Make a loop hike in the Everest Region by walking in from Jiri and crossing the Three High Passes, and ending in Lukla for a flight back to Kathmandu!
(full post with photos on my website: hanalaura.net)
During the months of January and February I trekked for a little under one month in the Everest Region of Nepal. This is considered the “off-season”, and therefore there are are far fewer tourists on this here than in spring or autumn due to colder temperatures and the common misconception that there are heaps of snow in the winter months. Winter is the dry season in the Himalayas, and while it is true that there are much colder temperatures, the weather is usually fair (superior views!) and there is less chance of being stuck in snow. There is also a reduced avalanche risk, which is partially due to less foot traffic on the trails. For these reasons I chose to do my trekking during this time of year, along with the desire to walk on a less-crowded and quieter path. I also spent about a month in the Annapurna Region during February and March.
I was originally discouraged against hiking alone, without a guide or porter, when I arrived to Kathmandu by several locals and tourists. However, I found that much of this criticism, while positively rooted in concern for my well-being, was ill-informed and came from individuals who had little to no experience hiking in the mountains, especially during Winter. Over the course of a week in the city, I picked up a few essentials (4-season sleeping bag, down jacket, chlorine tablets) and spoke with several people who had just spent time on the trail.
I was fortunate to speak with one individual who advised me to begin my walk at a lower elevation (also saving me $$$ on a plane ticket) and work my way up slowly to higher altitudes. In this way I would greatly reduce the risk of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), which I wanted to avoid at all costs! I mapped out a tentative itinerary and loaded this onto my phone (using maps.me), as well as marking the route on a physical map that I had bought in a local shop. I experienced almost zero symptoms of altitude sickness while in the Himalayas, and I recommend this gradual ascent from the “foothills” to anyone who has the time. I also loved the satisfaction of walking into the real mountains from Jiri, and enjoyed observing the change in geography and ecology that occurred every couple of days as I moved from 1,900 meters (6,250 feet) to the highest village at 5,200 meters (17,000 feet). This slow approach also whipped me into great hiking shape by the time I reached this altitude, which made walling in the thinner air much more enjoyable.
Below you will find my 23-day trekking itinerary in the Everest Region. The route includes two transit days (Jiri and Lukla), the first by bus and the last by plane, and two “acclimatization days” (Namche Baazar and Chuckung) where I remained in the villages to allow my body time to adjust to the change in altitude. Parts of my walk include variations on the classic EBC (Everest Base Camp) route and the Three Passes Trek. I crossed the three high passes (Kongma La, Cho La, and Renjo La) and ended up making a loop back to Namche Baazar, where I walked to Lukla and took my flight back to Kathmandu. This route is superb, especially for hikers like myself who despise backtracking!
Day 1: Kathmandu – Jiri (via local bus)
Day 2: Jiri – Deurali : 16 km
Day 3: Deurali – Sete: 15 km
Day 4: Sete – Junbesi: 13 km
Day 5: Junbesi – Jubing: 22 km
Day 6: Jubing – Puiya: 12 km
Day 7: Puiya – Phakding: 15 km
Day 8: Phakding – Namche Bazaar: 10 km
Day 9: Namche Bazaar Acclimitization Day: 6 km (walked to Kumjung and Khunde and back)
Day 10: Namche – Pangboche: 13 km
Day 11: Pangboche – Dingboche: 14 km (included acclimatization hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp)
Day 12: Dingboche – Chuckung: 9.2 km (included acclimatization hike up to Nangkartshang)
Day 13: Chuckung Acclimitization Day: 5.2 km (hiked to Chuckung Ri)
Day 14: Chuckung – Lobuche: 9.3 km (via Kongma La)
Day 15: Lobuche – Gorak Shep: 4.4 km
Day 16: Gorak Shep – Dzongla: 14 km (morning hike up Khala Pattar)
Day 17: Dzongla – Tagnag: 7.9 km (via Cho La)
Day 18: Tagnag – Gokyo: 7.4 km (included sunset hike up Gokyo Ri)
Day 19: Gokyo – Lunghden: 12 km (via Renjo La)
Day 20: Lunghden – Namche Baazar:17 km
Day 21: Namche Baazar Rest Day & Wifi Hangover: rest!
Day 22: Namche Baazar – Lukla: 18 km
Day 23: Lukla – Kathmandu (via teeny tiny airplane!)
I highly recommend downloading maps.me on your smartphone for trekking in Nepal (and for general travel navigation in any place, for that matter). It is without a doubt my favorite and most valuable app on my phone. I used the app almost every day to tentatively plan my walk to the next village, check elevation gain and loss, and even to find restaurants and guest houses along the way for tea and lunch breaks! Maps.me enables you to download the map information for specific regions for offline use, and takes up hardly any space on your device. The entire Western Region of Nepal, for example, takes up only 60 mb on my iPhone!
- Backpack, Down Jacket, Headlamp, Hiking Poles, Sleeping Bag, Sunglasses
I saved a ton of money by walking into the Everest Region via Jiri, instead of taking the flight to Lukla from Kathmandu. I found it possible to average $7 per day for accommodation and meals. My spending also includes bus tickets from Kathmandu to Jiri, and the return flight from Lukla. I was fortunate to have most of my gear with me when I arrived, but rented a 4-season sleeping bag and down jacket (+1.60 USD/day).