- Experience the best of the Everest Region in a short amount of time
- Get up close and personal with Mt. Everest by helicopter
- Spend each one of your nights at a beautiful lodge, away from the main crowds
- Explore the renowned Sherpa culture of the Khumbu Region
- Trek sections of the Everest Base Camp trail without doing the whole thing
Many adventurous travelers dream of trekking through the Khumbu region, but not everybody has the time or inclination to complete the full Everest Base Camp trek. If money isn’t an issue and if you are looking for the best accommodation or would like to see the Khumbu region from a unique perspective, this is the perfect luxury trekking itinerary.
Besides the basic teahouses along the main trekking route where most travelers stay, there are a couple boutique and luxury hotel chains that have built beautiful lodges with excellent service and comfort (Yeti Mountain Homes and Everest Summit Lodges). Some of these lodges are along the main trekking route, while certain lodges are perched in their own unique location with incredible vantage points. At any of the lodges, you’ll find a comfortable night’s sleep, hot showers, and some of the best local cuisine in the Solu Khumbu.
|Day 1||Arrive in Kathmandu; private transfer to your hotel||Dwarika’s Hotel||1440m|
|Day 2||Tour of Bhaktapur, an ancient city with Newari culture||Dwarika’s Hotel||1440m|
|Day 3||Helicopter to Lukla (45 minutes); trek to Phakding (4 hrs)||Yeti Mountain Home||2610m|
|Day 4||Trek to Namche Bazaar (6-7 hrs), the heartland of the Sherpa people||Yeti Mountain Home||3440m|
|Day 5||Helicopter tour: EBC, Khumbu Icefall & Gokyo Lakes;
Visit the Edmund Hillary school and Everest Museum
|Yeti Mountain Home||3440m|
|Day 6||Helicopter to Kongde||Yeti Mountain Home||4250m|
|Day 7||Trek from Kongde to Phakding (5 hrs)||Yeti Mountain Home||2610m|
|Day 8||Helicopter from Phakding to Kathmandu||Dwarika’s Hotel||1440m|
|Day 9||Depart Kathmandu|
Traveling by helicopter
However, luxury travel in the Khumbu region isn’t just about the great hotels: the best part of this itinerary is that you’ll travel around by helicopter. The actual distance between Kathmandu and Mt. Everest (as well as the villages/hotels in the Khumbu region) is actually not that great (Everest is only about 100 miles/160 kilometers from Kathmandu).
Although it takes a long time to trek to Everest Base Camp, traveling by helicopter allows you to see the varied landscape in a shorter amount of time. Helicopters will take you from teeming Kathmandu to the green terraced farmland around Lukla and Namche Bazaar to the dazzling turquoise Gokyo Lakes and high-altitude icy, rocky desert around Everest in a matter of hours, rather than days.
Getting there & away
Flying from Kathmandu to Lukla by helicopter or small plane is the easiest and quickest way. This only takes 30-45 minutes. Plane flights are scheduled multiple times a day, and this is the cheapest option. Helicopters must be chartered independently, and are much more expensive. Keep in mind, flights of any type to or from Lukla are sensitive to the weather and can be canceled or postponed at short notice for safety reasons.
Following the main trekking seasons in Nepal, the best time for visiting the Everest region is in Spring (March-May) and Fall (September-November). During these months, the days are warm and the skies are likely to be clear.
No matter what season you do this trip, flying by helicopter is always dependent on weather. In winter, snow and ice can sometimes limit landing spots, while in the summer monsoon, thick clouds can limit flying. That said, helicopters can fly under circumstances when fixed-wing planes can’t.
Yeti Mountain Home and Everest Summit lodges are open during the main trekking season but sometimes close during the summer and winter. If you book your trip in advance, however, the lodges can often accommodate your dates.
What to bring
It is essential to have sturdy hiking boots, a waterproof outer layer and other clothing that can be layered and put on/off as the weather requires. Lodges will be equipped with blankets for cold weather, and luxury lodges will be especially cozy in the cold.
The altitudes in the Khumbu region are relatively high, and altitude-related health problems can arise after ascending above 2500m. Because this itinerary includes flights that take you to higher elevations relative quickly, the overall difficulty of the trekking is less than on the full EBC trek, for example. The most challenging trekking day here is the 6-7 hour trek between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. The trail is mostly uphill, but you will catch your first glimpse of Everest this day and cross the highest suspension bridge in Nepal, so it will be memorable!
Because you will be flying between some places, there will be slightly less time to acclimatize naturally. Nevertheless, this itinerary only includes one night at a very high altitude (Kongde, 4250m), thus minimizing the risks of altitude-related problems.
Accommodation & meals
Luxury lodges in the Everest region offer a very high standard of accommodation and food. Think Swiss ski chalet rather than an urban five-star hotel, however. Beds will come with electric blankets and/or hot water bottles, and rooms come with attached bathrooms with hot water. Most lodges are built and decorated with local design elements in mind, with Sherpa and Tibetan-style touches. Dining halls will be well-heated with a fireplace, and often have large windows so you can enjoy the view. Meals are of a high standard, often made with locally grown vegetables and reflect local cuisine, with noodles, rice, and curry.
This is a luxury itinerary, and costs reflect this. Traveling by helicopter in the Himalaya is expensive, but is an unforgettable experience. However, you may be pleasantly surprised how reasonable the luxury lodges are, especially by Western standards.
Permits & regulations
The Sagarmatha National Park (through which you'll be trekking) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As with all treks in this park, you’ll needs a TIMS card ($10 USD) and a Sagarmatha National Park permit ($30 USD). Your tour company will arrange these permits for you.