You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 4.30-5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. This evening we will head out for dinner, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members.
Overnight: Radisson Hotel
Today you have a full day to explore Kathmandu’s bustling streets and significant landmarks. You may wish to start by exploring the city’s two most important World Heritage Listed spiritual sites: Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and an important cremation site; and Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet. Alternatively you could wander through the markets and shops of the busy 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.
We transfer to the airport for the 45 minute flight to the STOL airstrip at Lukla. This was the airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and his friends to service the Everest Region when he began his work of building schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people. It is a memorable flight, with marvellous views of the Eastern Himalaya. At Lukla we are immediately impressed by the scale of the huge peaks that surround the village but this is only a foretaste of what is to come. Our crew assemble and we head downhill towards the Dudh Kosi, a raging river that flows from the highest peaks. The broad and well-marked trail meanders around fields of potats and buck-wheat and passes through small villages, as we pass rows of tree dahlia to make our way to our private eco camp at Ghat.
Today we cross and re-cross the thundering glacial river, named 'Dudh' (milk) Kosi (river) because of its colour. Sections of today's walk are through pine forest and cleared areas reveal terraced fields and a variety of crops. We pass small groups of donkeys, yaks and dzopko carrying trading goods and trekking gear along the trail. A dzopko is a yak-cow crossbreed while a yak is a full-blood long haired male, more commonly found at higher altitudes. Spectacular mountain peaks unfold above us and seem to hover above the tree-line as they rise above the deep river valley. Shortly after leaving camp we cross the Kusum Khola, a tributary stream to the Dudh Kosi, and the peak of Kusum Kangru (6369 m) can be seen to the East, at the head of the valley. Further along the trail, across the valley to the North-West, Nupla (5885 m) and Kongde Ri (6093 m) rise above the forested ridges. At a turn of the trail, Thamserku (6808 m) rises majestically, seemingly from the river floor. We will see our first Mani walls today. These stone structures are a compilation of many stone tablets, each with the inscription 'Om Mani Padme Hum' which translates to 'Hail to the jewel in the lotus', and is mantra (chant) venerated by Buddhists and Brahmans alike. Buddhists will walk to the left of these Mani Walls and chortens, but you may notice that people of the lowlands who have no knowledge of Buddhism do not follow this practice. The allure of the mountains is hard to resist, but we must be patient, as it is very important to acclimatise slowly and thereby fully appreciate our time at higher altitude. Today's walk is not a long one, and you will be eager to press on. Slow down, and enjoy the journey. Overnight at our private eco camp site located above Monjo.
This morning we pass through the gates of the Sagamartha National Park. The establishment of this national park is a significant attempt to stem the use of fire-wood in the area and the few local people who have a permit to cut wood must gain approval from the authorities on the basis of it being primarily for their personal use. We follow the river course to the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi, and cross a spectacular high bridge before commencing our ascent to the village of Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa 'capital' of Nepal. It is a tough climb as the trail passes through forest of pine to a vantage point that provides our first view of Mt Everest. The trail continues to climb and meander to Namche, and the sight of this prosperous village spread within a horse-sh shaped valley opposite the beautiful peak of Kongde Ri is worth every step. After lunch you may wish to peruse the Tibetan trader's stalls or the Sherpa shops in search of a bargain. Our accommodation will be at our private eco camp site.
Sagarmartha National Park Headquarters just above our private eco camp site offers a very interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park, and the hill above is a wonderful vantage point for the spectacular view up the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest. The change from the narrow lowland valleys to the broad glacial ones is immediately obvious. The steep-sided glacial valley before us gradually winds towards the base of Everest, broken only by the moraines left by retreating glaciers. Its more gradual rate of climb is a blessing for those trekking higher. 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. Those who are fit and acclimatising well may wish to take the optional walk to the Everest View Hotel (4-5hrs) where spectacular views of Everest and Ama Dablam may be seen.
For those feeling well acclimatised there is also the option of a day walk to the pretty village of Khumjung. Khumjung is where Sir Edmund Hillary built his “Schoolhouse In the Clouds” and the famed Khunde hospital is close by. World Expeditions supports both of these famous community facilities, as well as the many other projects operated by the Himalayan Trust. There will generally be the opportunity for you to visit the hospital and school. We will also be able to visit the monastery at Khumjung where we may have the opportunity to see the “scalp of a yeti”. Overnight private eco camp site.
Heading North-East we initially follow the main trail to Thyangboche as it contours around the hills, before we branch off on a climb on the flanks of the sacred peak of Khumbila (5761 m). We traverse for some time across yak pastures as the trail gradually ascends to Mon La. Below us is the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and Imja Khola and across the valley Thyangboche monastery is framed by Ama Dablam and Kantega. We reach a stupa draped with prayer flags atop a ridge at 3992 metres and then descend steeply through forest to the Dudh Kosi. Crossing the river we pass a water-powered grain mill and eventually to our private eco camp at Portse Tenga. After afternoon tea an optional walk up the ridge beyond camp will bring us to the village of Portse.
The early morning sun warms the camp site and we head north, still following the Dudh Kosi towards its source, the magnificent Ngozumpa Glacier. An initial short climb gets us onto the trail for the steady climb towards Gokyo. Since leaving the main trail we have seen progressively fewer trekkers and locals and the relative isolation of the trail is a pleasure. Sections of red birch, fir and dwarf rhododendron forest are interspersed with areas of yak pasture as we gradually gain altitude. We pass pleasant waterfalls and can rest and gaze at the glaciers that flow from Taweche and Cholatse on the opposite side of the valley. Behind us, spectacular ridges lead to the peak of Khumbila and the numerous unnamed peaks that reach almost 6,000 metres. In the distance Kantega and Thamserku rise above the foothills. It was at Dole that one of the more recent and "credible" yeti sightings took place. Ask your trek leader for details and draw your own conclusions. Overnight private eco campsite in Dole.
Continuing a steady but constant climb, we reach the "village" of Machhermo for lunch. Like the few small villages in this valley, Machhermo has only a few buildings and these are empty much of the year. Villagers in Khumjung and Khunde generally own land here high up the valley, where they graze yaks in the summer months. Our camp sits in the valley amidst stunning surrounds and is one of our most popular stops on the circuit. This is a valuable acclimatisation day as we prepare for the higher altitudes and our ascent of Gokyo Ri (5483m). This afternoon can be spent relaxing or you may wish to stretch your legs and take a walk up the ridge behind Luza for a view of the Gokyo Valley. Just a short walk from camp is the Machhermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post which is well worth a visit, here you can learn more about altitude and the work of IPPG (International Porter Protection Group). Overnight private eco camp.
Following the valley high above the river, we commence the ascent to Gokyo village. There are excellent views of Cholatse at the village of Pangka and we stop to enjoy them. We are now in high alpine country and as we approach the Ngozumpa Glacier we trek onto the moraine and rock that extends down from it. We enjoy excellent views of Kantega to the south and Cho Oyu to the north. Each mountain has its individual character and presence, and you can understand why mountain people have such spiritual significance. Once we have ascended the snout of the glacier the path levels. We pass the first of the lakes, Longponga, before reaching, Taoche Lake, a larger body of water and a place where ducks are often seen swimming in the freezing waters on their annual migrations to and from Tibet. As we walk up the valley our path parallels the Ngozumpa Glacier while separating us from the glacier is the massive lateral moraine. Overnight eco lodge.
Leaving Namche we descend through the forest towards the Dudh Kosi, and continue our return journey crossing and re-crossing the river. It will seem like a long time since we ascended through the villages on our first days of the trek, as we have witnessed many stunning views on our trek into the highest mountain range in the world. Retracing our steps along the valley, we pass through a variety of settlements and forests before a gentle climb to Lukla. We savour our final mountain sunsets of the trek as we complete this exhilarating journey. Our last evening of the trek is a good time to have a small party for all the team, especially the porters who will return to their villages from here. There is usually lots of music, dancing and singing and if we are lucky, one of the superb cakes that our Nepali chefs are renowned for. Overnight lodge.
If the weather is clear, the mountain views from Thyangboche monastery as we pass through are outstanding - Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are at the head of the valley, their line of sight flanked by Taweche on one side and Ama Dablam on the other. Almost directly above us are Kantega and Thamserku. Completing a 360 degree panorama of mountains are Khumblia and Kongde Ri which encircle us from across the valley. It's a pleasant walk down to Namche, and as we near the village we pass through terraced fields that are home to a brightly colored pheasant, the Danphe Pheasant, the national bird of Nepal. Overnight private eco camp site in Namche.
There can be a tendency now to rush, particularly as we are walking downhill, but there is still much to see. We descend to Pangboche and visit its historic old monastery, thought to be the oldest in the Khumbu. Continue on to our private eco camp at Deboche for the night.
Kala Pattar is not a Nepali name but a Hindi name and translates to "black rock". From these black rocks atop the hill the views are spectacular. Most eyes are locked on the mass of Everest and its rocky buttresses immediately before us. Many of the famous ascent routes are quite clear. Below us the Khumbu Glacier snakes towards the icefall and Western Cwm. We can see the area where expeditions set their base camp but the original site was at Lake Camp, now known as Gorak Shep. Take a look in every direction and soak it in. The view south and our route out, is particularly beautiful. In the afternoon we make the return trek to our private permanent camp at Dingboche, soon after setting off we reach the site of a row of cairns to Sherpa climbers who died on Everest, before we continue to the small settlement at Tugla. Our path on an old lateral moraine takes us to the sheltered village of Dingboche and our private eco camp. To the east at the head of the Imja Khola valley sits the pyramid peak of Imja Tse (6189 m). This afternoon we can walk up the ridge behind Dingboche for sunset views of Nuptse, Lhotse and Chhukung Peak.
An early start is made to take advantage of the early morning views. The steady yet unrelenting ascent of Gokyo Ri will take two to three hours, depending on your level of fitness and acclimatisation. It is not a race and times of up to six hours are cherished by those who thought they would not make it at all. If you find the climb hard work don't hesitate to ask one of the guides to carry your day pack. You will be elated when you reach the summit with its spectacular view. Probably the most comprehensive view of 8,000 metre peaks in Nepal, many people consider it to be Nepal's best. Surrounding us are Cho Oyu (8153 m), (a mountain that defeated a British Expedition of climbers, including Hillary, in their lead-up to their successful assault of Everest), Gyangchung Kang (7922 m), Lhotse (8501 m), Makalu (8475 m), Cholatse (6440 m), Taweche (6542 m), Kantega (6685 m), Thamserku (6808 m), Lobuche (6145 m) and Mt Everest (8848 m). Hundreds of other peaks fill the scene, whilst below us the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal, stretches through the valley. The striking colour of the lakes below completes the picture. The only way to get a better view of the entire Everest region would be to climb an 8,000 metre peak! Although further from Everest than Kala Pattar, the traditional viewing point, here we see more of the mountain and enjoy a more relaxed environment to view the peak. Overnight eco lodge.
The early morning sun is welcome after a cold night and reveals a dramatic panorama of spectacular peaks. We traverse high on the flanks of Awi Peak, above the village of Chola and continue past Cholatse Lake. Beyond the lake, the Chola Glacier flows steeply from a saddle between the cliffs of Cholatse and Taweche in a rugged and beautiful display. We crest a small rise and before us unfolds the stunning form of Nuptse (7745 m), rising above the Khumbu Glacier. We continue our traverse until we join the busy trail from Thyangboche to Lobuche, where the volume of people and yaks may come as quite a shock. The successful 1953 British Expedition to Everest thought of this place as a warm and pleasant rest point.The hill above the settlement affords fine sunset views of Nuptse. Overnight eco lodge.
We start early to take advantage of the stable early morning weather pattern that generally prevails in the Himalaya. Depending on the snow conditions, it will take us approximately 5 hours to reach the saddle of the pass from Thagnak. There will be time on the top of the pass to soak in the experience before the descent into the valley and the camp on the other side. This is a special day and for some the highlight of the trip. The views are excellent all day. Words fail to describe the beauty and the sense of achievement of this pass crossing. Finally as we descend to our camp beside the steep north face of Cholatse, the stunning peak Ama Dablam comes into view. Overnight private eco campsite.
We weave our way towards Thagnak on a trail that meanders through a section of the largest glacier in Nepal. It's an exciting hike, as we leave Gokyo and begin the approach towards the Cho La. There are great views today of Cho Oyu and Cholatse. Keep an eye open for Himalayan Thar on the rocky slopes. Overnight eco-lodge.
This morning we take the return flight to Kathmandu, a thrilling flight over forests, fields and villages, with the Himalaya in the background. On arrival, we transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure, a good time for last minute shopping or sightseeing.
We trek alongside the Khumbu Glacier as the path winds over the rocky moraine towards the settlement of Gorak Shep. We are high, among the glaciers of the world's highest peaks. Following our arrival at Gorak Shep we have an early lunch before we commence our trek to Everest Base Camp. In the pre monsoon season many expeditions can be seen at base camp and this excursion is one of the highlights of the trek. Overnight lodge.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people departing by aircraft will be transferred to the airport.