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Nepal - 3 Passes trekking adventure

Updated: Mar 5

A 12-day travel itinerary with tips for the 3 Passes Trek and the Katmandu area

Nepal - 3 Passes Trek

Being active travel lovers who experience peace and awe in the mountains, Nepal has been on our 'bucket list' for more than 20 years. My husband, who is a professional photographer, suggested the trip when we first met. But understanding that it takes a time commitment and some financial investment for to get halfway around the globe, it took us a while to make it happen.

Neither of us are fans of busy trails and 'popular' places that get a lot of foot traffic or social media coverage. So we knew we did not want to do the traditional Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek. The growing popularity of this trek, combined with Nepal's need for income, has unfortunately left the Everest area crowded and littered with garbage. The sheer numbers of visitors to this particular area has not only made it more dangerous to climbers, but it has become a definite 'no-interest' zone for us. So we selected the 3 Passes Trek instead, as our introduction to this country - a notoriously gorgeous but tough route through parts of Sargamatha National Park, which also included some amazing views of Everest.

So this itinerary represents what we call 'hybrid travel' – where we mix an active, outdoor adventure and simple accommodations with a dash of 'reward' in the form of a more luxurious resort stay and a few fabulous meals at the end. This post is for those travelers who enjoy both local guesthouses and simple living, as well as an occasional luxury lodge and elevated experience along the way. Three weeks is really not enough time to see all that Nepal has to offer. But we managed to get a sampling of the diversity this country has to offer. And it's one that has us already planning to go back.

So let's check out Nepal!

NOTE - If you're interested in reading about how this trip highlighted 3 key factors that influence our Emotional Development, check out this post from my other website.

woman hiking the 3 Passes Trek, Nepal

The Active

My husband researched a lot of different companies and selected Mountain Monarch. And they exceeded our expectations. You can read my review on Trip Advisor to learn more about our experience. And you can get more information about the many guided hikes they offer from their website This company was timely, responsive and professional. Their prices were reasonable even for the private tour we did. We appreciated their "1 Porter to 1 Hiker' responsible trekking policy and how much they focused on client safety and experience satisfaction. And they were extremely flexible with our plans. The 3 Passes Trek is designed to take 16 days, including appropriate days to safely acclimate at different altitudes. But the owner was willing to customize a trip that would meet our need to limit our days on trail to twelve. Of course, do your own research and see what meets your needs. But if you select this company, you won't be disappointed in their service or the expertise.

Terraces Resort and Spa - Nepal

The Leisure

As a rejuvenating reward after our trek and as counter-balance to not washing my hair for 12 days, we retreated for three nights to the marvelous Terraces Resort and Spa. Although there are many luxury hotels within Katmandu, we purposely wanted to escape the air, traffic and noise of the city. We had already done a day-tour of a few historic areas before our trek. Terraces is a modern-style gem that is a 45-minute bumpy-road drive from Katmandu. And it was a welcome and quiet respite from the busy streets of the city. The decor was modern, the food was delicious and our stay included breakfast each day - either 'English style', 'Indian Style' or both ( which we did one morning ). Whether you eat in your room or in the restaurant, the menu was the same. Room service was no extra charge and neither was the stocked mini-fridge that was refilled each day. The infinity pool area was gorgeous, complete with cabana-style day beds and a view of the city. A beautiful spa, a large koi pond and dedicated outdoor meditation areas all contributed to zen-like, tranquil atmosphere. The service was attentive and because we were traveling in 'shoulder season', we had the place to pretty much to ourselves, yet the service was the same as if the resort was fully booked. Transportation to/from resort is an extra charge (~$70 USD each way) but can be arranged through the resort.

mountain village in Nepal
Thame village

How to Connect

Nepal is an extremely impoverished country and one of the best ways to support them is through using local guide and porter services when you travel there. If you'd like to contribute in a more extensive way, organizations like the Help Nepal and Cleanup Nepal provide quality education to children in remote villages, as well as help educate the public on how to responsibly manage waste and sustainably improve the quality of their air, water and land.

Trip Rating - L3 English is spoken by many guides and employees of the larger hotels and restaurants in the city. The further you get into the mountains, the more you'll hear Nepalese as the primary spoken language. But menus at teahouses were in English. The cleanliness and 'style' of public restrooms may be different than what you are used to where you live. Have patience and compassion. Realize, that in a highly impoverished area, they are providing what they can. So carry hand sanitizer, and be prepared to use Nepalese 'squatty-potties' in most villages. Some teahouses did have 'western' style toilets with elevated seats. But you must bring your own toilet paper or pack of tissues with you. None is provided. The food, is mostly comprised of familiar ingredients such as rice, noodles, chicken, eggs, fresh vegetables and a wide range of potatoes. And you will also have opportunity to try yak cheese and yak burgers, as well as Dahl Bhat - the standard ( and recommended ) meal of Nepalese guides and porters while acclimating. As for safety, we stayed in the tourist region of Katmandu. Although we didn't feel as if we'd be robbed, the danger lies in just walking around the streets! There are no sidewalks and no traffic lanes. Traffic is chaotic and there are no stop signs, few lights and the roundabouts often have traffic going in multiple directions. The air quality was so bad in Katmandu that I had to wear a mask just to walk to dinner without feeling the impact. I strongly recommend hiring a driver-guide if you want to tour the city.

Nepalese tea house in Nepal
Dzongla Village

Length of trip - 20 days total: 12 days trekking, 4 days total in Katmandu, plus 2 days each way flying to/from Los Angeles, USA.

Month of Travel - April 30th-May 20th. We initially thought this was 'prime' season. But now, because climate change is affecting monsoon season, April and October are now 'prime' season, and will see the most travelers. When we were there, it was really quiet with very few people at the high-mountain teahouses. We actually enjoyed this because it allowed us to 'upgrade' our rooms on occasion, more easily. In high season, teahouses are booked solid several months in advance by the guides, which doesn't leave room for any last minute modifications to your plan or route.

Physical training - the most frequent question I get asked is regarding how to train in order to trek in Nepal. First let me say that not all trekking routes are as difficult as the 3 Passes Trek. So do some research and ask a lot of questions of your potential guide service to be clear on the distances, elevation gain and terrain profile. That way you understand how 'steep' the terrain is. That being said, if you want to do this same route, my best suggestion is to have a baseline fitness already (so not 'off the couch') and climb a lot of stairs - like at the gym on a machine, or on bleachers in a local sports stadium - and do so with a loaded backpack. Although you may hire porters to carry your heavy packs like we did, if you don't live at high altitude, you need to do something to train for the cardio-vascular intensity that moving at high altitude demands. We are also runners. So this helped as well. But fitness aside, you need to go into this trek with an attitude of patience, and respect for both nature and the human body. Its needs to adapt slowly. And a good local guide will make sure you do that. We saw many very fit and athletic trekkers who relied on their physical fitness and under-estimated the time it takes even a fit body, to acclimate physiologically. And some of those very fit, athletic trekkers were very ill, and didn't look like they were enjoying themselves much. Altitude sickness is no joke. It's not uncommon for trekkers to come half way across the world and then have to chopper back to Katmandu early in their adventure. So not trying to scare you, just keeping it real. Get in some basic shape. Plan to hike slower than you probably have before. And listen to your guides advice when he/she suggests staying an extra night in a certain village to acclimate.

happy couple hiking by blue lake
Heading towards Gokyo village

The Details

Arriving in Nepal - Flights - We took a direct, 16-hour flight from LAX to Doha on Qatar Airlines. Then a 5-hour flight on Qatar from Doha to Katmandu. (Terrific airline, by the way) To get to Lukla to start trekking, you now need to fly from Ramechhap, which is a 4-hour drive from Katmandu. Airline options from Ramechhap to Lukla include Summit Air, Tara Air and Sita Air.

NOTE- Unless you're on a private charter, there are currently no more public flights from Katmandu to Lukla during peak season. Our guide service included the 4-hour drive and then the 20-minute flight from Ramechhap to Lukla

Ground transportation - Our guide service met us at the airport and drove us to a local hotel they arranged. I don't recommend renting a car in Katmandu. It's quite a chaotic city when it comes to ground transportation. Our guided service included Jeep transportation to/from the airport as well as to/from Ramechhap.

NOTE - As of April 1, 2023 foreign tourists traveling to Nepal must hire a licensed guide before trekking through the country’s wilderness. Although there are various interpretations of how that will be applied and enforced in the Everest region and the National Park areas, we actually enjoyed the relaxed, 'non-thinking' effect of having a local guide lead the route, and select our teahouses. To us, it was worth paying for. Plus we see it as a way to help the local economy.

Katmandu airport, Nepal

Day 1 - Katmandu arrival - (4,344 ft / 1,324 meters in elevation )

We arrived in Katmandu around 11am and easily found our driver waiting outside with a named sign. We transferred to a local hotel in the tourist district and settled into our room. Our trip leader and driver returned later that afternoon to deliver the duffle bags we'd be using on the trek, talk us through the next few days schedule, and make some recommendations for dinner.

Accommodation - Harati Manor

Food/dining suggestions - ask your guide or the hotel owner. But I highly suggest you save your more 'adventuresome' dining until after your trek. Stick to vegetarian and more familiar foods, avoid too much cheese or dairy - they are harder to digest as your body is adjusting to altitude. Keep is simple. TIP - Always use hand sanitizer (carry with you) and boil your water before drinking it or use bottled water. I hated using plastic bottles. So I used my Nalgene as often as I could or used the plastic ones I purchased several times. I just used the electric kettle in the room and refilled bottles once it cooled.

Buddhist stupa

Day 2 - Katmandu city tour

Today, as part of guided trekking package with Mountain Monarch, we had a driver and English-speaking guide take us to two different historical areas: the Pashupatinath Hindu temple and Boudhanath Buddhist Stupa - a UNESCO World Heritage site. We also were treated to a traditional Nepalese meal at Gokarna House restaurant.

NOTE - Our hotel was willing to hold any luggage we weren't taking with us in the trek. We would pick it up on the return.

Accommodation - Harati Manor

Lukla airport, Nepal
Lukla airport, Nepal

Day 3 - Flight to Lukla, (9,334 ft/ 2,845 meters ) ...followed by trek to Phakding

(8,563 feet / 2,610 meters.)

This was a loooong day, as the drive to Ramechhap started at 2:30am! But after a 4-hour bumpy van ride, we arrived to catch an early flight to Lukla. Our guides and porters were waiting for us there, ready for our first trekking section. Our porters left to get ahead of us on trail, while our guide ate breakfast with us and talked about that day's 3-4 hour downhill trek to Phakding. It rained our entire first day. But our guide provided waterproof ponchos, which covered our packs nicely.

NOTE - for the Lukla flight, there is a combined weight limit of ~33 lbs (15 kg) between your checked duffle and carry on bag. So think carefully about how much heavy camera equipment you want to bring. They will weigh everything. One advantage of hiring a guide service is they often provide a warm sleeping bag, liner and microspikes (Yak Trax) - so we didn't need to waste weight on that. So ask about this. Also, you will most likely be passing through Namche Bazaar at the beginning and of your trek, and you can rent needed equipment there. I just recommend bringing your own sleeping bag liner and maybe your own pillow/pillowcase.

Mna with white backpack hiking towards village
Arriving in Namche

Day 4 - Hike to Namche (11,286 ft / 3,440 metres )

The next days hike was beautiful but steep! We went over 5 suspension bridges and the last climb up into Namche was a long series of steep, rocky steps. Our guide showed us a lesser know off-shoot from the trail where we got our first, distant view of Everest. Namche is a bustling place and the start/end point for many treks, including those planning to climb Everest. You can purchase or rent pretty much anything here, including famous brand 'knock-off' gear at lower prices. Our trekking plan included staying here 2 nights to acclimate.

Accommodation (2 nights) - AD Friendship Lodge

Man in blue shirt and backpack looking at mountain
On route to Everest View Hotel

Day 5 - Acclimatization hike to Everest View Hotel (Namche)

Today, as a way to acclimate, we hiked to the Everest View Hotel. A steep local hike that not only helped us acclimate faster but resulted in a fabulous view point to enjoy some late morning tea. The views en route were also incredible. Although the title may be deceiving, this blog post from my other website will describe why it's better to be active while acclimating, than to just sit around doing nothing.

Exploration recommendation - if you are into yoga, there is an amazing retreat center / hotel right on the trail to Everest View hotel called Sherpa Panorama Hotel. They were offering hourly yoga sessions ($7 USD) that were open to the public. If I had known ahead of time, I would have asked our guide to help us plan to add this to our day.

Accommodation (2 nights) - AD Friendship Lodge

house with blue roof and rock fence
Thame village, Nepal

Day 6 - Hike to Thame (12,533 ft / 3820 metres )

NOTE - We did the 3 Passes Trek in the reverse direction (clockwise) than most trekkers do. And here's why we we were glad we took our guides recommendation on this. First, there were far less people, which added to our experience. Second, although the approach over each pass was steeper / harder than going in the typical counter-clockwise direction, we felt the forward-facing views were much better. Third, there are many more village options for gradual acclimatization and/or emergency evacuation if (hopefully not) needed. This village (Thame) was so beautiful. We were so glad we stayed a night here to acclimate, even though it was only a short days hike from Namche. Hikers going the opposite direction skipped it, as they were going downhill and more interested in getting back to Namche.

Exploration recommendation - if you have time, go walk around this beautiful village. The views are incredible. There's a trail behind the village that leads to a small stupa and a great lookout.

Accommodation - Paradise Lodge

Yak train in Nepal - Nic Stover Photography
On route to Lungdon - courtesy of Nic Stover Photogrpahy

Day 7 - Hike to Lungdon (14,268 ft / 4349 metres )

This day's trek was fairly easy in sections, again with great views. We stopped for lunch en route at Riverside Lodge teahouse. It initially looked deserted. But we were served up some tasty noodle and rice dishes. We even got to watch a yak train go by as we were eating. Lungdon village was almost 2,000 ft higher than Thame, so our plan was to stay here two nights to acclimate. We saw some trekkers who only stayed one night before going over Renjo-La Pass the next day. They didn't fare as well. Unless you are very confident in high altitude activity, stay the extra night.

Accommodation - 3 Pass G.H (guesthouse)

man hiking on mountain trail
hiking back towards Lungdon

Day 8 - Acclimatization hike around Lungdon

This morning we spent 3-4 hours hiking up towards the pass we would climb over the next day as sort of 'practice'. Although we repeated it the next morning, I was glad I did it this day, because I quickly came to realize and accept how slow the next day's hike would be at this altitude. Oi. If you don't know what a 'rest-step' is yet, learn it in this short video. You will put it to good use.

rock cairn and mountain peak
Our view from Renjo-la Pass

woman in pink jacket hiking on snow
Looking back the direction we came from

Day 9 - Renjo-La Pass and onto Gokyo - (17,536 feet / 5345 metres at pass. 15,583 ft / 4,750 metres in Gokyo)

This morning started at 5am and it was COLD! Be prepared to start out in down pants and jacket, full gloves and beanie. The sun was a welcome comfort when it finally came up. As we neared the pass, we donned our micro-spikes for better traction in the snow. The views looking back were incredible. So when you stop to rest look where you came from! As hard as the final push was for me, the moment I saw the view from the pass looking towards Gokyo, I was awestruck, my eyes got a little teary and my suffering was immediately relieved. If you get clear weather, pack a lunch and enjoy the view. It's one of THE best views of all 3 Passes.

NOTE - Our hotel in Gokyo wasn't very busy when we were there. So we opted to upgrade our room to one that had an en suite bathroom, memory foam mattress, flannel sheets, our own charging outlet (!), double-pained windows and carpeted floors. Which meant the room was warmer and a lot quieter. Plus it had a lake view and we even got a short, solar-heated shower! ( I still didn't wash my hair. But it was a nice, warm 'rinse'.) Room upgrade was from ~ $7 USD to ~$20 USD per night.

Accommodations - Fitzroy Inn (2 nights)

Buddhist prayer flags and mountain peak
Everest view from Gokyo-Ri summit

Everest range with glacial field, Nepal
Everest Massif from Gokyo-Ri summit

Day 10 - Acclimatization hike to Goyko-Ri (17,575 ft / 5,357 metres)

My husband had been tracking the weather forecast over the last few days and we knew in advance that snow and crappy weather was in our future. So we made the decision to bypass the last pass (Kongma-La) on this trek and spend another day in the Gokyo area since the weather was great at the time we were there. That meant we also were willing to pay for a chopper out of the valley 2 days later, so we could make it back to Katmandu on time for our other plans and flights.

The next morning, as tired as my legs were from the previous days hike, I had to see the views from this local summit. Especially because it was another clear day! We talked to some hikers who got up at 3am to hike up to see sunrise. The experience got mixed reviews. Having been so cold in the previous days pre-dawn hours, I was not interested in doing that at all. But we did leave at 7am. This hike is one of THE steepest I've ever done. It covered 1900' in only 1.15 mile! Even as fit hikers, it took us 2 hours to cover that mile and get to the top. But once there, the views were as fabulous as Renjo-la Pass, and included the Everest Massif (which is the surrounding range with 2 more of the world's highest peaks in sight ). Breakfast, when we returned, never tasted so good. And they served real Americano coffee. Heaven.

Accommodations - Fitzroy Inn (2 nights)

Day 11 - Hike over the glacier to Dragnah (15,420 ft / 4,700 metres)

Today was a relative 'rest day' and the hike was pretty easy, although a bit technical at times. We trekked over the glacier in the Everest Massif photo above, winding in and around pools of melting ice. I was grateful for this shorter day. Tomorrow was Chola Pass and another early start.

Couple at top of Chola Pass, Nepal
Chola Pass, Nepal

mountain peak and rock wall
View from Dzongla Teahouse

Day 12 - Chola Pass and then Dzongla ( 17,782 ft/ 5,420 metres at pass. 15,846 ft / 4,830 metres in Dzongla )

Another 5am start today. But I was getting the hang of it now. And I got smart and went to bed wearing my hiking clothes for the next day! This pass was tough as well. And coming from the clockwise direction, we encountered cable-assist on the way UP to the summit, which I thought was more helpful than using it to go down (if we had done the more traditional direction). The first part of the hike was as expected. The last section was more physical in nature and required some scrambling and bouldering with cable-assist. I was extremely grateful for our porters that day and that I didn't have to carry a heavy backpack. The view was beautiful of course. But I really enjoyed covering the massive snowfield on the way down. It felt like we were on the moon! And we were constantly in view of Lhotse and Ama Dablam - two of the most impressive peaks in the area.

Nepal - 3 Passes Trek

Day 13 - Hike to Dingboche (14,470 ft / 4,410 metres in elevation )

Today's hike was downhill and through a long beautiful valley. We stopped for tea at a location where we could see the 'masses' who were making their way up to Everest Base Camp, pass by. It only affirmed our choice. I'm not knocking those who choose to do it. Everest Base Camp is quite a feat in itself. Crowds just are not our style.

The decision we made in Gokyo to cut the last pass out of our plans, was a good one. The storm clouds started forming as we made our way down valley. And as we were post-lunch napping, it started to snow. And then hail. When we woke up, the ground was covered and the visibility no more than a few hundred feet.


Day 14 - Chopper back to Katmandu

We were a bit disappointed by the sudden shift in weather. We were hoping to do a local hike in the Dingboche area on this day, But that is the risk anyone takes when trekking in the mountains. The visibility that day was really inconsistent. So when our guide asked up if were interested in getting a chopper out a day early, we jumped at the opportunity.

NOTE - Chopper 'taxi's' in the area are typically booked in advance during high season or are busy with evacuations. We were able to get one with shorter notice because it was 'shoulder' season and more were available. We still has to wait until the weather cleared enough for them to land and take off. And we had to be ready within a 10-15 minutes notice. Although it wasn't cheap, it was worth it for us to cut out the last 2 days of hiking back to Namche and then Lukla, and bypassing that bumpy car ride between Ramchhap and Katmandu.

Accommodation - Harati Manor

Terraces Resort, Nepal
Terraces Resort

Day 15-18 - Terraces Resort and Spa

Our guide service picked us up at the Katmandu heliport and drove us to our final destination. We spent our last 3 nights relaxing around the pool, sleeping in, and even treating ourselves to a massage.

happy hikers in Nepal
Happy, healthy and loving life!

Day 18 - Heading back home

Flight - Katmandu to Doha, the Doha to Los Angeles, CA

I hope the details and photos in this itinerary inspire you to get out and explore Nepal! We really felt it was a trip of a lifetime, and plan to go back to trek the Annapurna area in the next few years. Below are some of the FAQ's I've been emailed, as well as some packing ideas. But feel free to email me at for any other questions you may have. If you'd like to see more photos from our experience, you can see them either on the Paradox Travel Facebook page, or check out my husband's professional photos in the Portfolio-Nepal section of Nic Stover Photography.

Cheers! And happy travels!

Yak train, Nepal
Why not end with a classic 'Yak train' photo?


What was the deciding factor on choosing May? Initially May and October have always been touted as prime season - October supposedly can be colder and May still being 'Summer'. However, as we found out from the locals while there, weather patterns have changed and the rainy season is starting earlier each year. So now APRIL is really prime season. HOWEVER - this also means you will see far more crowds/people on the trail. Now, some people like this. It also means the tea houses are a bit more lively. But we actually found that coming in EARLY MAY was sort of a shoulder season, that had fewer people and when we came to villages there was far more rooms available. Although our guide reserved our rooms ahead of time, this time of year was easier to 'upgrade' if we wanted to, when we wanted to - which we did when we wanted a room with private toilet etc. In April, those types rooms are probably booked in advance. So it's up to you - April or EARLY May and October are supposedly best seasons (we already had plans in October). Keep in mind, there's no guarantee on mountain weather. You may get caught in rain whenever you go. We ran into people who had been trekking the entire month of April and then got caught in a random whiteout snowstorm at higher elevations - even in April. So plan some flexibility in your schedule if you can. We modified our plans mid-trek, but it was much easier to do when we went, than it would have been 2-3 weeks earlier.

How did you select the tour company Mountain Monarch? My husband found them years ago on Trip Advisor. They get great reviews. You can see my review here. Plus we like their Responsible Trekking 1 trekker to 1 porter policy (some companies have 1 porter carry 2 loads ) And we liked their emphasis on safety.

What made you decide on the reverse (clockwise) route, rather than the more traditional (counter-clockwise) route for the Three Passes? It was suggested by MM. Plus my husband had already scouted the Gokyo area and knew he wanted to spend more time there. The climbs are steeper going the clockwise direction. I won't lie. But I personally think the views have more of a 'wow' factor going this way. Obviously, it's the same views in the opposite direction. But few people remember to look backwards when they are hiking and often miss it. The other reason I sense MM chooses this way is it's a more gradual acclimation, with some beautiful villages en route. This route also provides more options, more frequent 'outs' if your body doesn't acclimate well and you need to chopper back to Lukla. That does happen. This direction, we had plenty of time (especially when we stayed 2 nights somewhere ) to slowly acclimate.

How far in advance did you plan your trip? We began conversing with Pradip ( MM owner) early to ask questions. The typical 3 Passes Trek is 16 days. We only had 12 days available to trek and wanted to modify the last part of it. Once we nailed down the month, we booked flights before the holidays and I think put a deposit down the previous Fall.

One of your Facebook photo descriptions said you have 57 year old knees, is that true? My husband and I are 58 and we’d love to take a trip to Nepal. Can older people do this trek? Yes, I am 57. My husband is 46. We saw others on trail in their late 50's and early 60's as well. Some with their college age kids, others solo. Overall health and fitness more than age, is really what counts. And there are many trekking routes in Nepal to choose from. This one we did was one of the most difficult. But there are many beautiful routes to check out.

How fit do I need to be to do this trek?

Having a baseline fitness level, with no heart, lung or orthopedic issues definitely helps, especially on this particular trek ( "3 Passes" ). And having some experience walking at altitude also works in your favor. I had experience with this and was familiar with how it feels to walk slowly, be reasonably short of breath while moving and knew my body signs when I needed to rest. Fitness does help. But it's no guarantee when it comes to altitude. We met some very 'athlete-type-fit' people who under-estimated the altitude and rushed through acclimatizing and were very sick. So in a way, if you have a baseline healthy fitness can walk slowly for 5-7 hours a day, you may do better than if you were a triathlete! Also, realize there are many ways to see the Himalayas and experience the Nepalese culture. Some treks in Nepal are not quite as difficult as this one.

Did you take any herbal remedies or medications for altitude on this trip?

I experimented with taken chlorophyll on our last high-altitude trip in Peru and didn't have any problems or side effects. So I used it again for this trip. I start taking it 3 weeks before I leave home. Does it make a difference? I honestly don't know. But it doesn't hurt me. (It makes your poop a funny color though, so don't panic). I'd ask your medical professional about it first. As for taking Diamox, we bring it with us, but don't use it unless we absolutely have to. We have not ever needed to take it. Again, I can't really make a recommendation on this as everyone is so different. My husband doesn't take anything extra, and acclimates just fine if he does it slowly. I would recommend asking your doctor for Ciproflaxin to take with you on the trip, in case you pick up any intestinal bug. Namche and Gokyo each have medical clinics. If you're interested in reading more about how our brains and bodies adjust to altitude, check out this post from my other website.

How did you train for the trip? Did you do anything in particular that helped you physically prepare? Because we live at sea level, we needed to find other ways to simulate the effort of altitude. We ran and hiked hills with loaded backpacks. If you have access to a gym, using a stepper machine or one of those that look like a revolving staircase would be great. And if you can do it with a loaded day pack, even better. Also climbing both UP and DOWN stairs anywhere you can find them (school bleachers?). There are a LOT of stone steps especially between Lukla and Namche. You need to be comfortable walking 5-8 hours a day.

Is there anything you wish you’d taken with you that you didn’t pack? Not really, as we have a variety of gear and knew from experience what we could get away with. And we know how to dress in layers. If your hands get cold easily like mine do, invest in a good pair of mittens or gloves, or bring those little hand warmers. The key is to plan for layers you can use repeatedly and in different combinations. Treat your hiking clothes like a 'uniform' you wear repeatedly each day. I brought changes of underwear, and socks that I tuned inside-out and re-used. You can save weight by not over-packing camera gear or renting sleeping bags and micro-spikes in Namche. Some guide services provide bags and spikes. Ours did. Key pieces to pack: Down jacket, rain jacket/ wind breaker, warm gloves or mittens, fleece beanie, Buff-style neck gaiter, first layer synthetic, second layer wool-blend/Smartwool top, trekking tights or pants with cargo pockets, rain pants, down pants (or buy a cheap knock-off pair in Namche), smart-wool socks, trekking poles (can rent there too) waterproof/resistant hiking shoes or boots. Then pack ONE outfit and slippers/flip-flops for wearing around the teahouse. And then reuse everything. You don't sweat a lot because you're moving so slowly.

Did you have high altitude experience before this trip? Yes, see above. As you can see from other itineraries, we've hiked in Peru, Bolivia, Italy, Ecuador and many mountain areas in the USA. Granted, more often it was between 12-14,000'. This was the most extended time I've spent over 14k and the highest I'd had gone over a pass. I won't lie. It's tough. It takes a willingness to let go of what you believe 'hiking' should feel and look like. Sometimes it took us 3-4 hours to go 2 miles. It's a slow process for us lower-land peeps to work through terrain like this! So you have to go at it with a lot of patience and body tolerance to be on your feet for a while. Trekking poles and good hiking shoes help a lot.

Feel free to check out some of our other travel itineraries

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If you like van-camping, check out some of the cool road trips we've done in our Sprinter van !


 Are you a photographer looking to hone your skills? My husband's a pro and hosts affordable online classes as well as a terrific speaker series with tips from other world-class professionals that will enhance you skill and creativity.

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