Maximum Altitude: 17575 ft
Duration: 10 days
The highest point on Earth has had a lure of its own and it has drawn climbers and trekkers to it since the days of early climbing expeditions. Of course not everyone can summit this magnificent mountain. Therefore, the trail to the base of Everest has become one of the most popular trekking routes in the world. More than 400 people climb to the base camp per day during season. The popularity results in traffic jams on many days. Umm I don’t want to get stuck in a jam when I am in the mountains. That kind of beat the purpose of leaving the cities, don’t you think? Also, do you know that Mt Everest is actually not visible from the Everest Base Camp? You are right below the mountain and do not get to see it. Instead you’ll have to trek for an extra day to Kala Patthar from where Everest is visible.
Let’s talk about Gokyo Lakes trek now. Not many people know that you see a bigger portion of Mt Everest on this route. The aerial view of Everest and the surrounding mountains is much grander on the Gokyo side. And that too without the bustling crowds you will generally find on the EBC trail. Yes please!
Situated in the Sulu Khumbu region, Gokyo isn’t just trekking up to Gokyo Ri. You will be trekking to the five amazing lakes at the highest altitudes. You will be rewarded with jaw dropping mountain views of the world’s 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th highest mountains – Everest (8850 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Makalu (8463 m) and Cho Oyu (8201 m). You will hike along Ngozumpa Glacier, the longest glacier in Himalayas. The route will take you through the picturesque villages in Everest where you can experience the amazing culture and traditions of the local Sherpas. And once again – Come on you get to see Everest.
But before the adventure of climbing the mountain, you’ll have a thrilling experience of flying into Lukla Airport. This small airport is situated in the town of Lukla in eastern Nepal and is considered the most dangerous airport in the world. The airport is surrounded by steep Himalayan terrain on all sides. There is a mountain shelf on one side, and a steep drop into a valley on the other side. As if that’s not enough, the runway is also extremely short which makes it very challenging for the pilot to land here. The landings are so hard that the passengers are known to applaud after every safe landing.
The trekking trails to Gokyo are naturally fascinating. You will be trekking through the lowlands, lush jungles, green hills, and to the snow-covered arid landscapes. You’ll be walking through the varying topography.
You will be visiting Namche Bazaar and would rest here for a day to acclimatize. Now let me tell you that this is not a tiny village. Namche Bazaar feels like a small European town. There are bars, cafes, live music and few stores for that last minute shopping (Raise your hands if you are guilty). It is like a fairytale town in the middle of some of the greatest mountains. Go for a walk and maybe grab a hot chocolate in the evening. A hike till Everest Museum is highly recommended. They run documentaries that give a detailed insight into Sherpa culture. And you will also get the first views of Mount Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse from here. It feels like the town of my dreams.
Click here to read about Pike Peak Trek!
There are two trails from Namche, one going to EBC and the other one towards Gokyo Lakes. You will pass the rhododendron and birch forest decked out with hanging lichens and mosses. The chirping birds give you company and you can see one of the most spectacular mountains standing in front of you. Ama Dablam is known for its beauty all over the world. The name translates to ‘Mother’s necklace’. Ama Dablam is indeed a beautiful necklace of Himalayas. Significantly, the marvelous vistas of Cho Oyu, Kantega and Thamserku will mesmerize you.
The excitement is at its peak as you leave the foothills and enter the tundra of the high mountains. You will follow the Dudh Kosi river up the Gokyo valley to meet its source, the enormous Ngozumpa Glacier. And then the dazzling series of emerald green lakes present themselves. Surrounded by rough, lofty and beautiful mountain terrain, the sparkling, pristine blue and green waters of the Gokyo Lakes are one of the most memorable sights. I know it sounds a little weird but you can actually breathe the lake. Close your eyes and try once.
Gokyo Ri is the highest point on this trek and by that time you are already high due to the amount of beauty around you. I know it can look unreal, so pinch yourself and keep moving until you reach the top. And once here, pause for a bit. You have been walking for days and dreaming for months (maybe years) to be here. Look around. You’ll witness a charismatic sunrise over some of the greatest snowy peaks. The lakes shine as the rays fall on them. The world is coming to life. And at that moment you’ll feel the most alive. The ecstasy, the happiness, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when you reach the summit cannot be described in words. But those tears of happiness can say a lot.
Best Time To Visit
Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) are the best seasons for trekking. In these months the weather is likely to be clear and daytime temperatures warm.
How To Reach
Getting to the base camp (Lukla) is an adventure in itself. Numerous flights are made daily from Kathmandu, in small fixed-wing airplanes, taking around 30 minutes. However, bad weather frequently closes the airport, so it’s wise to prepare for delays if flying to Lukla and to keep a day or two as buffer days.
Click here to read about Solu Trek in Nepal!