Few travelers venture up the Chukhung Valley, except those looking to scale Lhotse or climb Island Peak. It's a beautiful trek where you'll come face-to-face with the Lhotse Wall and ascend Chukhung Ri, an 18,208 ft (5,550 m) ridgeline above the village of Chukhung. 

Highlights

  • Watch the sunset from Kathmandu's Swayambhunath temple
  • Walk on suspension bridges above the Dudh Kosi river
  • Explore colorful Namche and sip tea or coffee at one of the world's highest markets
  • Visit Tengboche and its legendary Buddhist monastery

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding (8,563 feet / 2,610 m) Phakding
Day 3 Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,290 feet / 3,440 m) Namche Bazaar
Day 4 Acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar Namche Bazaar
Day 5 Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (12,687 feet / 3,867 m) Tengboche
Day 6 Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche (14,304 feet / 4,360 m) Dingboche
Day 7 Acclimatization day in Dingboche (14,304 feet / 4,360 m) Dingboche
Day 8 Trek from Dingboche to Chukhung (15,580 feet / 4,750 m) Chukhung
Day 9 Trek from Chukhung to Pangboche (12,992 feet / 3,960 m) Pangboche
Day 10 Trek from Pangboche to Namche Bazaar (11,319 feet / 3,450 m) Namche Bazaar
Day 11 Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla (9,186 feet / 2,800 m) Lukla
Day 12 Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 13 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

Flying into Kathmandu, you'll have views over the valley, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After completing customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you outside the airport and to guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to your hotel. In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.

Day 2: Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding (8,563 feet / 2,610 m)

Experience landing at Lukla's mountain airport
Experience landing at Lukla's mountain airport

After breakfast, you'll fly to Lukla (30 minutes) and land on a steep mountain runway, which brings you to the start of your trek. Try to get a window seat on the left-hand side of the plane and keep your camera close: the flight takes you between mountains and through valleys, with great views of the Himalaya on clear days. You'll then trek a short distance today through local villages where you'll likely encounter fellow trekkers, locals, and yaks with their tinkling bells. (Having an easy first day is intentional, allowing you time to get used to the higher elevation.) Continue through the Dudh Koshi Valley on a well-marked trail and stay overnight in Phakding. 

Trekking time: 3-4 hours (4.7 miles / 7.5 km)

Day 3: Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,290 feet / 3,440 m)

The Hillary suspension bridge before the climb up to Namche Bazaar
The Hillary suspension bridge before the climb up to Namche Bazaar

After breakfast in Phakding, you'll start a steady and steep incline towards Namche. This is a challenging day as you'll start to feel the altitude. The route also consists of a number of high suspension bridges over the Dudh Kosi River that you need to cross.  

Just beyond the village of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park, which was set-up in order to protect and preserve the fragile mountain environment (your guide will cover your permit fees here). The trail gets steeper along the way, and if the weather is clear, you will get the first glimpses of Mount Everest.

When you arrive at Namche, settle into your accommodations and explore the town. Namche is a great place to stock up on supplies as there are numerous small shops selling snacks and trekking gear, as well as restaurants and bars. If here on a weekend, check out the Saturday market—a meeting place for the Hindu traders from the lowlands and the Tibetan yak caravans that have crossed the glaciated Nangpa La

Trekking time: 4-6 hours (4.6 miles / 7.4 km)

Day 4: Acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar

View of Khunde and Khumjung villages
View of Khunde and Khumjung villages

Today is a rest day so take time to relax and sleep in. Namche is tucked away between two ridges amid the giant peaks of the Khumbu and has an abundance of lodges, tea shops, and souvenir markets. It is an ideal place to spend a day acclimatizing to the higher altitude.

To speed up the acclimatization process, you can also head to the Khunde Hospital set-up by Sir Edmund Hillary, or take a highly-recommended one-hour walk up to the Everest View Hotel above Namche for views of notable peaks like Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse, and Everest. There are also good views from the Sherpa Culture Museum just above town.

Day 5: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (12,687 feet / 3,867 m)

Great views of Ama Dablam along the trail from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche
Great views of Ama Dablam along the trail from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

After breakfast in Namche, you'll follow the trail along the side of the valley high above the Dudh Kosi River. You'll get your first views of the Khumbu region's giant peaks: Mount Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam. Pass by several villages and numerous tea shops, and descend steeply to a bridge over the river at Phunki Tenga. The village is an ideal stopover for lunch and you can rest before making the steep climb to Tengboche.

Although this next zigzag path is tiring, your views will include beautiful rhododendron forests, colorful birds, and superb mountain scenery. Tengboche is famous for its legendary monastery, the largest in Khumbu, and a spectacular panorama of the aforementioned peaks can be seen from where you'll stop for the night.

Trekking time: 4-5 hours (5.7 miles / 9.2 km)

Day 6: Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche (14,304 feet / 4,360 m)

The village of Dingboche
The village of Dingboche

After breakfast, take some extra time to enjoy the scenery around Tengboche Monastery before you start today's journey. With mountains in the background, the monastery looks even more beautiful in the morning sunlight. Once you set out, choose the upper trail for better views on the way to Pangboche village where you'll pass several stupas, Mani walls, and small villages. Stop for lunch at a place that serves delicious food with a fantastic close-up view of Mount Ama Dablam.

In the afternoon, walk north to Pheriche or take the eastward trail beneath the towering north face of Ama Dablam. From here, the walk is fairly moderate as you enter the Imja Valley, which gradually unfolds as you approach the confluence of the Lobuche River. Descend towards the river and begin the last and steepest climb of the day up to Dingboche.

On arrival, you will see a stunning set of fields enclosed by stone walls to protect barley, buckwheat, and potatoes from the cold winds and grazing animals.

Trekking time: 3-4 hours (6.7 miles / 10.8 km)

Day 7: Acclimatization day in Dingboche (14,304 feet / 4,360 m)

A typical stupa sighting on this trek
A typical stupa sighting on this trek

Today is your second acclimatization day of the trip, so sleep in and relax. Enjoy breakfast with great views of Ama Dablam to the south. To better appreciate numerous other peaks visible from Dingboche, you can climb the ridge behind the village. This is an ideal (and easy) acclimatizing excursion allowing you to see three of the world's six highest peaks: Mount Lhotse, Mount Makalu, and Mount Cho Yu. Meanwhile, look west to see the peaks of Lobuche, Cholatse, and Taboche. In the afternoon, you can relax in the village checking out the lodges, a bakery, a handful of shops, and even an internet café.

Day 8: Trek from Dingboche to Chukhung (15,580 feet / 4,750 m)

Village of Chhukung with Ama Dablam in the background
Village of Chhukung with Ama Dablam in the background

After breakfast in Dingboche, you'll have time to enjoy the views of Ama Dablam, Tawache, Chalotse, and the ridge of Nuptse-Lhotse as you start the trek to Chukhung. In fact, this trail passes through stone-walled fields and Imja Khola valley before entering glacier moraines amid the towering Himalayas.

The trail then continues to Bibre, a yak herdsman place. Directly across the valley are Ama Dablam and the Amphu Labsa mountains, while the trail ahead is intersected by icy streams. When you arrive, you can also choose to hike further to a rocky knoll off Chukhung Ri, which offers memorable views of Lhotse, Island Peak, Ama Dablam, Makalu, and others. 

Trekking time: 2-3 hours (3.1 miles / 5 km) 

Day 9: Trek from Chukhung to Pangboche (12,992 feet / 3,960 m)

Pangboche village
Pangboche village

From Chukhung, feeling well-acclimatized, you'll retrace your steps back down the valley to the village of Pangboche.

Day 10: Trek from Pangboche to Namche Bazaar (11,319 feet / 3,450 m)

Return to Namche Bazaar in time for sunset
Return to Namche Bazaar in time for sunset

After breakfast in Pangboche, you'll continue a downward trek (be careful of your footing) and then climb back up through a beautiful birch and rhododendron forest to get to Tengboche.  From here, descend to the bridge over the Dudh Kosi river while admiring the Himalayan giants around you. At Phunki Tenga, you'll get to see the water-driven prayer wheels before making your way back to Namche for the night. 

Trekking time: 6-8 hours (9.4 miles / 15.12 km) 

Day 11: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla (9,186 feet / 2,800 m)

A suspension bridge on the way to Lukla
A suspension bridge on the way to Lukla

Wake up for an early breakfast in Namche, then retrace your steps back to Lukla following the Dudh Kosi river valley. It's a long day, but it won't be too difficult as it's downhill and you'll be in good shape from all the previous days of trekking.

You'll make your way through villages like Chumoa, Benkar, Phakding, and Chuthawa, eventually reaching the Pasang Lhamu Memorial Gate signifying the end of the trek. Though most of the route is an easy downhill slope, the last section of trail before arriving takes you uphill—a fitting way to finish. With Lukla’s handful of shops, bars, and cafes—and even a faux Starbucks!—there are plenty of things to occupy your time as you reflect on your experience.

Trekking time: 6-7 hours (11.1 miles / 17.9 km)

Day 12: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu

Propeller flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
Propeller flight from Kathmandu to Lukla

After breakfast in Lukla, you'll take an early morning flight back to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel and will be able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. Explore Kathmandu's streets on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, perhaps shopping for souvenirs or seeing anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.

Other ideas include rewarding your muscles after the trek with a massage service at Seeing Hands (services are offered from the visually impaired), or the more upscale Kinjalla Spa. You can also take an early evening yoga class at Pranamaya Yoga, with two locations in Thamel and Patan. In the evening, choose from a selection of Nepali, French, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern dishes in Kathmandu.

Flight time: 30 minutes

Day 13: Depart Kathmandu

The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath
The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath

It's time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a final stroll through the narrow alleys and temples, and some final souvenir shopping. A driver will be waiting for you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. It's best to be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.