ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU
KATHMANDU - LUKLA - CHOPLUNG
CHOPLUNG - MONJO
MONJO - NAMCHE BAZAAR
NAMCHE - THYANGBOCHE
THYANGBOCHE - CHULUNGCHE - MINGBO
MINGBO - AMA DABLAM EVEREST BASE CAMP
AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP - PORTSE
PORTSE - KHUNDE
KHUNDE - BENKAR
BENKAR - LUKLA
LUKLA - KATHMANDU
KATHMANDU - DEPARTURE
TREK TO MT. EVERST BASE CAMP
This trek takes you beyond the main ails of hiking through the Himalayas. The Mt. Everest sojourn does not climb the peaks of Mt. Everest but rather climbs up to the base camp where the professionals assemble and begin their ascent. In the old days before the Base Camp was established, this was the very same route that was taken to get to the base and then they would begin their climb to the peak of the world's highest mountain. This journey is one of the most spectacular mountain regions of the world, where the Sherpa culture is thriving and where we are able to view the incredible mountain peaks each day. From Thyangboche Monastery we follow little-used trails to our ridge-top camp site on the flanks of Arna Dablam, the most striking mountain in the region. Here we enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Everest on a trek of this duration, and considered equal to the views found on the much longer treks. The hiking days are not long and the highest altitude gained should not cause any altitude problems. So welcome to the amazing Mt. Everest Base Camp journey. You're going to love it. Start packing.
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
DAY 1: Arrive Kathmandu (4364 ft.)
This morning you will be met by your group leader and transferred to the hotel, with the remainder of the day at leisure. There are a million things to see in Kathmandu and we recommend you spend this day wandering the town and exploring the valley on bicycle or by taxi. The old Royal Palace, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath (the Monkey Temple), Pashupatinath (a major Hindu shrine) and the giant Buddhist stupa at Bodhnath are absolute musts. A pre-trek briefing will be given early evening where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your Trek kit bag. This includes a sleeping bag and down/fiber-fill jacket. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all Cultural Vacations clients arriving today.
DAY 2: Kathmandu / Lukla / Choplung
We transfer to the airport for the 45-minute flight to the STOL airstrip at Lukla which is
At 2800 meters. This was the airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and his friends to service the Everest Region when he began his work of building schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people. It is a memorable flight, with marvelous views of the Eastern Himalayas. At Lukla we are immediately impressed by the scale of the huge peaks that surround the village, but this is only a foretaste of what is to come. Our crew assembles and we head downhill on a leisurely 1 hour trek toward the Dudh Kosi, a raging river that flows from the highest peaks. The broad and well-marked trail meanders around fields of potatoes and buckwheat and crosses through small villages; when we pass rows of tree dahlias, we then make our way to the first campsite, in the vicinity of Choplung at 2600 meters.
DAY 3: Choplung / Monjo
Today set off on a 5 hour hike today as we cross and re-cross the thundering glacial river, named Dudh (milk) Kosi (river) because of its color. Sections of today's walk are through pine forest and cleared areas where terraced fields support a variety of crops. Shortly after leaving camp, we cross the Kusum Khola, a tributary stream to the Dudh Kosi, and the peak of Kusum Kangru (6369 m) can be seen to the East, at the head of the valley. We pass small groups of donkeys and yaks carrying trading goods and trek-gear along the trail. Our own gear will likely be carried by yak or, more correctly, dzopko, a yak-cow crossbreed. As we slowly gain altitude, we travel beyond a number of small hamlets. Above us, spectacular mountain peaks unfold, seeming to hover above the treeline as they rise above the deep river valley. Further along the trail, across the valley to the northwest, Nupla (5885 m) and Kongde Ri (6093 m) cap the forested ridges. At a turn of the trail, Thamserku (6808 m) rises majestically, seemingly from the river floor. We will see our first Mani walls today. These structures are comprised of many stone tablets, each with the inscription "Om Mani Padme Hum" which translates to "Hail to the jewel in the lotus," and is a mantra (chant) venerated by Buddhists and Brahman’s alike. Buddhists will walk to the left of these Mani walls and chortens, but you may notice that people of the lowlands, who have no knowledge of Buddhism, do not follow this practice. The allure of the mountains is hard to resist, but we must be patient, as it is important to acclimatize slowly and thereby fully appreciate our time at higher altitude. Today's walk is not a long one, and you will be eager to press on. Slow down, and enjoy every step of the way. It is the journey, not the final destination that is important. We reach Monjo and enjoy camp. (2850 meters).
DAY 4: Monjo / Namche Bazaar
This morning set out for a 4 hour hike today as we cross the green/aqua waters of the Dudh Kosi and pass through the gates of the Sagamartha National Park. The establishment of this national park is a significant attempt to stem the use of firewood in the area and the few local people who have a permit to cut wood must gain approval from the authorities on the basis of it being primarily for their personal use. We follow the river course to the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi and cross a spectacular high bridge before beginning our ascent to the village of Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa "capital" of Nepal. It is a tough climb as the trail winds through forest of pine to a vantage point that provides our first view of Mt. Everest. The trail continues to climb and meander to Namche, and the sight of this prosperous village spread within a horseshoe-shaped valley opposite the beautiful peak of Kongde Ri is worth every step. After lunch you may wish to peruse the Tibetan trader's stalls or the Sherpa shops in search of a bargain. Our accommodations will be at Sherwi Khangba, a delightful Sherpa hotel above Namche village at 3440 meters.
Overnight: Sherwi Khangba Hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: Namche
This rest day in Namche Bazaar is important for safe acclimatization. Sagamartha National Park Headquarters, just above our Sherpa hotel, offers an interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park, and is a vantage point for the spectacular view up the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest. The change from the narrow lowland valleys to the broad glacial ones is immediately obvious. The steep-sided glacial valley before us gradually winds toward the base of Everest, broken only by the moraines left by retreating glaciers. Its more gradual rate of climb is a blessing for those trekking higher. Towering to over 4000 meters above the valley floor, spectacular peaks seem to engulf us. Around us are Tawatse (6542 m), Thamserku (6808 m), Kantega (6685 m), Ama Dablam (6856 m), Nuptse (7896 m) and Lhotse (8511 m). The greatest of all, Mt. Everest (8848 m), rises at the head of the valley. The Sherpa Cultural Center next to our hotel has an interesting collection of mountaineering items and photographs. Those who are fit and acclimatizing well may wish to take the optional morning walk to the Everest View Hotel, offering spectacular views of Everest and Ama Dablam.
DAY 6: Namche / Thyangboche
The walk to Thyangboche is one of the most pleasant in Nepal. We expect to be hiking 6 hours today. The trail meanders easily around the ridges, and Everest can be clearly seen on the horizon ahead before we descend through a splendid rhododendron forest for lunch. After lunch we cross the Dudh Kosi and begin the ascent to the top of a long ridge, which flows from the summit of Kantega. Our trail takes us through pine and rhododendron forest and as this is a devout Buddhist region, the wildlife is unharmed and not too shy. As a result, there is a possibility that we may see hog deer and other animals in the forest and around our campsite. As we approach the top we pass through a traditional gateway and pass around a chorten before cresting the ridge onto a wide grassy meadow at the monastery village of Thyangboche. The monastery was recently re-built with the assistance of Sir Edmund Hillary after it was destroyed by fire. Your leader will arrange for you to be shown around the monastery and will explain the relevance of the many ceremonies that take place and discuss the life of the monks in residence. The views of the Everest massif, as well as all the other major peaks of the area are astounding and if we are lucky, we will see a glowing sunset and perhaps even moonlight on the mountains around us. Arrive at Thyangboche. (3850 meters)
DAY 7: Thyangboche / Chulungche / Mingbo
Leaving the main trail on a 5 hour hike today. To savor the forests and isolated paths, we trek above Thyangboche and into the conifer forest. The views back toward the monastery, with Tawatse rising beyond, are excellent. We follow paths through the forest that lead above the tree line to summer yak pastures, and contour around the ridge lines of Kantega. Settlements that are a hive of activity in the wet summer months are deserted and we have these paths to ourselves, enjoying the solitude of the walk. We pass through the small settlement at Omoga, and travel to Mingbo for our evening camp, high above the valley floor. At this altitude, with the clear air, we can look across at the highest peaks, at their level and only a few kilometers distant. Reach Mingbo at 4530 meters.
DAY 8: Mingbo / Ama Dablam Everest Base Camp
We make our way up the ridge to a sheltered valley that takes advantage of the excellent views. Our trek today is about 4 hours as we have a well deserved anticipated afternoon at Base Camp. An outstanding panorama of the region's mountains unfolds before us, including a magnificent panorama of Everest itself. This fantastic vantage point is rarely visited, but offers some of the best views available. Arrive at Base Camp at 4800 meters.
Overnight: Tented Camp. (B,L,D)
DAY 9: Ama Dablam Base Camp /Phortse
We make an early start for the ridge high above our camp and a superb panorama of the high peaks of the Everest region. The planned hike today is 4 hours. An early start will get us to the ridge by sunrise, as the dawn illuminates Lhotse and Everest. We have time to soak in the view and enjoy the quiet isolation of this, one of the best vantage points from which to view Everest. Later in the morning, we descend to camp and continue on a short steep descent to the Imja Khola, followed by a gradual ascent to Pangboche Monastery. The isolated trail to Portse is undulating with magnificent views of Kantega, Thamserku and Cho Oyu. Arrive at Portse. 3840meters.
DAY 10: Phortse / Khunde
Across the valley are Kantega and Thamserku, while further up the valley is the dramatic peak of Ama Dablam and the ridge that was our vantage point yesterday. Completing a 360-degree panorama of mountains are Khumblia and Kongde Ri, which encircle us from across the Dudh Khosi valley. We head off on a small trail that ascends to the villages of Khumjung and Khunde. It is a comfortable day’s walk of about 5 hours, with time to explore these unique and more traditional villages. As we near the villages we pass through terraced fields that are home to the brightly colored Danphe Pheasant, the national bird of Nepal. Khumjung is where Sir Edmund Hillary built his "Schoolhouse In the Clouds," and the famed Khunde hospital is close by. There will generally be the opportunity for you to visit the hospital and school. We will also be able to visit the monastery at Khumjung where we may have the opportunity to see the "scalp of a yeti." Arrive at Khunde at 3780 meters.
DAY 11: Khunde / Benkar
Nearby on a hilltop, with views of the mountains, is the Everest View Hotel, a joint Nepali - Japanese project, where you can stop for refreshments before passing through the yak breeding farm and descending to Namche. After a break, we continue down through the forest to the valley floor to follow the Dudh Kosi downhill, and out of the national park to our camp at the small settlement of Benkar at 2600 meters.
DAY 12: Benkar / Lukla
Retracing our steps along the valley, we pass through a variety of settlements and forests before a gentle climb to Lukla with the days hike around 5 hours.. We savor our final mountain sunsets of the trek as we complete this exhilarating journey. Stay at Lukla once again at 2800 meters.
DAY 13: Lukla / Kathmandu
This morning we fly to Kathmandu, a thrilling flight over forests, fields and villages, with the Himalayas in the background. On arrival, we transfer to the hotel, and the rest of the entire day is at leisure. A great shower and good night sleep awaits you in the comfort of a 5 star hotel.
DAY 14: Kathmandu
This morning a sightseeing tour has been arranged, taking in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. The remainder of the day is at leisure, giving you time to explore Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley, traveling either on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with centers of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
DAY 15: Kathmandu – Departure
This morning bid farewell to the Nepal Kingdom and Himalayas as you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.