Nepal itinerary

Wedged between the high Himalaya and the steamy Indian plains, Nepal is a land of snow peaks and Sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries and mantras.

Waiting for our plane to Kathmandu at Dubai International Airport.

Day 1

Thamel Marg, main shopping street and tourist area in Thamel district of Kathmandu.

Days 2-3

Lukla airport. Just arrived here on the first morning flight from Kathmandu, with surprisingly perfect weather and very smooth flight.

Day 4

  • first morning flight to Lukla (2840 m) - Yeti Airlines
    • left hand side of the plane for best mountain views
  • trek to (not Phakding) Monjo (2840 m) or Jorsalle (2740 m) - 5 hours
    • Jorsalle - lovely "Nirvana Garden" lodge
    • Phakding is used more by the large organised groups

First suspension bridge crossing over the Dudh Kosi River on the way to Namche.

Day 5

  • Monjo/Jorsalle to Namche Bazaar (3440 m) - 4 hours
    • suspension bridges and first glimpses of Everest just after Jorsalle
    • tough - walk slowly up the last hill
  • night: Khumbu Lodge? (from The Three Passes Trek)

Hillary Memorial Chortens on the way to Khunde Ri.

Day 6

  • acclimatisation day
  • Saturday market in Namche, where trade took place in between locals for daily used goods - good place to stock up on (fake) trekking gear
  • hike above the town's monastery to a series of rock paintings of Khumbu Yul-lha, the protector deity who resides on the mountain that rises behind Namche Bazaar
  • hike to Syangboche / Khunde / Khunde Ri (4200 m) / Khumjung / Everest View Hotel
    • on the way out of Namche - small gompa (Buddhist monastery) - not always open, only one monk staying there
    • Syangboche - airport, everest view
    • Khunde village - monastery and hospital (can buy Diamox)
    • Hillary Memorial Chortens (stupas) - just 20 minutes up the hill behind Khunde Monastery
    • Khumjung - Monastery (yeti scalp), Hillary Memorial/School
    • Everest View Hotel (3880 m) - lunch and views of Mt Everest


Stupa and entrance to Tengboche Monastery.

Day 7

  • Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3860 m) - 6 hours
  • "easy" path via Chhorkung, which is at the northeastern edge of Upper Namche
    • trail follows a ridge round and before long insane drops to the river and stupendous views of Ama Dablam and Everest
    • rhododendron forest and pheasant in the undergrowth
  • Tengboche - a hub for big groups, often fully booked, not very friendly welcome for individual trekkers
  • Tengboche Monastery - spiritual center of the Khumbu - home to the largest gompo (a Buddhist ecclesiastical fortification of learning)
    • morning prayers (puja) in the monastery (daily at 6:30 am and again around 3 pm)
    • Mani Rimdu (full moon) Festival
  • side hike to prayer flags

Ama Dablam Base Camp.

Day 8

  • Tengboche to Pangboche (3930 m) - 2 hours
    • upper Pangboche - charming traditional Sherpa village on the hillside above
    • Pangboche Monastery - yeti scalp and hand
  • side hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp (4570 m) - 3-5 hours

Dingboche stupa.

Day 9

  • Pangboche to Dingboche (4410 m) - 3 hours
  • side hike to Nangkartshang Peak (5083 m) - 4 hours
    • Nangkartshang Peak - excellent view of Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu; 45 minutes to former meditation retreat, another 30 minutes for the "peak"
    • nunnery
    • Pheriche (not really on the way) - The Himalayan Rescue Association - seminar about high altitude acclimatization (4200m)
    • French bakery in Dingboche

Way to Chhukkung Ri.

Day 10

  • Dingboche to Chhukhung (4730 m) - 2 hours
    • Chukhung consists of two teahouses (last before Island Peak), both are well equipped and serve awesome food
    • you can rent technical equipment, like crampons, hard sole boots, a harness, jumar, ice axes and helmets in Chukhung
  • side hike to Chhukhung Ri (5550 m)

Way to Island Peak.

Day 11

  • rest day, or directly to Island Peak base camp if all well
  • side hike towards Amphu Labtsa pass (~5500 m)

Island Peak Base Camp

Island Peak Base Camp.

Day 12

  • Chhukhung to Island Peak Base Camp (5087 m) - 4 hours
    • base camp is cut off from a fresh water supply (the nearest water is about an hour walk back down the valley)
  • Alpine refresher

Stunning panorama of Himalayas from the top of Island Peak at 6,189 metres.

Day 13

  • Island Peak summit (6189 m), return to Chhukhung - 8-10 hours
  • alternatively: Chhukung Ri (5535 m) or Chhukung Tse (5833 m) (great views!)

Carefully negotiating slippery path after crossing the first pass, Kongma La at 5,535 metres.

Day 14

  • Chhukhung to Kongma La Pass (5535m) to Lobuche (4910m)/Italian Pyramid - 9 hours
  • cross Khumbu Glacier
  • night:
    • Sherpa Lodge at Lobuche, or
    • extra 1.3 km (80 m D+, 30 min) to Italian Pyramid - one of hidden secret is to stay overnight in Italian Pyramid instead of Lobuche (or Gorakshep). The price is almost the same as in Lobuche or Gorakshep (about 4000 rupees/person, but it includes food, shower and WiFi, and the conditions are much better than in lodges). And reportedly you should be polite when asking for the room, for rude or very-rich-looking trekkers they have prohibitive tariffs.

Kala Patthar.

Day 15

  • Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5160 m) - 4 hours
  • Kala Patthar for sunset (5643m) - +3 hours
    • one of the highest points in the Himalaya that can be reached without any technical climbing skills
    • home to the worlds highest webcam
    • not very early (sun rises behind Mt Everest), try to make it for sunset
    • Everest views are the best you can get from anywhere as a trekker - Everest bathed in golden sunlight, also giant peaks of Numptse, Changtse and Lhotse
    • clouds often roll in towards the afternoon and you'll probably be safer heading up around late morning when you get the brightest light
  • Buddha Lodge disappointing

Everest Base Camp.

Day 16

  • Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (5340 m), back to Gorak Shep - 5 hours
  • night at EBC if possible?

On the way from Lobuche to Dzongla.

Day 17

  • Gorak Shep to Lobuche to Dzongla (4830m) - 6 hours
    • stunning alpine lake Chola-Tsho on the left
  • morning Kala Patthar (5643 m) if didn't work on day 15

Cho La Pass.

Day 18

  • Dzongla to Cho La pass (5420 m) to Thangnak (4700 m) - 7 hours
    • often considered the hardest day of the trek - Cho La pass is supposedly the hardest pass of the three, most technical (but most popular of the Everest region high passes)
    • earlyish start, to avoid the strong winds on the pass and stones falling from the cliffs
    • famous prayer flags as you near the top of the pass
    • view of Ama Dablam and Cholatse is awesome
  • Thangnak - lovely lodge and great food
  • push on to Gokyo?

Gokyo and part of 3rd Gokyo Lake as seen from a path up Kala Patthar.

Day 19

  • Thangnak to Gokyo (4790 m) - 4 hours
    • cross Ngozumba Glacier (no evident trail, but if you can spot cairns, you can cross the glacier) or round way through Nha
  • late afternoon Gokyo Ri ascent (5480 m) for sunset over the glimmering Gokyo Lakes
    • one of the best views in Nepal - of Mount Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho-Oyu, Gyachung Kang and Makalu
  • night: Resort Lodge/Cho Oyu View in Gokyo

6th Gokyo Lake.

Day 20

  • trek to 5th (or even 6th) Lake
    • along Ngozumba Glacier (largest glacier in Nepal)
    • Knobby View, Nameless Fangs (5800 m)
    • a "trail" exists on the side of the mountains and past the 5 lakes, the harder but more picturesque walking is on the lip of the glacier itself
    • more info here and here
  • possibly evening descent to Thangnak (saving 1 day) - 4 hours

One of the heavily loaded yaks transporting supplies to mountain huts.

OPTION 1 - continue with 3 passes

Day 21

  • Gokyo to Renjo La Pass (5465 m) to Lungden (4600 m) - 8 hours
  • push on to Thame (3800 m) ?
    • Thame - good choice of lodges, and great Buddhist monastery

Day 22

  • Lungden/Thame to Namche Bazaar (3440 m) - 6 hours
  • Thame Monastery

A monk passing by Gokyo First Lake (Longpongo Tsho) on his way from Gokyo down to Namche Bazaar.

OPTION 2 - skip 3rd pass

Day 21

  • Gokyo to Machermo (4470 m) or Dole (4200 m) - 5 hours
  • early morning Gokyo Ri if didn't work on day 19

Day 22

  • Machermo/Dole to Namche Bazaar (3440 m) - 6 hours

Sizzling yak steak back down in Namche, once it is relatively safe to eat meat again.

Day 23

On-trail buffer day.

Blooming rhododendrons. Our tormented spirits soared when we started seeing green around us again.

Day 24

  • Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2800 m) - 7 hours
  • night: The Sunrise Lodge at Lukla (the owner has some “power” with the airlines and will even accompany you to the office to make sure your name appears on the list and also go to the airport the next morning to minimise any problems you might incur)

Lukla Airport.

Day 25

  • first morning flight back to Kathmandu - Yeti Airlines
    • right hand side of the plane for best mountain views

Swayambhunath Temple.

Days 26-28

  • buffer days
  • visit Kathmandu and area
    • Thamel District - centre of the tourist district, hub of activity and shops, littered with shops, cafes and hotels
    • Durbar Square - world heritage site, heart of the city with a large number of temples and the house of the Kumari, the living goddess, try to visit during Saturday morning market
    • Hindu Cremation Shrines
    • Swayambhunath Temple (Monkey Temple) - world heritage site, most sacred site for Nepalese Buddhists, lose yourself in the alleyways and courtyards of the city it's still a magical place
    • Boudhanath Stupa - most sacred site for Tibetan Buddhists, s large Tibetan community
    • Pashupatinath Temple - the holy place alongside the dirty Bagmati river where the people of KTM burn their dead
    • Bhaktapur - take a taxi for an hour drive there - well worth a day there
    • Patan - across the river from Kathmandu, finest temples in all of Nepal
    • Lumbini - birthplace of Buddha, one of the most revered places in the Buddhist landscape
    • Kopan Monastery
  • night: Kathmandu Eco Hotel

Waiting for our plane to take us back home.

Day 29

  • fly back home

Full route

Route map for 3 Passes Trek Nepal by Maciej Zgadzaj on