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.

Recent traveler photos

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Three passes trek, Nepal - Oct 20 - Nov 10, 2017

Traveler: Klaus W. - Local specialist: Mads Mathiasen

My experience was highly positive. I enjoyed the unique high country of Nepal immensely as well as the people I met both with Himalayan Trails and those along the trek. I was impressed with the wide range of ages represented by the trekkers and at times dismayed with the sheer numbers. The highlights for me were the climb of Chukhung Che and the trek over Kongma La pass and the Khumba glacier. Enjoying the trek with my son and brother was particularly gratifying and motivating. A highlight... read more

My experience was highly positive. I enjoyed the unique high country of Nepal immensely as well as the people I met both with Himalayan Trails and those along the trek. I was impressed with the wide range of ages represented by the trekkers and at times dismayed with the sheer numbers. The highlights for me were the climb of Chukhung Che and the trek over Kongma La pass and the Khumba glacier. Enjoying the trek with my son and brother was particularly gratifying and motivating. A highlight was meeting up again with Peter in Dzongla after he had to go back down to Pheriche from Chukhung. My son and I had little trouble with the treks or the altitude, which I ascribe to the great pacing set by our guide Ngawong. The porters Lhakpa and Dorjee were helpful, cheerful and worked hard to carry our "too much stuff".

The only slightly negative commentary on the trek was the time duration after going over Renjo pass. Its length was constrained by our return flight to the states (which had already been delayed by one day by China Southern). In my estimation the trek could be shortened by 2-3 days still leaving time for shopping/sightseeing in Kathmandu, if desired. We ended up staying three nights in Namche on the way back and 3 days in Kathmandu. Admittedly it gave us time to relax and hang out but we had already been gone >3 weeks and were ready to go home.

Three passes trek - the ultimate 19-day trek in the everest region of nepal, Nepal - Oct 19 - Nov 7, 2017

Traveler: Christine W. - Local specialist: Mads Mathiasen

Kamchha was a very good guide, very knowledgeable. Unfortunately he had to leave the trek a few days early because of a medical issue, which is understandable, but then he was replaced by someone who didn't speak English. I had a difficult time at the airport trying to fly out of Lukla back to Kathmandu. The Nepal Himalayas are absolutely amazing, incredible scenery all around. I don't know how they choose what places to stay at though and I wish there was a better price breakdown for... read more

Kamchha was a very good guide, very knowledgeable. Unfortunately he had to leave the trek a few days early because of a medical issue, which is understandable, but then he was replaced by someone who didn't speak English. I had a difficult time at the airport trying to fly out of Lukla back to Kathmandu. The Nepal Himalayas are absolutely amazing, incredible scenery all around. I don't know how they choose what places to stay at though and I wish there was a better price breakdown for each day. Had to sleep in a tent in freezing temperatures because it was not booked in advance.

Really liked Aditya, who helped pick me up from the airport twice, and speaks good English and is super nice and diligent.

Needed more info on what to expect with the weather and what clothing to bring
Would have liked a breakdown on prices as compared to other companies/guides, I paid quite a deal more than other people did
Otherwise he was very helpful and the trip was awesome

Three passes trek, Nepal - Oct 20 - Nov 10, 2017

Traveler: Peter W. - Local specialist: Mads Mathiasen

The trip was very well organized and we were in good hands. The trek did seem longer than it needed to be... we had a lot of free time on our hands.