EBC & Gokyo Circuit Trek Itinerary
Welcome & briefing
Meet our guides in Kathmandu, be shown to your hotel and have the rest of the day at your leisure. We'll get together at the hotel at 6pm where you'll meet your comrades and your lead guide will explain everything you need to know for the trek to come.
By the end of the night, you'll be fully informed, confident and ready to go.
• Meet your group and guides
• Full briefing and information session
Fly to Lukla, Trek to Monjo
It's very common for flights to and from the mountains too be delayed or cancelled because of the weather and the later it in the day it gets, the more likely this is to happen. We'll make an early start today to ensure we get you on the first flight out to Lukla.
Your guides will take you from the hotel to the airport and guide you through the rather chaotic check-in process, on to your flight. The domestic terminal of Kathmandu airport will be alive with trekkers and the excitement is feverish as you meet other people from all over the world, embarking on their own adventure of a lifetime. You may even find yourself stood shoulder to shoulder with teams heading out for summit attempts on the most serious, highest mountain in the world.
The flight to Lukla may well be the most memorable flight you'll ever take. On board the small twin-prop plane, be sure to stuff the cotton wool in your ears when offered as this adventure flight doesn't have the luxury of full cabin pressurisation! Not long after take off, the windows on the left side of the plane will be filled by vast majestic mountains, steadily growing bigger and bigger as we hum our way into the heart of the Nepal Himalayas. We'll fly so close to the mountains it will feel like you could reach out and touch them!
Landing on the mountain airfield in Lukla, originally built by Sir Edmund Hillary, is really something else... Looking through the cockpit windows it looks like you're flying straight into the side of a mountain and the crazy thing is.. you are! The landing strip on the airfield is nothing if not short and steep and the pilots that tackle landing here need a skill-set most commercial airline pilots could only dream of. The landing at Lukla, as much as the flight to get there, will be a talking point for years to come!
Once safely down in Lukla, our guides will rendezvous with your team of porters and we'll load up ready to get going. Your guides will take clear of the permit checks and police clearance on the way out of town and you'll take your first steps out onto the trail that you'll never forget.
The day's hike winds through stunning pine forests, along the sides of a lush green valley filled with rice terraces, small villages and traditional pastures, the likes of which you won't see until your last trekking day, when you return to Lukla. Be sure to take in the stunning, unique scenery here. We'll stop for brunch somewhere with a lovely view. We'll cross Kusum Khola, a tributary stream to the Dudh Kosi, and the mighty summit of Kusum Kangru (6369m) can be seen to the East, at the head of the valley. Further along the trail, Nupla (5885m) and Kongde Ri (6093m) loom above the forest clad ridge lines. As we near the end of the day's walking, Thamserku (6808m) appears to rise right out of the river ahead of us, dominating the valley. We'll already be surrounded by incredible mountains here, but it's just a taste of what will follow.
The day's walking will finish in Monjo where we'll kick back by the fire get to know everyone in the group a little better, replenish ourselves with some tasty food and hot drinks and your guide will the brief the group for the next day's adventure.
• Breathtaking twin otter flight to Lukla Mountain airport
• Meet the porters and the rest of your crew
• Walk through stunning lowland terraced rice fields and pine forests
• Spend the night in Monjo and be fully briefed for the coming day
Monjo to Namche Bazaar
Leaving Monjo after breakfast, we'll have quite the day ahead of us! From raging rivers, to swinging wire bridges over deep canyons, to steep, dusty hillsides full of local Sherpas and porters hauling improbably heavy loads of building materials and food supplies suspended from their heads. This 7-or-so hour walk truly has a bit of everything!
We'll pass a number of Mani (prayer) stones along the trail today, some stacks of small tablet stones, others cut directly into the stone mountain-sides. Each contains and endless repetition of 'Om Mani Padme Hum' in traditional Tibetan script. This loosely translates to 'Hail to the jewel in the lotus', and is mantra (chant) venerated by Buddhists and Brahmans alike. It's traditional to walk around these stones in a clockwise direction and you'll see this is something we'll also adhere to; not just to keep Karma on our side, but also to respect the truly ancient traditions of the land on which we are welcome guests.
After a short while on the trail we'll come to the entrance gates of the Sagarmatha National Park (Sagarmatha is the traditional Nepalese name for Mount Everest) where our guide will handle another police check-point for us. Dropping down into the valley below, we walk along a rocky river bed before we start to climb. And climb. And climb. After the river confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi, we cross a spectacular high wire bridge (don't worry, we're sure it's safe) before tackling the final climb the village of Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa "capital" of Nepal. For many people, the first minor signs of altitude can be felt by the time we arrive here and so we'll settle in here for the next two nights while we let our bodies acclimatise to the altitude we've reached.
Once in Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa museum and traditional Sherpa house near the Sagarmatha National Park Headquarters offers a very interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park. See the vast array of traditional kitchenware, incredibly detailed traditional Buddhist artworks and see how Sherpa people traditionally live. Visit the photo exhibition detailing the ins and outs of traditional mountain life and learn all there is to know about the early explorers that came to the Khumbu Region to tackle the biggest peaks on planet Earth. You'll be amazed how basic some of the equipment was that the first teams to climb in the region had to rely on.
The hill above here offers a spectacular view up the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest. Changing from the narrow lowland valleys to the broad glacial ones, the scenery is really remarkable. The steep-sided glacial valley before us gradually winds towards the base of Everest, broken only by the moraines left by retreating glaciers. Towering to over 4000 metres above the valley floor, spectacular peaks seem to engulf us. Around us are Taweche (6542 m), Thamserku (6808 m), Kantega (6685 m), Ama Dablam (6856 m), Nuptse (7896 m) and Lhotse (8511 m). The greatest of all, Mt Everest (8848 m), rises at the head of the valley. The Sherpa Cultural Centre has an interesting collection of mountaineering items and photographs.
• Easy 3 hours morning walk through beautiful villages, stopping at Jorsale for lunch.
• Crossing high wire suspension bridges of deep valleys and raging rivers.
• Challenging afternoon hike up 'Namche Hill', rising up into the mountains above the stunning gorges below.
• Great views of Kusum Kangroo, Thamserku and Holy Khumbiyela mountain, which it is forbidden to climb.
Acclimatisation hike, return to Namche
For those feeling good and acclimatising well (hopefully all of us!) we'll be setting off in the morning for an acclimatisation and exploration day during which the first truly spectacular views of Everest and Ama Dablam may be seen.
We'll start early, taking in stunning morning views of Namche Bazaar from the gompa (monastery) above the town. From here, we'll follow the yak trail up to Syangboche village (3800m), where the old mountain airstrip slowly crumbles away under the feet of herds of yak and dzopkyo (half-yak, half-ox). The risk of altitude sickness / AMS from flying directly in to such a height was a major factor in this runway falling out of favour.
From here, we'll follow the trail on to the photo-inspiring village of Khumjung, set under the Khumbui Yul Lha, full of traditional houses, laughing school children and a selection of street-side stalls. We won't stick around in Khumjung - we'll save the cool stuff here for on the way back. Dominating the skyline in Khumjung are Kangtaiga, Thamserku, and the mighty, unforgettable mother & daughter; Ama Dablam. Your camera shutters are sure to be firing here!
Leaving town on the main trail we soon branch off on a small, often hard to spot trail that will lead us briefly into the forest before we pop out at the Everest View hotel. You'll have the option of stopping for a hot drink and snack here, or just stand on the terrace and marvel at the mighty mountain at the end of the network of valleys below.
Refreshed and ready we'll set off back to Namche Bazaar, following a trail that winds high along the valley below. This will give you a sense of how far we've already come, from the valleys we walked along the bottom of just 25 hours before. We'll arrive back in Namche in time for a hearty feed and a brief for the coming day.
• See yaks and dzopkyo kicking up dust on the crumbling old airstrip at Syangboche.
• Visit beautiful Khumjung village, see mountain life in action.
• Take in the first truly stunning views of Mount Everest and Ama Dablam.
• Take a break in the improbably upmarket Everest View Hotel.
Namche Bazaar to Dole
Leaving the small town feeling of Namche Bazaar behind, you're on your way towards the land of giants. Each step brings you higher up and closer to your destination.
You'll walk along narrow footpaths on the edge of the mountains, with a marvellous view of the milky river, which is winding its way from the top of the giant mountains down in to the valley, separating you from the Renjo Pass, which you can see on the opposite mountain edge.
The windy trail is leading you towards the highest mountains in the world, past beautiful remote villages and vast open green lands where cows and yaks cheer you on for the trek.
After 5 hours of walking and being emerged in beautiful mountain scenery, you will arrive at your destination for the night in Dole.
Dole to Machermo
A easy 2 hour walk is awaiting you today. Enjoy the clean air and the beautiful green, hilly landscapes. The trek today will be mostly on flat ground, this makes it easier to really enjoy your surroundings.
For most of the trek you will be emerged in nature and wont find many people or villages.
After the short hike to Machermo you can enjoy a delicious meal and use the free time to explore the natural surrounds.
Gokyo and the Lakes
Leaving the foot of the hills in Machermo, you make your way to the high mountain tundra of the Gokyo area. Walking beside the stream of the Milky river you start your steep climb up a scrubby slope towards the higher altitude regions. You're surrounded by stunning untouched mountains which haven't be conquered by humans yet.
Walking past vast green landscapes with a sent of incense in the air. Take a rest and enjoy the beauty of this place or go and pick some wild incense which grows here in large amounts.
On the way towards Gokyo you'll pass the famous Gokyo Lakes and the Ngozumpa Glacier, with a length of 20km it makes him one of the longest Glacier's in Nepal.
With the glacier on one side and the lakes on the other side, you walk right between this surreal landscape.
On your way you will see the first of 5 Gokyo lakes, with there marvellous turquoise colour. You can see the mountain reflection on the water surface. Fang-like rocky peaks will guide you on your way to Gokyo.
After a 3-4 hour hike you'll have reached your destination for the night.
Sit down for lunch at your tea house and be hypnotised by the serenity of the lakes and the nearby Gokyo Ri Summit, which you will ascend on the morning for sunrise.
Gokyi Ri Sunrise Summit
You should start your Summit attempt in the early morning because the Hike to the top will take you 2 1/2 Hours and you will want to see the view before the clouds roll in.
Leaving the tea house you will walk past the majestic 3rd lake and start your ascent up Gokyo Ri. It is a steep hike on narrow trails, past rock sculptures with all the highest peaks right by your side.
Once you reach the summit you can let your hair down and take in this truly breathtaking view. While you wait for the sunrise to arrive, look back down at Gokyo, the lake and the Ngozumpa Glacier. You have made the summit, and stand on the top of the world at 5348m.
If the view is clear you can see Mt. Everest and every other Peak. You are surrounded by one of the most beautiful 360° Mountain view's in the world. You can hear the ice from the nearby glacier cracking and avalanches rumbling off in the distance. It's truly a special place on mother earth.
And what must come up, most come down. As the ascent takes about 2 1/2 hours, the descent will only take about 30min - 1hour.
Enjoy your breakfast at your tea house and look back at the accomplishment you have just achieved.
Ngozumpa Glacier Crossing
You will start your trek to Thagnak via the Ngozumpa Glacier today.
It is a short trek but a challenging one. For the next 3 hours you'll have to find your way through the glacier due to the ever changing conditions of the melting ice. Enjoy the moon like landscape and listen to the drip-drops of the Glacier, it's speaking to you as much as you are speaking to it.
See the glacier crossing more as an adventure, you have to find your way out of a surreal landscape which is constantly changing, with mysterious noises around you. Don't panic if you cant find the way, make your own, and find the way out.
Once you crossed the adventure playground you'll have to walk for 30 minutes through a vast green baron landscape to your accommodation in Dragnak for the night.
Cho La Pass & Glacier
Depending on the weather conditions, you might want to consider some crampons for today's trek. Leaving early morning from Dzongla, you'll follow the stream up hill into the valley, where you might spot bright blue birds, wild dogs and friendly yaks. After an hour or two of rocky terrain, Cho La Pass will be in your sights, as you head through another valley and begin your slippery ascent. A metal rope has recently been installed to assist you in your climb up the steep rocky wall, often covered in snow and ice. It's a short but challenging climb to the top of Cho La Pass, and one of the greatest achievements of this trek. Enjoy the scenery and serenity while you catch your breath, before you begin the equally tricky descent down the other side. It's another hour or two to Dzongla, across potentially icy terrain with snowy mountains towering over you on either side. Enjoy a well deserved hot tea around the fire while you defrost and settle in for the night at Dzongla.
Dzonglha to Lobuche
In the morning you start your day with a good breakfast and a fresh mountain breeze. You'll be surrounded by giant mountains which are walking along with you, along the narrow footpaths on the hills.
it takes you about 3 hours to get out of the hilly valley, to the Khumbu glacier.
From here you can have a good look at Ama Dablam, Nuptse and Mt. Everest. You will walk alongside the giants and the glacier on stony paths towards Lobuche. It is mind blowing scenery; take your time and take the view in.
Once you arrived in Lobuche you can see what awaits your for tomorrow; the summit walk to Kala Patthar.
Gorak Shep & Kala Patthar Summit
This day is split into two distinct parts - first the challenging hike to Gorak Shep and then, after a good rest, our assault on the summit of Kala Patthar, where we hope to watch the sun set on the highest mountain on Earth.
The trail from Lobuche to Gorak Shep tracks long then cuts through the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. After passing the turn off for the Pyramid research centre, we see the crest of the north ridge of Everest along with views of Pumori, Mahalangur, Lingtern, Khumbutse, Nuptse and more.
The trail climbs a little steeply up to the top through the shifting mass of the Changri Glacier and we get our first look at the dark mass of Kala Patthar, dwarfed from our current perspective by the huge dome of Mount Pumori. Kala Patthar won't seem so dwarfed by the end of the day though!
Gorak Shep sits nestled on something of a plateau surrounded on all sides by mountains reaching for the 8000m mark. It's a humbling place to find yourself when you stand outside and take it in.
After we check in to our accommodation, we will have time to rest our feet, eat lunch and get our briefing for the attempt on Kala Patthar to follow soon. We repack our bags and gather ourselves until the mid-late afternoon.
Re-packed and ready for the attempt, we set off with enough time to make it up Kala Patthar for sunset. We won't give too much away about this climb, but be prepared for a tough yet achievable challenge. For many of us, this will test our commitment but when we make it to the top, breathing heavily in the thin air, we'll be glad we pushed through!
Watching the sun set on Everest from the top of another mountain (weather permitting of course) is one of the most magical experiences one could ever wish for. It's something we all look forward to, no matter how many times we do it. After the sun has truly set, and we've taken our hundredth photo, we'll start our careful descent, as the sky above starts to fill with stars and the Milky Way becomes our new light source. The last bit of the descent into Gorak Shep is tricky, so we'll go carefully and our guides will make sure you get back safely.
We can arrange, by special request, for a starlight photography session of Everest from on top of Kala Patthar and a later, fully dark descent. Let us know if you'd like to discuss this.
• Crossing glacier fields on the trail to Gorak Shep
• Reach the highest town of the trek
• Summit attempt on Kala Patthar (5545m)
• Watch the sun set on the Top of the World
Everest Base Camp
Makking an early start we take the trail to Everest Base Camp through the once vast, now sparse Gorak Shep Lake. Following the trail we come through the Indian army mountaineers' memorials. The trail is lengthy but not to physically challenging (A blessing after yesterday!) and we're always flanked by stunning mountains.
As we get closer to EBC we realise we're not walking on a rock trail any more, but we're walking right on top of the ice - hundreds of tons of glacial ice. In places we see shades of blue that you'll never see anywhere else, we'll gaze down into pools of glacial melt water and marvel at the landscape beneath our very feet.
When we reach Everest Base Camp we're up close and personal with the incredible yet lethal Khumbu Icefall. Any climber brave enough to try and make this most notable of summits must first cross this vast, moving monstrous river of ice. Mountaineers tents stand out clearly against the white of the ice if the season is right, particularly in the spring
Everest actually is not visible from base camp, which is a testament to just how big the climb is from here (around 3.5 vertical kilometers!). It doesn't matter though, as nothing can top the view of the mountain from Kala Patthar. Instead, Nuptse, Khumbuste and Pumori are huge in our field of view from here and the snow flutings and incredibly complex shapes of the mountains are captivating. This is the ultimate objective of our trip and we'll take our time here, on the edge of the Khumbu Icefall to soak it all in and enjoy it.
After returning to Gorak Shep for lunch, we'll spend the afternoon making our way back down to Periche (close to Dingboche), where we'll put our very tired feet up for the night.
• Reaching our goal, standing proudly at Everest Base Campp
• Coming face to face with mountains at a scale that's hard to comprehend
• Stand on the edge of the mighty Khumbu Icefall
• Be humbled in one of the biggest, most imposing places you'll ever be
Gorakshep to Pheriche
Today, we descend through hills of rhododendron and juniper trees. In spring, pink and red rhododendron flowers ablaze our surroundings. We will stop for lunch in either Pangboche or Phunki Tenga, before we carry on to Pheriche (depending how we feel on the trail.)
After crossing the prayer flag laden high wire bridge over the Dudh Koshi River the trail then follows the Dudh Koshi gorge descending quickly through the pine forests. Eventually we reach Sansa which is the convergence of several of the regions trails. Along the trail we have yet more photo worthy vistas of Ama Dablam, Thamserku and Nuptse.
Pheriche to Namche Bazaar
The onward trail to Namche Bazaar hugs the steep wooded hillside beyond Kyangjuma, winding along through various bends, each presenting us with a new view. Again we'll be hoping to spot wildlife such as mountain goats, snow leopards, danphe birds, etc.
After passing a Buddhist Chorten, we reach the army camp at Namche Bazaar. This is the last time we'll see Lhotse, Everest and Tengboche village - on this trek at least!
Shortly afterwards we descend down past the school into Namche Bazaar where we will eat our fill, suck in what now feels like gallons of extra oxygen, and relax by the fire for the night.
• Feel your power grow as oxygen levels rapidly increase again as the altitude decreases
• Wind back down into beautiful forests and villages
• Take one last long look at the mountains you so recently stood on the sides of
Namche Bazaar to Lukla
The walk back to Lukla starts by making our way back down the steep "Namche Hill" we hauled ourselves up all those days ago. Walking poles can be a blessing for your knees on this section of the trail. Dropping back down towards the valley we get to once again cross the epic high wire bridges before we retrace our steps along the river valley below.
We'll stop for lunch where we spent our first night before continuing on along the valley, making the climb back up through the Sagarmatha National Park gates and onwards, through the lush green countryside back to Lukla.
It's an exciting time for everyone to get back to Lukla. Our porters and guides will soon be reunited with their families and we've made it back safely from one of the most amazing things we've ever done. Once here we can let our hair down, take in the last stunning mountain sunset and revel in what we've accomplished. Lukla has many bars and clubs and the last night for every group is different. What you'll get up to is your call!
• Recross the high wire bridges
• Return to Lukla to let our hair down
• We did it!
Return flight to Kathmandu & dinner
Hopefully we're not feeling too worse for wear after our return night in Lukla as we'll aim to leave on the first flight in the morning. We'll hold on tight as the twin-prop plane falls off the end of the runway and soars out through the mountains beyond.
We can look, with great satisfaction, out of the windows at the mountains that now bear our footprints. We'll fly over forests, farms and villages as we leave the great Himalayan ranges behind us and return to Kathmandu.
We'll take you back to the hotel from the airport and from here the world is your oyster! You could wander through the busy markets and shops of the sprawling Thamel precinct or explore some more of the city’s significant sites such as Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) or the World Heritage Listed plazas of Patan, Bhaktapur or Durbar Square (though the latter is not doing to well after the earthquake).
Or.. you could put your trek-hardened feet up for a well earned rest and think back over the adventure you've just succeeded at!
That final evening we'll take you out for a traditional Nepali all-you-can-eat feast. You'll be entertained while you dine by a fine display of traditional music and dance.
You might even wind up a little bit tipsy from sampling the local Raksi, but try and avoid waking up hungover for the big day to come!
• Return to Kathmandu and your hotel
• Fantastic all you can eat traditional feast & cultural show