There are two reasons we take this route - first, instead of retracing your steps back the way you came like most tours do, our return from Everest takes you over the glaciated Cho La Pass to Gokyo, a quaint village on the shores of a massive, turquoise blue lake system under the shadow of Cho Oyu. Second - we see Everest at sunset. While virtually every other guide will take you to Kala Pathar in the morning (the viewpoint of Everest), the best view of Everest is actually at dusk as the setting sun lights up the mountain.
En-route to the world’s tallest mountain, you will experience the Sherpa culture and wildly varying landscapes of the Khumbu region. Sky-high suspension bridges, rocks vibrantly painted with Buddhist prayers in Tibetan, lumbering yak herds, ancient monasteries, sore legs, unearthly white landscapes above the treeline, nightly conversations with other travelers in the cozy teahouse lodges, legendary glaciers and sunset over the world’s tallest mountain - you name it, it’s waiting for you on the trail to Everest Base Camp.
SAC T5 Difficult Alpine Hiking
Often without paths. Some easy climbing sections. Exposed, demanding grounds, steep craggy ground. Danger of slipping on glaciers and firn fields.
Delhi to Delhi
4 days travel & rest
17 days hiking & camping
120 km / 75 mi
5545 m / 18200 ft
Welcome to Nepal! The prayer flag-lined streets & markets are a tempting reason to stay and explore, but use your day in Kathmandu to gather any remaining trekking items you may need (trust us, you’ll find everything here), and have a briefing with us on what the upcoming days will hold. You’ll have all the time you want to explore when we get back!
Bright an early, we’ll head back to the Kathmandu airport, this time to the domestic terminal to catch our 45 minute flight to Lukla, the village starting-point for the route to Everest Base Camp. If you can, try to snag a window seat on the left side of the plane. Your reward? A sneak preview of the world’s tallest mountains that you will soon hike to the base of. In Lukla, we take a moment to readjust and obtain permits, and we’re off! The first day to Phakding is relatively easy compared to the rest of the trek, as it runs almost entirely downhill or flat along the river. Today’s route brings us by countless multi-colored Buddhist prayer wheels and mani walls, inscribed with mantras. Feel free to spin the prayer wheels clockwise as you pass by - it’s considered auspicious.
Early morning we will follow closely along the powerful river of Dudh Kosi through dense forest and across several iconic suspension bridges before stopping for lunch in the village of Monjo. From here, we obtain our final permits and enter the ornately-decorated gate of Sagarmatha National Park, descending along a massive mani stone hand-painted with Buddhist mantras that extends halfway to the valley floor village of Jorsalle. From here the easy trekking ends. We find ourselves right on the pebbled banks of the Bhote Kosi river before rising sharply upward, crossing the narrow gorge on a prayer flag-adorned suspension bridge and continue climbing through the winding forest trail until we catch our first glimpse of Namche Bazaar 600 meters above. Time allowing, give yourself a chance to explore this “village” that offers those passing through everything from salons, helicopter rides and Irish pubs to coffeeshops and trekking gear depots - all at 11,300 feet.
While most guides stay a second night for acclimatization, we choose head on toward Tengboche, and then cut the following day’s route in half, stopping at the village of Pangboche rather than the customary stopping point of Dingboche - given that this is actually a more effective way of acclimatizing. Today starts off with a striking view of jagged snowy peaks looming behind us as soon as we’ve climbed to the top of Namche Bazaar. Rounding the corner on a beautiful section of open trail that exposes the entire valley, we get our first glimpse of the massive 22,350ft Ama Dablam, with an ornately-painted Buddhist stupa wrapped in prayer flags in the foreground. After a few kilometers, we descend again to the river at the village of Phangi Thenga before crossing the bridge and immediately making the final climb of the day up to Tengboche. Here we enter through a brightly colored gate to find Tengboche Monastery set against a backdrop once more of Ama Dablam, which now appears much closer than before. Take a minute to step inside these peaceful grounds to meet with resident monks and see the elegant paintings, deities and scriptures decorating the site.
Today is short for acclimatization purposes. After crossing the open meadow of Tengboche, we descend once more to the Imja Khola river and cross yet another colorful bridge. A gradual incline takes us through the forest, thinning now as we gain altitude, passing more Buddhist stupas painted with the “Eyes of the Buddha,” said to symbolize peace, harmony, wisdom and conscience, until reaching the quiet village of Pangboche. From our teahouse windows tonight, we will have a front-row view of Ama Dablam, which sits directly opposite the valley of us now.
Today our surroundings change drastically as we leave the treeline behind and ascend steadily up a much drier, sparser terrain than we have seen the previous days. The plant life we cross now consists only of brownish-burgundy colored shrubs, disappearing almost entirely as we cross the river again and ascend a steep, rocky section. Waiting at the top is a massive Buddhist shrine, painted with Eyes of the Buddha that watches over the village of Dingboche below. Despite the harsh-looking landscape, this village flanked on all sides by enormous mountains is a thriving, high-altitude community.
Our climb today is difficult, but necessary. Towering over the village of Dingboche, Nangkartsang Peak is our goal for the day. Ascending to a higher altitude and then returning back down is an important acclimatization precaution to take. The good news? The view from the top is incredible. It’s not every day that you get to sit at eye level with some of the world’s most formidable peaks.
As we continue on the long, gradually-inclined meadow up the valley, we begin to feel absolutely microscopic under the shadow of some of the enormous peaks that now surround us from all sides. We climb gradually until we reach a tiny village of Thokla, after which we steeply ascend just over 800ft to crest Dughla. Coming back onto more level ground, we will pass by many rock cairns wrapped in prayer flags, memorializing past Sherpas and climbers who never returned from their Everest summit. A few gradual kilometers upward later, and we will arrive at the village of Lobuche. Tomorrow, we reach Base Camp.
Time for the final push - today we will stand at the base of the tallest mountain in the world. This section of the valley is notorious for fierce winds, and the barren terrain gradually rises alongside hints of the glacial system connected to Everest. After a few kilometers, we will descend 50m of the lateral moraine of a subsidiary valley’s glacier before climbing back out to our first view of the Khumbu Glacier itself. We are close now. A short hike brings us to the village of Gorak Shep, where we will have lunch, drop our belongings and carry on the remaining three kilometers to Base Camp itself. An hour and a half of fairly easy ups and downs, and suddenly yellow slivers of the Base Camp tents appear, tucked between the crevassed, royal-blue Khumbu Glacier. We make a final descent onto the stable portion of the glacier, and there we stand beneath Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse - forming to create the border between Tibet and Nepal. If it’s quiet enough, you can hear the constant creaking and moaning of the glacial ice constantly moving. After savoring the moment, we return to Gorak Shep for a well-deserved rest.
Here’s the thing - most guides take you up to see Everest from Kala Patthar at sunrise to take a day off of the itinerary, but the sun rises behind the mountain, making pictures difficult. The most stunning views come during sunset, when Everest is in fully-golden light - and you can bet we’re not coming all the way up here for the “second best view” of Everest. Spend the morning relaxing with some hot chai from our tea lodge’s kitchen, reading a good book or exploring around the valley - and we will head out shortly after lunch to make the two-hour steep climb and catch the sunset from the top of Kala Patthar.
Returning down to Lobuche the same way we ascended, we diverge from the customary return path toward the quiet village of Dzongla. We continue gradually downhill, leveling out as cross an expanse of frozen river, and then gradually begin to ascend again around a narrow path etched into the side of the mountain. From here, the valley view is unbelievable. Ama Dablam reappears, mighty as ever, flanked by other massive snowcapped peaks. The trail up to Dughla from Dingboche we took several days back is visible across the valley to our left, trekkers on that route now looking like ants. We continue to round the corner into another valley, with the trail skirting the edge of a steep dropoff to the left. Deep in the valley below, the deep blue waters of Cholatse Tso can be seen. A series of small ascents and descents characterize the next few kilometers before a final climb to Dzongla village. The view of the sunset over Ama Dablam from here is spectacular.
Today is arguably the most difficult route of the entire trek. We will leave early to give ourselves a better chance to cross the 17,600ft pass before afternoon weather has a chance to move in. The initial ascent out of Dzongla is fairly gradual, crossing a rocky field of snow and ice patches to the base of the main ascent. From here, a sharply-inclined, rocky ascent takes us up a ridge before bottle-necking into a section of bouldering over huge, semi-icy rocks up a steep 50 meter section before leveling out onto the glacier that covers the wide final approach to the pass. Depending on conditions here, we will provide microspike for additional traction as we continue up a narrow snow shelf and down onto the glacier. Strange “glacier tables” will appear where ice pillars have remained to support rocks after the surrounding ice has melted away. The side of the glacier can be seen in a gaping cross-section, as if someone has taken a knife to it and sliced it open. A final short but steep push upwards, and we arrive at the pass itself with prayer flags marking the way. A short stop for a packed lunch, and we begin the arduous descent down what appears to just be a massive wall of boulders. Following the cairns along rising and falling sections of moraine for several kilometers, we come to our final ascent of the day, 100m up and over a grassy hill down into the valley we need to follow to reach Dragnag. We follow the river closely on a refreshing descent until we enter this peaceful village with water-powered spinning Buddhist prayer wheels.
After crossing Cho La yesterday, today will feel like a piece of cake. We leave the quiet outskirts of Dragnag village, following an almost imperceptible incline over scrubby terrain and patches of snow, mountains still towering in every direction until we reach the massive Ngozumpa glacier. At 36km in length, Ngozumpa glacier is the longest glacier in the Himalayas, and riveted with crevasses, strangely-shaped water reservoirs at the surface and bizarre ice formations. After descending the terminal moraine, we will cross the glacier in a series of ups and downs before reaching a final, steep ascent up and out - giving us a fantastic view of the village of Goyko below situated on the shores of the turquoise lake that shares the same name. Above it regally sits Gokyo Ri (the peak we will climb tomorrow), and in the distance, Cho Oyu towers, the 6th highest mountain in the world.
Gokyo village, the lake systems and Gokyo Ri are meant to be marveled at, not passed by quickly, so we will take today to summit Gokyo Ri and then use the afternoon to lounge lakeside or explore the other lakes further up the valley. After a good breakfast in our cozy lodge (which, by the way, has a perfect elevated view of the lake from the cafe), we head up for our steady 600m climb to the top of the mountain. The view from the top of Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu, Dudh Pokhari lake below and the sprawling Ngozumpa glacier to the left is unforgettable. After we return for lunch, we can spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring another lake further up the valley toward Cho Oyu.
Finally, we begin our several-day descent back toward civilization. We pass by the shores of two smaller Gokyo lakes, Taboche Tsho and Longponga Tsho, and continue on down the steep valley alongside the river that originates from the lakes above. Passing grazing yak herds and small stone huts for traveling shepherds, we finally make a steep descent into the village of Machhermo for lunch. Climbing back out of this dip, we then continue our gradual descent along a slope that gives you a panoramic view of the valley, eventually changing from scrubby bushes into a few patches of trees. By the time we reach Dole, we will have descended enough to the rhododendron forest views we climbed out of so many days ago.
We continue our descent down through increasingly thicker undergrowth and forest until (surprise) we start hiking right back up again to a picture-perfect little lunch spot of Mongla village, balanced on a little outcropping between two valleys and overseen by a Buddhist stupa. The rest of the day is a breeze, descending comfortably to the village of Kyangjuma, where residents often have handicrafts, traditional jewelry and homemade yak cheese displayed for sale outside their homes. This marks our return to the main EBC route.
Time for a trip down memory lane - we will now retrace our steps back through Namche Bazaar, down to the suspension bridges and valley floor below until reaching Phakding, where we spent our first night in the Solukhumbu region so many days ago.
Today we’ll lace up one last time, passing back by the mani stones and prayer wheels that stole our hearts on our first day of trekking - and then, just like that, the adventure is done. Time to celebrate, rest up, and catch our flight the next morning.
Spend today however you want - we’ve got your hotel covered. Eat & drink with our crew, nap all day, explore Kathmandu’s endless alleyways and sacred religious sights - it’s up to you!
In the case of inclement weather or other complications. We keep this reserve day as part of our itinerary for times when we may need to wait out the weather.
Fly out of Kathmandu to Delhi or elsewhere.
Handcrafted & Curated
We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.
Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.
Equipment & Safety
4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.
Personalised & Bespoke
We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.
Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.
Self Guided & Operated
We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.