Exploring the Everest Region in Nepal

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Travel Features >> Exploring the Everest Region in Nepal

Exploring the Everest Region in Nepal

April 08, 2011

Lying to the northeast of Kathmandu, towering above all those tall peaks is the tallest of them all. Everest used to be a month long trek with the getting there and away taking longer than the time spent at the mountain. Now one can get to Jiri (1905 metres) by driving down, and from there it’s a ten-day hike to the Sherpa capital, Namche Bazaar. Alternatively, one can fly into and out of Lukla (2860 metres), which is a two-day walk from Namche Bazaar. (The tiny airstrip at Lukla is very vulnerable to bad weather. If you are planning to fly only one way then the pros and cons of the options are these: with walking in and flying out, acclimatization is less of a problem since it’s a gradual ascent. But many opt to fly in and walk on the way back to save themselves the frustration of cancelled flights, especially if they’ve got confirmed bookings for an onward journey).

The trail from Lukla joins the one from Jiri at Choplung (2692 metres). Thereon, it’s a series of climbs and descents through beautiful rhododendron forests along the Dudh Kosi Valley till you enter the Sagarmatha National Park at Mondzo (2835 metres). The first major climb is the stretch from Jorsale to Namche Bazaar (3446 metres). Facing the forbidding Kwangde Massif, in a depression in the Everest Mountain is the town that has passed into trekking folklore. Namche is an administrative centre and it has electricity, telecommunication facilities, a good hospital that was set up by Edmund Hillary’s Trust (in Kunde), a police check post and even a museum. For those who have flown in and thus have not acclimatized, Namche is invaluable. There are many day trips around this area, like the ones to the villages of Kunde and Khumjung (3780 metres). Once you are ready you can pick up the trail towards Everest Base Camp from Namche, Kunde or Khumjung. The trek even to Base Camp is only for the spirited, fit and experienced.

As you go on you’ll pass the old monasteries at Tengboche (3867 metres) and Pangboche (3901 metres) and cover a lot of lichen-shrouded ground before you reach the limits of civilization. The town of Pheriche (4252 metres) is the last settlement on this route and beyond this, it’s you, your mates and the elements for the most part, till you’re on the way back. At this point, the Everest is tantalizingly obscured from view by the peaks of Nuptse and Lhotse. Trek across the Khumbu Glacier to the lodges at Dughla (4593 metres), and then past Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5184 metres). Many treks terminate at Gorak Shep, which is the site of one of the most fantastic Himalayan prospects.

The more intrepid carry on to Everest Base Camp, threading their way past the Khombu Ice Fall and its shifting blocks of ice. There is no accommodation at Base Camp.
Not everybody returns directly to Namche. In the next valley of Ngozumpa are the high altitude lakes at Gokyo (4791 metres) to which many trekkers make a six-day detour. There are several passes between the two valleys; the higher ones are dangerous. Make your way down to Pangboche and pick up the trail for Ngozumpa from there. On the way back, take the western side of the valley. This route will take you through a series of lodge-dwellings till you reach Sangnasa (3597 metres) and the trail between Tengboche and Namche.

For country and visitor information, visit Nepal.

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