Gokyo Lake and its Valley Trek is one of the most sought after offbeat trekking in the Everest Region. This valley lies towards the western part of the Khumbu region. This trek highlights the lesser known landmarks of the Everest Region unlike the regular Everest Base Camp Trek. These landmarks are equally fascinating natural wonders in the Khumbu region.
The Gokyo valley is an astonishing valley in the shadow of the Everest. It is a valley of turquoise glacial lakes. The trek route is an offbeat adventurous route and which sees less number of trekkers, so you can enjoy the surroundings with less disturbance. The route also passes dense rhododendron and oak forests and waterfalls which are frozen for most part of the year. During the acclimatization day, explore the Himalayan village, the local community, people, their lifestyle and culture. Their main occupation is yak herding besides tourism. Few crops are also grown here during the short cropping season.
The Gokyo valley trek is generally for those who like hiking in the Everest region without enduring the physical stress of reaching Everest Base Camp and crossing the high passes. Climbing up the Gokyo Ri offers a breath taking views of Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyo and Makalu. Adventure pundits agree that this is one of the best view than the one above Gorak Shep.
After breakfast, transfer to the Domestic Airport for the Trans Himalayan flight and dramatic landing on the hillside at Lukla: gateway to the Khumbu/Everest region. Meet your local porters and walk downhill to the Sherpa settlement of Cheplung. The trail then follows the side of the Dudh Koshi Valley before ascending to Ghat (2 530m/8 350ft). Another gentle hour leads up to Phakding.
The trail meanders through pine forest, along the Dudh Koshi River, crossing many suspension bridges via the Sherpa villages of Benkar, Chumoa, Monjo and Jorsale: entrance to the Sagarmatha National Park and permit checkpoint, with tranquil views of glistening Thamserku (6,618m/21,714m). The trail continues along the riverbed to the confluence of the Bhote and Dudh Koshi Rivers. It then climbs steadily, crossing the high Tenzing- Hilary suspension bridge with inspiring glimpses of Everest and the Nuptse – Lhotse ridge. A final three hour ascent through pine forest leads to the prosperous trading and administrative town of Namche Bazaar.
This is a scheduled acclimatization day on the trek. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and health experts recommend a stop for at least one extra night. Be active and roam rather than laze around: climb high and sleep low is the acclimatisation advice.
Namche Bazaar has ATMs, cyber cafés, delicious restaurant food and bakeries, plus a colourful market each Friday evening and Saturday morning. Visit the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park Visitor’s Centre on the hillock: with informative displays on Sherpa culture, local flora and fauna.
Take an entertaining side trip to the large traditional Sherpa village of Khumjung (3,780m/12,402ft): with fine views of Thamserku, Kangtega, Ama Dablam and Everest – in a sea of lesser peaks. Return to Namche Bazaar for the night.
An alternative five hour walk northwest of the town, to Thame (3,820m/12,533ft) below the impressive 6,187m/20,300ft Kongde Ri ridge, offers panoramic Himalayan views not seen on the EBC route.
The trail climbs up from the town and then contours around the hillside, offering great views including Everest and Khumjung. It then ascends along the lower slopes of Khumbila, branching northwest of the Everest trail and continuing up the Dudh Koshi Valley. It climbs steeply to the tiny village of Mong La (built around an ancient chorten), then drops to Phortse Thenga before climbing through a pine and rhododendron forest and on up to Dole – from where there are marvellous views of snow capped peaks. Look out for spotted deer, Himalayan Tahrs and birds – including the colourful (male) Danphe pheasant (Nepal’s national bird).
Today calls for a slow walk along this high trail. It climbs, through thorny alpine scrub, to scenic ridges above the river. Breathtaking views of Cho-Oyo, Thamserku and Kangtega are countered by charming views into the valley below where we pass summer-grazing hamlets such as Luza that lead up to Machhermo. The Machhermo Khola flows through the village of Kyajo Ri and Pharilapche before draining into the Dudh Koshi. This is the last settlement before Gokyo and has a HRA aid post for victims of AMS.
The trail rises gently from the village to a ridge that offers the first views of the north face of Cho-Oyo (8,210m/26,907ft) and more views of Kangtega and Thamserku. Ahead in the valley is the snout of the Ngozumpa Glacier: the trail drops back towards the river. At the hamlet of Pangka it meets an alternative route from the south before climbing onto the side of the moraine. A metal bridge crosses the edge of the frozen Longponga Tsho (4,690m/15,383ft): the first of the Dudh Koshi’s six sacred lakes. Before Taboche Tsho, a path leads up onto the glacier – and the Cho La. A strenuous half hour’s walk beyond the lake is the summer village of Gokyo set on the side of the moraine and overlooking the blue-green Dudh Pokhari which nestles in a semi circle of high peaks at the foot of Gokyo Ri. Cho-Oyo and the ice ridge to Ghyachung Kang, from which the Ngozumpa glacier flows, are clearly visible behind ridges.
After an early wake up, climb Gokyo Ri (5,360m/17,586ft) for Sunrise, which begins on the northern side of the lake, opposite the village. Its panorama invites an early start and involves a two hour climb to its summit. It overlooks the broad, rubble-covered Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal’s longest, gouged out beneath a wall of towering peaks on its south-eastern flank. From the flag bedecked summit is the unforgettable vista of the Himalayan chain that includes Cho-Oyu and Ghyachung Kang, the north face of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Cholatse, Taboche, Thamserku, Kangtega, Kusum Kangru (all over 6,300m/20,670ft) and many more, some unnamed.
Late breakfast in Gokyo, and retrace to Machhermo for warmer night sleep.
Follow the western side of the valley to gain different views of Khumbila. Continue to small Sherpa settlement to Phortse Thenga and Mungla, then rejoins the classical route from Khumjung and Everest Base camp. Another 1 ½ hrs easy walk brings to Namche for hot shower and big dinner.
From Namche, the trail descends to more comfortable altitudes, passing through the friendly farming villages of Jorsale (where we exit the National Park), Monjo, Phakding, then crosses the suspension bridge at Thado Koshi before rising to Ghat and Cheplung. Round off the adventure with the final 700m, 35min ascent to Lukla: and say goodbye to your porters.
After an early breakfast, take the return flight to Kathmandu. Transfer to your hotel. Rest of day free.
This Day we will see you off at Hotel and transfer to International airport for your next destination.
Kathmandu: Breakfast and Room in Hotel
Trekking: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Lodge or Guest House