The Everest Three Passes Trek is a popular and challenging trekking route in Nepal that takes you through three high mountain passes in the Everest region. Everest Three Passes Trek is designed for adventurous trekkers who seek a more strenuous and off-the-beaten-path experience compared to the classic Everest Base Camp trek. The three high passes you will cross during this trek are:
1. Kongma La Pass (5,535 meters / 18,159 feet): The Everest Three Passes Trek usually starts from Lukla, and after reaching Everest Base Camp, you’ll ascend the Kongma La Pass, which offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
2. Cho La Pass (5,380 meters / 17,650 feet): After crossing the Kongma La Pass, you’ll continue to the Gokyo Valley, where you’ll encounter the beautiful Gokyo Lakes. From there, you’ll proceed to cross the Cho La Pass, which can be challenging and requires some technical skills.
3. Renjo La Pass (5,360 meters / 17,585 feet): Following the Gokyo Valley and the Cho La Pass, you’ll venture towards the third and final pass, the Renjo La Pass. This pass provides breathtaking views of Everest, Cho Oyu, and other surrounding peaks.
The Everest Three Passes Trek usually starts with a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, from where you begin your trek. The route takes you through picturesque Sherpa villages, lush forests, rugged terrains, and glacier valleys. Along the way, you’ll pass through Namche Bazaar, Tengboche Monastery, Dingboche, and Gokyo, among other beautiful places.
The Everest Three Passes Trek is known for its stunning landscapes, cultural encounters with the Sherpa people, and breathtaking views of some of the world’s highest peaks. However, it’s essential to be well-prepared physically and mentally for this challenging adventure, as the high altitudes and difficult passes can be physically demanding.
You will be picked up at the airport by one of the Tour and Trekking Nepal staff and driven to your Kathmandu host family or a hotel. Here you will be welcomed into the family, be given your own room and be provided with all your meals while in Kathmandu. This will be your home during your orientation and volunteering in Nepal. With easy bus routes into town and the surrounding countryside, this quiet and safe suburb is the perfect base for your time in Nepal. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
We tour Durbar Square, Pashupatinath temple, Swayambhunath stupa and Bouddhanath stupa which are all world heritage sites. The Durbar Square sheds light on the life of the royals in ancient times. Pashupatinath temple is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for all Hindus. Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple and Baudhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world. At noon, we are introduced to our fellow participants and discuss our trip at the Tour and Trekking Nepal office. Overnight in Kathmandu. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
All treks to Everest begin from Luka where we will be flying to early in the morning, right after breakfast. The flight will be an interesting one since we will be flying amidst the grand Himalayas in a Twin Otter airplane. We begin our short trek to Phakding immediately after landing. At one hour’s gradual descent, we will be at a Cheplung village from where we have a glimpse of Mt. Khumbila (18900ft), a sacred mountain which has never been climbed. From Cheplung, we continue descending to Phakding and spend the night.
We begin our trek on uphill and downhill trails with multiple crossings over Dudh Koshi River and a magnificent view of Mt. Thamserku (21,675ft) from the Benkar village. We cross more bridges and reach the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park at Monjo, where our trekking permits are checked. We walk furthermore and pass through Jorsale village before reaching Namche Bazaar. From here, we get beautiful views of the Himalayas including Everest, Lhotse, Tawache and others. Overnight in Namche Bazaar.
This is the first of the three scheduled rest days which will help us acclimatize to the high altitude. Since experts believe that it is better to stay active even during rest days for better trekking experience we are going to spend the day enjoying small hikes in and around Namche Bazaar. We hike up to Everest View Hotel to enjoy admirable views of the Himalayan vista. On our way back to Namche we also tour the Khumjung Monastery (houses a yeti scalp!) and Hillary School. Our guide can also take us to the Tourist Visitor Center near the headquarter of the Sagarmatha National Park where we can observe an assortment of things related to the first Everest ascenders, Sherpa culture and learn about the various plant and animal life in the Everest region. Overnight in Namche Bazaar.
We begin today’s trek on an easy trail to Phunki Thanga. From here we ascend towards Tengboche village which is home to the largest monastery in the Everest region. The monastery is located within the Sagarmatha National Park and provides panoramic views of the highest mountains on earth including Everest, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Nuptse and Lhotse. We try to reach the monastery by 3:00 in the afternoon and may even be able to witness a religious Buddhist ceremony. Overnight in Tengboche.
We begin today’s trek by walking downhill and pass through lush forests filled with birch, conifers and rhododendron trees. We continue our trek with views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam to keep us company. The picturesque trail dips down to Debuche, crosses the Imja River and takes us to Pangboche. While walking the upper Pangboche trails, we get a more pristine view of the Himalayas and Pangboche Monastery. We move ahead towards the Imja Valley, Lobuche River and ultimately climb up to Dingboche. The village is a beautiful windy settlement overlooked by chortens and prayer flags. Overnight in Dingboche.
Dingboche is a popular stop for trekkers and climbers headed to Mt. Everest, Ama Dablam or Imja Tse. The village is beautiful with an array of fields enclosed by stone walls to protect barley, buckwheat and potatoes from the cold wind and grazing animals. We spend a day at Dingboche for acclimatization. We take a day hike to Nagarjun Hill for great views of Makalu, Lhotse, Chalotse, Tawache, Ama Dablam and others.
Our trail passes through stone-walled fields and Imja Khola valley before entering glacier moraines amidst towering Himalayas. The trail continues to Bibre which is a yak herdsman place. From here, directly across the valley is the fantastic Ama Dablam and the Amphu Labsa mountains. The trail ahead is intersected by icy streams. We continue our walk for around half an hour and reach Chhukung. After lunch, we begin our trek towards Chhukung Ri. The climb to Chhukung Ri involves some easy scrambling near the summit. From the top, we can look directly across the valley for a fantastic view of Ama Dablam and Amphu Labcha peaks. We descend back to Chhukung to spend the night.
We begin today’s trek very early in the morning to reach the highest part of the entire trip which is Kongma La pass. We can either take a trail over a hill which is to the northwest of Chhukung over the Nuptse Glacier moraines or we can walk back to Bibre and trek on the trail above the Niyang Khola. The top of the pass is marked by cairns and Buddhist prayer flags. The final descent from the pass is the most difficult part of today’s journey. After climbing the moraine on the far side, the trail turns north through Khumbu Glacier which takes us to Lobuche. Overnight at Lobuche
Note:Trekking through Kongma La is optional. If we do not want to tackle the strenuous Kongma La pass today and want to go directly to Lobuche from Chhukung, we can do that too.
Our trail moves along the lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. Ahead on the trail we see the crest of the north ridge of Everest along with Pumori, Mahalangur, Lingtern, Khumbutse, Nuptse and other mountains. A small ascent takes us to Thangma Riju. From here we admire panoramic views of the Himalayan vista. We ascend on a steep trail up to the top of Changri Glacier. As we reach Gorak Shep, we are surrounded by the Himalayas. After resting for a short while, we continue to Everest Base Camp. We pass through rocky dunes, moraines and streams before reaching the base camp of the world’s tallest mountain, Everest. From here we admire Nuptse, Khumbuste and Pumori mountains. We trek back to Gorak Shep and spend the night.
Alternatively, we can visit Kala Patthar today instead of the next day as many believe that the sunset view from Kala Patthar is more stunning than the sunrise view.
We start our trek to Kala Patthar early in the morning in order to catch remarkable views of the first light of the sun shining on Mt. Everest. However, we need to be prepared for trekking in the dark and cold temperature (the temperature varies according to the season). Furthermore, there is always a chance for chilly winds which are quite common. As we continue our trek, familiar peaks such as Lingtren, Khumbutse, Changtse, Everest and Nuptse tower above us. After several hours of ascent, we will be on the top of Kala Patthar. The close-up view of Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks from Kalapathar is amazing. We enjoy the stunning Himalayan vista and descend to Lobuche where we stay the night.
Those participants who will visit Everest Base Camp today will have an early breakfast to start early as Everest base camp hike takes longer than the hike to Kala Patthar. After returning to Gorak Shep, both the groups will have lunch together.
From Lobuche we trek downhill on a trail alongside the Khumbu Glacier. Our trail splits into two and we choose the trail on our right. On the way we can better admire the view of the looming Awi Peak. We pass through a stupa and tombstones in the distance. After walking for a while we begin to ascend. During the ascent, we see Chola Tsho Lake nearby. We continue further and pass another lake which is lot smaller than the Chola Tsho Lake. We cross the Chola Khola on a bridge before reaching Dzongla. Overnight in Dzongla.
As we gain height, the Cho La Lake begins to appear and the Ama Dablam presides over a range of mountains on the south and Cholatse soars on the west. Climbing the incline is not easy; it is steep, but made worse by boulders over some of which we will have to scramble. The final climb to the Cho La can be a little tricky as the trail curves round a crevasse. The top of the pass is marked by prayer flags and cairns. Scenery of majestic peaks on all directions is breathtaking. Although long, the path leading down to Thangnak is not difficult. Our trail brings us to the edge of the Ngozumpa glacier, which is the longest glacier in Nepal. Reaching the other side of the glacier, we see the second Gokyo Lake on the series of six lakes. A short distance away is the third Gokyo Lake. On the edge of this lake stands the Gokyo Village where we spend the night.
We climb Gokyo Ri today and enjoy views of the incredible mountain vista. We can also tour the fourth Gokyo Lake today which is only 3km north of the Gokyo Village. Next, continue trekking to the 5th lake. The view from ‘Scoundrel’s Viewpoint’, located at the edge of the 5th lake, is astonishing. Cho-Oyu, Gyachung Kang, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Makulu mountains and the huge Ngozumba Glacier are ours to admire. We trek back to Gokyo and spend the night.
We start the day early in the morning to complete the long day’s trek ahead. Our trail moves alongside Dudh Pokhari (lake) for a while. We walk for around two hours before descending towards the Renjo La pass. On the way we are rewarded with extravagant views of the Himalayan and Rolwaling ranges and others. Views from the Renjo La pass are much like that from Gokyo Ri with the third Gokyo Lake and Gokyo Village beneath the gray smear of the Ngozumpa Glacier. We also get outstanding views of Mt. Everest from the top of the pass. Continuing on from the pass, our trail winds down a stone staircase and then moves over a loose scree to reach the south bank of Angladumba Tsho Lake. The prescence of ice on the trail while descending down can make our descent a bit hazardous. Along the way we see Relama Tsho and Renjo Lake. We walk down a narrow valley clogged with giant boulders to Lumde where there is a support lodge, but it is often closed. We walk almost for an hour from Lumde to get to Marlung on the east bank of the Bhote Koshi River. Overnight at Marlung.
The descent from Marulung to Thame follows a traditional route used for centuries by the Tibetan traders. We cross the Bhote Koshi River and descend to Taranga. The trail continues to descend and we cross two bridges before reaching Thame. Overlooking Thame is its famous Gompa situated on a hill to the west. From here, we descend gradually on a trail that passes through a few small villages before reaching Namche Bazaar which is probably the biggest town in the Everest region. Overnight in Namche Bazaar.
We begin our trek with a descent. As we continue our trek, we cross several bridges over the fast flowing Dudh Koshi River and its tributaries. Now the trail has become more level and natural. On our trek we enjoy walking on open plains, through rhododendron and pine forests and enjoy distant views of the snow covered peaks. We walk through Sherpa villages noticing their impressive faith in Buddhism and the culture of prayer stones and prayer flags. After reaching Lukla, we stretch those sore legs and recall the experiences of the last couple of weeks. Our long trek to the mountain and its high passes ends today. Overnight in Lukla.
The flights to Kathmandu are usually scheduled for morning for safety purposes. After reaching the capital city, we have the rest of the day off to past the time as we please. We could take a rest in our hotel room or shop for souvenirs for our loved ones. In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner to celebrate the successful completion of your journey to the mountains. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Our journey in Nepal comes to an end today! A Tour and Trekking Nepal representative will drop us off at the airport approximately 3 hours before our scheduled flight. On our way to home, we have plenty of time to plan our next adventure in the wonderful country of Nepal
Note: The above-mentioned program itinerary is a sample. The period and cost of tour and trekking, volunteering and internship can be changed or extended as per travellers or volunteers' availability of duration.