Let’s start by saying any trek to the base of the highest mountain on earth is going to be something very special, but like most treats in life, you have to earn them. Imagine standing on Kala Patthar at dawn, wrapped warmly in the thinning air, where your muscles ache and your head feels light. The sun is gradually waking a dusky sky and the first hues of light begin to kiss the face of the highest point on the planet. It is now you fully appreciate what this trek has been about as you gaze out onto a dramatic 360-degree panoramic view, surreal in its making. The mighty Mt. Everest and the surrounding mountains of Mt. Pumori, Mt. Lingtren, Mt. Khumbetse, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Ama Dablam, Mt. Thamserku along with many other peaks in the range, are all there to greet you with a welcome for the coming day ahead. Spend some time to try to gather your thoughts, before saying goodbye, and, just perhaps, another year maybe?
There are basically four well-tailored trails to Everest Base Camp offered by well-versed and efficient trekking companies. I say efficient because, with the increasing number of new trekking outfits opening up almost daily in Nepal, it is not always clear what to expect. On the basic popular trail to E.B.C., you are possibly O.K., but when it comes to the more remote trails, it pays to be with an experienced company. These companies can be relied upon to provide guides who have had first aid mountain health training and are both competent and familiar with the trail.
1. Everest Base Camp Trek
2. Everest View Trek
3. Pikey Peak Trek
4. Everest Three High Passes Trek
5. Gokyo Valley Trek
6. Gokyo Valley Trek with Everest Base Camp
7. Everest base Camp Trek via Phaplu
So let’s begin. The descriptions are not meant to go into detail about specific days, they are to give you a general outline of what to expect on a particular trail, and perhaps find a trek that suits you.
Everest Base Camp Trek - 15 Days
This trek is often described as the classic trek and, like all treks in the Everest region, up there with the best treks anywhere in the world. It’s an ancient classroom of infinite variety, a trek rich in biodiversity that offers wildlife in abundance, unrivaled mountain magnificence, and cultural riches to devour.
There is not a trek to Everest Base Camp that won’t occasionally stretch the human comfort zone, there are some reasonably tough days as you move to an altitude of over 5000 meters at Kala Patthar. Trek itineraries should include at least two acclimatization days, designed to allow the body to fully adjust to the altitude. You should be reasonably fit to fully enjoy the experience. If you are someone who enjoys meeting people with the camaraderie that brings or someone requiring good accommodation and great food along the way, this may well be your best bet. If you like history, then you can take heart with the knowledge you are following in the footsteps of the iconic Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing.
Everest view Trek - 8 Days
The Everest View trek is a short yet beautiful exploration of the Everest Region. Although easy compared to some of the other treks in the region, it still takes you up onto the high trails on the way to the final destination, the Everest View Hotel. Whilst the trek is a short one, it is nevertheless an extremely scenic hike, one that meanders through the pristine wilderness of the Dudh Kosi River Valley with really superb views of the world’s highest peaks, including; Mount Everest, Lhotse, Thamserku, Ama Dablam, and many others.
Some itineraries add an extra day or two to allow a visit to Tengboche Monastery (3850m). If you choose to hike on to Thyangboche, the monastery there is a true highlight, the beautiful nearby mountain of Ama Dablam adding more color to a serene setting. Both itineraries however include a visit to Khumjung village. Khumjung is a very authentic Sherpa settlement that has a stunning mountain backdrop.
The journey begins from Kathmandu with a scenic flight along the mountains to the tiny Lukla airstrip. From here you spend two days following the trail up to Namche Bazaar. This trail is a great introduction to Sherpa country. The trail is very popular with families and those limited to time.
Pikey Peak Trek - 10 Days
If you’re looking for a short trek in the Everest region not so far from Kathmandu, Pikey Peak Trek is still a secret for many. Newly introduced and less discovered, it’s everything you want from time on the trail. If you enjoy traveling through authentic Sherpa villages and monasteries away from the crowds, this trek is a good choice. The unsurpassed views of Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga, and Makalu along with many other peaks add to an amazing few days on the trail. Indulge yourself in authentic Sherpa villages and visit ancient monasteries, far away from the crowds. The trek is not difficult and offers some wonderful laid-back days on the trail.
Pikey Peak is situated south of the main Khumbu Everest trekking Region. A lot of people say that the view of Mount Everest from Pikey Peak is the best to be had anywhere, a statement fully supported by none other than the iconic Sir Edmund Hillary himself.
Itineraries vary, the trek can be as little as three or four full-on hard days, however, a more leisurely six or seven days is much better. Spending more time on the trail allows the opportunity to fully relax and enjoy the unmatched scenery, with plenty of time to visit several Buddhist sites (monasteries, gompas, and stupas).
There are several different trekking routes/itineraries offered by trekking agencies that include a climb of Pikey Peak, they normally range from seven to ten days. If you choose the flight option, the better outfits will include a buffer day for bad weather.
Everest Three High Passes Trek - 20 Days
Imagine returning home from Nepal, triumphant, having achieved the crossing of three of the world’s highest mountain passes - Kongma La (5535m), Cho La (5420m), and Renjo La (5340m) with the famous Everest of Kala Patthar on the route. One of these passes alone would present a ferocious challenge. The Everest Three High Passes trek is considered by many to be the ultimate test, examining both the stamina and fitness of all those attempting it. The awe-inspiring views of mountain vistas the passes provide will more than likely make you return, at least once. There are tough days, but the rewards more than makeup for any aching legs. Hike a remote trail through the barren wilderness, stay overnight in remote Sherpa mountain settlements, and negotiate the largest glacier in Nepal. Without a doubt, this trek is a very rich and varied experience, over two fantastic weeks on the trail.
The Gokyo Valley Trek - 14 Days
The challenging Gokyo Valley Trek is one of the most picturesque valleys in Nepal, lying serene and secluded; it is situated west of the more beaten trail to Everest Base Camp. The valley is carpeted with yak grazing pastures during summer. The pristine turquoise lakes dotted between the pastures are simply breathtaking jewels any time of year.
If Gokyo is your main destination and assuming you are fit, then you need to follow the main Everest trail as far as the tea houses at Kenjoma before heading off towards the Mong La pass. Many people say a trek through Gokyo offers the best views to be had in the region, with many stunning views all around the valley. The most popular among them is the hike for 2-3 hours up the terminal moraine of the massive Ngozumpa glacier to the northwest, to reach the summit of Gokyo Ri. Here you are rewarded with a superb vista, one alluring and spectacular panoramic view, extending from Cho Oyu and Everest to Lhotse to Makalu.
There are two high passes leading out of the Gokyo Valley, most people choose the Cho La pass (5420m) which rejoins the main trail between Everest Base Camp and Kalapatthar. The other pass is Renjo La (5340m), which I prefer, joining the main trail north of Nagpa La, Thame, Namche Bazaar, and back to Lukla. This trek more than proves that you don’t have to go all the way to Everest Base Camp to fully enjoy the Everest Experience.
Gokyo Trek via Everest Base Camp - 19 Days
If you are someone looking for a more remote and intimate experience that is more demanding, yet scenically more rewarding than the classic trail. A hike to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, returning via the Gokyo Lakes with a traverse of “Ngozumpa glacier” the largest glacier in Nepal is well worth considering. The Gokyo Trek via Everest Base Camp rewards are numerous in a more isolated region, dramatic landscapes, hidden valleys, and some formidable new mountain vistas provide a marvelous feast to savor on the way. The pristine Gokyo Lakes stand out on a trail deep into the heartland of the Sherpas. These most hospitable people are the very spine of the Everest Himalayas. Without them, it is debatable just what might have been achieved when it comes to mountain summits. In short, if you are someone who prefers more of a challenge on a far less beaten track rich in local Buddhist culture, and you are in good shape, then they don’t come much better than this one.
Everest Base Camp Trek via Phaplu - 19 Days
The majority of people trekking to Everest Base camp fly into Lukla for the experience. For those looking to better acclimate to the conditions and build up stamina the preferable alternative is to start from Phaplu.
Most Treks to Everest Base Camp start with a flight to the Hillary airstrip of Lukla. The Everest Base Camp Trek via Phaplu differs as it is more loyal to the iconic trail taken by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. To be fully loyal you would have to start from Kathmandu.
All early Everest expeditions including the Hunt expedition with Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary passed through the same route. This rarely trekked region nowadays, not only allows a beautiful few days away from the crowds higher up the trail, but it also allows time to adjust and share more time in the passion for life with the legendary Sherpas. The route is alpine-like, it follows along hill terraces, through lush verdant forests, and across a patchwork of farmers' fields dotted along the trail. The Lamjura and Traksindu passes offer some splendid far-off views of the Everest Range as you go. A truly special time that not only provides a perfect introduction for the highlights to come but also helps with acclimatization. You join up with the main trail at Chaurikharka on the way to Phakding. Then follow the main trail to base camp and onto Kala Patthar for some amazing views of Mount Everest and the other great peaks of Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Lhotse, and many others. If you have the time this trek sets the mood.
Some touch points on the way:
Lukla Airport (2860m)
Most treks to Everest start with a thrilling mountain flight to Lukla carved into the hillside get ready for a pretty hairy landing! The airport was built in 1964 under the supervision of the then Edmund Hillary, who originally wanted to build the airport on flat farmlands. However, local farmers were not prepared to sell their land, so the airport was built at Lukla. Hillary paid $2,650 for the land to the local Sherpa who helped him with the construction. Unhappy with the uneven surface a foot-stomping dance to flatten the land was performed by the Sherpas that served as the runway. The runway was not pitched until 2001. In January 2008, the airport was renamed in honor of both Sir Edmund and his summit companion Tenzing Norgay Sherpa.
Namche Bazaar (3440m)
Namche Bazaar (3,500 m) is a small and vibrant market town that will almost definitely act as an acclimatization day for all trekkers going higher. Situated in a natural amphitheater it has some great views of the surrounding peaks. A great day to explore the area with some side treks to ease your body into the higher altitude. Over the years It has developed into a small, colorful market town where traders come to barter and sell goods. You can buy a range of items from Tibetan artifacts to trekking and climbing equipment. The visitor center at the park headquarters has detailed information on various trekking routes and climbs in the region along with mementos and information on past expeditions to Everest and other mountains. There is also documented information on the history, lifestyle, and culture of the Sherpa people.
Tengboche Monastery (3860m)
Tengboche Monastery is one of the most famous monasteries of Nepal, set within its unrivaled backdrop of Mt. Ama Dablam. The monastery is the center of Buddhism in the Khumbu region with a residing Rinpoche who blesses pilgrims, mountaineers, and travelers passing through. If you are trekking in October there are many Buddhist festivals to enjoy there.
Khumjung Village (3790m)
The traditional village of Khumjung is further up the trail from Namche. It has a small monastery and sits at the foot of the sacred peak Khumbila with beautiful vistas on all sides. The nearby village of Khunde has a hospital, built-in 1966 by Sir Edmund Hillary and maintained by the Himalayan Trust. Its mission is to treat local people, but it also provides emergency care to trekkers. There is also a Hillary school in Kumjung and the village is home to the scalp of the elusive Yeti.
Everest Base Camp (5364m)
A trek up to the Base Camp for the views is a bit of a letdown, but for many has to be done, after all, you are on the Everest Base Camp trek. There are much better views of Everest from Kala Patthar. The camp is interesting as much as you get an insight into the mountain community. The camp is packed with hundreds of international mountaineers each spring, all hoping to make a successful ascent of the world’s highest peak. The vast majority of their time at base camp is spent resting, acclimatizing, and preparing for the task ahead.
Kala Patthar (5643m)
Kala Patthar, meaning 'black rock' in Nepali, Urdu, and Hindi, stands at an impressive 5545m. It is a notable landmark providing the best view of these mountain greats. Kala Patthar is around 200m higher than Everest Base Camp located on the south ridge of Mount Pumori. An early morning start from Gorakshep, preferably before dawn, will put a thick layer of icing on some wonderful days on the trail. The views of Everest, Nuptse, Pumo Ri, Lingtren, Khumbutse, etc are spectacular from here along with a view of the northern flank and summit of Lhotse.
Are you looking for any additional information? Here you go:
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Nepal Trekking Permits and Fees Cost
Top Ten Reasons to Hike Manaslu Circuit Trek
The 10 Best Short treks in Nepal
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Everest Base Camp Trekking Information