To witness the highest mountain in the world was until recently a privilege that very few had in their lifetime. Either you were born into the harsh and demanding life of the high Himalaya slopes in Nepal, or you were amongst the best alpine climbers on the planet, dispatched to these remote mountain valleys with the support and funding of military-scale operations. It is an unprecedented luxury of the 21st century that you too could see the top of the world with your own eyes.
The journey starts in mysterious Kathmandu, where the streets are filled with fearsome statues, ancient Hindu temples and serene Buddhist stupas. From the hustle and bustle of the city that’s grown too big for its own good, we’ll fly you straight into the mountains, where even the biggest settlements have hardly made a dent in the grandiosity of the local landscapes.
Day in and day out you’ll be venturing down winding paths, passing through windswept villages where time has seemingly frozen. The Buddhist monasteries and chörtens rising from the mountain ridges, Mani Walls and prayer flags lining the roads will be a constant reminder of your departure from the Hindu lowlands. Gradually the icy peaks towering above you will become more numerous and you will have a chance to see not only Mt. Everest, but a handful of the highest mountains in the world.
Unlike the mountain lovers of yesteryear, you don’t have to rough it, battling with constant exposure and cold damage. We will take shelter in cosy guesthouses, huddling around the fire to keep the chill of the mountains away. Even a steaming cup of hot chocolate and mouth-meltingly fresh apple pie are not too much to ask for.
DAY 1: Kathmandu (Arrival) ( Altitude : 4,428ft )
We will be welcoming you in the airport to assure your hassle-free arrival and convenient hotel transfer. In case you have forgotten a piece or two of the recommended equipment,, be it a pair of woolen socks or a head-torch, Kathmandu with its hundreds of trekking shops might just be the perfect place in the world to stock yourself up.
DAY 2: Kathmandu - Lukla flight - Phakding ( Altitude : 9,184ft )
A short flight through the mountains will lift you out of the swarm of motorbikes of Kathmandu valley to Lukla, where you’ll be introduced to your porters and guide. An easy first day walk will see you descend towards Dudhkoshi Ghat (2,530m / 8,300ft), from where you’ll be following the bank of the Dudhkoshi River all the way to Phakding (2,652m / 8,700ft). Our acclimatization process begins with this first night in Phakding and you’ll have free time to explore the surroundings at your own leisure.
DAY 3 : Phakding - Namche Bazaar ( Altitude : 11,283ft )
After a hearty breakfast in Phakding we’ll start our hike up towards Namche Bazaar, the biggest Sherpa village in Nepal and the resting point for every Mt. Everest climbing expedition heading to the mountain from its South side. We will first cross the Dudhkoshi River via a long suspension bridge, one of many of these highly appreciated shortcuts crossing the deep gorges and wild riverbeds of the Himalaya. A two hour walk through the lovely pine forests will take us to Monjo and soon after that we’ll be officially entering the Sagarmatha National Park. We’ll now descend down to the Dudhkoshi River and stop for a lunch in Jorsale, before starting a long uphill crawl to Namche. We promise the climb will be worth it, once the village comes into the view, perched in a sort of a natural amphitheatre.
DAY 4 : Namche Bazaar : Acclimatization & Rest Day ( Altitude : 11,283ft )
We’ll stop in Namche Bazaar for a day to help our bodies acclimatize to the constantly increasing altitude. A two hour hike will take you up to the Everest View Point, highly encouraged not only for the views but also the extra boost to acclimatization it will give you. If you’re really not up to it, don’t worry, there is plenty to do and see in Namche itself. The Sherpa museum will give you a fascinating overview into the Sherpa culture and the history of high Himalaya mountaineering here. If we’re lucky enough to stop in Namche on a Saturday, you’ll be able to see the hustle and bustle of Hatt Bazaar, where the village people barter for goods. And remember the woollen socks and the head-torch that you possibly forgot to pick up in Kathmandu? Here’s your last chance - even Namche Bazaar has a number of (trekking) shops for any of your last-minute equipment and snack needs.
DAY 5 : Namche Bazaar - Tengboche ( Altitude : 12,684ft )
Departing from Namche, we’ll leave the civilization behind for good. If the weather is good, our hike will be blessed with breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam and others. From Namche Bazaar we’ll drop down for a river crossing and from there you’ll have to brace yourself for a long continuous uphill towards the forest pass. Once again, the effort will be more than worth it once the village of Tengboche comes into view. It’s not for nothing that this location is known as one of the most beautiful in the region. The gorgeous peak of Ama Dablam that looms high above the village is considered by many to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing mountains in the world. The Tengboche monastery, one of the largest in Khumbu, looks like something out of a distant fairy tale. Unlike in a fairy tale, we’ll be able to explore this religious sanctuary, letting the chants of the Buddhist monks carry us away to a different world.
DAY 6 : Tengboche - Dingboche ( Altitude : 14,435ft )
The crooked rhododendron forest will see us off to Deboche, after which we’ll cross another river, this time the raging Imja Khol. After traversing the plains for a while, we’ll stop for a lunch in Pangboche, the biggest Sherpa village in this region. The high-spirited ones can undertake a brief further hike to the ancient Pangboche monastery. The second part of the day can be somewhat arduous, when the landscape changes into deserted dry mountains that lead us into Dingboche.
DAY 7 : Dingboche : Acclimatization & Rest Day ( Altitude : 14,435ft )
Dingboche will be our last full day of rest before setting out for the Everest Base Camp itself. If you’re full of energy and acclimatizing well, feel free to spend the day exploring Dingboche and its surrounding valleys of Chhukung and Imja. Serious expeditions can continue from here across the high passes of Amphu Laptsa and into the adjacent Makalu Barun National Park. Having a thorough rest is the priority of the day though to accumulate strength for the remaining two days of ascent.
DAY 8 : Dingboche - Lobuche ( Altitude : 16,076 ft )
The hike will only get more challenging from here on, if not for the difficult terrain, then for the constantly increasing altitude and the consequential lack of oxygen. A steep tough walk will take us to the top of a high hill, where the memorial stupas, dedicated to the climbers and enthusiasts who have lost their lives to Everest over the years, stand in mournful silence. Through the craggy mountain terrain we’ll then make our way to Lobuche, to be awarded with majestic views of Mt. Lobuche, Mt. Pumari and the Nuptse. You’ll definitely feel the icy chill of the Himalaya nights by now, if not before, so make sure you snuggle up tight for a long cold night ahead.
DAY 9 : Lobuche - Gorak Shep - Everest Base Camp , EBC back to Gorak Shep ( Altitude : 16,994ft )
Make sure you keep your eyes open and all senses fully awake today - hopefully you’ll be reliving this day over and over in your memories many years down the road. After an initial relatively straightforward trek to Gorak Shep, we’ll leave our main bags behind and continue towards the Everest Base Camp proper. We’ll be scrambling over rocky dunes and moraine banks, formed from the thousands of tons of natural debris that the massive Khumbu Glacier has spit out on its slow crawl. Depending on the time of the year, the Everest Base Camp itself will either be an empty stretch of moraine slopes under the towering icy giants, or a makeshift tent city with dozens of expeditions gearing up for an attempt on Everest’s infinitely rising slopes. We’ll head back to the relative comforts of Gorak Shep for another cold but gorgeous night.
DAY 10 : Gorak Shep - Kalapatthar, and back down to Pheriche ( Altitude : 18,192ft )
We’ll set out in the pre-dawn duskiness today to hike towards the 5,545m Kalapatthar Peak, famous for its ‘first row seats’ of the absolutely stunning sunrise over Mt. Everest. You’ll see the Nuptse Nup, Changtse and Lhotse as if burn in heavenly fire, when the day’s first sunrays creep over the horizon to bathe the mountains in their warm glow. Hope you didn’t forget to charge your camera’s batteries as you’ll surely beat yourself over the head forever if you only discover now that they’re all empty. After this spectacular show we’ll return to Gorak Shep for hot tea and breakfast and set the course back down towards the civilization. By now we will have acclimatized to the rarified air and on our way back down we’ll be almost flying, compared to the grueling pace we first had to reach up here to the roof of the world. We’ll stop for a night in Pheriche.
DAY 11 : Pheriche - Namche ( Altitude : 11,284ft )
The return march from Pheriche to Tengboche will continue mainly downhill, though there will be a hour of climbing back up on the way, just so you wouldn’t get too lazy. We should be able to reach Namche Bazaar by late afternoon and you’ll be able to send off a quick e-mail to the close ones back home to announce your successful journey.
DAY 12 : Namche - Phakding - Lukla ( Altitude : 9,184ft )
We’ll retrace back the same difficult steps we had so slowly taken only ten days before, when beginning our journey. But these ten days might as well feel like half a lifetime away now, such has been the impact and the grandiosity of the unbelievable mountain landscapes we have witnessed by now. Our last night in Lukla, and in the mountains, will draw to a close with a party in the Tea House to celebrate your safe return from the realms of the Gods.
DAY 13 : Lukla - Kathmandu ( Altitude : 4428ft )
Another short flight will carry you back to Kathmandu. The city that looked positively ancient less than two weeks ago will probably feel like a gargantuan megalopolis after the past days of quiet and solitude. You’ll be taken back to your hotel for some more much-needed rest and we will all rejoin again in the evening for a lovely farewell dinner in one of the fanciest Nepalese joints in the town.
DAY 14 : Kathmandu - Departure Day ( Altitude : 4,428ft)
Now is the time to fill every remaining nook and cranny in your luggage with exotic souvenirs for home. Or perhaps you need a fast fix for the gear that’s broken down or ripped apart in the mountains. Whatever it is you need, we’ll make sure you’ll reach the Kathmandu International Airport with plenty of time to spare before your flight. And now it’s truly the time for final goodbyes, or perhaps not... if you choose to Alpine Wander with us again one day!
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