Satiated, we'll hike through Khunde's entrance kane and back up the small ridge, where more Himalayan vistas await. Way down below us, along another magical trail, is Namche and a warm and cheerful dining room.

Hillary Memorial
The side trip to Hillary Memorial (4200m), locally referred to as Gong Ri, is a relatively easy hike (approximately 45 minute) along a gradually ascending through a hillside lightly wooded with fir and juniper above Khunde Monastery. Just before reaching the monastery, take the intersecting trail heading left to a scenic ridge with a nearly 360 degree view of Himalayan peaks. The dramatic ridge top setting was dedicated as a memorial to Edmund Hillary’s wife, Louise, and his 16 year old daughter, Belinda, who died tragically in a plane crash just outside of Kathmandu in 1975. The plane was heading to Phaplu Airstrip. Just above the memorial to Louise and Belinda Hillary is a chorten built by local Khunde inhabitants to honor Sir Edmund Hillary.

Views from the memorial include Everest, Lhotse, Nupte, Tabuche, Ama Dablam, Kangtega, Thamserku, Kusum Kangkaru, Kwongde and Pharchamo, as well as the twin villages of Khunde and Khumjung just below Khunde Gompa, Shyangboche, Namche and Monjo down valley, and Tengboche and Pangboche to the north. From the ridge, look to the west to the Thame valley leading to the Nangpa La, once an important Tibetan trade route. The narrow valley before the Thame valley is rumored to be the home of several yetis. Descend from the memorial along the same trail, or head straight down the ridge towards Shyangboche, cutting back towards Khunde to meet the main trail back to Namche as well as the trail leading west towards Thame. You can bushwack your way directly down to Namche but it takes some work, and the trails are only for wood cutters or musk deer. On the plus side, you’ll encounter the many colorful Danphe en route! (6+ hrs)

Day 7 - Trek Phortse 3780m/12,398'
We start the day hiking up to the same large mani stone, turning right around the rock and hiking along the well used trail heading east. We stay high, contouring around several hillsides far above the Dudh Kosi and stopping for views of Everest and Lhotse at the two whitewashed chortens. (The first chorten is a newer memorial to Tenzin Norgay). Two hours after leaving Namche we reach Tashi and Lhakpa's Ama Dablam Lodge in Kyangjuma, perched dramatically on a steep hillside overlooking the peak of the same name. Tashi has the best jewelry shopping in the Everest region so we'll have a short stop at her lodge. Continuing along the main trail through a lovely rhododendron forest we take a sharp left at the intersecting trail leading to Gokyo and ascend the steep trail up to the bridge which intersects the old trail from Khumjung. Along the way we are likely to see wildlife such as Himalayan tahr and the spectacularly hued danphe, Nepal's national bird. We climb gradually for another hour to Mong La, where we will stop for a scenic lunch at Boudha Lodge, perched spectacularly on this (nearly) 4000 meter pass. Across the valley sits Tengboche Gompa, its gilded rooftops glittering in the afternoon sun.

We have a steep descent through pine and rhododendron forests on a switchbacking trail, with stone steps hugging the cliff side on the lower half, to Phortse Tenga. Just past the lodges and ancient mani walls, hiking through woods of birch, we cross the river on a steel bridge and start the short but steep climb up to Phortse, one of the oldest villages of the Khumbu region. Keep your eyes open and cameras out as there are many musk deer, danphe and blood pheasants hiding in the rhododendron forests bordering the trail and the village. The danphe dig for potatoes in the lower fields of the village in the mornings and evenings, near the ancient chorten at the end of the fields. We'll bunk down for the night at Phortse Guest House, which has a wonderful dining room, great views and good electricity. The lodge is run by a lovely Sherpa couple, Ba Nuru and his Sherpani  wife Pasang. Ba Nuru is a many-time Everest climber and one of the main participants in the Phortse Climbing School, founded by Conrad Anchor and his wife. (6 1/2 hrs)

Day 8 - Trek Pangboche 3900m/12,792'
Leaving Phortse on the northeastern side and climbing for 20 minutes to the small chorten which signifies the top of the ridge, we look across the Imja Khola towards Tengboche Gompa across the deep river gorge. Our trail skirts the high ridges of Tabuche Peak, often precipitous but always safe, with fantastic views around every corner and more thar grazing along the steep hillsides. Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse dominate the northern skyline, while Ama Dablam is close enough to touch to the east and Kangtega and Thamserku grace the valley below us. After an hour of scenic walking we climb a few hundred meters to a small pass (4080m), descend with a few dips on stone staircases, and soon reach Upper Pangboche. We'll take 20 minutes to wander the old alleys and take a look inside Pangboche Gompa, at approximately 500 years old one of the four oldest gompas (monasteries) in the Khumbu.

Contouring above the newer Lower Pangboche, we trek to the left of an ancient mani wall and contour above the newer lodges before dropping down to our lodge at the end of Lower Pangboche. Pangbohe is a lovely village with views across the Imja Khola to the trail to Ama Dablam Base Camp, the old airstrip at Mingbo and Ama Dablam. We stay at Sonam Lodge, the last in the village, owned by Lhakpa's (ex) brother-in-law, Gyurme, his wife Yangi, and their very young daughter Tseyang Zangmu. Gyurme is one of the many lodge owners who has summited Everest and Ama Dablam many times. From the three-sided windows of the dining room we are treated to a magnificent sunset over Ama Dablam, Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. (3 hrs)

As it's been a short day we'll enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Sonam Lodge. Feel free to enjoy the afternoon resting at the lodge, or take a hike through the trekking shops of Lower Pangboche or up to a strip of memorial chortens on the high trail from Upper Pangboche. One of the original partners of Project Himalaya, Joel Schone, has his memorial chorten at this beautiful spot. (3 1/2 hrs)

Day 9 - Pangboche | Day Hike Ama Dablam Base Camp 4580m/15,040'
We've scheduled an acclimatization day in Pangboche with a great hike up the Mingbo valley to Ama Dablam Base Camps (4580m & 4535m). Lhakpa's sister-in-law (Doma's younger sister) Nima Lhamo owns the Ama Dablam Support Lodge, very popular with Ama Dablam climbers, at the lower base camp in a yak herding seasonal settlement.

After descending to the river and crossing on a small bridge, we have a steep climb to the plateau above which has several doksas or summer settlements on either side. We continue to climb along a rocky, ridge line trail to reach lively Ama Dablam Base Camp, dominated by Ama Dablam. The views throughout the day are sublime, especially of Pumori and Tabuche which tower above us to the east. We'll visit the higher base camp first, ablaze with yellow and orange tents, and perhaps get to watch climbers ascending towards the snowy summit before descending to Nima Lhamo's lodge for a Sherpa lunch. The descent is much quicker, and we'll be back at the lodge early afternoon with time for a shower. (5 hrs RT)

Day 10 - Trek Dingboche 4300m/14,015'
It's only a short trekking day today since we're gaining altitude, so enjoy the beautiful walk. Leaving Pangboche, we trek above the Imja Khola along a rocky trail to tiny Somare and then along wide yak trails past the one lodge of Orsho and then past the intersection to Pheriche (home of the the HRA health post). Just past the intersection we descend to the intersecting Chola Khola which we cross on a small, wooden bridge to reach the scree hillside leading to Dingboche. Dingboche is another old Sherpa village, now a primary stop on the Everest Base Camp route, a semi-permanent village whos inhabitants traditionally would stay in nearby kharkas, keeping their livestock away from their precious barley crops.

The lower half of Dingboche is a line of trekking lodges interspersed with a few local shops and internet cafes, while the upper half is still local Sherpa dwellings, fields, rock walls and yak enclosures, reminiscent of Sherpa villages of yore. Three whitewashed chortens with Buddha eyes lead up the ridge to the peak called Dolma Ri, topped with prayer flags. Look on top of the peak for the eagle, or 'lak', perched there. Above, nestled in the hillside, is an old Buddhist hermitage called Nangar Dzong, the summer meditation place of Lama Sangwa Dorje. We stay at the bottome of Dingboche, at at Nima Yangjin and Samden's welcoming Snowlion Guest House, and enjoy the afternoon at the bakery in the sun! (3 hrs)

Day 11 - Trek Chhukhung 4750m/15,580'
This morning, as the sun hits the lodge, we head up to Chhukhung for a few days of sublime mountain views! The trail passes to the left of the old houses and barley fields of Dingboche, and then ascends gradually along the grassy left bank of the boulder-strewn Imja Kola. We trek past several large mani stones, and pass Bibre, a seasonal herding village. Just past a single house-teashop we cross a small bridge and make the short, final ascent to Chhukhung, nestled under Ama Dablam, Lhotse, the Nuptse wall, Peak 38, Kang Lemu and Island peak, to name just a few of the peaks that make this such a superb setting.

We spend two idyllic days at the large Chhukhung Resort, owned by Chindi & Mingma Sherpa, a lovely lodge with new, sunny rooms, a sunroom, a great dining room and a heat-generating slate deck, perfect for peak-gazing in the afternoon. Sunsets are sublime, so get out on the nearby moraine with your cameras. After lunch at the lodge, we'll have a casual wander up the glacial valley along the undulating glacial moraines, heading in the direction of Island Peak Base Camp (a 3 1/2 hour journey up, 2 hours back); the views up and down valley are great and the short hike is an easy way to stretch your legs and enjoy the afternoon. (2 1/2 hrs)

Day 12 - Chhukhung | Climb Chhukhung Ri 5565m/18,253'
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in the Khumbu region; we take advantage of our free day to climb Chhukhung Ri, a climbing peak with two summits, the higher at 5565m. From the cairn-strewn saddle at 5390 meters, the views of Makalu and Nuptse are awesome, and we peer down the back side of the peak to Cho Oyu and the peaks near the Gokyo Lakes. From the lodge, we'll cross a small and often frozen glacial stream and climb for about 2 hours to reach the saddle; the summit to the north is another half and hour's hike on loose scree, slightly exposed. (4 - 4 1/2 hrs RT)

Day 13 - Trek Lobuche 4935m/16,186m | OPTION Cross Kongma La Pass 5540m/18171m
We have two options today, descending to Dingboche, traversing to Thugla and then climbing to Lobuche, or crossing the Kongma La and the Khumbu glacier to reach Lobuche. Below is the first (and easier/lower in altitude) option:

KONGMA LA OPTION: After returning back down the valley to Dingboche, we crest the chorten-topped ridge and continue another three hours further, looking down on the trail to the Cho La Pass and Dzongla. Walking along the flat, grassy plateau, we pass the summer 'doksa', or yak-herding settlement, of Dusa before heading down to the stony river coming from the Khumbu Valley, and crossing it on a small bridge. A quick five minutes up the hill and we arrive at Thugla and Tsering Lhakpa's Yak Lodge, probably the most genuine alpine lodge in the Khumbu. And it's worth a trek up to Thugla just to meet Tsering, who often takes out his Tibetan 'damnye' to play some traditional Tibetan songs. We'll have lunch at Thugla before continuing up.

From Thugla, it's straight up the steep, yak-trodden trail to the memorials to the many climbers who have died attempting one of the many peaks in the area (including Babu Chiri and Scott Fischer's). The Sherpas call this place Chukpi Lhare, meaning 'wealthy persons' kharka'. Check the mountain views behind you when you reach the memorial crest, they're spectacular. Next, we head up-valley towards Lobuche, where we stay the night at the Eco Lodge. The views from the edge of the glacier down valley are superb, almost more so as the clouds move up the valley, so don't miss an afternoon walk up to the ridge with your camera. At Lobuche, almost 5000 meters, it is especially important to take it easy, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. (6 1/2 - 7 hrs)

MEMORIAL VIEWPOINT OPTION: The Kongma La pass takes only an hour or so more than the route via Thugla (not including stopping for lunch), and is very do-able if we're strong and have slept two nights at Chhukhung. To reach the Kongma La, we head directly west out of Chhukhung on a small, rocky trail and contour around many hillsides, usually not very steeply, until we reach the Pokalden Base Camp. After a few other hills, more steep, we will reach another Base Camp for Pokalden and a clear blue lake which sits just below the pass. We climb the last half hour on a trail which is good but looks impossibly built into the cliff-side, and about 4 hours later we have reached the Kongma La, our highest pass at 5540 meters.

Getting down the pass is straight forward but tiring, with a steep descent on loose scree and rocks, hard on the knees, finally reaching the green valley bottom only to climb back up the eastern lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. Crossing the glacier is an otherworldly experience as we trek past groaning glacial ponds and sliding rocks and scree, again a tough series of climbs and descents on the uneven glacier, the first two-thirds of the glacier always on a new trail. The last third is easier, and we soon crest the top of the western lateral moraine, with an easy descent to Lobuche. We stay at the semi-luxurious Eco Lodge at the top end of Lobuche, where the delicious pizzas make a nice change from dal baht! (7 - 7 1/2 hrs)

NOTE: Kim and Lhakpa will decide if we will attempt the Kongma La, and who is acclimatized and able to do the pass. We can easily go in two groups, all meeting at the Eco Lodge in Lobuche.

Day 14 - Trek Gorak Shep 5180m/16,990' | Climb Kala Pattar Peak 5645m/18,516'
We leave Lobuche early, trekking up a rocky yak trail on the left side of the Khumbu Glacier towards Gorak Shep, a walk of about three hours. The walk isn't difficult, but there are a few hills to crest, more memorials along the way, and you should feel the altitude. The last stretch of the trail snakes up and down glacial scree, and just before Gorak Shep we get a view of Everest. Gorak Shep, with Kala Pattar just to the left, is a welcome sight; the Himalayan Lodge has expanded, the rooms are lovely, the toilets are inside and the dining room is always lively and warm. The food is even good, quite a feat at 5180 meters, many days walk from the markets! To the east of Gorak Shep, Nuptse looms magnificently above us, now a triangular rock face which turns pink with the evening light.

We have a chance to climb the 5645-meter Kala Pattar later in the morning, a steep, 2-hour climb from the lodge. From the rocky, prayer-flag strewn summit which is actually a spur from Pumori we are rewared with in-your-face views the 6, 7 & 8000 meter peaks as Everest, Lhotse (the tip), Nuptse, Amadablam & Kangtega to the south and Lhola Peak, Changtse, Khumbutse, Lingtren, Pumori & Chumbu. Changtse is fully in Tibet, and the others for the most part form the border of Nepal and Tibet.

Descending is much faster than the ascent, and hot drinks are waiting back at Ang Tsering's Himalayan Lodge. For the remainder of the day: a late lunch (if we didn't have it earlier), rest and lots of water! (3 hrs + 4 hrs RT)

Day 15 - Trek Lobuche 4935m/16,186' | Day Hike Everest Base Camp 5365m/17,597m
We have the morning hike to Everest Base Camp at 5365 meters, a 5-hour round-trip walk along the glacial ridge leading to the Khumbu icefall, descending right onto the glacier. At 'Korean Base Camp' there is a rock strung with 5-colored prayer flags which looks out at the Khumbu Ice Fall, a perfect spot for a group photo. If we have time, we can venture into the ice pinacles just a few minutes from the prayer flags, a sign of the melting glaciers and global warming ...

If you didn't do it yesterday you can climb the 5645 meter Kala Pattar in the morning. Rob Hall's memorial makes a nice side-trip up the valley if you're short on energy. Back at the lodge we'll have lunch and then head back down the glacial valley to Lobuche, showers, a warm stove and a good dinner. (4 hrs RT + 2 hrs)

Day 16 - Trek Dzongla 4830m/15,842'
We can sleep in a bit this morning as we have a short day to Dzongla today, a small 'kharka' of 3 lodges which sit a few hours below the Cho La pass. Once past Lobuche, we fork off to the right (east), cross a small floodplains river on rocks and climb gradually, contouring as we head south. At the confluence of the Chola stream and the stream coming from the Khumbu glacier we are treated to magnificent views in all directions, the featured peaks being Ama Dablam, Nuptse and Pumori. We turn to the right and head up the Dzongla valley, past the opaque, turquoise Cho La Lake on our left, followed by Lobuche East base camp in the green valley to our right. Another steep switchbacking climb and we see the small lodges of Dzongla, which requires a descent, another small stream crossing and one last ascent to reach. We stay at one of Doma's brothers lodges at Dzongla, either Ang Nuru & Maya's Dzongla Inn or at Ang Chhering + Yangi's Green Valley Lodge.

From Dzongla, we'll have a scenic lunch as we gaze up at the sheer wall of Cholatse Peak and get ready for the morning crossing of Cho La pass tomorrow. Don't miss watching (and photographing) the sunset over Ama Dablam from just outside the lodge, sublime. (3 1/2 - 4 hrs)

Day 17 - Trek Tangnak 4690m/15,383' | Cross Cho La Pass 5370m/17,613'
It's going to be an early start for our crossing of the Cho La pass (5370m), a steep and somewhat difficult ascent of a rocky ridge and glacier a few hours walk from Dzongla. We start by crossing a small glacial stream, and then start climbing up the pass along a ridge with Lobuche West looming above us. From the iron-stained rock at the top of the ridge we climb a rock staircase to reach the bottom of the melting Chola glacier, often icy and requiring Yak Traxs or micro-spikes. The ascent of the Chola glacier is exciting and stunningly beautiful as we trek across the snow, and we soon reach the gaping and usually frozen crevasse just below the pass. At the pass we'll hang Buddhist prayer flags and send prayers out across the Himalaya.

From the top of Cho La pass we'll have views of Ama Dablam, Kangtega, Thamserku, Tarboche, Cholatse and Baruntse on the Khumbu side, and of Nangpai Gosain, Pasang Lhamo, Numbur and on the Gokyo side. After a snack, it's a scramble back down the pass, again often icy. At the bottom of this first stretch we still have to negotiate a rocky, hilly trail across the valley followed by a long descent to the kharka of Tangnak, where Lhakpa Nuru has built a great new lodge called the Cho La Resort. Chilled beers and wine are available to celebrate our pass crossing, and dining room (with wifi) is one of the nicest in the Khumbu, so relax, sit by the fire and enjoy this luxurious mountain experience! (7 - 8 hrs)

Day 18 - Trek Gokyo 4790m/15,711'
We start the morning by hiking gently on the east side of the the Ngozumpa Glacier; after about half an hour we hike up the lateral moraine and descend into the glacier. After hiking further north on a slightly exposed trail just inside the moraine, we cross the glacier on a sandy, boulder-strewn trail, the frozen lakes creaking as we snake our way to the other side. Climbing up the opposite lateral moraine, we just have to cross a small hill before looking down to the ever-expanding seasonal 'trekking village' (once just a kharka) of Gokyo, built beside the third, and biggest lake. In this grassy ablation valley running beside the Ngozumpa Glacier, the character of the trekking changes abruptly. The opaque powder-blue lakes are often on the verge of freezing over, and sometimes perform a Himalayan symphony of expanding and retracting ice. Gokyo has become something of a Himalayan resort without the crowd – at least in terms of the comfortable lodges with sunrooms, unbeatable views, excellent food and warm stoves. It is a great base, and we have plenty of time to explore. A more spectacular setting is difficult to imagine, and our guesthouse, the Cho Oyu Lodge, perfectly situated on the lake-side, is a little piece of heaven. Dali Sherpa, our host, is a good friend, and with her two kids, Tenzin and Ang Tashi, has now expanded and improved their little lake side piece of heaven.

Lured into the wonderful sun room, it is easy to spend the day chatting with fellow trekkers, watching shaggy yaks amble their way in and around Gokyo (sometimes casually sticking their heads inside the lodges) and admiring the lake and Himalayan views.

GOKYO RI CLIMB. For those with energy left over after the pass and glacier crossing, we'll have an early lunch and then climb Gokyo Ri (5360m) for wonderful Everest + Himalayan peak views and spectacular views of the Gokyo Lakes, Ngozumba Glacier, the glacial valley. The Himalayan peak panorama includes Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Cholatse, Tarboche, Thamserku, Gyachen Kang + more. The views are fantastic in the morning, the middle of the day or for sunset, but don't forget to bring a torch if you opt for a 'sunset on Everest' views, which in our opinion is better than the sunrise view when the sun rises behind the Himalayan peaks. To the west is the Renjo La (4515m) pass, tomorrow's goal and the gateway to the Thame Valley and the Nangpa La, which the Tibetans cross with their yaks en route to Namche. (2 1/2 hrs + 4 hrs RT)

Day 19 – Gokyo |Climb Gokyo Ri 5360m/17,580'
A free day in Gokyo, with lots to do in this incredibly scenic valley. If you didn't get up Gokyo Ri yesterday, you have another chance today to climb to the colorful top of the peak and enjoy the Himalayan views.

FIFTH LAKE + SCOUNDREL'S VIEW HIKE. A beautiful day hike heading north up the Gokyo valley, past the glacial Fourth Lake (Thanak Tsho), heading towards the Fifth Lake (Ngozumba Tsho) and snowy massif of Cho Oyu on the border of Tibet. There are several trails that snake up this valley, one emerging on the ridge overlooking the Ngozumpa Glacier, another passing right next to the eerily deserted fourth lake with its white, stony beach. All trails have views of Everest and the Himalayan range, so the hike is never dull! The unobstructed view of Everest from Scoundrel's Point (4995m) is a great reward for the walk, about a 13 km round trip journey from Gokyo and about 2 1/2 hours from Gokyo.

GOKYO LAKE KORA. An hour+ Buddhist 'kora' hike around Gokyo Lake, passing the beach and Buddhist and Hindu 'temples' on the opposite side, stopping at the sandy beach across from the lodges, watching the Ruddy Shelducks and other bird life.

SUNSET VIEWS. Don't miss a quick hike up the moraine ridge in back of the village for glorious sunset colors on Cho Oyu, turning pink down valley towards Cholatse, Tarboche and Thamserku.

Or opt to grab a chair and just sit by the rocky lakeside and relax. You ARE on vacation, and it's an amazing location on the shores of the Himalayan Gokyo Lake!

Day 20 – Trek Lungden 4375m | Cross Renjo La Pass 5415m/17,760'
Another early Himalayan start as we head west of Gokyo lake (taking the upper trail) towards the Renjo La pass (5415m). The trail switchbacks very steeply up a sandy ridge, crosses an often-frozen stream, and continues along finally skirting the dramatic rock face below the pass to the top, a climb of about four hours with Makalu looming ever larger on the horizon. The trail has recently been improved to accommodate yaks, and the views from the top are some of the best in all of the Himalayas, with a long and impressive panorama of 7000 and 8000 meter peaks all around, and as usual, colorful prayer flags to mark the pass.

After a snack and photos on top of the Renjo La, we begin the even steeper descent (trekking poles recommended) down large stone slab steps, often icy, to the lake below. Continuing past several small yak kharkas, the twin Renjo Lakes and an old lake bed with intertwined streams sparkling in the sun, we finally descend steeply to the Thame valley. We stay at the newly renovated Lungden Support Lodge, owned by a Sherpa that divides his time between Nepal and Japan, in the small, walled and seasonal hamlet of Lungden. Again, the views are wonderful from the lodge so don't be lured inside all afternoon by the warm stove. We have trekked down to one of the few still traditional Sherpa regions of the well-trekked Khumbu. (7 hrs)

Day 21 – Trek Thame 3805m/12,480'
Today's four hour walk is a step back in time as we pass by many old, walled Sherpa villages, seasonal settlements of the Thame and Thamo villagers. We will probably also share the trail with Tibetan yak caravans, Khampas trading en route to and from Namche and Tibet with the villagers. We cross an icy stream, jumping from stone to stone, and follow the Bhote Kosi past Marulung (4210m) and then Tarnga village, where Sherpa folklore tells of a yeti massacre, and past the pointed, snow-covered Langmuche Ri (6344m). When we reach Thame Thang we hike right through the old village. We'll make a short detour to the small Nyimgmapa Kerok Gompa (Kyarong Sang-Naag Choling Gompa, 3870 m), with an intimate courtyard and a new museum, Sherpa in style. Back down from the gompa, we have a small ridge to climb before looking down on the scenic and traditional village of Thame.

Thame is an old village of snaking rock walls, yak paddocks and traditional slate-roofed Sherpa houses. Thame Gompa, perched up to the north of the village, is one of the oldest in the Khumbu, and one of the gompas that celebrates the Dunche festival in the summertime. We stay the night at Lhakpa's uncle Doctor Kami (of Khunde Hospital) and his wife Dawa Dolma's Valley View Lodge, with the best tongba (fermented millet beer, served in a bamboo container with a long straw and hot water) in the Khumbu.

Take the afternoon to climb to the gompa and wander around the walled village. We might stop in at Lhakpa's sister's house, where he grew up, in the lower end of the village for a cup of tea if she is not in Mende, their winter home. To the west of Thame near the Tashi Labsta La (5755m) which leads to the Rolwaling Valley is Papchermo Ri (6273m), and Sundar Peak (5360m) is just to the north of Thame, a day-climb. (4 hrs)

Day 22 – Trek Namche (via Lawudo Gompa 3900m/12,792')
Back to Namche, the Tibetan market, the Moonlight lodge, hot showers, good food and cold beers! But first a side-trip to Lawudo Gompa (3900m), affiliated with the renowned Kopan Gompa in Kathmandu, tucked away above Thamo and Mende villages. We take an alternative (and rarely used by trekkers) trail which climb steeply to the small gompa where Guru Rimpoche meditated in a small cave en route to Tibet. The monk or ani (nun) staying this magical retreat will inevitably treat us to tea while we take in the spectacular views from the gompa steps. Khumbila, the sacred Sherpa peak, looms overhead, prayer flags from the gompa providing the perfect Himalayan foreground. The local monk, Nawang Chhuldim, assured Kim that this was one of the most beautiful spots in the Khumbu when she first happened upon this isolated gompa, far from the main trail; see if you agree! The cave the famous Rimpoche used has been turned into a tiny cave chapel, and there is a eclectic in-house library. Kim has a book on the gompa, so ask for a look if you want some more history ...

We'll have lunch with Lhakpa's sister in Mende (if she is there and not in Thame), picnic style. Potato pancakes will be on the menu for sure, a Sherpa specialty. From Mende, we drop steeply to the trail and trek for an hour and a half, contouring high above the river, to Namche. (4 - 6 hrs)

Day 23 - Trek Lukla 2850m/9348'
Leaving Namche along the same trail that we hiked up over a week ago, we hike down the steep hill past the Everest viewpoint to the prayer flag covered suspension bridge, continue on an hour to Jorsale where we cross the river yet again on a suspension bridge. Jorsale is the home of Phuru Diki, one of the girls the Kamzang Fund has sponsored since class 3 (she's just finished nursing school in Kathmandu). After one last steep hill to the National Park gate, we reach the welcome sight of Monjo. We might run into Dali, the mother of Dawa Yangi and Nimalee, two Monjo sisters that the Kamzang Fund has sponsored for school. Dawa Yangi is now studying tourism at college in Kathmandu, while Nimalee is working at one the high end lodges in the Khumbu.It's another hour and a half back to Phakding,

We’ll stop for lunch at Shangri La in Phakding, and finish the trek back at Dawa Phuti & Ang Pasang's Eco Paradise Lodge in Lukla, where the adventurous can try some of Dawa's famous Sherpa tongba. This cozy dining room is one the nicest in the Everest region, so it's always an added treat to return there after the trek. Ang Pasang works closely with the airport, so we are in good hands for our flight out the next morning. (7 - 7 1/2 hrs)

Day 24 - Fly Kathmandu
Bags packed and ready to go before the sun rises as we fly out of Lukla to Kathmandu early; taking off from the Hillary Airstrip is just as exciting as landing! Flights our of Lukla are sometimes delayed by bad weather. DO SCHEDULE AN EXTRA DAY OR TWO IN KATHMANDU IN CASE OF FLIGHT DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS!

In Kathmandu, back at the Kathmandu Guest House, long, hot showers await, and grubby clothes can be dropped at the laundry. In the evening, we'll get together for dinner at one of Thamel's many restaurants and celebrate our trek through the Everest region.

NOTE: We STRONGLY recommend scheduling an extra day in Kathmandu in case of flight delays or cancellations out of Lukla.

Day 25 - Trip Ends
Transfer to the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for your flight home. Namaste!

Everest Heli Tours

Everest Helicopter Tour Kwondge | Dinner Sunset over Everest - Yeti Mountain Home
An epic option for an extra day in the Khumbu region. Sunset sdnner + sunrise breakfast overlooking some of the best Himalayan views on the planet! Board your private helicopter from Namche for the quick flight to Kwongde YMH, and enjoy lunch overlooking this vast panorama of peaks. Views include some of the highest peaks on the planet, including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Gyajung Khang (the higest peak under 8000m) and the majestic Ama Dambam. From the YMH lodge you can look down on Kwonde Lake, generally hidden, and up the awe inspiring Khumbu valley. The Kwongde YMH is a 'boutique' lodge, one of the world's highest hotels.
+ Price Per Helicopter - Namche to Namche ($1800)
+ Max 4 Passengers
+ Price Per Person Yeti Mountain Home - Breakfast + Dinner ($175)
+ Single Supplement ($75)

Everest Mountain Helicopter Sightseeing Tour | Namche to Namche | Lukla, Everest Base Camp, Cho La Pass (Gokyo Valley), Renjo La Pass (Thame Valley) + Namche
A once in a lifetime helicopter tour of the Everest region's spectacular peaks, glaciers and Himalayan passes! The helicopter pick you up in Namche Bazaar, from where you will fly over the Khumbu Glacier and to Everest Base Camp and the sublime Everest ice fall. You will have a chance to stop on Kala Pattar for photos of this spectacular setting! Back in the helicopters, your flight path takes you over Dzongla Lake, the glaciated Cho La pass and into the stunningly beautiful Gokyo valley, flying low over the turquoise Gokyo Lake, with another touh down to splash some sacred lake on yourself before crossing the Renjo La pass to the traditional Thame valley, the old trade route to Tibet. Your epic helicopter tour will finish back in Namche Bazaar.
+ Price Per Helicopter ($2750)
+ Max 4 Passengers

Everest Mountain Epic Sightseeing Tour | Kathmandu to Kathmandu | Lukla, Everest Base Camp, Cho La Pass (Gokyo Valley) + Namche
The full deal, all the way from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp + much more! A once in a lifetime helicopter tour of the Everest region's spectacular peaks, glaciers and Himalayan passes! Your private helicopter pick you up at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu, from where you will fly up to the fabled Tenzin Norgay airport in Lukla. After a cup of tea in Lukla, you will reboard you helicopter and fly over the Khumbu Glacier and to Everest Base Camp and the sublime Everest ice fall. You will have the unique chance to stop at Everest Base camp for photos of this spectacular setting!

Back in the helicopters, your flight path takes you over beautiful Dzongla Lake, the glaciated Cho La pass and into the stunningly beautiful Gokyo valley, flying low over the turquoise Gokyo Lake and down the Gokyo Valley. Your epic helicopter continues by flying back over Namche Bazaar, and back through Nepal's lush middle hills to Kathmandu.
+ Price Per Helicopter ($5000)
+ Max 4 Passengers

Kathmandu Tours

Kathmandu | Bhaktapur  Sightseeing Tour
One more day in Kathmandu, with a sightseeing excursion by private vehicle to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur which translates as 'Place of Devotees’ and is also known as Bhadgaon, is an ancient Newar city approximately 15 kilometers east of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of three ancient capitals of the Kathmandu valley, the capital of the Newar Kingdom and a city of artisans and craftspeople famous for its art and architecture: intricate carvings, sculptures, paintings, thankas, pottery, statues and temples, or pagodas. Bhaktapur has a well-preserved ‘durbar square’, or palace square, and has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its incredible temples, pagodas, wood carvings, stone carvings and metalwork. Bhaktapur is also famous for its yogurt, called curd in Asia, a taste which hasn’t been duplicated anywhere.

Spend a full day exploring Bhaktapur and its rich cultural heritage, where a majority of enthnic Newaris live in traditional ways, and life seems to stand still. There are many great restaurants and cafes to rejuvenate, and it's possibly the best spot in Kathmandu for purchasing a thanka after watching the technique, as well as shopping for endless other locally produced crafts. Bhaktapur is home to countless local festivals, so if you are lucky and arrive on a festival day, enjoy the timeless and colorful events unfold.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Bhaktapur (+$100)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Kathmandu | Patan Sightseeing Tour
Visit the third of Kathmandu's ancient capitals, known as 'The City of Fine Arts', best if you have an extra day in hand as Patan is also rich in cultural heritage, has many lovely roof-top cafes for lunch and world-class museums. Some of the highlights of Patan are its Durbar Square, the Krishna Temple within the palace complex of Patan (entirely made of stone, with 21 distinctive spires), and Hiranya Varna Mahavir, or the Golden Buddha Temple.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Patan (+$50)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Kathmandu | World Heritage Sightseeing Tour
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
+ Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Everest Sightseeing Flight
An hour long extravaganza of the world's 8000 meter peaks, including airport transfers. (+$270)

Everest Sightseeing Helicopter Tour
Inquire for prices + options. Cost per helicopter.

Shivapuri Heights Cottages
A wonderful get away 20 km north of Kathmandu, Shivapuri Heights Cottages are stylishly designed and personal cottages built around a 'common house', where you can breakfast overlooking the stunningly beautiful Kathmandu valley. Massages available on request. (+$Inquire for Options)

Cycling Trip Kathmandu Valley
Many options for day trips, or extended trips, in the Kathmandu Valley. We can customize a cycling trip for you in partnership with one of our knowledgeable partners in Kathmandu. (+$Inquire for Option)

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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