Mt Everest Region

  • Everest and Gokyo - Marylin Ellem - © Marylin Ellem

Key information: Mt Everest Region

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating94
  • Beauty38
  • Natural interest19
  • Human interest6
  • Charisma38
  • Negative points7
  • Total rating94
  • Note: Negs: altitude; popularity; crowding in places

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: Variable
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Everest and Gokyo - Marylin Ellem - ©Marylin Ellem

WALK SUMMARY

The Big One, undoubtedly one of the most baggage-laden places on earth, with myth often clouding reality. The world's highest mountain: 8,850m of striated rock, ice, tumultuous falling glacier, unblemished snow, jagged ridges….and dead bodies. An ultimate target for most serious walkers, albeit tarnished by too many visitors

Stunning scenery all around in what is the absolute heart of the Himalayas, with many variations that enable you to escape the crowds on the best known trails and get up to miraculous viewpoints.

Tough but marvellous walking on the Nepal side, with many variations that enable you to escape the crowds on the main trails and get deep into some of the world’s most miraculously beautiful scenery. While Everest and its base camp have semi-mythical status, there is actually better, more rewarding walking (better views of Everest, even) to be had elsewhere than on the grind to base camp.

Great walking on the Tibetan side, too. See below.

Nepal (Solu Khumbu)

Some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, and best trekking, in this World Heritage Area – and you can do a lot of it using teahouses, so no need for huge packs or a big entourage.  The area is accordingly popular in high season, so less pristine than other parts of Nepal. The delightful sherpa people are themselves a living highlight.

Everest Base Camp is of course the best known walk here (14 days), which should take in the viewpoint at Kala Pattar (as BC does not have an Everest view). The atmosphere is reduced by the number of visitors, but you can get away by adding side trips, or creating a circuit via the Gokyo valley (18 days total - recommended if time allows) and Thame.

Despite the romance, Base Camp can itself be deeply disappointing, a crowded mess (although a lot cleaner since clear-up programmes have been instigated), so approach with some philosophy. You don’t HAVE to go the whole way there, and alternative walks can be preferable as described below.

But Base Camp does not have to be your – or your only – destination.

  • You can visit the near-miraculous Gokyo Valley (12 days, 18 as part of Everest circuit), with its magnificent lakes below Chu Oyu (great day walk to base camp), getting outstanding views from the passes of a sweep of huge peaks and glaciers (the Renjo La to the west of Gokyo is said to have perhaps the best views in the whole area). Gokyo Ri (5483m) is a great day-walk trekking peak. You can circle to or from it as part of an extended Everest trek.
  • The Three Passes Trek, of which we plan to write more.
  • The Bhote Kosi Valley area,west and north of Tame, is also superb, and less visited, mainly as an acclimatization side trip from Namche Bazaar by those passing the lower reaches on a Gokyo/Everest circuit those on the Three Passes trail.
  • An outstanding walk would be to head north from Thame and cross into Gokyo over the Renjo La, and then on over the 5,420m Cho La to the Khumbu Glacier and thence on to Everest Base Camp. (This is the larger part of the Three Passes trek, but in reverse)  Around 17 days from and back to Lukla.
  • The Chukhung Valley and Island Peak,to the east, is fabulous walking and leads to Island Peak (6189m), Nepal’s most popular trekking peak.
  • Shivalaya to Lukla or Namche Bazaar: the old walk in before the landing strip was built at Lukla. Lush countryside, friendly communities and almost no visitors in these lovely “lower” areas. An excellent six day acclimatization walk.
  • Peekye Mountain is in the foothills (at 4,070m), with superb views of the grand range and (relatively) gentler (and certainly less altitudinous) trekking in forest and farmland, enjoying hill village culture and wondrous scenery. A range of walks can be made in this region.

This page’s rating is based on a Gokyo/Everest BC circuit.

The Tibetan Side

Much less well known, but oddly more accessible than the Nepali side camps, are the north-face base camps in Tibet, which are a mere thousand metres or so higher than the surrounding plateau and.

The Kangshung base camp is relatively remote and totally spectacular.

The main base camp above Rongbuk Monastery can now be reached by minibus (you can guess the consequences). Despite this, the Everest views are stunning, and the high Rombuk monastery nearby has simple charm, so it is not to be missed if passing: but not as a special walk.

These are tough walks in high, remote, capricious mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient. Come prepared. Remember that the altitude can cause misery and even death. It will undoubtedly detract from your enjoyment, although most still think that a major walk here is a high point of their hiking lives. You don’t HAVE to do this, and slightly lower-level treks can be more unsulliedly joyous. Allowing time for proper acclimatization is essential.

This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.

Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk    

Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail: A Route and Planning Guide – Robin Boustead/Trailblazer

Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya – Lonely Planet

Trekking in the Everest Region – also Trailblazer.

Other books

Chapters in Classic Treks - Ed. Bill Birkett; Trek! The Best Trekking in the World - Claes Grundsten and Classic Hikes of the World - Peter Potterfield.

Walking the World's Natural Wonders - ed. John Sparks

Into Thin Air - John Krakamer's harrowing and gripping account of Everest disaster.

Everest - The Unclimbed Ridge - Chris Bonnington and Charles Clarke

High Adventures - Edmund Hillary

The Ascent of Rum Doodle - a hilarious mockery of the genre by W. E. Bowman

Nepal – Lonely Planet

The Rough Guide to Nepal – Rough Guides

Nepal – Insight Guides

Nepal – Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture – Tessa Fuller

Berlitz Travel Guide to Nepal – Berlitz Travel Guides

Nepali – Lonely Planet Phrasebook

Maps

Good maps can be bought locally at most hubs.

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks). Also try www.mapsworldwide.com and www.trektools.com.

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

March to May, late September to late November [even December?]. Winter can be too cold/cloudy and June to September are monsoon months and thus cloudy.

Spring: you won’t get the finest views, but these are the best times for flowers and less crowded. May is very hot.

Autumn (October – November/December): cold nights, superb views. But popular and can be hard to get flights

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides.

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Those on organised expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.

Most people fly in to Lukla.

Permit requirements change, but as of writing, a permit is needed to walk in this area – whether the Nepali or Tibetan side. Expedition organisers should arrange these.

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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PLEASE CHECK THAT BULLET POINTS COME ACROSS OK WHEN PUTTING INTO  DATABASE.  SEE OPERATING MANUAL.

  • Altitude: can affect some; potentially fatal. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope, be ready to evacuate people in extreme cases
  • Extreme mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly.  Come prepared.
  • Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
  • Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
  • Harmful animals of all shapes and sizes, including snakes.
  • This is remote country: food and other supplies will not be readily available and help will be hard to get if things go wrong.
  • Health risks: these are relatively undeveloped countries, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill.  Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
  • Beware of dogs: throw stones if they threaten, keep well clear if possibly rabid.
  • Be sensitive about photographing people:  don’t without permission. Ask permission if in doubt about whether they would mind.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do many of these walks independently, but, [unless you are teahouse trekking,] you will need to be experienced and self-sufficient: come fully prepared.

Teahouse trekking, ie staying in local hostelries so you can travel light, is very popular and doable on various routes, and can be done independently or with a guide.

Guided/supported

Most people either hire a guide or form or join organised/supported expeditions. Given the remoteness of the country and difficulty of getting supplies, many will prefer to do it this way, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages.  Organisers can also arrange for permits to be obtained. Choosing a suitable guide or company if of course vital, nd the guidebooks contain good advice in this regard.

If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed, including remuneration

Expedition organisers include:

PLEASE CREATE BULLET POINTS WHEN PUTTING INTO DATABASE.  SEE OPERATING MANUAL.

Explore! - www.explore.co.uk - reputable and experienced organisers.

Classic Journeys – www.classicjourneys.co.uk

Wilderness Travel – www.wildernesstravel.com

Walks Worldwide - www.walksworldwide.com

Sherpa Expeditions – www.sherpa-walking-holidays.co.uk

Exodus – www.exodus.co.uk do expeditions on both the Nepali and the Tibetan sides.

World Expeditions – www.worldexpeditions.co.uk

High Places – www.highplaces.co.uk

Walks Worldwide - www.walksworldwide.com

Traverseline – www.traverseline.co.uk – do an Everest and Gokyo trek. We have used them elsewhere and been very happy.

Happy Feet Travels Ltd. – http://www.happyfeetmountaineers.com - the brilliant Dendi Sherpa is the main man, and well known to Walkopedia. Good value, too.

Himalayan Glacier Trekking Ltd. – www.himalayanglacier.com

Himalayan Paradise Trek and Expedition – www.himalayasherpatrek.com

The Mountain Company – www.themountaincompany.co.uk do a “full monty” of both north base camp and the Tseram area.

PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.

Accommodation

Camping is the only realistic option on some routes, although teahouses are possible on various key routes here. There is a small monastery guesthouse at Rombuk near the Tibetan base camp.

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Other information and tips

Tipping is expected, so come mentally prepared and with enough cash. Check guidebooks for current rates. Do err on the side of generosity if unsure – it will make a big difference to them.

Do be careful, considerate and respectful in all dealings with the locals.

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

PLEASE CREATE BULLET POINTS WHEN PUTTING INTO DATABASE.  SEE OPERATING MANUAL.

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Nepal and Tibet have a huge variety of great walks.

Shopping, if you must

We are not a shopping website. But, there are beautiful and interesting things to be found, and anything bought from local people must be of some help to these poor areas. So, wallets out! (And don’t try to extract the very last cent when bargaining…)

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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