How hard is the trek? What is the level of fitness required? Can I do it? These are the most common questions one asks when he or she thinks or plans to do trekking in the Himalaya. We think there is no right answer as difficulty level of a trek is not an absolute idea, especially in the Himalaya. Of course factors like altitude, distance and time are measurable factors that can determine the grade of a trek to some extent. However, how a person’s body and his mental fortitude respond to these things makes the whole difference. So, there is no generally accepted trekking grade system in Nepal. However, based on our experience, we have categorized the trekking grade in Nepal taking some common factors like walking hours, altitude, terrain difficulty into consideration. Our grading system is to be taken as a general guideline. Deciding the right one is subject to your personal level of physical and mental fitness.
Soft Adventure treks
These treks are only about a week to 10 days in duration. They generally don’t go above 4000 meters and each day, you can expect to be walking for around 4 – 5 hours. They are a perfect introduction to trekking in Nepal. Most of the time, it is walking from one village to other village above 2500m, discovering the lifestyles and culture of rural communities of Nepal. You can see the panoramic views of mountains, exciting village life and do wonderful wilderness walk. The activity level is fairly easy as there is no difficult climbing or snowy walks. But don’t expect it to be all easy going, as it is still a trek and there will still be some big hills to climb as well as the well-known ‘Nepali flat’ – a little bit up and a little bit down. Such soft adventure treks are ideal for Family Adventure and Corporate Retreats. No previous experience is required. Example: A Week Below Everest
Moderate to fairly challenging treks
This trekking grade involves longer treks going right into high mountain country above 4000m, to some of the famous mountaineering Base Camps like Everest Base Camp (5357m) with occasional crossing over high passes. Most of the trekking in Nepal falls under this category. Climbing and descending are very usual experiences for this type of trekking and you may have to cross glaciers as well. Physically quite tiring and more challenging than soft adventure treks, it includes approx. 6-8 hours trekking along rocky ridges of high Himalayan peaks. This kind of trekking gives you an experience of a lifetime, with memorable walking surrounded by spectacular mountains. Previous experience is not required but preferable for this trekking. You should be moderately fit, used to some regular exercise and enjoy walking in the high altitude conditions. It is ideal for you if you want to challenge yourself with longer and demanding trekking days. Example: Everest Base Camp & Annapurna Circuit
On the way to Larke Pass (5106m)
Strenuous treks are normally longer treks that go far beyond the normal haunts of trekkers and tourists, to remote areas of the country where the landscapes are wild and untamed and where the local inhabitants have seen little change in their way of life for centuries- untouched corners of an increasingly crowded planet. Most of the time, you will be trekking in very rocky terrain, crossing glaciers through wilderness, and sometime may have to use crampons. It normally goes above 5500m and is appropriate for those seeking real adventure. Physically challenging, likely to include unfavorable weather conditions and strenuous activities. Should not be super fit but definitely not for beginners! However, it is not impossible to take as the first adventure if you are committed to take some extra challenges. Example: Dolpo Trek & Dhaulagiri Trek
If you have heard about Nepal, chances are high that you have heard about its mighty mountains, rolling hills and wonderful wilderness, always welcoming travelers since the country opened its door to visitors. No doubt this beautiful country is an amazing destination for world class trekking adventures. You have hundred of choices here. From busy trails of Everest to quiet trails of Dolpo, from easy mid hill walks to challenging mountain passes, from few days’ hike to month long clambering on the glaciers – the list is endless. You will literally be spoilt by the choices. This broad range of trekking options, however, is normally categorized into three trekking types on the basis of the service and logistic arrangement involved in it. At Explore Himalaya, we offer all three trekking types to our visitors.
1. CAMPING TREK
Camping Trek is fully organized trekking in which you will be supplied with all camping equipment along with food, Sherpas, helpers and tents for accommodation. This trekking type is ideal for those who want less frequented trails with no teahouses or less accommodation options. This type of treks offer a really special experience as you will be visiting the far flung areas that have very less contact with the modern world. Nowadays, with the availability of teahouses and lodges in most of the trekking trails in Nepal, compared to other trekking types, this style of trekking is less in use, and used only where there is special requirement or no other option of accommodation left. Treks in Dolpo and Dhaulagiri regions are operated in this style.
Support Crew in Camping Trek
On camping trek you will be sleeping and eating on tents. A trekking crew contains one sirdar, one cook and the numbers of kitchen crew, Sherpa assistants and porters depending on the size of the group. Sirdar and his assistants speak reasonable amount of English, good enough to explain you about the places, local culture or any sight that catches your eyes. Under the leadership of the Sirdar (the local trek leader), the crew consists of several Sherpa assistants who will ensure you don’t take the wrong path, a cook and kitchen crew to keep you well fed with delicious and nutritious meals and the porters to transport all the gear from camp to camp.
Our main aim is to make the trek as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. Some of the best moments of the trek are the times spent getting to know your trekking crew who are born and brought up in remote mountain villages. The ratio of both Sherpa guides and kitchen crew to group members is generally 1:4 and the ratio of porters to group members is around 3:1 at the beginning of the trek, but this decreases as food is consumed and loads become smaller. For bathroom facilities we carry a toilet tents, your camping staff dig a deep hole in the ground for excrement and cover the hole with soil after the business is done.
A Typical Day in Camping Trek A typical day begins with a hot cup of tea brought to the tent at about 6am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. After packing our bags and having a good breakfast, we set off for the day. All you need to carry is a small day pack containing water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain jacket and a warm jumper, just in case. The porters will carry the rest of your gear for you. After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. Then after we continue for the afternoon’s walk which is generally shorter and we arrive at camp in time for afternoon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the nearby villages, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. On some days, we will arrive at camp by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free. Dinner is usually served between 6 – 7pm. After dinner, the evening will often be spent playing cards and talking with the crew, or perhaps even joining in some singing and dancing, before heading off to the tent for a well-earned sleep.
Meals and Drinking Water in Camping Trek
We provide three tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by omelet, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread. Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads.
After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3 course meal – soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also provided at all meals. We use as much fresh products as possible and special dietary requirement is always catered for. The leaders are able to maintain very tight controls on health and hygiene in the kitchen with respect to general cleanliness and food preparation and also within the group with respect to personal hygiene. This has allowed us to maintain remarkably high standards of health over many years of trek organization – and good health is vital to an enjoyable and successful trek and climb.
All foods are well cooked and vegetables are treated by potassium permanganate or iodine. You will be provided filtered water about 3-4 liters per person per day. The good thing about such water is it doesn’t smell chlorine. We normally use Sawyer Filters. You can also bring water purification pills in case you want to drink water from local taps. Antiseptic soaps and potassium or iodine treated water are provided for washing.
2. TEAHOUSE/LODGE TREK
Teahouse trekking type involves accommodating in teahouses dispersed up and down the travelling trails of Nepal. In this type of trekking, your service includes food, guide, porter and accommodation. Teahouses basically refers to mountain lodges operating the bedding and eating facilities for trekkers. Generally, all the teahouses have sharing rooms (with few single rooms), indoor latrines, restrooms, eatery, kitchen and lounge area. Most of the teahouses are owed by local people where family members, relatives and some additional staffs work every day to satisfy the necessities of guides, porters and travelers. This type of trekking is popular in all major trails in Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions.
Support Crew in Teahouse Trek On teahouse trek you will be accompanied by a team of local crew whose aim is to make the trek as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. The crew consists of a local leader (Sirdar) and a team of porters to carry all your gear. On average, there will be a ratio of one porter to every two group members. Sirdar speaks reasonable amount of English, good enough to explain you about the places, local culture or any sight that catches your eyes.
Whilst we endeavor to stay in the best possible accommodation along the way, you should be aware that most teahouses, particularly in the smaller villages, are quite basic. The bedrooms are usually very small, the bathroom facilities are often shared and meals are served in a communal dining hall. Although simple, the teahouses do provide shelter and warmth and are normally run by friendly local families. Teahouse treks are less expensive than Camping trek and are largely suitable for small groups. Usually during busy seasons if private rooms in smaller villages are fully occupied you might have to sleep in dormitory.
Meals & Drinking Water in Lodge Trek
On our teahouse/lodge based treks we provide standard breakfast, lunch and three course dinner, tea or coffee will also be included with each meal. Your guide will help with menu selection and ensure that you get the best value meals possible. Although the food is usually plentiful and delicious, you should be aware that the menu is normally not extensive. Most teahouses offer a variety of rice and noodle dishes, as well as soup and seasonal vegetables. A variety of cereals, bread and egg dishes are generally available for breakfast. There will also be plenty of snacks available such as biscuits, chocolate and soft drinks and in some areas you will find fresh fruit in season. You can buy packaged water (bottled mineral water) from local lodge and shop en route or you can also ask your guide to fill your water bottle with filtered water.
A Typical Day in Teahouse Trek The day activity is pretty much same as in camping trek. The only difference is we will have our meals in teahouses instead of camps. Each morning after packing our bags and having a good breakfast, we set off for the day’s walk. All we need to carry is a small day pack containing water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain jacket and warm jumper, just in case. The porters will carry the rest of our gear for us.
After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon’s walk is generally shorter and we usually arrive at our destination in time for afternoon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the village, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. On some days we will arrive at our destination by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free. After dinner, the evening will often be spent playing cards and reliving the day’s adventures, before heading off to bed for a well-earned sleep.
3. GAP TREK
This is a shortened form of Guide Accommodation and Porters (GAP). This type of trek is ideal for those that want basic and essential support from us. We offer an English speaking local Sherpa guide, accommodation in local lodges during trek and arrange required porters. Trekkers buy meals on their own. So, the whole arrangement is same as Tea House aside from you paying for your own meals.
Pisang Peak (6091m), a popular trekking peak in Annapurna region, Nepal
Nepal is a land of mountains with majestic Himalayas ranges. It is known all around the globe for eight to fourteen mountaineering 8000m+ peaks. However, there are other peaks under 7000m that equally inspire the visitors for adventure activities in Nepal. Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has classified this type of peaks (from 5800m to 6476m) as trekking peaks. Currently there are 28 trekking peaks in Nepal (previously 33 peaks) open for climbing.
Trekking peaks are less technical and climbed by the mountaineers with little experience as hobby or as a part of preparation for climbing expedition peaks. If we see from this side, climbing trekking peak doesn’t sound like a very serious adventure but they are also challenging and attempting them requires sincere effort. One needs to consider that Himalayan mountains have advantage of altitude and the lowest trekking peak is as high as some highest peaks in other parts of the world. So, like any mountain climbing proper acclimatization, right equipment and sound physical fitness is required while climbing trekking peaks in Nepal. If you consider to attempt this wonderful adventure, here is the list of some popular trekking peaks in Nepal.
Island Peak (6160m)
Island Peak, locally called as Imja Tse, is located in Sagarmatha National Park, Everest region. It is named for its appearance which resembles the image of a floating island in sea of ice. This is usually combined with other Everest treks for adaptation to the environment in higher altitudes. This peak climb would be a lifetime experience for adventure lovers. Panaromic view of mountains like Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Baruntse and Ama Dablam can be captured from the peak.
Mera Peak (6654m)
Mera Peak is the tallest and second famous trekking peak in Nepal. Due to less technical difficulties while climbing this peak, it has high success rate. However, it is still a challenging peak because of its altitude. Trekking while climbing this peak leads you to the remotest and alluring areas in Hinku valley in Makalu region. This peak covers the wide ranging views of 5 8000m peaks including Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchanjugha and Cho-Oyu.
Cholaste Peak is one of the most arduous trekking peaks due to narrow and inclined ridges. This peak is situated between Gokyo and Khumbu valleys in Everest region. Due the technical difficulties while climbing the peak, only climbers experienced in ice and rock climbing are recommended to climb Cholatse Peak. Starting from Gokyo, the climbers have to pass through Thagnak to Zungla via Cho La Pass to reach its Base Camp.
Yala Peak (5520m)
Yala Peak, located in Langtang region, is the easiest trekking peak. It is excellent for first timer climbers and adventurers due to the easy routes while ascending the peak. Climbing the peak gives you one of the most rewarding mountain views of central Himalayas. The trekking covers the portion of Langtang region including the sacred lake of Gosaikunda and a mixture of Tamang, Sherpa, and Bhote cultures in Helambu region.
Pisang Peak (6091m)
Situated in the laps of Annapurna Region and Manaslu Region, Pisang Peak is one of the most popular non expedition peaks in Annapurna region. This peak is integrated with Annapurna Base Camp Trek via Thorang La Pass that includes the holy Muktinath Temple. Pisang Peak delivers climbers with diverse ecosystem, different landscapes and provides opportunity to interact with local community of different cultures and traditions.
Lobuche East Peak (6119m)
Situated in Everest Region near the Khumbu Glacier and the settlement, Lobuche East is the straight inclined peak with slightly more technical hurdles than Island Peak and Mera Peak. This peak provides eye catching wide range views of Mt. Everest, Khumbu valley and monasteries. Climbing this peak encourages mountaineers for attempting higher altitude Himalayan ranges. Normally, the peak is climbed as an acclimatization climb by those who are attempting Everest.
Pharchamo Peak (6187m)
This peak lies in remotest areas in Rolwaling region and Everest Region connected by Tashi Lapcha Pass. This peak is relatively quieter than other trekking peaks in Nepal. After entering the Rolwaling valley, the first access to the peak, your ascent to Pharchamo Peak starts from the ice fall of Tashi Lapcha. From the peak, you will experience the breathtaking view of Gaurishankar, Melungtse and several other peaks. While climbing this peak, you will have the opportunity to explore various cultures and the diverse flora and fauna of the valley.
The Govt. of Nepal has revised trekking permit fees for the controlled areas, in a bid to attract more trekkers to these areas. The notice was published in Nepal Gazette (Volume 58 No 10) which states that the revised permit fee will come into effect from 16th July , 2008.
As per the new provision, a trekker in Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo will now have to pay US$ 500 or equivalent foreign currency per person for first 10 days. For trip extensions, the extra fee per extra day fee per person has been fixed at US$ 50 or equivalent foreign currency. The fee for trekking in Manaslu region has been fixed at US $ 70(per person) for a week and US $ 10 per person for each extra day during September to November. However, only US $ 50 is charged per trekker per week from December to August and additional US $ 7 per trekker per each extra day. Similarly, permit fee for Humla (Simikot-Yari) has been fixed at US $ 50 per person per week and US $ 7 per person per extra day.
Permit fee for Kanchanjunga, Lower Dolpa and Gaurishankar and Lamabagar has been fixed at US $ 10 per person per week. However, permit fee for Chekampar and Chunchet of Gorkha district (Sirdibas-Lhokpa-Chumling-Chekampar-Nile-Chule) has been fixed at US $ 35 per person for eight days during September to November and US $ 25 per person for eight days during December to August.
The government has also revised existing tourist visa fee to be effective from 16th July, 2008. As per the new fee structure, US $ 25 or equivalent foreign currency is required to obtain Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 15 days. Likewise, Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 30 days can be obtained by paying US $ 40 or equivalent foreign currency. Similarly, Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 100 days can be obtained by paying US $ 100.
The government has also revised the fee required for extended stay in the country and visa renewal. According to the revised fee structure, Tourist Visa can be extended by paying US $ 2 or equivalent Nepalese currency per day. Likewise, Multiple Entry facility can be obtained only for the extension period by paying an additional US $ 20 and visa fee for the extended period. Similarly, tourists can renew their visa by paying Nepalese currency equivalent to US $ 3 on the regular visa extension fee.
It’s a known fact that Everest Base Camp Trek is a very rewarding highland adventure. Flying to thrilling Lukla Airport, walking past quaint Sherpa villages and breathtaking landscape, and finally getting real close to Everest, the highest of all peaks in the world, Everest Base Camp Trek is definitely a whole new level of experience. As expected of any trekking in Nepal, it also involves a lot of walking (continuously for about 11/12 days) in the alpine terrain. So, anyone interested to undertake trekking in Nepal is sure to ask mandatory questions like how high? how far? and how many hours. However, there is absolutely no reason to get worried – we are making things easier for you! Below we have listed some major facts on distance, time and elevation involved in Everest Base Camp Trek. Please note that we have used a standard itinerary to provide a general overview of the trek, though there can be some side treks and different stopovers depending on individual requirement.
Summary of distance, time and elevation
Distance in Everest Base Camp: The total distance in Everest Base Camp trek (Lukla-Everest Base Camp-Lukla) is about 130km round trip (65 km each way). Normal number of days to cover the distance is 11/12 days. So, you will be walking roughly about 11 km in about 6 hours a day in average. As the terrain is rocky with switchbacks (gradual ascent and descent), the pace will be slow about 2.5 km an hour. So, distance in Everest Base Camp Trek is achievable for people of all ages. As you need to acclimatize while going up, it takes 9 days to reach the Base Camp (including the 2 acclimatization days) and just 3 days to return to Lukla.
Elevation in Everest Base Camp Trek : Everest Base Camp Trek is not a very technical trekking. However, elevation is a bit of challenge that needs to be considered of. The very starting point of the trek, Lukla Airport itself is at an altitude of 2860m. Lukla Airport, known as Tenzing Hillary Airport, is popularly known as one of the most adventurous airports in the world due to its tricky runway perched on a cliff. The highest point you reach is 5545m (Kala Patthar), an amazing viewpoint to savor the beauty of Everest and her sister peaks. Though the altitude variation looks extreme, the itinerary is planned in such a way that your body gets enough time to acclimatize. An average elevation gain ranges from 400m to 800m per day. When you gain significantly high altitude in a particular day, the next day will usually be the rest day to acclimatize. As a whole, elevation in Everest Base Camp Trek defines both the challenge and joy.
Day to day distance, time and elevation
To get a more comprehensive idea on the distance, time (walking hours) and elevation, here is a day-to-day break down of the standard Everest Base Camp Trek with en-route highlights.
Day 1: Lukla to Phakding
2860m – 2656m
En-route Highlights: mani walls and boulders, villages like Cheplung, Lhawa and Ghat, suspension bridge (first one of six such bridges in the trail)
Day 2: Phakding to Namche
2656m – 3440m
En-route Highlights: Monjo (National Park Entry point, Entry Permit Check Point), Jorsalle, 4 suspension bridges (3 above Dudh Koshi and 1 above Imja Khola, the iconic one seen in movies), approximately 700m vertical climb before reaching Namche – shouldn’t be taken lightly as you will set off for the climb right after your lunch and when you have to walk uphill in altitude right after meal, it can’t so easy. This uphill climb is the first of the two tough climbs you will have in Everest Base Camp Trek.
Day 3: Rest Day at Namche
3440m – 3880m – 3440m
Visit to Sherpa Culture Museum, Sagarmatha National Park Museum ( about 100m above Namche) & Monastery
Hiking to Khumjung/Khunde (3790m- about 2 km from Namche) – about 400m climb from Namche to Syangboche Airport and continue to Khunde and Khumjung
Hiking to Hotel Everest View (3880m – about 2.5 km from Namche) – about 400m climb from Namche to Synagboche Airport and continue to the hotel
Hiking in a loop Namche-Syangboche-Khunde-Khumjung-Hotel Everest View-Namche; you can also choose to stay overnight in Khumjung or Hotel Everest View
En- route Highlights: Views of Everest, Nupste, Lhotse and Ama Dablam; Khunde Hospital, Khumjung School, Khumjung Monastery, Hotel Everest View (one of the highest hotels in the world) etc.
Day 4: Namche to Deboche
En-route Highlights: Views of Everest, Nupste, Lhotse and Ama Dablam; a suspension bridge over Imja Khola , after about 300m downhill walk to Punki Tenga; about 500m of climb to Tengboche (second of the two vertical climbs after Namche climb), Tengboche Monastery (3867m – 10 km, 5 hours)
Day 5: Deboche to Dingboche
3734m – 4410m
En-route Highlights: Views of towering Amadablam and Nuptse; Everest starts to hide behind the Nuptse wall; Pangboche Village (3985m- about 3 km, 2 hours) combination of 2 settlements lower and upper; Pangboche Monastery with its famed yeti skull; Pangboche is also the last village for Amadablam expedition – climbers go to Amadablam Base Camp via Pangboche; consistently flat trail throughout; crossroad one leading to Pheriche and other leading to Dingboche
Day 6: Rest Day at Dingboche
i. 1.5 km (if Nangkar Tshang Hill)
ii. 11 km (if Chhukung Village & Chukkung Ri)
i. 3 hours (includes steep climb)
ii. 6 hours
i. 4410m – 5083m
ii. 4410m – 4730m – 5550m
Hiking to Nangkar Tshang Hill (5083m, about 700m high from Dingboche, 2.5 hours) which sounds like Nagarjun (Nepali word of Sanskrit origin), at first steady climb and later on steep. Nangkar Tshang hill is right behind Dingboche village.
Hiking to Chhukung Village (4730m, about 5km, 1.5 hours) – the last village before Island Peak, can continue to Chhukung Ri (5550m, about 820m high from Chhukung Village, 3 hours) if you want to push yourself a bit harder – in this case an early start from Dingboche is required.
En-route Highlights: From Nangkar Tshang Hill 360 degree views of Mt. Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Island peak, Amadablam, Kangtega , Thamserku , Taboche, and Cholatse ; From Chhukung Ri impressive view of Imja Tse (Island Peak), Imja Glacier, Ama Dablam, Makalu and Nuptse
Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche
4410m – 4910m
En-route Highlights: Views of Amadablam, Taboche and Cholatse; Thukla – a riverside lunch stopover, A Memorial Park at Thukla Pass – has about 100 memorials (called chhortens in local language) of those who died while climbing Everest and other mountains including legendary climber Babu Chhiri Sherpa; Khumbu Glacier moraine
Day 8: Lobuche to Gorakshep (Base Camp hike)
i. 4.3 km (Lobuche – Gorakshep)
ii. 3.5 km (Gorak Shep – Everest Base Camp)
i. 2.5 hours
ii. 5 hours for round trip (3 hours + 2 hours)
i. 4910m – 5140m
ii. 5140m – 5364m – 5140m
En-route Highlights: Khumbu Glacier, close up views of Pumori, Nuptse, Khumbutse, Lhola, Everest Base Camp,Tip of Everest (highlight of the whole trek)
Day 9: Morning Kala Pathhar hike; Gorakshep to Pheriche
i. 1.2 km (Gorakshep – Kala Pathhar)
ii. 10 km (Gorak Shep – Pheriche)
i. 3.5 hours for round trip
ii. 5 hours
i. 5140m – 5545m – 5140m
ii. 5140m – 4371m
En-route Highlights: Spectacular sunrise view of Everest, Nuptse, Changtse, Lhotse etc. from Kala Pathhar
Day 10: Pheriche to Namche
4371m – 3440m
En-route Highlights: Pangboche monastery; Tengboche monastery; Suspension bridge at Phunki
Tenga; views of Nupste, Everest, Amadablam, Kangtega Thamserku, Kongde Ri etc.
Day 11: Namche to Lukla
3440m – 2860m
En-route Highlights: 5 Suspension bridges, Dudh Koshi River; and of course trees (you might have almost forgotten about them)