Three Passes Trek - The Ultimate 19-Day Trek in the Everest Region of Nepal

The Three Passes trek is the ultimate tour of the Everest region. This route takes in all the highlights—both in terms of mountain views and local culture—and combines them into a complete experience of the Everest region.

Highlights

  • Trek a circuit around the entire Everest region
  • Amazing views of the highest mountains in the world
  • Cross three challenging 5000m passes: Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La
  • Leave the crowds of the Everest Base Camp trek behind

Overview

Fast facts
Min. duration 19 days
Max. elevation 5545m (Kala Patthar)
Start/finish Lukla/Lukla
Difficulty Very Challenging
Trek style Teahouse
Map of the Three Passes trek
Overview map of the Three Passes trek

The Everest Region is one of Nepal’s top trekking destinations, and the Three Passes Trek is its ultimate trekking adventure, crossing three passes over 5,000m, each offering amazing scenery and views. This trek was ranked the number 2 on kimkim's list of the best treks in Nepal

Getting there & away

The typical starting point of the Three Passes Trek is the mountain airport of Lukla, a 30-minute spectacular flight from Kathmandu.

If you have some more time, there are a couple of alternative trailheads that add a number of trekking days in the Lower Khumbu: The small airport of Phaplu (adds about 4 days of trekking) and the trailhead at the end of the road in Jiri (adds about 7 days).

Lukla airport
Airport at Lukla, the start of your trek

Permits & regulations

As with other treks in the Everest region, you’ll needs a TIMS ($10 USD) permit and a Sagarmatha National Park permit ($30 USd). If you’re going through a trekking agency, they will arrange these for you. If you’re arranging your trek yourself, you’ll need to pick up your TIMS permit in Kathmandu, and your Sagarmatha National Park permit in Monjo (a village checkpost you’ll pass through on the first day of your trek).

Detailed itinerary

Day Destination Altitude Duration
Day 01 Phakding 2610m 3 hours
Day 02 Namche Bazaar 3440m 5.5 hours
Day 03 Namche Bazaar 3440m (Rest day)
Day 04 Tengboche 3870m 4 hours
Day 05 Dingboche 4410m 6 hours
Day 06 Dingboche 4410m (Rest day)
Day 07 Chukhung 4730m 3 hours
Day 08 Chukhung 4730m (Rest day)
Day 09 Lobuche (via Kongma La, 5535m) 4940m 6 hours
Day 10 Gorak Shep (via EBC, 5380m) 5164m 7.5 hours
Day 11 Lobuche (via Kala Patthar, 5545m) 4940m 5 hours
Day 12 Dzonglha 4200m 3 hours
Day 13 Gokyo (via Cho La pass, 5420m) 4750m 8 hours
Day 14 Gokyo (visit to Gokyo Ri, 5330m) 4750m (Rest day)
Day 15 Lungde (via Renjo La, 5340m)   6 hours
Day 16 Thame 3800m 2.5 hours
Day 17 Namche Bazaar 3440m 3 hours
Day 18 Phakding 2610m 4 hours
Day 19 Lukla 2850m 2.5 hours

Best season

Spring (March - May) and Autumn (October - November) are the best seasons to do this trek. The monsoon season (June - early September) has less predictable weather, but some trekkers still choose this time as it aligns better with their vacation schedule. Winter season (December - February) gets quite cold, and snow may block the passes, but often offers clear skies.

Chorten, Kumjung
Passing by a chorten en route from Kumjung to Namche Bazaar

Difficulty

The three passes trek is rated “Challenging”. It is a very serious adventure given its high pass crossings. It is more challenging than its sibling treks Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes, but not quite as challenging as trekking peaks such as Island Peak and Mera Peak.

Accommodation & meals

The Everest Region has excellent infrastructure for trekkers. The teahouses (lodges) are of relatively high quality and they serve good meals, especially in Namche Bazar which you’ll pass on the way up and down.

Variations

Generally, it’s best to complete the Three Passes trek counter-clockwise. It is possible to go clockwise, as well, but not recommended due to the steep altitude gain of crossing the Renjo La, first. From Gokyo, you can also add an extra day to visit the remote Gokyo Lakes farther up the glacial valley.