Here’s my account on the Everest Gokyo Lakes Trek, March 2010.
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Transport - In country flights, bus, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotel (3nts), tea-houses and lodges (16nts).
Meals - 19 breakfasts.
Today your Group Leader will brief you on arrangements for your trek. Please meet your Group Leader in the hotel reception at 20.00 for this breifing. The evening is free to dine at one of Kathmandu’s many excellent restaurants. Hotel – 1 night
Early in the morning you transfer to the airport to board your flight. This sometimes involves a period of waiting around, so remember to pack a book in your daypack! Once up and away, your destination on this breathtaking 45 minute flight is the Sherpa village of Lukla, perched above the Dudh Kosi or ‘River of Milk’; so named because glacier melt-water makes it appear pale. Years ago, Lukla was a herding pasture (its name actually means ‘Place for Sheep’), but it is now the gateway to the Everest region and many trekkers pass through this prosperous village.
After your first trek lunch you commence your trek with an afternoon’s walking to reach Phakding (2610m). At 3-4 hours in duration, you’ll be broken in gently with the easiest trekking day of the trip as ultimately, you will actually lose 200m in altitude along the walk.
One of the first things you’ll notice as you start trekking are the differences between the Newari people of the Kathmandu Valley and the local Sherpa people, who migrated from Tibet 500 years ago. Sherpas dress similarly to the Tibetans and their language is closely related to, though not easily understood, by the remaining ‘true’ Tibetans.
Along the trail are mani stone walls, made from hundreds of stone tablets and giant carved boulders, brilliantly decorated with brightly-coloured paints. Buddhists hold these sacred and believe they gain merit in their next life by praying as they go past. As a sign of respect to the local people, you must always pass these in a clockwise direction. Teahouse - 1 night (B)
This is a long trek day to Namche Bazaar, and one of the toughest of the trip, due to the altitude you will gain. From Phakding the trail follows the Dudh Koshi north as it gently starts to rise through rhododendron and magnolia forests and past giant fir trees to the village of Jorsalle, one of the many remotely located villages you pass along this trek. It’s a beautiful walk within this alpine environment, where you’ll traverse the river on long suspension bridges. After three to four hours of ‘Nepali flat’, you’ll enter Sagamartha National Park.
After lunch, you’ll have a steep, long walk towards Namche Bazaar, a delightful mountain village and ‘Sherpa Capital' of Khumbu. On the way up, weather depending, you’ll get your first views of Everest.
You have a day here to get acclimatized to the 700m altitude, during which time you can explore the local markets, mingle with the people, walk up to the Everest view point, visit the museum ,and happily laze around and bask in the sun. This is also the last place you’ll see civilisation for a while, so you may want to use the laundry facility, internet, pick up any last minute items from the outdoor kit shops or use the money exchange. Teahouse – 2 nights (Bx2)
After a relatively relaxing acclimatisation day yesterday, this is a tough day of walking which will take approximately six to eight hours. The morning’s terrain is again Nepalese flat (up and down).
On leaving Namche the mountain pass abruptly ascends through the rocks to Mong La, birthplace of the Lama Sange Dorje who introduced Tibetan Buddhism to this area. From Mong La, the trail descends in steep switchbacks down a sandy slope to the Dudh Koshi River and then climbs steeply out of the valley.
The rhododendron forests give way to fragrant stands of juniper and large conifers as the elevation increases. The trail ascends towards Dole where the lodges begin to disappear and the peaks of Khumbila, abode of the patron god of the Khumbu region, and Tawache dominate the horizon.
On this day you really notice a change, you’ll be adding an extra layer permanently, and there are fewer people and yaks freely roaming the paths.
You may be feeling some effects from altitude sickness at this point, such as dizziness, headaches and lack of sleep, as you’re now over 4000m high (there’s 60% oxygen in the air compared with sea level). Just make sure you inform your guide how you feel and they can offer advice to help you feel better. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
It’s a good and relatively easy walk of about four to five hours along the valley today. You’ll trek onwards and upwards, walking past ‘kharkas’ (grazing fields for yaks) wherever there is a flat enough space and the slightest hint of water. Your goal is Machhermo, where some of the most credible sightings of yeti have been reported, so keep your eyes peeled as you walk through! Teahouse – 1 night (B)
There are no teahouses on way to the final destination of Gokyo. This represents how remote you now – far off the well walked trail to EBC. Today you’ll gain around 300m on a five hour walk, following Dudh Koshi River which carriers the melt water from the Ngozumba Glacier. Once you arrive at Gokyo Lake One, on the high plateau, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in different world. It’s really remote and you can see why this region is sin ominous with the yeti.
You pass the three beautiful and vast lakes on the way to Gokyo itself with the snowy mountains completing the backdrop reflecting into the turquoise waters. Goyko itself is an old yak herding settlement and that influence is still very strong. It’s only a small settlement with a handful of teahouses. Here you’ll be able to charge your camera and if the wind is blowing in the right direction, there’s the internet and a phone. Again in the afternoon you’ll take a walk along the moraine of the neighbouring glacier to help acclimatise as you’re now at 4790m.
The following day is another acclimatisation day. You can either choose to stay in Gokyo or get up early (6am) and walk three to four hours total to the top of Gokyo Ri, the mountain which overlooks Gokyo, and back. It’s a steep ascent but once at the summit (5360m) you’ll have stunning views across the Himalaya including Everest itself. The views are normally the best of Everest you’ll get on the whole trip.
This really is a staggering wilderness it’s beautiful looking out from your room over the lake with mountains in the background. It’s also cold – so this is where the down jacket comes in. Teahouse – 2 nights (Bx2)
Leaving Gokyo you go back down the valley and cross the mature Ngozumba Glacier. This traverse takes around hour and then once on the other side there’s a short walk to Thangna where you rest for the night. Again, there are no teahouses in between, so it’s just a straight walk of about four to five hours and then lunch and dinner at your destination. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
This is the toughest day of the trip – you’ve a long walk, including Cho La, a 5368 pass, with a steep ascent and descent either side, which involves a bit of scrambling.
Due to the length of the day you’ll start early, around 5am, cross a high mountain plateau to the foot of Cho Lo. It’s around a 90 minute ascent up Cho La, where you stop to take in your achievement and then it’s down the other side. The day ends with around a one hour walk on the flat until you reach Dzongla teahouse.
Although the scheduled night stop after the Cho-La Pass is in Dzongla, due to limited availability in the very basic teahouses there, it may be necessary to elongate the day's trek by a couple of hours to reach better teahouses in Thukla. This will be decided depending on the fitness and walking ability of the group, when you get to Dzongla. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
This is the last day you’ll be in the remote Himalayan wilderness with few other groups for company. Today you’ll enjoy an easy day after yesterday’s efforts, following the valley side until you rejoin the Khumbu Valley and the main trail towards your goal, Everest Base Camp. You’ll spend the night at Lobuche and again have a brief afternoon walk along the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier to help with acclimatisation. This trek will take you about five hours. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
This is the summit day so to speak, and it’s another long, challenging day. Again it’s an early start, 6am, for the three hour walk up to Gorakshep, your destination for the night. After a quick cup of tea, it’s another 3 hours onto Everest Base Camp; following the glacier you’ll eventually get on it for those shots of you at the foot of Everest. Here you’ll have lunch and soak up the fact that you’re at Everest Base Camp!
Everest Base Camp is marked by a sign and prayer flags and a selection of other trekkers all having their photo taken. During the months of April and November, you may see the encampments of expedition teams from all over the world, whose common aim is to successfully ascend the world’s highest mountain. You’ll then return to Gorakshep to complete your nine to ten hours walk, for a well deserved dinner. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
It’s your last sizable ascent of the trip this morning. If you choose you can stay in bed and rest, however for those with the energy they can summit Kala Patar. It’s not a snowy peak, it’s more of rocky outcrop, but the views are breathtaking – far better than Base Camp itself; Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and numerous other peaks are visible. Most people who are fit and have acclimatised without problems - generally half the group - make this ascent.
It’s a very early start and following a sharp ascent for around 90 minutes you’ll reach the top for some unique views of Everest and the rising sun. As you start walking before the sun is up, it’s cold and it gets colder as you near the top as you’re exposed to the winds. It can reach -20oc at the summit. As a result your time at the top is limited, but it’s worth it. It’s also the highest point on the trek (5545m). On return to Gorakshep you’ll enjoy breakfast and then start your descent.
You’ll stop for lunch at Lobuche and then continue on down to Dingboche or Pheriche for the night. Teahouse – 1 night (B)
Continuing the descent down the valley you’ll start to notice more vegetation surrounding you and the average daily temperature beginning to increase again. You’ll arrive in Tengboche, leaving the stunning views of Ama Dablam behind you and have the afternoon to relax in one of the most famous destinations on the trail. It offers a few attractions including a bakery, internet café and of course the famous monastery.
It’s then an easy downhill to Namche Bazar. It’s the place to maybe get a warm shower, if you’re lucky after the trek and celebrate with a beer at the highest pub in world!
From Namche you’ll descend Monjo and from Monjo to Lukla. You’ll follow the Everest trail all the way down on the descent, so they’ll be plenty of people on the way up asking you questions. The continuous descent and loss of altitude allow you to do this with surprising ease. Your last evening in Lukla is spent in this wonderful village and a party in one of the lodges is not unknown! Teahouse – 4 nights (Bx4)
NB: See our ‘Walking and Trekking’ leaflet for more information about walking at altitude. Anyone suffering adversely from the effects of altitude will have an assisted descent with a Sherpa guide until they feel more comfortable and wait for the group to rejoin them.
In the early morning you take off from Lukla airstrip for a spectacular mountain flight back to Kathmandu. After being met at the domestic airport terminal and transferred to your hotel, the rest of the day is free to explore this wonderful city; shopping for souvenirs, trying out the various restaurants in Thamel or simply relaxing.
The following day is left free for you to explore this fascinating city by foot, auto-rickshaw or bicycle. The city is a labyrinth of streets and markets, crowded with exotic produce and a bewildering mix of people. You're likely to see Gurkhas from the area east of Pokhara, Tibetan women in their striped aprons, traders from India, and sadhus - Hindu holy men - perhaps on pilgrimage to one of the many temples and shrines of the valley.
Much of old Kathmandu is centred around the Durbar square. A medieval feel still pervades and there are temples at every turn. The streets all around the central square are full of colour. Market traders spread their wares before them, from vegetables and spices to pans and farming equipment.
The holiest of the Hindu sites is Pashupatinath. This Shiva temple attracts pilgrims from all over Nepal and India, and the nearby ghats along the holy Bagmati River are popular places to be cremated. Pashupatinath has been likened to Varanasi on the sacred Ganges. It’s a place full of interest with sadhus and pilgrims making pujas.
There is a couple of other nearby places that are worth visiting. Patan, now almost absorbed by Kathmandu, still retains a distinct identity. If time allows and if you want to visit a picturesque, medieval town then a short journey to Bhaktapur is a must. Hotel - 2 nights (Bx2)
NB: A day in Kathmandu may be lost if inclement weather delays your departure from Lukla.
The trip ends at your hotel in Kathmandu. (B)
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