Phaplu to Everest Base Camp Trek in the Khumbu region of Nepal is a less crowded alternative trekking trail to the foot of the highest mountain in the world Mt. Everest. The 18 days long trek in the Sherpa homeland of Dudh Koshi and Imja River Valley offers expansive views of the eight-thousander mountains. It is an unforgettable experience of traversing at high altitudes through the rich terrain of Sagarmatha National Park.
The altered trekking route begins from Phaplu in eastern Nepal then proceeds on Bupsa, meeting the classic Jiri Everest trail. From there, it meets the famous Everest Base Camp trail at Phakding. Passing by Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Lobuche, and Gorak Shep, you get a glimpse of the Sherpa culture and traditions. You take a day hike to Everest Base Camp (EBC), the ultimate trekking destination, and then another to Kala Patthar viewpoint for the majestic wide-angle view of the Himalayas. The scenic route descends to Pheriche village, Namche, then Lukla.
This trek is entirely worth it as you get one with nature, immerse in ethnic traditions and culture, and enjoy up-close views of the Himalayas. This moderate to challenging trek is designed for those with enough time and budget to spend and who have previous trekking experience in the Himalayas.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu and trip preparation|
|Day 2||Drive from Kathmandu to Phaplu (2,413m/7,915ft, 270km, 8 to 9 hours)|
|Day 3||Trek from Phaplu to Nunthala (2,330m/7,643ft, 12km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 4||Trek from Nunthala to Bupsa (2,070m/6,790ft, 14km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 5||Trek from Bupsa to Surke (2,290m/7,512ft, 14km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 6||Trek from Surke to Phakding (2,610m/8,561ft, 15km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 7||Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazar (3,440 m/11,284 ft, 10.5km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 8||Acclimatization and Optional hike in Namche Bazaar|
|Day 9||Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,860m/12,661ft, 5 to 6 hours, 9.2 km), Visit Tengboche Monastery|
|Day 10||Trek from Tengboche to Dingboche (4,410m/14,469ft, 11km, 5 to 6 hours) via Pangboche|
|Day 11||Acclimatization at Dingboche and optional hike to Nagarjun Hill (5,100m/16,732ft, 4.5km, 4 to 5 hours)|
|Day 12||Trek from Dingboche to Lobuche (4,910m/16,109ft, 8km, 5 to 6 hours)|
|Day 13||Trek to Gorak Shep (5,140m/16,864ft) and visit Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,594ft, 12km, 7 to 8 hours)|
|Day 14||Hike from to Kala Patthar (5,550m/18,209ft) then Trek to Pheriche (4,240m/13,980ft, 12km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 15||Trek from Pheriche to Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,286ft, 19 km, 7 to 8 hours)|
|Day 16||Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2,840m/9,318ft, 18.5km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 17||Fly Lukla to Kathmandu (1,400m/4,592ft, 35 minutes)|
|Day 18||Final Departure from Kathmandu|
The 18 days Phaplu to Everest Base Camp trek takes a less-frequented trekking route in the eastern Himalayas of Nepal. The long walk offers a culmination of Sherpa heritage, unique flora and fauna, and the thrill of setting foot in the most popular Everest Base Camp (EBC).
The EBC trek itinerary commences with a drive to Phaplu village in Solukhumbu district, northeast of Kathmandu. The drive passes east to Dhulikhel towards Ghurmi, then Okhaldhunga to the north. Trek begins on the following day from Phaplu towards Tak Sindo La pass, offering Mera Peak, Thamserku, and others. Visit Taksindu gompa on the way, then proceed to the village of Nunthala, which is the last village in the north and a trading route.
From Nunthala, the trek proceeds downhill to the ethnic Rai settlement of Jubing in the Dudh Koshi river valley. Moving ahead, make an overnight stop at the small Bupsa village inhabited by the Sherpa community, where you meet the classic Jiri Everest trail. From Bupsa, head to Kari La Pass at 2,800m, then head downhill to Surke village, known for its fertile vegetative land.
Following Surke, the trek continues to Phakding village, which meets the alternative Everest Base Camp trail from Lukla. With Thamserku peak towering ahead, move on to Benkar village and head to Monjo checkpoint into the Sagarmatha National Park zone. Enjoying the lush flora and fauna, pass a suspension bridge to Jorsale, eventually, Namche Bazaar, the tourist hub of Khumbu.
Your first acclimatization day will be at Namche Bazaar. You can enjoy a hike to the Everest view hotel for Ama Dablam and Everest views and visit the Khunde Hospital and Namche Monastery. Also, enjoy the Saturday market in Namche if you happen to be there on a Saturday. From Namche Bazaar, the trail will take you to Tengboche village, known best for Dawa Choeling Monastery/ Tengboche Monastery, the largest in the Khumbu region.
Trekking from Tengboche, you will cross the route to the Imja Khola gorge and head to Pangboche village. Visit the oldest monastery in the Khumbu region, Pangboche Monastery, to understand the Sherpa culture and ancient architecture. Move ahead in the Imja Khola valley to Dingboche village. Your second acclimatization day will be at Dingboche. You can take a day hike to Nagarjun Hill/ Nangkartshang (5,100m/16,732ft) to enjoy the views of Mt. Ama Dablam.
The trail proceeds towards Lobuche village, passing by Thukla Pass, which is adorned with memorial tombstones in honor of mountaineers who lost their lives in the Everest expedition. From Lobuche, the trail takes you to Gorak Shep, from where you will take a day hike to Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,594ft). Walking on the rugged graveled terrain on icy slopes, you will triumphantly reach the Everest Base Camp! Views of 8,000m mountains, Khumbu Icefall, and Khumbu glaciers are the major highlights of the day.
On the following day, take a hike from Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5,550m/ 18,209ft) vantage point for the amazing panoramic views of Mt. Everest and surrounding mountains. Pumori, Lhotse, Nuptse, Changtse, Cho Oyu are the major attractions. Head back to Gorak Shep, then trek to Pheriche village downhill. On the next day, the trek to Namche Bazaar is pretty straightforward. Head from Namche to Phakding, then finally to Lukla, which will mark your last day in the Khumbu region. Take a flight from Lukla to Kathmandu, signifying the end of the incredible trip.
Welcome to Kathmandu, Nepal! Enjoying snow-laden mountains surrounding the green valley, land at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Our representatives will greet you at the terminal and transfer you to a hotel in Thamel. Thamel is a lively neighborhood located just 5 km from the airport.
Upon reaching the hotel, take some rest, then head out to our office nearby. Meet the team and enquire about the trek if you need any clarifications. After being briefed by the guide, we'll prepare the documentation and permits. In the afternoon, take a stroll around the alleyways of Thamel. If time permits, visit the nearby Kathmandu Durbar Square, a historical and religious site. Explore the museum, which was once a Shah palace. Visit shrines and temples in the courtyards. Enjoy an authentic Nepali welcome dinner at night.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Kathmandu.
It is an early morning drive from Kathmandu towards Phaplu town in the northeast. It is a long drive that offers green valleys, passing by forests alongside rivers and surrounding mountains. You will have left the Kathmandu valley after you pass Dhulikhel. From there, the drive continues to Bhimkhori and Birpani. In between, you will stop for lunch, then continue to Ghurmi, from where the rugged trail takes you north to Okhaldhunga. Most of the road is blacktopped from there to Pattale.
Following a zig-zag road beside the Solu river, you will reach Phaplu in the Solukhumbu district. Phaplu also has an airport, so alternatively, you can take a flight there. The beautiful town is filled with greenery. There are numerous guest houses from where you can choose to stay overnight. After the long and tiring drive, take some rest.
Overnight stay in Phaplu.
Trek will begin from this day onwards. You will be heading to Nunthala village further into the Khumbu region. The initial leg of the trek stretches to Tak Sindo La pass. It is decorated with prayer flags and is a vantage point to see Mera Peak, Thamshekhu, Kusum Kanguru, and Kangtega Peak. Make a quick stop at Taksindu gompa, a religious shrine for the locals. Following a rugged trail, you will pass through the Sherpa settlement. From there, a forested trail leads to Nunthala.
Nunthala is a distinct village in the eastern region. You'll see a lot of mules, yaks, and horses along the streets. The village is connected to the trading route as it is the last village in the district's north. You will witness animals and locals carrying essential supplies back and forth.
Overnight stay in Nunthala.
After having breakfast, pack up your belongings, then head downhill through the Dudh Koshi River, sourced by Ngozumpa Glacier. Crossing a long suspension bridge, you will walk through a rocky, muddy, and unstable path. Then a steep climb will bring you to a picturesque Jubing village mainly inhabited by the Rai settlement.
From there on, you will climb stone stairs and pass by terraced fields and forests into Kari Khola. Have your lunch there, then take a quick stroll around a nearby Gompa sitting on a ridge. Views of the valley look phenomenal from the ridge. Continue your trek while passing by stone houses, farmland, millet fields, then into Bupsa.
Bupsa is a small village inhabited by the Sherpa community. You will find many other tourists who have taken an overnight stop as it is a famous point in the Jiri to Everest trail. Upon reaching your teahouse, take some rest, then visit the nearby monastery to explore the rich culture and tradition of the Sherpa.
Overnight in Bupsa
Have breakfast, then make an early start towards Surke. You will have an uphill journey for the initial part of the trek, walking alongside mules carrying heavy basic supplies. From there, the trail then takes you to Kari La, an altitude of 2800m, from where you can see the valley at a full glance. You can see the planes flying towards Lukla carrying supplies and passengers. After a couple of ups and downs in the trial, you will pass a forest to reach Paiya. From there, take a downhill hike until Surke.
Surke town is known for its fertile land suitable for growing vegetation. The ground is damp, and the climate is cool. The town is located beneath Lukla airport. Enjoy local dishes and drinks served by the locals.
Overnight stay in Surke.
On this day, you will reach Phakding, meeting the main Everest Base Camp trail from Lukla. After breakfast, the initial stretch of the trek takes you on an uphill climb but not as steep as the past days. In between the trail, there are flat sections for a gradual and easier climb. Cross a suspension bridge and enjoy the gushing waterfalls from cliffs. In a short while, you will reach Chaurikharka.
Passing the Mani walls, prayer wheels, and chortan, you will enter the village of Cheung. The up and down trail will then lead to Ghat village with abundant vegetable fields. You can quickly visit the red-walled Gompa as well. Walking beside Dudh Koshi, stop at Chhuthawa for a cup of tea and enjoy the scenery. Eventually, you will reach Phakding village.
Phakding village is located south of Monjo and north of Lukla. The stone-built houses, chortans, Mani walls depict the modest way of livelihood and traditions of the Sherpa community living here.
Overnight stay in Phakding.
Wake up early in the morning because it is a long trekking day towards Namche Bazaar. The first phase of the trail is relatively easier walking beside the Dudh Koshi River, passing scenic pine forest. With views of Thamserku peak towering above the valley, you will reach the small village of Benkar. Passing by a small waterfall, you will head further along the suspension bridge while walking alongside donkeys and mules carrying a heavy load.
You will get to witness the views of Khumbila peak then climb towards the village of Monjo. Your guide will help you purchase an entrance ticket by showing related documents and trekking permits at the Monjo checkpoint. You will officially enter Sagarmatha National Park from hereon. The trail drops down to the river again, then passes a suspension bridge towards Jorsale village. Your first distinct views of Mt. Everest will most certainly excite you.
Having some lunch, continue to the valley through a stony and sandy trail. After a steep forested area is crossed, you will reach the confluence of the Bhote Koshi and Dudh Koshi rivers. Climbing up the route, you will go to Tope Danda, from where you can see a broad view of Namche settlement. Continue your walk up to Namche Bazaar. After the long trek, take some rest at your tea house. In the evening, you can head out to the colorful streets filled with two to three-story stone and timber houses.
Overnight stay in Namche Bazaar.
Namche Bazaar is a staging point for many treks and expeditions to Everest and surrounding peaks. Hence, it is a tourist as well as a trading hub of the Khumbu region. It is the liveliest town in the area with essential to standard facilities like ATMs, Cybercafes, shops, bakeries, and restaurants. You can treat yourself to sweet bakery items and even have a real espresso shot!
To adjust to the altitude gain, you need to take some rest here. However, since you have the entire day to yourself, you can explore Namche. First off, you can visit the Khunde Hospital, famous among locals and tourists for being set up by Sir Edmund Hillary. Enjoy the views of Konde Ri (6,187m) from the nearest vantage point. Tourists often prefer hiking up to Everest View Hotel for the up-close views of panoramic Mt. Ama Dablam and Mt. Everest.
Head to the nearby Namche Monastery, a religious site for the Sherpas to worship Buddhist deities. Furthermore, if you are in Namche on a Saturday, you can enjoy the locals' trade market where various products are sold. Locals, as well as people from neighboring villages, come here to buy the goods.
Overnight stay in Namche Bazaar.
You will pack up your belongings and head on to Tengboche further to the north. Walking along the Dudh Koshi river, the trek begins with a slight inclination through a sandy trail. Occasionally you will have to walk on a flight of stone steps.
Views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Ama Dablam, Nuptse, and Lhotse are at full display. Passing through a lush forest in rocky terrain, you will cross a suspension bridge over the Phunki Tenga river. From there, the trail is rather zig-zag. You may witness the beautiful Himalayan Griffons nesting further up in cliffs. Passing a steep rocky route between treelines of rhododendron, you will reach an Army checkpoint. You might even witness rare musk deer and blood pheasant in the area.
Then a steep climb from there will take you to Tengboche. Tengboche village is known for housing the largest monastery in the entire Khumbu region. Upon your arrival, you can drop off your belongings at your tea house then head to the monastery. Tengboche Monastery is known locally as Dawa Choling Gompa. You will be amazed by the gigantic monastery sitting silently with close-up views of Ama Dablam towering in the backdrop. Explore the floors of the buildings filled with paintings, statues, shrines, and the vicinity consisting of stupas, mani walls, and prayer wheels. It is a clear depiction of the Buddhist religion and the Sherpa heritage.
Overnight stay in Tengboche.
Leaving behind Tengboche, you will take a hike to Dingboche. As you head further, the weather gets colder, so stack up on some warm clothes. You will pass a small nunnery of Milingo then cross the route to the Imja Khola gorge. You will come across a lot of mountain goats/rams along the way. Views of Ama Dablam proceed throughout the trail.
After about two hours from Tengboche, you will reach Pangboche village, where you can have lunch. The village is the starting point for the Ama Dablam Base Camp trek or climbing the peak. While you are there, you need to visit the famous Pangboche monastery, the oldest monastery in the Khumbu region.
Then following the Lobuche river in the Imja Khola valley, you will trek through an easy sloppy trail towards Shomare village. It is the last village before Dingboche. Continue your hike by crossing another river towards Dingboche. Head to your tea house and get settled. Dingboche altitude is 4,410m/14,469ft, so the weather is freezing. You can drink some warm butter tea or milk tea while chatting with the locals and other tourists in the common dining hall.
Overnight stay in Dingboche.
As the elevation increases, it is difficult for your body to keep up with the increasing air pressure and drop in oxygen level. Hence, there is a need to acclimatize. As you have the entire day to yourself, you can wake up a little late and indulge in some exploration activities. After breakfast, carry a day pack and head on a half-day hike to Nagarjun Hill.
The initial stretch of the trail is pretty easy; however, quickly, it becomes steep, so you need to start taking smaller steps. There are no technical sections, but you will come across loose rocks, so watch your step. The hill is also known as Nangkartshang, named after a Buddhist hermit. From the top, on a clear day, the view of Mt. Ama Dablam is very close and mesmerizing. You can even spot the Imja glacier from here.
After enjoying the hike, head back to Dingboche. Drink warm fluid to rid yourself of headaches and fever. You can stroll around the village later in the afternoon.
Overnight stay in Dingboche.
Trek begins after breakfast towards Lobuche. You will climb the foot of the Khumbu glacier. It is located on the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge and is regarded as the highest glacier globally and the largest glacier in Nepal. You will reach Dugla village, where you will stop for lunch.
Steadily you will take a steep climb to Thukla Pass. It is a challenging climb to the pass decorated with colorful prayer flags and memorial stupas built in honor of the mountaineers who lost their lives in the Everest expedition. Among the tombstones is one dedicated to the ill-fated 1996 climbers based on the movie 'Everest.' Along the way, the Lobuche peak comes into focus.
The icy southern wind blows right at your face at times, making the trek even more adventurous. Clouds and mist hover around you during the day. In a while, you will reach Lobuche. Lobuche is a small Sherpa settlement that is busy most times because of the inflow of tourists and is a central stopping point for Everest expeditions and trek.
Overnight stay in Lobuche.
Finally, the most awaited day of the entire trek is here as you will be heading to Everest Base Camp! Early in the morning, even before dawn, you will make way to Gorak Shep. Earlier in the 1952 Swiss Expedition, Gork Shep was used as the original base camp; however, later, it was moved a little closer to Everest. Take small steps and do not rush to reach the destination. As the oxygen level drops, you need to be mindful of keeping yourself calm. Your guide will undoubtedly assist you. Reaching Gorak Shep, you will head to a teahouse and keep your stuff there.
Then you will continue your hike to Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,594ft), which is an hour and a half away. The trail passed by some rugged terrain with loose stones, gravel, and icy slopes. However, the views will keep you awe-struck. In a short while, you will have reached Everest Base Camp! All the tiredness vanishes away as you are welcomed by the views of the amazing 8,000m mountains surrounding the base camp. The top of Mt. Everest, however, can not be seen from the Base camp. Views of the Khumbu glacier and Khumbu Icefall are visible, one of the best views and experiences you might have ever had.
After enjoying the views, you will retrace your steps back to Gorak Shep. The descent is trickier as the trial can be slippery; watch your step while walking through the slopes. Upon reaching the tea house, have a hot cup of coffee and tuck yourself in heaps of clothing and a blanket.
Overnight stay in Gorak Shep.
Early in the morning, you will take a hike to Kala Patthar, the highest point of this trek. As the top of Everest is not seen from its base camp, you will be heading to Kala Patthar. It is a notable landmark in the Khumbu region. Tourists don't leave without having a glimpse of the views of this vantage point. Kala Patthar is translated to 'black rock.' It is a ridge on the south of Pumori peak just above Gorakh Shep.
At the height of 5,550m/18,209ft, the view of the highest peak in the world, Mt. Everest (8,848.86m/29,031.7ft), is visible. It seems almost dreamy to see the 360 degrees view of the surrounding gigantic mountains. Everest, Cho Oyu (8,188m/26,864 ft), Nuptse (7,861m/25,791ft), Lhotse (8,516m/27,940ft), Changtse (7,543m/24,747ft), Pumori (7,161m/23,494ft) are just some of the numerous mountains seen from this point, indeed a major highlight of your trek.
After the amazing time in Kala Patthar and tons of videos and photos later, you will head back to Gorak Shep. From there, gather your belongings and head to Pheriche. It is easier to take a downhill hike. The altitude sees a drop making it easier for you to walk as well. Pheriche is a farming village that grows potatoes and buckwheat. You will also witness many yaks. There are a couple of lodges here, as many trekkers stay the night after their EBC trek.
Overnight stay at Pheriche.
From Pheriche, the trail follows the Imja river towards Tengboche. Views of Ama Dablam, Cho You, and Mt. Everest will continue to be visible throughout the trek. After having your lunch, continue to hike towards Namche Bazaar. There is a drop in altitude, making it easier to walk. In a short while, you will reach Namche.
The local sherpa settlement has a lot to offer. As you might not have had the chance to take a shower for many days in the higher area, you can take a hot shower at your tea house. Furthermore, if you crave some coffee or sweet bakery item, you can visit the cafe or bakery. Enjoy the luxury after many days of eating local food.
Overnight stay in Namche Bazaar.
After having breakfast at Namche, you will bid farewell to the lovely locals then head on to Lukla. Trek follows the Dudh Koshi river valley passing by Jorsale village. Further, hike to Phakding village bidding farewell to the views of Mt. Everest for the last time. Passing by stone houses, you will reach Pasang Lhamu Memorial gate signifying the entrance to Lukla.
After reaching Lukla, head to a tea house and relax. In the evening you can head out to the streets and do some souvenir shopping. Interact with the locals and enjoy the night away with our team.
Overnight stay in Lukla.
Ultimately, it is time to take a final glance at the Lukla town as you will be leaving the Khumbu region today. After having breakfast, head to the Tenzing Hillary Airstrip and board on a flight back to Kathmandu. As views of snow-capped mountains become distant, hills and city lights come closer as you reach Kathmandu airport. From the airport, you will be transferred to the hotel in Thamel.
In the evening, you can head out to the streets of Thamel and shop for souvenirs like pashmina shawls, Dhaka clothing, arts and crafts, thangka painting, and more. At night, you can enjoy authentic Nepali meals or any other cuisine at a restaurant and dance the night away with your Nepalese friends.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Kathmandu.
Our representatives will drop you off at the Tribhuvan International Airport after breakfast. With a heavy heart, we bid farewell as you board on a flight for homeward return. You will remember the wonderful time you had in the Sherpa settlement and the views of the high standing eight-thousanders from Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar. After the amazing trip with us, if you wish to reach out to us again for any other similar treks, please contact us again.
Images: Peter flickr