Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel. You can spend the evening as you like.
Today is a free day for sightseeing in Kathmandu. You may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambunath; one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world at Bodnath; the most important Hindu temple in the valley at Pashupatinath. You can also visit Durbar Square in the heart of the old city, where the old Royal Palace, with its intricate woodcarving, is located. Outside is Kumari Chowk, home of the Kumari, the young girl who is revered as a living goddess. The area is a maze of temples and images, and, leading away from the square in all directions, are narrow alleys, full of the most amazing variety of shops and stalls. Sightseeing tours can be booked locally. Today there will also be a full trip briefing in the morning.
Day 3 - 4
You will follow the Dudh Kosi north, crossing from one bank to the other all day. Heading out of Phakding, you will first cross to the west bank, climbing high above the river. Today's walk takes us through magnificent forests of rhododendron, enormous fir and magnolia trees, and in both spring and autumn the ground is bright with flowers. After Jorsale (2800m), the trail climbs over a spur and alongside a mossy cliff, until it crosses the west fork of the river, the Bhote Kosi. At this point, you begin the steep climb to Namche Bazaar approximately 300m into this ascent, you should, cloud permitting, gain your first glimpse of Everest’s towering summit, rearing up behind the great ridge of Nuptse-Lhotse. Another 300m of climbing brings you to Namche Bazaar, administrative centre of the Khumbu region, headquarters for the Mount Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, a prosperous Sherpa village and an important trading centre.
Today is a vital acclimatisation day, wherein you will leave the main trail and ascend steeply out of Namche Bazaar to the villages of Kunde and Khumjung, receiving wonderful views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and many other magnificent peaks. In Kunde, you will also have the opportunity of visiting the Edmund Hillary hospital. Passing through the village of Khumjung, you will visit the monastery, which houses the only suspected yeti scalp. You will then descend to meet the main trail at Kyanjuma (3,600m), where you will stay overnight.
Day 6 - 7
A wonderful walk today takes you up the seldom-used but exciting high trail to Pangboche. The trail climbs out of Phortse and contours round the valley, high above the river on a dizzying trail with dizzying views across the valley to Ama Dablam. As the trail winds upwards, look out for Himalayan Thar (mountain goats) grazing on the steep slopes above, then drop down to meet the main trail at Pangboche (3900m), the highest permanent settlement in this valley. You are above the tree line now, and as you walk through the alpine meadow landscape, you may catch a glimpse of the rare Impeyan pheasant, the national bird of Nepal. Following a ledge above the river, the trail crosses a wooden bridge at the confluence of the Khumbu and Imja Kholas. A brief steep climb brings you to Dingboche, at 4530m. Here, the great peaks of Ama Dablam, the ridge of Nuptse-Lhotse, Tawoche and Chalotse surround you.
Today will be spent at Dingboche to continue your acclimatisation. Those who are adapting well to the altitude can climb Nangkartshang Peak, which stands at 5090m tall. From this hill behind camp, the views are even more spectacular; Island Peak rises from the valley floor in front of you, Ama Dablam, Chalotse and Tawoche tower above, and, in the distance, Makalu is visible.
Day 9 - 10
You will now surrounded by Himalayan giants; Everest, Nuptse, and Pumori, and the sight of their snowy summits glowing at sunrise and sunset, are unforgettable. However, today will be long and hard as you leave very early to follow the Khumbu glacier northwards to Gorak Shep (5180m). After a rest and refreshments, you will continue to follow the glacier towards Everest Base Camp. The trail winds its way up and down over the rocky moraine, before descending onto the rock-covered glacier between huge ice seracs up until the commencement of Base Camp. Ahead, you will spy an enormous mass of rock and ice, and you’ll be astonished by the sheer size of the Khumbu Ice Fall. In spring, the Base Camp thrives, due to the numerous expeditions that attempt to climb Everest, but in autumn it is desolate. You will now return to Gorak Shep for the night.
Day 11 - 12
Today is a long day as you turn away from the main valley and head off towards the Kongma La. Taking a packed lunch from the lodge, you will follow the trail as it takes you across the moraine of the Khumbu glacier before a very long steep climb to the pass. As you ascend, the scenery becomes even more marvellous, and, from the top (5535m), you are surrounded by peaks and glaciers in every direction, including Makalu, Cho Oyu, Pumori and some distant peaks of Tibet. Just below the pass is a small lake, which is a good place to stop for lunch before you tackle the long descent into the Imja Valley towards Chhukkung (4730m).
Day 13 - 15
Leaving at around 2am, you will scramble onto a narrow rocky ridge leading on to the glacier. You will rope up here, and put on crampons for the glacier crossing. Care should be taken when crossing the glacier, as there are several deep crevasses. The views are amazing, with Baruntse, Chamlang and Ama Dablam rising up on the horizon. Once you have crossed the glacier, you’ll arrive at the bottom of a steep snow and ice headwall which leads to the summit ridge. Your climbing guides will fix a rope here, and you’ll use your jumar to climb this section. The slope is steep (up to 50 degrees in places), but after 150m you will have reached the summit ridge. Suddenly, Lhotse's south face is looming before you, and the most exciting part of the climb begins as you tread carefully along the narrow ridge to the summit. There's another steep section just before the summit, but the fixed ropes will help you ascend. Finally, you will reach the summit (6189m), where you will be able to take in your unbelievable surroundings. Flanked by Lhotse, the Imja glaciers, and a host of other huge peaks, Island Peak really is an island of rock and snow in this gargantuan arena of mountains. Carefully, you will descend back down the ridge, and then abseil off the steep section. You will return to the relative comforts of base camp via high camp. Please note that the climb is technical and also optional. The above notes describe the route in 2010. Because of gradual snow melt, the route is becoming rockier, and may alter depending on conditions. For anyone who does not wish to climb, there is an alternative trek to the head of the Imja Valley).
Day 16 - 18
You will now descend down the ridge to Phunki Tenga and walk back to Namche Bazaar along a beautiful undulating trail which is high above the Dudh Kosi. On the decline through Namche Bazaar, you pick up the outward trail again, and follow the Dudh Kosi south, through rhododendron and pine forests, past Jorsale, Monzo and Benkar to Chaunrikhara. Here, you leave the main trail and ascend the short distance to the airstrip at Lukla.
Today you will fly back to Kathmandu and spend the rest of the day as you like.
Today is a free day in Kathmandu, during which you may undertake individual sightseeing or shopping.
After breakfast/ Departure