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The name itself evokes a sense of mystery, the wild and the unexplored. It brings up images of vast mountain ranges, rugged mountain people, doey eyed yaks and of course the towering King of them all, Mount Everest. The area is one of the main region’s that is home to the famous Sherpa people, those bandy legged sturdy men and women that traverse the mountain trails and reach to the peaks carrying heavy loads and unassisted by oxygen. The region is located in Nepal’s north east and is the home to Namche Bazaar, the bustling Sherpa Settelment that is the hub of the area. Namche is a busy and colourfull market town, and for most people, it’s the first real taste of the Khumbu they will experience when they enter the area.

The elevation of the Khumbu region ranges from 3,000 metres all the way up to the top of Mount Everest at 8,848metres and it houses Sagarmatha National Park, a protected wilderness area. The Khumbu is also birth place of the most famous Sherpa of them all, Tenzing Norgay, whom accompanied Hillary on the first ascent of Mount Everest.

The geography of the area covers, rugged rocky valleys, alpine forests and meadows, neat Sherpa Villages, Glaciers and icefalls. The most prominent Glacier in the area is the Khumbu Glacier, which can be found at the base of Mount Everest. At the head of the glacier is the Khumbu ice fall, which is regarded as one of the most dangerous parts of the climb up the mountain. The ice fall is a spectacular arrangment of ice towers, crevasses and huge blocks of ice that are constantly moving and changing, the ice fall and the glaicer can be viewed from Kallapatter and Everest Base Camp.

For many years this region has evoked romantic images of adventurous mountaineers and intrepid explorer’s, rosy checked Sherpa People and hairy, sleepy eyed yaks. You can explore this area today, take in the culture and loose yourself in the wilderness beauty of this himalayan paradise under the watchful shadow of Mount Everest.

Relatively few trekkers now take the switchback hike from the roadhead at Jiri through Solu, the lower, greener, more populous and more ethnically diverse country to the south. It’s a stunning route, and offers a great way to acclimatize, but the extra five to seven days’ walking is too much for many people. You should leave slack in your schedule even if you’re flying, though, as getting a place on a plane out of Lukla can be problematic if bad weather causes cancellations to stack up.

While Everest isn’t as heavily trekked as Annapurna, its high-altitude environment is even more fragile. Khumbu, with less than four thousand inhabitants, receives anything from ten to twenty thousand trekkers a year, and probably twice as many porters. Lodge-building almost destroyed the Blue Pine and Silver Fir forests around Lukla, and the demand for firewood is many times the regeneration capacity of the area. Near trekking villages, up to half the juniper shrubs have vanished in smoke. The Sagarmatha National Park, which covers most of Khumbu, has done some fine work in reforestation (funded by the Rs1000 entry fee), but it can’t be said often enough: have as little to do with wood-burning as possible.

The most popular trekking period is the post monsoon months of October and November.  During this time the weather is usually stable and the visibility excellent.  The downside is that this is also the busiest trekking period.  An alternative is the pre monsoon period of March to May.  During this time there is lots of spring growth but conditions can be more variable.

You can choose whether to hire a porter, a guide, a porter/guide or go it alone.  Porters are the unsung load carrying heroes of the Khumbu and will ease your burden by carrying up to 30 kgs of your load (so a couple of trekkers could easily share one).  Porters often talk little or no English but they know the Khumbu inside out and typically you just arrange a place to meet up at the end of the day and your bags will be waiting for you.

The food is usually very good.  Alongside traditional local dishes like dahl baht you’ll find lots of western style dishes like ‘Swiss Rosti’, omelettes, apple pie and, in some lodges, even fried Mars Bar or Snicker rolls, which provide a handy energy boost after a long day on the trail.

If you are planning to go it alone it is perfectly possible to fit all you need into a 40-45 litre rucksack. Bear in mind that you’ll be carrying a reasonable weight for several hours a day so don’t scrimp on the model you choose.  A lightweight model with comfortable back system, well-padded shoulder straps and a supportive waist belt will serve you well.

Some teahouses have blankets, some have duvets but some have nothing at all.  I strongly suggest taking a 3 season down sleeping bag to ensure you have good sleeps.  Bear in mind that there is usually no heating in the dorms and it gets chilly at night.  I always store my sleeping bag in a dry bag so I know that it will be dry no matter what the day throws at me.

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Kathmandu to Phakding
  2. Phakding to Namche
  3. Namche to Dole
  4. Dole to Machermo
  5. Machermo to Gokyo
  6. Gokyo to Dragnag
  7. Dragnag to Dzongla
  8. Dzongla to Loboche
  9. Loboche to Kala Pattar
  10. Loboche to Dingboche
  11. Dingboche to Tengboche
  12. Tengboche to Monjo
  13. Monjo to Lukla
  14. Lukla to Kathmandu

Time taken on each stop is totally depends how fast you are and how much fit you are.However, to give you a tried and tested option the above route will get you to some of the best bits in a manageable circular trek.

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