- Explore Kathmandu, Nepal's bustling capital
- Take a private guided tour of a trio of sites sacred to Buddhists and Hindus
- Enjoy a spectacular helicopter tour with views of Everest and Khumbu Icefall
- Trek through the Everest region, staying at luxury accommodations
- Explore Kongde, a phenomenal trekking destination that is off-the-beaten-path
|Day 1||Welcome to Kathmandu!||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding (8,563 ft / 2,610 m)||Phakding|
|Day 4||Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,290 ft / 3,440 m)||Namche Bazaar|
|Day 5||Helicopter Tour from Namche Bazaar: Everest Base Camp & Khumbu Icefall||Namche Bazaar|
|Day 6||Trek from Namche Bazaar to Thame||Thame|
|Day 7||Trek from Thame to Kongde (13,944 ft / 4,250 m)||Kongde|
|Day 8||Rest day in Kongde (Optional day hike to Farak Ri)||Kongde|
|Day 9||Trek from Kongde to Phakding (8,563 ft / 2,610 m)||Phakding|
|Day 10||Trek from Phakding to Lukla||Lukla|
|Day 11||Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 12||Depart Kathmandu|
Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!
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.
Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square is a great place to start your exploration, where you'll walk through narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. If you want to stretch your legs, Swayambhunath, the white stupa rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the valley.
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: Explore Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by an English-speaking guide for a full-day tour of the Kathmandu Valley, visiting three sacred sites: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square.
This day fits quite a bit in — helpful for maximizing your time in Kathmandu — but doesn't overload you with too many sites. You can spend as much time as you like at each temple (this is a private tour just for you), although most people tend to spend an hour. For lunch, you'll stop at one of our recommended local restaurants.
Return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the late afternoon and meet your trekking guide who will go over details for tomorrow's adventure.
Tour length: 7-8 hours (including transfers)
Day 3: Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding (8,563 ft / 2,610 m)
After breakfast, you'll fly to Lukla (a 30-minute jaunt) and land on the steep mountain runway that 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.
Your first day on the trail is intentionally easy, enabling you to get used to the higher elevation. Today you'll trek a short distance through local villages where you'll likely encounter fellow trekkers, locals, and yaks with their tinkling bells. 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 4: Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,290 ft / 3,440 m)
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 includes crossing a number of spectacular high suspension bridges over the Dudh Kosi River.
Just beyond the village of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park, which was established 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. After a steep 45-60 minute climb, you'll arrive at the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar.
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 you're 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.
Close to your lodge is the internationally known Museum of Sherpa Culture and the traditional villages of Kunde and Khumjung are a highly recommended half-day excursion. The location of your lodge is superb, offering a bird's eye view over Namche and across the valley to the serrated ridges of the Kongde range, while the magnificent peak of Thamserku (21,729 feet / 6,623 m) rises as a backdrop. Just a short walk away is a classic view of Ama Dablam (an incredibly beautiful mountain), Lhotse and Everest.
This is an ideal place to spend the day, acclimatizing to the new altitude. Tonight you can relax in your luxury accommodations and enjoy the creature comforts you'd miss out on if you were staying instead in a rustic teahouse.
Trekking time: 4-6 hours (4.6 miles / 7.4 km)
Day 5: Helicopter Tour from Namche Bazaar: Everest Base Camp & Khumbu Icefall
After an early breakfast, you'll be picked up in Namche Bazaar for a private helicopter tour in the Himalaya. You'll get phenomenal aerial views of Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kantega, Lhotse, Nuptse, as well as Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu Icefall.
In the afternoon, visit the Edmund Hillary School and Everest Museum before returning to your cozy accommodations in Namache Bazaar for the evening.
Day 6: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Thame
After breakfast at your luxury lodge, you start the day with a 2 to 3-hour walk through a forest of spruce, juniper and pine to the village of Thamo. You'll immediately notice that this route is the road less traveled by other trekkers; however, it is an important trail that leads all the way to Tibet via the Nangpa La on the shoulder of Cho Oyu (26,286 feet / 8,012 m). It is also the historical route that the Sherpas traversed when they migrated from eastern Tibet 800 years ago.
You'll stop for lunch in Thamo, home to Ang Rita Sherpa, who holds the record for scaling Mt. Everest ten times without oxygen. After lunch, you'll continue trekking for another 2 hours until you reach a deep gorge where the Bhote Koshi River thunders through a narrow defile. You'll cross the water thanks to a sturdy bridge spanning the gorge and will head to today's final destination: Thame (12,467 feet / 3,800 m).
Thame is an important village and has historically been the home of many famous mountaineers, including Tensing Norgay, the first man to reach the summit of Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary. Apa Sherpa, who has reached the summit at least 18 times, also lives here now. The picturesque village has a magnificent 16th-century Nyingmapa gompa (monastery) built by Lama Rolwa Dorje.
Tonight, relax at your lodge, which provides breathtaking views of Thamserku and Kusum Kanguru.
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home
Day 7: Trek from Thame to Kongde (13,944 ft / 4,250 m)
Now that you are warmed up and well acclimatized, get ready to tackle two tougher trekking days. The hikes are worth it, as you'll be rewarded with truly extraordinary Himalayan panoramas.
You'll start today descending the terrain for around 30 minutes, after which you'll follow a trail on the south side of the Bhote Kosi River and through the tiny village of Pare.
You then climb gradually through beautiful rhododendron, pine, and bamboo forest to the glacier of Kongde Peak, where you have stunning views of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. This is a very new trail, built specifically for the Yeti Mountain Home Lodge, so you are unlikely to see other trekkers sharing your route. Although the trail is well built, it does cross some very steep ground, including one short section where you'll use cables as handrails to safeguard your progress.
In Kongde, you'll check in to your beautiful lodge (situated at 13,944 feet/ 4,250 m), where you'll enjoy the next two nights. Have a hot shower, settle in, then head outside to drink in some of the best panoramas in the Everest region. The spectacular view looks right across the valley to Namche and beyond to Thyangboche, with a backdrop of Everest, Lhotse, Thamserku, and Ama Dablam.
Relax and recharge over world-class cuisine and fine wines in the restaurant while, from your perch by the window, you can watch the sun dip behind the world's highest peak. It just doesn't get better than this!
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home
Day 8: Rest day in Kongde (Optional day hike to Farak Ri)
Today you can choose to sleep in, rest, and relax in Kongde. Or if you're inspired to seek out more extraordinary views, you can choose an optional day hike to Farak Ri (16,404 feet / 5,000 m).
If the excursion is calling your name, you'll have an early wake-up call and breakfast so you can head out and catch the best morning views. Expect to take 2-3 hours to summit the peak; once there, you'll be greeted with a panoramic view of the entire Khumbu Valley, including four of the highest peaks in the world (Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu). When you return to Kongde, you'll enjoy a delicious, leisurely lunch on the gorgeous terrace as you look out over Namche and Khumjung village.
However you spend your morning, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to relax or wander around this gorgeous area.
Day 9: Trek from Kongde to Phakding (8,563 ft / 2,610 m)
You'll want to get out your trekking poles today for a steep, but picturesque descent today. You'll be navigating down from your high perch above the Dudh Kosi river to Phakding, taking your time on the trail so you can explore a number of small Sherpa settlements along the way. This route is unique, as the settlements are just off the main trail and the Sherpa here don't usually see trekkers.
You'll ultimately make your way to the Everest Trail then will continue to today's destination: the village of Phakding, nestled in the mountains.
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Day 10: Trek from Phakding to Lukla
On the last day of your trek, you'll enjoy a leisurely start before your final short stage to Lukla.
If you remember back to your first day on the trail, you'll recall that your approach to Lukla was downhill; however, in trekking, what goes down must come up!
Keep this in mind as you hike so you'll have the verve to tackle the final 40 minutes to crest the ridge on which Lukla Airstrip was built.
After, you'll check-in at your hotel for your last night in Khumbu. Relax and celebrate your victory on the trail!
Day 11: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu
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 by the visually impaired), or the more upscale Kinjalla Spa. You can also take an early evening yoga class at Pranamaya Yoga, with two locations (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 12: Depart Kathmandu
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 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 two hours prior to departure.