• EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK

    A hiker and guide cross a flat, rocky section before Kongma La on the Everest Three Passes trek, with the snowy ridgeline to the east visible behind
  • EVEREST THREE PASSES

    TREK GUIDE

    A hiker and guide cross a flat, rocky section before Kongma La on the Everest Three Passes trek, with the snowy ridgeline to the east visible behind

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE

In this guide we cover everything you need to know about the Everest Three Passes Trek in Nepal. This includes a suggested itinerary and practical information about accommodation, costs, what to pack, independent vs. guided treks, transport, and more. We also offer a route map with GPX download for use on the trek. Along with this written guide, we share a ‘silent hiking’ film of the trail. And for detailed trail notes and information about services available along the route, check out our Everest Three Passes Trekking Route Guide.

The Three Passes is one of the most adventurous trekking routes in Nepal. The scenery is spectacular, and the trek itself is challenging and rewarding in equal measure. It pays to be physically well prepared for this demanding route, and as always when trekking at very high altitude, proper acclimatisation is key.

It’s worth noting that a Three Passes itinerary includes Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lake, so if you’re thinking about one of these treks, you might consider incorporating all or part of this route into your own plans. Read on to discover more and start planning your own Everest Three Passes trek.

Use the links below to jump to each section of this guide

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – if you purchase a product or service via these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps offset the cost of running this blog and keeps us travelling so that we can continue to produce great content for you. We greatly appreciate your support!*

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK OVERVIEW

    • DISTANCE | Approx 160 km (incl. acclimatisation/day hikes)
    • DURATION | 17 – 22 days (incl. flying to/from Lukla)
    • START/END | Lukla
    • PERMITS REQUIRED | Khumbu Trek Card 2000 NPR; Sagarmatha National Park Fee 3000 NPR (SAARC nationals 1500 NPR / Nepali nationals 100 NPR)
    • TREKKING SEASON | Best Seasons: April to Mid-May, October to Mid-November; Shoulder Seasons: March, Late May, September, Mid-November to December; Avoid: June to August, January to February
    • TREK DIFFICULTY | Challenging
    • ELEVATION GAIN/LOSS | +/- approx 13500 metres (incl. acclimatisation/day hikes)
    • MAX ALTITUDE | 5611 m (Kala Patthar) or 5514 m (Kongma La)
    • GUIDE MANDATORY? | Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality has stated that it is NOT mandatory to trek with a guide in the Khumbu region
    • ACCOMMODATION | Teahouses/Guesthouses in villages along the trail
    • TREK COST | $34 – $140 USD per person, per day (budget independent trekker to fully inclusive package)
    • RECOMMENDED TREKKING AGENCY | Himalayan Masters, Quote HOGG5 for 5% discount

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK OVERVIEW

DISTANCE
Approx 160 km
(incl. acclimatisation/day hikes)

DURATION
17 – 22 days
(incl. flying to/from Lukla)

START/END
Lukla

PERMITS REQUIRED
Khumbu Trek Card 2000 NPR
Sagarmatha National Park Fee 3000 NPR (SAARC nationals 1500 NPR, Nepali nationals 100 NPR)

TREKKING SEASON
Best
Season
April to Mid-May
October to Mid-November
Shoulder Seasons
March, Late May, September
Mid-November to December
Months To Avoid
June, July, August
January and February

TREK DIFFICULTY
Challenging

ELEVATION GAIN/LOSS
+/- approx 13500 metres
(incl. acclimatisation/day hikes)

MAX ALTITUDE
5611 m (Kala Patthar)
or 5514 m (Kongma La)

GUIDE MANDATORY?
Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality has stated that it is NOT mandatory to trek with a guide in the Khumbu region

ACCOMMODATION
Teahouses/Guesthouses in villages along the trail

TREK COST
$34 – $140 USD
 per person, per day (budget independent trekker to fully inclusive package)

OUR RECOMMENDED TREKKING AGENCY
Himalayan Masters, Quote HOGG5 for 5% discount


EVEREST THREE PASSES TREKKING FILM

Get a sense of the Everest Three Passes trekking route in our ‘silent hiking’ style ambient film.

Watch the behind the scenes version of our Everest Three Passes trek on Instagram stories

Watch the behind the scenes
version of our Three
Passes
trek
on Instagram stories 

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK MAP & GPX DOWNLOAD

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

MAP & GPX DOWNLOAD

We have created a detailed Everest Three Passes digital trekking map to accompany this guide. The full trekking route is marked, including Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes, along with day hikes around Namche Bazaar and Gokyo, and to Nangkartshang, Chukhung Ri, Kala Patthar, and Gokyo Ri. Alternative routes avoiding the passes are also marked, as is the overland route between Salleri and Lukla. 

Detailed stats and an elevation profile are included for each route section. Guesthouse settlements and tea shops are also marked, as well as key sights and practical info such as checkpoints, hospitals, and transport hubs. Guesthouses as per our own trek itinerary are marked, including info about prices and services, phone numbers (where possible), and a copy of the menu. Photos are included with almost every pin. 

You can use the digital map online, or download it for offline use with a mapping app such as Organic Maps, Maps.me or Gaia GPS. This is very helpful for navigation assistance on the trail. It allows you to quickly pinpoint key places and services along the way and calculate distances and elevation differences between destinations.

Note that while we’ve tried to be as accurate as possible when recording and mapping the route, changes on the ground are inevitable (especially on routes crossing glaciers) and this map should not be solely relied upon for navigation.

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK ELEVATION PROFILE

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

ELEVATION PROFILE

The image below shows the elevation profile of the Everest Three Passes trek, starting and ending in Lukla and going in an anti-clockwise direction, crossing Kongma La first, Cho La second, and Renjo La third. The route shown here includes the various acclimatisation and side hikes as outlined in our Three Passes Route Guide. Elevation is displayed in metres and distance in kilometres.

Elevation profile for the Everest Three Passes trek in an anti-clockwise direction, including acclimatisation and side hikes

3D ROUTE MAP

Watch our 3D relief map video of the route to visualise the landscape and get a sense of the Everest Three Passes trek.


EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK ITINERARY

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

ITINERARY

We have outlined what we feel is an ideal Everest Three Passes trekking itinerary in the table below. This is a 19 day itinerary which includes flying to and from Lukla, and although not mentioned in the table, we assume that you will fly to Lukla on the morning of Day 1 (see this section for details). We have noted the trekking distance and an approximate trekking time for each day (excluding lunch stops, breaks, etc), as well as stats on elevation gain/loss and sleeping altitude. Below the table, we have outlined a few alternative route options which you may wish to consider for your own itinerary.

Note that this itinerary outlines an anti-clockwise trekking route, crossing Kongma La first, and Renjo La last. You can read more about our thoughts on why this is the best direction to trek the Everest Three Passes route in the ‘Is it best to do the Everest Three Passes trek clockwise or anti-clockwise?’ section below.

If viewing on a mobile device or tablet, scroll to the right to see the full table or flip your screen to landscape mode

DAYROUTEDISTANCE & TIME

ELEVATION GAINELEVATION LOSSSLEEP ALTITUDE
DAY 1
(Option 1)
LUKLA →
PHAKDING
7.5 km
2.5 hours
472 m687 m2640 m
DAY 1
(Option 2)
LUKLA →
MONJO
12.6 km
4.5 hours
1117 m1148 m2830 m
DAY 2
(Option 1)
PHAKDING →
NAMCHE BAZAAR
10.2 km
5 hours
1628 m
851 m3425 m
DAY 2
(Option 2)
MONJO →
NAMCHE BAZAAR
5.1 km
3 hours
983 m390 m3425 m
DAY 3*NAMCHE BAZAAR
(Acclimatisation Hike)
5.6 km – 9.1 km
3 – 6 hours
550 – 740 m550 – 740 m3425 m
DAY 4NAMCHE BAZAAR
→ PANGBOCHE
13.6 km
6 hours
1541 m1020 m3950 m
DAY 5PANGBOCHE
→ DINGBOCHE
5.7 km
2.5 hours
602 m250 m4300 m
DAY 6NANGKARTSHANG
(Acclimatisation Hike)
5 km
4 hours
766 m766 m4300 m
DAY 7DINGBOCHE
→ CHUKHUNG
5 km
2.5 hours
451 m19 m4730 m
DAY 8**CHUKHUNG RI
(Acclimatisation Hike)
4.9 km – 5.9 km
3 – 5 hours
645 – 810 m645 – 810 m4730 m
DAY 9CHUKHUNG
→ KONGMA LA
→ LOBUCHE
9.8 km
8 hours
973 m792 m4920 m
DAY 10***
(Part 1)
LOBUCHE →
GORAK SHEP
4.5 km
2.5 hours
316 m70 m5160 m
DAY 10
(Part 2)
KALA PATTHAR
(Return Hike)
3.8 km
3.5 hours
495 m495 m5160 m
DAY 11***
(Part 1)
GORAK SHEP →
EVEREST BASE CAMP
(Return Hike)
6.3 km
2.5 hours
255 m255 m
DAY 11
(Part 2)
GORAK SHEP
→ LOBUCHE
4.5 km
1.5 hours
68 m312 m4920 m
DAY 12LOBUCHE
→ DZONGLHA
6.6 km
2.5 hours
230 m321 m4825 m
DAY 13DZONGLHA
→ CHO LA
→ DRAGNAG
8.6 km
6 hours
653 m803 m4680 m
DAY 14DRAGNAG
→ GOKYO
3.8 km
3 hours
184 m112 m4750 m
DAY 15GOKYO RI
(Return Hike)
3.6 km
3 hours
605 m605 m4750 m
DAY 16 GOKYO
→ RENJO LA
→ THAME
20.6 km
8.5 hours
909 m1872 m3800 m
DAY 17THAME
→ MONJO
13.9 km
5 hours
910 m1872 m2830 m
DAY 18MONJO
→ LUKLA
12.6 km
4 hours
1155 m1123 m2855 m
DAY 19FLY LUKLA →
KATHMANDU/
MANTHALI
1400 m

*It is common to sleep two nights in Namche Bazaar to allow for proper acclimatisation. There are some different options for acclimatisation day hikes around the area (outlined here in our Everest Three Passes Route Guide) that you can choose to suit your own interests, fitness and energy levels.

**There are two viewpoints on the Chukhung Ri acclimatisation hike, the lower one (5380 m) which most people visit and the higher one (5516 m) which involves a tough and steep climb towards the end (both are outlined here in our Three Passes Route Guide)

***On days 10 and 11 the standard itinerary that most people follow is to visit EBC after lunch at Gorak Shep, then hike up Kala Patthar in the dark for sunrise the next morning (when it is bitterly cold). If you swap these two around as per the above suggested itinerary, you are guaranteed to have a less busy experience at both EBC and on the trail up Kala Patthar. As the skies are usually clearer in the morning you are also likely to have better views at EBC, however it is possible that the views from Kala Patthar will be obscured by afternoon clouds. If you’re lucky and have clear afternoon skies, then you will be treated to a fiery sunset glow on Everest and the surrounding mountains. If you hike up Kala Patthar in the morning, your mountain views will be brief as the sun rises directly behind Everest and you’ll soon be looking directly into the sun.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE OPTIONS

While the Everest Three Passes trek itinerary outlined above is an ideal option to follow, we do have some alternative route suggestions which you may wish to consider. Your speed, level of acclimatisation, timeframe, and numerous other factors will determine whether these alternatives might be suitable for you. Note that these suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list of route options – there are many villages and/or small teahouse settlements where you can stay instead of those suggested above or outlined below. Our map has all of the possible locations marked, and our Everest Three Passes Trekking Route Guide has info about the services available at each.

KHUMJUNG

Khumjung (3770 m) is a sizeable local village with a secondary school and gompa, situated about 1.5 hours walk north of Namche Bazaar. There are a number of guesthouses in the village and the views are wonderful. If you would prefer to stay somewhere quieter than Namche Bazaar, and you are well acclimatised already, then continuing to Khumjung on Day 2 is a good option. Alternatively, you could opt to spend one night in Namche Bazaar on Day 2, then continue to Khumjung on Day 3. From Khumjung you can rejoin the trail at Sanasa on Day 4, so there is no need to return to Namche. Adding a night at Khumjung towards the end of your Everest Three Passes trek is also a possibility.

AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP

It’s essential to acclimatise properly prior to crossing your first pass, which is why acclimatisation hikes are built into every Everest Three Passes trek itinerary. This involves sleeping at the same altitude for two nights while climbing to a higher altitude during the day. You’ll do this at Namche Bazaar, and twice more before crossing Kongma La. Usually this is at Dingboche (climbing to Nangkartshang and back), and at Chukhung (climbing to Chukhung Ri and back).

If you would like to add an additional acclimatisation hike into your itinerary, a day hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp while spending two nights at Pangboche is a good option. You’ll trek to around 4580 m (~ 6 hours return trekking time) before returning to sleep at Pangboche (3950 m) and continuing to Dingboche (4300 m) the following day. You could continue to Dingboche the same day, but only if you are prepared to trek for around 9 hours that day.

Morning view of Ama Dablam (6812 m) from Pangboche (3950 m), moments before the sun rises behind the mountain's shadowed form

Morning view of Ama Dablam (6812 m) from Pangboche (3950 m), moments before sunrise



Morning view of Ama Dablam (6812 m) from Pangboche (3950 m), moments before the sun rises behind the mountain's shadowed form

Morning view of Ama Dablam (6812 m) from
Pangboche (3950 m), moments before sunrise



HOW TO CUT ONE DAY OFF THIS ITINERARY

If you are on a tight schedule and want to cut a day off this itinerary, the best option is to combine Days 11 and 12, continuing to Dzonglha on Day 11 instead of overnighting at Lobuche for a second time. The section between Lobuche and Dzonglha is not too far and the elevation gain/loss is quite minimal, only adding around 2.5 hours trekking time to your day.

Just be aware that it can be quite tiring to continue all the way to Dzonglha after a big couple of days with early starts at high altitude, plus you will have less time to explore Everest Base Camp in the morning, which is why we suggest splitting this section over two days. This was our original plan, however we did end up walking all the way to Dzonglha in order to cross Cho La a day earlier than planned due to forecasted snow.

Another option is to combine Days 13 and 14, continuing all the way to Gokyo after crossing Cho La, instead of overnighting at Dragnag (Thagnak/Thangnak). While the distance isn’t great (only 3.7 km) it takes around 3 hours as you must cross the Ngozumpa Glacier, with plenty of up and down, and some steep sections as you descend to and ascend from the glacier. Many people plan to continue to Gokyo but find they don’t have the energy or time once reaching Dragnag. This is why we suggest tackling the Dzonglha to Gokyo section over two days instead of one, but it’s good to know the option is there should energy levels and conditions on the day allow you to continue all the way to Gokyo.

Under the morning sun, a trekker and guide crossing Ngozumpa Glacier, an expanse of jumbled rocks blanketed in white after fresh snowfall

It’s a short distance between Dragnag and Gokyo but you must cross Ngozumpa Glacier, made more tricky after fresh snowfall



Under the morning sun, a trekker and guide crossing Ngozumpa Glacier, an expanse of jumbled rocks blanketed in white after fresh snowfall

It’s a short distance between Dragnag and Gokyo
but you must cross Ngozumpa Glacier, made more
tricky after fresh snowfall



EXTRA NIGHT AT GOKYO

If you are not too constrained by time, it’s a great idea to add an extra night at Gokyo, staying 3 nights instead of 2. The setting is beautiful, and you have the option of doing a couple of different side hikes, to Gokyo 4th and 5th lakes and beyond as far as Cho Oyu Base Camp, as well as the usual climb to Gokyo Ri. Adding an additional night at Gokyo will give you plenty of time to do the various hikes in the morning (when the weather is usually clearest) and plenty of rest time in the afternoon.

An early morning view of beautiful blue Gokyo Lake and the guesthouses of the village, a place worth staying an extra night on the Everest Three Passes trek

There is wide selection of guesthouses at Gokyo and the setting is beautiful



An early morning view of beautiful blue Gokyo Lake and the guesthouses of the village, a place worth staying an extra night on the Everest Three Passes trek

There is wide selection of guesthouses
at
Gokyo and the setting is beautiful



ALTERNATIVE ITINERARY AFTER RENJO LA

It’s common to stop for the night at Lungden after crossing Renjo La, however in this itinerary we suggest continuing down the valley to Thame, which is a further 9.7 km and takes around 2.5 – 3 hours, although it’s mostly downhill.

We suggest this for a few reasons. Firstly, Thame is a very attractive village with some comfortable guesthouses and is a nice place to spend the night. Lungden, by comparison, is a much smaller teahouse settlement with just a couple of basic guesthouses. Also, after 11+ days spent at altitudes over 4000 m, it is a great feeling to drop down to Thame (3790 m) instead of remaining at Lungden (4366 m). It is warmer, you can breathe easier and be surrounded by trees again, and the guesthouses at Thame offer better facilities like hot showers. Continuing onto Thame also makes the last couple of days a bit shorter, allowing you to avoid two back-to-back 18 km days with a significant amount of up and down.

The sizeable village of Thame situated in a narrow side valley at 3800 m, its trees and green fields a welcome sight after so many days above 4000 m on the Everest Three Passes trek

First sight of Thame (3800 m), a most welcome one after so many days trekking at altitudes above 4000 m



The sizeable village of Thame situated in a narrow side valley at 3800 m, its trees and green fields a welcome sight after so many days above 4000 m on the Everest Three Passes trek

First sight of Thame (3800 m), a most
welcome one after so many days trekking
at altitudes above 4000 m



If the distance, trekking time, and energy required is too much for you, it’s certainly possible to stop at Lungden for the night instead. This would mean trekking from Lungden to Namche Bazaar (17.8 km) on Day 17 and from Namche Bazaar to Lukla (18 km) on Day 18, or adding in an extra night somewhere of your choice to break up the distance over 3 days instead of 2.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BUFFER DAYS

Building in buffer days to your Everest Three Passes itinerary is highly recommended, especially if you plan on flying to/from Lukla. Flights are regularly cancelled due to poor weather conditions, sometimes for a number of days. If everything runs smoothly, it takes half a day or less to get to/from Lukla at the start/end of your trek. However, if flights are not operating, it can take up to 3 days to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lukla, using a mixture of buses and jeeps, and by trekking too. Therefore, it’s wise to have at least 3 or 4 days between the end of your planned trek itinerary and any international flight. This would allow you time to get from Lukla to Kathmandu overland if necessary.

Of course, a delay could also happen at the start of your trek while trying to get to Lukla, and this might leave you struggling to catch up with your original itinerary. Having a couple of buffer days built in will mean you don’t have to drastically alter your itinerary, avoiding the need to walk extra long distances to save a day or skipping places because you don’t have time.

Buffer days also allow you to alter your itinerary on the go more easily. For example, if you get sick and need to spend an extra night somewhere, or the weather is bad and it’s safer to wait a day before crossing one of the high passes, then you have the extra days on hand.

In falling snow, trekkers approach Renjo La on the Everest Three Passes trek; the trail leads up across the rocky section ahead and round to the right

Having buffer days built in to your itinerary gives you the opportunity to avoid trekking in weather like this



In falling snow, trekkers approach Renjo La on the Everest Three Passes trek; the trail leads up across the rocky section ahead and round to the right

Having buffer days built in to your itinerary
gives you the opportunity to avoid trekking
in weather like this



It’s worth knowing that should everything go to plan and you don’t need to use any buffer days during your trek, it’s straightforward for a trekking agency to change the date of your flight, bringing it forward a few days for example. However, this is not so easy if you have booked your flight online, independently.

On our own Everest Three Passes trek we allowed for up to 22 days, from Kathmandu back to Kathmandu, but in the end our itinerary was just 17 days.

OUR RECOMMENDED TREKKING AGENCY

We partnered with Himalayan Masters for our Langtang Valley, Gosainkunda, and Everest Three Passes treks, and found them to be very professional and committed to a high level of service

To enquire about booking your own trek, get in touch via email at info@himalayan-masters.com and mention the code HOGG5 to get a 5% discount off the cost of your trip


TREK THE EVEREST THREE PASSES CLOCKWISE OR ANTI-CLOCKWISE?

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

CLOCKWISE OR ANTI-CLOCKWISE?

The Everest Three Passes trek is a lollipop-shaped trek. The ‘stick’ is the section between Lukla and Namche Bazaar (which you will hike at both the start and end of the trek), while the ‘lolli’ is the loop from Namche to Namche, crossing the three passes and forming the main part of the trek. It is possible to trek this loop section clockwise (crossing Renjo La first) or anti-clockwise/counter-clockwise (crossing Kongma La first). We would highly recommend trekking the Everest Three Passes route anti-clockwise, for the reasons outlined below.

ACCLIMATISATION

The primary reason for tackling the Three Passes trek in an anti-clockwise direction is to allow for proper acclimatisation. By aiming to cross Kongma La first, you can ascend to high altitude at a sensible rate and incorporate at least two acclimatisation hikes into your itinerary. This greatly minimises your chance of suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS, also known as altitude sickness), or developing the life-threatening conditions of HACE or HAPE.

Trekking the Everest Three Passes route in a clockwise direction, crossing Renjo La first, offers limited opportunities for acclimatisation hikes and requires a much bigger jump in elevation over a shorter period of time. This puts you at much greater risk of developing AMS (or worse, HACE or HAPE), and as such your chances of successfully and safely completing the trek are lower.

We cover more about acclimatisation, safe ascent rates, and AMS in the ‘Altitude Awareness and AMS’ section below.

With Ama Dablam as a backdrop, a trekker and guide stop to enjoy the views while doing the Nangkartshang acclimatisation hike on the Everest Three Passes trek

Doing the acclimatisation hike on Nangkartshang is one of the benefits of trekking the Three Passes in an anti-clockwise direction



With Ama Dablam as a backdrop, a trekker and guide stop to enjoy the views while doing the Nangkartshang acclimatisation hike on the Everest Three Passes trek

Doing the acclimatisation hike on Nangkartshang
is one of the benefits of trekking the Three Passes
in an anti-clockwise direction



ELEVATION GAIN

In addition to the huge benefits of proper acclimatisation, tackling the Everest Three Passes trek in an anti-clockwise direction is easier with regards to elevation gain. Put simply, you will have to climb less when crossing Cho La and Renjo La if trekking anti-clockwise rather than clockwise, making it easier. You will have to climb 130 metres more when crossing Kongma La anti-clockwise, however this ascent is on a good trail for most of the way to the pass, whereas the ascent to Kongma La from Lobuche, although having less elevation to climb, is steep, rocky, and energy sapping.

Crossing Renjo La in a clockwise direction is especially strenuous, requiring you to climb an additional 400 metres as compared to crossing it in an anti-clockwise direction, from Gokyo.

Trekkers climb the final steep section to Cho La from the west while others wait to descend having crossed the middle of the Three Passes from the east

People trekking clockwise climb steeply on the final section before Cho La (5368 m)



Trekkers climb the final steep section to Cho La from the west while others wait to descend having crossed the middle of the Three Passes from the east

People trekking clockwise climb steeply on
the final section before Cho La (5368 m)



CONTINGENCY PLANS

Another reason to trek the Three Passes in an anti-clockwise direction is that there is a better ‘Plan B’ option should you be unable to cross Renjo La (due to heavy snow for example). If you approach Renjo La in a clockwise direction (aiming to cross this pass first) but find that you can’t, it’s a big detour all the way back down to Namche and then up the Dudh Koshi Nadi Valley to rejoin the route at Gokyo (approx 2.5 days trekking). However, if you find you are unable to cross Renjo La while trekking in an anti-clockwise direction, you would just skip the pass and trek down the Dudh Koshi Nadi Valley to Namche (1 day), then continue on to end at Lukla.

For Cho La and Kongma La, in terms of contingency plans it doesn’t make a big difference whether you are trekking clockwise or anti-clockwise, as the alternative routes are similar either way.

THE BEST VIEWS

We’ve heard a few people say and read various comments online suggesting that it’s best to trek the Everest Three Passes route in a clockwise direction, because that way you’ll have the best views. Personally, we wouldn’t consider this a good enough reason to opt for trekking the route clockwise. We feel that the views are incredible looking either way, and of course, you’re always free to stop and look around. And you won’t be enjoying any views at all if you are struggling with AMS because your chosen route hasn’t allowed for proper acclimatisation, a very real concern if trekking clockwise.

SEE MORE FROM NEPAL

Featured image for the Everest Base Camp trek guide, featuring a trekker walking on a rocky trail with mountain peaks in the distance
With Ama Dablam as a backdrop, a trekker and guide stop to enjoy the views while doing the Nangkartshang acclimatisation hike on the Everest Three Passes trek
A hiker and guide cross a flat, rocky section before Kongma La on the Everest Three Passes trek, with the snowy ridgeline to the east visible behind
A trekker and guide climbing the snow covered slope towards Laurebina Pass (4650 m), with the blue surface of Gosainkunda shining in the morning sun below
Snow covered guesthouses reflected in the bright blue waters of Gosainkunda
Trekkers enjoying mountain views and a well earned rest atop Kyanjin Ri (4586 m) in the Langtang Valley
Snowy mountain view with colourful prayer flags in the foreground, seen from the first Kyanjin Ri viewpoint (4300 m) on the Langtang Valley trek
Featured image for 'What to Pack for Trekking in Nepal', featuring trekkers, guides and porters crossing a suspension bridge on the Everest Base Camp route
A narrow trekking trail in Upper Mustang stretching off into the distance amidst some bizarre rock formations, with the snowy peak of Dhaulagiri in the background
Trekkers on a trail approaching a round orange rock formation with a plateau stretched out into the distance in Upper Mustang
Sunrise hitting the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal
Trekkers look out while descending from the Larke Pass on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Featured image for the Everest Base Camp trek guide, featuring a trekker walking on a rocky trail with mountain peaks in the distance
With Ama Dablam as a backdrop, a trekker and guide stop to enjoy the views while doing the Nangkartshang acclimatisation hike on the Everest Three Passes trek
A hiker and guide cross a flat, rocky section before Kongma La on the Everest Three Passes trek, with the snowy ridgeline to the east visible behind
A trekker and guide climbing the snow covered slope towards Laurebina Pass (4650 m), with the blue surface of Gosainkunda shining in the morning sun below
Snow covered guesthouses reflected in the bright blue waters of Gosainkunda
Trekkers enjoying mountain views and a well earned rest atop Kyanjin Ri (4586 m) in the Langtang Valley
Snowy mountain view with colourful prayer flags in the foreground, seen from the first Kyanjin Ri viewpoint (4300 m) on the Langtang Valley trek
Featured image for 'What to Pack for Trekking in Nepal', featuring trekkers, guides and porters crossing a suspension bridge on the Everest Base Camp route
A narrow trekking trail in Upper Mustang stretching off into the distance amidst some bizarre rock formations, with the snowy peak of Dhaulagiri in the background
Trekkers on a trail approaching a round orange rock formation with a plateau stretched out into the distance in Upper Mustang
Sunrise hitting the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal
Trekkers look out while descending from the Larke Pass on the Manaslu Circuit Trek

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREKKING SEASON

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

TREKKING SEASON

Like many treks in Nepal, the peak seasons for trekking the Everest Three Passes route are April to mid-May and October to mid-November. These months typically offer the best chance of both clear skies and warmer temperatures, although weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable in Nepal and across the world, so you should still be prepared for snow and colder temperatures during these periods.

The spring trekking season coincides with the Everest climbing season, so the Khumbu region is very busy with helicopters and yaks transporting supplies to Everest Base Camp. If trekking at this time, you will have the chance to see base camp fully set up with all the tents, and there is a great buzz about the place. Outside of the climbing season, there are no tents or any other infrastructure at EBC.

Everest base Camp on a sunny April morning during the spring climbing season; a multitude of yellow tents sit atop the rock-covered glacier, with many peaks and the Khumbu Icefall rising behind, and the summit of Mount Everest just visible in the background

A spring morning at Everest Base Camp, the place fully set up for the climbing season



Everest base Camp on a sunny April morning during the spring climbing season; a multitude of yellow tents sit atop the rock-covered glacier, with many peaks and the Khumbu Icefall rising behind, and the summit of Mount Everest just visible in the background

A spring morning at Everest Base Camp,
the place
fully set up for the climbing season



In autumn, expect less wind and higher temperatures than in spring, while in late March and April, blooming rhododendrons and other spring flowers are a beautiful sight at some lower elevations.

The shoulder seasons are March, May, September and mid-November to December. During these times it can be much quieter on the trail. There is typically cold weather in March and December. In March there is a high chance of lingering or fresh snow. December typically has sunny weather and clear skies throughout the day. In late May and early September there is a higher chance of early or lingering monsoon rains and cloudy skies.

The winter months of January and February are considered too cold by most to trek and many guesthouses are closed.

PLAN A TREK IN THE LANGTANG VALLEY

HOW TO GET TO LUKLA

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

HOW TO GET TO LUKLA

Lukla is the gateway for all treks in the Khumbu region, including Everest Three Passes, Everest Base Camp, and Gokyo Lakes. Nestled in the mountains at 2855 m, the closest dirt-road access is approximately 1 day’s walk away, with a tarmac road 3+ days’ walk away. The majority of people arrive in Lukla by air, landing at the small runway or helicopter pad at Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA). If you prefer not to fly, it’s possible to get to Lukla overland in 3+ days, by taking a bus/jeep then trekking on foot.

FLYING TO LUKLA

Flights to Lukla operate year-round from either Kathmandu or Ramechhap/Manthali (approx 4 hours’ drive from Kathmandu), although cancellations and delays are common as flights can only run in favourable weather conditions. The flight time is 30 minutes from Kathmandu, and 15 minutes from Ramechhap/Manthali. The Lukla runway is just 527 metres long and is sloped at an 11.7% gradient, making taking off and landing challenging for pilots and a little daunting for passengers.

Flights are operated by Tara (Yeti) Air, Summit Air, and Sita Air, with each company using small 15 seater twin propeller planes. Flights usually only operate in the morning, when the skies are clearer and there is less wind. There is a weight limit of 10 kg checked baggage + 5 kg hand baggage. The cabin is not pressurised and it’s very noisy. There are no assigned seats. For the best mountain views, try to sit on the left while flying to Lukla and the right on the return flight.

During peak trekking and climbing seasons, Lukla flights operate to and from Ramechhap/Manthali in order to ease congestion at Kathmandu Airport. The dates change annually, but this is roughly April 1st – May 20th and September 20th – November 20th. See below for how to get from Kathmandu to Ramechhap/Manthali.

The runway at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, sloped at an 11.7% gradient and just 527 metres long, used by the majority of trekkers flying to the Khumbu region for the Everest Base Camp, Everest Three Passes, and Gokyo Lakes treks

The runway at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, sloped at an 11.7% gradient and just 527 metres long



The runway at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, sloped at an 11.7% gradient and just 527 metres long, used by the majority of trekkers flying to the Khumbu region for the Everest Base Camp, Everest Three Passes, and Gokyo Lakes treks

The runway at Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla,
on an 11.7% gradient and just 527 metres long



Flight tickets cost $180 one way from Kathmandu and $152 one way from Ramechhap/Manthali. You can book online directly with the airline, or via an agency in Kathmandu. If you are booking an inclusive trekking package, for example with our recommended local trekking agency Himalayan Masters, your flight will be organised for you. Booking the earliest possible flight time is best as clouds tend to move in and the wind picks up through the morning, with later flights more likely to be cancelled. Note that agencies sometimes have access to earlier flights than are available to book online.

It is free of charge to change your flight date (in advance by calling the airline or in person at the airport) and it’s a good idea to reconfirm the day before you fly to avoid being bumped onto a later flight. Again, if you have booked through a trekking agency, they can take care of any flight changes and reconfirmations for you. This makes the whole process much more straightforward than if you have booked independently (especially if you’re trying to make changes while trekking with limited phone service or internet connection).

Be aware that it can be a bit chaotic at the airport and being bumped onto a different flight time and/or standing around confused about what’s happening is pretty normal. The situation is certainly easier to manage if you are with a guide, who will be used to the process, speaks the local language, and will take care of everything for you.

FLYING TO PHAPLU/SALLERI

Sometimes when flights can’t depart for Lukla, there is an option to fly to Phaplu (2 km north of Salleri) instead. From Phaplu it’s possible to trek to Lukla in about 3 days, or you can take a jeep as far as Thamdada (subject to road conditions) and trek the remaining distance to Lukla in 1 day.

See stages 2 and 3 in the ‘how to get to Lukla without flying’ section below for more details.

HOW TO GET FROM KATHMANDU TO RAMECHHAP AIRPORT (MANTHALI)

You can get from Kathmandu to Ramechhap Airport (RHP) (also known as Manthali) by public bus, shuttle bus, or private car. The journey takes around 4 hours.

Public buses depart between approx 0600 – 1100 from Ratna Park (also known as Old Bus Park) near Thamel, costing approx 600 NPR  ($4.50 USD). The journey takes around 4 – 5 hours. You will need to spend one night at a guesthouse in Manthali before flying to Lukla the following morning. There are guesthouses within walking distance of Ramechhap Airport. You can just show up and buy a bus ticket on the day. Buses arrive at the Manthali Bus Park.

Shuttle buses depart from the Thamel area of Kathmandu at 0130 and 0200, allowing you to fly to Lukla the same morning. They also depart at 1100, if you prefer to travel during the day and spend one night in Manthali before flying to Lukla. The journey takes about 4 hours. You must make a reservation in advance. You can do this via a local agency, ask staff at your accommodation to help, or book online via Viator or Get Your Guide. Tickets cost up to $30 USD.


A private car costs approx 14000 NPR ($100 USD), which can be shared by up to 4 passengers. The road condition does not require a jeep/4×4 vehicle. The journey takes about 4 hours, with door-to-door service. You can book a private car via a local agency or ask staff at your accommodation to help organise it.

For the return journey from Ramechhap/Manthali to Kathmandu you must pre-arrange your shuttle transfer or private car transfer. If travelling back to Kathmandu by public bus, you should be able to get one from the Manthali Bus Park after arriving on the flight from Lukla.

HELICOPTER TO LUKLA

It is also possible to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla by helicopter. Helicopters can often fly in weather conditions that would ground twin propellor planes, they are generally considered safer, and they operate out of Kathmandu Airport year-round (unlike planes which only depart from Ramechhap/Manthali during peak season). Flying by helicopter is considerably more expensive though, costing around $500 USD one way per person (assuming there are enough people to fill five seats). You can book via a local travel or trekking agency, or book online in advance via Viator.

Snow capped mountains seen through the window of a helicopter enroute to Lukla with passengers starting the Everest Three Passes trek

Morning mountain vistas on the helicopter ride



Snow capped mountains seen through the window of a helicopter enroute to Lukla with passengers starting the Everest Three Passes trek

Morning mountain vistas on the helicopter ride



HOW TO GET TO LUKLA WITHOUT FLYING

It’s possible to get to Lukla without flying by using a combination of bus and/or jeep and trekking. This takes 3 – 5 days. Eventually there will be a road built all the way to Lukla, but for now the closest you can possibly get by jeep on a dirt road is Thamdada (1 day walk to Lukla), and by bus or jeep on a sealed road is Salleri/Phaplu (3 – 4 days’ walk to Lukla). Buses and jeeps stop for food and toilet breaks along the way. As the road between Salleri/Phaplu and Thamdada is unsealed, its condition can vary greatly depending on how much rain there has been. Sometimes it’s not possible to drive all the way to Thamdada, and you may only be able to reach Bupsa, Kharikhola, or Adderi.

Although it may be possible to get all the way from Kathmandu to Thamdada in one day, we do not recommend this as it means travelling on a dirt road with challenging hairpin bends and steep sections in the dark. Instead, it’s advisable to spend one night in Salleri where there are lots of guesthouses and travel to Thamdada the following day. At Thamdada, there is a guesthouse (Kare Hotel) at the jeep stop and two more approximately 25 minutes’ walk from the jeep stop. Additionally, there are many more guesthouses at Paiyu, which is around 2 hours’ walk away. It’s also possible to stop shortly before Thamdada to stay at a guesthouse in Kare (approx 1 hours’ walk to Thamdada).

The trekking route from Salleri to Lukla goes via Ringmu, Nunthala, Kharikhola, Bupsa, Kari La (Thamdada), Paiyu and Surke. Common overnight stops are at Nunthala, Bupsa, and Surke, after which you join the classic Lukla (or Cheplung) to Namche Bazaar route. There is a lot of elevation gain and loss on the Salleri to Lukla trekking route, so expect plenty of tiring up and down. The driving route from Salleri to Thamdada goes via Adderi and joins the trekking route shortly before Kharikhola.

KATHMANDU TO LUKLA OVERLAND STAGES

STEP 1 // DRIVE KATHMANDU TO SALLERI/PHAPLU

9 – 12 hours travel time (mostly sealed road); Phaplu is about 2 km north of Salleri

Bus is approx 1700 NPR ($13 USD); departs from Chabahil Chowk (approx 0430) or from Koteshwor Chowk (approx 0500); no advance booking required

Shared Jeep is approx 2600 NPR ($20 USD) per person; departs from Chabahil Chowk and Koteshwor Chowk (approx 0500); best to reserve seat in advance (ask local travel agency or accommodation staff)

Private Jeep is approx $280 (can be shared between up to 7 people); door-to-door service, depart any time in morning; book via a local travel/trekking agency

STEP 2 // DRIVE SALLERI/PHAPLU TO THAMDADA (or Bupsa, Kharikhola, Adderi or elsewhere depending on road condition)

6 – 7 hours travel time (unsealed road)

Shared Jeep is approx 2600 NPR ($20 USD) per person; departs approx 0600; best to reserve seat in advance; (ask your accommodation owner to
book when you arrive in Salleri)

Private Jeep is approx $235 (can be shared between up to 7 people); door-to-door service, depart any time in the morning; book in advance in Kathmandu via a local travel/trekking agency

STEP 3 // TREK THAMDADA TO LUKLA OR CHEPLUNG

You can bypass Lukla itself and join the trail to Namche at Cheplung instead (you can get your Khumbu Trek Card from the checkpoint at Toc Toc as you will not pass the checkpoint at Lukla). There is a lot of up and down on this section. It is possible to cover the distance over two days if you prefer, staying at a guesthouse along the way (for example at Chheubas or Surke). The route and villages/guesthouses along the way are marked on our map.

To Lukla: 13.3 km | approx 7 hours trekking time | +1870 m / – 1744 m

To Cheplung: 13.9 km | approx 7 hours trekking time | +1785 m / – 1825 m


EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK PERMIT AND FEES

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

PERMIT AND FEES

For the Everest Three Passes trek, including Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes, you need two permits. Both are issued locally in the Khumbu region so you don’t need to organise permits in advance in Kathmandu. You will need your passport and the fee in cash in Nepalese rupees.

Keep your permits in a safe place as you will need to show them at various checkpoints during the trek.

SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK FEE

3000 NPR

(1500 NPR SAARC nationals/
100 NPR Nepali nationals)

Pay at checkpoint in Lukla
or NP entrance beyond Monjo


TREKKING EVEREST THREE PASSES INDEPENDENTLY

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

TREKKING INDEPENDENTLY

The Nepal Tourism Board announced on March 9th 2023 that as of April 1st 2023, all international trekkers in Nepal are required to hire a licenced trekking guide and obtain the TIMS card through an authorised trekking agency registered with the government of Nepal.

However, the Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality has confirmed that it is NOT mandatory to trek with a guide in the Khumbu region. This means that you do not need to have a guide for the Everest Three Passes trek, or for the treks to Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes. We have included copies of the official press release from April 2nd 2023 and an info card from September 2023 stating that a guide is not mandatory in the Khumbu region. You can check the Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality Facebook page for any further updates.

Khumbu Press Release April 2023 with information for those planning to trek in the Everest region

An informational graphic about the Khumbu Trek Card and National Park Fees for those trekking in the Everest Region

SHOULD YOU DO THE THREE PASSES TREK WITHOUT A GUIDE?

While trekking with a guide in the Khumbu region is not mandatory, this does not mean that doing the Everest Three Passes trek independently is the right decision for you. It is one of the most challenging treks in Nepal with multiple days spent at very high altitude. It passes through some remote areas with significant distances between teahouses, and crosses three high mountain passes above 5350 m.

In our opinion, you should only consider tackling the Everest Three Passes trek without a guide if you are an experienced high altitude hiker. If you plan to trek solo, it is wise to join with other trekkers you meet on the trail for any particularly challenging sections, such as crossing each of the three passes. We would also recommend carrying an emergency communication device such as a Garmin inReach.

PROS AND CONS OF INDEPENDENT TREKKING

If you are thinking about doing the Everest Three Passes trek without a guide, here are a few thoughts on the pros and cons of independent trekking in Nepal.

PROS

This is the cheapest way to trek the Everest Three Passes. You won’t have to pay for anything extra beyond your daily food and accommodation costs, permit fee, and transport to/from the trailhead.

You have complete freedom and flexibility. You can choose how long to trek for each day, what route to take and where to stay. If you like somewhere, you can choose to stay an extra day without having to consult anyone else or consider their needs.

It is easier to enjoy a bit of ‘alone time’ on the trail. If you are trekking with a guide or group it can be harder or more awkward to branch out and enjoy walking alone with your thoughts.

You’ll likely have more interaction with locals. If you are trekking with a guide it is common practice for them to deal with everything at your guesthouse and act as a go-between. It’s normal for your guide to take your order, bring out your food, and settle up the bill on your behalf, which means you may have little interaction with the owner or staff yourself. But, you’ll be doing all that by yourself if you trek independently.

CONS

With freedom and flexibility comes more responsibility and the need to do more research, preparation and daily planning. You will need to spend time organising things both on and off the trail. You will need to sort out all the logistics like your permit, transport, and accommodation by yourself, and be confident in your route planning and navigation. 

You are more vulnerable in an emergency situation or if you get sick. This is especially true if you are trekking solo. You should prepare as best you can with a comprehensive medical kit, emergency contact numbers at the ready, and ideally an emergency communication device like the Garmin inReach. You should link up with other trekkers for particularly challenging and remote sections, such as crossing each of the high passes.

In peak trekking season you may find it harder to get a room. Many guesthouses prefer bigger groups with organised companies and will give preference to them over independent solo trekkers or those in small groups. Guides with existing local contacts often call ahead to book rooms, something which isn’t as easy for independent trekkers with no personal contacts. 

You miss out on all the insights a knowledgeable, English speaking guide can offer. Your understanding of the region, and Nepal in general, is likely to be much broader after spending nearly three weeks in the company of a Nepali guide rather than going it alone.


PROS

This is the cheapest way to trek the Everest Three Passes. You won’t have to pay for anything extra beyond your daily food and accommodation costs, permit fee, and transport to/from the trailhead. 

You have complete freedom and flexibility. You can choose how long to trek for each day, what route to take and where to stay. If you like somewhere, you can choose to stay an extra day without having to consult anyone else or consider their needs. 

It is easier to enjoy a bit of ‘alone time’ on the trail. If you are trekking with a guide or group it can be harder or more awkward to branch out and enjoy walking alone with your thoughts. 

You’ll likely have more interaction with locals. If you are trekking with a guide it is common practice for them to deal with everything at your guesthouse and act as a go-between. It’s normal for your guide to take your order, bring out your food, and settle up the bill on your behalf, which means you may have little interaction with the owner or staff yourself. But, you’ll be doing all that by yourself if you trek independently.

CONS

With freedom and flexibility comes more responsibility and the need to do more research, preparation and daily planning. You will need to spend time organising things both on and off the trail. You will need to sort out all the logistics like your permit, transport, and accommodation by yourself, and be confident in your route planning and navigation. 

You are more vulnerable in an emergency situation or if you get sick. This is especially true if you are trekking solo. You should prepare as best you can with a comprehensive medical kit, emergency contact numbers at the ready, and ideally an emergency communication device like the Garmin inReach. You should link up with other trekkers for particularly challenging and remote sections, such as crossing each of the high passes. 

In peak trekking season you may find it harder to get a room. Many guesthouses prefer bigger groups with organised companies and will give preference to them over independent solo trekkers or those in small groups. Guides with existing local contacts often call ahead to book rooms, something which isn’t as easy for independent trekkers with no personal contacts. 

You miss out on all the insights a knowledgeable, English speaking guide can offer. Your understanding of the region, and Nepal in general, is likely to be much broader after spending nearly three weeks in the company of a Nepali guide rather than going it alone.


TREKKING EVEREST THREE PASSES WITH A GUIDE (AND PORTER)

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

TREKKING WITH A GUIDE (AND PORTER)

Although not mandatory, many people choose to do the Everest Three Passes trek with a guide, and often with a porter too. If you are an inexperienced high altitude trekker we would absolutely recommend hiring a guide for this trek, but even if you are experienced, trekking with a guide is a great option. Not only can a guide be invaluable when it comes to your safety, a guide can also enrich your experience on the trail, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the history, culture, and geography of the land. Hiring a porter to carry your bag will put less strain on your body, making your trek much easier and perhaps allowing you to better enjoy the surroundings. Hiring a guide and/or porter also provides jobs and supports the trekking tourism economy.

One guide can accompany a maximum of five trekkers. A porter shouldn’t be asked to carry more than 25 kg, ideally no more than 20 kg. If you pack appropriately, one porter can carry two trekkers’ bags. Ensure that your guide and porter have appropriate clothing and equipment for the trail, including warm clothing for high altitudes (a down jacket, hat, gloves), boots, sunglasses, and waterproofs.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TREKKING WITH A GUIDE

If you are doing the Everest Three Passes trek with a guide you may meet them in either Kathmandu or Lukla. If you meet in Kathmandu, you will travel to the trailhead together and return to Kathmandu together at the end. Professional guides in Nepal are both licenced and insured, and will speak English (sometimes other languages too).

During your trek a guide will walk with you on the trail, suggest the best spots to stop for lunch, and take you to their recommended overnight accommodation. At busy times, they may call ahead and pre-book a room for you. They will act as your go-between at each guesthouse, arranging your room, taking your food orders, and settling the bill. It’s normal for a guide to run through the following day’s itinerary each evening, giving you an overview of the trail, trekking time, and any other relevant information.

A trekker and guide stop to appreciate the views after the initial climb up from Chukhung on this Everest Three Passes acclimatisation hike

A guide can help with many practical things, provide insight into local culture, and be a good companion on the trail



A trekker and guide stop to appreciate the views after the initial climb up from Chukhung on this Everest Three Passes acclimatisation hike

A guide can help with many practical things,
provide insight into local culture, and be a
good companion on the trekking trail



Your guide will always be around at your guesthouse, but they won’t stick by you constantly. You will have plenty of freedom to hang out in your room or the dining room, read your book, chat with other guests, play cards, etc. Guides sleep and eat in the same guesthouse as you, always in a separate room. A guide’s meals and accommodation are usually provided free of charge by guesthouses in exchange for their trekking clients’ custom. If a guesthouse is busy, your guide may share a room with other guides or be obliged to sleep in the dining room.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN TREKKING WITH A PORTER

If you’re trekking the Everest Three Passes route with a porter, you will usually meet them locally at the start of your trek. It is not common for porters to travel with you from Kathmandu due to the expense of getting to/from the Khumbu region. Trekking agencies usually have a pool of porters that they work with regularly and can arrange a porter as part of any trekking package. As porters usually do not speak English, your guide will communicate and organise the day-to-day logistics with your porter during the trek.

Porters often go at their own pace so you won’t always trek with them. It’s common to pack your bag and have it ready for them before breakfast, and for your bag to already be in your room when you arrive at your guesthouse for the evening.

A porter arriving in Dingboche



A porter arriving in Dingboche



CONDITIONS FOR PORTERS IN THE KHUMBU REGION

Conditions for trekking porters across Nepal are far from ideal, however they are particularly poor in the Khumbu region. Unlike in other trekking regions, guesthouse owners in the Khumbu do not permit porters to sleep or eat in their guesthouses alongside trekkers and guides (with the exception of a rare few based on our own experience). Instead, porters sleep and eat at designated Nepali hotels or porter shelters in each village or teahouse settlement in the Khumbu region. Also, unlike in other regions, porters in the Khumbu must pay for their meals, with a large proportion of their daily wage being spent on food.

The conditions in which porters sleep, often in one dormitory-style room with up to 100 or more porters, are much more basic than those experienced by trekkers and guides in guesthouses. Sometimes porter accommodation is full, and porters must walk to a different village to find available accommodation, returning to meet their trekking clients in the morning. This is especially common at Lobuche and Gorak Shep, where limited accommodation means that porters often have to walk for hours, back to Thukla or Pheriche to spend the night before returning early the next morning.

You can read more in the informative paper Uphill Struggle: Impediments and Facilitators to Porter Health in the Khumbu Region by Nate Barott (2018).

HOW TO ORGANISE AN EVEREST THREE PASSES TREKKING GUIDE (AND PORTER)

The easiest way to arrange a trekking guide is via a trekking agency. You can book an inclusive Everest Three Passes trekking package which covers your transport, entrance fees, guide (and porter), accommodation costs, and three meals a day. Alternatively, you can pay for a guide (and porter) only, and then pay-as-you-go for your accommodation, food, transport, and entrance fees (although this involves more day-to-day hassle than opting for an inclusive package).

Choosing a trekking agency is often the trickiest part as there are thousands of registered agencies in Nepal and the quality of service can vary greatly between them. Many trekkers will choose a guide or agency based on a trusted recommendation from a friend or fellow trekker, and this is a good approach. An alternative option is to visit a number of trekking agencies in person when you arrive in Thamel (Kathmandu) to get a feel for a company that you like, or to contact agencies online in advance.

OUR RECOMMENDED TREKKING AGENCY

Having trekked with three different agencies and three different guides on three visits to Nepal, our best experience has been with Himalayan Masters. We partnered with them for our Langtang, Gosainkunda Helambu, and Everest Three Passes treks, and found them to be professional, committed to a high level of service, and competitively priced.

We really appreciate the fact that Sandip, the agency owner, is super flexible when it comes to itinerary amendments that don’t just follow the norm. He’s also a problem solver and what we’d call a real ‘go-getter’, a trait that’s highly valuable to his clients, whether he’s retrieving a swallowed bank card from a Thamel ATM in record time, or fixing logistical issues when things go wrong last minute at 2am (both real life examples experienced by us or fellow Himalayan Masters clients we met on the trail!).

We’d also highly recommend our Himalayan Masters guide, Govinda Rai, who we spent over a month trekking with in Nepal. He is very professional, taking care of everything you would expect from a guide, but also tailoring his suggestions and advice specifically to his clients, resulting in a more enjoyable trekking experience overall. We quickly came to trust his choices for lunch stops and accommodation as we felt they were always among the best options available. His knowledge of the trail was excellent, and his advice on trekking times for each day (based on our own pace) was spot-on, making it easier for us to plan our itinerary and make on-the-go changes as we saw fit. And on a personal level, we found Govinda to be easy-going, friendly, and an all-round great person to spend time with.

Govinda Rai, a trekking guide for Himalayan Masters, laughing and smiling in front of colourful prayer flags at the top of Kyanjin Ri (4856 m) on the Langtang Valley trek

Govinda, our Himalayan Masters guide



Govinda Rai, a trekking guide for Himalayan Masters, laughing and smiling in front of colourful prayer flags at the top of Kyanjin Ri (4856 m) on the Langtang Valley trek

Govinda, our Himalayan Masters guide



We also met a number of other Himalayan Masters guides while out on the trail, including Dipak who we chatted with lots, as our Langtang Valley trek itinerary coincided for three nights at the same guesthouses. From our interactions with Dipak, and positive feedback shared over dining room chats with his two trekking clients, we’re confident that Himalayan Masters are working with great guides across the board.

In addition to our guide, Govinda, we’d also highly recommend our porter, Prakas Tamang, organised last minute for us by Himalayan Masters. He knows the trail inside out, portering on the Everest Three Passes route multiple times a season. We felt he went above and beyond his role as a trekking porter, especially when breaking trail for us in snowy conditions while crossing Ngozumpa Glacier and Renjo La.

To discuss your Everest Three Passes trek, get in touch with Himalayan Masters at info@himalayan-masters.com, and you’ll get a 5% discount off your trip cost by using our code HOGG5.

HOW ABOUT TACKLING THE MANASLU CIRCUIT?

ACCOMMODATION ON THE EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation on the Everest Three Passes trek is in the form of guesthouses, also known as teahouses or lodges. These can be found regularly along the trail in local villages (such as Namche Bazaar and Dingboche) or in guesthouse-only settlements (such as Lobuche and Lungden). In general, the standard of accommodation is decent on the Three Passes trek, but it becomes more basic at higher altitude, with accommodation at Gorak Shep (5160 m) the most basic (and the toilets the most unpleasant) of the whole trek.

The morning sun strikes off the walls and roofs of guesthouses in Pangboche, a village on the Everest Three Passes and Everest Base Camp route

The morning sun lights up Pangboche, a village on the Everest Three Passes route that has plenty of guesthouses



The morning sun strikes off the walls and roofs of guesthouses in Pangboche, a village on the Everest Three Passes and Everest Base Camp route

The morning sun reaches Pangboche, a village on
the Three Passes route with plenty of guesthouses



Guesthouses provide both accommodation and meals, and you are expected to eat dinner and breakfast at the guesthouse you sleep at. Lunch is usually at a different guesthouse along the trail, unless you arrive early at your destination for the day.

ROOMS

Rooms are basic, but comfortable. They usually have two single beds, although some places will have rooms sleeping three, or just one. Beds always have a sheet-covered mattress, a pillow with a pillowcase, and a blanket. We have seen plenty of bedding hanging out to dry which would suggest sheets, pillowcases, and blankets do get washed, however there is no guarantee that they will be freshly laundered for each guest. Personally, we always trek with our own sleeping bag and silk liner, using the blanket over our sleeping bag for extra warmth at higher altitudes.

There is always a light in the room, powered by mains electricity or solar. Often there is a small table, some hooks on the wall, and a bin, and there is almost always a window with curtains. Some guesthouses will have charging sockets in the room, but this is not always the case. There is no heating in guesthouse rooms, only ever in the main dining room.

DINING ROOM

Every guesthouse has a dining room where you can eat your meals, drink tea, and hang out. There are usually tables and benches around the perimeter of the room, with plenty of plastic chairs for huddling around the central stove. Expect to see a display cabinet of snacks and sundries for sale (eg. chocolate bars, biscuits, Pringles, toilet paper, soft drinks), and often a Buddhist prayer altar, too. The dining room is the only room with a stove. This is usually lit in the late afternoon or early evening as the sun goes down and it starts to get cold, making it nice and cosy.

People being served breakfast in a guesthouse dining room in Dragnag (Thangnak), a village on the Everest Three Passes and Everest Base Camp + Gokyo Lakes trekking routes

Breakfast being served in the dining room of Mountain Paradise Lodge in Dragnag/Thangnak



People being served breakfast in a guesthouse dining room in Dragnag (Thangnak), a village on the Everest Three Passes and Everest Base Camp + Gokyo Lakes trekking routes

Breakfast being served in the dining room of
Mountain Paradise Lodge in Dragnag/Thangnak



TOILETS AND SHOWERS

There are usually rooms with attached bathrooms (ensuite) available as far as Dingboche. After Dingboche, rooms with shared (common) bathrooms are generally all that is available. If you have an attached bathroom this will usually have a toilet, sink (not always), and shower. Shared bathroom facilities normally consist of separate toilets and shower rooms, with a sink outside, although sometimes there is no dedicated sink and you’ll need to wash your hands/brush your teeth at an outdoor tap.

Toilets may be sit-down or squat style. Toilet paper is never provided, so you’ll need to pack your own and buy more as you go. Do not flush toilet paper down the toilet, always put it in the bin next to the toilet (this may be an old tin can, a cardboard box, a plastic container, or such like.) Sit-down toilets will likely have an automatic flush, although at higher altitudes in cold weather, the pipes can freeze and you may need to flush the toilet using a bucket of water. Squat toilets never have an automatic flush; you always need to flush using the scoop and bucket of water provided.

A gas shower is usually available although sometimes the water is solar heated. If neither are available, guesthouses can provide a bucket of hot water which you can use to wash. You can expect to pay up to 800 NPR for any kind of hot water shower at guesthouses between Namche Bazaar and Thame. There are no shower facilities at Gorak Shep.

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FOOD ON THE EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK //

FOOD AND DRINK

Every guesthouse serves meals and you are expected to eat dinner and breakfast at the guesthouse you are sleeping at, otherwise the cost of the room will be much higher. There are also a few bakeries, coffee shops, and tea shops along the route where you can pop in for treats.

Every guesthouse has a menu, and the options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are very similar at each. Prices increase the higher you go as food and fuel needs to be transported further via porters or pack animals, resulting in additional costs. Meat is on the menu at most guesthouses (usually buffalo, yak, or chicken), but it’s advisable to stick to vegetarian food; meat is not usually fresh or kept refrigerated so the chance of an upset stomach is greater if you eat it.

EVEREST THREE PASSES TREK MENU

THREE PASSES TREK MENU

Click into the slider to see a typical example of a menu on the Everest Three Passes trek. This menu is from Dingboche, where prices are more expensive than at lower altitudes but fairly representative of prices above 4000 m.

We have included photos of the menu from every guesthouse that we stayed at on the Everest Three Passes trek in our accompanying map.

  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche
  • Everest Three Passes and Base Camp treks; food and drink menu from the Mountain Heritage Inn in Dingboche

BREAKFAST

Breakfast dishes include porridge, muesli, eggs, Tibetan bread (a kind of fried dough), chapati (flat, unleavened bread), and pancakes. Honey, jam, peanut butter, apples, chocolate sauce, and yak cheese are common accompaniments on offer.

Breakfast options are generally priced between 300 – 1200 NPR (approx $2 – $9 USD), depending on location and item.

LUNCH AND DINNER

Dal Bhat is a ubiquitous Nepali meal, eaten twice a day by many locals. It consists of plain rice, a lentil soup, veggie curry, papad (poppadom), and some sort of pickle. Depending on the veggies available, you may also get saag (spinach) or something similar. Everything is served on a big plate, and you can get free refills of each item (apart from the papad!).

A serving of classic Nepali dish dal bhat on a brass plate, sitting on a peach coloured wooden table

There are always free refills of rice, dal and curry with Dal Bhat, giving rise to the familiar catchphrase ‘Dal Bhat power 24 hour’



Dal Bhat, the national dish of Nepal, on a copper dish set on a blue wooden table