Day 1 – Welcome to vibrant Kathmandu where our Nepal adventure begins.
Our trip begins today in Kathmandu, Nepal. After clearing immigration and customs, you are met by our friendly staff and transferred to the hotel in colorful Thamel, filled with restaurants, unique shops and outdoor outfitters to help you acquire any last-minute trekking gear. The afternoon is left open to rest and explore this unique area. Perhaps take a walking tour with your guide to become more familiar with the city. Meals on your own.
Day 2 – Explore Swayambunath Temple, Boudhanath Temple, Durbar Square, and more.
Today we enjoy a guided tour of the ancient cities of Kathmandu and Patan that will last most of the day. Nepal is a country rich in religious diversity and our visits today to Hindu and Buddhist sacred sites including Swayambhunath (the Monkey Temple), Boudhanath and Patan’s magnificent Durbar Square will open many windows into these fascinating and ancient worlds. If time permits, we’ll take an optional side-trip to the Tibetan Refugee Carpet center in Jawalakhel. The rest of the day will be on your own to explore before our evening orientation to review the trip’s itinerary and gather recommendations on repacking your bags for tomorrow’s departure. Breakfast included.
Day 3 – Fly to Lukla and hike through colorful villages to Phakding.
In the very early morning (prior to 6 a.m.) we transfer to the airport to catch our scenic flight to Lukla, the entrance into the Solu Khumbu. When we arrive, our supplies and gear are loaded onto yaks, then our trek begins with a 4-hour hike down through terraced hillsides and along stone fences to the Dudh Kosi River and across a hanging bridge to our first camp near Phakding. Take notice of the huge boulder inscribed with the Buddhist prayer, “Om mani padme hum” and be sure to hike clockwise around these special “mani (prayer) stones”. Throughout the trek you’ll encounter the local Buddhist people reciting this mantra over and over again – a virtuous deed believed to influence the next life. Arriving in camp in Phakding, your tent will be set-up for you and all of your gear delivered by our support staff. You can look forward to receiving a hot bowl of water at your tent each day after we arrive in camp – great for washing up or for doing a bit of light laundry. Then there is time for hot tea or hot drinks and well-deserved rest. This is our arrival routine in camp most afternoons/evenings, and you’ll appreciate these little extras along with the rest of the exceptional care and attention you can expect to receive from our trekking staff. All meals included.
Trekking: 3-4 hours; about 4.5 miles. From Lukla (9,320’/2,840m) we lose 920’/280m over the first 3 miles of our hike, then hike a relatively flat final 1.5 miles to arrive in Phakding (8,560’/2,610m).
Day 4 – Hike through fields and villages from Phakding to Namche Bazaar.
The dawn’s air is crisp as the sun won’t reach the bottom of the Dudh Kosi Valley until mid-morning, but your morning wake-up call each day on our trek is delivered complete with a hot cup of tea and warm bowl of washing water delivered right to your tent. After a hearty breakfast, we set out on the trail as it wanders through rolling terrain, past traditional homes, plowed fields and pine and cedar forests. Ascending slowly to the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park, the snowy peak of Thamserku (21,680’/6,608m) gives us a taste of the unmatched mountain scenery to come. Lunch provides fuel for the final push, a steep 2,000’/610m hike to the village of Namche Bazaar. Namche is the largest Sherpa village and has long been the primary staging area for major Himalayan expeditions. It is a major establishment because of the abundant source of fresh water and its lively bazaar on Saturdays. REI has a long history here and has cultivated many friendships. We know you’ll enjoy this very special place and we’ll spend two nights here on our way up the mountain. All meals included.
Trekking: 6 hours; about 5.6 miles. We gradually gain 920’/280m over the first 4.2 miles, then quickly gain an addition 2,000’/610m in the final1.4 miles for a total of 2,920’/890m of gain to reach Namche Bazaar (11,285’/3,440m).
Day 5 – Day hike for our first views of Everest, then return to Namche Bazaar.
Temple horns and yak bells awaken us to a sunrise surrounded by snowy summits over 20,000’/6,100m high! Today is an acclimatization day, meaning we plan to hike high to gain strength, then descend again to sleep low, enabling our bodies to better adjust to the altitude before we continue our ascent. A slow and steady pace with adequate time for acclimatization is key to an enjoyable trek. Peaks we’ll view as we set out today include Kwangde (20,930’/6,380m), Thamserku (21,680’/6,608m), and Kangtega (21,932’/6,685m). And what’s more, as we ascend to around 12,500’/3,820m we earn truly stunning views of Nuptse (25,790’/7,861m), Lhotse (27,605’/8,414m), Ama Dablam (22,493’/6,856m) and even Mount Everest (29,035’/8,850m). Tonight we overnight again in Namche Bazaar. All meals included.
Trekking: 4-5 hours; about 3-3.5 miles. Elevation gain and loss is 1,250’/380m.
Day 6 – Ascend to the village of Phortse Tenga through rhododendron forest.
From Namche Bazaar our trek leaves the standard Base Camp trail for the next two days. Crossing the valley, we ascend through a rhododendron forest traversing the beautiful southern slope of Khumbila, the sacred mountain of the Sherpas which cannot be climbed. We trek over Moung La pass (13,000’/3,960m) stopping for lunch with the spectacular peak of Thamserku looming in the near background. Then we descend to Phortse Tenga alongside the Dudh Koshi River and fed by the glaciers of the tenth highest peak in the world, Cho Oyo. Finally, we ascend another 45 minutes or so through picturesque birch and rhododendron forest to Phortse where we’ll stay for the night. Watch for iridescent impeyan pheasants, tahr mountain goats, and possibly musk deer when walking through the forests and among the high farms today. All meals included.
Trekking: 6-7 hours; about 5.3 miles. Elevation gain from Namche to Moung La pass is 1,705’/520m covered in 3.3 miles before we steeply descend 920’/280m in 1 mile to the Dudh Koshi River. Crossing a bridge there, our final ascent to Phortse (12,500’/3,810m) gains 425’/130m in just under 1 mile. Our total daily gain is 2,130’/650m and our total loss is 920’/280m.
Day 7 – Half-day ascent to visit Pangboche’s impressive monastery.
Today we enjoy a leisurely half-day ascent to Pangboche during the morning hours. This more leisurely hike leads along a scenic contour, gradually gaining another 400’/120m as we approach our Pangboche camp situation among small traditional homes and fields. After lunch and a bit of rest we’ll enjoy a unique opportunity to visit Pangboche Monastery, the oldest monastery in the Mount Everest region. Lama Sangwa Dorji, believed to be the reincarnation of Guru Rinpoche, founder of Buddhism in Tibet in the eight century and one of its most significant figures, is said to have founded Pangboche Monastery. The ancient and very special nature of this place is easily felt by visitors. Returning to camp for dinner, enjoy sitting among the 400 year old juniper trees as you gaze across the valley at the magnificent mountain scenery here. All meals included.
Trekking: 3-4 hours; about 3 miles. Elevation gain is 400’/120m to Pangboche (12,895’/3,930m).
Day 8 – Hike to Dingboche, the highest permanent Sherpa village in the Khumbu.
Today’s hike is an extended half-day, with a challenging and scenic climb to Dingboche (14,400’/4,410m). After ascending fairly gradually along the river Imja Khola for the better part of the morning, our trail swings off the main track to the east and climbs slowly up to the windswept potato fields of Dingboche village, the highest permanent Sherpa settlement in the region. Ama Dablam’s razor edges are particularly dramatic here. We’ll expect to have arrived and be enjoying a late lunch by around 1:00 pm, so consider packing an energy bar or snack in your daypack as we set out in the morning. After lunch, the remainder of the afternoon is yours to rest, journal, read, enjoy the views and soak in your surroundings. All meals included.
Trekking: 4-4.5 hours; about 4 miles. Elevation gain is 1,575’/480m.
Day 9 – Day hike to remote monastic caves and views of Makalu.
We’ve scheduled another important acclimatization day today. To this point in the trek, we’ve ascended over 5,150’/1,570m, and before we attempt to sleep any higher, we’ll once again hike high today then descend to sleep low for one more night. There are many options available to us, and the most likely is one of our Sherpa guides’ favorite hikes. Few visitors to the Everest region will ascend the base of Nangkar Tshang peak, and this 3.5 to 5 hour round trip leads past cliff-side sacred sites to a stunning view of Makalu, the world’s 5th highest peak at 27,762’/8,462m. We’ll hike as high as we reasonably can, reaching our high point somewhere between 15,700’/4,785m and 16,400’/5,000m, then return to 14,400’/4,410m. This should help the body acclimatize more effectively, as the next three days bring ever more increasing challenges. All meals included.
Trekking: optional, 3.5 to 5 hours; 3 to 4 miles. Elevation gain and loss is between 1,300′-2,000’/375m-590m.
Day 10 – Traverse the Pheriche Valley and ascend past the Khumbu glacier.
Our ascent today begins with a gentle climb along the upper trail headed into the Pheriche valley. Well above Pheriche and the valley floor, we contour along the northwest side of the valley through alpine scrub and yak pastures, enjoying panoramic views of Tawoche (20,890’/6,367m) and Cholotse (20,785’/6,335m). Directly behind us, Ama Dablam appears to rise directly from the valley floor to its fullest snowy height. After about two hours of gradual ascent along this path, we reach Thokla Pass and begin a challenging but relatively short ascent of about 690’/210m. At the top of the pass, long strands of prayer flags connect monuments and memorials dedicated to Himalayan climbers who’ve perished in pursuit of their climbing dreams. The scenery becomes ever more exceptional as we crest the pass to panoramic views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Lhotse Shar and other 7,000+meter peaks. We continue hiking beyond Thokla Pass to reach Lobuche, a sparse trekkers’ outpost amid dramatic alpine scenery where we’ll stay for one night. The next two days will be very challenging, so it is important to eat well and drink lots of water tonight. You are likely to be tired by the end of this tough yet beautiful day of trekking. All meals included.
Trekking: 5-6 hours; about 5 miles. We gradually gain an initial 690’/210m over a distance of 2.5 miles before ascending Thokla Pass, gaining another 690’/210m but over a steep, short section about a half mile. From the top of the pass, we gradually gain an additional 265’/80m over 1 more mile to reach Lobuche (16,110’/4,910m ). Total gain today is 1,645’/500m.
Day 11 – Depending on weather, climb Kala Patar or hike to Everest Base Camp.
The next two days host some of our trek’s most exceptional highlights. On day 11, we pick our way through boulders and rock while trekking about 3 hours to reach Gorak Shep. This tiny outpost resides in the immediate shadow of Kala Patar. We arrive in time for lunch, and then evaluate conditions before moving on. If the weather suggests clear views we’ll set out for the summit of Kala Patar to enjoy the exceptional view of Mt. Everest (29,028′) from its summit. If the views seem less likely to open up for us, we will instead head up on the 3-4 hour hike to Everest Base Camp, saving Kala Patar for the following morning. In either case, we may descend in the dark to Gorak Shep so bring warm clothes, a headlamp and check your batteries before setting out. Both hikes are optional but exceptional. You’ll be glad if you’ve saved some energy for these hikes. All meals included.
Trekking from Lobuche to Gorak Shep (16,865’/5,140m): 3 hours; Elevation gain to camp is 755’/230m.
Round trip Gorak Shep-Kala Patar (18,510’/5,640m): 3-4 hours; about 2 miles. Elevation gain/loss is 1,645’/500m.
Round trip Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp (17,600’/5,365m): 3-3.5 hours; about 4.5 miles.Elevation gain/loss is around 735’/225m.
Day 12 – Depending on our previous day, climb Kala Patar or hike to Base Camp.
Today, we’ll pick-up where we left off the previous day completing whichever of the two hikes we were not already able to attempt. You may opt out of the hike this morning if you prefer to head back down the trail. If we set out for Kala Patar, we must start very early so that the light affords us the best quality of Everest views. We will start hiking before sunrise with headlamps and return for breakfast. After breakfast, we’ll have time to descend as far as Thokla or Phulung Kharka. If we instead hike to Base Camp, we’ll set out in the early twilight and will likely descend to Lobuche this afternoon. The village we stay in this evening will depend on the group’s physical ability and time. While we can celebrate some very significant accomplishments tonight, there are still plenty of highlights remaining on our descent, which will feature some different trails and very special sights along the way. All meals included.
Round trip Gorak Shep-Kala Patar (18,510’/5,640m): 3-4 hours; about 2 miles. Elevation gain/loss is 1,645’/500m.
Round trip Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp (17,600’/5,365m): 3-3.5 hours; about 4.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss is around 735’/225m.
Trekking from Gorak Shep (16,865’/5,140m) to Lobuche or Thokla: 2 hours and 5 miles with 755’/230m elevation loss to Lobuche (16,110’/4,910m) or 3 hours and 7 miles with 1,710’/520m elevation loss to Thokla (15,155’/4,620m).
Day 13 – Cross Pheriche Pass before arriving at Tengboche Monastery.
Today we cover a lot of ground and descend thousands of feet into far more oxygen-rich air. We’ll enjoy a stop at the Himalayan Rescue Association clinic in Pheriche, which is an important medical facility for trekkers, climbers and local people. Staffed by volunteer physicians, it is a very interesting waypoint on this remote trail that is new to us. After lunch we emerge from the valley and climb a short distance to Pheriche Pass, before descending to cross the river Imja Khola. Climbing on through the park-like rhododendron forests bursting with flowers on spring departures, we eventually reach Deboche or Tengboche. Both are situated in picturesque settings and boast a long and significant religious history as Deboche is the site of an important nunnery and Tengboche hosts the main Tibetan Buddhist temple in the Khumbu region. Not really a village, Tengboche is primarily a gompa and everyone living there is in some way associated with the operations of the monastery. If we reach Tengboche tonight, we will visit for a glimpse into monastic life. If we stay in Deboche, we will visit Tengboche on our descent tomorrow. All meals included.
Trekking ranges from 5-6 hours; about 7.5-9 miles. Groups setting out from Lobuche (16,110’/4,910m) will descend 3,970’/1,210m to the Imja Khola River (12,140’/3,700m), while groups setting out from Thokla (15,155’/4,620m) will descend 3,015’/920m to reach the same point. From the river, the way is mostly flat to Deboche (12,170’/3,710m), and for groups headed on to Tengboche, the day ends with an ascent of about 495/150m over 1 mile to reach Tengboche (12,665’/3,860m).
Day 14 – Trek to Namche Bazaar, with views of Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam.
Today is another full day of descent with a healthy dose of uphill mixed in, and the air continues to become more oxygen-rich. If we’ve departed from Deboche this morning, we’ll climb a short 330’/100m, soon reaching the spacious plateau upon which Tengboche Monastery is built at 12,685’/3,860m. After a visit there, we continue descending to the Dudh Koshi river then climb for 1.5 hours to Kyangjuma for lunch. We finish our hike today with a gradually descending walk from Kyangjuma to Namche Bazaar (11,285’/3,440m) where we’ll enjoy once again the unforgettable panoramic views of Lhotse, Nuptse, Everest and Ama Dablam that inspired us near the outset of our trek. Tonight we’ll spend the night in Namche Bazaar where you can find services like hot showers and internet access for a small fee, along with local bars and souvenir shops. There will likely be time for you to explore Namche Bazaar on your own after we arrive and before we enjoy dinner. All meals included.
Trekking: 5-6 hours; about 5-6 miles. Elevation gain for groups setting out from Deboche is 495’/150m over 1 mile to reach Tengboche (12,665’/3,860m), then all groups descend 2,005’/610m in 1.25 miles to the Imja Khola River (10,660’/3,250m) before climbing 985’/300m in 1.75 miles to Kyangjuma (11,645’/3,550m). After lunch, we hike an additional 2 miles to reach Namche Bazaar, gradually losing another 360’/110m. Total elevation loss today is around 2,365’/720m, while total gain is between 985′-1,480’/300m-450m.
Day 15 – Leave Namche Bazaar and descend to Phakding Village.
Leaving Namche Bazaar, we have a big descent today to Phakding. If the weather is clear, take plenty of photos of your final views of the great peaks we’ve enjoyed so much along the way, including Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. We’ll not see them again after reaching camp tonight. In Phakding we’ll camp by the Dudh Koshi River and enjoy another spectacular Himalayan sunset before turning in. All meals included.
Trekking: 4-5 hours; about 5.6 miles. We quickly lose 2,000’/610m in the first1.4 miles of our hike, then gradually lose an additional 920’/280m over the first 4.2 miles for a total of 2,920’/890m of loss today.
Day 16 – Hike to Lukla and enjoy a final night in a comfortable lodge.
Today is a challenging final day of trekking from Phakding to Lukla as we begin with a descent, then climb 600′ to end in Lukla as we leave the long trail behind. After the climb, enjoy a night in a small lodge where you can shower and then look forward to a truly memorable farewell party with all of the wonderful support staff that have contributed so much to the success of our great adventure. Overnight in Lukla. All meals included.
Trekking: 5 hours; about 4.5 miles. From Phakding (8,560’/2,610m) we hike a relatively flat 1.5 miles before gaining 920’/280m over the last 3 miles of our hike to arrive in Lukla (9,300’/2,840m).
Day 17 – Return flight from Lukla to Kathmandu, weather permitting.
We must prepare for our return flight to Kathmandu very early this morning. Taking of from the Lukla airstrip is an exhilarating experience and our last look at the snowy Himalayas is bittersweet. After the flight we are met by our ground staff and transferred to our hotel for hot showers, clean clothes and a relaxed day. Our staff will have double-checked your flights out, and will update you on any important changes. Then the balance of the day is free time. Breakfast is included.
Note about flights: Most treks run during the best weather conditions of the year and there is an extra day at the end of the trek to allow for poor weather, sightseeing and shopping. Flights to and from Lukla are not always dependable; weather conditions may cause flight cancellations. Delays are possible any time of year but are more typical on the summer departures. Costs of any evacuation are in addition to any previously paid air/land costs and are billed to trip members upon return to the States; thus we highly recommend the purchase of trip insurance.
Day 18 – Free day to explore more highlights of the Kathmandu Valley.
Enjoy a free day exploring on your own or join us for an optional city tour. The tour is likely to feature Kathmandu Durbar Square or the ancient city of Bhaktapur. The reminder of the day is at your leisure to shop or relax before your journey home. Breakfast included. (Note: Reserve day for return flight from Lukla in case of inclement weather).
Days 19 – Our Everest Base Camp trekking adventure ends today in Kathmandu.
We transfer to the airport for homeward bound flights. This transfer is provided and will be tailored to suit your scheduled departure.