This 20-day itinerary guides you along the legendary Three Passes route—one of Nepal's most challenging and spectacular treks. Traverse a rugged landscape of steep passes, glaciers, and the world's highest freshwater lakes to reach the doorstep of Mount Everest. With downtime to rest and acclimatize to the altitude, you'll gain insight into the rich Sherpa culture with visits to local villages and isolated monasteries.


  • Explore the vibrant capital of Kathmandu
  • Embark on the trekking adventure of a lifetime into the Himalaya
  • Reach Mount Everest's base camp at 17,594 feet (5,364 m)
  • Climb to vast glaciers, mountain rivers & freshwater lakes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding  Phakding
Day 4 Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar  Namche Bazaar
Day 5 Acclimatization Day in Namche Bazaar Namche Bazaar
Day 6 Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche  Tengboche
Day 7 Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche  Dingboche
Day 8 Acclimatization Day in Dingboche  Dingboche
Day 9 Trek from Dingboche to Chukhung  Chukhung
Day 10 Trek from Chukhung to Lobuche via Kongma La Pass Lobuche
Day 11 Trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep, Hike to Everest Base Camp Gorak Shep
Day 12 Trek from Gorak Shep to Lobuche, Sunrise from Kala Patthar Lobuche
Day 13 Trek from Lobuche to Dzongla  Dzongla
Day 14 Trek from Dzongla to Gokyo via Cho La Pass Gokyo
Day 15 Acclimatization Day in Gokyo (Climb Gokyo Ri or Visit Gokyo Lakes) Gokyo
Day 16 Trek from Gokyo to Marlung via Renjo La Pass Marlung
Day 17 Trek from Marlung to Namche Bazaar  Namche Bazaar
Day 18 Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla  Lukla
Day 19 Fly to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 20 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Kathesimbhu Stupa in Kathmandu
Kathesimbhu Stupa in Kathmandu

Welcome to Nepal! Flying into Kathmandu, you'll be greeted with stunning 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 to discover 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 (shrine) rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch a spectacular sunset.

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

Boudhanath stupa
Blue skies over the Boudhanath stupa

Kathmandu has a special atmosphere during the early morning hours when the city is slowly coming to life yet not too chaotic. It's a great time to walk and explore the streets or have a chai overlooking one of the local courtyards or "durbar squares." 

After breakfast, there are several ways you can spend your day given the myriad famous sights around the Kathmandu Valley. You can use this as a free day, or utilize a local English-speaking guide who knows the city well and can explain the history and significance of the sights (along with a private Jeep to take you around).

In the evening, head out for dinner at one of the city's great eateries, or your specialist can arrange a home-cooked dinner with a local family.

Day 3: Fly to Lukla, Trek to Phakding 

Lukla's adventurous airstrip
Lukla's adventurous airstrip

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. 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

Elevation: 8,563 feet (2,610 m)

Day 4: Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar 

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 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 

Elevation: 11,290 feet (3,440 m)

Day 5: Acclimatization Day in Namche Bazaar

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

Today is a rest day so take the 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 6: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche 

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 and 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 

Elevation: 12,687 feet (3,867 m)

Day 7: Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche 

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 a tableau of mountains rising 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 (stone walls inscribed with prayers), 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 

Elevation: 14,304 feet (4,360 m)

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Day 8: Acclimatization Day in Dingboche 

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 LobucheCholatse, 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 9: Trek from Dingboche to Chukhung 

Village of Chhukung with Ama Dablam in the background
The 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. You'll pass through stone-walled fields and the 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 

Elevation: 15,580 feet (4,750 m)

Day 10: Trek from Chukhung to Lobuche via Kongma La Pass

Views across a glacial lake 

After a pre-sunrise breakfast in Chukhung, you'll set out early and begin today's trek to reach the highest part of the entire trip: Kongma La pass. You can either take a trail over a hill which is to the northwest of Chukhung to get to the Nuptse Glacier moraines, or walk back to Bibre and hike on the trail above the Niyang Khola. The top of the pass is marked by cairns and Buddhist prayer flags, so it's easy to spot.

The final descent from the pass is the most difficult part of today’s journey. After climbing the moraine on the far side, the trail turns north through Khumbu Glacier, which then takes you to Lobuche where you'll stay the night. 

Trekking time: 7-8 hours 

Elevation: 16,210 feet (4,940 m)

Day 11: Trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep, Hike to Everest Base Camp

Welcome to Everest Base Camp
Welcome to Everest Base Camp

After breakfast, you'll trek along the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. Ahead, you'll see the crest of the north ridge of Everest along with Pumori, Mahalangur, Lingtern, Khumbutse, and Nuptse. A small ascent takes you to Thangma Riju where you can admire panoramic views and then ascend on a steep trail to the top of Changri Glacier.  

When you reach Gorak Shep, you'll be surrounded by the Himalaya. Take some time to rest and enjoy the views before you continue toward Everest Base Camp. Once you get to the starting point of the world’s tallest mountain, take photos, explore the camp and surroundings, and then trek back to Gorak Shep for the night. 

Trekking time: 6-7 hours

Elevation: 17,594 feet (5,364 m)

Day 12: Trek from Gorak Shep to Lobuche, Sunrise from Kala Patthar

Sunrise views towards Mount Everest

After an early breakfast in Gorak Shep, you'll begin the trek to Kala Patthar with enough time to catch views of the first rays of sunlight on Mount Everest. Prepare for trekking in the dark and cold morning air and chill winds (temperatures vary according to the season). Look for familiar peaks such as Lingtren, Khumbutse, Changtse, Everest, and Nuptse towering above you.

After several hours of ascent, you'll be on the top of Kala Patthar. The close-up views of Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks from this spot are amazing. You'll have more chances to enjoy the vistas as you descend to Lobuche where you'll stay the night.

Trekking time: 8-9 hours

Elevation: 16,207 feet (4,940 m)

Day 13: Trek from Lobuche to Dzongla 

A yak herder traversing the valley

After breakfast in Lobuche, it's time to trek downhill alongside the Khumbu Glacier. The trail splits into two and you'll choose the path on the right-hand side. Along the way, you can better admire the view of the looming Awi Peak as you pass by a stupa with tombstones visible in the distance.

You'll eventually begin to ascend past views of nearby Chola Tsho Lake. Continue further and pass another much smaller lake before you cross the Chola Khola on a bridge. This leads to Dzongla where you'll stop for the night. 

Trekking time: 3-4 hours 

Elevation: 15,850 feet (4,830 m)

Day 14: Trek from Dzongla to Gokyo via Cho La Pass

Skirt a snowy crevasse on today's trek

After breakfast in Dzongla, you'll begin to gain height quickly on a steep incline with boulders. Look for Cho La Lake as well as the Ama Dablam presiding over a range of mountains to the south. The final ascent to Cho La can be a little tricky as the trail curves around a crevasse, but the top of the pass—marked by prayer flags and cairns—offers breathtaking scenery with majestic peaks in all directions.

You'll then take a long but easy path leading down to Thangnak. The trail continues to the edge of the Ngozumpa Glacier, which is the longest glacier in Nepal. Reaching the other side of the glacier, you'll see the second Gokyo Lake, belonging to a series of six lakes. A short distance away is the third Gokyo Lake, and on the edge stands Gokyo Village where you'll spend the night.

Trekking time: 7-8 hours

Elevation: 15,584 feet (4,750 m)

Day 15: Acclimatization Day in Gokyo (Climb Gokyo Ri or Visit Gokyo Lakes)

View from Gokyo Ri
Breathtaking views from Gokyo Ri

Today is a rest day in Gokyo with a few options on how to spend the day. You can take an easy climb to Gokyo Ri and enjoy views of the incredible mountain vista. You can also tour the fourth Gokyo Lake, which is just under two miles north of the Gokyo Village. If you're up for a more challenging day, you can continue trekking to the fifth lake. At the water's edge is a spot called "Scoundrel's Viewpoint" for astonishing views of Cho-Oyu, Gyachung Kang, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and the Makulu mountains, as well as the massive Ngozumba Glacier. From here, trek back to Gokyo and spend the night.

Day 16: Trek from Gokyo to Marlung via Renjo La Pass

Views of Ngozumpa Glacier
Views of Ngozumpa Glacier

After your final meal in Gokyo Village, you'll start the morning early to complete the long day’s trek ahead. The trail moves alongside Dudh Pokhari (another lake) and you'll walk for a few hours before descending towards the Renjo La pass. Views from the Renjo La pass are similar to those from Gokyo Ri, with the third Gokyo Lake and Gokyo Village visible beneath the Ngozumpa Glacier. You'll also get outstanding views of Mount Everest from the top of the pass.

Continuing from here, the trail winds down a stone staircase and over loose scree to reach the south bank of Angladumba Tsho Lake. The presence of ice on the trail while descending can make this portion of the trek a bit hazardous so be careful. Along the way, you'll see Relama Tsho and Renjo Lake, and then walk down a narrow valley clogged with giant boulders to Lumde. You'll then walk for almost an hour to get to Marlung on the east bank of the Bhote Koshi River

Trekking time: 7-8 hours

Elevation: 17,585 feet (5,360 m)

Day 17: Trek from Marlung to Namche Bazaar 

The Bhote Koshi River
The Bhote Koshi River

Start the day with breakfast in Marlung before you descend to Thame along a route that follows a traditional path used for centuries by Tibetan traders. From here, you'll cross the Bhote Koshi River and descend to Taranga, then continue moving downwards while crossing two bridges before reaching Thame.

Overlooking Thame is the village's famous gompa (Buddhist monastery) situated on a hill to the west. From here, you'll descend gradually on a trail that passes through a few small villages before reaching Namche Bazaar. This is the biggest hub in the Everest region with plenty of shops, bars, and cafés as well as fellow trekkers passing through. 

Trekking time: 5-6 hours

Elevation: 11,319 feet (3,450 m)

Day 18: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla 

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, BenkarPhakding, 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 cafés—and even a faux Starbucks!—there are plenty of things to occupy your time as you reflect on the completion of this once-in-a-lifetime trek.

Trekking time: 6-7 hours 

Elevation: 9,186 feet (2,800 m)

Day 19: Fly to Kathmandu

Taking off from Lukla's airport
Taking off from Lukla's airport

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 restaurants in Kathmandu.

Day 20: 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, or some souvenir shopping. A driver will be waiting for you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Nepal's Three Passes Trek - 20 Days
Map of Nepal's Three Passes Trek - 20 Days