Three High Passes & Peaks Itinerary
Welcome dinner & 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. After the briefing session, when we've told you everything you need to know and answered all your questions to make sure, 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.
By the end of the night, you'll be fed, watered, fully informed, confident and ready to go. 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!
• Meet your group and guides
• Full briefing and information session
• Fantastic all you can eat traditional feast & cultural show
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 Thame
Up the Bhote to Lundge
Renjo La Pass Crossing to Gokyo
Gokyo Ri Sunrise Summit
Ngozumpa Glacier Crossing
Cross the Cho La Pass
Dzonglha to Lobuche
Kala Patthar Sunset Summit
Everest Base Camp
Khumbu Glacier & Kongma La Pass
Chukhung Ri Summit
Tengboche via Dingboche
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, 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.
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
Descent to Namche Bazaar
Namche 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
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!