- Visit sacred sites in Kathmandu, like Pashupatinath temple and Boudhanath Stupa
- Get a peek at the world's tallest mountain in Everest National Park
- Check out the Khumbu monastery of Tengboche, one of Nepal's famous gompas
- Trek through dramatic, glacier-filled scenery in the home of the Sherpas
|Day 1||Arrive in Kathmandu||Kathmandu Valley|
|Day 2||Hike to Champadevi||Kathmandu Valley|
|Day 3||Fly to Lukla, trek to Monjo||Monjo|
|Day 4||Excursion to Thachok Danda||Monjo|
|Day 5||Trek to Tashinga||Tashinga|
|Day 6||Day Excursion to Tengboche||Tashinga|
|Day 7||Return Trek to Monjo||Monjo|
|Day 8||Trek via Gumila Monastery to Lukla||Lukla|
|Day 9||Fly to Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 10||Boudhanath and Pashupatinath||Kathmandu|
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu
Land in Nepal's bustling, historic capital, where ancient traditions happily coexist with bold, modern attitudes. Recover from the flight with a scenic short drive through the surrounding countryside, ending in a hilltop resort overlooking the city. Enjoy views spanning not only the peaceful, pine-covered Kathmandu Valley, but the white peaks of distant Langtang National Park. Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries both fill neighboring villages, a testament to Nepal's mixed religious heritage. They make for great day hikes, or else just sit back and relax high above the irresistible chaos of Kathmandu.
Day 2: Hike to Champa Devi Hill
Rise and shine for an early morning hike up to Champa Devi Hill. At almost 7,500 feet (2,285 m), it's the third highest summit in the Kathmandu Valley, making it great preparation for bigger climbs in the days to come. In spring and autumn, you'll be rewarded with a crystal clear panorama of rippled, ice-topped mountains, from Mt. Manaslu in the West (the world's eighth highest peak) ranging to the Eastern Himalayas, which are shared with China.
If the hike has you worn out, recuperate with a lazy afternoon lounging under shady pines. Otherwise, check out the neighboring village of Pharping, home to a vibrant temple, Dakshinkali, in honor of the Hindu goddess Kali, known as the liberator of earthly souls.
Day 3: Fly to Lukla, then trek to Monjo
The flight to Lukla is an attraction in its own right. Prepare for a stunning 35 minute ride over quaint and hilly landscapes, followed by a heart-stopping landing along Lukla's famously tiny mountaintop runway. Soothe your nerves over a welcoming cup of warm, fragrant chiya, or Nepali milk tea—and stretch your muscles in preparation for another trek.
Warm up by leisurely traversing a few scenic villages, then stop for a plate of dal bhat, a traditional lunch of steamed rice and lentil soup, along a picturesque river at the base of the Kusum Kangaru, the snowy peak known as "Three Snow-White Gods" in the local language of the Sherpas. From here, it's only a gentle, three-hour hike to Monjo, passing along green, undulating hills and under dramatic mountaintops. Listen carefully for the trill of wild birdsong and keep your eyes peeled for colorful plumage in the trees.
Day 4: Excursion to Thachok Danda
Adjust to rising altitudes with another acclimating hike, this one a half-day climb up to Thanchok Danda, a hilltop resting spot at 9,842 feet (3,000 m) with breathtaking views of Himalayan mountains like Numbur, Kongde Ri, and Thamserku, a perilous, razor-edged peak that has only been successfully summited once. The return hike will take you about six hours, so make sure to bring along a packed lunch.
Day 5: Trek to Tashinga in Everest National Park
You've prepped with a few tough climbs, and now comes the main event. Wake up early to get your permits registered before entering into Everest National Park, a protected, glacier-filled area, inhabited by the Sherpa tribe. It's also home to the elusive snow leopard, and is famously presided over by the hulking, history-making Sagarmatha (Mount Everest). Get ready for a strenuous climb, but fear not, you'll have many sights and sounds along the way to sweeten your excursions. The swaying, flag-strewn Sir Edmund Hillary suspension bridge, which ropes across the Dudh Kosi—the highest river on earth—will give you a vertiginous photo op.
One more steep slope up Namche Hill will lead you to Namche Bazaar, a bustling, high-altitude market town at 11,286 feet (3,440 m) and the heart of the Khumbu region. Take a well-deserved lunch break and explore the cheerful, cozy surroundings of the village, which boasts a surprising number of sites, like the Sherpa Culture Museum and the Mount Everest Documentation Center. Above Namche, the trail continues another few hours to Tashinga, approaching the mythic Everest.
Day 6: Day Excursion to Tengboche
Head to the Khumbu village of Tengboche for a glimpse at the Buddhist monastery. Called "one of the most beautiful places in the world" by mountaineer John Hunt, the scenic monastery, or gompa, is also the biggest in the region. Start by sloping diagonally downwards on the trail, descending to the small hamlet of Phunki Tenga and crossing the suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi river for another hour-long steep ascent. You'll pass through a thick, scented forest filled with pine trees and rhododendron blossoms, Nepal's national flower. Enjoy the shade while you can, but don't worry, the final hour or two of the trail feature a gradual, gentle ascent for you to catch your breath before reaching the monastery, magically positioned among the world's tallest peaks.
Day 7: Return Trek to Monjo
From Tashinga, begin the descent back to Monjo, this time taking the lower trail back through Namche Bazaar, where you'll have time to pick up souvenirs from the historic trading hub. Crossing the Edmund Hillary Bridge again, you'll recognize familiar surroundings on your way back to Monjo. Enjoy a leisurely dinner and a good night's rest—you earned it.
Day 8: Trek via Gumila Monastery to Lukla
Pass through the riverside Sherpa village of Phakding on your return trek to Lukla, where a 45-minute walk up a path off the main trail leads to Gumila Monastery, one of the region's most well-known gompas and home to monks of the Gelugpa sect, the youngest school of Tibetan Buddhism. Rejoin the main trail and continue on to Lukla for a warm dinner and relaxing evening.
Day 9: Return to Kathmandu
Leave a sizable buffer between your return flight to Kathmandu and your final departure: Planes leaving Lukla are often delayed due to notoriously hazardous fog and wind. Decompress in Kathmandu before a final day's sightseeing, or else venture out to Thamel, the city's backpacker and nightlife district, for dinner, drinks, and perhaps a concert.
Day 10: Boudhanath and Pashupatinath
The intense, sprawling grounds of Pashupatinath are one of the holiest pilgrimage destinations for Hindus worldwide. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the rebellious, hash-smoking patron deity of Nepal. Trident carrying sadhus, or Hindu holy men, come in droves to this sacred site and are often minimally attired: Don't be surprised if you catch a glimpse of naked, ash-smeared flesh. Every Friday, the temple hosts a not-to-be-missed aarti puja, or fire prayer, along the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Be warned, it's also a cremation site.
The Boudhanath Stupa, which its long, famously heavy-lidded pair of Buddha eyes, is one of the country's oldest stupas, a Buddhist structure used for meditation. It was partially destroyed in the 2015 earthquake but has been reopened after a lengthy private restoration. The bustling neighborhood, populated by Tibetan refugees, boasts sumptuous Tibetan restaurants and lively thangka shops. It comes alive in the central square, where you can join locals in making kora, or circumambulations, clockwise around the stupa. Come on a Buddhist festival or full moon day, and if you're lucky, you'll see Boudhanath strung-up and twinkling with fairy lights against the night sky.
Day 11: Departure
Sneak in some last-minute souvenir shopping-- or a quick stroll through Kathmandu's mesmerizing streets—before your flight home.