Day - 1
Location: Kathmandu - Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins in Kathmandu – the colourful capital where ornately carved balconies mingle with beautiful shrines and temples. You have a welcome meeting at 4 pm today but if you arrive with time to spare, maybe check out the storied stupas and pagodas of Swayambhunath (aka the Monkey Temple) or take a walk around the local Durbar Square. If you like, maybe take an immersive Urban Adventure like the Spiritual Nepal Experience – learning about Buddhism in Boudhanath, meeting holy Hindu sadhus in Pashupatinath and more (just head to www.urbanadventures.com). After the meeting, maybe head out with your group to one of the great bars in the city and toast to the start of an epic adventure.
ALTERNATIVE ITINERARY DUE TO FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS:
Weather conditions in the Himalayas can change rapidly, which can result in the need for changes to be made to our intended itineraries. Flights throughout Nepal – particularly in high mountain areas – are often delayed or cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Flights between Kathmandu/Ramechhap and Lukla are particularly prone to these delays which has the potential to vary the itinerary of our tour departures. Our contingency plans in case of bad weather preventing the fixed wing aircraft flight from Kathmandu/Ramechhap to Lukla are as follows:
Day 2 – We will attempt to board our booked fixed-wing plane as per the itinerary. If this flight is cancelled, we will return to our hotel in Kathmandu/Ramechhap for an additional night.
Day 3 – We will again attempt to board our booked fixed-wing plane. If this flight is cancelled we will endeavour to charter a helicopter to transport the group, provided helicopters are available and weather does not prevent them from flying to Lukla. There may be delays for helicopter flights due to limited availability of safety audited helicopter operators.
Travellers will need to use their emergency fund to cover the cost of the chartered helicopter. The exact cost will depend on how many travellers are in your group and could be up to US 500 per person. It is common practice for the helicopter company to charge varying prices, so you may pay different amounts to others on the flight. If we reach Lukla on day 3 by either fixed wing aircraft or helicopter we will then follow the same itinerary to Everest Base Camp but descend over one less day in order to take our return flight from Lukla on day 14.
Day 4 – If both fixed-wing planes and helicopters are unable to reach Lukla on the morning of day 3, then on day 4 we will travel by road to Phaplu (an approximately 9-hour drive by private vehicle) and then trek to Tengboche on the Everest Base Camp route via Lukla. While we will not be able to reach Base Camp itself on this altered itinerary, but our travellers have still found it a highly enjoyable trek with superb views of the ranges and Everest itself. Travellers will need to use their emergency fund to cover the cost of the extra transport needed. Approximately 70 USD per person.
We also advise allowing a few extra days in Kathmandu at the end of your trip should your return flights from Lukla be delayed due to weather conditions.
Day - 2
Location: Lukla (2840m / 9318ft) - Phakding (2610m / 8700ft) - Early this morning, you’ll jump on a plane from Kathmandu to Lukla. You’ll be flying parallel to the giants of the Himalayas, so if you can, grab a seat on the left and stick your face up against the window for some amazing views of the mountains bordering Nepal and China. When you arrive, meet your porters and explore the village of Lukla. After a safety talk, gear up and begin your trek to Phakding – you’ll descend towards the milky white waters of the Dudh Kosi River, where you’ll join the main trail to Namche Bazaar. The walk is easy and after passing through the small village of Ghat, it’s only a short walk to Phakding. Enjoy some time to relax this evening and maybe dig into some traditional dal bhat (rice or lentil stew) or momos (dumplings) to fuel up before tomorrow's trek.
Day - 3
Location: Namche Bazaar (3440m / 11286ft) - Today, trek to the picturesque Namche Bazaar, where you’ll spend a couple of days acclimatising to the altitude. From Phakding, cross the river and head up the valley, following in the footsteps of the porters. The trail, lined with blue pine forest, follows the river valley and is especially spectacular in spring when the rhododendron flowers are in bloom. Cross the Dudh Kosi River and look up to see the peaks of snow-capped Kusum Kanguru and Thamserku. Press on to Monjo and take a break for lunch. From here, the walk starts to get a little tough, with a steep ascent as you enter the national park, cross the river and then continue upstream. Get your camera out as you get the first glimpse of the peaks of Everest (no big deal), Lhotse, Nuptse and Taweche. Arrive in Namche and maybe head straight for Namche Bakery, where you’ll find the best sweet treats on the mountain (maybe stock up for the trek and people-watch with a coffee). Tonight, you’ll stay in the oldest family-run teahouse in the region. Take the opportunity to enjoy your last hot shower before your Everest adventure, enjoy the nightlife or grab a hot drink and listen to the history of the teahouse from your hosts.
Day - 4
Location: Namche Bazaar (3440m / 11286ft) - One of the best ways to acclimatise today is to walk up to a high-altitude point, and then come back down to sleep. Remember, it doesn't matter how fit you are, anyone can be affected by the altitude! Maybe take an optional walk towards Thami to see the sunrise or sunset views from the national park headquarters – this stunning vista includes a super panorama of the Khumbu peaks and great views of Everest. The national park headquarters are also home to interesting displays about the Sherpa lifestyle and culture as well as the local flora and fauna. Rugs, clothing, salt and dried meat all make a roaring trade in the village centre, so maybe haggle for any extra supplies you might need (dried goat meat anyone?) and spend a restful night at your teahouse.
Day - 5
Location: Khumjung (3780m / 12402ft) - Today will be a short walking day, headed for Khumjung – the largest village in the region. Stop by the National Park Museum and take a walk along the route marked by well-laid stone steps to the Everest View Hotel (at one time this was said to be the highest hotel in the world). Visit a hospital built by Sir Edmund Hilary, then continue the ascent alongside panoramas of towering Himalayan snow peaks. Through a maze of narrow lanes, you’ll reach the oldest monastery in the Everest region. For a small donation, the resident monk will proudly show a Yeti skull that’s kept securely locked inside the monastery. Tonight, you’ll stay in a lodge in Khumjung and dream of snow monsters.
Day - 6
Location: Thyangboche (3860m / 12664ft) - Hit the Everest trail again today and keep your eyes peeled for the Danphe pheasant and Himalayan tahr. Push on to super-chill Thyangboche – as far as monasteries go, this one takes the cake! Feel an encompassing sense of calm while you sit at 3860 m (12,664 ft) in Nepal's spiritual centre of Tibetan Buddhism and look out at Mt Everest. This is the perfect spot to meditate if the urge arises. Maybe stop off for a hard-earned coffee and cake from the Khumjung bakery and then rejoin the trail to Everest, enjoying views of Kantega and Ama Dablam along the way.
Day - 7
Location: Dingboche (4410m / 14469ft) - Today, Everest will look so close you could almost touch it. On your trek this morning, you’ll rise above the tree line and gradually climb to the village of Pangboche, indulging in lunch where the peak of Ama Dablam dominates the skyline. Follow the trail, passing the tea houses at Orsho, before crossing the Imja Khola and old glacial moraines to a lodge in Dingboche. Here, you’ll find a patchwork of small fields enclosed by stone walls. These walls protect crops of barley and potatoes from the cold winds. If the weather’s right, there will be a crazy gorgeous sunset illuminating the peaks – Ama Dablam, the south face of Lhotse to the north, and Island Peak in the centre of the valley. When you arrive, if you’re craving a cute café to hole up in, look no further than Cafe 4410 – they even screen daily sherpa documentaries here.
Day - 8
Location: Dingboche (4410m / 14469ft) - Today is another acclimatisation day. There are a few different trails that you can hike today – Ama Dablam Base Camp (a popular peak that dominates the route towards Everest Base Camp and a good opportunity to get off the main trail and explore a quieter area. See the Khumbu below – one of the most beautiful mountains in the world), Nagarjun Hill and The Chukkhung (this walk might be a short one, but it’s the views of surrounding peaks and snowy terrain that’ll have you short of breath). Tonight, you’ll stay in Dingboche again.
Day - 9
Location: Lobuche (4910m / 16109ft) - This morning, you’ll ascend the small ridge above Pheriche Valley. From the stupa at the top, Taweche and Cholatse make for a pretty striking scene – they seem to lean forward from across the valley in the west. To the north, Lobuje Peak and the snowfields of the Cho La are the kings of the skyline. The walk will now be fairly flat on wide-open fields but take your time and ensure you’re well-hydrated. Later, you’ll cross the Khumbu Khola and eat a light lunch at the foot of the huge terminal moraines of the Khumbu Glacier. There will be a steep climb on a rocky trail to the top of the moraines. On the crest of the ridge, you’ll pass a line of memorial cairns (stacks of stones) built in memory of the Sherpas and climbers who have died on various Everest expeditions over the last fifty years. From here, the view is spectacular yet again – with Pumori at 7145 m, Lingtren at 6697 m and Khumbutse at 6623 m high. See across the border in Tibet then follow the valley stream to the lodge at Lobuche, where you’ll rest and recharge for the big one tomorrow.
Day - 10
Location: Everest Base Camp (5364m / 17598ft) – Gorak Shep (5140m / 16864ft) - Wake up to the excitement and buzz of Everest – this is the day! First, you’ll trek to Gorak Shep (where you’ll start the round trip to Base Camp). Follow the broad valley that runs parallel to Khumbu Glacier, with a gradual ascent to build the slow, steady rhythm required when walking at high altitudes. When you reach the moraines of Changri Nup Glacier, you’ll make your way over a rocky trail lined with cairns that leads to the glacial sands of Gorak Shep. Now’s the time to grab a quick bite, gear up appropriately and head off towards Everest Base Camp. If the season’s right, you’ll almost certainly encounter yaks and porters supplying food and equipment to expeditions here. Arrive in Everest Base Camp – you made it! Tick that off the bucket list. You won’t get views of Mt Everest from here, but you can see glorious glaciers, lakes, caves and the notorious Everest Ice Fall that flows from the Western Cwm (regarded as technically the hardest and most dangerous section of the mountain). When you’ve had your fill of epic views (and taken an Instagram or five), you’ll return to Gorak Shep for the night.
Day - 11
Location: Kala Patthar (5545m / 18192ft) – Pheriche (4240m / 13911ft) - Wake up super early this morning for the trek to Kala Patthar where you’ll experience sensational sunrise views from a once-in-a-lifetime vantage point. Don’t be surprised if you get a little tear in your eye when you soak up the views of Everest. Embrace the emotion and spend as long as you like here to savour the moment. It’s a bit of a tough walk because of the altitude, but the view from the top will surpass your wildest imagination. Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam, Taweche, Kantega and Everest – they’re all here. About 3 km away and some 200 m below, the area of the Everest Base Camp can be seen in a bowl at the bottom of the Khumbu Ice Fall. It’s all downhill from here – the descent to Gorak Shep is easy and then you’ll cross the Khumbu Khola and head down the valley to Pheriche, where you’ll spend the night.
Day - 12
Location: Namche Bazaar (3440m / 11286ft) - This morning, you’ll cross the suspension bridge over the Imja Khola River, where there’ll be great views of the Imja Valley, Ama Dablam and Kantega. Re-trace your steps to Thyangboche, then descend steeply through a beautiful forest of juniper, rhododendron and fir. Cross the Dudh Kosi River and ascend to Trashinga. From here, the trail contours high above the valley on to Namche Bazaar, where you’ll return for the night.
Day - 13
Location: Lukla (2840m / 9318ft) - You’ve done it! Today is your last day of trekking and you’ll first descend steeply down to the large suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi River. Then you’ll follow the trail back to Monjo. Walk through blue pine and rhododendron forest, with great views of Kusum Kangaru, through Phakding, then it’s only a short walk in the valley before making the final climb up to the airstrip at Lukla. This is where you’ll say goodbye to your Sherpa crew. Get together with the rest of your group and pool your tips, if you haven't already. Celebrate with a much needed and well-deserved hot shower, a good, long sleep, or a few drinks with your group. You earned it – you conquered Everest!
Day - 14
Location: Kathmandu - Take the short flight from Lukla to Kathmandu this morning. When you arrive, return to your accommodation and then enjoy some free time in the afternoon for further sightseeing or shopping. Before dinner, your leader will take you on a walking tour to the colourful Asan Bazaar. Then, it’s time to celebrate with a tongba (hot millet beer) and a plate of ziva (pastry fingers filled with cheese) while you relax your weary (but incredibly toned) legs. You don't need to carb-load anymore, but surely another plate of dal bhat couldn't hurt?
Day - 15
Location: Kathmandu - With no further activities planned, your trip ends this morning. There's plenty more to see in Kathmandu for those who wish to stay, just speak to your booking agent. If you do, you might like to check out an Urban Adventures tour, like the Rickshaw Night Explorer: www.urbanadventures.com/en/kathmandu/kathmandu-rickshaw-night-explorer