19 Days Gokyo Lakes, Cho La Pass & Everest Base Camp Trek
Destination: Khumbu Valley, Nepal
Routes: Gokyo Lakes & Cho-la
Trip Dates: Post Monsoon season (October – December)
Team Size: 4 – 10
Accommodation: Hotel (KTM) & Tea House (on trek)
Minimum Age: 16 Years
High-altitude trekking in mountainous regions calls for flexibility and adaptability to many conditions. In the wilderness, nature has the final say. For us to survive, we need flexibility and adaptability to circumstances as they unfold. While we endeavour to follow the itinerary below, we may need to change it to suit conditions. The end point will always be returning safely to our families. It is imperative to commit to pre-acclimatization training beforehand to cope with the low oxygen environment that we will be visiting. During the trek, our blood oxygen will be monitored and your guide will advise you how to handle any issues that will inevitably crop up. With this in mind, we will have the best time on a trek that has unparalleled mountain views.
The EBC via Gokyo and Cho-la Pass trek takes part entirely in Sagarmatha National Park (also known as the Khumbu or Everest region). The Sagarmatha National Park area is 1,148km2 and is the home of the famous Sherpa people, as well as the highest mountains in the world. We start our journey in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, which is full of historic temples and bursting with culture. A guided tour will be planned for those who wish to learn more about the city and religious sites. We then take a short flight to Lukla where the trek begins.
Our trek takes us through the heart of the Khumbu region on some lesser travelled trails to the village of Gokyo. After that, we cross the Cho-la pass on our way to Everest Base Camp. We will climb two mountains at similar elevations – all with incredible views of the neighbouring peaks such as Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, and Ama Dablam. The highlights include Gokyo Lake, a beautiful turquoise lake surrounded by glaciers, and Namche Bazar, the busy market town at the entrance to the Khumbu valley. We will also take a day trip to the famous Everest Base Camp where you can gaze up at Mt Everest and the Khumbu Ice Fall.
This trek is not easy! It involves back-to-back days of trekking at high altitude, sometimes over rugged terrain. We expect all trekkers to have a high level of fitness so they can deal better with the altitude and the physically demanding nature of the trek. Our itinerary is tried and tested and includes multiple acclimatization and rest days along the way. However, we can’t predict how each team member will react to the altitude so we ask that all participants come well prepared for the demand of this trek (which means you need to train!). At The Altitude Gym, we will have a great opportunity to pre-acclimatize and all trekkers must commit to an agreed training program to make our collective journey a success.
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu
A very warm welcome to the Kingdom of Himalayas. Upon your arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport our representative welcomes you and assists with your transfer to your hotel close to the airport.
Day 2: Kathmandu / Lukla / trek to Phakding (2,630m)
It’s a panoramic thrill flying into Lukla in a Twin Otter plane on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling around you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that will stay with you for a long, long time. This is an exciting flight which should give a glimpse of Everest in the distance. In Lukla, we will meet our trek staffs and porters and set off straightaway for our first night’s stop at Phakding, situated on the banks of the Dudh Kosi River, which drains the whole of the Khumbu Region. This small hamlet is on the main trade route through the area and there are a number of clean, well-built lodges where we can spend the night.
Day 3: Trek to Namche Bazaar (3,440m)
We will continue up the banks of the Dudh Kosi River, crossing it twice by small suspension bridges before reaching the village of Monjo where we will enter the Sagarmatha National Park. We will then cross the confluence of the Dudh Kosi River and the Bhote Kosi River on the high suspension bridge and climb steeply for about 2 hours up “Namche Hill” to reach Namche Bazaar (3,440m). This is a prosperous trading town and the capital of the Khumbu region. Many Tibetans cross the nearby border to trade their wares and the local market is a fascinating spectacle. This is a good place to buy genuine Tibetan artefacts. Just across the valley to the east stand the peaks of Thamserku and Kangtega, both very impressive mountains.
Day 4: Acclimatisation / Free day in Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar is the highlight of Everest Base Camp Trek and the heart of the Everest (Khumbu) region which has government offices, ATM’s, internet cafes, shops, restaurants, a bakery and a colourful market each Friday evening and Saturday. This is first scheduled ‘acclimatisation’ day for this trek. Health experts always recommend us to stay active and moving during the rest day instead of being idle. If we trek few hundred metres vertical during the day, it will help us to acclimatise with the unfamiliar heights that we are going to confront on the trek. Having been born, guiding and leading trips in the Himalayas, we believe in the natural process of acclimatisation – “Climb high, sleep low”. We take an interesting side trip up to Khumjung and climb up to the famous airstrip at Syangboche. Just above the airstrip is the Everest View Hotel (3,800m), a Japanese arrangement to build a deluxe hotel with great views of the highest mountains on earth. The Khumjung valley surrounded by the snow peaks of Kongde and Thamserku and the sacred peak the Khumbiyul-lha hosts a well-known monastery that houses a yeti scalp. Visit Hillary School which is at the same site and spending some time in Khumjung after having lunch, we walk back to Namche Bazaar.
Day 5: Trek to Phortse Thanga (3,650m)
After 1½ hour of walking on a wide flattish track, we get to a place called Kyangzoma, an intersection of a traditional route to Everest Base Camp and route to Gokyo. After Kyangzoma, we will take a left turn and then follow steep incline for a couple of hours until we arrive at Mongla. Hereafter it is a steep descent of 300m until we get to upper Phortse Thanga where you will see a single lodge nestled in the woods.
Day 6: Trek to Machermo (4,470m)
The trail climbs steeply out of the valley through rhododendron forest, which gives away to fragrant stands of juniper and large conifers. The views of Khumbi-La and Tawoche are magnificent throughout the day. The walk is easy though we will feel the effects of altitude on even the smallest hill. The barren alpine scenery with only small clusters of dwarf juniper and rhododendron are the stark contrast to the white snowy peaks and deep blue skies. After a few hours we will arrive at Luza and another hour’s walk to reach our overnight lodge at Machermo.
Day 7: Trek to Gokyo (4,790m)
A short steep climb leads from the Machermo Valley on to the steep grassy slopes of the Dudh Kosi Valley. Keep an eye open for the colourful Tibetan snow cocks often found in the area. The valley widens as we pass through Pangka and on to the jumbled, terminal moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal and the source of the Dudh Kosi River. Climbing steeply over a rocky rail we keep to the western side of the glacier to reach a small lake at the head of a wide valley and then pass a larger lake at Longponga, before following the lateral moraines to the third lake at Gokyo. Gokyo consists of a number of stone dwellings surrounded by stone-walled yak pastures. Our lodge is located close to the lake and if there are no clouds around, the sunroom can be distinctly warm in the afternoon. For those feeling energetic, it is worth ascending to the ridge at the back of Gokyo for views down to the mighty Ngozumpa Glacier.
Day 8: Ascend Gokyo Ri (5,357m); Trek to Dragnak (4,700m)
The earlier the better for the ascent of Gokyo Ri to catch the glimpse of the fresh morning sun, crowning some of the gigantic peak of the Himalaya. It takes between 2-3 hours of zig-zag our way to the summit of this famous vantage point. The summit boulders are draped with prayer flags and the views towards Cho Oyu are particularly good. We descent back down to Gokyo for breakfast, or if we have made a particularly early ascent, we will continue towards Dragnak. From Gokyo Resort the track climbs up gently towards the lateral moraine of the Ngozumpa glacier and then dead due east across the Ngozumpa Glacier. The Ngozumpa glacier, below the 6th highest mountain in the world Cho Oyu, stretching 36km is the longest glacier in the Himalayas. The route across the moraine of the glacier is on mostly sandy trails that weave amongst the ‘moonscape’ of the glacier, before reaching the small hamlet of Dragnak.
Day 9: Cross Cho La (5,416m); Trek to Dzongla (4,630m)
This is a big day. We need to set off very early in the morning to ensure that we cross the Cho La and descent Dzongla in good time. At first we make a very gradual ascent alongside the river up a small valley to eventually reach a sandy ridge line, which gives a great view of the Cho La ahead and to the north east. There are some impressive 6,000m peaks to the viewed from here. To the north – the rocky Nirekha Peak and Kangshing Peak, and to the south the icy bulk of Cholatse. We make a long, gradual descent on a pleasant grassy path to reach the bottom of the pass. From this point the ground becomes more technical and it is time to pack away our trekking poles. The route weaves around boulders at first before climbing up onto rockier ground and a final steep section to reach the top of the pass. This is on loose ground, which can often be icy, so we need to take great care and it might be that we fix a short section of rope and use crampons especially if it is covered with snow and ice. Conditions on the pass can vary considerably, so we stick on the safe side and bring crampons with us just in case. The top of the pass is glaciated and we walk across a flat section of snow for about 15 minutes before dropping off the side and back onto rock. With Dzongla and the entire Everest valley now in sight, before we pick our way down the far side of the pass and descend into a lovely valley, we cherish this marvellous sight with our lunch and drink. A stream that meanders along the bottom leads us to the lodge at Dzongla and a well-deserved rest.
Day 10: Trek to Lobuche (4,940m)
After breakfast, an easy downhill towards east of the valley and turn left to get to Lobuche which is an easy walk where you will enjoy the views of different mountains and glacier. We will have lunch once we get to Lobuche and hike towards the Khumbu Glacier for some exploration.
Day 11: Trek to Gorak Shep (5,180)
The trail continues along the moraine from Dzongla affording you splendid views of Kala Patthar and Pumori before we reach Lobuche. In the beginning we walk along the flat trial through yak pastures before we have to walk in glacier. The trail is rough and icy in some part. We arrive at Gorak Shep a tiny hamlet which used to be the site of the 1953 Everest expedition’s base camp.
Day 12: Ascend Kala Patthar (5,643m); Trek to Everest Base Camp (5,364m)
A gruelling day today. We head off in the cold at 4am to trek up Kala Patthar (which means “Black Rock” in Hindi) under the light of our head-torch. The day’s first light will illuminate the most spectacular mountain panorama view of Everest and its neighbouring peaks – Himalayan giants all… Nuptse, Lhotse, Pumori, Changtse, Lingtren etc. Afterwards, it’s back down to Gorak Shep for breakfast and a quick rest before setting out to Everest Base Camp. The trail to EBC is straight but steep, involving rocky dunes and moraine – the formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris. On the way to our destination, we’ll approach the famed Khumbu Glacier and icefall, located on the slopes of Everest. At EBC, you’ll see where climbers call home during the spring climbing season. Break out your cameras for unbelievable views of breathtaking beauty. Before the afternoon sun starts to wane and the temperature plummets, we’ll head back to Gorak Shep for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Day 13: Trek to Pangboche (3,900m)
Today we walk downhill to reach the final destination for the day, Pangboche. A couple of hours walking will take us to Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) from where we will continue our journey and pass Khumbu Khola, Imja Khola and the suspension bridge before arriving at Pangboche.
Day 14: Trek to Namche Bazaar (3,440m)
From Pangboche, our journey will continue towards Namche Bazaar. The trail will take us across rivers and rhododendron forests amidst the views of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Kangtega and Thamserku mountains.
Day 15: Trek to Lukla (2,480m)
The trail now flattens out and we cross the river twice before rising traverse up the hillside past numerous tea houses to Lukla. Our last day of steady trekking will be a real joy as it is at lower altitudes and with two weeks behind us, and nothing left to prove, we can soak up the atmosphere in each of the villages we amble through. All excess energy is guaranteed to be exhausted at our party evening with our Nepalese crew.
Day 16: Fly back to Kathmandu
Saying final goodbyes to our porters, we fly back to Kathmandu after our long mountain journey. The flight time to Kathmandu are scheduled for the morning as Lukla experiences a lot of windy afternoons. Sometime the flight time can be delayed due to bad weather and other reasons. The early morning flight drops us at Kathmandu where we will be met and transferred to our hotel. You will have time to relax and have a long hot shower after the long journey. Remember, we will be hosting a fantastic celebration dinner together in the finest restaurant in Thamel in celebration of successfully completing your trip in the Himalayas.
Day 17: Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the historical and cultural heart of Nepal and has been a popular destination for tourists ever since Nepal opened its doors to visitors. The city presents a wonderful mix of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Western influence in the Valley.
– Boudhanath Stupa with its 40m dome is one of the world’s largest Stupa and is generally acknowledged to be the most important Tibetan Buddhist monument outside of Tibet.
– Pashupatinath Temple is considered one of the holiest shrines of all the Hindu Temples. The temple has remained the presiding deity of ruling Nepalese Royalty.
– Swayambhunath 3km west of the city is one of the world’s most glorious Buddhist Stupas – it is said to be 2,000 years old. Visitors often call it the “Monkey Temple”.
Day 18: Kathmandu
Today is free for last minute souvenirs and gifts shopping, and general exploration of the city.
Day 19: Depart Kathmandu
Today we will be transferred to the airport for our departure flight.
Trekkers can contact us at any time for any concerns that they may have about the trip.