Day 01: Arrival Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (1 300m/4 260ft)
After completing passport, immigration and visa requirements, we will meet you outside the terminal building (look for your name board) and transfer you to your hotel: afternoon free. Evening: a welcome dinner, introduction to your guide and a briefing on the trek with a check on necessities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 02: Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing OR A Day at Leisure
Take a day tour to five of the Kathmandu Valley’s cultural world heritage sites: Swayambhunath, the famed “monkey temple;” the city’s historical Durbar Square with ancient temples, unique art, architecture, and the chance to see the Kumari (living goddess); Patan’s Durbar Square; the Hindu temple Pashupatinath and Bouddhanath, the world’s largest stupa.
A car and driver will take you to each site-entrance and wait for you. (Entry tickets and lunch are not included.)
Day 03: Kathmandu – Lukla (2 800m/9 190ft) – Phakding (2 610m/8 560ft), 35 min flight, 3-4 hrs trek
After breakfast, drive to the Domestic Airport for the flight to Lukla in the Khumbu region – south of Everest. Meet your local porters and begin the discovery by trekking into the Dudh Koshi Valley: to Cheplung (2 700m) and Ghat (2 530m). Another hour’s walk takes you to Phakding. Overnight in Phakding
Day 04: Phakding – Namche Bazaar (3 440m/11 290ft), 5-6 hrs
Walk through pine forests along the Dudh Koshi, crossing tributaries, to the Sherpa villages of Benkar (2 710m), Chumoa (2 820m), Monjo (2 840m) and Jorsale (2 830m). This is the gateway and permit checkpoint to the Sagarmatha National Park. Thamserku (6 618m) glistens east of the village. Follow the river to its confluence with the Bhote Koshi: the major rivers draining the Khumbu District. Climb steadily, crossing the high Tenzing-Hilary Bridge, to the first glimpses of Everest and the Nuptse-Lhotse ridge. A further 3 hr forested climb leads to the region’s administrative and trade centre at Namche Bazaar. Overnight in Namche Bazaar.
Day 05: Namche Bazaar: Acclimatization and exploration day
This is the first scheduled acclimatization day. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) experts recommend at least a 24 hr rest period. Keep active: climb high and sleep low is the acclimatisation advice.
Only Namche offers ATMs, cyber cafés, restaurants and bakeries, plus a colourful market each Friday evening and Saturday morning. The Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park Visitor’s Centre has informative displays on Sherpa culture, local flora and fauna.
The village of Khumjung (3 780m) will present a more traditional view of Sherpa life than Namche. Spend a morning walking up to the village. A circular trail is possible. At very least, visit the closer Everest View Hotel (3 880m).
A more adventurous five hour trek west to Thame (3 820m): below the impressive Kongde Ri Ridge (6 187m), offers panoramic Himalayan landscapes not visible from the Gokyo or Everest trails.
Day 06: Namche Bazaar – Tengboche (3 870m/12 700ft), 5-6 hrs adventures adventuress
From the top of Namche, the trail contours around a hill to Sanasa (3 600m); and a trail fork: NW to Gokyo, NE to Everest. Look for Himalayan tahrs on high ground, shy spotted deer, and birds – including the colourful (male) national bird: the Danphe pheasant. Descend to water driven prayer wheels at Phunki Thenga (3 250m, lowest point north of Namche). Cross the Dudh Koshi near its confluence with the Imja Khola and climb steeply for 2 hrs up the Imja Khola Valley through rhododendron and dwarf conifers to the hilltop village of Tengboche.
Good views from the village include the Everest group. There is an important monastery that is well worth visiting. At October’s full moon the colourful, Mani Rimdu festival is held; with Tibetan Opera and masked dancing.
Overnight in Tengboche.
Day 07: Tengboche – Dingboche (4 360 m/14 300ft), 5-6 hrs
Descend to the scattered stone village of Debuche (3 820m): with a nunnery. Cross the Imja Khola to the north and gradually ascend to Pangboche (3 860m) with rear views of towering Ama Dablam (6 856m). The trail follows the river to its confluence with the Lobuche Khola and continues to Dingboche: the last year-round settlement in the region. Walled terraced fields protect barley, buckwheat and potatoes from icy winds and marauding animals during the short growing season at this altitude. Overnight in Dingboche.
Day 08: Dingboche: Acclimatization and exploration day
To acclimatise: head north to the Nangkartshang Gompa ridge (4 800m) for views of the Nuptse Glacier, Chhukhung Ri (4 230m, which masks Lhotse’s glaciers) and Imja Tse (6 189m). Further east, along the Mahalangur Himal Ridge, is imposing Makalu (8 463m). Towards the south is, Amphu Lapcha’s fluted ridge (5 845m) and the unusual view of Ama Dablam’s north face and glaciers. Return to the teahouse in Dingboche.
Day 09: Dingboche – Lobuche (4 940m/16 210ft), 4-5 hrs
Ascend slowly to a ridge and the hamlet of Duse (4 500m) with western views of Taboche and Cholatse. Continue through kharkas to Duglha (4 620m). Then ascend the Khumbu Glacier’s huge stony terminal moraine (1 hr). Landmark balanced-stone memorials to lost climbers have been placed along its rim. To the north, border peaks along the Mahalangur Himal include Khumbutse, Lingtren, and Pumori. Everest is hidden by the imposing Nuptse-Lhotse wall. Continue to and overnight in Lobuche.
Day 10: Lobuche – Gorak Shep (5 160m/16 930ft) – Everest Base Camp (5 360m/17 590ft) – Gorak Shep, 7-8 hrs
A desolate trail along the moraine heads for the last, seasonal, village of Gorak Shep below Pumori. After an early lunch, trek to cold EBC: positioned on the Khumbu Glacier opposite the dreaded icefall – the most nerve wracking section of an Everest ascent.
During the April-May ascent season, porters scurry in and out with supplies like an army of ants and the site is a riot of colourful tents perched on the dirty ice. Out of season it is bleak and silent, bar birds wind and avalanches. Everest and the Cwm are hidden behind the West Ridge. Walk back to Gorak Shep for the night.
Day 11: Gorak Shep – Kala Patthar (5 550m/18 210ft) – Pheriche (4 280m/14 040ft), 7-8 hrs
From the village, a pre-dawn climb (2-3 hrs) up Kala Patthar, offers sunrise over: Everest (8 848m/29 028ft), Lhotse (8 516m), Nuptse (7 861m) and Changtse (7 550m, north of the Rongbuk Glacier). Then Pumori (7 145m), Lingtren (6 697m) and Khumbutse (6 623m) amidst countless other peaks that crowd your horizon. Cho Oyu (8 201m) can be seen further to the west:
After breakfast: retrace your steps to Lobuche (4 940m) and the landmark memorials on the glacier’s snout. Descend the moraine and follow the western trail to lower and warmer Pheriche. Overnight in Pheriche.
Day 12: Pheriche – Phortse (3 810m/12 500ft), 4-5 hrs
Climb gently up an alternative trail to Pangboche (4 280m): and the Khumbu’s oldest monastery (17th C). A quieter trail north of the river passes through ‘game country’ (including musk deer) to Phortse, on the Gokyo Lakes trail. Overnight in Phortse.