Arrive Kathmandu in the early evening and transfer to the Royal Singi 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. Leading away from the square in all directions are narrow alleys, full of the most amazing variety of shops and stalls. Alternatively you may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambunath, one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world at Bodnath, or the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. Sightseeing tours can be booked locally. Please see the Optional Excursions section. There will also be a full trek briefing today.
We fly to the mountain airstrip of Lukla (2,800m), and set off on the first short leg of our trek, heading northwards up the valley of the Dudh Kosi (or 'milk river'). We descend from the small plateau, down into the forested valley. The trail offers some tantalising views before reaching the small settlement of Phakding (2,652m), where we spend our first night.
Heading out of Phakding we follow the Dudh Kosi northwards. This day's walk takes us through magnificent forests of rhododendron, giant fir and magnolia trees, and both in spring and autumn the ground is bright with flowers. After Jorsale (2,805m) we cross the west fork of the river, the Bhote Kosi, and start the steep climb to Namche Bazaar. About 300m up this ascent we should have our first glimpse, cloud-permitting, of the summit of Everest appearing majestically behind the great ridge of Nuptse-Lhotse. Another 300m of climbing brings us to Namche Bazaar, administrative centre of the Khumbu region. Namche is a prosperous Sherpa village and an important trading centre with a weekly market selling fresh foodstuffs brought up from lower villages.
We climb steeply out of Namche to the Everest View Hotel. Built by the Japanese 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.
This morning we descend to the river; we cross it at the little settlement of Phunki Thangkha at 3,250m, then climb steeply through the forest to Thyangboche at 3,867m. We will be here by lunchtime and in the afternoon we will visit the famous monastery and to watch the sunset on the fantastic panorama of mountains surrounding us. Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam provide a wonderful backdrop to our teahouse. Visitors should be careful to respect the spirit of this special place, by observing the ban on hurting any living creature in the area. Because of the ban, the wildlife is unusually unafraid and previous groups have spotted musk deer in the area
Day 8 - 9
We descend through the forest to Devoche and a little further on we cross the rushing Imja Khola, whose valley we now follow. Climbing steadily the trail enters Pangboche, at 3,900m, the highest permanent settlement in this valley. Ascending the valley we have lunch at Shomore, after which we leave the trees behind and cross a wooden bridge at the confluence of the Khumbu and Imja Kholas, A short steep climb brings us to Dingboche, at 4,530m, a summer settlement where great peaks surround us. We spend a day at Dingboche to continue our acclimatisation. Those adapting well to the altitude can climb Nangkartshang Peak at 5,100m for great views of Makalu, Lhotse, Chalotse, Tawoche and Ama Dablam.
The trail climbs steeply out of Dingboche past a chorten and ascends the valley gradually to Dugla at the end of the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. From here we have a short, steep climb up to Chukpo Lari, a beautiful, yet poignant place where there is a line of memorials in tribute to the climbers who have died on Everest and from where we have a beautiful panorama of the peaks lying on the Nepal-Tibet border. The trail then eases off as we follow the valley to Lobuje (4,930m) a tiny hamlet with a few teahouses. The sunset on Nuptse is not to be missed.
A very long, hard day today as we leave very early, following the Khumbu Glacier northwards to Gorak Shep (5,180m). After a rest and something to eat 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 finally 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 might see some of the expedition teams as they prepare to climb the mountain. From the Base Camp we get fantastic close up views of the Khumbu Ice Fall and we can appreciate just how difficult it is to negotiate a route through the huge blocks of ice. Nuptse towers above us and Pumori rears up behind us. After a short photo stop we retrace our steps to Gorak Shep
Another hard day as 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 base 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 for lunch and then continue on down the valley to the lower altitude of Pheriche for the night. BH (Please note that the walk to Everest Base Camp and the climb of Kala Pattar are both tough. Sometimes we may change the order in which we tackle the walks depending on the group's ability and weather conditions).
Day 13 - 15
Descending through Pheriche, we cross a small bridge and have a short climb before descending to join the main Imja Khola Valley. We follow the valley down to Pangboche through an alpine meadow landscape. We drop down to the rushing river then walk through the peaceful rhododendron forests to the village of Devoche from where we climb back up to Thyangboche on the ridge. We descend off the ridge to Phunki Tenga and walk back to Namche Bazaar along a beautiful undulating trail high above the Dudh Kosi. Descending through Namche Bazaar, we pick up our outward trail again towards Chaunrikhara. Here we leave the main trail and climb the short distance to the airstrip at Lukla.
We fly back to Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel.
Day free in Kathmandu for individual sightseeing.
End Kathmandu after breakfast. Those on the group flight will leave for the airport after breakfast.