It’s the start of my 19-day circuit trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Gokyo Lake, in the Himalayas of Nepal.

I took a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, where the trail to Everest Base Camp begins. From Lukla (2,860 meters above sea level), it’s a challenging yet scenic 2-day hike to Namche Bazaar (3,880 m), where I spent my first “rest” day to acclimatize to the high elevation.

The trail offers refreshing views of the alpine forest landscape and a glimpse of the life of Sherpa communities.

Highlights

 

Scroll down to see photos from my trip, a trail map, itinerary & more travel tips.

Kathmandu to Lukla Flight

Boarding Sita Air flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, at Kathmandu Airport, Nepal

The 30-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, the starting point of the hike to Everest Base Camp. The 14-seater plane was the smallest I had even traveled on. You can really feel all the bumps, turns, and turbulence.

View inside my Sita Air flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Look at that legroom!

Lukla Airport

Lukla Airport and its 527-meter sloped runway.

Got a free shot of adrenaline during landing and take-off at Lukla Airport, infamously known as one of the World’s most dangerous airports.

Built at 2,845 meters (9,300 ft) above sea level, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla is one of the highest in the world, flanked at all sides by the high mountains of the Himalayas. The extremely short 527-meter runway is built at a 12 percent slope/gradient. During take-off, the sloped runway aid planes gain speed as they accelerate down the mountainside. Pilots have one chance to get the take-off right, else risk steering the plane down the steep valley at the end of the runway. Incidentally, the runway incline also help planes slow down during landing.

Lukla to Phakding

Trek path: Lukla (2,860 meters) > Chheplung (2,690 meters) > Nachipang (2,690 meters) > Koshigaun (2,550meters) > Ghat (2,586 meters) > Phakding (2,610 meters).

Tea House dining/common social area in Lukla.

Aside from tea/coffee and full meals. Teahouses also offer private rooms, dorm beds, and even hot showers (at an extra cost). No need for bringing tents, camping, and cooking your food.

Buddhist mantras (prayers) carved on prayer wheels and mani stones, beside a teahouse in Chheplung village.

Teahouse villages can be found almost the whole way to Everest Base Camp. There are multiple teahouses at the Sherpa village along the trail. At lower elevations, you can find villages within a few kilometers from each other. If you are trekking independently, you can easily decide where you can stop for the night.

Mudslide Bridge in Koshigaun village. The first of many hanging/swing bridges on the way to EBC.

Phakding

Dal bhat (Chicken), Phakding – EBC Trek, in Sagarmatha Everest region, Nepal

Try the local Nepali rice dish called “Dal Bhat.” There is a saying, ‘Dal Bhat Power, 24 Hour’.  It’ll keep you energized during a full day trekking.

I spent my first night in Phakding. I was going for Monjo but wasn’t able to make it because of my late flight arrival in Kathmandu. My flight got delayed by a couple of hours due to unfavorable weather.

Hanging bridge over the Dudh Koshi River near Phakding.

Scenic trail to Monjo

Trek path: Phakding (2,610m) > Thulo Gumela (2,700m) > Toktok (2,711m) > Alpine Forest view (2,778m) > Benkar (2,725m) > Monjo (2,824m).

Waterfall along the trail from Toktok to Benkar.

Dudh Kosi River view

Found a stunning photo spot before reaching the village of Monjo. Here, you’ll see a nice view of the highest river in the World, the Dudh Kosi River, surrounded by alpine forests & waterfalls. The Dudh Kosi River is fed by the snow and glacier melt from the high-altitude areas of Mt Everest. It’s known as the “Milk River” because of it’s gleaming white water.

Monjo Village

Monjo, a scenic village found on the way between Lukla and Namche Bazaar

Monjo was one of the more scenic villages along the trail. Spend your night in Monjo if you can make it there during your first-day trekking. There’s a park checkpoint here, so have your permits ready.

Mani stones & alpine forest view

Buddhist Mantras carved on a massive cliff wall with a tall waterfall and refreshing alpine forest view, in Monjo.

Just after the national park checkpoint, you’ll see this amazing view of huge Mani stones amidst a backdrop of pine-covered mountains and a massive waterfall. As a form of prayer, these stones are carved with the mantra “Om mani pad me hum.” In Buddhism, these six syllables embody the essence of all Dharma (moral law & order of the Universe).

Locals crossing the scenic trail between Monjo and Jorsalle.

Monjo to Namche

Trail path: Monjo (2,824m) > Jorsalle (2,810m) > Hillary Bridge (2,883m) > Namche Bazaar (3,440m).

Hillary Bridge & Trek to Namche

The Hillary Bridge one of the most scenic hanging bridges along the whole trek. Take lots of pictures! After crossing the Hillary Bridge, you’ll be on the final, steep, thigh-burning stretch to Namche Bazaar.

Night view of Namche Bazaar, filled with souvenir stalls and trekking shops.

EBC Trek Map

EBC Trek Itinerary

See full itinerary & highlights: EBC-Gokyo Circuit Trek (19 days)

Day 1 – Lukla to Phakding

Distance hiked: 8 km

Starting elevation: 2,860 meters

Ending elevation: 2,610 meters

Elevation change: 250 meters (258 meters up, 478 meters down)

Hike duration: 4 hour and 3 minutes (incl. lunch/rest breaks)

Suggested duration: 2 to 3 hours

Time
0820 Kathmandu to Lukla Flight
1130 Lukla (2,860 meters)
1410 Chheplung (2,690 meters)
Nachipang (2,690 meters)
1500 Koshigaun (2,550meters)
1545 Ghat (2,586 meters)
1645 Phakding (2,610 meters)
Sleep: Snowland Hotel & Restaurant

Day 2 – Phakding to Namche Bazaar

Distance hiked: 10.5 km

Starting elevation: 2,610 meters

Ending elevation: 3,440 meters

Elevation change: 830m (1,130 meters up, 365 meters down)

Hike duration: 9 hours and 30 minutes (incl. lunch/rest breaks)

Suggested duration: 5 to 6 hours.

Time
0930 Phakding (2,610m)
1020 Thulo Gumela (2,700m)
1048 Toktok (2,711m)
1220 Alpine Forest view (2,778m)
1320 Benkar (2,725m)
1415 Monjo (2,824m)
1532 Jorsalle (2,810m)
1620 Hillary Bridge (2,883m). Hard uphill climb after the Hillary Bridge. This is the last stretch before reaching Namche Bazaar.
1900 Namche Bazaar (3,440m)

Travel tips

Remember to confirm the schedule of your flight from Kathmandu to Lukla ahead. Get the very first flight of the day. Early mornings are usually the most favorable time to fly. Flights later have a high chance of being delayed or canceled.

Scenic Monjo looks like a better place to spend your first night, compared to Phakding, where you’ll find most of the big tour groups.

You’ll enjoy the trek more if you prepare for the hike physically. If you check the timings of how I did the trek, you’ll notice how slow my pace was compared to the recommended/typical pace of most trekkers. To be honest, I did not make a serious effort to train before flying to Nepal. Yes, I made it to Everest Base Camp but I also skipped some side treks (that I regret now) because I was too exhausted.

Start your trek early morning, around 7 to 8 am. Most days, I woke up late and started trekking around 10 am. This was a problem because, sometimes, it’s already getting dark when I arrive at my destination. Also, you run the risk of fully-booked teahouses because everyone has already arrived way ahead of you.

EBC-Gokyo trek series

Before you go