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Ancient Passes of Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

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Book this tour through our partner: MT Sobek

This amazing Nepal adventure is a modern-day classic combining the magic of lodge-to-lodge trekking with the challenges of topping Gokyo Ri (17,575') and Rinjo-La Pass (17,519'). Take in breathtaking views of Everest and other iconic Himalayan peaks as you trek among high mountain villages filled with warm Sherpa hospitality. Enter Gokyo Valley, with its turquoise, glacier-fed lakes, then soar to Gokyo Ri's summit for spectacular panoramic views. After crossing Rinjo-La Pass and returning to Kathmandu's cultural riches, you'll agree that exploring this magical land is, indeed, the trip of a lifetime.


Arrive in Nepal

Welcome to Kathmandu! Meet your MT Sobek guide and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, you may opt to stretch your legs and explore the area around the hotel, which is situated in the heart of the city. Come evening, receive a briefing on the trek and a festive welcome dinner with the group.

Tour the Kathmandu Valley

Kick off your Nepal adventure with a tour of Bhaktapur, a medieval city-state in Kathmandu Valley. Incredibly preserved, Bhaktapur was tragically devastated by the 2015 earthquake. The city is still in recovery mode, but some simple meandering reveals the remaining stunning medieval squares lined with towering temples, and narrow cobbled streets dotted with brick buildings, hidden squares, and hawking artisans. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time to relax, wander, or pack for your upcoming trek. This evening, enjoy an Everest summit talk given by a Nepalese female Seven Summiteer.

Fly to the Khumbu

This morning, depart Kathmandu on a small plane bound for Lukla (9,382'), a popular stop for Everest-bound visitors. This short but spectacular flight offers unparalleled views over the mighty Himalaya. From here, lace up your boots and begin your trek, making our way about 3.5 miles through pine and cedar woods to Phakding village (8,563'). Phakding sees many travelers and thus is full of many guesthouses and warm Nepalese hospitality — which you experience tonight. While you may feel eager to walk more today, stop here to help your body acclimatize.

Hike to Monjo

Today enjoy an easy, acclimatizing walk to Monjo (9,428'). En route, cross several picturesque suspension bridges, and pass mani walls (boulders inscribed with Buddhist prayers), small villages, terraced hillsides, and likely quite a few working yaks. With Khumbila (18,800'), sacred peak of the Sherpas, looming above, arrive in Monjo, nestled in mountainous blue pine and rhododendron forest. Overnight and acclimatize at Everest Summit Lodge - Monjo, where the lodge chef prepares a welcome dinner.

Catch Your First Glimpse of Everest!

Get your cameras ready! Today you enter Sagarmatha National Park en route to Namche Bazaar (11,286'). More rocky terrain, suspension bridges, and yak crossings make for a strenuous day. But all becomes worth it when you pause on the steep ascent for the rewarding, spectacular first glimpse of Mount Everest! Arriving in Namche Bazaar — the gateway to Everest and the high Himalaya — early allows you to spend a relaxing afternoon strolling around the bustling village. Colorful prayer flags adorn this amphitheater of shops, Internet cafes, eateries, and lodgings.

Trek to Tashinga via the Hillary School

Above Namche Bazaar, the trail to Tashinga follows the classic approach to Everest. A steep uphill hike takes you to beautiful Khumjung village, where you'll have a chance to visit the first Hillary school. Founded in 1961 by legendary mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, the institution — with just over 300 students — is the only high school in the Khumbu region. After visiting the school, descend down to Tashinga (11,350').

Follow the Flags to Phortse

From Tashinga, follow sacred stones and colorful prayer flags to Phortse (12,959'), a traditional Sherpa village off the main trail. A terraced knoll dotted with stone buildings, this hamlet is seldom visited — leaving a pristine, genuine experience for those who veer off the beaten path to explore it.

Ascend to Dole

A gradual uphill hike, with only the occasional section of steep steps, takes you up and along the shady side of a valley through mossy rhododendron forest. The wooded trail emerges above the tree line and into the village of Dole (13,248'), home to musk deer, a variety of Himalayan birds, and a cluster of trekking lodges.

Climb to Machermo

Today you trek only about 2.5 miles but gain about 1,200 vertical feet — so it feels like a very significant 2.5 miles! Exiting Dole there is a slight descent (tricky if snow-covered), but it quickly shifts to a steep climb up a hillside covered in tundra grasses and scrub junipers. Continuing up through the valley, mountain views abound, including of Cho Oyu (26,906'), the world's sixth-highest peak. The slope eases as you approach Luza, then it's an easy walk into Machermo (14,665') — where in the 1975 a villager and her yaks were allegedly attacked by a yeti!

Behold Gokyo Valley, Nepal’s Land of Sacred Lakes

Today's views are incredible! Head up into the desolate, high-mountain tundra and breathtaking Gokyo Valley and Gokyo Lake (15,419'). Wedged between soaring peaks and awesome glaciers, six main (and 19 total) emerald-green lakes comprise the world's highest freshwater lake system. They are sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus, and traditional beliefs that wildlife should remain unharmed have long protected the region's fauna. Soak in the beauty of three Gokyo lakes before pushing to the village of Gokyo, your home for two nights as you explore this magical area.

Summit Gokyo Ri

Today's hike is optional. But if you're game to climb Gokyo Ri, the Himalayan views — and the feeling of accomplishment — from atop are truly unforgettable! Rise early, cross a stream, and start climbing. Respect the altitude and take it slow, resting often if only to appreciate the spectacular surroundings: endless sky above, mighty mountains around, the enormous Ngozumpa Glacier and holy Gokyo Lakes below. After a few hours, summit Gokyo Ri (17,575') and revel in the awesome beauty of some of the world's highest mountains: Cho Oyu, Makalu, Lhotse, and, of course, Everest.

Cross Rinjo-La Pass into Thame Valley

Today you'll feel your proximity to Tibet as you cross Rinjo-La Pass (17,536'), an adventurous and challenging route that affords more unforgettable mountain and lake views. Descend into the little-known Thame Valley, a former "salt route" along which traders would journey from Tibet to Namche Bazaar. Thame, the largest village in the valley, is also known for being home to Tenzing Norgay, the first Sherpa to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Today's hike ends in Lungden (14,370'), a tiny village comprising little more than several lodges.

Scenic Flight to Lukla

Your weary feet and wobbly legs appreciate today, as all they have to do is climb aboard a scenic helicopter flight bound for Lukla. Here you enjoy a well-deserved day of R&R, with the option to wander around town or simply relax in the lodge garden.

Experience Hinduism in Kathmandu

This morning you transfer by small plane back to Kathmandu, where it all began. Spend two leisurely days exploring this magical city, including the sacred Pashupatinath Temple. Straddling the Bagmati River, Kathmandu's oldest Hindu temple is an architectural marvel. It is also the most important temple dedicated to the god Shiva. Elderly and ailing Hindu worshippers arrive from near and far to find shelter in their final weeks, as it is believed that those who die here are reborn as human, regardless of any accumulated bad karma. There may also be time to visit Kathmandu's Durbar Square and shop in the local bazaar.

Explore More of Kathmandu

Continuing your time in Kathmandu, explore Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal's largest temple and one of its holiest sites. Boudhanath is Kathmandu's center of Tibetan culture and rich in Buddhist symbolism: five statues representing the five elements (earth, fire, air, water, and ether), nine levels representing Mount Meru (the mythical peak at the center of the Buddhist cosmos), and 13 rings from its base to its apex (representing the steps to enlightenment). Lunch is on your own. In the afternoon, visit the King's Palace and Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple — try to catch the sunset here!), before joining the group for a farewell dinner.

Depart for Home

This morning we bid a fond farewell to our new friends and this magical country, then transfer to the airport for our homebound flights.

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Starting From


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16 Days


Kathmandu, Nepal


Kathmandu, Nepal

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