You will be met by your group leader and transferred to the Radisson hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30 pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Swayambunath, Durbar Square, Patan or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world. Overnight hotel. It is possible that due to flight schedules and group management it may be necessary for your group to fly to Lukla this morning. Then the Kathmandu sightseeing tour will take place at the conclusion of your trek instead of at the beginning. If this is to occur with your group, we shall advise you of this a few weeks in advance of departure and your leader will brief you locally.
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 assembles and we head downhill towards the Dudh Kosi, a raging river that flows from the highest peaks, named "Dudh" (milk) Kosi (river) because of it's colour. 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 campsite at Ghat.
Today we cross and re-cross the thundering glacial river, named "Dudh" (milk) Kosi (river) because of it's 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 trek - 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. We pass through a variety of small hamlets as we slowly gain altitude. 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 ceremony. Today's walk is not a long one take your time, allow the body to acclimatise, and enjoy every step of the way. Overnight private eco camp.
This morning we cross the green/aqua waters of the Dudh Kosi and 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. Self-contained trek groups must use only kerosene fuels for cooking, a philosophy we follow everywhere in Nepal, whether we are in a national park or not. Tea-houses and lodges are encouraged to use kerosene, yak dung or electricity but unfortunately continue to use mostly fire-wood for cooking, heating and for hot water for trekker's showers. This practice continues to deplete the forests. 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 campsite.
Sagarmartha National Park Headquarters just above our private eco campsite 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 at our private eco campsite.
Heading North-East we initially follow the main trail to Thyangboche as it contours around the hills, before we branch off on a short climb on the flanks of the sacred peak of Khumblia (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. After afternoon tea an optional walk up the ridge beyond camp will bring us to the village of Portse. Overnight private eco camp.
This morning we head north, still following the Dudh Kosi towards it's 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 sit to 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 Khumblia and the numerous unnamed peaks that reach almost 6,000 metre, ahead we can catch our first views of Cho Oyu in Tibet. 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 at Dole.
The trail takes us down the Dudh Kosi valley to Lukla airstrip for the flight back to Kathmandu. This is a time to reflect on the past days and an unforgettable journey we have undertaken into the high Himalaya. We savour our final mountain sunsets of the trek as we complete this exhilarating journey. Our last evening of the trek, and if we are lucky, we will be treated to one of the superb cakes that our Nepali chefs are renowned for. Overnight lodge.
We return to civilisation and no doubt there will be earnest celebration of a challenging but satisfying expedition, the likes of which has been enjoyed by very few people. Overnight at our private eco campsite.
We turn south and down valley towards Lukla for our return to Kathmandu. But there are Sherpa villages to be explored as we descend the gorge. We will spend the night at the village of Thame with its spectacular monastery. Overnight wilderness camp.
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. This is a valuable acclimatisation day as we prepare for our ascent of Gokyo Ri (5483m). We take things easy but this afternoon you may wish to stretch your legs and take a walk up the ridge behind Luza for a view of the Gokyo Valley. Overnight in stunning surrounds in our private eco camp.
An early start is best for the opportunities that the early morning views offer. The steady and 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 it's 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 (7922m), Lhotse (8501m), Makalu (8475 m), Cholatse (6440m), Taweche (6542m), Kantega (6685m), Thamserku (6808m), Lobuche (6145m) and Mt Everest (8848m). Hundreds of other unnamed 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 a 7,000 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.From Gokyo Ri we skirt around to high camp for our crossing of the Renjo La the following day. Overnight wilderness camp. The climb of Gokyo Ri today is optional, if you wish to take the alternate route bi passing Gokyo Ri it is possible to skirt around and meet with the group after the climb, your leader will be happy to make arrangements for any members wishing to take this alternate option.
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 it's individual character and presence and you can understand why the Nepalese give them such religious significance. Once we have ascended the snout of the glacier the path levels. We pass the first of the lakes, Longpongo, before reaching the second, Taoche Lake, a larger body of water and a place where ducks are often seen swimming in the freezing waters. As we walk up the valley our path parallels the Ngozumpa Glacier and separating us from the glacier is the massive lateral moraine. Overnight lodge.
This morning we fly 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.
Crossing the Renjo La Pass will be exciting and challenging. From high camp we have a 2 hour ascent through boulders and a zig zagging incline to the top of the high pass at approx. 5360m. We descend steeply at first, into a remote northern valley where the landscape is progressively that of the Tibetan Valleys beyond the border. There is a chance we will meet Tibetan traders descending from the Nangpa La pass. This is an ancient trading route that leads through the Himalayas from Tibet. Traders still use this route today with their caravans of woolly yaks laden with goods. Overnight wilderness camp.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further arrangements have been made. Those people travelling by aircraft to further destinations will be transferred to the airport.