This short trek, exclusive to National Geographic Expeditions, introduces you to the villages and culture of the Sherpa people. We take time to explore the colourful markets of Namche Bazaar and the famous Thyangboche monastery – the spiritual heart of the Khumbu region. We follow established trails in the Sagamartha National Park to view many of the world's highest peaks including the summit of Everest that peers above the 8000m peaks of Lhotse and Nuptse. We also visit Khunde and Khumjung villages where Sir Edmund Hillary established the regions first hospital and school through the Himalayan Trust.
You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. A pre-trek briefing will be given around 5pm where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. There are a million things to see in Kathmandu and we recommend you spend the afternoon wandering the town and exploring the valley on bicycle or by taxi. The old Royal Palace, Durbar Square and the tourist quarter of Thamel are all worth a visit. Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Durbar Square, Patan, Swayambhunath or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
We transfer to the airport for the 45 minute flight to the STOL airstrip at Lukla. This was the airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and his friends to service the Everest Region when he began his work of building schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people. It is a memorable flight, with marvellous views of the Eastern Himalaya. At Lukla we are immediately impressed by the scale of the huge peaks that surround the village, but this is only a foretaste of what is to come. Our crew assemble and we head downhill towards the Dudh Kosi, named "Dudh" (milk) Kosi (river) because of its colour, a raging river that flows from the highest peaks. The broad and well-marked trail meanders around fields of potatoes and buck-wheat, and passes through small villages, as we pass rows of tree dahlia to make our way to our first campsite at Ghat.
Sections of today's walk are through pine forest, and cleared areas reveal terraced fields and a variety of crops. We pass small groups of donkeys, yaks and dzopko carrying trading goods and trekking gear along the trail. A dzopko is a yak-cow crossbreed while a yak is a full-blood long haired male, more commonly found at higher altitudes. We pass through a variety of small hamlets as we slowly gain altitude. Spectacular mountain peaks unfold above us, and seem to hover above the tree-line as they rise above the deep river valley. Shortly after leaving camp we cross the Kusum Khola, a tributary stream to the Dudh Kosi, and the peak of Kusum Kangru (6369 m) can be seen to the East at the head of the valley. Further along the trail, across the valley to the North-West, Nupla (5885 m) and Kongde Ri (6093 m) rise above the forested ridges. At a turn of the trail, Thamserku (6808 m) rises majestically, seemingly from the river floor. We will see our first Mani walls today. These stone structures are a compilation of many stone tablets, each with the inscription "Om Mani Padme Hum" which translates to "Hail to the jewel in the lotus", and is mantra (chant) venerated by Buddhists and Brahmans alike. Buddhists will walk to the left of these Mani Walls and chortens, but you may notice that people of the lowlands who have no knowledge of Buddhism do not follow this ceremony. We camp for the night at our private eco camp site located above Monjo.
This morning we cross the milky waters of the Dudh Kosi and pass through the gates of the Sagarmatha National Park. The establishment of this national park is a significant attempt to stem the use of fire-wood in the area and the few local people who have a permit to cut wood must gain approval from the authorities on the basis of it being for their personal use. Your leader will oversee the preparation of your meals to ensure that hygiene standards are maintained. We follow the river course to the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi, and cross a spectacular high bridge before commencing our ascent to the village of Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa "capital" of Nepal. It is a tough climb as the trail passes through forest of pine to a vantage point that provides our first view of Mt Everest. The trail continues to climb and meander to Namche, and the sight of this prosperous village spread within a horse-shoe shaped valley opposite the beautiful peak of Kongde Ri is worth every step. After lunch you may wish to peruse the Tibetan trader's stalls or the Sherpa shops in search of a bargain. Our accommodation will be at our private eco campsite.
This rest day in Namche Bazaar is very important for safe acclimatisation. Sagarmatha National Park Headquarters just above our private eco campsite offers a very interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park, and is a wonderful vantage point for the spectacular view up the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest. The change from the narrow lowland valleys to the broad glacial ones is immediately obvious. The steep-sided glacial valley before us gradually winds towards the base of Everest, broken only by the moraines left by retreating glaciers. Its more gradual rate of climb is a blessing for those trekking higher. Towering to over 4000 metres above the valley floor, spectacular peaks seem to engulf us. Around us are Taweche (6542 m), Thamserku (6808 m), Kantega (6685 m), Ama Dablam (6856 m), Nuptse (7896 m) and Lhotse (8511 m). The greatest of all, Mt Everest (8848 m), rises at the head of the valley. The Sherpa Cultural Centre has an interesting collection of mountaineering items and photographs. Those who are fit and acclimatising well may wish to take the optional morning walk to the Everest View Hotel where spectacular views of Everest and Ama Dablam may be seen. Overnight at our private eco campsite.
The walk to Deboche is one of the most spectacular trekking days in Nepal. The trail meanders easily around the ridges and Everest can be clearly seen on the horizon ahead before we descend through splendid rhododendron forests for lunch. After lunch we cross the Dudh Kosi and begin the ascent to the top of a long ridge which flows from the summit of Kantega. Our trail takes us through pine and rhododendron forest, and, as this is a devout Buddhist region, the wildlife is unharmed and not too shy. As a result there is a possibility that we may see Himalayan Thar, Musked Deer or pheasants in the forest and around our campsite. As we approach the ridgeline we pass through a traditional gateway and around a chorten before cresting the ridge onto a wide grassy meadow at the monastery village of Thyangboche. The monastery was re-built with the assistance of Sir Edmund Hillary after it was destroyed by fire in 1989. The views of the Everest massif, as well as all the other major peaks of the area are astounding. We aim to have a private audience with the head Lama at Thyangboche this afternoon to learn more about life at the Monastery. We then head downhill to our private eco campsite at Deboche where a banquet dinner awaits.
If the weather is clear, the mountain views from Thyangboche monastery as we pass through are outstanding - Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse are at the head of the valley, their line of sight flanked by Taweche on one side and Ama Dablam on the other. Almost directly above us are Kantega and Thamserku. Completing a 360 degree panorama of mountains are Khumblia and Kongde Ri which encircle us from across the valley. It is a comfortable day’s walk, with time to explore these unique and more traditional villages. As we near the villages we pass through terraced fields that are home to a brightly colored pheasant, the Danphe Pheasant, the national bird of Nepal. Khumjung is where Sir Edmund Hillary built his “Schoolhouse In the Clouds” and the famed Khunde hospital is close by. World Expeditions supports both of these famous community facilities, as well as the many other projects operated by the Himalayan Trust. There will generally be the opportunity for you to visit the hospital and school. We will also be able to visit the monastery at Khumjung where we may have the opportunity to see the “scalp of a yeti”. It is not so far now to reach Namche where we will stop for the night. Overnight at our private eco campsite.
Nearby on a hilltop, with views of the mountains, is the Everest View Hotel, a joint Nepali - Japanese project, where you can stop for refreshments before passing through the yak breeding farm and descending to Namche. After a break we continue down through the forest to the valley floor to follow the Dudh Kosi downhill, and out of the national park to our camp at the small settlement of Monjo.
Retracing our steps along the valley, we pass through a variety of settlements and forests before an undulating climb to Lukla. We savour our final mountain sunset of the trek as we complete this exhilarating journey. Our last evening of the trek is a good time to have a small party for all the team, especially the porters who will return to their villages from here. There is usually lots of music, dancing and singing and if we are lucky, one of the superb cakes that our Nepali chefs are renowned for.
We fly to Kathmandu, a thrilling takeoff followed by a patch work quilt of terraced fields, forest and villages, with the Himalaya chain to the north. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is your own to do some last minute shopping or sightseeing. This evening we will join for a farewell meal at Dwarika's, one of Kathmandu's finest restuarants.
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further arrangements have been made. Those people travelling by aircraft to further destinations will be transferred to the airport.
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