We arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. Those on Land Only arrangements will join us in the evening at the hotel.
Today is free for sightseeing in Kathmandu. You may wish to visit Durbar Square in the heart of the old city where the old Royal Palace, with its intricate woodcarving is located. Outside is Kumari Chowk, home of the Kumari, the young girl who is revered as a living goddess. The whole area is a maze of temples and images. Alternatively you may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Bodnath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. Various sightseeing tours can be booked and paid for locally. For more details of all of these optional activities please refer to the Optional Excursions section. There will also be a full trek briefing today.
We fly to the mountain airstrip of Lukla (2800m), and head northwards up the valley of the Dudh Kosi (or 'milk river'). We descend from the small plateau, down into the forested valley. The trail crosses several tributary streams and we have some tantalising views before reaching the small settlement of Phakding (2650m), where we will spend our first night.
We follow the Dudh Kosi north, crossing from one bank to the other throughout the day. Heading out of Phakding, we first cross to the west bank, climbing high above the river. This day's walk takes us through magnificent forests of rhododendron, giant fir and magnolia trees. In spring and autumn the ground is bright with flowers. After Jorsale (2800m) the trail climbs over a spur and alongside a moss-govered cliff, to cross the west fork of the river, and start the steep climb to Namche Bazaar, headquarters for the Mount Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park as well as a prosperous Sherpa village and an important trading centre.
We climb steeply out of Namche to the Everest View Hotel.This spectacularly situated hotel with wonderful views of Everest and Ama Dablam is an ideal place for a tea break. Continuing, we trek to the villages of Kunde and Khumjung set below Khumbila, the rocky peak sacred to all Sherpas. In Kunde we can visit the Edmund Hillary hospital,and there should also be time to visit the monastery in Khumjumg, where for a small donation we will be shown the only Yeti skull in the world! Descending to the main trail we spend the night at Kyanjuma.
From Namche Bazaar the trail climbs eastwards and follows the Dudh Kosi again, high above the riverbed. We descend gradually to the village of Teshinga, after which the trail drops more steeply to the river, crossing it at Phunki Tenga at 3,250m. Here the flow of water is used for both secular and sacred tasks, turning several flour mills as well as a series of prayer wheels. Climbing steeply we enter the forest and continue up to Thyangboche at 3,870m. From here we have a fantastic panorama of mountains surrounding us including Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. Thyangboche has long been a sacred spot. Visitors should be careful to respect the spirit of this sacred place, particularly observing the ban on hurting any living creature in the area. Because of the ban the wildlife is usually unafraid and previous groups have spotted musk deer in the area. Although the monastery was burned down a few years ago, the reconstruction is now complete, thanks to a magnificent fund raising effort on the part of Sir Edmund Hillary
The trail from Thyangboche leads downhill through a forest of conifers, birch and rhododendrons. The trail passes the nunnery at Deboche to cross a bridge over the Imja Khola, whose valley we now follow. The trail then enters Pangboche, at 3900m, the highest permanent settlement in this valley. We are above the tree line now. A short steep climb brings us to Dingboche, at 4530m. Dingboche is a summer settlement and here the great peaks of Ama Dablam, the ridge of Nuptse-Lhotse, Tawoche and Chalotse surround us.
We spend this day at Dingboche to continue our acclimatisation. Those who are adapting well to the altitude can climb Nangkartshang Peak at 5100m. From this hill the views are even more spectacular - Chalotse and Tawoche tower above us, Ama Dablam rears up across the valley and in the distance we can see Makalu.
The trail ascends the valley gently towards Island Peak and Chhukung, a small settlement at 4730m. From Chhukung we will ascend Chhukung Ri (5546m) and from here we can look directly across the valley to the fantastic snow and ice formations on Ama Dablam and the Amphu Labsa.
An early start for a tough and very long day as we cross our first pass. We turn away from the main valley and head up a side valley towards the Kongma La. As we ascend the scenery becomes increasingly spectacular as the ridge of Nuptse appears above us. We can see the glaciers of Kongmatse ahead and the rocky peak of Pokalde is to our left. Finally we reach a small lake before the last steep scramble to the top of the pass. From the top (5535m), we are surrounded by peaks and glaciers in all directions. The descent is long and steep and finally brings us to the Khumbu glacier, which we must cross at the end of the day to reach Lobuje (4930m) a tiny years (yak pasture) with a few teahouses in the summer. The sunset on Nuptse towering above us is not to be missed.
Another long day so we start very early, following the Khumbu Glacier northwards to Gorak Shep (5,180m). After a rest we trek across the sandy flat at Gorak Shep and climb onto the lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. The trail ascends the side of the glacier for a couple of hours before descending onto the rocky glacial moraine itself. The trail winds up and down through fascinating ice seracs to the area known as Everest Base Camp, where in spring, we may see some of the expedition teams as they prepare to summit the mountain. From the Base Camp we get fantastic close up views of the Khumbu Ice Fall. Nuptse towers above us and Pumori rears up behind us.We retrace our steps to Gorak Shep
This morning we climb steeply above Gorak Shep to the small peak of Kala Pattar, 'Black Rock', at 5,545m, from where we can look down over the camps of the various Everest expeditions. This climb affords a most magnificent view of the Khumbu Glacier and above all a close-up view of the world's highest mountain. We return to Gorak Shep and retrace our steps to Lobuje. (Please note that due to bad weather we may change the order in which we do the walks to Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar).
Following the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier we head down the valley before turning off above the Chola Tso Lake towards our next pass, the Cho La. Above us are the twin peaks of Tawoche and Chalotse. We stay tonight in the small basic tea house at Dzongla. For the energetic there will be a chance en route to ascend Awi Peak (5245m), a little known viewpoint but well worth the effort for the views across to Everest Base Camp.
The ascent of the Cho La is very steep and not easy, especially in heavy snow conditions. At the top of the pass (5420m) we cross the icy sloping surface of the glacier - a true mountain experience - as snow peaks and glaciers now surround us. Initially the descent is very steep and then the trail becomes easier as we finally reach the lodges at Tangnak where we stay tonight.
An easy day as we climb onto the terminal moraine of the Ngozumpo Glacier, which is the largest in the Nepal Himalaya. A magnificent walk across the glacier brings us to Longpongo, the first of the glacial lakes. A short walk then brings us to the summerhouses and walled meadows set next to the azure blue lake at Gokyo (4750m). There is time this afternoon to rest and take in the views or the energetic may want to explore further up the Gokyo Valley.
A day to explore the magnificent scenery at Gokyo. There is a chance to ascend Gokyo Ri (5360m.) which is set above the lake and enjoys probably the most magnificent mountain panorama in the Khumbu. Mountains surround us and include four of the seven highest peaks in the Nepal Himalaya: Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. It is also possible to visit some more glacial lakes further north towards Cho Oyu Base Camp.
Leaving this wonderful desolate mountain arena we climb up the steep barren rocky path to our last pass, the Renzo La (5345m). From the top the views are truly magnificent. We can still see Everest in all its glory surrounded by Nupste, Lhotse and Makalu. Gokyo Lake is a tiny pinprick way below us and, looking over the pass are the peaks of Rolwaling. We pass Rermo Lake and continue on down to Lungden for the night.
An easy day as we descend further to meet the trail from the Nangpa La, which leads into Tibet, and we may well meet Tibetan traders, with their caravans of yaks laden with carpets, salt and hides. Following the Bhote Kosi Valley we head south to Thame with its spectacular monastery. From Thame we follow the valley down to Namche.
We have some free time in Namche this morning and late morning we leave and retrace our steps down through Jorsale and Monzo to Phakding.
We follow the main trail back down the valley to Lukla.
We fly back to Kathmandu and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Today is free in Kathmandu for last minute sightseeing or shopping.
The trip ends after breakfast.