For all the hikers and enthusiasts out there, the Everest Base camp/ Cho La Pass Trek is the ultimate entry on their bucket list. Trailing through the hypnotic beauty of Nepali Himalayas, travelers all around the world seek to touch at least the feet of the highest peak in the world. Join us along the foothills of the Himalayas, amble along steep valleys, enjoy the occasional Sherpa lunch and attempt to take in all the beauty the Mahalangoor range has to offer. The journey to Cho La Pass Trek, in all its entirety, is nothing but absolutely mind-blowing.
Experience the real-life Shangri La…
Day 1: Kathmandu to Lukla- 45 min flight. Trek to Phakding(2610m): 3-4 hours
We start the trip early morning in a small (15-20 seaters) plane from the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. The windows are small, but the views outside aren’t. You will fly along magnificent Nepal hills, looked by snow-capped mountains, and protected by beautiful clouds. Let me warn you, Lukla airport is a bit terrifying. But once you land, the thrill of making it is in itself pretty amazing.
The hike starts this very day. We will be guided through the hills to Phakding (2610m), a short 3-hour trek. Phakding is actually at a lower altitude than Lukla. This is intentional because we want to hike high and sleep low to acclimatize to the altitude. We will walk through suspension bridges, rocky steps, and some raw tracks. Talking with the occasional Sherpa and marveling at yaks we will reach a Phakding tea house— our home for the night.
Day 2: Phakding to Namche Bazaar(3,440m): 4-5 hours
After spending the night in Phakding, we will head out after breakfast to Namche (3440m). The trail is similar to yesterday, but we have a lot more altitude to gain and a lot more suspension bridges to cross. We will walk along the Dudukoshi river with yaks, mules, and Sherpa kids going to school (amazing right?). Occasional waterfalls and numerous small Buddhist stupas will greet you along the way.
The hike is about 3-4 hours long but once you reach there, you will have forgotten the struggle of walking. The hypnotic Namche Bazaar is full of alpine houses of brilliant uncountable colors. Complete with modern-day amenities, this Sherpa town is rightly named: The Gateway to Everest. We will sleep here, right under the Mahalangoor range and Everest herself.
Day 3: Experience Khumjung: Acclimatization day
This day is kept for acclimatization, we don’t want to get sick up there! We will hike to the village of Khumjung- the most beautiful village in the Khumbu region. We will hike as high as Syangboche (3790m) and reach the village at around noon. The green rooftops of houses in Khumjung seem to blend in with the landscape creating a profound sense of oneness with nature. I assure you; it is a scene you will never forget. If the weather is clear, we will also have our first close-up view of Everest from Syanboche airport.
After experiencing more sceneries than our body was made to see in a day, we will return to a warm dinner in Namche.
Day 4: Tengboche(3,860m) and Pyangboche: 6-7 hours
We will start early; we have lots of ground to cover today. After breakfast, we will start our journey up to Tengboche (3860m). The trail isn’t very steep, there may be yak traffic jams(!!) and you will find a lot of natural water sources on the way. Tengboche offers a majestic view of Kwangde, Tawachee, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, and Amadablam mountains. This place is arguably the best viewpoint on the Everest Base camp trail, and you are sure to feel one with the mountains here. The monastery is also absolutely stunning, and you can experience the vulture of people living in this beautiful village.
After processing the scenery, we will move on. Walking along the side of Imja Khola, we will reach Pyangboche: the highest all-year settlement in the region.
Fun fact: Pyangboche gompa is considered the oldest in the region and is said to contain the skull of a yeti’s head. This hike is quite long so we will spend a warm night here and rest.
Day 5: Amadablam Base camp: Acclimatization day
Our first base camp on this trek is actually not the Everest Base camp. This is a lesser-known itinerary with a lot more to offer. Today, we will acclimatize by hiking up to the Amadablam Base Camp (4600m). Amadablam is often regarded to be more beautiful than Everest. Be ready to be dazzled, this magnificent mountain will take your breath away.
After the 5-hour return hike through hilltops and riverside, we will spend the night back in Pangboche.
Day 6: Dingboche (4,410m)
Up ahead, we have a fairly difficult 2-day hike up to Lobuche. On the first day, we will hike up to Dingboche(4410m). We are gaining about 500m today so a little headache is normally expected. The trail is a sloping valley. Trees slowly fade away as we start reaching the alpine region above the tree line. The first night will be spent in Dingboche.
Day 7: Lobuche (4,930m): 5-6 hours
The second day is a 5-hour trek to Lobuche (4,930). We are already a week into this trek! The trail on the moraine of the Khumbu glacier is steep, rocky and there’s a decent chance of snow. At Lobuche, the sunset through Nuptse is the highlight of this day. The view will make your heart warm despite the cold and instill in you a sense of reward for all the hard work you have done until now.
Day 8: The Everest Base camp(5600m): 7-8 hours
Today is a long, and a much-awaited day. First, we will attempt to reach Gorakshep (5160m) for lunch. As Pumori looks upon us from above, we will marvel at the expanse of the mountains and reach the sandy ground Gorakshep rests in.
After Gorakshep, Everest Base camp is a 4-hour return hike. After a hearty lunch and some rest, we will push forward to our final destination. The trail is rough and steep but and the stake is high, Everest Base camp is almost in your grip. Finally, after around 2 hours, we will stand before the mighty mountain and take in its beauty. We can spend some time hear and reward ourselves, we made it! Later, we will hike back to Gorakshep and spend the night there.
Day 9: Kalapthar and down to Dzongla(4830m): 8-9 hours
Brace yourselves, we have a very hard couple of days ahead. This is arguably the hardest day of our trip. First, we will have to wake up very early (around 4:30 am). We will hike up to the small peak of Kalapathar (around 2 hours) and watch the sunrise on Everest from there. Kalaptahr is notorious for the view of Everest it offers. Add sunrise onto that and you have got a scene you won’t forget for a lifetime. Lho La pass, Change (Everest’s northern peak) is also visible from here.
After sunrise, we have a slow, beautiful, and snowy descent down to Lobuche. Walking down right on the lap of the mountains, we will stop for tea here. Then, through the ridge of hills and valleys, we will keep walking to Dughla(4930m) and down to Dzongla (4830m)— our home for the night. In total, we will walk for almost 9 hours. If you show signs of altitude sickness early on in the trip, we will follow a different itinerary, this one is for the adventurers.
Day 10: Cho La Pass Trek(5,420m): 7-8 hours
Now for our second highlight of the trip. Cho La Pass Trek is another achievement any hiker would be proud of. On our tenth day of the trip, today is our chance to do Cho La Pass Trek
We will start from our teahouse in Dzongla and gain almost 600m and reach the Cho La pass (5420m). Literally inside the mountains, the path is slippery with crevasses here and there. But then again, you will get a majestic view of Amadablam and Cholatse, not to mention the sense of achievement you will have after.
After Cho La Pass Trek, we will continue walking downhill through Nimagwa Kharka, Thangkak Kharka, and reach Dragnag (4700m). The walk is a total of around 7 hours, so we want to start the day early and be here by 2 pm. We will spend the rest of the day (and night) here.
Day 11: Gokyo Lake and Gokyo Ri(5,360m): 3 -4 hours
Congratulations, we have completed both of our milestones for the trip. After a hard couple of days, today we have a short hike to Gokyo (4790m). The hike is about 2 and a half hours only and Gokyo is where we will spend the day. We are only gaining 90 meters today, so it is quite easy.
If we want even more adventure, we can hike up to Gokyo Ri (5360m) which provides a phenomenal view of Mt Everest and Makalu. This is optional though because we will probably want to sit back and relax, considering the last two days. If we don’t climb, you can attempt to dive into the Gokyo Tsho lake or just enjoy its brilliance from afar. Either way, there’s plenty to adventure today too! We will stay in for a day of cards, tea, and fun in Gokyo.
Day 12: Back to Namche Bazaar: 9-10 hours
Today, the 12th day, is certainly the longest but probably not the hardest day of our trip. We will go continuously downhill until we reach Namche Bazaar. The trek is 10 hours long and we will stop for lunch in Dhoi (4200m). After a long day, you can take a hot shower in your hotel, charge up everything, and relax.
Day 13: Namche rest day
We will probably want to stay the 13th day in Namche too. Our last day between the mountains, we will explore the town, maybe visit the street market, buy some yak cheese, visit some bakeries and so much more.
Day 14 and 15: Lukla again, we’re done!
After spending a fun-filled day in Namche, we will have a 5-hour hike back to Lukla the next day. We will stop for lunch in Phakding and spend the night in Lukla (assuming we don’t get a flight the same day). The next day, we will fly back to Kathmandu. We made it back!
Cho la pass trek, an other-worldly mountain paradise, is often said to be hidden between the mountains of Nepal and Tibet. This 15-day trip, albeit pretty hard, is the most marvelous way to catch a glimpse onto what Shangri La may look like in real life. You will be amazed, affected, and hypnotized by everything the Himalayas have to offer. This is a trip of a lifetime!